The difference between Lightroom Versions

Lightroom, Lightroom Classic, Lightroom Mobile, Lightroom online


Within these pages, is everything that you need to know to get you started in photography. It is intended to be comprehensive and give you an introduction to all the skills you need to begin your journey in photography and to progress quickly.

The information is broken into small pieces, so that it can be absorbed at your own pace.

Health and Safety / Risk Assessment

Image of Life Bouy

General Health and Safety
Appropriate footwear and clothing, warm, windproof, waterproof.

Be aware of slip and trip hazards, mud, water etc.
Be aware of trip hazards, especially when distracted by the view. Be aware of putting your camera bag down and that it is not where you or anyone else can trip over it. If you are with a group of photographers be aware of deposited camera bags.

If you are heading to somewhere rural, let someone know where you are going and your route, check the weather, charge your phone. For further information see:

Check tide times if near water, be aware of ways in and out of tidal areas. (also includes sunrise and moonrise times)

Display Screen Equipment (DSE)
Keep track of how long you spend in front of the screen, take breaks. The recommended time is 5-10 minutes for every 60 minutes and 60-90 second breaks every 30 minutes.


You will be using Padlet to record your progress on the course.
If you use this referral link you will receive an extra free Padlet page on your account.

If writing isn’t your thing, then Padlet also allows you to record audio, record videos and record your screen.

Example of using Padlet for photography journal
Digital Journal Photography Course

Snipping Tool / Screen Capture

Because raw files are being used, some services will struggle with the file size or format. For a quick and easy way to get a useable file the screen capture tools on Windows or Mac can be used.

The snipping tool on Windows – Windows + shift+S
The capture tool in Mac – Cmd + Shift + 4

Photography Legal, Ethics, Photography Etiquette and Copyright Considerations

Image of a light house in the sunset

Members of the public and the media do not need a permit to film or photograph in public places and police have no power to stop them filming or photographing incidents or police personnel.” Metropolitan Police

However, it is always polite to ask for permission, to stop taking photographs of people if asked to do so and to be aware of other people around you. In the photograph above the person taking photographs blocked the view of several other photographers and dozens of other members of the public trying to take photographs. He may be allowed to be there, but in photography circles most people would take their shot and move out of the way. Photography is all about patience and sometimes it is good to share the experience. Often groups of photographers at a location like this will share tips, locations, sometimes even equipment and there is certainly a community aspect to it, regardless of the forum.

What do you think about “street photography”? The term, the activity, the ethical implications and considerations.

Copyright of photographs in the UK belongs to the person who created the image, the copyright lasts until 75 years after their death, when they move into the public domain. The only exclusion is if you are taking the photographs while working for a company. These rules vary around the world. You do not have to have a copyright notice or symbol attached to the images. Under UK law these rules apply to ALL images found on the internet, even ‘Orphan Works’ where the creator cannot be immediately identified.

Some questions to think about:

Are we allowed to take photographs wherever we want?
Do we need consent and / or permission to photograph people?
Do we need consent and / or permission to publish a photograph of a person?
Who owns the copyright to the photograph?

UK Government Copyright Guidance

Types of Camera

Camera Types

Mirrorless – has an electronic shutter and electronic viewfinder, many of the latest high-end cameras are mirrorless.

DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) – Has a prism and an analogue viewfinder, dominated the market until recently.

Mirrorless and DSLR cameras consist of a body and removable lenses.

Bridge – Usually smaller in size than a DSLR, has a fixed lens and usually an electronic viewfinder. Can be almost as good as a DSLR although not as flexible.

Compact – small often point and shoot, however compact cameras include everything from very cheap children’s cameras through to very expensive, professional level cameras. Some compact cameras have removable lenses

Smartphone – The cameras on smartphones are becoming increasingly sophisticated, the quality of some can rival that of high end cameras. The advantages of using a smartphone to take photographs is that it usually has a macro mode that allows you to get very close to a subject without specialist lenses, it is convenient and easy to take everywhere. However, a smartphone has a relatively short focal length, the settings will be restricted compared to a camera and apart from expensive models, the quality is inferior to stand alone cameras.

Also Film / Large Format / Medium Format / Action Cameras


Image of comparison between sensor sizes

A camera sensor will be a
CCD (Charge Coupled Device) or a
CMOS (Complementary metal-oxide semiconductor)

CCDs used to be the best sensor and were used in high-end cameras, CMOS sensors are cheaper, use less energy and are getting increasingly better and tend to be used in most modern cameras.

Sensors vary in size common sizes are Full Frame, APS-C and Micro 4/3rds. A full frame sensor is the same size as a 35mm film frame (Approx. 36mm X 24mm and is used as the standard for measuring sensor size.

Don’t touch the camera sensor.
Try to shield it from the wind when you are changing lenses.
Switch off the camera when changing lenses.

For sensor cleaning:
APM Camera Repairs

Installing and Charging a Camera Battery

Install a camera battery

The majority of modern cameras are powered by a removable rechargeable lithium ion (Li-ion) battery. For most cameras, the battery is installed in a slot on the base of the camera, sometimes this may be where the memory card is also inserted.

