Practical Photography

Archived course

This course comprises five half-day sessions. There are two offerings this year, running in the afternoons of the week commencing 12 July and the mornings of the week commencing 19 July 2021. Bookings can be made through the Marlborough College Summer School website .


This course shows you how to take better photographs with your digital camera, based on practical picture-taking. It is intended for those who have a DSLR  or CSC (mirrorless) camera or equivalent but who haven’t yet ventured away from the automatic or scene modes.

Each day will combine classroom tuition with picture-taking exercises to put your new knowledge into practice. You’ll be able to transfer your pictures onto a computer and review your progress during the week, with helpful feedback where appropriate.

Please read the course notes for important additional information, including help to decide whether your camera is suitable or not.

Course notes

The primary goal of this course is to provide a solid understanding and practical experience of how the most important settings of your camera affect your photographs, without delving too deeply into technicalities. You will learn how to control exposure, focus and other available settings that will enable you to move beyond taking mere “snaps” to create images with impact.

Each day, the tutor will explain some basic principles and then set a task for students to complete. This will involve taking photographs around the school and environs – putting into practice the techniques discussed earlier. You’ll be able to review your pictures on a computer screen to evaluate what you’ve learned. Hints and tips for improvement will be provided as appropriate.

We will also cover other areas of your camera’s operation, largely driven by the needs of the class. So, if you have any burning questions or topics you’d like to be addressed, we may well be able to provide answers as the course progresses.

By the end of the course, you will have had lots of practice in using the more advanced modes of your camera to improve your pictures.

Is my camera suitable for this course?

You will need a camera that allows you to control exposure. A digital SLR or a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera is ideal. More advanced compact or bridge cameras are also suitable. A “point and shoot” camera will not provide enough control to take advantage of this course.

Suitable cameras will have references to shutter-priority, aperture-priority and manual modes in the user guide. A good indication is if there is a wheel on the top of the camera with the letters P, A, S and M on it (P, Av, Tv and M for Canon and some other camera brands).

Please ask via the summer school office or the Contact Form if you’re still unsure.

Equipment to bring

Students should bring along their own digital camera, complete with the associated battery charger (and a spare battery, if you have one) and the cable for connecting the camera to a computer. Make sure you have a fully-charged battery and a plenty of space on your memory card – ideally there should be no pictures on it at the start of the course.

It would useful to have your camera’s full user manual available (either printed or in electronic format) in case we need to refer to it, but this is not essential. A printed “Getting started” guide is usually provided with your camera, while the full manual is often provided as an electronic document on the disk supplied with your camera or as a download from the manufacturer’s website.