I get lots of questions before the class has even read the syllabus about what you need. Perfectly understandable and kudos for wanting to be prepared…but if I answered every individual email I’d be typing away all day! :) So instead I made this post. If you have any more questions about it, please wait til class meets, as all teachers are in an insane amount of meetings the week before school begins, and I won’t have time to respond.
First, this list is for Professor Worsfold’s digital class Artph 305. If you are on the waitlist, I would either wait to buy this or I’d make sure you don’t open it and keep receipts in case you don’t get into the class.
CLASS MATERIALS FAQ:
First and foremost, the camera. And not just ANY camera…a smartphone isn’t enough to complete this class; you need a digital camera with manual controls…meaning a digital slr (or mirrorless) with full set of apertures and manual controls. While you can probably get away with a point-and-shoot for most assignments, many of these cameras don’t give you manual control of your shutters and apertures, which we’ll be covering in a few assignments. A point-and-shoot usually has one button on top and a small menu on back with a retractable lens. A Dslr has a lot more buttons and options to control. They usually look like this:
The most important thing to look at is the aperture setting for a full range of apertures. If you’ve got that then most likely all the other features will be there. How do you know what apertures are there? Well, here’s what you do: change the setting on top of the camera or in your menu to Av (or A if you don’t have Av–don’t confuse that with the A+, which stands for auto. Either way, Av/A stands for Aperture).
Then move the dial on the camera and watch the numbers change. On just about any camera, you’ll see numbers 2 through 8, sometimes 11. To be a fully manual camera, you want those numbers to go up to at least 16 (some go up to 22 or 32, which great…or some only go to 11, but go down to 1.4, which is also workable)
Yeah, but what camera do I buy? You’ve got two major brands I’d suggest: Nikon or Canon. My personal preference? Canon. Nikons are just as pretty and have nice lenses, but the dials are difficult to use and the manual can be hard to read. If you’ve already got a Nikon, no worries. Just bring the camera and the manual to class. If you are buying, I’d suggest getting a Canon T2i, T3, T3i or T4i , T5i , T6i or T7, plus newer T8i’s, or the entry level SL3‘s etc. If you’re used to film cameras, I personally love the Fuji X100series and XE3, but mirrorless has pricier lenses, and many people prefer the Sony A7…and neither are cheap, so I say start off with Canon until you know what you like to shoot, then upgrade after a few years. I’m linking to amazon stores (check reviews folks), but you can get really good deals on used stuff locally at Photosource (support local!) or online at Keh.com, a used store that I trust. (There’s also more expensive models like the 7D or Mark IV, but that’s a lot for a beginner to handle.)
Yeah, but I have camera blah blah blah, does it work for the class? Read the first two paragraphs of the post and test it yourself.
If you read this, ignored it and try to rattle off your camera model on the first day of class in an email or in zoom…I’m going to make you take it out and I’ll give you these same instructions to try in front of me, lol. I want you to be the master of your camera, and you gotta start somewhere, right?
Software: You will need access to Adobe Bride asap (it’s a free download) and Photoshop CC. Photoshop will become especially important after the third week. Photoshop CC is a subscription service that you buy thru Adobe.com, but you only need to buy the smallest photographer’s package (LR PS 20GB, right now $9per month), which you can find at: https://www.adobe.com/creativecloud/photography/compare-plans.html OR, you can go to the LRC on campus every week and use Photoshop there; just bring a usb drive to store your edited files. (Extra note–If you have a chromebook, you won’t be able to download the program, or even your photos, for that matter, but you can still use the subscription to use their cloud version online with a Chromebook!).
Other stuff you need:
Memory card for your camera. Get one that is only for your homework, no family stuff! I suggest 16Gb cards. If you get a huge ones, you will have a hard time loading it thru Photoshop because you’ll have too many pictures on your card.
File Storage: You’ll need a place to save your edited files. Even if you have them on your computer, you’ll want a cloud backup just in case. Google drive is free through the school and it can handle jpegs, but you may want to have a flash drive or dropbox account for raw files if you’re a prolific shooter. I use Dropbox, myself.
Tripod: It’s not required, but it is helpful. And it doesn’t have to be fancy. I have a cheapo that I bought at walmart years ago I still take out when doing street photography. You do want to make sure it’s made for dslr cameras, not iphones. https://www.amazon.com/Compact-Weight-Travel-Portable-Aluminum
Camera Manual: While I break down each of the parts and functions of your camera, the menus on your camera are very specific to the brand and model, so you’ll still want that manual. If you don’t have it, you can usually download them as pdfs from the manufacturer’s website, or find them hanging out on the web if you do a little searching.
- A photo grey card: A real one, not some random piece of grey construction paper.
- Time to Shoot and Practice Techniques: Besides the time you spend at your computer watching the tutorials and readings, you’ll need to set aside a couple of hours every week to shoot your homework.
- Portfolio: Normally we’d have a printed portfolio, but as we’re online, no printing requirements, other than turning in the files correctly. :) However, you may be getting some prints from me, so you may want a manilla envelop (8.5×11) if you pick those up from campus.
- Usb cord: you *may* need this. You should get one in the box with your camera, but if you’ve lost it, let’s wait and see if you actually need it before you buy another. Some of you will be able to transfer via wifi, but I still do it the old way because the files are so big when shooting raw.
Where do I buy all this stuff? Well, the camera can be bought at Best Buy, Costco, online at Keh.com for safe used equipment…you want it to come in a kit with the lens, battery, charger, and usb cord, so look for those deals. You can also might find them at Action Camera, PhotoSource, or Mike’s Camera, and buying local is awesome, but I would call first to see what they have in stock.
I’m overwhelmed. What do I need right away? I purposely don’t assign any shooting homework the first week, to give students time to get a camera. But by week 2, you’re shooting photos, so you’ll want a camera, card and manual. I wait a few weeks before I start in on photoshop, but you’ll want to download Adobe Bridge asap (it’s free, remember?) since you’ll use that to download and rename files–and we use that instead of Picasa or iPhoto because those other programs wipe out the metadata and other important information in your photos I’ll be looking for.
Hope that helps, and see you soon!