CALAT Croydon Adult Learning and Training

Life through a lens – NCFE Photography level 1 blog

3: April / May 2022

Wow, where has the time gone!? It’s been a crazy few weeks with work and coursework, and just life in general but here I am, still loving the course and learning so much.

The past two weeks have been especially fun and challenging and I’m still really intrigued by the technical side of a DSLR camera and how every setting has a knock-on effect on the image…I know I’ll still be mastering Manual mode well after the course has finished but for now, I’m pleased at how I am progressing and am definitely getting quicker at moving between the settings. Hopefully, that is reflected in the images I’m producing!

We have been learning to use light reflectors to help diffuse and redirect hard light. As part of our homework, I made a light reflector using cardboard, tin foil and a glue gun and am incredibly pleased with the result it had on the portrait image of my daughter as she sat by a window, I love the softness of the light and how warm it feels.


I ventured into South Norwood Lakes and park with my son, we took lots of action shots of him on a spiderweb swing getting the right exposure with a combination of aperture, shutter speed, ISO and white balance. In the image of the trees, I used the spot sensor on the blue sky to get the right exposure so the sun would not overexpose it, there was so much amazing light when I was taking them and I really wanted to capture that.


And finally, I couldn’t resist a photo of my daughter learning her lines before her play, she is so involved and, in the moment, when she gets into character!


2: March 2022

Well, what an incredible 5 weeks it’s been! The group I am learning with are an amazingly friendly bunch, it’s brilliant to be with people who all share a real passion for photography and are so keen to learn. Our tutor, Etienne, could not be a better teacher, she listens to and answers all our questions, gives us really constructive and positive feedback and takes time to show us our strengths; I’m told I have an eye for architectural photography, who knew!

We have covered a lot already: composition and identifying formal elements of what makes a photo work, the technical side of the camera such as shutter speed, aperture, iso, white balance, lenses and focal lengths.

One of my favourite projects was using Manual (also known to beginners as scary) mode, this means controlling all the camera settings yourself…aperture, shutter speed and white balance, we then took to take some photos in different light conditions which was really interesting. I took myself off to the South Bank and took some pictures that I am very pleased with.


On other occasion, we had a night time field trip into Croydon where we took photos using our tripods which allows you to adjust the shutter speed to take night images – this was real learning curve as you have to get the camera setting just right to take a good picture.

Right, that’s me for now…I’ve got to go now as my next assignment beckons!

1: February 2022

Hi, I’m Emma and I have I finally enrolled on an accredited photography course and can’t wait to get learning!

So what led me to this? Well, I have always loved photography; as well as being my favourite form of art, I love how a photo captures the human experience and social history.

After seeing the Helen Levitt; In the Street exhibition at the Photographer’s Gallery, I was walking back to the tube station and stumbled across a camera shop…half an hour later and I had myself a lovely second hand Canon DSLR! 

Me with my lovely new camera!

I love taking photos but found the camera on my phone very limiting, I’m enjoying getting to know the technical side of using a DSLR and, although it’s quite a learning curve I know I’ll be able to take photos that I’ll be able to enlarge, frame and put on my walls – as well as share with friends and family.

I used to work in Publishing and had to use photo editing software as part of the job, having not been anywhere near that sort of thing for ages I’m looking forward to seeing how it’s moved on.

The Level One Photography course at CALAT looks like it’s going to be perfect as I’ll learn the technical skills that will give me the means to express myself creatively through the medium of photography, I’m also looking forward to the assignments as that will be when I really start discovering the camera and the style of images I want to take. It’s all very exciting.


As you can see, I’m preparing for my first week by taking as many photos as possible and taking my camera with me wherever I go, I’m not sure what my style is yet but it’s going to be really interesting looking back at these images in a few months time and seeing the progression.

I’ve found some really useful instructional videos on YouTube but I know nothing is going to be better than actually being on a course where I can share ideas with other photography students and get guidance from the tutor. 

Here we go and see you next time!