Take a Free Course on Digital Photography from Stanford Prof Marc Levoy

Pho­tog­ra­phy and video have advanced to such a degree that any one of us, for a mod­est invest­ment of cap­i­tal, can own the req­ui­site equip­ment to make pro­duc­tions at the same lev­el of qual­i­ty as the pros. And most of us already hold in our hands com­put­ers capa­ble of pro­duc­ing and edit­ing hun­dreds of rich still and mov­ing images. What we may lack, what most of us lack, are the skills and expe­ri­ence of the pro­fes­sion­als. No amount of fan­cy pho­to gear can make up the dif­fer­ence, but you can at least acquire the education—a very thor­ough, tech­ni­cal edu­ca­tion in dig­i­tal photography—online, and for free.

Taught by Stan­ford pro­fes­sor Emer­i­tus of Com­put­er Sci­ence Marc Lev­oy, the course above, sim­ply called “Lec­tures on Dig­i­tal Pho­tog­ra­phy,” cov­ers seem­ing­ly every­thing you might need to know and then some: from the parts of a dig­i­tal cam­era (“every screw”), to the for­mu­la for depth of field, the prin­ci­ples of high dynam­ic range, and the his­to­ry and art of pho­to­graph­ic com­po­si­tion.

Beware, this course may not suit the casu­al Instagrammer—it requires aspi­ra­tion and “a cell phone won’t suf­fice.” Addi­tion­al­ly, though Lev­oy says he assumes no pri­or knowl­edge, he does expect a few non-cam­era-relat­ed aca­d­e­m­ic skill sets:

The only knowl­edge I assume is enough facil­i­ty and com­fort with math­e­mat­ics that you’re not afraid to see the depth-of-field for­mu­la in all its glo­ry, and an inte­gral sign here or there won’t send you run­ning for the hills. Some top­ics will require con­cepts from ele­men­tary prob­a­bil­i­ty and sta­tis­tics (like mean and vari­ance), but I define these con­cepts in lec­ture. I also make use of matrix alge­bra, but only at the lev­el of matrix mul­ti­pli­ca­tion. Final­ly, an expo­sure to dig­i­tal sig­nal pro­cess­ing or Fouri­er analy­sis will give you a bet­ter intu­ition for some top­ics, but it is not required.

Sound a lit­tle daunt­ing? You will not need an expen­sive SLR cam­era (sin­gle lens reflex), though it would help you get the most out of com­plex dis­cus­sions of set­tings. The top­ics of some inter­ac­tive fea­tures may sound mystifying—“gamut-mapping,” “cylindrical-panoramas”—but Levoy’s lec­tures, all in well-shot video, move at a brisk pace, and he con­tex­tu­al­izes new sci­en­tif­ic terms and con­cepts with a facil­i­ty that will put you at ease. Lev­oy for­mer­ly taught the course at Stan­ford between 2009 and 2014. The ver­sion he teach­es online here comes from a Google class giv­en this year—eigh­teen lec­tures span­ning 11 weeks.

Find all of the course materials—including inter­ac­tive applets and assignments—at Levoy’s course site. As he notes, since the course has “gone viral,” many videos embed­ded on the site won’t play prop­er­ly. Lev­oy directs poten­tial stu­dents to his Youtube chan­nel. You can see the full playlist of lec­tures at the top of this post as well.  For more resources in pho­tog­ra­phy education—practical and the­o­ret­i­cal, begin­ner to advanced—see PetaPixel’s list of “the best free online pho­tog­ra­phy cours­es and tuto­ri­als.”

Lec­tures on Dig­i­tal Pho­tog­ra­phy” will be added to our col­lec­tion, 1,700 Free Online Cours­es from Top Uni­ver­si­ties.

via PetaPix­el

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hunter S. Thompson’s Advice for Aspir­ing Pho­tog­ra­phers: Skip the Fan­cy Equip­ment & Just Shoot

The Pho­tog­ra­ph­er Reveals the Phi­los­o­phy, Tech­niques & Artistry of Edward West­on (1948)

See the First Known Pho­to­graph Ever Tak­en (1826)

Muse­um of Mod­ern Art (MoMA) Launch­es Free Course on Look­ing at Pho­tographs as Art

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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