Hobby Photography

Learn the tools of taking a good photograph. In this online course you will learn how to use a camera, the effect of light, photographic technique and how to improve your style.

Course CodeAPH001
Fee CodeS1
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

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Become a better Amateur Photographer

Photography is a craft, the techniques and skills of which we must study and practice in order to become proficient.

Our craft has a new selection of tools which we should master in order to create beautiful, dramatic, informative images.

This course can be undertaken by users of both film or digital technologies.

What is different about this course?

  • We put your learning first.
  • You have unlimited access to ask questions -every student is given one on one contact with tutors.
  • Marking papers for us is not about grading you: rather it is seen as an opportunity to nurture your learning and help you improve your photography.

Lesson Structure

There are 6 lessons in this course:

  1. Origins of Photography
    • Image formation
    • how light works in photography
    • lenses
    • understanding photosensitive materials.
  2. Understanding Film & Cameras
    • Parts of film: supercoat, emulsion, backing support, anti-halation layer
    • film sensitivity
    • Camera Construction
    • shutter speed
    • f stop
    • ASA/ISO
  3. The Camera and it's Use
    • Camera stability
    • ways of reducing camera movement
    • depth of field
    • filters
    • fault finding, etc.
  4. More on using a camera
    • Flashes (electronic & manual)
    • flash synchronisation
    • problems with flash photography (eg. red eyes)
    • using a flash in daylight
    • special lenses
    • photo composition.
  5. Photographic Techniques
    • Planning a photo session
    • Posing for photos
    • Snapshots
    • Water photography
    • The human form
    • Portraits
    • Animals
    • Action
    • Landscape
    • Still Life photography.
  6. Developing your photographic style

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Describe how light forms an image in a camera.
  • Describe how an image can be captured in a camera.
  • Discuss how you can work at improving your capabilities with respect to taking photographs.
  • Take photos under a range of more complex conditions.
  • Improve your technique for taking pictures.
  • Analyse your photographic skills and develop an increased consciousness of your own photographic style


This course can be undertaken successfully without sophisticated camera equipment; however, you do need the use of a camera. An SLR camera is best, but any camera will do. Over the time you do the course, you need to submit photos (either digital images or processed film - in that case a minimum of 5 rolls of film would need to be shot and developed.

All photos you take, and written work you submit will be returned to you.


Extract from Course Notes:



Choosing a camera primarily depends on four things; how much you want to spend, what sort of photography you will be doing, and how much work you want the camera to do for you and film or digital?


By now you should have some idea of the basic parts of a camera, the aperture and shutter speed, and how they work and adjust exposure, and why various formats are best suited to particular areas of work. This is a good grounding for using the camera but before buying a camera you need a few specifics about features on cameras. Firstly; it is assumed you will buy a 35 mm camera as this format is the most versatile. Considerations against other forms include:


1. the relative expense

2. cumbersome nature of 2¼ square and large format cameras

3. low image quality from smaller formats.


35mm gives you the widest choice of available film and camera, the simplest processing, and the lowest cost per shot for quality photography. A 35 mm can handle almost any photographic situation you will ever encounter. Given that 35 mm seems to be the logical choice for your first camera, the next question is the cost of the camera.


Camera cost is governed by three things.

a) Whether the camera is simple or sophisticated.

c) Overall camera quality.

c) Whether the camera is new or second hand.


Simple or Sophisticated?

There are two main types of 35 mm cameras: rangefinder and single lens reflex (SLR).


In a RANGEFINDER camera the viewing window in the top of the camera is used for focussing and framing, and is calculated to give almost the same view as the camera lens is seeing. These cameras sometimes have interchangeable lenses. Focusing is normally achieved by zone symbols in the viewfinder or by using a split image where the centre of the finder displays two images which converge as the focus ring is turned until they synchronise perfectly; when this happens, focus is achieved. Notable photographers in the field of photojournalism find this method of focus more accurate and faster than SLR focusing. Few cameras of this type are completely manual (i.e. with just a shutter speed dial, aperture dial and coupled meter, the needle of which is centred by adjustment of aperture and speed to achieve correct exposure.) Most new rangefinder cameras have either partially or fully automatic exposure. The finest, however, have manual override, and for a serious photographer they offer the best option.


SINGLE LENS REFLEX cameras used to be the domain of the professional providing interchangeable lens capability and a very versatile range of accessories. Many amateurs, however, now find that the extra cost of the SLR insignificant compared to the benefits an SLR can provide. In a single lens reflex, viewing is performed through the lens via a complex prism and mirror system; as such you are seeing the exact same image which will project onto the film/sensor.


SLR' cameras can take a range of lenses from wide-angle to telephoto. Simple manual exposure SLRs can be bought for relatively small cost and various models provide different levels of automation up to multifunction models that have auto flash or auto aperture or auto shutter speed or auto shutter speed and aperture and sometimes full manual override.



The quality of a camera can usually be related to price. Traditionally the Nikon has always been seen as a little better than Pentax, Canon or Minolta but old concepts of one manufacturer producing better products than another has been dispelled in recent years. All major camera makers produce basic cameras as well as extremely sophisticated, very expensive ones and the digital era has brought about a revolution with Kodak stepping into the field of professional camera manufacture for the first time in decades, to stimulate and excite the digital marketplace and provoke development & research by competitors, and once its objective had been achieved, it announced its withdrawal from the marketplace to concentrate on sensor production other areas, leaving the traditional camera producers and some high technology electronic companies, by tradition outside photography; who feel they have a role to play in digital imaging, to carry on, at an amazing pace, the advancement of camera technology.


The ultimate test of a camera is how it feels ... if the weight suits you, if you find the control layout suitable and the view finder layout logical ... then it may be suitable for you. Try lots of cameras before buying. Pick them up, compare them, and tell the salesman what sort of things you intend to photograph. Don't be talked into something you don't want or aren't sure of. Talk to everyone you know with a camera, and see what they feel about their camera equipment and what they would buy if given a free choice.


New or Second-hand?

This is mainly financially motivated. There are lots of good second hand cameras available. Always check the following when assessing a second-hand camera:


1. The general appearance ... is the body excessively worn or scratched?

How old is the camera? Has it been much used? Has it been serviced?


2. Inside the camera

Are the film guide rails worn or scratched? Or, is the sensor unmarked and fault-free?


3. Shake the camera.

If anything is loose which you can't see a good reason for, then don't buy this camera.


4. Is the lens clean and free from scratches or mould patches?


5. Do all dials seen tight fitting and smooth in operation?

Does the shutter seem to fire smoothly?

Does the aperture open and close correctly?

Do the shutter speeds seem to vary correctly?


6. If possible borrow a flash gun.

Connect it to the camera, set the speed at 1/30th second and fire the shutter with the back open. If the flash and shutter are correctly synchronised, you should see the flash through the film gate.

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