Getting to grips with your DSLR camera with Jacqui Hurst

Photography and digital image manipulation

Ref: SWE12464

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About this course

Increase your skills and confidence in using your DSLR camera. Learn how to judge which programme to use and focus on taking satisfying images on location. Basic computer skills are required.

Course Description

The course is suitable for anybody who enjoys taking pictures and is keen to learn more about how their DSLR camera works. You will gain confidence and control when using different programmes, from automatic through to aperture and shutter priority mode. Find out what all those buttons and dials do and discover what options are available in the menu. It is a practical course, tailored to individual needs as far as possible, and most of the time will be spent taking pictures, photographing in West Dean Gardens. If there is time, we will try out manual mode.

At the end of the course you should be able to:

•Take photos and have mastered using the programme mode, aperture and shutter priority settings

•Appreciate which is the best programme for different styles of photography

•Use auto and manual focusing options

•Change the ISO and understand the principle of bracketing – exposure compensation

•Gain a greater awareness of the importance of composition and lighting when taking pictures

On the technical side, explore the various programmes offered by different cameras, why you might want or need to change the ISO setting, learn the basic principles of bracketing and experiment with different white balance options. Whilst getting to grips with your camera, you will also consider what makes a good, strong composition and how lighting can influence the overall impact of an image. The course does not cover post-image editing or manipulation.

There will be an illustrated talk, group discussions and practical exercises to help everyone get to know how their camera works. There will also be group reviews of everybody's images.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials

What students need to bring

  • For an exercise, please bring along a favourite image or a selection of a photographer's work which inspires you.
  • DSLR camera with fully charged batteries and spares, battery charger, clear memory cards, computer lead and instruction manual
  • Tripod (if available)
  • Cable release – optional, but useful
  • Your own laptop – optional (you will be allocated a laptop in the digital studio during the course)
  • USB stick (if available)
  • Any accessories you commonly use for photography
  • Pen and paper
  • Clothing suitable for extensive outdoor sessions (including waterproof trousers)
  • A note of your Adobe ID login may be useful.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Memory sticks
Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio. This includes stout covered footwear, i.e. no open-toes or sandals, and safety boots, if specified.


Jacqui Hurst

Jacqui Hurst has been an editorial photographer since the mid 80's working with publishers and magazines, illustrating art, craft and gardening books and features. She is a member of the GMG and the NUJ. Recent books featuring her work are: 'Textile Landscapes' and 'Pat Albeck: Queen of the Tea Towel'. Jacqui started teaching at West Dean twenty years ago and found that she loved sharing her expertise and knowledge. She runs workshops in the UK and Europe.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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