Self taught photography?

Started 4 months ago | Discussions thread
RetCapt Regular Member • Posts: 402
Re: Self taught photography?

In the mid-late 1960s, when I first started in photography I took several courses to learn the mechanics of the craft.    Of course everything was manual then, and I literally knew nothing when I walked through the door the first class.    Those are the venues in which I learned, among other skills,  ISO (then ASA), shutter speeds, f stops, depth of field, hyperfocal distance and the interrelationships between those factors (which was the key to using them).     I also had the opportunity to work with large format cameras, and to see the capabilities over 35mm, which was my only frame of reference.      The classes were where I learned black and white processing and printing and how enjoyable that was.   There was some coverage of the basic principles of composition, but that was not the emphasis, such as would be in workshops.    It was enough to get me started, and then it was up to me to learn from field experience.

Fast forward to digital.    By this time I had retired and we were/are living in a remote area.   There were no proximate classes.    Our internet was apparently steam powered so streaming videos was not going to happen.     It was up to me to get self-taught if I were to competently make the transition.     I purchased several books on both digital photographic technique as well as post processing.  I learned there were similarities, so my prior training and experience held me in good stead there, but there were also distinct differences, and it was just as necessary to learn those differences.

If one already knows the basics of photography (top paragraph), one of the greatest self-teaching advantages of digital photography is the freedom to experiment.    Until I make a print, the photographs I make are essentially free.

Note:  I qualify by stating "essentially free" to anticipate the very detail oriented who will disagree with my assertion because the cameras/lenses did cost me, and each shutter click does, albeit minutely, reduce the ultimate service life of the camera.     But I am not paying for film, having the film processed and having prints made just to see my results.

This freedom to experiment has enabled my photographic skills to grow.    Seeing the results on the LCD screen gives immediate feedback.     Seeing the much larger images on the computer screen refines that feedback.    Looking at the EXIF data tells me what I did well, or less than well, and gives me a reference point for future shoots.

I submit there is value to both methods of learning, especially if one has the opportunity to combine the two.   As I have posted before, what really counts is the print the photographer makes and puts on the wall.

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