Most cameras whether they are DSLR, Bridge or compact will come with their own dedicated battery charger. Usually the charge has capacity for one battery and a plug for mains charging. If you have multiple batteries (a second battery at the least is recommended so that you can always have power in your camera) this may not give a quick enough turnaround. 

Third party chargers are available that allow multiple battery charging and that connect via USB cable, allowing them to be used by plugging into laptops, power banks and usb adapter in a vehicle.

Some modern cameras can also be charged directly with a power bank or external adapter.

Canon / Nikon Controls Diagram Top

image of Canon / Nikon Top Controls

Camera Layout and Controls

Below are basic layouts of Nikon and Canon cameras.
The controls and settings on these cameras are very similar to the layout and settings of most manufacturer’s cameras.

It is worth the time spent to download your camera’s manual and learn what the layout of your camera is and what each of the controls do. Knowing your equipment is vitally important. 

Canon / Nikon Controls Diagram Back

Image of Nikon / Canon camera controls from back

Camera Menus

Image of a camera Menu

Accessing camera menus on most cameras is done through the menu button on the rear of the camera

The best way to learn what your menus do, is to try everything out. If you mess up your settings there is an option to reset your camera back to factory settings.

The most important menu settings to identify at the start are:
Format card
Image Quality
White Balance
Detail setting / Picture Control
Colour Space – which should be set to sRGB
Time zone and Date

Insert Memory Card

Most DSLR cameras have the memory card slot under a cover on the right side of the camera, other cameras may have the camera in a slot on the base of the camera alongside the battery. 

Take care when installing, the card should not need a great deal of pressure to install and forcing it could course damage. On most cameras the label of the memory card should be facing towards you when installing.

Always check your manual for installation instructions for your specific camera.

Image showing how to insertt a camera memory card

Format Memory Card

Format Memory Card

To remove all of the images and free up space on the camera’s memory card, the card needs to be formatted. On most cameras this can be accessed by pressing the MENU button and navigating to the MAINTENANCE menu usually indicated by a spanner. Find the option that says FORMAT MEMORY CARD or similar. If your camera has multiple memory card slots, it may ask you which slot you want to format. It will ask you to confirm. Select OK and press the OK or SET button on your camera.

SD Card Speeds

Video Speed Classes

Manual / Autofocus

Manual focus allows you to control where the camera focuses.
Autofocus gives the camera control over focusing.

Manual focus is achieved by turning the focus ring on the lens, it gives you absolute control of where your point of focus is in an image, it can be difficult to use, some cameras have a brighter viewfinder than others, in lower light conditions it may be difficult to use and if you have problems with your sight it can also be difficult to use.

Autofocus can do most of the focusing for you, however it doesn’t always get it right, there are a range of focusing modes that can increase the effectiveness.
Single point focus – focus is made on single point represented by a square that you can move around the viewfinder. You choose where you want the focus and the camera does the focusing.
Multipoint – the camera chooses the most likely point of focus.
Face recognition – Ideal for portraits, will prioritise getting a face in focus.
Animal recognition – for portraits of pets

Image of a Camera autofocus selector

Reset Camera Settings

Reset Camera Menus

Recording Media, Memory Cards and Storage

Image showing various memory cards

SD / SDXC – Secure Digital / Secure Digital Extra Capacity
Micro SD – Smaller version of the SD card, often seen in phones, drones and small cameras.
XQD / CFExpress – High end, very fast cards seen in more recent cameras. CFExpress is a newer faster version of the format.
Compact Flash – Older format still seen in some high end cameras.
CFast 2.0 – Newer version of the compact flash card.
Sony Memory Stick – Specific to certain Sony cameras, higher end Sony cameras use XQD.


An image of a camera viewfinder

The viewfinder and rear screen (in live view) of your camera will look similar to this. Using the Disp or Info button (dependent on camera) will display other types of information, but these are the most important.

Some cameras may not have an exposure meter in the viewfinder, but may have it on the screen in live view (or vice versa). If you are in the process of buying a camera, it is best to have one that has the meter in the viewfinder and on live view. The exposure meter allows you to see and adjust how much light is coming into the camera.

Image Quality (Raw vs Jpg)

RAW files are higher quality, contain more information, detail and colour. That allows the images to remain high quality when they are edited. RAW Files also allow camera settings such as white balance, sharpness and contrast to be reset after the photograph has been taken, where as with jpeg (or jpg) files, all settings are ‘baked in’.

RAW files are much larger than Jpg files and therefore need more storage space and the images need processing and converting before they can be used.

White Balance

White Balance Cheat Sheet copy

Camera Modes

Manual – All controls are manually set by the user
Automatic – All controls are set by the camera
Shutter Priority (TV) – Allows you to set the SHUTTER SPEED and the camera will calculate the rest
Aperture Priority (AV) – Allows you to set the APERTURE and the camera will calculate the rest
Program – Portrait, Sport, Landscape


Image showing Camera Lens Settings

Lenses for crop sensor – DX (Nikon) EF-S (Canon)
Lenses for Full Frame – FX (Nikon) EF (Canon)

Focal length is measured in millimetres for example 18mm, 50mm, 200mm.

Prime lenses have a fixed Focal length
Zoom lenses have a variable Focal length

A standard Focal length is 50 mm on full frame cameras and 35mm on APS crop sensors cameras.

