After having talked about gear and software i use last time, the second part of the three-part article about my first year in photography deals with learning resources i used and my thoughts on social media / photo sharing.
Learning the basics
RTFM. Really. really do. Of course everyone just gets the camera out of the box as fast as possible, pops in the SD card (when researching the camera you want, you probably saw a video on YouTube which showed you how to do that) and fires away. Been there, done that. But once the SD card is full and the battery empty, could we, maybe, please - READ THE F*CKING MANUAL? Because whatever it is you move on with, be it a book, tutorial videos on YouTube, enrolling in some course, joining a photo club - it all will only postpone the moment when you realize you should have read that thing.
Knowing each and everything about your camera (and lens/es) there is to know is the most important thing for you at that point. Surely you can get more or less decent looking images when you go auto and just start taking pictures and boys will be boys and girls be girls for that matter. But eventually you want to know what all these buttons and menus do so you can get out of auto and play major league manual digital photography. Yes please. After i read the manual i have to admit i didn't really know what settings i should use, what makes the most sense to me. For the Nikon D3200, i found the Nikon D3200 User's guide, a one-hour-video in which Jared Polin explains every button and setting on the camera. Find something similar for your camera and you're golden.
More stuff to read and watch
The internet of course is almost always the first choice when it comes to find more learning resources. There are a bunch of websites on digital photography and each and every conceivable aspect of it, but let me just mention two i found most helpful: Jared Polin's froknowsphoto. I like Jared's sense of humor and as mention he did a video on all the settings on my camera. I also liked to watch his "Rapid Fire Critiques" and find out about flaws in other people's pictures before anyone pointed out those in mine. He also hosts a show called RAWtalk in which he addresses all kinds of photography-related topics.
Another huge resource of written tutorials, learning material and advice is Darren Rowse's Digital Photography School. It is a never ending source of tips and tricks regarding cameras, equipment and post production. They also have their own bookstore and have produced some fine very informative ebooks over the years.
One of the best YouTube channels i found researching digital photography is the channel of B&H. B&H Event Space invites Photographers and Educators to the New York superstore for lessons on various aspects of photography. These lessons are mostly between one and two hours long and i learned a lot from these lessons and found my favorite photographers and educators there. Guys like Tim Grey and Robert Rodriguez Jr. Tim has a great way of teaching and pretty much got me started on Lightroom and i like about Robert not only what he does with his camera and Lightroom, but also his attitude about life in general. Definitely people you want to listen to.
But although i really love video as a means of learning, i am so old school that i need some books on my desk. Or at least on a tablet. The first book to cover photography was Scott Kelby's "Digital Photography Vol. 1-4" (there also is a fifth book, but i got that one later). The next thing was to learn about Lightroom and since i liked Scott's books, i also got "The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Book For Digital Photographers" (that's one long ass title). That is a great book to start off and to have sitting there on the desk while taking first steps in Lightroom. Even more comprehensive and the go-to reference for anything Lightroom is Martin Evening's "The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 Book: The Complete Guide For Photographers". That's about 200 pages more, but as Scott is someone who could easily waste a complete page on a joke this just might mean nothing.
The last two books i want to mention are about Nik Software which - as i mentioned in the first part of this article - is the collection of plugins i use for all my editing. The first is "Nik Software Captured: The Complete Guide To Using Nik Software's Photographic Tools" by Tony L. Corbell and Joshua A. Haftell, which has an approach which includes some more basic stuff about post production which goes beyond the use of Nik software. Lately i find myself using John Batdorff's "Plug In With Nik: A Photographer's Guide To Creating Dynamic Images With Nik Software" more and more.
I found a lot more books on the internet and i bought some in ebook format and you can also find a bunch of free ebooks that are decent too. From these i only want to mention the National Gegraphics books, mainly those on travel and landscape photography.
Occasionally (mostly when i get on trains cos the internet connection on german trains usually sucks salty balls) i get photography magazines, but since most of them are only about the newest latest gear i never get them on a regular basis. The only one i really got into was American Photo. This mag is mostly about photographers and photos and features only a few mentions about new gear. Me likes.
One thing i noticed is that i like to read some of those books over and over again. Some things are mentioned and explained in differently in some books so sometimes i may only understand something when i read about it in another book. So it happens again and again that when i go back to some book that things in there make sense then or i just look at them in a different way and it opens new doors for me.
The one thing is miss though in our village here is a photo buddy. Or two. It is not that there is nobody around, it is a time issue for me at this point. I am holding a day job and after that i have to squeeze in running, my band and photography. And of course some kind of family life with my girlfriend and our dog. Nut whenever i discuss photography with my old friend Jörg, i feel i am learning a lot. But we get to go out to shot ever so rarely.
So just give me Scott Kelby's "Digital Photography" books, Martin Evening's book on Lightroom and John Batdorff covering Nik and that would be what i take along to the proverbial deserted island. Along with the gear i mentioned in the last article and internet to share all the shots i'd be taking while on that island which hopefully is located in the southern pacific.
Since this part about learning resources became so much longer than i thought it would be (even without rambling about things) and you got a bunch of links to check, i will postpone the part about social media and photo sharing until next week. Cos THAT will be a bit longer too. To find out why meet me here next Sunday :)
Shutterspeed to all y'all.