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Fundamentals of Photography

Lesson 1 of 107

Class Introduction

John Greengo

Fundamentals of Photography

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

1. Class Introduction


Class Trailer
1 Class Introduction 23:32 2 Photographic Characteristics 06:46 3 Camera Types 03:03 4 Viewing System 22:09 5 Lens System 24:38 6 Shutter System 12:56 7 Shutter Speed Basics 10:16 8 Shutter Speed Effects 31:57
9 Camera & Lens Stabilization 11:06 10 Quiz: Shutter Speeds 07:55 11 Camera Settings Overview 16:12 12 Drive Mode & Buffer 04:24 13 Camera Settings - Details 10:21 14 Sensor Size: Basics 18:26 15 Sensor Sizes: Compared 24:52 16 The Sensor - Pixels 22:49 17 Sensor Size - ISO 26:59 18 Focal Length 11:36 19 Angle of View 31:29 20 Practicing Angle of View 04:59 21 Quiz: Focal Length 08:15 22 Fisheye Lens 12:32 23 Tilt & Shift Lens 20:37 24 Subject Zone 13:16 25 Lens Speed 09:03 26 Aperture 08:25 27 Depth of Field (DOF) 21:46 28 Quiz: Apertures 08:22 29 Lens Quality 07:06 30 Light Meter Basics 09:04 31 Histogram 11:48 32 Quiz: Histogram 09:07 33 Dynamic Range 07:25 34 Exposure Modes 35:15 35 Sunny 16 Rule 04:31 36 Exposure Bracketing 08:08 37 Exposure Values 20:01 38 Quiz: Exposure 20:44 39 Focusing Basics 13:08 40 Auto Focus (AF) 24:39 41 Focus Points 17:18 42 Focus Tracking 19:26 43 Focusing Q&A 06:40 44 Manual Focus 07:14 45 Digital Focus Assistance 07:35 46 Shutter Speeds & Depth of Field (DOF) 05:18 47 Quiz: Depth of Field 15:54 48 DOF Preview & Focusing Screens 04:55 49 Lens Sharpness 11:08 50 Camera Movement 11:29 51 Advanced Techniques 15:15 52 Quiz: Hyperfocal Distance 07:14 53 Auto Focus Calibration 05:15 54 Focus Stacking 07:58 55 Quiz: Focus Problems 18:54 56 Camera Accessories 32:41 57 Lens Accessories 29:24 58 Lens Adaptors & Cleaning 13:14 59 Macro 13:02 60 Flash & Lighting 04:47 61 Tripods 14:13 62 Cases 06:07 63 Being a Photographer 11:29 64 Natural Light: Direct Sunlight 28:37 65 Natural Light: Indirect Sunlight 15:57 66 Natural Light: Mixed 04:20 67 Twilight: Sunrise & Sunset Light 22:21 68 Cloud & Color Pop: Sunrise & Sunset Light 06:40 69 Silhouette & Starburst: Sunrise & Sunset Light 07:28 70 Golden Hour: Sunrise & Sunset Light 07:52 71 Quiz: Lighting 05:02 72 Light Management 10:46 73 Flash Fundamentals 12:06 74 Speedlights 04:12 75 Built-In & Add-On Flash 10:47 76 Off-Camera Flash 25:48 77 Off-Camera Flash For Portraits 15:36 78 Advanced Flash Techniques 08:22 79 Editing Assessments & Goals 08:57 80 Editing Set-Up 06:59 81 Importing Images 03:59 82 Organizing Your Images 32:41 83 Culling Images 13:57 84 Categories of Development 30:59 85 Adjusting Exposure 08:03 86 Remove Distractions 04:02 87 Cropping Your Images 09:53 88 Composition Basics 26:36 89 Point of View 28:56 90 Angle of View 14:35 91 Subject Placement 23:22 92 Framing Your Shot 07:27 93 Foreground & Background & Scale 03:51 94 Rule of Odds 05:00 95 Bad Composition 07:31 96 Multi-Shot Techniques 19:08 97 Pixel Shift, Time Lapse, Selective Cloning & Noise Reduction 12:24 98 Human Vision vs The Camera 23:32 99 Visual Perception 10:43 100 Quiz: Visual Balance 14:05 101 Visual Drama 16:45 102 Elements of Design 09:24 103 Texture & Negative Space 03:57 104 Black & White & Color 10:33 105 The Photographic Process 09:08 106 Working the Shot 25:29 107 What Makes a Great Photograph? 07:01