Below the standard Focal length is classed as wide angle
Above the standard Focal length is classed as telephoto

Because of the difference in sensor sizes, APS-C and Micro 4/3rds cameras have smaller sensors and therefore lens focal lengths will be 1.6x for APS-C and 2x for Micro 4/3rds

Most cameras come with a kit lens that is around 24-70mm for Full Frame or 17-35mm for crop sensors 

Lenses – Standard

Image showing effects of standard lenses

A standard lens gives a field of view similar to the human eye. It is an ideal as a general lens for mixed subjects. Depending on the camera system a standard lens will be around 25-50mm.

Lenses – Telephoto

Image showing the effects of long lenses

Telephoto lenses allow subjects at a distance to be brought closer. They are good for portraits, as they give a flattering appearance. Telephoto lenses cause compression which makes the background appear closer to the foreground and gives a stacked appearance. This is particularly apparent in the image of the sand dunes, the compression effect has made them look higher than they actually are. This effect is exploited by press photographers to make crowds seem bigger and more densely packed.

Lenses – Wide angle

Image showing the effects of wide angle lenses

Wide angle lenses get a lot into a picture however this can cause distortion, particularly at the edges of the image. This can be exploited to create interesting images, but can be unflattering when used for portraits. It is however good for environmental portraits and establishing shots in a series of images.

Lenses – Specialist

Macro / Micro – for close up photography
Fisheye / Extreme Wide – very wide lenses
Tilt Shift – To straighten converging verticals

Additional equipment for adapting lenses:
Extension tubes – for macro photography
Reversing Rings – Also for macro photography, allows you to put your lens on the camera back to front.
Teleconverter – to extend the focal length of the lens (usually 1.4x or 2x, occasionally built into the lens).

Lens Flare and Diffraction

Lens flare is a result of light refracting off the surface of a lens, it shows up as artefacts on your images, often as blue, green or red circles, low contrast or hazy areas and it can be used to creative effect. It is harder to achieve with newer lenses which have anti-reflective coatings, but can be achieved when there is a bright light source at the edge of the lens.

Diffraction causes the Starburst effect, seen on bright points of light when the Aperture is small, the light diffracts off the narrow gaps between the aperture blades. Again it can be used to creative effect.

Focal Length

Nikon Lens Range poster

Lenses for crop sensor – DX (Nikon) EF-S (Canon)
Lenses for Full Frame – FX (Nikon) EF (Canon)

Focal length is measured in millimetres for example 18mm, 50mm, 200mm.

Prime lenses have a fixed Focal length
Zoom lenses have a variable Focal length

A standard Focal length is 50 mm on full frame cameras and 35mm on APS crop sensors cameras.

Below the standard Focal length is classed as wide angle
Above the standard Focal length is classed as telephoto

Because of the difference in sensor sizes, APS-C and Micro 4/3rds cameras have smaller sensors and therefore lens focal lengths will be 1.6x for APS-C and 2x for Micro 4/3rds

Most cameras come with a kit lens that is around 24-70mm for Full Frame or 17-35mm for crop sensors 

How to hold a camera

It may seem obvious how to hold a camera, but providing a stable platform to keep the camera as stable as possible will help to create sharp images by ensuring there is minimum camera shake.

Use the left hand as a platform to support the weight of the camera and operate the focus and zoom, use the right hand to control the shutter release. Keep the elbows in tight to the body. Feet should be apart again to create a stable position. Kneeling and using the knee to rest the elbow on, can create an extra stable position for using longer lenses or in low light conditions. 

Stabilisation, Tripods and Monopods

Image of two tripods

Tripods, Monopods and other Stabilisation Devices help to prevent camera shake and blurred images.

Some cameras have In Camera Image Stabilisation (ICIS), however it can only do so much.

Tripods are also useful for long exposure and specialist photography such as night, astrophotography and capturing selective movement in a subject.

Straight Horizons

Because we are used to seeing the horizon as flat, it is common practice to ensure the horizon is straight particularly in landscape / seascape photographs. Some cameras have a built in level that can be shown in the viewfinder, tripods often have a spirit level built in, or spirit levels that attach to the camera are also available.

Remote Releases

A remote release allows you to trigger the cameras shutter without touching the camera, while the camera is on a tripod or stabilised in some other way. This helps to prevent vibration and camera shake, particularly when using slow shutter speeds and long exposures.

There are a variety of different types of shutter release, from basic one-button types such as the one in the image. There are also releases with built in timers and special connectors that allow you to use your phone to control the camera.

Many cameras also allow the triggering and capturing of images from your camera through a laptop or desktop computer using a usb cable ( known as tethering) and images will appear automatically in software such as Adobe Lightroom.

Most camera manufacturers now also offer a phone / tablet app that connects to recent cameras, to allow downloading of images via wi-fi.

Image of a camera remote release


Image of Photography filters

Filters come in a wide range of sizes and shapes and some can be very expensive. They are not something that is necessary for photography, particularly in the beginning stages.

The most important filter is a UV (Ultraviolet) filter which can be bought relatively cheaply on Amazon or Ebay. A UV filter protects lenses from being scratched. When you are changing lenses to urgently get that shot and abandon your lens without lens caps, the UV filter will prevent expensive damage to your lenses. 

