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Nikon app teaches photography on the fly

Want to learn how to take pictures at dusk? Capture running water? Use those crazy aperture settings? Nikon Learn & Explore for iPhone explains it all, and it doesn't cost a cent.

Boost your photography skills with Nikon's free iPhone app.

I've owned a dSLR camera for years, but it spends most of its time on Auto mode. That's because I can't wrap my brain around things like aperture priority, ISO, and f-stops.

Unsurprisingly, most of my shots bite. I've tried reading enlightening books like How to Do Everything with Your Digital Camera (nepotism alert: I know the author), but that doesn't help me when, say, I'm standing on the soccer-field sidelines trying to capture my daughter as she scores a goal.

What I need is a simple, informative how-to guide that fits in my pocket. Enter Nikon Learn & Explore, a new iPhone app that teaches photography fundamentals and offers shooting techniques for common situations.

Actually, that's just part of what you get from L&E. The app also offers a library of professional images you can browse, each with an accompanying Nikon World article that details shot composition, equipment, lighting, and all that.

The Learn section offers articles on image editing, shooting techniques, and fundamentals--many of which include both sample photos and how-to videos.

The Nikon World section provides features from the eponymous magazine, while the Glossary explains photography terms from A to Z. You can even mark individual articles and photos as Favorites for quick future access.

In short, this is a must-have app for novice shutterbugs and pro photographers alike (but more for the former). Best news of all: it's free.