Erin is a mom of two and has been with Today’s Mama for ten years. She is charged with finding and sharing all of the wonderful things the web has to offer. She is particularly fond of food, photography, printables, and funny things. She writes about losing weight in her Healthy Living for Mom series, and is chronicling her attempt to master her DSLR camera with her series, Big Girl Camera.

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Big Girl Camera: Photo 101 from Nicole’s Classes

So I’ve had my DSLR for almost four months. I’ve been meandering around the web, reading all the tips and tutorials I could get my hands on, but I just wasn’t getting it.

My friend, Alma Loveland, saw my post and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse—would I like to take Photo 101 from Nicole’s Classes?

Um. YES!

Photo 101 is an online course (one class among MANY from Nicole’s Classes) offered each month. It’s a 4-week class and is taught by the lovely Nicole Gerulat and thoroughly covers basic photography principles like composition, posing, lighting, lenses, and most importantly shooting in manual.

Shooting in manual.

The holy grail of photography.

In all of my reading (blog post tutorials, pinterest cheat sheets, and actual books) the one thing that came up over and over, from each photographer, is that shooting in manual takes practice. Lots of practice.

Believe me when I tell you that this Photo 101 class is the most glorious shortcut you could ask for.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have a lot of practicing to do. I was completely intimidated that first week when I was reading through the course material that walked me through the delicate balance of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. But the information was presented in a straight-forward and encouraging way.

As helpful as the course material is—all information is presented in text and video format—the weekly homework is what really made a huge difference for me. While the homework is not required, I realized that each homework assignment would give me the opportunity to tackle an element of photography that I wouldn’t normally explore on my own.

It’s one thing to read about depth of field. It’s another thing to monkey around with your camera and actually manage to capture shallow depth of field…

…and greater depth of field…


Or to show movement…

…or freeze action.

See what I mean? Both sets of images represent a photography concept that I was eager to learn, but the Photo 101 homework gave me the structure to really dig in and get to know my camera.

I spent two hours shooting my homework assignments that first week. At the end of those two hours I felt transformed. Truly.

We’re in week 4 and each new assignment adds a new layer to my understanding of shooting in manual. Even though my goal is simply to take photos of my family, understanding concepts like lighting and posing come in handy when I’m trying to situate myself in the best spot to capture that hair and the dreamy afternoon light in my living room.

Nicole’s Classes also offers additional instruction in each course with personal feedback  on your homework from your instructor as well as weekly live chats.

My experience has been amazing and I would love for you to try it out too. We’re giving away a spot in Nicole’s Classes Photo 101! Go get the details and enter! The contest ends April 11, 2012.

*Disclaimer: The wonderful people at Nicole’s Classes allowed me to take Photo 101 for free. My opinion, as always, is my own.

Other posts you might enjoy…

Big Girl Camera: January in Photos 

Big Girl Camera: February in Photos 

Make Any Bag a Camera Bag with this Pouch 

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Comments (5)

  1. stephanie peterson 04/05/2012 at 6:44 pm

    My ONE goal for the year, learn to shoot in manual mode!! I would LOVE help:)

  2. Lanette Artiles 04/02/2012 at 2:55 pm

    Would love to win! We bought a new dslr camera last Christmas! Now that I have 2 little ones to photograph (a 2 yr old and a 6 mo old) I really need to figure out how to “properly” use our camera, instead of using auto all the time.

  3. Amy Allen Johnson 03/28/2012 at 2:02 pm

    Erin! Love the before/after shots. You are becoming one HOT photographer! Yeah for Nicole’s Classes and Yeah for Erin!

  4. Johanna F 03/28/2012 at 12:14 pm

    I would love to win! My husband gave me a dslr for a birthday gift years ago. Now I am a new stay at home mom that would love to learn how to use my camera in manual. Taking beautiful pictures of my 3 month old would be so awesome!!

  5. Iisha B 03/28/2012 at 11:05 am

    I would love to win this and learn how to use my camera out of auto mode <3