Filters come as screw on or in a slide in plates for a variety of holders that fix to the front of the lens. Screw on filters can be a little difficult to screw on and off, where as slide in filters are quicker, however screw in filters are generally less prone to damage and scratches and don’t need extra equipment to be used.

Some specialist filters that you may come across include, polarising filters (PL), graduated filters (Grad) and neutral density (ND) Filters.

Polarising Filters can reduce reflections on glass, water and can help to darken skies.
Neutral Density Filters reduce the exposure in the case of strong ND filters, so that long shutter speeds can be achieved in daylight. Graduated filters allow a specific area (usually the sky to be reduced in exposure to match other areas (the land).

Camera Bags

There are two main categories of camera bag (and then some that are in-between). Take your time choosing and don’t go for something too small, leave some space for that next bit of kit, a waterproof, bottle of water….

Shoulder – These are the traditional style of camera bag, they provide quick access for changing lenses, however they can become uncomfortable if carried for a long time, or if you have lots of equipment.

Backpack – These allow kit to be carried on your back, however they need to be removed to allow access. Generally easier to carry lots of equipment than a sling bag, great if you are walking, hiking to a photography location.

Sling / Hybrid bags – are on your back but have a single strap allowing the bag to be swung to your front.

Non-photography bags – sometimes a standard backpack, over the shoulder bag may do the job very well. These are likely to be less padded than camera bags, however they will allow you to carry other non-photographic equipment alongside your camera.

Care, Maintenance, Cleaning and protecting

Lenses – Use a UV filter to protect the front element. Use a microfibre lens cloth, gently wipe the front and rear elements, for more stubborn marks, use a standard alcohol lens wipe, available in most supermarkets and discount shops. Use a paint, or makeup brush to remove dust especially around the rear of the lens, where small particles of metal can build up from removing and installing lenses.

Camera Body – Use alcohol based lens wipes to clean down the body of the camera and the outside of your lenses.

Tripods / Monopods etc. – Tripods can get particularly dirty. Use a damp cloth to remove dirt, if necessary warm, soapy water. Make sure that metal parts are dried to prevent rust. If your tripod has been stood in sand or sea water, it is worth giving it a good rinse off as salt water can corrode not only metal parts, but also carbon fibre.

Sensor – It is inevitable that at some point there will be dust on your sensor. This usually shows as out of focus marks, blemishes or spots on your images. They will be more obvious when your lens is stopped right down (large depth of field). These dust marks become a nuisance as they take work to get rid of in post-processing. Ideally your camera should be taken to a specialist photographic repair shop. Wex photographic in Gosforth provide a sensor cleaning service.

You can clean your sensor yourself, however it is possible to damage the sensor. You can clean your camera’s sensor using sensor swabs. They can be expensive but if you can pick them up relatively cheaply on Ebay, but ensure you get the right size for your camera’s sensor (Full-frame, APS-C etc.).


Image of a photographer taking a photograph

The action of exposing the sensor or film in a camera to light.

A correct exposure has detail in the highlights and shadows. Correct exposure means an image with maximum detail, that gives us the most options in editing.

Too much light leads to overexposure:
images that are too bright and have no detail in the light or highlight areas.

Too little lights leads to underexposure:
images that are too dark and have no detail in the dark or shadow areas.

The amount of light entering the camera is controlled by the aperture, shutter speed and  ISO (Sensitivity).

Exposure Triangle

Every photograph is an exposure, created through the use of three controllable factors: Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO. Changing one of these settings means changing the other settings. Each element has a trade off that effects the image.

Exposure is measured in ‘stops’ each stop is half or double the amount of light of the previous number. For example f/4.0 is half as much light as f/2.8, 1/125th second is twice as much light as 1/250th second, ISO 400 is four times as much light as ISO 100. – on a digital cameras this is broken down further into thirds of a stop, each click on the camera control dials changes the exposure by 1/3 of a stop.

Viewfinder and Exposure Meter

An image of a camera viewfinder

The exposure meter should always have the line in the center to start with, this should give you the correct exposure or close to it.

The camera meter has a variety of exposure modes including:
Spot meter – takes the exposure from a small area of the lens 10% or less
Centre Weighted – takes the reading from the centre of the lens
Matrix metering – automatic metering that takes readings from lots of areas of the viewfinder and averages them out.

Correct Exposure

image showing correct exposure

Correct Exposure

A correct exposure has detail in the highlights and shadows. Correct exposure means an image with maximum detail, that gives us the most options in editing.

In this image the highlight or lightest areas (the clouds) have lots of detail with no ‘blown out’ areas.

image of an overexposed photograph


Too much light leads to overexposure:
images that are too bright and have no detail in the light or highlight areas.

An image showing an underexposed photograph


Too little lights leads to underexposure:
images that are too dark and have no detail in the dark or shadow areas.


Image showing a camera histogram

A graphical representation of the camera’s exposure reading, a guide to getting a correct exposure.

On Canon cameras
1. Press the play button to view an image
2. Press info until the histogram appears
On Nikon cameras:

1. Press the play button to view an image
2. Press up on the control buttons until histogram appears


The aperture is the gap in the centre of the blades of a lens. It controls HOW MUCH light enters the camera. When the aperture is adjusted it decreases and increases the amount of light entering the camera, by making the whole larger or smaller (a large or small aperture).

