Fundamentals of Photography

Sometimes we point, shoot a picture, and get lucky. The rest of the time, we wished we knew what we were doing. This is the way how.
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Fundamentals of Photography is rated 4.7 out of 5 by 763.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from I have learn so much within the first couple lessons and can't wait to learn more!! These lessons are worth every penny. I always buy things hoping to learn so much but never do. But with these lessons, Im outside ALL the time taking photos with my family and animals on the farm!! And i'm starting to learn to take some really good photos and i'm really happy with these lessons AND my photos. :)
Date published: 2021-06-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great course Having only very rudimentary experience with photography, and knowing I wanted to become better at making pictures at a much higher level, my goal was to find an online course that would help me get started. Wow! I was blown away with the level of detail provided in this course. Not only was Joel very amiable and interesting but each lesson was relevant. I could put things into practice immediately. At first I thought the homework assignments would be silly, then I found out, did not take too much time and allowed me to practice and build until suddenly, friends and family noticed a difference in my work. Joel is interesting, has a good presentation style and is so knowledgeable. Very, very glad I had this course.
Date published: 2021-05-30
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Too repetitive and general My opinion is that this course does not live up to its potential and that Mr. Sartore and the Great Courses staff share in the blame for this. There is no doubt that Mr. Sartore is an accomplished photographer. He is also an engaging, affable, likeable speaker. So, why do I not recommend the course? There are two reasons. First, Mr. Satore, as likeable as he seems, drove me crazy eventually with his verbal tics ((I do it all the time, think about it, how about that, etc.). This is where the Great Courses staff comes in. Is it not their job to help instructors with pedagogy? Accomplished practitioners are not necessarily great instructors. Someone should have helped Mr. Satore overcome his profound reliance on trite phrases. The second reason is that this course is so general and unfocused that it could be edited down to a meaty, focused 2-3 hours. I hate to be brutal here, but Mr. Sartore just seems unprepared. It’s like he thought that he knew so much that he could just bring in some of his cameras, lenses, and photos and wing it. In the first ten lectures, I saw no evidence that he had thought deeply about the tools of his trade (e.g. the camera) and how to teach a beginner (the obvious target of this course) how it works and how to use it to best advantage. His discussion of light (three lectures) could be summed up in one sentence: Use good light (soft, dawn, sunset) not bad light (harsh, midday). He hardly mentions the fundamentals of light (temperature, wavelength, etc.). Again, the Great Courses staff should have stepped in and recommended that Mr. Sartore incorporate more details into his lectures. Mr. Sartore seems much more comfortable in the last 14 lectures, which are about composition, backgrounds, and other non-technical topics. These lectures provide some valuable insight into Mr. Sartore’s philosophy of photography and how he approaches the process. Again, however, it is so general and stuffed with repetition and verbal tics that it is of marginal usefulness. How general is it? He does not even tell us the type of camera and lenses he uses or the aperture, shutter speed, or ISO of the photos he uses as examples! A last note: I have read many of the reviews of this course and I have noticed that there is a defensive, slightly hostile response (is that you Joel?) to every negative review. I am not denying that he is a top-notch photographer or that this course has gotten a lot of good reviews. I am just giving my impression, as an advanced amateur, of the course. My opinion is that this course does not live up to its potential and that Mr. Sartore and the Great Courses staff share in the blame for this. There is no doubt that Mr. Sartore is an accomplished photographer. He is also an engaging, affable, likeable speaker. So, why do I not recommend the course? There are two reasons. First, Mr. Satore, as likeable as he seems, drove me crazy eventually with his verbal tics ((I do it all the time, think about it, how about that, etc.). This is where the Great Courses staff comes in. Is it not their job to help instructors with pedagogy? Accomplished practitioners are not necessarily great instructors. Someone should have helped Mr. Satore overcome his profound reliance on trite phrases. The second reason is that this course is so general and unfocused that it could be edited down to a meaty, focused 2-3 hours. I hate to be brutal here, but Mr. Sartore just seems unprepared. It’s like he thought that he knew so much that he could just bring in some of his cameras, lenses, and photos and wing it. In the first ten lectures, I saw no evidence that he had thought deeply about the tools of his trade (e.g. the camera) and how to teach a beginner (the obvious target of this course) how