RDG-Photography is a brand new enterprise, created by a seasoned photographer. I have been taking photographs for most of my life and have had a life-long love affair with capturing images. Learning photography is like learning to play chess: it takes a half hour to learn and a lifetime to master. While I’ve spent the better part of my lifetime trying to master the art and science of photography, I am still learning something new almost every day.
To me, photography is the perfect blend of art and science. You can take your interest in either area as far as you want to. When I was young and just learning about photography, I loved the science aspect. I learned about films and their reaction to light and the chemicals used to develop the film and photographs. I learned about the integration of light and how the camera sees differently than the human eye. I learned about how the camera captured the light and used it’s mechanism to do so. It was all very fascinating to me.
Art vs. Science
What I struggled with was the artistic part. I was not an artist and soon discovered that all that science was not worth the paper the picture was developed on if you could not properly compose your shot and understand the basic visual elements of your photograph. Your pictures could be perfectly exposed and developed, yet if the composition was bad your efforts were worthless. I began a whole new learning process to understand the artistic aspects. To some people this comes naturally. To me, who can’t even draw a stick figure, I struggled and had to practice and analyze my shots to become better.
Ultimately I was able to integrate my science and art into creating a good image. This is what I believe those of us who have a passion for photography need to do. One without the other is a recipe for failure. For those of us who are artistically challenged, photography can provide us with an artistic outlet. I may not be able to draw a stick figure; but I can take a pretty good picture!
Today’s Digital World
And in today’s world of digital photography, there is a whole new aspect of the science to learn. It’s not celluloid and chemicals any more, it’s pixels and jpgs. To the technology challenged, this can be a little bit intimidating and overwhelming. Today, it’s not do I use a color, or black and white film; it’s do I shoot in jpg, or RAW? Do I use Photoshop or Lightroom? Do I store the files on my computer, or in the cloud? And, what the heck is the “Cloud” anyway?!
The good news is that almost anyone today has access to a camera. In the “old days” you needed to make a fairly big investment in a decent camera if you were serious about learning photography, and the cost of film and developing was pretty substantial. Every time you pressed the shutter release it cost a dollar (or more). And to see your pictures you had to wait until you could afford to have them developed and it was often weeks before that happened.
Today, any cell phone can take a decent picture and the same rules apply for the art and science as if you were using a $10,000 high-end digital single lens reflex camera. And pressing the shutter release costs nothing. You can see your results instantly and use them immediately.
The art and science of photography has never been more accessible. And yet, most people do not have a clue how to take decent pictures; nor do they know how to use their cameras. Cameras today are highly sophisticated, computerized instruments that have a huge variety of features that most people do not understand or know how to use.
I’m here to change that for you.
I’ve taught an Intro to Digital Photography Course for the past several years. When I started, I assumed that everyone coming to my class would have a decent camera, know how to use it, and wanted to learn more about the basics of photography. I was way off the mark. Yes, most people had decent cameras. Some inexpensive “point and shoot” cameras, some high-end Canons or Nikons –some, even better than my own camera. Most had never read the instruction manuals because they are written in hieroglyphics and in terms they could not understand. It’s difficult for a new photographer to read a poorly written manual that describes how to change the exposure settings, if they do not understand what exposure is.
I immediately changed my curriculum to first teach a few basics of photography so the students would understand things like exposure, focus, shutter speed, depth of field. Then I concentrated on how to use their cameras to apply those things we learned about exposure, focus, shutter speed, depth of field. Learning those basics is useless if you cannot apply them to your camera.
Learning to use your Camera
As much as it pained my students, I did not sit with them individually and walk them through their camera’s operation. First, I do not know every camera out there. Second, I adhere to the “teach a person to fish” mentality. If I showed you how to use your camera today; for today you may be able to take decent pictures. But, tomorrow –or when my class is over and you’ve forgotten how to use it –what then? You go back to taking bad pictures, or worse, the camera goes back to collecting dust. I try to teach people how to teach themselves how to use their cameras. That way, no matter what camera they may buy in the future, or what they learn now and forget in a week, they will know how to go about the business of learning it again –and again if need be. This prepares you for a lifetime of learning how to take great pictures. This is the goal. Be dependent on no one but yourself. Not me, not your camera, not that smart-ass teenager in the department store that sold you the camera in the first place (and probably a lot of other things that you really didn’t need or understand what they were for). Depend only on yourself!
This is NOT a “Photography for Dummies” site. First of all, I don’t believe anyone out there is a Dummy. You may feel like it –but, trust me, you are not! You can read, you obviously know how to use your computer to find this site. You, therefore, have all the capabilities necessary to learn how to take good pictures. Maybe even great photographs. You’ve taken the first steps by checking this site out. Now let’s begin the next exciting steps to give you all the tools you need to begin your lifetime of taking great pictures.