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The Beginner Photographer’s Crash Course

Lesson 24 of 24

Resources for Download and Organization

Khara Plicanic

The Beginner Photographer’s Crash Course

Khara Plicanic

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Lesson Info

24. Resources for Download and Organization

Lesson Info

Resources for Download and Organization

Let's talk about what do you do after then? How do you get your stuff off the camera and into your life? (laughs) So getting your images off and out of the camera, there are several ways to do that, you can use the cable that comes with your camera if you still know where it is and can find it, good luck, it's probably in the box with the manual that you have never opened, right? That's where it is, in the closet somewhere, so check there first. But that's the cable. I don't really recommend that method because it will drain your battery, it's just, ugh, so you plug one end of the cable in your camera, the other end into your computer and then you run the download and then you're draining the battery the whole time. And it never fails that you're like oh look, here's all my images and then at least I'm like oh, and I'm scrolling through and I'm looking at everything and my camera would just be there like bleeding out all of its power, just it'd be gone really quickly, so I don't like t...

hat method. But in a pinch, it's there, if you can find your cable. The other option is to use a card reader, that's what I end up doing. They're sort of obsolete I guess if you have a computer where you can just pull the card out of your camera and stick it right into your computer but it depends on the type of memory card that your camera takes and whatever type of memory your computer would take. So I could do that with my SD cards but if you're shooting on a compact flash card I don't have a way to stick that in my computer. So for that I use a card reader and I just stick the card in there and then plug that in and it's great because I don't have to worry about battery life on my camera and that card reader can read SD cards and compact flash. I think this one I actually destroyed with the vacuum cleaner by accident and I'm so sad, yeah. Don't let your vacuum get ahold of those USB connection cables, 'cause I can't find a nice flat little compact one like that. Now they're like I don't know, Swiss army knives and they take all kinds of different cards and they're, I loved this one, it was very simple and inexpensive, whatever. But anyway, you can still find some if you look hard. The other option of course is to stick the card directly into your computer or if you have a wifi-enabled card, you could actually just wirelessly transfer that so that's another option but I personally I don't know. I tried that a long time ago and just hit a dead end and was like screw it, so I use my card reader, a different one, but similar. So you wanna get the images off your card and into your computer and you can use software to do that. You do not have to, okay. You have a lot of choices, alright. First of all, your camera probably comes with software. You could use that. You don't have to. I personally would never install any of that stuff, I just set it aside, I don't even have a disc reader anymore so I don't know if they even include discs anymore, it's been awhile since I bought a new camera. But I wouldn't use that, but it is an option. You could also just plug in your card reader or plug in your card and you could use your native finder on the Mac or Explorer on Windows and you can just drag and drop. The computer's gonna read the camera card as if you just plugged in a thumb drive, so you could just drag and drop your files and that's great if you're traveling, maybe you're borrowing someone's computer or something, you can just drag things on and off. Or what I would recommend is using some software like Lightroom, for example. It's an Adobe product, so technically it's called Adobe Photoshop Lightroom but everyone just calls it Lightroom. If you don't have it already it's part of the Creative Cloud so you can give it a try, you can download it for free from and it'll work for 30 days and if you decide you want it, it comes with the photo plan, you get Lightroom and you get Photoshop and it's currently I think 10 bucks a month to have both of them which is a pretty good deal. So that's a nice option. Anyway, this is what I use, this is what I recommend. It's very simple, it's just really, I mean that's the best choice I think out there but you can use it to download your images, get them off your camera card and onto your computer and then you can use it the same software, you can use to then go through and what we call cull your photos, so yes, you may have taken 3,000 photos on your Colorado ski vacation or whatever, but maybe you don't wanna keep 3,000 around on your hard drive for the rest of time so you can go through and Lightroom makes it really easy to just flip through them really quickly and decide what's worth keeping and what's not and you can easily get rid of the rest. You can add keywords, you can make little virtual groupings, it's just awesome so it really helps you organize all of your images. You can get as detailed about all of that as you want to or not. It's a super tool, you can edit them, you can clean up your exposure, your colors and all that kind of stuff and of course it works with RAW too. So JPEG or RAW, Lightroom is gonna treat them basically the same. So that's really nice. You can also use it to then output your stuff so maybe you wanna take your images and send them to Facebook, you can do that directly from Lightroom. You can also design books directly in Lightroom. One of my favorite services that I use for that is a company called Blurb and they have all kinds of free tools on their website, too, but they actually have a plugin that works with Lightroom directly and it's all free. And you can just literally with a couple of clicks in Lightroom you can have a whole coffee table photo book that's great and it's printed by Blurb so it doesn't come with like goofy little borders and goofy little silly things, it's just very clean and professional and it's really beautiful, so I make a lot of Blurb books, and then you can also of course prepare files for print at whatever lab you wanna use or whatever service you wanna use, you can prepare your files that way. The other thing that it does that's pretty nifty is that it allows you to simultaneously back up your images, so while you are downloading them, you can simultaneously be making copies to another hard drive, you could be sending them to the cloud, and you could be keeping master files on another external drive if you wanted. So there's all kind of options there. Of course if you were to say well gee Khara, what's the best choice like how do I back up all my stuff? I would tell you you'd probably want a combination of an external hard drive as well as a cloud backup. To manage all of that stuff, I would suggest using whatever comes with your machine. On a Mac you have something called Time Machine, and on a PC it's called Backup and Restore. You already have this software so you don't have to go get anything special, but what you do is just get an external hard drive, something you can just plug in and basically forget about, you would want it to have at least as much storage capacity as your main computer. So however many, if you have, I don't even know what they are anymore, I'm so, if it's like a terabyte or whatever, you'd want at least that in a backup drive so it can be the same as your computer and then you just open up Time Machine and you tell it to back up this whole drive to back it up here and do it every hour, every week, every whatever you want to do. I have mine set to do every hour and that sounds silly until you think about how much work you can do in an hour and I tell you it's not just your photos that you'll be grateful that you back up. When I was writing my first book, I accidentally saved chapter eight over chapter seven, somehow, and I, my heart just stopped when I realized it. 