Sharon joined the society in June last year and found out about the OU Digital Photography course on the RPS website. She completed the course in January this year and talks about her experience, what she learnt and the impact it has had on her photography.
"My hopes for the course were that it would help me get a good grounding in the skills and knowledge required to be a successful photographer; to continue to improve my image taking and develop a portfolio of images.
The online course requires approximately 100 hours of study in total, which is scheduled over 10 weeks."
If you would like to read more from Sharon on how the course is structured click here
Week 1 - Interesting Images
"This introduced students to the fundamentals of image composition and advice to help develop a photographer’s way of ‘seeing’.
One option for the week’s assignment was to look for letters of the alphabet in the everyday. I chose an 'O' to the left and a 'Y' to the right."
Week 2 – Light becomes data
"This module discussed how a digital image is created and some of the technical aspects of making a digital image, understanding how a camera works and how to get the best from it.
The assignment this week was to share two photographs of a person, place or thing that you liked, one of which would be crop from the original image.
These are two images from Gooderstone Water Gardens which is a place that I have enjoyed visiting several times, one a creative crop of the first image."
Week 3 - Exposure
"These are two images I shared for this exercise using low light, high ISO for the night-time photograph and a slow shutter speed for the exposure on the water photograph.
I had not done either of these type of images previously, so they were great opportunities to start to learn new techniques."
Week 4 - Focus and Depth of field
"For the exercise for this week’s module, we were asked to choose and demonstrate some examples of using a particular focus or depth of field.
I chose to experiment with a pet portrait, a close-up flower shot and also a still life subject, all using a shallow depth of field.
I really enjoyed trying out these various subjects and I particularly enjoy still life photography."
Week 5 - Understanding and using colour
"This was one of my favourite weeks I think in terms of learning as I find it fascinating how we see colour and our visual and emotional relationship and interpretation of colour in imagery.
We learnt about the colour wheel and how to use colours selectively in our images for impact. There is so much to learn and I will definitely keep revisiting this part of the course to continue to develop my knowledge and use of colour for the best effects in my images.
We were encouraged for this week’s assignment to go out and look for colour – these were a couple of the images I took of colour on my walk."
Week 6 – Printing and projecting your photographs
"We were introduced to the topic of display technologies, colour management, calibration and some of the difficulties that can be experienced with colour management in our images across screen and print.
This is a very extensive subject and I have to say, one that I will need to revisit to keep learning although it has been very helpful to me in my images to date which have all been images for screen, making sure that they are appearing as I want them to or at least as close as possible, on a calibrated screen."
Week 7 - Innovation in photographic imaging
"This introduced us to a selection of photographs from the past, the history of photography and development of imagery, as well as looking at composing images in the frame to alter their meaning, juxtaposition, visual narrative and exploiting conventions in photography.
We were also introduced to ways of developing experimental photography, such as ICM. I found this week an intensive one in terms of content alongside my work commitments and felt in my own case at least, that I would have benefitted from a longer time to fully explore and practice this section and it is one I am definitely returning to. I particularly would like to continue to try ICM and experiment with creating individual images.
For my photography for this week as part of the exploiting conventions topic, I chose food and lighting to try to make the subject matter look most appealing – as you can see this was done close to Christmas! I also tried out a 'cinematic' style edit of a portrait of my daughter."
Week 8 – Working with light and finding your style
"This was the final week in terms of learning content. I very much enjoyed this week 8 module, trying out some different photography in various light conditions and to different effects.
The module also introduced us to the various genres of photography in order to help us learn about and develop what interests us most."
Weeks 9 and 10 were working on and submitting our End of Module Assessment.
"The End of Module Assessment consisted of two parts. Firstly, preparing a “panel” of 10 images which are shown as digital images in sequence and secondly a written submission justifying your selection of images and describing their qualities."
More detail about how the OU make the final assessment can be found here
My End of Module Assessment panel
"I really enjoyed putting together my panel of 10 images and these are seen here, in the order that they appeared.
The images were chosen were a mixture of some I had taken before the course and some during the course and I thought a lot about choosing a variety of subjects and techniques, as well as visually, how they would work alongside one another in the sequence."
My results and summary of the course:
"I was absolutely delighted to get an overall mark of 98% and to be marked ‘Outstanding’ on all aspects. I could not have wished for more and the feedback I had on my assessment was wonderful to receive.
This has given me a real boost of confidence and I feel that confidence is one of the major things I have gained on this course. I believe that my image composition and visual awareness has definitely improved and in terms of content, the course is excellent.
I very much enjoyed the course and would recommend it to anyone who is wishing to learn or improve their photography and image-taking and especially alongside other learning, as it did give a comprehensive introduction.
It has also helped to give me a start into thinking about how to put together a panel of images, which I think will very much help me in the future as I would like to continue to develop my photography and work towards being able to submit a panel for LRPS assessment.
Covid-19 times have certainly presented all of us with many challenges but I feel truly fortunate to have been able to pursue opportunities to develop my photography skills, taking advantage of online learning and being able to co-ordinate this alongside working full-time at home.
I think photography is a very positive hobby for mental health and for me, having the opportunity to keep enjoying, learning and developing this hobby has been extremely beneficial."
Here are some links you may find useful if you are interested in the OU course or an RPS Distinction.