– Course Review and Giveaway!

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I told you guys this was coming, and I'm so excited that it's finally here! is an incredible resource of online classes; they cover absolutely everything you can think of, from software to concepts to social media.
In order to review the service, I went through a course, and want to show you what I learned.
As a hobbyist photographer, I'm always looking for ways to improve my images… as I've grasped the basics of the technical aspects, I've always felt like my editing (aka post-processing, processing, Photoshopping) left something to be desired.
I've relied heavily on presets and actions to get my finished products, but I want to be able to do these things from scratch, to know how the tools work, and how to use them to achieve my vision.

For this reason, I chose to take “Photoshop CS5 for Photographers: Camera Raw 6” with Chris Orwig. Camera Raw is a way of managing and editing images that is basically a step *before* Photoshop, and while I knew some of the very basics, I had no idea just how strong and all-encompassing this piece of software could be!

This is an image I took of my niece last Easter… I think it's lovely, and the look on her face stops me in my tracks. This is the SOOC image (Straight Out Of Camera) with no editing applied to the RAW file:

Prior to taking this class, this is how I had edited this photo, using a combination of Camera Raw AND Photoshop:

So it's OK, but I knew it could be better, so I took the class. The course I chose was one of the shorter ones, coming in at just over six hours total. It's broken up into 20-30 minute “chapters,” so it was really easy to work on it a piece at a time and make it fit into my schedule.
The videos are very well done, with screencasts and voiceovers, and very easy to follow along.
I was a little worried at first; my child of the 80s attention span has a tendancy to not retain things I am only watching.

But Lynda provides example files!

I was able to download a folder with ALL of the files that were worked on in the course; I'd pause it and work along with the instructor; changing settings as he did, and it really reinforced the tools and what they do to the images.

By the time I completed the course, I'd learned not only how to adjust color in my images, but also some correction tools, like cropping and rotating. And creative effects too, like split toning and creating really compelling black and whites.

Here are two edits I did after finishing the class, without using Photoshop at all (except to add my URL and caption):

I can't even tell you how much I feel like I've learned in just 6 short hours… some of these courses are closer to 25 hours long! Can you *imagine* how much information is packed into that?

So now I've shown you how much I've learned… and there are close to 20 more classes I've saved to my queue so I can work on them next… and here's the REALLY exciting part! is letting me give TWO year-long subscriptions to two lucky readers! I'm so excited, you guys! This is a $375 value, and I have TWO to give away!

I'm using Rafflecopter to run this one, because it makes it so easy to enter (and so easy for me to choose my winners!) so just follow the steps in the widget below.

I'm going to leave the giveaway open for a week, so I'll choose my winners on Saturday, Nov. 9!

Disclaimer: I received a 1-year membership to in exchange for 2 posts about it. I received no additional compensation, and all opinions expressed are purely my own.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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  1. I am a picture taker. I would LOVE to be a photographer, even if all it would mean was better pictures of my family. The first class I would have to take would be the Foundations of Photography class, followed by some of the more camera specific classes.

  2. I am a fledgling photographer as well, and would love to be able to improve my “before it even gets to Photoshop” camera skills. As to editing, I pretty much use the iPhoto stuff on my MacBook Air. I am a visual learner so love the idea of being able to go through the list of things “things to learn” at my own pace. BTW, great shot of your niece, but I think I prefer the black and white one to the color version. B&W seems to bring out the deep thoughts of an individual even more than color.

  3. I just messed up my Halloween pictures royally by having the wrong settings on the camera (hint: turing the ISO to High-2 is not recommended unless you want grainy photos!) so I’d take something similar to what you took a few years ago that helps you play with all the settings on your camera and learn which ones make what difference to your SOOC images.


    PS. I signed up for the raffle with my junkmail e-mail address, so let me know if I win, ok? I can retrieve e-mail from that box, but I never read it on purpose.

  4. Thanks for sharing this! There’s so much information available on that I don’t know where exactly I’d get started. I’m actually entering my wife in the contest, as there are several courses like this that she’s very interested in taking!

  5. There are so many photography things I’d like to learn that sometimes it becomes overwhelming. Where to start? Where to go next? sounds like it would be perfect for me to learn at my own pace.

  6. I think I’d take the DSLR video tips course. That’s a part of my camera that i know how to use, but not to its fullest capabilities.

  7. Sounds like a cool service Lizz. Thanks for sharing! Your after the course edit is really pretty. I can see a big difference in your color correction and I think it looks great. I use iphoto and the advanced editing there but no Photoshop (I can’t handle all the options).

  8. Oy, I still have so much to learn. This would be a fantastic opportunity to force me to actually put on some big girl pants and LEARN. Fingers crossed!

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