I am new to After Effects and am trying to replicate a similar sequence from an After Effects file someone previously made at my firm. It is a zooming out effect that zooms from a closeup photo of NYC (the empire state building) through several photos to finally a photo of the globe. I don't understand how the zoom effect was achieved, as there is no camera layer (that is how I've seen it done in many instructional videos). I also don't understand how the layers of photos work, because it seems as though all of the photo layers are on through the whole timeline. Shouldn't they overlap each other and cause a mess? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
I'm almost 100% sure that someone did that project with technique presented by Andrew Kramer on one of his tutorials. You can find oll informations and that tutorial here: VIDEO COPILOT | After Effects Tutorials, Plug-ins and Stock Footage for Post Production Professionals
You can also learn a lot by analyzing what was done in that old project. Highlight a layer, and hit the u key to see the animated properties. Likewise, hit the u key twice quickly to see the modified -- not necessarily animated -- properties.
Trying to jump into the deep end of the pool with AE is never fun, frequently extremely frustrating, and almost never leads to thorough knowledge because of the inevitable gaps in crucial information.