Lesson Info

Class Introduction

(audience applause) Thank you, thank you very much. Well, it's great that everyone's here in the studio, and everyone at home is here, tuning in to the class. Welcome to The Fundamentals of Photography. My name is John Greengo. Everybody take a deep breath. Relax. See, I needed to do that myself. (the audience laughs) It's going to be a long week. This is not the right class for anyone who's looking for three quick tips on how to take pictures of their cousin's wedding right now. This is for people who really want to dig in and learn about photography. Now, this class is not called The Basics of Photography, or Beginner Photography, because, in this class, we're going to be talking about beginner stuff, intermediate stuff, and advanced stuff, because the fundamentals involves all different levels of learning. You do not need to know anything at this time, right now. So, this is a great place to be if you're brand new to serious photography with interchangeable lenses and all the fanc...

y gadgets, it's great. It'll be perfect for you here. But even for those of you who have been involved with photography for a while, we're going to be diving pretty deep into a number of different subjects. This is the foundation of knowledge that I think everyone should have when they go off into the world in their own little locations. Some people are going to do sports photography, some people are going to shoot portraits, and babies and dogs and travels, and, you know, it's a big world out there, so there's a lot of things you can do in photography. But, I've been involved in photography for a long time. Let's not count how many decades at this point right now. But, this is really the summation of everything that I think is important in photography. So, let me show you what we're going to be doing over the entire course of the entire class right now in a little preview. All right. We're going to start off with the camera. This is where photography really starts. It is an art based on technology. We're going to talk about the different types of cameras, and really the most critical adjustment in the camera is your shutter speed. It's the definition of the moment, so we're going to talk a lot about that, and then there's a bunch of other little features in your cameras: RAW and JPEG, and some other settings. We're going to cover that in the first section and get our cameras all set up. The second section is kind of a continuation of the first one. We need to talk about the sensor. This is of huge importance. If this class was taking place decades ago, we'd be talking about film here, and no, now we've got to talk about the sensor, and the adjustment we make with the sensor is in the ISO, or the sensitivity of it. Very important to know how to do that properly, and when to adjust it. The third section. I will play favorites here, and this is one of my favorite sections. I love lenses. We have lots of different lenses that really get to change the way that you see the world and record the events around you. So we'll be talking about angle of view and depth of field, we'll even talk about some of those fun lenses, like tilt shift lenses, and fisheye lenses. This is probably the most important section, on exposure. This is where all the things that we've talked about in one, two, and three come together, where we figure out shutter speeds, apertures, ISOs, and what's the best combination for any particular situation. We're going to be having some fun in here. We're going to be playing some games, we're going to want some input from you, on how we're going to take different photos, so there's some great quizzes in this section of the class. This is one of the most critical sections, it's focus. It's the most common reason people throw away a photo, because it's technically wrong. It's because they didn't get the focus right. There's a lot of things going on with current technology, even where I see future technology going, you can't fix an out of focus image. I'll explain more about that in the future, but this is something you have to get right in the field, and if you don't know what you're doing, you just throw the image away, it's just no good. So it's a very important section. All right, this is kind of fun. We've got a lot of gadgets in photography, and there's a lot of different tools. These are problem solving tools, and you need to know what's out there, because you need to solve problems. That's what photographers do. We're going to be talking about all these little gadgets here in the gadget bag section. Obviously photography is based on light, so you need a good understanding of light, how to control it, how to work with it, how to work around it. We're going to be talking a lot about natural light, we'll be talking about on-camera flash, and even off-camera flash. We're not going to go into a full studio setup, that's kind of its own specialized class there, but we will be able to get you set up in a way that you can take really good portraits, or lighting a subject in a variety of ways. The art of editing. This one's kind of different. I don't think there's a lot of instructors out there that have this particular section. This is a little bit on what to do after you've taken the photo. Downloading's pretty easy, but exactly what do you do? I know that I was giving a class one time, and I had a friend coming to the class, and he goes, "I know how to work Lightroom," which is one of the programs for op, and he goes, "but I don't know why "I should do this or that." This class, it's not a Photoshop class, it's not a Lightroom class, but I want to talk about the fundamental reasons why you would increase contrast or decrease contrast, or how do I deal with this, and how do I deal with that? It's not the specific tools, it's the reasons and concepts behind why you would want to do that. You can apply that to whatever program you use. It's not a program specific section. Composition. I