A Free and Helpful Primer in Photography, Courtesy of the US Navy


If you’ve been looking for a basic photography course online, here’s something to hold you over until you find the right one for you. This “Photography (Basic)” course was put together by the U.S. Navy in 1993. And thanks to Reddit user clutch70706, you now have access to the full thing in PDF format.

Seeing as it was created in 1993, the course obviously makes no mention of digital photography, but that doesn’t make it any less useful for the young’ins out there. It covers everything, from the basic science behind light and optics, to understanding lenses, to film choice, to developing and printing techniques.


It’s a great course for the beginner who is looking to get into film photography or just wants to learn more about photography as a whole. We’ve embedded the entire PDF courtesy of Scribd below, but if you want to download it (without paying a fee), check out both the Basic and Advanced course downloads over on EverySpec (thanks to user yopla for that find).

(via Reddit)

  • Jonathan Maniago

    This makes me wonder how many photographers out there are even vaguely aware of the math and physics involved with each picture they take. Among the arts, photography probably has the most science laid in its foundations.

  • Doctor Octothorpe

    Oh, how I irrationally wanted a Canon F-1 when I was kid. My AE-1 didn’t cut the mustard in the coolness department for some reason. Later I grew up and understood that as a nerd I didn’t have to worry about the coolness department.

  • ennuipoet

    My photography teacher in High School spent the first four weeks teaching us the science of photography, and I hated it! I wanted to go out and take photos of girls. Years later I am not sure if it made me a better photographer, but I am glad I learned it.

  • Harold Tollison

    I remember the Canon F1 all too well. I was issued one of these at my first sea duty assignment back in the 70’s. I had been using the Nikon F but the Navy was looking to transition away from them as they were getting a bit worn and were costly to repair and upkeep. I got the Canon F1 kit with combat body and 3 lenses and liked it right away. Took many photos of outstanding quality and sharpness with it.