Beginners Courses

Courses for beginners.

Digital SLR Camera Training

4 May 2019 - 5 May 2019
22 June 2019 - 23 June 2019
3 August 2019 - 4 August 2019
11:00 - 17:00
Bastian Thuesen / Erin Busswood

If you're only using your camera on automatic you're missing out on the real art of photography. This weekend course is about learning to use your digital SLR camera with confidence and skill. Explore aperture, shutter speed and megapixels through to white balance, ISO ratings, histograms and much more! With a blend of technical tuition, demonstration, practical assignments and group discussion, you will discover how to unlock your camera's full potential and take better pictures.

If you don’t have a digital SLR we can often provide one for you - please let us know at time of booking to confirm. You can also use your interchangeable or fixed lens system, mirrorless or rangefinder camera on this course.
Bridge cameras without interchangeable lenses can be used too, but please note that they may not allow the full range of camera controls.

Computer experience is beneficial.

Course Outline

Digital SLR cameras - Throughout this two day course, we will discuss, demonstrate and explore all of the features of your Digital SLR camera from the ground up, so that you will gain the confidence you need when using your Digital SLR camera

DAY ONE: Features of your Digital SLR camera  

Part one: Areas covered include aperture, shutter speed and megapixels through to white balance, ISO ratings, histograms and all the rest. There will be time to ask questions and demonstrate the advantages of each feature, getting to grips with the “how’s” and “why’s” 
Part two: After a one hour lunch break, we will put into practise all the features that have been discussed and demonstrated in part one on a walk around town with your cameras. In the late afternoon we will come back to the gallery, learn a little about methods of downloading and viewing photographs, and explore some basic Photoshop tools.
DAY TWO: Exercises, Assignments and Review
Part one:  Question time. There will be a few formal exercises set up to practise on and time to discuss the elements learned in day one. We will also discuss in more detail the more compositional aspects of photography, and prepare for the afternoons’ assignment.
Part two:  After the one hour lunch break, in groups, you will carry out your assignments outside the gallery and be given a time to return with your completed assignments. Assignment presentations, troubleshooting and review. The last half of part two will involve editing and viewing the photographs, open discussions and asking any final questions.

Courses are open to all individuals aged 16 and over. We cannot accept bookings for participants under this age.

Book Now  or call us on 0131 622 6200.

Please read our cancellation policy before booking



Out from the Darkcloth - Intro to Large Format Photography

20 July 2019 - 21 July 2019
11.00 - 17.00
Brittonie Fletcher

This course provides an introduction to the large format 5x4 view camera. 

What does large format mean in photography? What is a 5x4 (4x5) camera? How does a view (bellows) camera work? Wait…can you still get plates for that? Isn’t that just a really old camera?  All these questions and more will be answered! 

Behold! A negative which has more detail and information than many digital cameras, high resolution, fine grain, big contact print. 

Course Outline

Day 1: Introduction 

  • Overview of course and Health & Safety 
  • Camera anatomy
    • Bellows
    • Lens board + Lenses
    • What's a copal?
    • What do you mean 'movements?'
    • Darkslides - loading and use
    • Lightmetering
  • Setup and first exposures 

Day 2: Film processing

  • Cover film processing methods - tanks vs trays
  • Process the exposed film 
  • Make contact prints to see our developed large format photographs!

Courses are open to all individuals aged 16 and over. We cannot accept bookings for participants under this age.

Book Now  or call us on 0131 622 6200.

Please read our cancellation policy before booking


Alternative Darkroom 1 - An Introduction to Handmade Photography

5 June 2019 - 26 June 2019
18.00 - 21.00
Brittonie Fletcher

This course provides an introduction to alternative photographic processes, and will enable you to quickly master the basics of hand-coated, non-silver emulsions and chemistry techniques, with an emphasis on developing your skills of perception and craft. 

While the course objective looks to the past, there’s also much to be learned from the present state of photography and we will discuss a wide selection of photographs from photography’s inception over 160 years ago through to its current state. 

During the course you will have the opportunity to create a series of prints from a number of materials, personal or found images and objects. 

Open to all levels, it is recommended you bring or wear suitable clothes for darkroom use. 

By the end of the course you will have: 

  • Learned more about alternative handmade photographic process. 
  • Learned to mix chemistry 
  • Experimented with at least 2 different alternative photographic printing techniques 
  • Created photographs in variety of ways using different hand applied chemical techniques and their variants, including combined printing and toning 
  • Have the opportunity to work on a dedicated project.