think this is one of my stronger sections. If I had to pick which classes are better, I think this is one of my better ones. Maybe I'm just happy that I get to show lots of photos that I've taken here, because we're going to look at a lot of photos here, and I like to use a lot of different examples to talk about different ideas and concepts that you can use for framing up your shots here. Then we have another section in here on multi-shot techniques. It's kind of advanced photography. I didn't really have any other place for it, but there's a number of very interesting ways, HDR, mobile pixel shoot, multi-focusing shooting, where you could do multiple shots to create unique techniques and solve different problems in photography. This is the most unique section in the class. I would say this is going to be completely different than any other photographer you've seen, and this is photographic vision. This is developing a photographer's eye. Photographers look at the world differently. It comes down to, and we'll talk about it right at the very beginning, the human eye, and the way the camera records, are very different systems. The first thing is to understand which advantages you have, and what sort of things are different about these. Then you can start understanding what works best in photography, and you can play to the camera's strength. And, my individual most favorite slide is in this class. I'll let you know when we get there. The class has a lot of different slides, and I got a new one, and I like it a lot, but it's simple, but it's nice. Those are our sections there. So we've got 10 sections, 10 nice, clean, independent classes, and we'll be covering pretty much everything in there. All right. So, have you ever seen one of those movies about school where the kids get sent off to, kind of like a boarding school, and it's kind of a private, elitist school, and at the beginning of the year, they all come into the auditorium and the headmaster comes out and reads an official proclamation? Well, that's what I want to do. I like to think that my students are coming in fresh, they want to hear things right, so I wrote down my thoughts. I don't have this memorized, because it's kind of long, and I just wanted to say, what would I tell somebody who's getting into photography, that really hasn't done it at all, just a little bit about what they're going to get into. Because I like visuals, I'm going to share with you, while I read this, 10 of my favorite photos that I've taken over the last couple years. Now, these are an example of photos that we're going to talk about later in the class, and I'm going to give you the secrets, the dirt, behind how those pictures actually happened, and how they got created, and technically what I used lens wise, and things like that. This just is my photography. It doesn't have to be your photography. You could be shooting something totally different from what I like to shoot. I tend to do a lot of travel, and outdoor stuff, which is a pretty popular genre, but you could be into something totally different, and learn from my photography. You don't have to be into the same photography to learn from any particular photographer. But, in any case, this is called Welcome to Photography. Photography is the magnificent capture of time and light. Meeting at the intersection of art and technology, it can be a hobby, a career, or a lifestyle. Wherever you go, whatever you do, you can take it with you. It's a craft perceived by some to be quite easy, and from a certain point of view, that is so. Anyone can buy a camera and call themselves a photographer, but possessing and mastering are not the same. Photography is likely not what you think it is. Expectations and assumptions are often greatly misguided. Finding your way is really quite simple: learn from those who inspire you, then take in your own direction. Achieving a high level of success requires an investment. I'm not speaking of expensive equipment. The investment will be in time, effort, and knowledge, and yes, a quality camera is nice to have. For the most part, the gear doesn't matter. What matters is the desire to create. Great photographers are simply experts at observing, recognizing, and problem solving. The attribute most often in short supply is awareness. Anyone can recognize the remarkable. The key is finding the remarkable in the ordinary. Great photographers are not satisfied with just a snapshot. They want more. To get more, they ask questions and look for solutions. They continue to push for something better. They don't stop until they're out of options. Pursuing photography is a journey, as long a journey as you wish it to be. Where it leads, neither you, nor I, nor anyone else can say. What I can tell you is that your path with be strewn with mistakes, problems, and frustration. Your skills and knowledge, once honed, will be your most valuable tools. Your vision of the world will change. You'll see things you didn't see before, and what you saw before will now look different. If that is the path you want to take, this is the time and place to begin. Commit yourself to learning all that you can, and allow your passion to point you in the right direction. So, I hope your minds are opened up to new possibilities, and fresh starts, because that's what we're going to do here. Those were a few of my favorite photos, but I've been in photography for a long time, and I'm going to do something. I wanted to kind of share with you a little bit about who I am, but I know you guys don't like it if I drone on and on and on, so I decided I would choose six milestone photographs about my journey through photography. Kind of my transition points. And, I'd share those with you to show you where I came from. The first photo I'm going to show you is my first photo that I have recorded that was taken by me. I got started in photography at 10 years old. Now, what you're looking at here is, me and my friends were having a lazy Sunday