One of the biggest challenges with online learning is how to provide practical experience, which is a pretty important thing when you consider an area that requires practical understanding.
A camera is a costly thing
When were planning our new course, The Art of Photography, we were stumped as to how we could offer practical experience without requiring students to purchase new equipment or leave their study space. After all, easy-to-access education is what we’re all about.
Virtual photography is almost real
We got together with Smart Sparrow, who built our anthropology and astronomy simulators, to come up with a solution. The result is a realistic, real-time simulator of a DSLR camera offering basic DSLR functions.
The interactive tool allows you to practice the skills covered in the course, as though you were using a real camera. It demonstrates how the technical operations of a camera work, particularly how aperture, shutter speed and ISO can affect exposure and how they impact on each other through priority controls.
Confusing concepts are confusing
One of the trickiest things to explain, without a practical demonstration, is how to read a histogram, to check on your photograph’s exposure. Our new simulator runs you through all of that, before you pick up your camera and leave the house. This way, you can practice the skill while you’re still in the classroom.
I studied art photography at University, so needed to learn enough technique to break the rules deliberately. I wish we had had this sort of tool when I was studying – it would have made understanding the concepts much quicker and a whole lot easier.
For example, when we consider aperture, a smaller number means a wide aperture, which isn’t exactly logical and if not explained or demonstrated properly it can get confusing. Understanding the relationship between aperture and shutter speed is vital to producing more creative images and the simulator allows the student the practice, allowing the concepts to sink in.
Making flexible learning more, well, flexible
Even though digital photography allows us more flexibility in terms of making mistakes, a simulator takes the whole learning process one step further. You can make the mistakes that we all make, starting out, in a safe environment. More importantly, you can understand what those mistakes are straight away.
Who would have though that it would be possible to study photography without a camera.