(DIGI001) Introduction to Digital Photography

Mobile cell phone and digital camera


Course start date: to be confirmed
Course end date: to be confirmed
Price: £150

Tutor: Ed Bremner
Course Code: DIGI001
Level: Non-accredited, non-credit bearing
Assessments/Exams: None. Throughout the course you will be given ideas and questions to respond to in the online discussion area. Participation in online discussion is encouraged, but not compulsory.
Duration: 10 weeks
Estimated Student Study Time: 2 – 5 hours per week are recommended, but time spent is flexible and at your discretion.
Fee: £150.00
Pre-Requisites: No academic qualifications or experience of photography or digital imaging are required – you will simply need a digital camera and strong enthusiasm for this subject.
Delivery: Online Distance Learning
Late Entrants: If this course is not full by the start date then late entrants will be accepted for up to two weeks after the start of the course. As a late entrant you can choose to catch up on the material you have missed or you can skip the missed weeks and concentrate on the material at the point where you join the course, but unfortunately we cannot offer fee reductions or course extensions for late entrants.
Required Reading**: None

**Please note: All courses are subject to sufficient numbers of students registering before they are confirmed as running. Therefore, after booking your place you are advised not to purchase any texts until you have received confirmation that the course is running.

This course was previously taught by Ed Bremner when it was offered by the University of Exeter*. If you studied it with the University of Exeter* you might not wish to study it again with Learn for Pleasure as although we have revised and updated our courses where necessary, it will likely be substantively the same.


This course is suitable for anyone new to digital photography, or for those with some experience who wish to learn how to get more from their digital camera, how to create more exciting images, or how to generally improve the quality of their work.

We will also look at social media and discuss its potential for the purposes of publishing and sharing photographs. You will not need to have any social media accounts in order to study this course as this element is optional, but this part of the course will help you to understand:

  • how the different forms of social media work in this context
  • the benefits of the various options available
  • which (if any) may be appropriate for you in sharing your work
  • how to use any chosen form of social media to its full advantage

This course will also provide the option to create and upload a small portfolio of images created during the course, for other participants to see.

Syllabus Plan

Week 01: Learning the ropes
Week 02: Nuts and bolts, and an introduction to exposure
Week 03: Composition and viewpoint
Week 04: Basic image editing
Week 05: Using light
Week 06: Photographing people
Week 07: Photographing the landscape
Week 08: Photographing things: the art of still life
Week 09: Sharing your work
Week 10: Winding up

Course Content in Depth

Each week of the course includes a task for students which provides the opportunity to apply what you have learnt during that week’s course material, and then upload the results to the discussion forum to share and discuss with the tutor and other students. The completion of tasks and the uploading and sharing of your work with others is entirely optional – but all students are encouraged to do so whenever they would like to participate in these exercises.

Week One: Learning the Ropes

In this first introductory week, there will be an overview of what you will learn on this course, and how you will learn it. You will be introduced to the online tools in the course environment, and we will also introduce ourselves and start to build our online community. We will look at how to resize your images for use on this course and the importance of adopting the digital mindset. The task for this first week will simply be to share a selfie and a few words about your interest in photography.

Week Two: Nuts and Bolts, and an Introduction to Exposure

What is digital? How do cameras work? This week we will cover a basic introduction to exposure and the histogram and we will also learn when to trust ‘auto’, and when not to use it. You will look at how to set your camera in the auto and manual mode, and how to change the exposure in both, as well as how to read the histogram, and how to use it as a basis for judging exposure. The task this week will be to share two images – one with long exposure and blurring, and the other taken with a wide aperture and small depth of field.

Week Three: Composition and Viewpoint

Why are some images easier to view or read than others? This week we will look at choosing the right angle and basic composition. This involves lens selection – so we will see why this is important, and what lenses do – as well as discussing cropping in the camera. The task will be to share two images, each conveying a different emotioal state (security, fear, excitement, happiness etc) using composition and viewpoint.

Week Four: Basic Image Editing

This week we will look further at composition and cropping, with consideration of basic image manipulation and optimisation. We will think about the difference between making photographs and taking photographs, the importance of thinking ahead, and shooting for the edit. We will also look at using the histogram to judge exposure, and to set the shadow and highlight point. The task will be to start with a ‘weak’ photo, to see what can you create from it in editing, and then share the two images &nsash; the initial image, and your edited version.

Week Five: Using Light

We will look at the four characteristics of light: soft, hard, transmitted and reflected, and making the most of what you have – how to best use available light. You will learn who to find the best natural lighting and what to look for, as well as about subtractive lighting using reflectors, mirrors and shade to create a ‘lit’ look. The task will be to create and share two images made interesting by the quality of their lighting, one by using a recognised lighting state, and another by making / modifying some natural lighting.

Week Six: Photographing People

Discover some simple secrets to getting the best portraits as we learn about photographing small and large groups. You will learn about lighting people for beauty or for character, and again we’ll be thinking about how these photographs can be improved by editing. The task will be to create and share two photographs: a single portrait and a group shot.

Week Seven: Photographing the Landscape

Knowing what you want, recognising it, and the importance of organisation, research and planning are all key in creating landscape photographs. We’ll see how lighting works for landscape photography, and will discuss the ‘golden hour’, and using lenses to control of depth of field and create intentional blur. In a further consideration of editing we’ll think about high dynamic range images. The task will be to create and share a series of images showing the story of finding a location, reseraching it, taking the image, and then the final edit.

Week Eight: Photographing Things – The Art of Still Life

In our study of still life photography we’ll explore choosing the background, choosing the lens for the best effect and control of depth of field, hard and soft lighting, and providing visual context and removing visual confusion. The task will be to create and share two images: one isolated from its environment, and one within the context of its environment.

Week Nine: Sharing Your Work

At this point we’ll look at possibilities, advantages and potential hazards of sharing images via Instagram, Flickr, Pinterest, Facebook and other social media platforms. We’ll also think about methods of printing images, both at home and using online printing services, and how to select images for a portfolio or family scrapbook. The task will be to choose a new place to share your images online, and to upload a selection.

Week Ten: Winding Up

We’ll close with a review of what we have learnt on the course. We’ll also think about ‘what next…?’ for your photography after the course ends: ways in which you might take your photography further, finding inspiration, creating an inspiration book, how to avoid photographer’s block and possible projects or themes to explore. We’ll look at how to build and share an online web-folio and the final task will be to build a simple online web-folio using social media of your choice.

Learning and Teaching Methods

The course will be delivered online using a range of online teaching tools, including discussion forums, video, quizzes and written instruction.

Each week a new unit will introduce new material which will include a simple photographic task, based on the learning they have made, which will then be open for evaluation by tutor and peers

All students are encouraged to participate in the online discussion area held within the course environment – this is not compulsory, but it will help to create the online learning community that will support each participant through their learning journey.


As this course is non-credit-bearing there are no exams or assessments.

Learning Outcomes

This course will help you to develop:

  • a basic understanding of the following photographic concepts:
    • simple camera controls
    • exposure
    • composition
    • viewpoint
    • editing
    • cropping
  • your understanding of the photographic techniques required for:
    • portraits
    • landscapes
    • still life
  • an understanding of different forms of social media, and how these might best be used for the purpose of sharing your photographs