'Cause if you've ever written a book, it is a lot of work. And I somehow did that and I just remember going oh, like you know the minute you do it, you sense it and you're just oh, my heart stopped and I just felt sick to my stomach, and I looked at my husband and I'm like oh my gosh, I just did this horrible thing and he was like, well you have Time Machine running, right? And I'm like yeah but I never used it, I set it up and I didn't even know how to do it and he's like just go pull it back up and oh, so simple so I just went back, got my chapter seven from the last hour when it backed everything up and I just replaced it. It was like a three-minute deal and it was fixed. It was awesome. I actually did that one other time. On something else I was doing, and anyway, I'm very grateful for Time Machine so I really, I do the hourly backups. And Windows Backup and Restore will do the same thing, so you just wanna set it up, tell it where to go and then you never have to think about it again until you have one of those heart-stopping moments and then you'll be so grateful, so I highly recommend that. So don't skimp on that. And then the other thing is that you wanna print your stuff, right, so earlier in this whole course I showed you a cartoon and here's another one from Erin Johnson with a little baby duck and he says dad, are there any pictures of me as a baby, and the dad says oh, of course there are, son. Let's go over here and take a look at the old scrap pile of hard drive junk, right? Oh, doesn't that just, it's like a knife in your heart. Oh and I think about my son now, I'm a parent, so someday I'll have this question. And I'll have to have a better answer than a scrap pile of hardware, so I think it's really important that we print our stuff, of course not everything 'cause now that we shoot everything all the time, that's a lot of stuff. But some things you definitely want to print. There's all different kinds of services and ways that we can sort of make it easier in our lives to do that. Whether that's Instagram, print books, or stuff from Facebook or whatever, if you're looking for just a straight-up lab, I always like to refer people to Mpix, 'cause it's really quite different than if you're sending your stuff to like Walgreens or something like that, that's really just a little photo mart but Mpix is a lab. They're part of the Millers lab family and so it's a professional lab that you don't have to be a professional to use and I've just loved their stuff, so if you're looking, that's what I would suggest. But I think it's really important that we print our stuff. So I use Instagram like that too, everything I send to Instagram I make what are called chat books, so if you've never heard of that you can check that out too, but they, every 60 images that I put on Instagram, they automatically put in a little book and send to me. And it's not the best print quality, it's not amazing print quality, it's like six dollars a book or eight dollars a book or something, so it looks like about eight dollars a book but it's awesome, it's still super awesome and Zay's only one year old and he loves pulling those books off the shelves and flipping through all the pictures and the cats are in a lot of them and he's in a lot of them and he loves it. And it's like I don't have to try to scrapbook stuff, it's done basically just because I Instagrammed it. So I think that's really awesome, so whatever you do I just think you wanna avoid that kind of situation. But that's a challenge we all face in our technical life that we have now. But anyway, so any questions about output or that whole process? The idea is really just that you're gonna be downloading your images, somehow sorting through them, processing them, and then either just saving them and keeping them there or sending them out in one format or another. I would assume that they only take JPEGs? Yeah, they're not gonna take a RAW file. Right Right, so you wanna make sure that you're sending them a JPEG, I don't know if they take something else. You know what, it's funny because I remember in my early days starting out, my lab that I was using I mean this was a long time ago, it was like 16 or so years ago now, gosh. My lab would only take TIFs. They would not take JPEGs, I had to convert everything to TIFs which if you're familiar with file formats, TIFs are four times as big as JPEGs, they're really large. So I had to make everything TIFs. I don't know why they did that, maybe they felt it got a better result or something but now you can't send a TIF, they don't want your TIF, like oh, keep all that. They just want your JPEG, right, so it's funny 'cause I think the pendulum swings both ways and so I feel like we're kind of in a place now where we have enough resolution, we have all this quality and stuff and we don't always need all of that data anymore. We've sort of made it possible to amass more data than we can use for our normal everyday print sizes, so it's interesting. You'd want to send them a JPEG, yes. The other question, I know you kind of lightly touched on the SD cards and stuff. I also noticed over time there's actually different classes and speeds, and so I think always go for the fastest, right? Well, I mean whatever your pocketbook is happy to do I guess. So the memory cards come in different formats, we have SD, compact flash, XD, memory sticks, I don't know, there's always something. Everybody seems to have their own sometimes, so there's different formats, they also come in different capacities. So a memory card can be like an eight-gig card, or maybe it's a 16-gig card. So the higher the capacity, the more images you can store on it, which there's a lot of theories about that too. Some people say you should never use anything more than like a four-gig card or an eight-gig card because they think you don't wanna put all your photos on there and have something go bad, which is true. The card could go corrupt and you could lose what's on there or have to pay a lot of money to rescue it. But you could also spread your photos out on multiple cards and then lose the cards which I've heard of people doing. So you have to decide I think personally what makes more sense to you. Would you rather spread all that out on cards and then really keep them safe and protected and not lost or would you rather just keep them on one card and then just know that if something happens, you're gonna pay an arm and a leg to try to rescue it, but either way. So I don't know, so there's the capacity issue but then there's also what you're saying is the speed of the cards. And that is gonna be how quickly those cards can be written to and how quickly you can download from them so for most people, if you're, if this is a hobby for you, do you need to pay whatever extra to have the fastest download that you can possibly think of? I don't know, I personally don't, 'cause in my workflow, when I shoot a wedding, I come home, I put that to download, I go to bed or make a sandwich or you know, turn on Saturday Night Live or something. It's not like I'm sitting at the computer like holding my breath until the whole thing downloads. So it's gonna, it's really gonna depend. But for some people in some genre of somewhere that would really be a deal breaker I suppose. And one last question. Sure. Back on the lenses, one of the things I commonly do is I get a UV filter or something just to protect the lens. You didn't really cover too much on that. Would you recommend anything like that? Sure, okay. So what are, you're saying that a lot of times when you buy a lens, whoever, if you're in a store they will certainly try to upsell you. Oh, you need a filter for your lens today, right? Yeah, I think that's a great idea. So people often put what's called a UV filter or a haze filter or something on the front of their lens and the idea is that it's gonna help, I don't know, give you a better image, whatever. I personally just like it because then if you like whack your lens on something, you break the 15-dollar filter and not the 1,200-dollar lens or whatever lens we're talking about. So I think that that's great. I do buy filters for all my lenses, just have a simple UV filter on the front of it. So the lenses as you've seen in the pictures, they come in different, they're physically different sizes so no matter what their focal length is or whether they're zoom or prime or they're maximum aperture, some of them are gonna have really wide bodies and some of them will be long or short and squat or whatever, so the filters that you buy you'll have to I would say get it at the same time you buy the lens because it's gonna vary. Some lenses may take a 57-millimeter filter, and that's just talking about the diameter or whatever. So yeah, I would get that at the same time and just make sure you get the right size that's gonna fit on the lens and whoever you're buying from will I'm sure be happy to help you out with that.

Class Description

A new camera is an adventure waiting to happen. It’s an invitation to explore and a tool that opens doors to awesome experiences. Learning your way around a DSLR for the first time doesn’t have to be daunting. With a little guidance, you’ll be confidently calling the shots in no time.

Pro photographer and educator Khara Plicanic will help you understand your camera like never before (whether a dSLR, compact point-and-shoot, or even a phone! ) and get you taking better photos fresh out of the box. Join Khara for this class, and you’ll learn:

  • How exposure works and how each setting creates a different effect
  • The basics of different shooting modes (Auto, Program, Shutter/Aperture Priority, Manual, etc.)
  • How to make use of your camera’s functions - flash, white balance, exposure compensation, timer, and focus points.
  • How image size and resolution work, and why it matters (or doesn't)
  • How to choose and use different lenses.
  • The best resources to download, backup, and share your images. 

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Bonus Video - Shooting In Natural Light HD

New Camera Setup

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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Kate Ambers

Khara is awesome! She really breaks down how the camera works, photography terminology, and technique. She does it all with a fun and entertaining personality and really makes it easy to understand what you are learning! I love this course!!! So worth it!

Holly Cooper

Loved this course and have recommended it to a friend who is looking to purchase his first DSLR. This course is perfect for beginners or someone who is self taught and who has picked a few bits up along the way; Khara then puts all these little bits of information together. I feel like the pieces have come together for me and I have taken my best/favourite photographs after watching these videos. Thank you CL and Thank you Khara x


I’ve taken a number of excellent courses from Creative Live, and this very thoughtfully organized, well taught class took me from “I love photography but I’ll never get how to do it” to “wow I get it!” It created a huge shift (finally!) for me. There is an intelligent simplicity that really does make for lightbulb moments. I’m extremely grateful for this class. Now I can go back and watch the others courses again and they will make much more sense and I can apply what I learned here.