The Antithesis of Instagram, or its Essence? Yes.
September 6, 2016 11:18 PM   Subscribe

"Most photography books talk about depth of field and depth of focus, but few of them give a formula for it. Here it is. N is the F-number, f is focal length, C is pixel size, and U is distance to the scene. We'll study this formula in lecture, and you'll be invited to experiment with depth of field in weekly photographic assignments."
Lectures on Digital Photography: How Cameras Work, and How to Take Good Pictures Using Them. A free 18-lecture course taught by Marc Levoy, Professor Emeritus of Computer Science at Stanford, and Principal Engineer at Google. Via.

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."

Course includes lecture videos (which you'll probably need to watch on Levoy's YouTube channel) and slides, interactive Flash applets that illustrate various concepts discussed, and self-paced assignments.
posted by Rykey (17 comments total) 167 users marked this as a favorite
This looks fantastic, thanks!
posted by das_2099 at 4:13 AM on September 7, 2016

I've tried taking online courses before. Is there any estimate of how much time it actually takes to complete this? I see that there are assignments with due dates of eg september 2014. Does this still get interaction online?
posted by rebent at 6:24 AM on September 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm old enough to remember when physical camera shops were pretty common.Their windows - packed with new and used camera bodies, lenses and other paraphernalia - were catnip to a certain category of passer by - stand for a while on the other side of the street and you could see them getting away from whatever else they were supposed to be doing into a fetishistic reverie over Lieca lenses and f numbers. I do have to say that this group trended pretty heavily male. And I was reflecting this as I listened, damned by my gender, to Marc Levoy for 2 hours when I should have been doing something else.

It was fun!
posted by rongorongo at 6:58 AM on September 7, 2016

This isn't a "live" course in the MOOC-type formal sense, where you sign up, get feedback, get credit, interact with the instructor, etc.—it's more like a "I teach a course at Stanford, and why shouldn't everyone get access to what I'm already teaching?" thing. The value's in the content.

As for how long it takes to complete, it's hard to say, because it's self-paced. The lectures themselves But if the concern is what the deadlines are, there are none.
posted by Rykey at 7:03 AM on September 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

I will definitely look into this. I bought a gorgeous Nikon 5200 this past spring but it has absolutely languished in a box in my home office. All the goals I had of using it have come to nothing and it frustrates me that I have this very expensive camera (not to mention two compatible lenses I bought for it) just gathering dust in my home. Thanks for this!
posted by Kitteh at 7:26 AM on September 7, 2016

I dropped out of my photography course - I just couldn't focus.

And that is my 1,000th "Dad Joke" on MeFi, everyone! Now keep it down back there or I swear to God, I'll stop this thread and you'll have to walk home.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 7:30 AM on September 7, 2016 [11 favorites]

I searched his site for selfie and there was only one instance. The word "don't" was the the first word in the sentence.


These folks have video of a 30 minute panel at some museum in England with five experts talking about what makes a quality selfie. I'm saving it for later.
posted by bukvich at 7:49 AM on September 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

Bukvich are you suggesting that people should not learn how to compose better self-portraits?
posted by rebent at 10:31 AM on September 7, 2016

I have no idea what your question means rebent.

If you are curious you may have a couple more facts. I have never once taken a selfie. I am thinking of trying it out. I searched his site to see if there was any HOWTO type information. There is none. I don't know why.

I did a google search and the English museum panel was the top result but I don't have a half hour to watch it right now.

There ain't any selfie howto dope on Greenspun's site either.

posted by bukvich at 10:52 AM on September 7, 2016

haha you too!
posted by rebent at 11:46 AM on September 7, 2016

(Just for the record, this is about digital photography, though I imagine most of it is applicable to film photography.)
posted by wenestvedt at 1:31 PM on September 7, 2016

It was a video demoing the capabilities of the Stanford Camera Array which got me interested in the idea of virtual focal planes. The demo which showed being able to focus through foliage got my attention. I then embarked on a few years of making images like that myself, but with one camera and images taken from slightly different positions.

Here's a photo of the Chicago Cultural Center, virtual focused through the trees.

I'm looking forward to reviewing this new material. Thanks!
posted by MikeWarot at 2:46 PM on September 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Kitteh, I'm just getting back on track with photography myself. It was actually reading Bryan Peterson's Learning to See Creatively a few weeks ago—which also happens to be one of the textbooks for this course—that did the trick. I'm now the proud owner of my first DSLR camera. Here's [PDF] an older edition of the Peterson book at Internet Archive—hope it helps!
posted by Rykey at 5:21 PM on September 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

The intended format of this course included a Google Group for critiquing each other's pictures. How could a group of people recreate that?
posted by wenestvedt at 6:50 PM on September 7, 2016

I think that we should send the quidnunc kid a nice bokeh.
posted by Chitownfats at 7:26 PM on September 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

A few hours in, I'm pretty impressed. Photography seems to have a lot of questions with answers which are clouded because they are complicated or because of marketing BS. Or art-world BS. Or fanboy BS. Levoy is good at getting to be bottom of these. We spend our days looking through our eyes and a big proportion of that time checking out views of the world that have been captured via cameras - so these are important issues even for those who aren't professionals in the field.
posted by rongorongo at 2:13 AM on September 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

Chelsea Northrups talk "The Consumer Camera is Dead" is an interesting sidebar to these talks. As Marc Levoy himself points out out - a no man's land has opened up between those who use like to take pictures on smartphones and willing to spend the time and money necessary to work with equipment which will do significantly better. As smartphone cameras and software has got better so they have eaten the dinner of progressively more expensive consumer cameras - to get a device that takes better pictures than an iPhone 7 - you'd probably have to spend at least that the same amount as for the smartphone itself. Then you'd have to suffer its poor, inflexible user interface.
posted by rongorongo at 2:08 PM on September 9, 2016

« Older Not The Nine Inch Nails One, Though   |   Labour and work Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments