Are you thinking about a career as a professional photographer? Perhaps you were just given a DSLR camera as a gift and have no idea how to use it.
Whatever the case may be, it’s important that you take the time to acquaint yourself with the basics of DSLR photography before you start to use your camera. This will help you get the most out of your new gear – and to really take your skills in photography to the next level.
So what is DSLR photography – and why is it so cool? You’ll learn everything you need to know – and then some! – in the fun and informative course, Fundamentals of DSLR Photography, offered on Skillshare.
I took the class myself and am happy to report that it is one worth taking. Here’s why.
What is DSLR Photography?
DSLR photography is a popular style of photography that utilizes a DSLR camera. DSLR stands for digital single-lens reflex and it’s by far the camera of choice for professional and amateur photographs alike.
Why is it so wonderful? The main benefit of using a DSLR camera for your photography is that you can change up lenses to create different effects. Not only that, but you can use those lenses and the camera to control things like shutter speed and aperture for a stunning overall effect in your final pictures.
DSLR photography is not overly complicated, but there is a learning curve involved in mastering its use. The Fundamentals of the DSLR Photography course on Skillshare walks you through all the basics of the art.
What Kinds of Content Does the Course Cover?
If you’re new to DSLR photography, you won’t find a better course than this one, taught by Justin Bridges on Skillshare. Fundamentals of DSLR Photography is an excellent course for people who are new to the art and want to become more skilled in how to use their DSLR cameras.
Designed for beginners who want to master the basics of DSLR photography in a short amount of time, the course includes a series of easy-to-follow lessons that will tell you how to balance your aperture, shutter speed, and ISO for perfect exposure. You’ll learn how to get over any fears or misgivings you might have about the camera’s manual mode as well as how to freeze and blur motion with your shutter speed.
Not only that, but you’ll develop skills in basic photo editing, learning all the “hacks” you need to adjust, modify, and edit your pictures in less than five minutes.
You will learn about go-to camera settings you should know about, gear that can help you get started, and recommendations for new photographers on a budget. You’ll learn how to shoot in manual mode and how to control background blur with your aperture, too.
By the time you complete this course, you’ll be a total pro -or at least know how to master your basic settings! Here are the key modules included in the class:
The introduction is a crucial part of the course as it will acquaint you with everything that the class is going to cover. If you like knowing what to expect out of a course, I highly recommend taking the time to sit through this section of the class.
Bridges will go over all the basics of how to use your camera, including basic settings like aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. You’ll also learn more about the “exposure pyramid,” something that is crucial for newbie photographers.
Understanding Your DSLR
In the next section of the class, you’ll learn more about the “anatomy” of a DSLR camera. This section goes deeper into what exactly happens each time you click the button on your DSLR to take a photograph. YOu’ll learn more about the “exposure pyramid” and its three core elements.
These three core elements include shutter speed, ISO, and aperture. You will first learn how to represent shutter speed as a number as well as how various shutter speeds capture motion. Then, you’ll move on to master aperture, learning more about how various aperture settings can impact the amount of light that is allowed into your photograph.
Finally, you’ll learn how you can make a distinction between the background and foreground of your photograph before going on to learn about ISO. Bridges refers to ISO as the “weapon of last resort,” and you’ll find out why – as well as how to avoid “digital noise” – in this section of the module.
Balancing the Exposure Triangle
The next module of the course deals with balancing the exposure triangle. The exposure triangle includes the three elements mentioned above – shutter speed, ISO, and aperture. You’ll learn how these three can work in tandem with each other – as well as how they can work against each other, too. You will learn how to choose a number for the aperture or shutter speed as well as how you can gauge exposure in each photograph before you ever even take the shot.
Preparing to Shoot
Once you understand how, exactly, your camera works, you can prepare to take the shot. Much of a photograph’s success and ultimate quality will be in how you prepare to take the shot. Therefore, Bridges spends a lot of time walking his students through all the steps involved in choosing a focus point when photographing things like a landscape, a group of people, or a single person.
For me, this was the most interesting part of the course because it taught me how I could set myself up for success in taking a photograph before I even took the shot. I learned more about what the term “focal plane” means as well as the various differences between JPEG and RAW files when they relate to digital photography.
This section of the course was also incredibly beneficial to me, as a newbie. It’s a great section if you are a hands-on learner and like to be shown exactly how to do things. In this section, you will be able to watch via screencasting and video as Justin takes photographs of a fan. The fan is moving, so you’ll learn how you can adjust your exposure triangle to accommodate for the varying levels of movement.
