Take Your Photography to the Next Level

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This course comprises five half-day sessions. There is one offering this year, running in the afternoons of the week commencing 18 July . Bookings can be made through the course page at the Marlborough College Summer School website .


Everyone is a photographer now, thanks to the ubiquity of the smart phone. In fact, however, phones are currently limited to situations where you just want to take a snap. For more creative photography, you still can’t beat a real camera. This course shows you how to get your digital camera out of Auto mode and take control to make your pictures rather than the ones the camera would take. Based on practical picture-taking, the course is intended for those who have a camera with manual controls but who haven’t yet ventured away from the automatic or scene modes.

Each day combines classroom tuition with exercises to put your new knowledge into practice. Along the way, we’ll look at some fun techniques you can try. We’ll display some of your pictures to the group for constructive comments and to review progress during the week, with helpful tutor 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

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 or your phone 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 me via the summer school office if you’re still unsure.


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 should be able to provide answers as the course progresses.

As the week progresses, we may well have time to explore some more creative techniques to move your photography beyond the simple recording of a scene.

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.

Typical feedback from a previous student: “Course very well put together, Steve is very knowledgeable and helpful. Mix of theory and practical worked very well.

Equipment to bring

Students should bring along their own digital camera (please check suitability as per the notes), 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 plenty of space on your memory card – ideally there should be no pictures on it at the start of the course.