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A Short Course in
Nikon 950 Photography

Now out! the #1 guide to the Nikon 950

For more information, read the:
Introduction Contents Preface 

People who have read this book love it!
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Seldom are my expectations met when reading material in the technical field. I have been in the computer industry for over 35 years and have had ample reason to study technical documentation (usually with great frustration). With rare exception, your book is enlightening, informative, well written and understandable at most any level. I was anticipating technical information written by a technician. What was received was a book that assisted me in understanding basic photography concepts, but most importantly you gave me enough to make me think, experiment and learn. I am sure I will re-read your book many times and will place it with the others than I have found over the years to be well written (very small shelf). Thank you! (Loren)



New, a Short Courses digital photography book for people who own the Nikon Coolpix 950 digital camera and want to get better pictures. This beautifully written and illustrated guide, drawing on the much more comprehensive information on the ShortCourses Web site, pulls together answers to the questions you might have about using the Nikon 950, including the following:

  • Taking a Picture in Automatic Mode
  • Selecting a Quality Mode
  • Selecting a Shutter Speed
  • Selecting an Aperture
  • Changing Exposure Modes
  • Using the Self-Timer
  • Reducing Blur in hand-Held Images
  • Increasing Sensitivity
  • Increasing Sharpness of Moving Objects in Automatic Mode
  • Using Manual Focus
  • Increasing dept of Field in Automatic Mode
  • Using Focus Lock
  • Getting Maximum Depth of Field
  • Decreasing Depth of Field in Automatic Mode
  • Conveying Motion in Automatic Mode
  • Changing the Metering Mode
  • Using Exposure Compensation
  • Using Exposure Lock
  • Adjusting Brightness and Contrast
  • Adjusting White Balance
  • Using Lens Adapters
  • Zooming the Lens
  • Using Automatic Digital Zoom
  • Using Digital Tele
  • Using Autoflash
  • Combatting Red-eye
  • Using Fill Flash
  • Using Slow Sync
  • Turning off the Flash
  • Taking Macro Close-ups
  • Locking Exposure and Light Balance for Panoramas
  • Using the Fisheye Lens Converter
  • Shooting in Black & White
  • Using Multi-shot Photography 

The book is designed to work with the the books on the site. The book explains how to get better pictures but you'll find more on that subject on the site. In addition, there is lots of information on the site about what you can do with your pictures after you've taken them.


Chapter 1. Camera Controls and Creativity

  • Automatic all the way
  • What is a digital photograph?
  • How a digital camera works
  • Image quality
  • The shutter controls light and motion
  • The aperture controls light and depth of field
  • Using shutter speed and aperture together
  • Exposure modes

Chapter 2. Controlling Sharpness

  • Eliminating camera movement
  • Sharpness isn’t everything
  • How to photograph motion sharply
  • Distance to subject and focal length of lens
  • Focus and depth of field
  • Controlling depth of field
  • How to get maximum depth of field
  • Selective focus: when you don’t want everything sharp
  • Conveying the feeling of motion

Chapter 3. Controlling Exposure

  • How your meter works
  • How exposure affects your images
  • When automatic exposure works well
  • When to override automatic exposure
  • How to override automatic exposure
  • Brightness and contrast

Chapter 4. Capturing Light & Color

  • Where does color come from?
  • Color balance
  • Color balance and the time of day
  • Sunsets and sunrises
  • The moon
  • Weather
  • Color choices
  • Photographing at night
  • Light: its direction
  • Light: from direct to diffuse
  • Using light and color creatively

Chapter 5. Understanding lenses

  • How a lens works
  • Lens focal length and angle of view
  • Normal-focal-length lenses
  • Wide-angle lenses: short focal length
  • A telephoto view: long focal length
  • Portraits with a long lens
  • Zoom lenses
  • Perspective: how a photograph shows depth

Chapter 6. Using Automatic Flash

  • Types of flash
  • How automatic flash works
  • Portraits with flash
  • Fill flash
  • Slow sync
  • Using available light
  • Using flash creatively

Chapter 7. Exploring Close-up Photography

  • Macro lenses
  • Focusing and depth of field
  • Parallax, the curse of point-and-shoot cameras
  • Exposures and backgrounds
  • Arranging lighting
  • Using flash

Chapter 8. Special Features

  • Panoramas
  • Ipix images
  • Shooting in black & white
  • Multi-shot photography

Appendix. The Camera’s Controls


A great photograph begins when you recognize a great scene or subject. But recognizing a great opportunity isn’t enough to capture it; you also have to be prepared. A large part of being prepared involves understanding your camera well enough to capture what you see. Getting you prepared to see and capture great photographs is what this book is all about. It doesn’t matter if you are taking pictures for real-estate ads or self-expression, there’s a lot here to help you get better results and more satisfaction from your photography.

To get better, and possibly even great photographs, you need to understand both concepts and procedures; the "whys" and "hows" of photography.

  • Concepts of photography are the underlying principles that apply regardless of the camera you are using. They include such things as how sharpness and exposure affect your images and the way they are perceived by viewers. Understanding concepts answers the "why" kinds of questions you might have about photography.
  • Procedures are those things specific to one kind of camera, and explain step-by-step how you set your camera’s controls to capture an image just the way you want to. Understanding procedures gives you the answers to the "how" kinds of questions you might have.

This book is organized around the concepts of digital photography because that’s how photographers think. You think about scenes and subjects, highlights and shadows, softness and sharpness, color and tone. The procedures you use with the Nikon 950 camera are integrated throughout the concepts, appearing in those places where they apply. This integrated approach let’s you first understand the concepts of photography and then see step by step how to use the Nikon 950 in all kinds of photographic situations.

To get more effective, interesting, and creative photographs, you only need to understand how and when to use a few simple features on your camera such as focus, exposure controls, and flash. If you’ve previously avoided understanding these features and the profound impact they can have on your images, you’ll be pleased to know that you can learn them on a weekend afternoon. You can then spend the rest of your life marveling at how their infinite variety of combinations makes it possible to convey your own personal view of the world. You’ll be ready to keep everything in a scene sharp for maximum detail or to blur it all for an impressionistic portrayal. You’ll be able to get dramatic close-ups, freeze fast action, create wonderful panoramas, and capture the beauty and wonder of rainbows, sunsets, fireworks, and nightime scenes.

As you explore your camera, be sure to have fun. There are no "rules" or "best" way to make a picture. Great photographs come from using what you know to experiment and try new approaches. Digital cameras make this especially easy because there are no film costs or delays. Every experiment is free and you see the results immediately so you can experiment step by step.

This book assumes you’ve mastered the mechanics of your camera. It’s about getting great pictures, not about installing batteries and connecting your camera to your computer. That information is well presented in the user guides that came with your camera, however it is summarized in the Appendix of this book.