it works and how to use it to best advantage. His discussion of light (three lectures) could be summed up in one sentence: Use good light (soft, dawn, sunset) not bad light (harsh, midday). He hardly mentions the fundamentals of light (temperature, wavelength, etc.). Again, the Great Courses staff should have stepped in and recommended that Mr. Sartore incorporate more details into his lectures. Mr. Sartore seems much more comfortable in the last 14 lectures, which are about composition, backgrounds, and other non-technical topics. These lectures provide some valuable insight into Mr. Sartore’s philosophy of photography and how he approaches the process. Again, however, it is so general and stuffed with repetition and verbal tics that it is of marginal usefulness. How general is it? He does not even tell us the type of camera and lenses he uses or the aperture, shutter speed, or ISO of the photos he uses as examples! A last note: I have read many of the reviews of this course and I have noticed that there is a defensive, slightly hostile response (is that you Joel?) to every negative review. I am not denying that he is a top-notch photographer or that this course has gotten a lot of good reviews. I am just giving my impression, as an advanced amateur, of the course.
Date published: 2021-05-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Great Course! This is truly a Great Course. I am not super-experienced with DSLRs, but I am not a novie either. this course teaches you a lot more than simply the basics of working with your camera's settings as he talks a lot about how to capture great images. Highly recommend. Will definitely be taking the second course.
Date published: 2021-05-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from invaluable tips/techniques this photo course is excellent and a must for all photographers...learning doesn't stop and there is always something to learn...sure we know a lot about photography but if you can take just ONE item in this course and apply it to your photo taking, it is well worth the money...that information will stay with you for a lifetime...i have learned many tricks of the trade like time of day, angle, poses etc conducive to picture taking...the course is precise, clear, simple to understand and the author puts you at ease by not talking too much jargon that makes it difficult to understand (example, photo enhancement programs)...of course you will not be a pro after this course but you will be one step ahead in my opinion...i recommend this course for any photographer...believe me, you can always learn something; specially from a NG selected professional photographer to teach...this author must be special...if taken as a college course, you will pay more...just saying...buy it!
Date published: 2021-04-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great lessons in taking better photos I really enjoyed Joel's presentations, and his photos are amazing. I learned a lot on how to improve my photography, and at a very reasonable cost. I would recommend this to anyone that has an interest in photography, whether aspiring to make money at it or simply as an enjoyable hobby.
Date published: 2021-03-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An absolute home run IMHO… An absolute home run IMHO… I have actually watched this twice as there is some much information here, and hard to pick it all up in one viewing. I loved how passionate Joel Sartore is on the subject of photography. Obviously, a polished professional, but he also knows how to transmit his knowledge to an audience. He uses a combination of telling and examples that worked great for me. This is the FUNDAMENTALS of Photography and as such he starts with the basics and builds from there. I, personally, never find it bad to be reminded of these from time to time. I did feel a bit sorry for his family, as they seemed to be his built in test subjects. I can only assume they really love ice cream cones. The course is good for novices as well as experienced photographers.
Date published: 2021-03-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best Photo Class Ever I am so sad that this course is over! It was by far the best photography course I’ve ever had! The instruction was so helpful and easy to follow; Joel was humble and interesting and despite his being a world class photographer for THE National Geographic he never flaunted his expertise but rather makes the student feel he’s always still learning along with us. I loved that there was far more about how to think about your picture before you begin and what you want to convey with your picture than just a run on lecture on ISOs and f stops. His instruction is timeless and I loved how at the end he conveyed the importance of a photo essay as I have been creating “year books” of our family for 42 years now which began in 1978 as a newlywed with a Christmas photo and a paragraph, and has morphed, as technology has evolved, into full 50+ page photo books trying to capture each year for posterity. When I was a young girl my parents had National Geographics around and they are every bit as interesting and exciting today as they were then. Thank you, Joel, for helping us see the world through your eyes and learn through your experience!
Date published: 2021-02-22
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Overview