The aperture is measured in stops indicated by a fraction:
f/1.4 f/2.0 f/2.8 f/4.0 f/5.6 f/8 f/11 f/18 f/22 each aperture is half or double the amount of light of the preceding aperture. The smaller the number the bigger the aperture f/1.8 is a very LARGE aperture and lets in lots of light f/22 is a SMALL aperture and only lets in a small amount of light.

Depth of Field

Depth of field diagram

Depth of Field refers to how much of a photograph is in focus. It is an effect specific to photography caused by the shape of lens elements. It is controlled using the aperture, the larger the aperture (smaller the number) the less of the image is in focus.

When we use a small aperture more of the image is in focus than when we use a large aperture. We refer to this as Shallow or Deep Depth of Field. A useful way to remember which is which is large number, large depth of field, small number, small depth of field.

Aperture – Shallow Depth of Field

An imgae of poppy heads showing shallow depth of filed

Apertures – Shallow Depth of Field
A small amount of the image is in focus.

Large Aperture (Small number) f/5.6, f/4, f/2.8 and lower

Small Number – Small Depth of Field

Shallow Depth of Field

Depth of field also becomes shallower as you get closer to a subject.
The choice of lens also affects depth of field.
Telephoto or Long focal length lenses create a shallower depth of field.
Wide angle lenses create a deeper depth of field.
When you are choosing how much depth of field you want in your image, you need to consider APERTURE, LENS CHOICE and DISTANCE FROM YOUR SUBJECT

Shallow Depth of Field

Image showing shallow depth of field, circles of confusion and bokeh

Shallow depth of field can also create an interesting affect, particularly with bright areas, such as raindrops, reflections on water and streetlights. These are called ‘circles of confusion‘. The shape or aesthetic quality of these circles is called Boke or Bokeh (pronounced Bow-ca), a phrase that has become popular in recent years on social media and online forums.

Shallow Depth of Field

Image of a cow showing shallow depth of field

Shallow depth of field works really well in portraits, it helps to concentrate the image on the most important area, the eyes.

Shallow Depth of Field

Shallow depth of field in a photograph of bluebells in a wood

A large aperture of f/2.8 has been used to create shallow depth of field, isolating this Bluebell from it surroundings.

Aperture – Deep Depth of Field

Image showing a Deep Depth of Field

Apertures – Deep Depth of Field
A large amount of the image is in focus

Small Aperture (Large number)  f/11, f/16, f/22 and higher

Large Number – Large Depth of Field

Deep Depth of Field

Image showing Deep Depth of Field

A deep or large depth of field is excellent for landscape images, or where you want a large amount of detail, with everything sharp. f/22 was used for this image so that the bridge was sharp from the front of the image to the back. Because it was dark, a very long exposure was required of 2 minutes.

Deep Depth of Field

Image showing Deep Depth of Field

A deep or large depth of field can be effective for portraits where the background is relevant to the main subject or environmental portraits.

Shutter Speeds

Image showing the effects of shutter speed

The shutter is a curtain in front of the sensor. It determines HOW LONG the camera sensor is exposed to light for. Shutter speeds are measured as seconds or fractions of a second as stops of light and are described as FAST or SLOW.  For example 1/125th or one hundred and twenty fifth of a second is a FAST shutter speed, 2″ or two seconds is a SLOW shutter speed.
1/125, 1/60,  1/30, 1/15, 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 1”,  2”, 4″

Shutter Speed controls the length of time the sensor is exposed to light for. It also controls whether movement is frozen or blurred. A fast or high shutter speed freezes motion, a slow or long shutter speed causes motion blur.

Camera Shake

Camera shake is the unintentional blurring of an image, usually because the shutter speed is too low. In this image the blur was intentional to give the effect of a moving vehicle, however usually the image should be sharp. Camera shake can be prevented by using a shutter speed close to the focal length of the lens when handheld, for example with a 30mm lens a minimum of 1/30th second shutter speed should be used.

Controlling Movement with Shutter Speed

Controlling motion blur

A fast shutter speed 1/125, 1/250, 1/500 and above will freeze movement. How ‘frozen’ the movement will be, depends upon the speed of the subject moving and how fast the shutter speed is. Sometimes, you want a subject to have just a little movement, to show that it is actually moving. This guide can be used as a starting point and then gradually reducing the shutter speed will increase the amount of apparent movement.

Fast Shutter Speed

Fast Shutter Speed

In these images the shutter speed is fast enough to freeze motion. The shutter speed used to freeze this dancer in mid air was 1/250th Second.

Fast Shutter Speed

High Shutter Speed Example

A fast or high shutter speed of 1/800th Second was used to freeze the waves in this image. 

Fast Shutter Speed

Fast shutter speed image

A fast or high shutter speed was used to create this image, not only to freeze the motion of the subject and the background, but also to prevent camera shake caused by the vehicle the photograph was taken from.

Fast Shutter Speed

Fast Shutter Speed

In this image the shutter speed has been high enough to freeze motion, but also just slow enough to capture a small amount of movement at the end of the horses legs.

Slow Shutter Speed

Example of slow shutter speed

A slow shutter speed 1/15, 1/8, 1/4 second and below will cause movement to blur in the image. If the camera is handheld, this will cause camera shake. If the camera is on a tripod or stabilised in some other way, it can be used to creative effect. In this photograph the shutter speed was 15 seconds, this has caused a lot of blur in the image, which conveys the atmosphere of a busy market.