Not only that, but you’ll learn how you can adjust aperture values and shutter speeds to freeze the fan blades. You will be able to control the depth of field and sharpness in your photograph with these aperture settings, too.
Deeper Dive: Shutter Speed
In the next section of the course, you will learn more about shutter speed and how it affects your photographs. You will not only learn how to shoot in manual modes on your DSLR, but you’ll also learn more about the details of shooting in TV mode as well as how to shoot in a city setting or an outdoor setting.
Something else that’s unique about this section is that it will teach you how to pan your camera as you adjust for the motion of your subject.
Deeper Dive: Aperture
Next, you will learn more about aperture. You can shoot in aperture photography when you set the camera to priority mode. You’ll learn how to do this, as well as how to select your aperture value so that you can let your camera do all the hard work for you.
Deeper Dive: ISO
In the last of the three “pyramid” components, you will learn more about ISO. Here, Bridges will teach you how to adjust your ISO settings so that you can take photographs of products in low light. He will teach you on how to adjust and set your ISO ranges for your DSLR camera, too.
Editing Tips and Tricks
This section of the course was one that I think would be helpful regardless of your skill set. Even if you have some experience working with a DSLR camera, knowing how to edit photos isn’t something that all photographers are all that proficient at – not yet, at least. This section of the class teaches you how to edit your photograph with attention to details like contrast, exposure, and clarity.
The beauty of these editing tips and tricks is that they are ones that you don’t have to have expensive software to complete. You can easily implement these “hacks” with any kind of editing software you might have – so you don’t have to spend a fortune on pricy programs that are tough to use.
Bridges will teach you how to do just about everything, from editing RAW files while you are examining far-away subjects, editing photos taken indoors, and even how to edit close-up images. He will also teach you how to clean up digital noise, something that not all editing sections of courses go into too much detail about.
Bonus: Buying Cameras and Lenses
The final section of the course is another one that you won’t find in just any old digital photography tutorial. In this segment, you will learn more about how to use a DSLR camera specifically in comparison to a point and shoot. You’ll learn the many benefits of this kind of camera as well as some alternative camera recommendations.
He will also teach you how to choose a lens, something that I found super helpful as I completed the course and began exploring other accessories that I could choose to use with my new camera.
The Course & The Instructor
This class is one of several taught by Justin Bridges, a portrait and fashion photographer based in New York City. A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Bridges started photography as a college student majoring in economics and finance. Despite his early career as a finance professional at Goldman Sachs, Bridges realized that his true love was in photography – and that he wanted to be able to capture moments with art and thoughtfulness via his photography.
Now, Bridges works for a number of high-profile clients and publications, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Amazon, GQ, Giorgio Armani, and more. Needless to say, he really knows his stuff!
To date, this course has been taken by more than 78,000 students who have completed 229 projects.
The Skillshare Platform
Skillshare is a great learning platform that offers decent value for the money. For a nominal annual fee, you will have unlimited access to more than 20,000 classes. I chose to start with a two-month trial before jumping in for the long haul.
When compared to other online course platforms, like Udemy and LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda), Skillshare offers a decent value for the money. It’s one major flaw is that it only offers classes in four primary categories – Lifestyle, Business, Technology, and Creative. That said, although the categories are limited, the number of courses available in each is not.
I would say that the quality of the instruction provided on Skillshare is somewhere between that of Udemy and LinkedIn Learning, which makes sense given the price differentials between the two. Udemy, for instance, has a large number of completely free classes, while LinkedIn Learning requires a more expensive monthly subscription.
Situated right in the middle of the two is Skillshare, which also charges a subscription fee yet not quite as much as LinkedIn Learning. There are some instructors who really know their stuff, while there are others that offered a level of instruction that I ordinarily wouldn’t have been comfortable paying for.
Related: Skillshare Review
Major Benefits of Taking This Course
The course comes with a helpful review section so you can vet them and make sure this is a class you’re actually interested in taking before you jump in. Before I started the class, I read these reviews and found them to be a quite accurate representation of the true nature of the class.
Reviewers said that Bridges were incredibly engaging and offered clear instruction – and I have to agree. He speaks clearly and slowly yet in a personable manner that made me feel like I was interacting with a real instructor in a real-life classroom setting. He is very knowledgeable about what he teaches and his instruction is proof of that.
Not only that, but the class is laid out in a way that includes plenty of graphs, examples, and tips. It’s a good class for someone who needs lots of hands-on examples to understand a concept.
I’ve taken classes on all kinds of course platforms before, from Udemy to LinkedIn Learning. Something that I deeply appreciate about these two platforms as well as Skillshare is that each platform includes the option for instructors to include transcripts at the end of their courses.
