Photography Basics and Beyond: From Smartphone to DSLR Specialization

Starts Jun 26

Photography Basics and Beyond: From Smartphone to DSLR Specialization

Create photographs you will be proud to share.

Build a solid foundation in digital photography, growing in knowledge from camera to composition!

About This Specialization

Whether your camera is a Smartphone or DSLR, a Compact or Mirrorless model, you will learn to gain control of exposure and understand fundamentals of composition, while exploring documentary and creative concepts to make the kinds of photographs you have always wanted. This Specialization covers a broad range of fundamental principles in photography, from camera control to principles of composition and creativity, providing you with a foundation for growth in making photographs you’ll be proud to share. In the Capstone you will develop a final project of photographs related to your individual needs, whether practical or purely expressive, and share ongoing feedback with fellow learners. The 'top-10' peer-reviewed Capstone projects each year will be awarded the opportunity for individual reviews, with personal responses, by world renowned photographers who have been honored with the title of Canson-Infinity® Ambassadors. In addition to the awarding of a Certificate of Specialization from Michigan State University, each Learner who subscribes to and completes the entire Specialization, including Capstone, will receive substantial discounts on equipment, accessories, and membership benefits through Industry Partners from among the premier manufacturers of photography equipment: Fracture, Gary Fong, Gyst, Lensbaby, LensPen, Lume Cube, Photo District News, PhotoVideoEdu.com, Pixsy, and Think Tank.

Created by:

Industry Partners:

courses
5 courses

Follow the suggested order or choose your own.

projects
Projects

Designed to help you practice and apply the skills you learn.

certificates
Certificates

Highlight your new skills on your resume or LinkedIn.

Courses
Beginner Specialization.
No prior experience required.
  1. COURSE 1

    Cameras, Exposure, and Photography

    Upcoming session: Jun 26 — Jul 31.
    Subtitles
    English

    About the Course

    Welcome to Course One of Photography Basics and Beyond: From Smartphone to DSLR! In these first 4 Modules you will gain the knowledge and the confidence that will help you make good choices as you consider qualities of the camera you own, and the qualities of the other types of digital cameras you might be considering. You will learn about the basic functions that most digital cameras have in common. You will also go beyond the "technical" matters and learn about how you can make exciting pictures by emphasizing the aspects of Frame and Vantage Point to interpret old subjects in new ways. Discovering accessories that photographers find useful, and the types of camera bags from mini to carry-on sized, is also in store for you. You will also make your first photographs and, if you are a subscriber to the specialization, upload pictures to the web gallery and start interacting with your fellow learners in our "Gallery." Let's get started with Module One!
  2. COURSE 2

    Camera Control

    Upcoming session: Jun 26 — Jul 31.
    Commitment
    4 weeks of study, 1-3 hours/week
    Subtitles
    English

    About the Course

    Welcome to Course Two of Photography Basics and Beyond: From Smartphone to DSLR! Now that you have a broad understanding of the various types of cameras, the importance of setting up Menus and Functions to gain control in your photography, and the difference between Auto and Program exposure modes, you are ready to move into even greater Camera Control! In these 4 Modules we will concentrate on gaining the knowledge necessary to make use of Exposure Modes, Light Metering, Effects of various ISO settings, Lens options, using Shutter Speeds to convey aspects of Time in both documentary and creative ways, and exploring the controlled focus effects that Depth of Field Principles make possible. You will also continue to make new photographs and, if you are a subscriber to the specialization, continue interacting with your fellow learners as you share photographs for Peer Review. You will also confirm your knowledge through completion of quizzes and written responses. Let's get started with Module One!
  3. COURSE 3

    Principles of Photo Composition and Digital Image Post-Production

    Current session: Jun 19 — Jul 24.
    Commitment
    4 weeks of study, 2-3 hours/week
    Subtitles
    English

    About the Course

    Welcome to Course THREE! In the first two Modules you will gain a more professional-level understanding of the Design Elements that artists have used throughout history to create successful compositions. Arranging the Elements in ways that lead viewers through their compositions is an essential craft for photographers no matter whether their subject matter is pure documentary or vividly exotic personal expression. In Modules 3 & 4 we survey the essential elements of post-photography image management, using Adobe(tm) LIGHTROOM(tm). Image adjustment software designed for Smartphone photographers rounds out the Course. Since even photographers whose mainstay is a high-end DSLR also must admit to Smartphone use occasionally, and photographers who only use a Smartphone will usually admit that they want to step over to a "regular" camera at some point, there is something for everyone here! Let's get started with Module One!
  4. COURSE 4