in Seattle, and we decided to do an art project, and this is called The Junk Tree. We found every piece of loose scraps we could find in the yard, and we put it up on our swing set, and thought that was pretty cool. And that's what I took photos of: things that I thought were cool, and things that I wanted to remember, and that's how a lot of people start in photography. I think the hope was that it might become a thing in the neighborhood, and the newspaper would send a photographer around, and somebody from the art museum would come down and say, "Wow, look at this! "We'll pay you a million dollars for it!" In reality, my dad came home and said, "Put all that crap away." (laughs) And, in case you're wondering what I looked like back then, there I am, kind of the smug one, second from the left. (the audience laughs) So, I got into photography when I found a camera, and I was 10 years old, and I took pictures of my friends, and playing out at recess, and I was the only kid with a camera, I didn't even think a thing about it. It's just kind of what I like to do. And so, when I was in high school, oh, I forgot to mention here. If you are on Instagram, I would love to see your first photo ever. Use the hashtag first photo ever. I'm at John underscore Greengo. If you're on Instagram, go there. I'm going to be taking a look for first photos ever. If there's something interesting, I'll make a comment on your site for your photo there. So in high school, I was taking photos. Now, this photo is significant because it was the first great photo I've ever taken. At least, I felt it was great at the time. It was the Metro City Championship race, and I wasn't in the mile here, but my buddy Vince and Ed were, and I wanted to get a photo, but I wanted it to be a good photo, and at the old "you dub" track, they had this moat around the edge that usually collected rainwater, but I could jump down in there, and I could shoot at a low angle, and, when I did that, I got this photo that looked so much better than the others. Do you remember the scene at the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey when the monkey finally discovers the tool? I finally realized that I, as the photographer, could affect how the photo came out. I realize that's a really elementary thing, but that was big, and like, "Wow, if I did this, it's better than this. "What else could I do to make it a better photo?" Because I thought photos were just of interesting things, and if you want a better photo, you find something more interesting to shoot a photo of. No, you have a lot of power as a photographer. So, after high school I went on to college. Didn't know what I wanted to do, had to take some art credits, so I'll take a photography class, and whoa, this was cool, this was perfect. It had some technology, some art and creative outlets. I'm like, "Wow, this is kind of fun." So I majored in photography. I went to college and majored in photography. I was working at the school newspaper, and there was a big storm that passed through our town, and I ran up to the sixth floor of the dorm, and I was taking photos of this storm, and I got this photo right here. I know this doesn't look like much right now, but I was pretty excited at the time, so I called up the photo editor at the paper, which was another student, and I said, "Hey, I just got some photos of the storm. "I could run it in and get all the film developed, "And get it in by the deadline!" And he's like, "Nah, I think we're good." Okay, you don't win all your battles. The next day after classes, I went to do my two assignments at the paper, came back to the paper, and then I developed this roll of film, printed one photo, because I thought it was kind of nice, and I set it out on the dest while I'm typing out my captions for my other assignments, and the managing editor, which was the adult, walks by my table, picks it up and goes, "What's this?" And I go, "Oh, this was the storm last night." He goes, "Can I borrow this?" "Yeah. Go ahead." He comes back a few minutes later and he says, "Would you reprint this, these dimensions?" And I looked at it, and I'm like, "I normally don't print photos that big." He goes: "Yeah, and you're going to need a long "caption for it, too." Now, that is code word for it's going big, and we need a big caption. He decided to put it on the entire front cover of the student newspaper. Now, this is the only photo in all my years of college where a news photo took up the entire front cover. One of my teachers picked up on it, and wanted to send it in to the Associated Press, and, where are we? Wednesday April 26, 1989, was a red letter day for John Greengo. I was riding my bike around campus, and people are going, "John, great shot!" And I was like, "Wow, this is the coolest, "most fun thing ever." Got a good photo, got a lot of accolades for it, and just like, "This is really what I want to do." I was into photojournalism. The idea was to get a job at a newspaper, and I graduated in a bad economy. The big papers weren't hiring, and the small papers weren't hiring, and there was no jobs to be had, and I failed. I failed as a photographer. I got a college degree and failed at what I was doing. I picked up a job in a camera store, and then, that's where the real truth comes out. How into this thing are you when you hit your first roadblock? A serious one, too. Well, you know, I went out and I photographed, still. On my days off, I would go out and shoot this, and I'd come up with an idea and I'd shoot that. I wasn't doing anything with them. It wasn't going into stock, I wasn't selling it, the internet wasn't around at that time, so I'd just shoot things to see what came of it. One of the shots I got was kind of unusual, so I sent it into one of the photography magazines, into one of their competitions, they took it out of the competition and put it into an article that they wanted to write, and it's this shot. It's a self portrait here of me riding my