For me, this is an invaluable feature that a lot of people tend to ignore. I am the type of learner who prefers to listen to the material once, then read it a few times to get a good handle on what it is I am supposed to be taking in. The transcript feature is incredibly helpful because it allows me to go back through the course material to rehash and review what I’ve already been told – and I can do it as many times as I want without having to scroll back through minutes upon minutes of audio content.
If you are a visual learner, you’ll love the fact that this class comes with a transcript feature. It’s also beneficial if you have a hard time understanding a word the instructor used or any part of his explanations.
This course also comes with a helpful discussion section. You can ask questions you have about the content in the course and interact with other users. Although Bridges himself doesn’t seem to be that prompt in getting back to students, the discussion section is helpful for learners who want to chat with other students and ask their questions instead.
The course doesn’t end after the hour of instruction – instead, Bridges includes helpful resources you can check out to continue learning. For example, he offers links to resources where you can learn more about how to use your first DSLR along with concepts like metering and focal length.
He also gives students links to his other classes and some products that he recommends (some of which are mentioned in the course itself).
Access to Project Gallery
This course comes with a cool feature known as the Project Gallery. You can take photographs of your own, upload them, and share your process and progress with both the instructor and with your fellow classmates. This is a helpful feature that you don’t see in all classes, but for a class of an artistic nature like this one, it is incredibly valuable.
Bridges also provides students with some tips for things to keep in mind while shooting, such as the lighting conditions, priority mode vs. manual, exposure balance, and more.
Complaints About the Course
Overall, my complaints about this course were minimal. I liked just about everything that it had to offer, from the way it was structured to the content that the instructor, Bridges, chose to include.
One feature I wasn’t fond of had to do with how the transcript feature was laid out. As I mentioned earlier in my review, I love that the class included a transcript. It helps me follow along and stay on top of the course material. However, I wasn’t a huge fan of how the transcript is included in one massive wall of text at the very bottom of the course, rather than appearing as you move through each section.
It’s kind of overwhelming to see all of this information bunched together at once – it would have been much easier to read had it been more spread out and linked to the accompanying section of the class.
Unlike other classes I’ve taken via other online platforms, this one on Skillshare, unfortunately, didn’t come with any kind of credentials or certificates of completion. While that’s obviously not necessary for a class of this nature, I do like that both Udemy and LinkedIn Learning, two other common course platforms, offer those features.
If you liked learning from Justin Bridges and want to learn more about photography, you might want to take one of his other highly-acclaimed courses on Skillshare.
One of the newest is Photo Editing with Justin Bridges, launched just in 2018. This course deals with all the basics of professional photo editing, including how to shoot for a smooth edit and how to make technical fixes on any kind of detail
Another option is Photo Essentials by Justin Bridges. This class goes into more detail about how to take beautiful, well-edited photographs with a DSLR camera. It is really the “section two” of this class, designed for the intermediate learners among us. He also teaches a DSLR Photography II: Understanding Lenses, Focal Length, and Shooting course, also meant for photography students at the intermediate level.
Finally, if you want to learn from Bridges but are ready to move beyond the photography classes, you might want to take his class Personal Finance. This class will teach you how to take control of your personal finances and is inspired by his time on Wall Street. Whether You have healthy money habits or just want to learn how to cultivate them, this class is an excellent option for anyone to consider.
Not a huge fan of Justin Bridges? That’s okay. There are plenty of other photography classes you can take on Skillshare. Some of the most popular include:
- Manual Camera Basics by Stephen Hicks
- Stop Using Scene Modes: Use Your Camera Like a Pro by Paul R. Giunta
- How to Work it Series: Class 3-ISO & White Balance by Lissabeth Anglin
- Pro Product Photography On Pure White Background by Adam Bader
Who is the Fundamentals of DSLR Photography Course on Skillshare Best For?
There is no one person that will benefit most from this course, but in my opinion, the Fundamentals of DSLR Photography Course on Skillshare is one of the best for beginners. You’ll not only learn how to work with the individual components of your DSLR camera, but you’ll learn some of the more “advanced” techniques that won’t necessarily just come with the instructions you receive when you buy your device.
Therefore, this is also a great class for photographers at the intermediate level to consider taking. It offers all kinds of benefits including instruction on how to shoot with your camera, edit your photos, and even find the perfect lens.
Whether you’re new to DSLR photography or have a bit more experience, the Fundamentals of DSLR Photography course on Skillshare is one you’ve got to consider taking.