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Palo Alto, CA 94306 (and nearby)


>>> Why not get lessons on Digital Photography and how to use that new camera to make beautiful images

>>> Learn to use Adobe Lightroom

>>> Private, one-on-one, live and in person, Camera, Photography, and Lightroom Tutoring in Palo Alto, CA 94306

>>> Groups up to 3 people for same price as 1 person


DSLR Camera camera class, lessons, or tutoring

You’ve been taking snapshots for years with various point-and-shoot cameras or (shudder) even your cell phone. But now you have a great DSLR camera with all the bells and whistles and have no clue what to do with it. Or, you’ve had your DSLR for awhile and are less than satisfied with the results. You know how to set the dial to “Automatic” and push the button – just like you did with your point and shoot but that’s about it. Now what?

Reading the 200 page camera manual is of no help. It tells you what the buttons do, but not why you would want to do that or what benefits or detriments come along with those settings. It tells you how to display the menu, but not the meaning of the 80+ items in 3 levels of options or when one would want to use those options.

It doesn't matter if you have a Canon Camera, a Nikon Camera, or a Sony Camera, you want to move from just “Taking Pictures” to “Making Photographs” – which is why you got that camera in the first place. In other words you want to learn Digital Photography and how to use your camera.

I’m an award winning photographer with great teaching skills who can teach you how to “Escape the Green Box” (get off of the Auto setting) and really use your DSLR. My one-on-one lessons are tailored to your camera and your skill level. These are the highest quality. professional and in depth, lessons and should not be confused with quickie 2 hour overviews. I don't just tell you to "push that button" or "turn that dial", I teach you how the various camera settings impact your images. I give you the understanding required to fully understand, control and utilize your camera to make beautiful images matching your artistic vision.

If you take my structured course format I also provide, free of charge, PDF copies of the class presentation material (over 150 PowerPoint slides) we use during the class, including my instructor notes so you can refer back to them later. After you have finished my course, you should feel free to send me emails with questions, issues or problems that may come up or ask me to look over a few of your photos to offer suggestions - all at no charge.

I give my lessons at my place in Palo Alto (near San Antonio and El Camino) but can come to your place in nearby cities for a small extra travel reimbursement fee depending on distance.

I tailor the Material to your needs based on how deep you want to go and even what things you want to concentrate on.

Adobe Lightroom Tutoring, lessons, class

Having problems with Adobe Lightroom? I can help you out. Lightroom is a very powerful image management and editing tool that more and more professional as well as amateur, photographers, are using as their primary image tool. There is a vast amount you can do with it and I can show you how.

I can also help with untangle your catalogs and image storage and offer suggestions on best practices.

Learn how to manage and organize your images with the Library Module and how to improve the look of your images in the Develop Module. We can also talk about the Map, Print, Slideshow, and Web modules if those are the areas that interest you.

My Rate is $50/hr of instruction and you can bring up to 2 friends at no additonal cost. If, after the first hour you are not completely satisfied, we can stop there and there will be no charge. Call or email for info on specials and discounts.

Lessons can be arranged in sessions of 1 to 3 hours duration each (2 hr minimum on first lesson). As a guide, for a novice covering all material to an in-depth level, will take about 6 to 8 total hours. However a light once over of the key points can be covered in 3 to 4 hours

Click on "Guestbook Entries" in upper right corner of this screen for student reviews of my lessons. Most of these can also be found on Yelp.


General overview of Photography Basics
The Light Path from light source to memory card and what controls you have to shape it along the way:

  • Light sources and Color Temperature
  • Subject reflectivity
  • Camera lens and what it does
  • Camera shutter and what it does
  • Camera Sensor and what it does
  • Camera Processor and what it does
  • The memory card

Your Camera controls:
  • Picture Mode or Main Dial
  • Other Wheels, dials and buttons
  • How to control your, Shutter Speed, Aperture, Focus Pattern, ISO, WB, ISO,
  • Metering Mode, Exposure Compensation, Exposure Shift, Drive Mode and Storage format

