Lectures in Digital Photography

My early attempts in taking decent photos did not go very well. In truth the more I fiddled with the settings, the worse the pictures got. Well in truth, I did manage to take a handful of good pics. But if I’m being honest, every one of those was a result of just plain good luck. So much so, I’ve considered the idea of taking a photo class. You know, one of those classes that are frequently offered at your local community center. Or maybe the local community college. I’m not looking to become a pro or anything like that, mind you. I am not interested in a degree program or anything of that caliber. I just want to take better pictures and understand all the wonderful settings on my camera.

A friend of mine sent me a link that points to an online set of lectures presented by a former Stanford professor. I don’t know the background but apparently, he decided to put the lectures, in their entirety, online for free.

From the course website,

“An introduction to the scientific, artistic, and computing aspects of digital photography. Topics include lenses and optics, light and sensors, optical effects in nature, perspective and depth of field, sampling and noise, the camera as a computing platform, image processing and editing, and computational photography. We will also survey the history of photography, look at the work of famous photographers, and talk about composing strong photographs.”

Lectures on Dgital Photography by Marc Lavoy

Course Applets

  1. Variables-that-affect-exposure
  2. Operation-of-a-thin-lens
  3. Gaussian-lens-formula
  4. Depth-of-field
  5. Telephoto-zoom-lens
  6. Spatial-convolution
  7. Phase-detection
  8. Contrast-detection
  9. Color-theory
  10. Color-matching
  11. Chromaticity-diagrams
  12. Gamut-mapping
  13. Color mixing
  14. Gamma-correction
  15. Cylindrical-panoramas

Course Assignments

  1. Bad-photos
  2. Sports-and-action
  3. Macro
  4. Architecture
  5. Still-life
  6. Landscape
  7. Night-color
  8. Portraiture
  9. Best photos from assignments


In addition to what you see on left, there are 21 lectures. Each of these will highlight one topic or another. Sadly, none of those have a title so it really makes no sense trying to list them here.

My Overall Assessment
After sitting through the first few lectures, I have surmised these lectures, while insanely informative, are way more advanced than what I was looking for. In order to keep up with the content, you will need a pretty strong math aptitude and be ready to get lost in theory. While I intend to sit through the lectures as I have the brain space I am more interested in tackling the assignments that accompany the collections of lectures.

So my first lesson in all this is simple but important; decide what your goals are before you look for instruction. Are you interested in augmenting your Fine Arts degree with a concentration in photography? Perhaps you are a seasoned photographer who is looking for a refresher. Or maybe, like me, you are a new hobbyist who is simply trying to learn how to use your camera and take good photos.

I have sat now through six of these lectures. And I have come to the decision that I will discontinue them. They are chock-full of information and are certainly a great value. But they have proven to be far more than what I need. I will leave the notes that have been posted so far but will not likely do much more of them. I will however continue with the assignments. If nothing else, for the personal challenge. I’m sure I will need to learn things as I go but will likely seek other sources. And of course, I will happily share those.

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