Slow Shutter Speed

Image showing light trails

In this photograph the camera was fixed on a tripod to the back seat of the car, a slow shutter speed was used, so that when the car was moving light trails were created.

Slow Shutter Speed

Image showing intentional camera movement

A slow shutter speed has been purposely used in this image to create intentional blur.

Slow Shutter Speed

Example of slow shutter speed

A slow shutter speed has been used to give an impression of a busy city. This image would perhaps not work so well if the traffic was static.


The ISO (International Standards Organisation) setting, controls the sensitivity of the camera’s sensor. It determines how much light is needed to capture an image. Increasing the ISO or sensitivity means that photographs can be taken in less light.
ISO like Apertures and Shutter Speeds is also measured in stops of light half or double the previous one.
The higher the number the more sensitive the sensor is for example 3200 high sensitivity.
100. 200. 400. 800. 1600. 3200. 6400

Example of ISO noise


Example of ISO and noise

The higher the ISO the more noise there will be in an image. In a sports situation like this, a high shutter speed may be needed to capture the action and there may not be enough light to use a low ISO.

Fortunately there are tools in Adobe Lightroom to reduce this noise.


Composition is the arranging of elements in a work of art.
That could be music, painting, drawing, illustration, film, photography…

In photography the Rules of Composition are a set of rules and guidelines that help to create stronger images

Images that are well composed are more likely to be good images.

They help us to get the person looking at the images (viewer / audience) to look where we want them to

The Rules of composition are guidelines, sometimes breaking the rules can make the strongest images. However, they provide an excellent framework and starting point for creating strong images, particularly when you are first starting out in photography.

Rule of Thirds

Image showing Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is one of the most important compositional aids in photography, because by using this alone, you can make a stronger images.

Most cameras / camera apps have a grid that can be switched on in the viewfinder as a guide to the rule of thirds.

For landscape images like this placing the main elements of sky and land on one of the lines will improve the composition. This is more pleasing to the eye than an image split in two by the horizon. Placing elements of an image on the points where the lines cross (intersect), creates a stronger image.

Rule of thirds in more depth

Example of the rule of thirds

The rule of thirds is a simplification of compositional aids such as dynamic symmetry and the Golden Section / Golden Ratio / Divine Proportion / Fibonacci Spiral. Some people suggest that the rule of thirds doesn’t work or is outdated but these are compositional tools that were used by all of the great masters and can be seen in most art works including painting, filmmaking, architecture and photography over the past two thousand years.

The Golden Ratio
The Golden Ratio
Dynamic Symmetry
Dynamic Symmetry

Roman Engineer and Architect Virtruvius -70BC – designed and built buildings using the principle that the human body represented the perfect proportions. This is where the name for Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man (1490) came from, which illustrates Vitruvius’ concept.

These proportions can be seen in the work of all of the Master painters. The rule of thirds is a simplification of some of these concepts

Da Vinci Vitruvian Man
The Last Supper
Da Vinci’s (c.1498) The Last Supper – showing how the Rule of Thirds relates to previous artworks.

Da Vinci, L. (c.1498) The Last Supper. Available at:
Da Vinci, L. (c.1490) Virtruvian Man. Available at:
Dean, R. (2019) ‘We Are the Golden Rule’ Medium 29 Sept. Available at:

Leading Line

example of Leading Line in Composition

Leading Line – lines that lead the eye around the image, they don’t have to be physical lines, they could just be suggested lines, for example a line of trees, footprints in sand.


Scale shows gives a comparison of how big or small something is and improves a sense of awe, particularly in landscapes. In this image the building allows us to see just how high the cliffs are.


Example of composition contrast

Contrast can refer to tones or colours, in this image the bright grass stands out because of the contrast with the dark background. Contrast could also be between colours, textures, old and new, between dark and light, rough and smooth, young and old, big and small.


Framing in a photograph

A frame within an image draws the eye to whatever is within the frame. In this image the dogs are in the frame of the door, within the frame of the image. Like leading line, the frame does not have to be physical in the image of Lindisfarne below, the castle is framed by trees, while Durham Cathedral in the second image is framed by the buildings.


Colour adds impact and interest, this could be complimentary or primary colours that work well together,  shades and tones that are similar in colour, or a single highly saturated element within the image. The image on the left works particularly well because of the Primary colours of Red, Yellow and Blue. The image on the right works well because of the Complimentary colours of Green and Magenta (or purple).

These images have been made by excluding anything that does not fit with these colour schemes, leaving everything out of the frame that does not fit the colour scheme.


Colour can also be used in other ways:
A single colour element that stands out in an image.
Similar colours that make the image almost monochrome (single colour).


Texture in a photography adds to the realism of the image. Texture can be naturally occurring, for example the bark of a tree, or can be created or emphasised with the right lighting conditions. Late afternoon light for example creates longer shadows, so therefore can create more texture.


Example of viewpoint in photography

Look up and down, an angle that we are not used to seeing will add impact to an image. Viewpoint can have a huge impact for example in portraits photographing a person from above can make them look vulnerable or from below can make them look powerful. Get down low, climb up high, find an unusual angle to take photographs from.


