I'm always on the lookout for new photography classes to take, thinking that if I were to take a class I'd be able to learn new skills without having to make a whole lot of mistakes before the "aha" moment. I'd also probably practice with more purpose and a lot more regularly than I currently do. And there's always that wonderful possibility of meeting some cool local shutterbugs to hang out with. But every time I start the search for new classes I run into two hiccups.

First, they're often really expensive. Laying out $250 for a weekend workshop or (gulp) $2,500 for a week-long retreat is something I just can't do. Second, they're usually at times and locations that don't really work into my schedule. Thankfully, there are some incredible online classrooms that you can rely on when in-person classes just don't fit the ticket, for whatever reason.

Owl with puzzled look1. Digital Photography School (Free)

A must-bookmark site. This place has seemingly limitless articles with great tips and tricks for most anything you might come up against while shooting, from equipment to post-processing and everything in between. New articles are added all the time, and there's a very active community in the user forums.

2. Kelby Training (Not free, but relatively cheap)

By purchasing a membership, you have access to tons of top-notch videos from experts in photography. The lessons range from wildlife photography to Photoshop, from studio lighting to Lightroom. You can access a few of the segments from each class to see if Kelby Training is for you, but chances are you'll want to sign up if you're serious about learning the ins and outs of photography the easy way.

3. Adobe TV (Free)

If you own Adobe products (and if you're serious about photography you probably do) then Adobe TV is a great resource. The videos walk you through using Lightroom, Photoshop and other software. You learn tricks that seem difficult but are actually fairly simple, and you're even walked through the basics of the programs — such as how to import and organize photos in Lightroom.

4. FroKnowsPhoto (Free)

Yep, thank goodness for YouTube. It's a little on the silly side, but seriously helpful for getting quick snippit help with dozens of topics. And it's great for when you're sick of reading articles and just want to watch and learn. Advice includes post-processing, shooting and even gear reviews.

5. Better Photo (A little pricey, but good crash courses)

This resource is a little on the pricier side and I haven't personally taken courses with them so I can't fully vouch, but from what I've seen of the site, it seems like a good way to take a photo class from afar. And it's much more like a classroom setting than the other options. The site offers four- and eight-week courses that include instructor critique of your work. The skill levels for the courses vary, so you can find one that fits where you're at with your craft.

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Inset photo: Gaschwald/Shutterstock

Jaymi Heimbuch ( @jaymiheimbuch ) focuses on wildlife conservation and animal news from her home base in San Francisco.

5 great online resources for learning photography
When an in-person class just won't fit into your schedule, consider one of these online options.