Get an in-depth and highly interactive tutorial on how to take better photographs, in this thorough course taught by an award-winning National Geographic photographer.

About

Joel Sartore
Joel Sartore

The reach of this course amazed me. People from all over the world have written to tell me their pictures are much better because of the lecture series. That's so very satisfying.

INSTITUTION

National Geographic Photographer

Joel Sartore is a professional photographer and a regular contributor to National Geographic magazine. His assignments have taken him to some of the world's most beautiful and challenging environments and have brought him face to face with a diversity of wildlife in all 50 U. S. states and all seven continents. He was recently named a National Geographic Fellow for his work on The Photo Ark, a multiyear project to document the world's biodiversity in studio portraits (see www.joelsartore.com and photoark.com). His photograph of a lion in a tree was voted the best picture by National Geographic magazine in 2011, and also won him a 2012 Veolia Environment award for wildlife photography. In addition to his work for National Geographic, Mr. Sartore has contributed to some of the most prestigious and widely read publications, including Audubon Magazine, Time, Life, Newsweek, and Sports Illustrated. Mr. Sartore and his work have been the subject of national broadcasts such as National Geographic Explorer, NBC Nightly News, NPR's Weekend Edition, and an hour-long PBS documentary, At Close Range. He is also a regular contributor to CBS's Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood. A noted author and public lecturer on photography to audiences around the world, Mr. Sartore has written several books that highlight his craft and his work. Among these are RARE: Portraits of America's Endangered Species, Photographing Your Family, and Nebraska: Under a Big Red Sky.

By This Expert

Fundamentals of Photography

Trailer

Making Great Pictures

01: Making Great Pictures

What makes a photograph iconic? What three things must every picture have to stand out from any old snapshot? These two questions form the core of Mr. Sartore's introduction to the course. You'll also discover that a great picture doesn't rely on equipment-but on being able to see and think critically about your surroundings.

34 min
Camera Equipment-What You Need

02: Camera Equipment-What You Need

To take a picture, you need to have good equipment. Here, get a no-nonsense guide to finding photography equipment-including cameras, tripods, and camera bags-that fits your needs. Also, take an in-depth look at a camera's controls and settings for everything from aperture to shutter speed to ISO (your film's sensitivity to light).

29 min
Lenses and Focal Length

03: Lenses and Focal Length

According to Mr. Sartore, lenses are the most critical tools of photography. In this lecture, he takes you into the field and shows you different camera lenses in action. Among them: 70-200 mm (good for blurring out distracting backgrounds), rectilinear lenses (great for photographing things with minimal distortion), and wide-angle lenses (perfect for both landscapes and for shooting subjects in t...

28 min
Shutter Speeds

04: Shutter Speeds

Your camera's shutter speed controls how much light enters the lens in a shot. Learn how to become a master at working with this critical tool of photography. You'll discover when to use fast or slow shutter speeds, study each speed's unique effects, and uncover different techniques-such as panning and ghosting-that can add great artistic touches.

32 min
Aperture and Depth of Field

05: Aperture and Depth of Field

What do numbers such as f/1.4, f/2.8, or f/16 mean? Finally make sense of your camera's aperture settings, which can help create eye-popping visual effects and solve specific compositional problems. Then examine some of Mr. Sartore's acclaimed work to see the dramatic relationship between aperture and a photograph's depth of field.

30 min
Light I-Found or Ambient Light

06: Light I-Found or Ambient Light

In this first lecture on one of the two building blocks of photography, learn how to tap into the power of ambient light, which isn't created in a studio but is found around you. Look at how you should adjust your camera to make the most of found light, and learn the best kind of ambient light to shoot in and why. Explore front lighting, hatchet lighting, and even zebra lighting.

38 min
Light II-Color and Intensity

07: Light II-Color and Intensity

Continue exploring light and photography with a look at color-both the "color" of different types of light and colors as they appear in your photographs. Then, focus on the differences between hard light and soft light, and how to adjust your camera accordingly to maximize the potential of these key photographic elements.

32 min
Light III-Introduced Light

08: Light III-Introduced Light

Mr. Sartore discusses a tricky type of light: man-made (or introduced) light. You'll learn tips for manipulating different sources of light (including firelight, car taillights, reflectors, and spotlights). Also, you'll start to see your camera's flash setting as not a pesky button but a powerful tool for creating breathtaking effects in your photography.

35 min
Composition I-Seeing Well

09: Composition I-Seeing Well

How do you truly capture the beauty of the three-dimensional world around you? The answer lies within composition-photography's second building block. In the first of three lectures on the subject, analyze a series of pictures to get a basic understanding of how framing works.

31 min
Composition II-Background and Perspective

10: Composition II-Background and Perspective

Great composition also involves paying attention to background and perspective. Here, Mr. Sartore offers you numerous tips and strategies for finding the perfect background, examining the benefits and drawbacks of particular perspectives, and avoiding compositional mistakes that can ruin the power of even the most perfectly lit photograph.