Course Outline 

Click here to expand or collapse this section

Week 1: Introduction 

  • Overview of processes covered 
  • Health and safety 
  • Lab set up 
  • Chemical preparation and mixing 

Week 2: Cyanotypes
Make blue prints from various materials and existing images. We will use a few different techniques and tools for applying chemistry. 

  • Different paper coating techniques 
  • Print from materials as photogram 
  • Print from Paper Negative 

Week 3: Salt Printing
This session provides another process where we will be able to examine the benefits of using or not using surface sizing. 

  • Size paper with salt 
  • Making salted paper light-sensitive 
  • Print from contact(s) of choice 

Week 4: Toning 
We will use a number of different toners to change look of prints. We will also have the opportunity to explore combining the two processes. 

  • Print from digital negative / Xerox Transparency / negatives / photograms 
  • Make and use toners
Courses are open to all individuals aged 16 and over. We cannot accept bookings for participants under this age.

Book Now  or call us on 0131 622 6200.

Please read our cancellation policy before booking


Hands-on-film: Process and Practise

2 May 2019 - 6 June 2019
18.00 - 21.00
Lydia Beilby

This six-week course explores the unique aesthetic and tactile character of photochemical moving-image film. Employing a DIY, hands-on-approach, this course will celebrate the wonderful qualities of film and ask, ‘what are the aesthetic and political reasons artists' continue to make work engaging these methodologies, in a climate of digital prevalence?’

Together, we will watch and discuss a number of groundbreaking films drawn from the historical canon of experimental cinema. Taking creative inspiration from this work, we will explore the beautiful tactile materiality of the analogue filmstrip through a series of practical activities and experiments. We will delve into artisanal, hands-on-techniques in order to shoot, hand-process and project the 8mm films we make. 

You will also cultivate an invaluable practical knowledge relating to the apparatus of the experimental practitioner; the camera and the projector. We will cover how to choose, operate and maintain this equipment, and we will look at creative and performative ways that the manipulation of the projection medium can enhance your work.

Course Outline

Week 1 - Introduction to the course and the structure
Screening of seminal experimental works followed by a discussion around analogue practises and processes. What is so special about analogue film? What is experimental film, and in what ways is it relevant today?

Week 2 - Cameraless Filmmaking 
Working directly onto 16mm filmstrip to create a collective, abstract film. Making in dialogue with a piece of music (translating sound into image) we will paint, etch and collage onto the celluloid, and engage creatively with the repurposing of archival material. 

Week 3 - Introduction to Super 8
Cameras, history, techniques, methodology
If you have your own Super8 camera in good working order, you are encouraged to bring it along to the session.

Week 4 - Shooting a cartridge of B&W Super 8 film
Working in pairs, participants will collaborate on shooting a short film in the historic old town of Edinburgh. We will explore different styles and techniques, with support on-hand to offer guidance and help troubleshoot as necessary.

Week 5 - Hand processing Super 8 film
Using a DIY approach, we will hand process our films in eco-friendly chemistry. This tactile method is a lot of fun, and offers the chance to really engage with the magic materiality of film! Often creating unexpected results and imperfect beauty, we will embrace the unique aesthetic features this technique affords.

Week 6 - Introduction to projection equipment and beyond…
Preparing film for projection. 
Screening of our work (silent or with any soundtracks)
Expanded cinema; how we might challenge viewers expectations through the presentation of our work. 
The concept of ‘live cinema’.


Courses are open to all individuals aged 16 and over. We cannot accept bookings for participants under this age.

Book Now  or call us on 0131 622 6200.

Please read our cancellation policy before booking


Project Day: An Introduction to the Platinum/Palladium Print

12 May 2019
28 July 2019
Brittonie Fletcher

Photography's birth is typically understood as being in the mid-19th Century and while the term "photography" was coined then, experimentation with optical devices, as well as photochemical properties and reactions has been explored for centuries. 

While digital media's popularity has surpassed mass use of chemical photography (now thought of as "alternative photography") there has been a strong movement to re-embrace these printing practices. This one-day course will introduce you to a beautiful printing process which gained popularity around the turn of the 20th century. 

We will begin with one pre-prepared negative*  and delve into the rich tonal range and process of the Pt/PD print and explore the benefits of marrying contemporary digital technology with this fantastic analogue process. 

