First Timers: Digital Photography

What to Expect in First-Time Digital Photography

There’s a first time for everything. In this series, we introduce you to Lillstreet’s First-Time Classes. We love, love, LOVE this lineup of classes, because they are designed with a passion. At Lillstreet, we’re a community. We’re newbies working alongside pros, and our First-Time Classes uphold the fundamental purpose we’re here – to create a space for all artists.

You will always find a place to start at Lillstreet. If you’re brand new to a medium (or art in general) this is the perfect place to embark on that adventure. We all start somewhere, sometime, and these classes are designed to help you master the basics. Each four-or five-week introductory course allows students with no previous experience to connect with an experienced teaching artist, explore different media and meet others new to the craft. We promise you’ll learn new techniques in a no-pressure, supportive environment.

Welcome to First-Time Digital Photography

So you’re new to your DSLR. Maybe you’re not even sure what DSLR stands for or why it matters. The modern age of digital photography has made it easier than ever to shoot in auto-pilot and get a decent shot. However, it pays to learn more about how your camera works, especially if it allows you the option to go full manual. During this course, you’ll learn how to utilize and manipulate the camera’s many functions in order to produce well balanced, properly exposed, successful images.

This class focuses on the fundamentals necessary to master that incredible piece of equipment you have at your fingertips. Topics covered include the essentials, like proper exposure techniques, ISO, shutter speed and aperture. We dive in to hands-on assignments and solicit group feedback often. What’s more, is once you know the technical aspects, you can explore your creative abilities, test out your new camera knowledge and embark on new creative projects.

WHAT YOU NEED: DSLR camera or camera with manual functions & A USB flash drive (minimum 16 GB)
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
Week 1: Shutter Speed

Freeze it, blur it…but do it with intent and purpose. If your dog is supposed to be in focus at Montrose Beach, then let’s get him in focus. Learn how with a step-by-step run down of the basics. Shutter speed is one of the two main exposure controls used by photographers to make sure the camera’s sensor gets the right amount of light. Most digital cameras today can automatically set very fast shutter speeds to allow you to capture very fast movements. But if you’d like to create artistic motion blurs, light trails, and long exposures, you have to know how to adjust your shutter speeds.

Week one is also the week you meet some very cool First-Timers and your incredibly talented teaching-artist instructor. Your instructor will arm you will a syllabus, reading assignments and weekly homework (trust us, it’s the fun kind). From there, we only have a few short weeks, so we dive right into it.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
Week 2: Aperture

That other main control? Enter, aperture:

ap·er·ture

/ˈapərˌCHər,ˈapərˌCHo͝or/
noun
TECHNICAL 1. an opening, hole, or gap.

It all boils down to that. Aperture is like the ‘pupil’ for your camera system, and although the jargon can seem complicated (shallow depth of field, wide aperature, fast lens, f-stop!?), we’ll walk you through it so it’s easy to understand. Aperture has two critical effects on your photographs (1) brightness (exposure) of your images and (2) depth of field (highly calculated blur, to keep it simple). If you’re hoping for an object in focus, with a beautifully blurry background or foreground, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll take it a notch above “Portrait” mode and learn to command true bokeh in your backgrounds.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
Week 3: ISO & Composition

What does I.S.O stand for? How can an image be noisy? We take photographs in a wide range of lighting conditions, but your camera’s sensor needs a fixed amount of light to produce a good exposure. We’ll learn the myths and capabilities around ISO – when to go high, when to go low…and why.

Composition is truly the gateway drug for bringing your vision to life. We’ll talk framing, positioning and how to create a journey for the eye. One of our favorite photographer’s said it best, so we’ll leave it to her:

I don’t know what good composition is… Sometimes for me composition has to do with a certain brightness or a certain coming to restness and other times it has to do with funny mistakes. There’s a kind of rightness and wrongness and sometimes I like rightness and sometimes I like wrongness.
—Diane Arbus
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
Week 4: Using Color & Light

This is the week we dive into color relationships. We’ll look at color temps, white balance and how to navigate those concepts in the real world. It’s one thing to understand HOW to capture light, it’s another to ensure it’s balanced (because green skin tones are only cool if that’s what you’re going for).

Shooting indoors, we’re often faced with a variety of light temperatures. We’ll learn how to approach that variety of light sources – to get accurate colors in our images. Fortunately, we have the perfect space in which to learn – 40,000 square feet of studios that offer a variety of different light sources – both natural and artificial. We’ll create our own scenarios and put our skills to test both indoors and out.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
Week 5: Shooting in Manual Mode

This is it: the week we punch “Priority Mode” in the face. Hello, Manual Mode! We’ll combine your knowledge of ISO, shutter speed and aperture all in a single go. We’ll also talk about a few crucial technical basics that are important from the get go, so you can share, save and print your images in the future.

By the last session, we can hardly believe how the time flew by. You have a new close-knit community of creators. So close, in fact that you’re all comfortable critiquing others’ work, talking about creative perspectives and being candid with your skill set. Maybe you even plan to grab a drink at O’Shaughnessy’s, follow each other’s progress on Instagram, meet up for a street photo session, or register for Beginning Digital Photo (a 10-week deep dive into the fundamentals of digital photography) together.

FOLLOW LILLSTREET PHOTO ON INSTAGRAM or FACEBOOK.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHY DEPARTMENT:
Lillstreet’s Photography program offers artist-taught classes that cover topics from basic technical introduction to advanced creative projects. We engage in conversations surrounding contemporary digital media and facilitate students’ critical thinking skills when it comes to reading the image. Equipped with Adobe software, Epson printers, and a large lighting studio, we’re here to help you master the tools and concepts necessary to create meaningful images that stand out in a culture in which everyone has access to a camera. Lillstreet offers art classes in Ravenswood, Chicago. You’ll find us at the corner of Montrose and Ravenswood. Get to know us>>
Find a Photography Class
View all First-Time Classes

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Photo Credits:

Week 1 (Thom Holmes)  Week 2 (Oliver Roos)  Week 3 (William Daignault) Week 4 (Kate Bek) Week 5 (Jeanne Donegan)

About the author

Kate Bek

Add comment

Location

4401 N. Ravenswood Ave.
Chicago, IL 60640

OFFICE/GALLERY HOURS:

Mon-Thurs: 10am-7:30pm
Fri-Sat: 10am-6pm
Sun: 10am-5pm

About Lillstreet

Founded in 1975, Lillstreet Art Center is a large community of artists and students working side-by-side in a friendly environment which encourages and inspires artistic growth in the individual. Lillstreet Art Center supports the arts through our education program, artist residencies, gallery exhibitions and retail sales opportunities, studio rentals, and arts-based professional development.

Get in touch

P: 773.769.4226
E: lillstreet@lillstreet.com
W: lillstreet.com