bike, and I was using long exposure and flash, and a couple of other tricky things here, I'll talk about it later in the class, but it really kept me spurred into photography, and I wanted to continue to do whatever I could, so I encourage you, if you're young, if you're new in photography, keep applying for those jobs, entering those contests, keep getting your work out there, because something will catch if you're doing the right things. But, I'm still not working full time as a photographer. I work in a camera store and I get to work around all the cameras and stuff, but (sigh) I've still got to work at it, here. So me and my buddies, on a completely different thing, we decide to take a big adventure. We decide to ride our bikes around Iceland, and I knew I wanted to document this trip in photos, and there was one photo that I knew I wanted to take before I even took the trip. Now, back at this time, my research of Iceland is, I read two books written in the 1950s, and I checked out their website in 1996, which was one page and listed the geographical area, and the population, and the major cities, and that was all there was to know about Iceland at that time. But the image that I wanted to get was of me and my buddy like this. It was a tricky shot to get, because it's a self timer shot, and our self timer only worked for 10 seconds. So, it's a very tricky shot to get. But now I'm starting to think ahead. I'm envisioning what I want my photos to look like, and after we did this trip, my buddy and I, we created what I will very kindly call a PBS Ken Burns documentary of our trip. It's about a 45 minute documentary, and we did a completely different style. We created it in multi-projectors. We used audio recording, sound effects, background music, and we created a movie. We'd go in and introduce things for 10 minutes, and then we would step back and get the projectors playing, and then at the end we'd come back out and answer questions, and that's when I first started speaking in front of an audience, which was really nerve-wracking, and we put together a story. This was photojournalism. I was telling stories with photos, and I loved this. This was great. We would get to plan the trip and plan the photography, do the trip, and then we got to relive it over and over again. By doing that, I ended up meeting a famous photographer by the name of Art Wolfe. I'm sure some of you have heard of Art Wolfe. He was putting together, several years later, a TV show called Art Wolfe's Travels to the Edge, which you can still find on many different outlets, and buy DVDs of it. He needed somebody to be on the traveling crew, which was the best job I've ever had. We got to travel to all sorts of places. Now, when you work with a great photographer, you're going to pick up a lot of skills, so if you can ever pick up an assistant's job, or working with another photographer where you can really learn from them, and if they're a good teacher too, that's really going to help out, and that's just going to raise you up to the next level. When I was working with Art and the Travels to the Edge crew, the way it would work, because there was four of us, we'd go find ourselves a location, Art would scout the area, pick the best thing, take cameraman A to go shoot his all on-camera bits, because it's a TV show, cameraman B would go shoot all the B-roll, and then I would make sure everyone's set up with what they have, and then I would have a little bit of free time to go out and shoot photos. Now, Art had the best thing, he had the best equipment, he had the most experience. I had to watch where I went. I couldn't get in their shot, I couldn't get anything in their way, and I had limited time. Talk about a handicap. Because, at the end of the day, Art and I would come back and I would handle all the technology. I'd download his photos, download my photos, and then I'd be looking back and forth. "Oh boy, he got good stuff." And I wasn't as good, but there was one day that I beat him. I think. If you can do that. I got one good photo, and I remember saying, "Art, take a look at this photo." And he came over to my computer. "Yeah, it's a good shot." I've never seen him look at one of my shots for so long. It was like, five seconds. (laughs) It was kind of like, "Okay, I think now "I really can get a good shot." And to this day, it's still one of my favorite shots. One of the reasons it's my favorite shot is that it's virtually impossible for anybody else to duplicate. There's a lot of landscape shots where you can just go back and you can wait for a nice sunset and get the same shot again, but this is one of the things I'll talk about at the very end of the class, one of the most important things in photography is the moment. That moment when it's the most special. I'm going to show you the before and after, which pales in comparison to this one moment. Very important concept, to think of. That is kind of how I got to be your teacher here today. I have 40 years in photography, 30 years of using interchangeable lens cameras. I've been telling stories with my photos, and in many ways, I really feel that this entire class is a photo story. I'm teaching you the story of photography in photos. For those of you that have not seen any of my classes, I'd like you to meet my best friend, it's called large monitor. I do a lot of visuals and I like to have a lot of things very visually easy for people to pick up. It's this radical notion that photographers are visual people, and they're going to pick up and learn visually, so I try to illustrate everything I can with some sort of slide or graphic or photo, and usually in multiple ways. One of the things that you may hear Kenna and I talk about in this class, "They have a question about this." And it's like, "Yes, I've thought of it. "There is a slide for it." So there's a slide for just about everything that you might come up with in this class.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