Repetition in Photography

Patterns, reflections and repetition all make stronger images.


While we are taking so much care to ensure our subject looks great and is composed well, it is easy to forget what is going on in the background. We have all taken photographs with lampposts and trees growing out of people’s heads. Part of composition is ensuring that everything in an image is in the right place and that there is nothing distracting from the main subject. It is important to observe the background of your image, what is going on, whether there are any distractions are anything in the background that draws the eye away.

Adobe Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom is the industry standard image editing and management software. Most other software has copied from Lightroom, so if you can use this you can use anything.

Image of Adobe Lightroom Control Panel

Ethics of Manipulating Images

Steve Mcurry image

At every stage of creating a photographic image, we can ‘manipulate’ or ‘edit’ the image. It could be something as simple as changing the colour and contrast, making an image black and white, removing dust and marks, or it could be removing or adding to an image in a way that changes the context and story.

Photographic images are all about the frame, the meaning or context of an image can be changed by what we exclude or leave out as much as by what is in the image.

In most instances editing an image is about improving the quality, but where do we draw the line? Is it ethical to edit a documentary or journalistic image which is supposed to portray reality? What about a fashion image? Is it okay to edit out blemishes, to soften a persons skin, to remove spots and scars, to change the shape of their body?

What do you think about the story about Steve McCurry? Do you think he stepped over an ethical line?

Importing images into Lightroom / Photoshop

To IMPORT images into Adobe Lightroom, click IMPORT in the bottom left corner of the screen. This will bring up the dialogue box

On the left select your Memory card, your images will be displayed in a grid on the right select the destination folder) a new folder can be added). Click IMPORT in the bottom right corner

Selecting images to edit

Image of Lightroom import panel

The initial stage of editing is selecting the best images from the ones you have captured. That may be a single image or a range of images depending upon what the final output for your photographs is.

When selecting images to edit, try not to compromise. The more things that need correcting in an image, the more time will be spent editing instead of taking more photographs. When shooting your images, consider every detail, try and get everything right. Editing images will then only be about improving the colour, contrast and basic elements.

The best approach is to go through your images initially, very quickly removing any out of focus, unusable or incorrectly exposed images and choosing between duplicates. Then go through the images again, taking more time with each image to identify the best composed images, You may have to do this multiple times to reduce the selection to an appropriate number.

Lightroom has a range of tools for selecting images with stars, flags and colours. You can also make collections of images.
Flags are chosen on the keyboard with 
P – pick/ flag
U – Unpick
X – Reject
Numbers 1-5 – Stars
Numbers 6-0 – colours

Starting in Lightroom Classic

Link to a video on YouTube that gives a run through of Adobe Lightroom Classic, to get you started editing your images. From import to export, editing and adjusting images and using the basic tools.

Main Adjustment Panel

The main adjustments in Lightroom are done in the DEVELOP module accessed by clicking DEVELOP in the top right of the window. The image shows the main adjustment panel, it is on the right of the Lightroom window, this is where most of the image adjustments will be done. 

Take the time to go through each slider and see how it affects your image. You can undo anything you do to the image because it is a non-destructive editor, the changes are not saved until the image is exported after editing.

To reset all changes click reset at the bottom of the toolbar, to reset individual modules hold the ALT key and click on the reset option in each module.

Editing an Image in Adobe Lightroom Classic

A run through a basic Adobe Lightroom workflow from beginning to end.

Reducing Noise in Adobe Lightroom

One of the issues with shooting long exposures or high ISO is the possibility of introducing noise into your images. Although this is becoming less and less of a problem with advances in camera technology, there will still be times where you want to reduce noise in your images.

Another cause of noise is trying to correct an underexposed image, as you try to pull detail by adjusting an image, noise will develop particularly in shadow areas..

Digital image noise is caused by electronic interference and heat and shows as variations in colour, contrast and brightness. It is the equivalent of film grain, looks like speckles and is most obvious in shadow areas.

Noise can be reduced quite simply with the noise reduction tools in Adobe Lightroom. The tools can be found in the detail section of the Develop panel.

The image below shows the difference in an image before and after noise reduction has been added. In the before image substantially more noise is visible.

Monochrome / Black & White

Image of Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico by Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams represents a benchmark for most photographers. He was a master photographer based in the Yosemite Valley in the USA. He did shoot occasionally in colour, however he is most remembered for his spectacular black and white landscape images. The most famous of these is Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico.

There are some quite old fashioned ideas about the use of black and white. Some people still believe that for documentary photography to have legitimacy, it must be in Black and White. However, this is very much based on traditions of press photography, where photographers had no choice but to use black and white, as that was what the newspapers printed, until the first colour newspaper, Today, started publishing in 1986.

Using black and white is now an aesthetic choice for the photographer. Some cameras allow black and white jpg images to be shot in camera, however if RAW images are being used, the black and white will be stripped when the images are imported where the choice between black and white or colour ultimately becomes a post-production choice.

Do you think the images below are better in Black and White or in Colour?

Comparison Black and White to Colour Photograph
Comparison Black and White to Colour Photograph

Editing Black & White in Adobe Lightroom

Image showing Adobe Lightroom black and white dialogue

Where photographers such as Ansel Adams would spend days in a darkroom trying to perfect a black and white print, in Adobe Lightroom, the first step is to press the button BLACK AND WHITE in the panel in the left hand menu.

