When (to learn more about) dSLR (photography) [The entry kit dSLR Part 7]

Some pictures can move too

While photography is still images, a lot more information can be conveyed by seeing rather than reading. Some stuff just needs to be seen. Thankfully, along with D-Movie being added to our still cameras, movies are being added to our instructional material.

Fast, Fun, & Easy

I’ll talk about one video, which came as part of a starter kit, and also comes bundled with the Costco superkit.

Nikon School: Fast, Fun & Easy. Great Digital SLR Pictures

This video can also be bought separately for about $10. There is a followup video on more general dSLR photography.

The video features National Geographic Traveler photographer, Bob Krist, whom I remember from Nikon’s Creative Lighting DVD.

(Marie said he reminds her of a college professor who used to moonlight as Santa Claus at the local mall during the holidays. So I’ve taken to calling Mr. Krist, “Nikon Santa.”)

The DVD, like all the Nikon School DVDs, is well produced. Moreover most of the shots are taken with a Nikon D5000 and the two kit lenses. Other versions of the same video feature different cameras. Not all of the photos—I question if that pelican one could be shot handheld with only a 300mm (effective) focal length. But it is clear the featured photos were photographed with a D5000 and a kit lens, and they are great, as Krist is a great photographer.

One amusing anecdote is that Nikon Santa tells you, as I have mentioned above, that he always puts the user manual in his camera bag. “He has the same camera bag as me,” Marie pointed out from the video. “Unfortunately, the D5000 manual doesn’t actually fit in that bag.” Doh!

In any case, there aren’t videos I know by other manufacturers. There are 3rd party basic training videos out there, I’m not too sure they’re any good. Here is another CaNikon rule of thumb: Canon has far more resources and does better promotion; Nikon has always been better at training. I hope now the difference in quality is stark, the other manufacturers will emulate Nikon and come out with videos.

Photo recipes live

Barring that, Kara has informed me that Scott Kelby, has made a 2-hour-long video based on his Digital Photography book called Photo Recipes Live: Behind the Scenes where he recreates the pictures seen in the back section of his books.

I’m a bit wary, because, from the sample video, it may be too advanced for the beginner (it was a studio shot with some pretty expensive lighting). It’s definitely something to consider if you don’t have the patience for book learning.

Right now there isn’t a lot of video training out there. Photographers, as a rule, are photographers because they like to be behind the camera. That’s changing. dSLR photography now offers film-quality video, and good photographers will stay good if they adopt video technology, just like good photographers made the jump early to digital.

Getting classy

Another way to learn is in a more formal instructional setting. For Nikon that means Nikon School workshops. These are pretty formal so be sure you know what you’re getting into before buying. Here is a review of the first day and the second day.

Marie and Kara went to the first day classes last weekend. Apparently, they throw in a book:

Nikon School: Guide to Digital SLR Photography

This book is sometimes bundled with superkits and is listed as retailing for $9.95. Good luck finding it though, it doesn’t even have an ISBN

The book, which I, of course, devoured immediately, is as advertised: a basic instruction on dSLR photography, without the camera-specific components. The photos in the book go beyond just compelling, to inspirational. The book reminds me of when Time/Life books did a series on photography with Kodak: very compelling photographs coupled with factually true, but extremely dry reading. My dad had the first two volumes, which I devoured when I was a kid.

Marie and Kara said they enjoyed the course. Kara even taunted me with my next lens purchase.

While behind in the world of video training, online resources, and iPhone applications, the other manufacturers have been aggressive to catch up with formal training in workshops. Here are Canon’s and Olympus’s. Sony and Pentax are MIA. I guess in the former case, they’re too busy paying Peyton Manning and Julia Allison to hawk their television sets; in the latter case, Pentax’s margins are simply to low to do a spend on this—or maybe they figure their target market is too cheap to spend $100 on a class.

No matter, there are a lot of solutions. I suggest you look to see if there is a photography class at your community college (or as an elective if you are still in school), or find a reputable local camera dealer who usually schedules introductory workshops. Also find if there is any nearby flickr meetups or photowalking groups. And if none of those, be sure to mark your calendar for the Worldwide Photo Walk. I did it last year and it was a lot of fun.

As you get better, you’ll want to do more specialized workshops and photo tours. Here is a review of Ryan Brenizer’s workshop and here is a schedule of Jim Goldstein’s Tours. They’re both great people to learn from. 🙂


I’ve covered a lot of things in this article and in this series. It may seem intimidating, but photography really isn’t. All it takes is a dedication. Whenever you see a great photographer, remember the person behind the camera who took that photograph started just where you are today.

Keep shooting!

(The end.)

10 thoughts on “When (to learn more about) dSLR (photography) [The entry kit dSLR Part 7]

  1. Great article, Terry. I've been looking for a way to learn more about photography for a while now… I'll have to pick up some of the books you suggested.

  2. What an incredible article, Terry. I just started using the Nikon D200 last night though I wasn't ready to bring it out to Herbst Theater for The Magnetic Fields. I do need to purchase a Nikonian Mastering-type book for it so I can get the most out of the camera. I can already tell the difference between it and the D70.

    We should all do a tour of San Francisco's "secret stairwells" too! I'll find out where those are.
    My recent post Birthday TrEATs

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