Introduction to Photography is the first DVD in the Karl Taylor Photography Masterclass series. Karl is a professional photographer, who's covered worldwide assignments, worked as a photojournalist and has been involved in advertising and fashion photography. He now runs a successful studio and training company and the DVDs are an extension to his training facilities He's also a member of ePHOTOzine here Karl Taylor
and he has written several tutorials for us. You can ask him questions in our forum.
Introduction to Photography DVD: Features
The DVD is well packaged, with very clean design, clear details of the content and matching printed DVD with outer sleeve. There's a 12 page booklet that bullet points the DVD course so you can carry it as a handy reference in you camera bag. But can you judge this DVD by its cover? Let's see...
The product self loads on your TV's DVD player, but on my home computer (hand built by one of my IT team) I got a message saying it wouldn't play. After some quick research using Google I discovered I needed to install a video codec and found K-Lite Codec - a free download for Windows XP. This was downloaded and installed in seconds! Most shop PCs with a dvd player built in will not need any extra fiddling.
The rear cover claims you will learn the following:
Apertures & Shutter Speeds
How Cameras Work
Optics, Lenses & Focus
Depth of Field
Using Your Camera in Manual
ISO and Resolution
As the DVD begins, these titles appear with a decent bit of music - all very professionally animated. It sets the scene for a quality production and a menu appears from which we can view all from start or dip in on one of 11 chapters.
The first chapter sees Karl walking along a beach to introduce the DVD. Karl is very animated and his enthusiasm is delivered in his presentation. He explains what we're going to learn with a backdrop of the ocean and a soundtrack bobbling alongside. It's all very exciting.
He suggests the six things we need to understand are light, the subject, optics, aperture, time and medium. His then explains what these are and how they sit within photography. With the various aspects of photography now broken down we move into Karl's studio reception where he demonstrates how cameras work. The "how the shutter works" explanation is done with brilliant simplicity using an old Olympus film camera.
Exposure explained using a model in the studio
He switches to the studio set and uses a model to explain exposure, controlled using the aperture and shutter.
We then skip to a park where he takes the shutter speed control a stage further and uses a typical family subject - girl on a bike - to demonstrate panning and exposure compensation.
The video continues at fairly fast pace, skipping between coast and studio, to cover the other topics. Everything is done with great articulation and is so easy to follow.
One problem with the coastal section is at times it's hard to hear what he's saying above the sound of crashing waves. At a later stage I think he's realised this and shouts to get his tuition across, which spoils the delivery.
On contrast there's a section in the studio where he uses pens to illustrate focus points and depth -of-field it's a fantastic way of showing this and will really demystify focusing. To ensure the theory has sunk in he takes shots of a model as a highly practical example. If you don't understand exposure and depth-of-field after this, there's no hope!
Karl demonstrates focusing and depth-of-field
Drawing in the sand, shwoing photographs with acetate overlays, and charts are all used skillfully and interestingly throughout to help you grasp the technicalities in a more visual way.
To explain hard and soft light Karl uses the sun as his light source and walks through a field as he explains. The camera moves ahead and the scene switches from sunlight to overcast to illustrate point light and soft light. The trouble is it's all a bit long and you start to feel the motion and camera wobble. It reminded me of the Isn't life brilliant character from the Fast Show.
Introduction to Photography DVD: Verdict
Karl explaining shutter speeds and aperture steps.
I love the slick filming, with multi-angle shooting, varied teaching techniques, clear and articulate explanations and photographs used to illustrate the sections. The presentation is a bit loud (shouty) in a few parts and there's not enough subject variation (too much coastal photography no flowers, still-lives, pets etc) but those small points are outweighed by the sheer quality and completeness of the rest. If you have any questions about camera basics this will answer them...clearly and concisely for less than £30 - if you're starting out with an SLR this DVD is a sure fire way to get up to speed fast.
If you already have the basics you won't learn anything new here. It's totally for beginners, but the other DVDs in the series will offer you some nuggets of information.
Introduction to Photography DVD: Pros
Extremely well explained
Articulate and animated presenter
Perfect material for beginners
Introduction to Photography DVD: Cons
Limited subject matter - mostly coastal and portraits
Sound bad by the sea
QUALITY OF ADVICE
For more information look at Karl's site here: Karl Taylor Photography Masterclass