The course will: 

  • Include a short history of the process 
  • Guide you through the steps involved in chemical preparation and where to source them
  • Enable you to walk in the footsteps of Alfred Stieglitz, Margaret Watkins or F. Holland Day 
  • Provide you with comprehensive instructions so that you can make your own prints on your own

This short course is suitable for both beginners and experienced photographers wanting to brush up on skills and learn some new tricks. It is also an exciting introduction to Alternative Processes and will provide excellent structure for future exploration and enable you to work confidently on your own creative projects. Students are encouraged to bring in additional materials, negatives or previous work for discussion. 

Course Outline 
  • Summary overview of the processes 
  • Explanation of all equipment and chemistry 
  • Relevant chemical Health and Safety 
  • Discussion of different papers and materials 
  • Discussion on environment 
  • Preparing solutions 
  • Chemistry application 
  • Exposing & developing 
*  Please note: One negative will be prepared for you in advance of the course. Please email a single image file at least 1 week in advance of the course start date. Image file should be 300dpi resolution and approximately 2000 pixels on its longest side. 
Sample negatives and photogram material can be provided to work with if you do not have your own images - but please inform us if this is your preference. 

Courses are open to all individuals aged 16 and over. We cannot accept bookings for participants under this age.

Book Now  or call us on 0131 622 6200.

Please read our cancellation policy before booking


Eyes Open - Photography for 12-16 yr olds

1 July 2019 - 4 July 2019
5 August 2019 - 9 August 2019
11.00 - 14.00
Morwenna Kearsley



Take your imagination on a journey and experiment with a range of skills including digital photography, photograms and collage.

If you have an interest in photography and visual art and are interested in trying new things, then this course is for you. 
The emphasis is on having fun developing your own visual style and meeting other aspiring young artists.




Course Outline

Day 1:  Eyes Open

In this introductory session, we will think about what makes a great photograph and why. Then we will work out what makes your photographs particular to YOU!

  • You will be introduced to a Digital SLR camera and we will explain the manual settings, fully exploring how to capture light and time in a single image and make the perfect exposure!  
  • Using a series of famous photographs as our guide, we will visit locations near Stills to re-create these images and investigate the successful elements of the photograph’s composition.
  • You will then have the opportunity to make your own, entirely unique set of images.

Day 2:  Keep Them Open

In this session, you will have another opportunity to be 'out & about' making photographs using your digital camera. This is a chance to build on the work you made on Day 1 and focus on the aspects of photography that interest you most!
You will also have a chance to use and experiment with Adobe Photoshop to enhance your images and/or make some Surreal new compositions!

  • Practise using your camera on a manual setting and in combination with a tripod.
  • Learn about the Surrealist movement in photography.
  • Learn how to use Photoshop to make simple but effective changes to your photographs as well as using it to make strange new compositions in the manner of the Surrealists!

Day 3:  Back to the Future

Taking the photographic lessons we learned on Day 1 & 2, we will further investigate your particular uniqueness as an artist photographer!

  • Travel back in time before the invention of digital cameras and explore the magic of the darkroom.
  • Experiment with a camera-less technique called the Photogram which will allow us to make beautiful images using only paper, objects and our imaginations! 

Day 4:  Cut & Paste

Using some of your spare prints from Day 1, 2 & 3 we will explore and create a series of photographic collages.

  • Using cut-out techniques, drawing, painting, embroidery and more, we will transform your previous images into new and exciting works of art.
  • Experiment with making joiners, (a photographic technique made famous by artist David Hockney), where one picture is assembled from several overlapping photographs.

Book Now  or call us on 0131 622 6200.

Please read our cancellation policy before booking


Darkroom Photography: Intro to Colour Photography

1 June 2019 - 2 June 2019
11.00 - 17.00
Caroline Douglas

This course will introduce you to the beautiful world of colour analogue photography. Taking as a starting point the work of contemporary photographic artists working with colour, we will discuss and explore theory as well as developing core skills essential for the capture and printing of your own colour images.

You will learn how to correctly expose colour negative film and learn more about the characteristics of different types of film and the effects that they can have on an image. Within Stills’ darkrooms you will learn how to process your colour film by hand and print high quality analogue C-Type prints.

By the end of the course you will have:

  • Learned more about colour theory and have a knowledge of contemporary artists working with colour photography
  • Learned to process your own colour film
  • Experimented with a variety of specialised darkroom printing techniques 
  • Printed contact sheets and a collection of colour photographs
  • Feel confident in a colour darkroom using specialist equipment
Course Outline

Day 1: 

Morning - Colour Theory, Inspiration and Refresher for SLR Camera Controls

During the morning we will be looking at contemporary photographers and artists that have used colour to inform their practice in specific ways. We will look at the ways in which colour revolutionized the artworld and vernacular photography. We will also look at basic colour theory, exploring which colours compliment each other and why. We will also refresh basic camera controls, load cameras and head out to the streets to shoot a roll of film.

