Good Way for a Complete Beginner to Learn the Ropes
This may be in the wrong forum, but there didn't seem to be a more fitting alternative.
I was going to take a photography class at my school, but I decided not to. Can anyone recommend a good way to learn the ropes, so to speak? I'm not sure if it would be best to attend some sort of class or organization, or buy a book, or simply delve into online study. I am planning on taking a class at the university I attend at some point, but for the moment, I'd just like to learn the basics.
Thanks in advance for your advice
The class wasn't a bad idea.
Books are good IF you are good at learning things from books. (You may well be - no judgement here.)
Much info is on the net, a lot of it misleading if not just plain wrong. Having said that, there is a good bit of good info on this forum. And some links to other good sites.
But finally, nothing beats actually doing it. We'll be glad to help! Just ask.
PS: What local school do you attend?
taking a class would be very helpful, a real hands on experience that could be supported by other references; i.e. books, etc. this is a skill and craft is highly depended upon doing not reading; at least IMHO
Perhaps you could hook up with someone with a darkroom that would be willing to help you along; however, the key is finding someone who knows what they are doing.
Somewhere, you need to get a good solid foundation to start on with some hands-on training. Taking the class would still be a good idea. I don't think you can get that good foundation from on-line reading. There's too many opinions, too many options presented and discussed.
You could go with a book, but its sometimes hard to translate what the book is saying inot reality without some hands-on help. Besides, there are many things that are not discussed or illustrated well in the various books. That can lead to "not-in-the-book" mindset which is contrary to good photography.
Another big plus for the class is you don't have to invest in the darkroom equipment in order to get started. Equipment sellers love a customer who doesn't have a clue; they tend to part with lots of cash for lots of expensive gear they really don't need. Bottom line on equipment is it don't make any difference what camera, enlarger, development tank, nor paper you use. But you won't get that tip at the camera shop.
The best thing you can do on-line is to stick right here with APUG and ask all the questions you want. But please, reconsider taking the class.
I have been very fortunate to have had people around me to learn from - finding like minded individuals who's opinons you respect is wonderful (especially if they are aptient enough to put up with you - and in my case, that was very trying to my "mentors" ).
I am relatively green in this hobby myself, so a lot of the learning process (I mean the basics - the acutally learning, I think, never stops), is still fairly fresh in my mind - and I would definitely say that there is no substitute for hands on experience under the supervision of someone who knows how. Unless you have friends who are fairly accomplished, I think the class is a wonderful idea. Either way, I think a class is great. I never took one, but I wish I had - even though I basically had the benefit of one on one tutoring. I have a Photo 101 Introduction to photography handbook from a course offered at a local community college, and I used it for refernce quite often - still do some times. THose courses seem to be well laid out and give a good foundation - and I am sure the instructors would prevent me from picking up many bad habits that I am sure I have and dont even know about!
As far as the web is concerned... I don't want to sound like I'm kissing ass - but I have seen what the web has to offer... and I would stick to APUG. I found that with most things, not just photography, the web is so accesible to so many, that it is often a bog opinions that are often misleading at best, and down right wrong at worst. Tread very carefully on the web - my suggestion is, if you find a resource you like, run it by some people here - they will most likely have heard of it, or will be able to give it a once over to see if you will be steered wrong or not.
And do yourself a favor, get a simple 35mm camera, as mechanical as you can get, with a decent 50mm lens, and don't buy any zooms or bells and whistles until you really feel you have exhausted the possibilities of your present equipment - I find having to work with what I have has taught me a lot about so many aspects of photography that I know I would miss out on if I had a bag full of bells and whistles. Also, when you make purchases based on a specifically identified need, you will find youare happier with the results and the amount of money still in your pocket!
I hope this helps a bit - like I said, I consider myself fairly green still, so this is sort of beginner to beginner! Best of luck!
PS Dont hesitate to PM me if you have any questions - if I don't know the answer (quite likely ) maybe I will be able to point you to someone or something that will!
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Thank you guys for all of your suggestions. I can't believe how friendly and helpful everyone here at APUG is. These forums are an invaluable resource.
I'm not taking the class this semester because my schedule is full. But I am planning on taking it next semester. Hopefully I'll learn some basics between now and then.
Thanks again guys... you're very helpful.
P.S. - David, I go to University of North Texas.
I got a book that dealt with the technical aspect as well as the artistic aspect. I learned a lot from that book. Furthermore I attended a course where I learned the darkroom processes and some composition.
After that I continued to discuss on APUG and taking small courses along the way to learn studio lighting, more composition and lots of other stuff.
I still use the book I bought in the beginning...nice stuff!
When I first started I found magazine articles quite helpful, in particular Black & White Photography UK (AKA Ailsa's rag! (That really ought to be a piece of music, you know!)). There were other titles but they've all now changed from photography magazines to computer equipment catalogues. :rolleyes:
A college course got me interested in darkroom work, but I found it was taught to cater for the lowest common denominator. The college was measured by how many students successfully completed the (undemanding) course. If you were ahead of the minimum required standard you were effectively ignored while the tutor tried to get those below standard (an achievement, trust me!) through the course. The equipment was old and pretty effectively knackered, the safelights weren't safe...
It was a start, that's all I can say for it. Your mileage may (I fervently hope!) vary.
I then started acquiring books, some of which were better than others. A good selection include John Blakemore's Black and White Photography Workshop, Les McLean's Creative Black and White Photography and the three Tim Rudman books on darkroom practice, toning and lith printing.
I found APUG a little daunting at first as there was so much being discussed that I hadn't even heard of (Pyro, PMK, Azo, etc.), but the people are just so friendly and helpful here... ...what can I say?! It's just a damn good place to be!
Whatever works for you, I hope you thoroughly enjoy yourself!
All the best,
The destination is important, but so is the journey
Thankfully, I find that most of the community colleges here (from speaking to students) have a fairly good level of equipment, but... you are 100% correct: they will cater to the lowest common denominator. Unfortunately, they have to. But for a complete newcomer they may not be that bad - if for nothing more than to have a place learn the very basics while you try more advanced things on your own. Its always a crap shoot - how good the level of instruction is, class size, etc. But generally, in a beginner's case, it will be a person who knows a lot more than you do, and who's job it is to answer your questions.
Its really too bad you had such a mediocre (at best - by the sounds of it!) experience with your class - but I find that yours may be the exception rather the rule.
I have been developing fim and printing for a while when I found APUG - and I was overwhelmed by the amount of things I found here that I didn't have a clue about! Fortunately, most people here are absolutely awesome - and they will explain if you ask! The coolest photo lovers hang out I found thus far and by far!
Oh, and Jay:
While I agree with what you said to a large extent - the weeding out of misinfo gets easier the more you know... at the very beginning it can get quite daunting. Fortunately, I found that its easier here than most places, simply because of the calibre of people that this site seems to attract. In fact, its rarely necessary at all if you ask from a beginners stand point.
Crap - I got all long winded there
I took a local community college continuing/adult education class a few years ago to get a refresher in darkroom work (after not having done any in 15+ yrs) and found it to be pretty good. After talking to some people that had take both this and the credit class, the non-credit class seemed to be better. Smaller class, more direct interaction with the instructor, only one (3 hr) class session per week, and access to the darkroom whenever a class was not using it.
I don't remember if TWU or UNT offered such classes. If not, you would most likely have to go to Gainesville (NCTC) or Farmers Branch (Brookhaven)