28 min
Composition III-Framing and Layering

11: Composition III-Framing and Layering

Frames. Leading lines. The eyes of your subject. Layers. Learn how paying attention to-and using-these and other compositional tools can isolate the true subject of your photo and add a strong sense of dimension.

30 min
Let's Go to Work-Landscapes

12: Let's Go to Work-Landscapes

Now start applying the information you've learned. Your first assignment: rural and urban landscapes. Some tips you'll discover include surveying the ground ahead of the prime light you want to shoot in, using wide-angle lenses and a little height to suggest grandeur, and focusing on a subject you can get repeated chances at capturing.

32 min
Let's Go to Work-Wildlife

13: Let's Go to Work-Wildlife

Explore techniques for photographing wildlife, whether it's birds in your backyard or lions on a safari. Learn how to set up a blind to conceal you from your subject, where to find the best places to photograph flora and fauna, common mistakes that wildlife photographers should avoid, and more.

35 min
Let's Go to Work-People and Relationships

14: Let's Go to Work-People and Relationships

Using touching photographs of family and friends, Mr. Sartore demonstrates how to use your camera to best capture joy, sadness, anger, and other emotions-without interfering with your subject's behavior.

31 min
Let's Go to Work-From Mundane to Extraordinary

15: Let's Go to Work-From Mundane to Extraordinary

A key skill for any photographer is the ability to capture the special aspects of even the most mundane subjects. Focus on developing and strengthening this talent alongside Mr. Sartore, who teaches you how to make great frames in seemingly "boring" places from hotel rooms to hog farms.

34 min
Let's Go to Work-Special Occasions

16: Let's Go to Work-Special Occasions

Special occasions come loaded with moments that beg to be captured with a camera. Taking the knowledge you've gained from previous lectures, investigate ways to anticipate and better prepare for candidly photographing the range of emotions, moods, and scenes that can be found at any wedding, party, or holiday event you attend.

34 min
Let's Go to Work-Family Vacations

17: Let's Go to Work-Family Vacations

Transform the way you think about and take photographs during vacations. How can you avoid taking the same dull pictures like other tourists? What are some good ways to capture the story behind a famous landmark? Who can you ask for help about the best places for photo opportunities in your destination?

30 min
Advanced Topics-Research and Preparation

18: Advanced Topics-Research and Preparation

Despite what you may think, researching is an important part of any well-planned photo shoot. In the first of several lectures on advanced topics in photography, learn from Mr. Sartore's own diverse shoots around the world about ways to research and prepare for photographing in more complicated situations.

32 min
Advanced Topics-Macro Photography

19: Advanced Topics-Macro Photography

Examine how to capture the remarkable (and often overlooked) beauty in miniature subjects such as insects, flowers, eyes-even a pile of money. Learn the best equipment to use, lighting techniques to capture specific features of your miniature subjects, and common mistakes to avoid (such as not getting enough depth of field).

31 min
Advanced Topics-Low Light

20: Advanced Topics-Low Light

Low light used to be the bane of Mr. Sartore's profession. Now, it's all he wants to photograph in. Learn how to take advantage of low-light situations by picking the right gear (including lenses that give you wide apertures) and techniques such as using objects to block bright spots in your frame.

27 min
Advanced Topics-Problem Solving

21: Advanced Topics-Problem Solving

In order to be a better photographer, you need to be a visual problem solver. Mr. Sartore, using his own career experiences, takes you through varying levels of difficult situations-such as shooting in Antarctica, on a snowy road, or throughout a massive city-to illustrate the importance of mastering this skill.

28 min
After the Snap-Workflow and Organization

22: After the Snap-Workflow and Organization

Regardless of whether you're shooting with film or on a digital camera, you need an effective system to organize your pictures. Here, get practical tips on everything from storing film negatives and naming your digital pictures to touching up your shots and archiving all of your work.

29 min
Editing-Choosing the Right Image

23: Editing-Choosing the Right Image

Hone your editing skills by combing through groups of images to select the ones that stand out. It takes time and practice-but once you can narrow your photographs down to the best of the best, you can sharpen your critical eye and improve the way you shoot in the future.

32 min
Telling a Story with Pictures-The Photo Essay

24: Telling a Story with Pictures-The Photo Essay

Close out the course with a fascinating look at telling stories with your photographs. Using his photo essays on Alaska's North Slope; people at Leech Lake, Minnesota; and dwindling biodiversity, Mr. Sartore leaves you with a greater appreciation of how photographers are not just observers but actual storytellers.

35 min