Aims of morning session:

  • to have more of an understanding of the history of colour photography and its impact on contemporary photographers and artists.
  • to understand basic colour theory
  • to feel confident with your SLR camera

Afternoon - Colour Film Processing

During this session, you will learn how to hand process your colour film. We will discuss the loading of the tank and the preparation of the machine to ensure correct processing temperature. We will look at different film types, why you may want to use them and the range of effects that can be produced. 

   Aims of afternoon session:

  • to learn how to process your own colour film
  • to be familiar with all the equipment used in colour film processing
  • to cut and store your negatives correctly
  • to discuss and compare different film types and their effects

Day 2

Morning - Introducing the Colour Darkroom and Contact Sheets

You will be introduced to Stills’ colour darkooms and become familiarized with the range of equipment you will be using. You will be taught how to set up your darkroom for printing, how the colour print processor works and how to print a contact sheet for viewing your negatives.

Aim of morning session:

  • to feel comfortable using a colour darkroom
  • to know how to use all the equipment correctly
  • to make a colour analogue contact sheet

Afternoon - Printing

In the afternoon you will be expected to make a series of final C-Type prints. You will be shown techniques to improve your printing skills and produce the images you desire. This last session will allow you time to print with some one-to-one attention. We will discuss some printing techniques to help you get the most from your negatives. We will also have time at the end of the day to look back on all the work produced over the course and discuss it in relation to theory we learnt at the beginning.

Aims of afternoon session:

  • to be confident in the colour darkroom
  • to produce high quality C-Type prints

Courses are open to all individuals aged 16 and over. We cannot accept bookings for participants under this age.

Book Now  or call us on 0131 622 6200.

Please read our cancellation policy before booking


Project Day: Digital Workflow (with Adobe Lightroom CC Classic)

15 June 2019
11:00 - 17:00
Kat Gollock

Adobe Lightroom Classic helps solve two of the main problems that afflict digital photographers: how to organize all of the files, and how to edit them without spending all of your spare time at a computer screen. 

Lightroom Classic is a convenient and flexible desktop programme that helps you to organise and sift your photographs into collections, and also gives access to a powerful set of tools that edit, enhance and export your pictures. You can use intuitive pre-set tools, you can create your own favourite adjustments, you can edit large numbers of images with one click of a mouse, and you can fine-tune your image-editing by selectively working on parts of a picture. And you can experiment, secure in the knowledge that you are working in a non-destructive environment, and that your pictures are safe.

This practical one-day course will introduce you to the principles of file organisation and image-editing, giving you the knowledge and confidence to choose when to work with this convenient and flexible programme, and whether or not you need the full power of Photoshop Creative Suite. Sample picture files will be provided for you to work with, or you can bring a selection of your own. If you work in RAW, please also bring JPEGs on a memory stick, external hard drive or cloud storage such as Dropbox. 

Please note this course does not cover the new version of LightRoom CC (which is specifically designed for mobile devices) and only uses the most recent version of LightRoom Classic.

Course Outline

You will get to know the Lightroom layout and workspace, importing a set of files into the catalogue and starting to organise the files into collections, and adding useful file information. You will explore the opportunities for viewing and aids for analysing the pictures. You will start to use the convenient quick develop editing tools.

We will explore the digital image-editing workflow. The usual flow is to correct and optimise before we enhance, interpret or exaggerate. The basic areas to consider are cropping, cloning, colour and tone. Taking each in turn, we will correct and clean up the pictures in a measurable and controllable way. We will investigate techniques to control digital noise, colour distortions and lens corrections. We will work on individual files and also start applying corrections to batches. We will create and apply pre-set corrections.

Having corrected and optimised the picture files, we can start interpreting, enhancing and exaggerating – the fun part of image-editing. We can try colour to black-and-white conversions, using the many pre-sets to guide; we can selectively boost or restrain colours; we can add grain and textures, vignettes and split tones; we can mix and match these effects and create and save our own favourite effects. We can apply adjustment effects to selected picture areas. 

Image editing is all good fun, but how do we know where to start? Or when to stop? We’ll have a look at some photographic styles and techniques from photography’s rich history to give us some ideas and then try to replicate them. We will discuss ways of using the programme and the technology to develop photographic projects. And we will look at how Lightroom can help us to export those projects as books, prints and slideshows. 

