Course curriculum

  • 1

    Chapter 1: Welcome to your Reskilling online photography course

    • How to navigate through this course

    • How to find support

    • Acknowledgements

    • I will edit your photos

    • What's in my kit bag

  • 2

    Chapter 2: Some further fundamentals

    • Introduction to this chapter

    • It's all about the light

    • Buttons, dials and basic settings

    • Lenses – zoom, prime, fast and slow

    • Pay attention to your dashboard

    • Should I be photographing in RAW? What is RAW?

    • What is white balance and why is it important?

    • Playback and learn

  • 3

    Chapter 3: Composition

    • Intro to composition

    • Change your point of view

    • Rule of thirds

    • Using leading lines

    • Enhancing your photos using negative spaces

    • Clutter and busy backgrounds

    • Don't be afraid to crop

    • Tell a story

    • Composition video

    • Composition: Now it's your turn

  • 4

    Chapter 4: Program (P) mode

    • What is Program mode?

    • The Exposure meter. How, and why, do you change exposure?

    • How do I focus on a single point?

  • 5

    Chapter 5: Shutter Speed using Tv mode

    • Introducing the exposure triangle

    • What is shutter speed?

    • Using the Tv setting, how do I change the shutter speed?

    • What is the perfect shutter speed?

    • Shutter speed info guide

    • What is camera shake and how do I reduce it?

    • The 30 second exercise

    • Video showing various shutter speed examples

    • Background to iconic Rio Olympics photo of Usain Bolt

    • Shutter speed: Now it's your turn

  • 6

    Section 6: ISO

    • How is ISO related to the sensor?

    • What exactly is ISO?

    • How do you change ISO on your camera?

    • FAQ – ISO in action

    • ISO recap

    • ISO Info Guide

    • ISO: Now it's your turn

  • 7

    Chapter 7: Aperture

    • What is aperture?

    • Changing aperture using the Av mode

    • F-numbers and depth-of-field

    • Aperture info guide

    • Besides aperture what else affects DoF?

    • Can I change exposure while using the Av setting?

    • What is bokeh?

    • Screen video of photos at different aperture settings

    • Now it's you turn: Aperture

  • 8

    Chapter 8: M is for Manual

    • Setting aperture and shutter speed using M mode

    • Exposure – it's about balance

    • Properly exposing your photographs

    • Full manual: Now it's up to you

    • Assignments

    • Onwards and upwards

  • 9

    Bonus material

    • From Adobe: How to Take and Edit Pet Portraits

    • Interview with Sean Thompson

    • Hand over hand - details of my iconic scaffolding photo

What you will learn

Learn how to use all of the manual modes (P, Tv, Av and M). See real-life examples of where you should use each mode. You will find out how to adjust your shutter speed and why you would choose one shutter speed over another. Learn how to adjust your aperture and why you would choose one aperture over another. Discover when and how to adjust the ISO setting. Understand various composition techniques and tricks. Grow in confidence with using manual settings. You will not go back to auto.

About your instructor

I am Stephen Cruickshank.

I have been taking photos since 1984 and have been a professional for more than 20 years. I am passionate about photography. I am an acclaimed international event photographer. I have photographed events in New York, Greece, Dubai, Mauritius, Thailand, Cape Town, Barcelona and many more places across the globe. In Paris, June 2013, I photographed a 3 week event with 4000 delegates. This was the largest prolonged event ever hosted by Disneyland Europe. Over these years I have gained a vast amount of knowledge around photography. I love passing on these skills, tips and tricks through my training. I look forward to using all of my experiences to teach you.

My story

It was December 1998, an unusual thunderstorm blew in over my hometown of Cape Town in South Africa. We had some friends over for dinner that evening and on their way home they called to say lightning had struck the mountains which were now ablaze. I left home, with camera in hand, at around 11pm to go and photograph the mountain on fire. The blaze was very far away from the roadside so I headed back home without getting any shots.

As I approached home however, I saw the thunderstorm had moved in over False Bay once again. I went to a particular spot above my home village of Kalk Bay which I knew well for its view. I set up my camera on a tripod, pointed it in the direction of the strikes across the bay, and started shooting.

I had no idea if I had captured anything as in those days, using film cameras, I did not have the playback option on the back of my camera. The next day I went with excitement to the lab to have the film processed. Out of the 36 exposures on the spool, I submitted the best to a contact at the local newspaper. They printed this image in their Sunday edition! The newspaper didn't pay me much but they did take my number and passed all queries for prints on to me. I earned good money selling prints to people all over the world. Some still have the image hanging on their walls.

For this particular image shown, I left the shutter open for about 15 seconds. The photo captured two lightning strikes – one hitting in the bay and the other hitting the mountains on the other side of the bay.

This image started me on my path to becoming a professional photographer.

There is no way I could have captured this image if I did not know how to use manual settings.

This is Colin's story

I completed my course with Steve in September. I now never leave home without my camera. You may never know when that special photo will be there. I have progressed to having my own Facebook page, a logo, a signature and my website is in construction. One of my photos has been shortlisted for publication in Getaway Magazine. From the start I was determined to make my photography course into a way of life. My thanks to Steve for starting or rekindling the passion. This image is of professional surfer Nat Young competing in Morocco. - ColinF

Do you know how to use shutter speed to get that beautiful waterfall photo?
Do you know how to capture an action photo of your child enjoying their favorite sport?
Do you know how to make the background blurred on your photos?

This course will teach you the ins and outs of changing shutter speed to get photos such as this.
This course will teach you how to change your settings to get a sharp image using the fastest shutter speed possible.
This course will teach you about when to change aperture settings.

Do you know how to compose your image using the rule-of-thirds? 
Do you know the best aperture setting to capture a beautiful landscape photo?
Do you know how to capture a well-exposed photo of the full moon?
In this course, you will learn to differentiate between different composition techniques.
I will teach you how to change your ISO settings so you can adjust the shutter speed to capture the image you desire. I will teach you which lens is best and how to expose correctly to get THAT shot.

This course will teach you how to create beautiful images using manual settings.

It's online so you can access the content via mobile or PC which means you can learn wherever you are, at any time that suits you. And you have access to the course forever.

I will be available, via comments in each section as well as email, as a coach to evaluate your photos as you go through the course.

This is so much better than reading a book and not having anyone for guidance or feedback.


Thanks Stephen for changing my mind from auto to manual. To see the bigger picture of what photography means and how not to be afraid to change the settings.

Eddie Andrews

Thank you for a most interesting and enjoyable course Stephen! Thanks for introducing me to the world of “manual” photography of which I knew very little! I gained a wonderful new skill with your excellent training!

Amora Taljaard

It was great to be one of your students - you are a very good teacher with a wonderful personality.

Nico Otto

Thank you for changing my perspective on photography. 

Aub Fisher

Thank you Stephen for your time and knowledge. It was great!!

Jo-Anne Ritter

Stephen a big thank you for the empowerment and knowledge.

Prem Mohanlal


By the end of this course you will know how to:

Set your shutter speed
Use a shallow depth-of-field
Use a fast shutter speed
Take beautiful photos of waterfalls or car-light trails at a slow shutter speed.

Blur the background to get your people photos to really stand out. Freeze motion in high action scenes.
Perfect sunset and sunrise photos

Ensure your subject stands out

Create beautiful bokeh

Create stunning silhouettes by underexposing your sunset images.
Learn how to manipulate your focusing points to draw attention to specific areas in your frame.
In low light scenes, learn how to use depth of field to create beautiful bokeh (a Japanese word meaning blur).