Export an Image

Export an image from Adobe Lightroom

To export (save) edited images to use elsewhere, press the export button in the bottom left corner of the Lightroom window. This brings up a window that allows you to select the location to export to, the image size and resolution and sharpening.

Colour Calibration

Image of a colour calibration spyder

Because the brightness, colour and contrast of computer monitors can be changed, our images can look different on various screens and devices. Colour calibration involves measuring and correcting your monitor to a known state. This means that it will reproduce your images in the same way as your camera, which is also calibrated to this known state. 

Although there is no way to know what the screen your audience will be looking at it on will see, calibration allows us consistency across our images, whether on screen or printed. It is always a good option to examine your images on as many devices as possible, to get an idea of what the average is. 

Calibration can be done through a combination of hardware and software.

There are software only solutions built into computer operating systems but they are not as effective or accurate as a hardware system. 

Building a Portfolio

Example of a photography portfolio

A portfolio is a set of images brought together to show your ability, your style or in this case to show what you have learnt over a photography course.

A portfolio should be a complete cohesive group of images that show a particular theme, project or skill. The images should all be consistent in exposure, colour and tone. Choose images that have the most impact and remember that you may not be there, when your portfolio is being viewed, so your images should be self explanatory.

For this portfolio, your images should show a range of techniques, viewpoints and subjects displaying your knowledge of focal length, exposure, apertures, shutter speeds, composition and editing.

Be strict with what you allow into your portfolio. Don’t compromise and try not to add filler images. A small number of strong images far outweigh a large number of weak images. The number of images in your portfolio for your course have been limited to ensure you select the very best of your work, however this should also be your approach when putting together any portfolio.

Portfolio Examples

Example of a Student Photography Portfolio
Photography Portfolio
Photography Portfolio

Annotating Images

Annotating images for portfolio submission

When creating images for a portfolio, journal, notebook as evidence for your photography course, you need to annotate (add notes to) your images. These notes should describe the technical, aesthetic, compositional elements and describe why you took the photograph. When annotating your images try to answer the following questions:

What equipment did you use to make this image?
What subject and area of photography did you choose to photograph?
What new techniques did you learn or try out while taking this photograph?
What health and safety considerations did you make?
What do you like about the image?
What do you not like about the image?
How could you improve the image?

If you reference or mention another photographer, book or other resource to correctly reference them: Name (year) Title, a link if online, date accessed if online for example:
Martin Parr (2022) Death by Selfie, (Accessed: 4 August 2022)

If photographs are being taken for a publication, newspaper, magazine or even for a website, information about the photograph is usually attached to the image in the form of an annotation. The standard format is Who, What, Where, When, Why? You should also consider this when annotating your images for your course.

Who – Who is in the image?
What – What is happening in the image?
Where – Where was the photograph taken?
When – Date and time but could also be time of year, season etc.
Why – why did you take the image?

Annotating an image in Adobe Lightroom Classic

Adobe Portfolio

Adobe Portfolio allows you to create simple websites and online portfolios, it is connected directly to Adobe Lightroom. By syncing albums of images, they become available to use in Adobe Portfolio.

Adobe Portfolio can be accessed through the link below.

In Adobe Lightroom Classic ensure the lightning bolt is shown next to your Album under collections. This enables sharing and allows you to use the images in Adobe Portfolio
Adobe Portfolio Lightroom
In Adobe Lightroom, right click on an album then ‘Share to’ and ‘Adobe Portfolio’ to allow access in Portfolio.
Adobe Portfolio Layout image
Adobe Portfolio allows you to configure every aspect of your portfolio and has a range of templates and options

Digital Journal Examples

Digital Journal Photography Course
Digital Journal Photography Course
Digital Journal Photography Course

Display Screen Health and Safety

Computer Health and Safety Diagram

Display Screen Equipment (DSE)
Keep track of how long you spend in front of the screen, take breaks. The recommended time is 5-10 minutes for every 60 minutes and 60-90 second breaks every 30 minutes.

Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams Photographer

One of the pioneers of photography, renowned for his incredible Black and White landscapes.
Adams was responsible for the Zone System and introducing the teaching of photography into Art Schools. His images are the benchmark for landscape and black and white photography.

Giles Penfound

A former photographer of conflict, now documenting homegrown stories, this film is a very deep, thoughtful insight into photographic context.

Dayanita Singh

Dayanita Singh, 2022 winner of the Hassleblad Award is a documentary photographer, who’s primary exhibition format is the book or book-object. She want’s everybody to be able to own her work and not just those that can afford an expensive piece of work.

Her images are very much interconnected and narrative and often autobiographical and usually centring around people.

Andreas Gursky

Gursky is a photographer who creates large format landscape and architectural photographs. His work reaches the highest prices for photography. Rhein II sold for $4,338,500 dollars in 2011. His work continues to sell for millions.

His photography is usually very simple, high resolution and printed large format. He uses large format film cameras, the negatives are scanned and then manipulated digitally.

Alex Bamford

Originally an advertising art director Alex Bamford’s photography is of a highly graphical nature, clever composition, abstract textures and colours and stylised work.