As a photographer, you will need to master the technical basics of the camera and form an understanding of the kind of equipment you need. The Fundamentals of Digital Photography will also teach something even more important (and crucial for success) - how to bring your creative vision to fruition.

Taught by seasoned photographer John Greengo, the Fundamentals of Digital Photography places emphasis on quality visuals and experiential learning. In this course, you’ll learn:

  • How to bring together the elements of manual mode to create an evocative image: shutter speed, aperture, and image composition.
  • How to choose the right gear, and develop efficient workflow.
  • How to recognize and take advantage of beautiful natural light.

John will teach you to step back from your images and think critically about your motivations, process, and ultimate goals for your photography project. You’ll learn to analyze your vision and identify areas for growth. John will also explore the difference between the world seen by the human eye and the world seen by the camera sensor. By forming an awareness of the gap between the two, you will be able to use your equipment to its greatest potential.


a Creativelive Student

Love love all John Greengo classes! Wish to have had him decades ago with this info, but no internet then!! John is the greatest photography teacher I have seen out there, and I watch a lot of Creative Live classes and folks on YouTube too. John is so detailed and there are a ton of ah ha moments for me and I know lots of others. I think I own 4 John Greengo classes so far and want to add this one and Travel Photography!! I just drop everything to watch John on Creative Live. I wish sometime soon he would teach a Lightroom class and his knowledge on photography post editing.!!! That would probably take a LOT OF TIME but I know John would explain it soooooo good, like he does all his Photography classes!! Thank you Creative Live for having such a wonderful instructor with John Greengo!! Make more classes John, for just love them and soak it up! There is soooo much to learn and sometimes just so overwhelming. Is there anyway you might do a Motivation class!!?? Like do this button for this day, and try this technique for a week, or post this subject for this week, etc. Motivation and inspiration, and playing around with what you teach, needed so much and would be so fun.!! Just saying??? Awaiting gadgets class now, while waiting for lunch break to be over. All the filters and gadgets, oh my. Thank you thank you for all you teach John, You are truly a wonderful wonderful instructor and I would highly recommend folks listening and buying your classes.


I don't think that adjectives like beautiful, fantastic or excellent can describe the course and classes with John Greengo well enough. I've just bought my first camera and I am a total amateur but I fell in love with photography while watching the classes with John. It is fun, clear, understandable, entertaining, informative and and and. He is not only a fabulous photographer but a great teacher as well. Easy to follow, clear explanations and fantastic visuals. The only disadvantage I can list here that he is sooooo good that keeps me from going out to shoot as I am just glued to the screen. :-) Don't miss it and well worth the money invested! Thank you John!


Dear John, thanks for this outstanding classes. You are not only a great photographer and instructor, but your classes are pleasant, they are not boring, with a good sense of humor, they go straight to the point and have a good time listening to you. Please, keep teaching what you like most, and I will continue to look for your classes. And thanks for using a plain English, that it's important for people who has another language as native language. Thanks again, Juan