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Many of the creative options available to a photographer hinge on an in-depth understanding of lenses. In Foundations of Photography: Lenses, Ben Long shows how to choose lenses and take full advantage of their creative options. The course covers fundamental concepts that apply to any camera, such as focal length and camera position, and shows how to evaluate and shop for DSLR lenses. The second half of the course focuses on shooting techniques: controlling autofocus, working with different focal lengths, and managing distortion and flare. The course also examines various filters and contains tips on cleaning and maintaining lenses.
The title lenses might make you think that this course is going to be about technical optics stuff and lens buying. And while there will be some technical discussion, this course is not meant as a lesson in optics. Several of your camera's most critical controls sit on the lens. Your choice of lens and how you use it will determine the composition of your shot, set the sense of space and proportion in the final image, how deep or shallow the depth of field in your image will be, and overall sharpness and contrast. Furthermore, your choice of lens and your understanding of its controls will determine whether you can work as quickly as you need to get the shots that you want.
This course is going to assume a fundamental understanding of exposure, so if you haven't yet worked through the Foundations of Photography: Exposure course, you might want to do that before taking on this one. I'll be using terminology here that is defined and explained in exposure as well as building on some of the practices and habits that you should have developed there. This course will be useful no matter what type of camera you have, be it a high-end SLR or a tiny point-and-shoot. All lenses have the same properties, even though they might have very different characteristics. Finally, I'm a strong believer that it's practice that makes a good photographer more than any gear choice, and that's in spite of this incredible collection of lenses I have sitting here and more than any postproduction effect you might use.
So, along the way, be sure to experiment with the ideas that we are offering, and try some of what you see here on your own. You can do most of these things around the house if you like, but to get the most out of this course, you are going to need to get out of your chair and grab your camera.
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