    Photography Techniques: Light, Content, and Sharing

    Upcoming session: Jun 26 — Jul 31.
    Subtitles
    English

    About the Course

    Welcome to Course FOUR! In Modules 1-4 you will cover the final elements of the Specialization necessary to round out this introduction to the fundamentals of Photography, and prepare you for creating your own exciting project in the Capstone! You have come a long way since the beginning of this journey from Smartphone Basics to DSLR and Beyond. Just think of all the information you have absorbed and put to use in your assignments and quizzes, and the confidence you have gained that you CAN control the camera to make pictures you are proud to share. Here in Course Four you will start by gaining knowledge related to content in photography, from fact to fiction, documentary to purely expressive. Next you will learn principles, tips, and techniques for using the essential element of Light in Ambient/Natural settings. The flash/strobe unit, whether it is built-in to your camera or an add-on "hotshoe" model, will finally be something you, not the camera, controls! You will prove to yourself that those former mysteries of Controlled Continuous and Strobe lighting will no longer be mysterious, as you apply your knowledge to creation of assignment photographs in various situations. Sharing those pictures in Peer Review will give you the opportunity to learn from your fellow photographers' solutions to lighting challenges, and to gain insight into your own work and creative approaches too. There is an important word to share about Peer Review assignments for this course. As photographers who have accomplished the quiz and photography requirements of Courses One through Three, you have the knowledge and capability to create quality photographs at a much higher rate of success, and in a much shorter time, than when you began. You have also proven that you are a dedicated Learner, someone who has a passion for photography and is willing to put forth the extra effort necessary to accomplish your goals. This Course is the last before the Capstone Course, in which you will be tasked with creating a project over a 2-month period of dedicated photography. The Peer Review photography assignments have been structured with both your advanced capabilities and dedication in mind...in other words, they will require both! Be prepared to allocate more time than you have in previous Courses for the assignments, because they will take more time and because you will really enjoy them! Course Four ends with an overview of methods for finalizing your pictures in print form, including simple but effective matting techniques, and in web page designs as well. The pleasures and perils of sharing in social media sites are also yours to discover. Protecting your copyrights by understanding that concept and the ways that you can assert them, being careful about blogs and other outlets, and recognizing you are part of a community that respects the individual's creative effort, well that is important knowledge to have in preparation for the Capstone too! Let's get started with Module One!
  5. COURSE 5

    Photography Capstone Project

    Upcoming session: Jun 26 — Aug 28.
    Commitment
    Plan on spending more than 5.hrs per week completing each module, much of it making/editing photos
    Subtitles
    English

    About the Capstone Project

    The Capstone Project is your opportunity to take advantage of the knowledge you have gained through our journey in learning about photography, to develop a meaningful project of 10 well formed photographs based in your passion for artistic expression, or a subject for documentary exploration, insightful portraiture, imaging for work-related subjects, or some other aspect of photography. We are confident that it will be a project that you will be excited to share with fellow Learners, and with Professors Peter Glendinning and Mark Sullivan too! A unique feature of this Course is the individual review and responsive input you will receive directly from Peter or Mark, who will be viewing your pictures and making evaluations of all projects at the end of the Capstone. You should plan on spending more time on this Course per week than any other in this Specialization, and much of it will be in making photographs. During the entire period of development, you and your fellow learners will be supporting each other as you work independently, by sharing your work-in-progress from the initial Project Plan to the final Portfolio. At each stage, all Learners will share comments and suggestions with each other, helping each other to gauge progress and to learn about different approaches to photography and content. By expressing your own ideas and expectations about quality in response to the work of others, you will be forming your own criteria of excellence as well. Along the way there will be multiple opportunities for sharing pictures and ideas through carefully designed Peer Review. This sharing of photographs and comments with peers, and reflecting on their comments about your photos, will be an exciting learning experience that will help you grow in understanding your own photography and that of others. Your contribution of comments to fellow Learners will not only help them understand their photographs better, but it will give you an opportunity to use the vocabulary of terms that are related to techniques, design principles, and content approaches that you have learned through your success in each of the previous Modules. A unique aspect of this Specialization is that everyone who completes the requirements will receive, in addition to their Certificate of Specialization from Michigan State University, access to substantial discounts on equipment, accessories, and membership benefits through Industry Partners from among the premier manufacturers of photography equipment and related items: Fracture, Gary Fong, Gyst, Lensbaby, LensPen, Lume Cube Lighting, Photo District News, PhotoVideoEdu, Think Tank Cases/Bags. In addition, The 'top-10' peer-reviewed Capstone projects each year will be awarded the opportunity for individual reviews, with personal responses, by world renowned photographers who have been honored with the title of Canson-Infinity® Paper Ambassadors.

Creators

  • Michigan State University

    The MSU College of Arts and Letters educates actors, artists, designers, filmmakers, linguists, philosophers, poets, teachers, translators, writers and much more in a creative, learning and nurturing environment.

    Michigan State University has been advancing the common good with uncommon will for more than 150 years. One of the top research universities in the world, MSU pushes the boundaries of discovery and forges enduring partnerships to solve the most pressing global challenges while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges.

  • Peter Glendinning

    Peter Glendinning

    Professor
  • Mark Valentine Sullivan

    Mark Valentine Sullivan

    Associate Professor

FAQs

More questions? Visit the Learner Help Center.