The things you have control over and when/why you should control them (rather than let the camera decide)
  • Flash – When to use it and when to turn it off.
  • White Balance – What it is, how to control it.
  • ISO – What it does and what to watch out for (noise)
  • Drive Mode – how to increase your odds of “getting the shot”
  • Auto Focus – the various Auto Focus modes and situations where you would choose one over another – or even turn it off
  • Focus point – Why is the fence in focus but Grandma is all blurry?
  • Metering Mode – How the camera evaluates the scene and helping it choose the right method
  • Jpg vs RAW – Overcome your fear of RAW. Learn what it is and why it is your friend.
  • Other settings and terms explained

The In’s and Out’s of exposure
  • Exposure explained
  • How your camera sensor deals with light and the “Gotcha” of the dynamic range limit of your sensor as well as how to over come it.
  • 18% gray and why it may be the most important thing to know about your camera that most people don’t know
  • Controlling exposure
  • The trade off’s of your settings. What you get and lose as you make adjustments to

Shutter Speed

Using your Camera’s Manual controls:
  • What the main dial settings on your camera mean and when to use them
  • When and why you should use exposure compensation and/or exposure shift
  • Bracketing
  • Your histogram – Understand what it is telling you and read it with confidence. Use it in the field while you still have a chance to shoot again.
  • Depth of Field (DOF) and Hyper Focal Distance (Hyper Focal Point)
  • How to convey a sense of motion in your images. Motion Blur or Motion Freezing.
  • How different lighting and subject situations fool your camera and what to do about it
  • Flash Exposure Compensation (including Fill Flash)

Artistic – Composition:
  • What is it?
  • Rule of thirds
  • Balance
  • Leading Lines
  • Single Subject
  • The Story
  • Selective Focus
  • Subject Separation
  • Shooting for HDR or PANORAMA processing
  • 10 deadly sins of composition

Putting it all together
  • 6 steps to use in the field.

Give me a try. If you’re not completely satisfied after the first hour, there will be no charge (except for travel fee if I come to your location).

Thanks – Dan
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Guestbook for Digital Photography Lessons
23.Mahendra R.(non-registered)
(Copied from Yelp, 6/8/2015)

I took a 2 hour private unstructured course with Dan Hartford today. Dan is an excellent instructor. His approach is methodical and clear. He tailor-made the session so that it was perfect: plenty of information at the right level of technical detail. I plan to follow up with more instruction as this is certainly the best experience I have had with photography classes.
Mahen R
22.Peter L (Sunnyvale, CA)(non-registered)
(Copied from Yelp 4/30/2015)

I recently completed a 4-week, 8-hour class, really excellent value and packed with information. My friend joined me for some of the sessions, we are (or rather, were) complete beginners. Highly recommended.
21.Marie M (Sunnyvale CA)(non-registered)
(Copied from Yelp 4/6/2015)

We finished our photography lessons with Dan today. He has plenty of great reviews here, but we would like to confirm that he is very professional & accommodating and the lessons were logical and very informative. It's a perfect mix of an organized class and individual discussion of your own camera. Before we began, I was skeptical that we could fill 6 hours with training - after all, I knew what an aperture was already. Ha. We had a lot to learn and Dan's lessons were the perfect length and level. The lessons are a great value too - especially if a pair of people take the class.

We were actually a little sad when they were over since we both had a great time during the lessons and really learned how to use our beginner-level dSLR. We also wish we had talked to Dan about camera before buying ours since we are missing some neat camera features.

Thanks, Dan!
20.Jenny J. (San Jose, CA)(non-registered)
(Copied from Yelp 1/14/2015(

Dan is great! I got a micro 4/3 last year but had no idea how to use it. Even though Dan works with DSLRs, he pored through my camera's manual and even found a hidden advanced manual from somewhere deep in the annals of the interwebs so that he could teach us to use as many functions as possible. You can tell Dan loves his craft and just wants to share the magic of photography with his students. We elected to do the 6 hour structured course over 3 weekends, and were amazed at how the time just flew by and at how much we learned. I look forward to using my new-found skills and coming back in the future for more lessons!
19.J.K. San Francisco(non-registered)
[Copied from Yelp, 9/30/2014]

Would highly recommend Dan's course! After 4 lessons I have an entirely new understanding of my camera and image composition. The lessons are clear and organized. He encourages questions and is always available for advice via email. Am looking forward to using my new knowledge on an upcoming trip. Absolutely take this course if you want to use your camera on any setting other than auto!
The guestbook is empty.