Courses are open to all individuals aged 16 and over. We cannot accept bookings for participants under this age.

Book Now  or call us on 0131 622 6200.

Please read our cancellation policy before booking



Video Compositing with Adobe After Effects CC

24 June 2019 - 29 July 2019
18.00 - 21.00
Andrew Mckelvey

Adobe After Effects CC is the industry leader in video compositing software, offering an exciting and versatile array of applications for the creation of professional moving image work. On this course you will learn a range of visual effects and animation techniques, working between Photoshop and After Effects to create videos which explore text based motion graphics, character animation, green-screen compositing, 3D landscapes, motion tracking and lots more in-between. Alongside technical exercises the tutor will screen and discuss relevant artists, designers and filmmakers, providing both the technical skills and inspiration to create your own professional motion graphics work, filmic special effects or experimental artists video. Computer experience is required.  

Course Outline

Week 1

This week we will create a short video that combines text, still image and video layers. Through this exercise you will learn how to:

  • Navigate the workspace on After Effects
  • Set up a project and select a video format
  • Introduce video to the timeline and split layers
  • Change the position and scale of layers
  • Introduce basic text
  • Use selections in Photoshop to create a still image composition 
  • Import this composition into After Effects to create a composite video   

Week 2:

This week we will look at basic animation techniques. Through a series of exercises, you will learn how to:  

  • Use Photoshop to great multi-layered elements for animation
  • Import these Photoshop elements into After Effects 
  • Work with key-frames and interpolation
  • Add motion blur
  • Duplicate and pre-compose animated elements
  • Create a parallax effect to give the illusion of depth 
  • Apply blending modes 
  • Work with the puppet tool to create moving joints for an animated character

Week 3:

This week we will look at converting 2D photographs into a 3D virtual space to provide depth and movement. Through a series of exercises, you will learn how to: 

  • Convert a 2D image into a 3D space.
  • Set up a multi-layered diorama in Photoshop 
  • Import this into After Effects and position the layers within 3D space 
  • Create an animated camera move through 3D space 
  • Apply depth of field 

Week 4:

This week we will look at working with green-screen compositing to place a live action figure within an animated backdrop. Through a series of exercises, you will learn how to: 

  • Work with the Keylight filter 
  • Adjust colour balance and tone 
  • Composite the figure against an animated background 
  • Introduce shadows and highlights 
  • Use the green-screen figure to create a silhouette 

Week 5:

This week we will look at applying masks to footage to create cutouts, as well as exploring different applications for effects. Through a series of exercises, you will learn how to:

  • Work with masks 
  • Use the Roto-mask tool 
  • Apply time re-mapping 
  • Work with ‘Particle Playground’ and similar effects

Week 6: 

This week we will look at working with the paint panel to create animated drawings, as well as using motion tracking to attach a text element to a moving point within a video clip. Finally, we will cover how to output your final project, adding sound effects and applying a basic edit. Through a series of exercises, you will learn how to:

  • Create text based motion graphics (kinetic typography)
  • Apply motion tracking to live action footage
  • Render your project 
  • Add sound to your video

Courses are open to all individuals aged 16 and over. We cannot accept bookings for participants under this age.

Book Now  or call us on 0131 622 6200.

Please read our cancellation policy before booking



Photographic Image Editing (with Adobe Photoshop CC)

27 April 2019 - 28 April 2019
13 July 2019 - 14 July 2019
11:00 - 17:00
Zoe Hamill / Luke Edwards

adobe photoshop class in digitalAdobe Photoshop is the ultimate tool for editing photographic images for professionals and non-professionals alike. It is the industry-standard package for photographers, picture editors, web designers, visual artists and designers.

For many users its power and versatility can be overwhelming, and it can be difficult to know where to start and when to stop.

This two-day course is geared towards both beginners and intermediate users of Adobe Photoshop who want a confidence-building overview of the programme and a methodical and logical approach to the vast array of tools it offers.

It is relaxed and informal, but squeezes a lot into the two days, giving participants the knowledge and the confidence to make more effective and informed choices. The aim is to cover the basic principles and tools of photographic image-editing. These tools, techniques and principles are common to many image-editing programmes and are transferrable to applications such as Photoshop Elements, Aperture, Lightroom, GIMP, and other image editors.

Picture files will be provided for you to work with, or you can bring selection of your own TIFF's along on a memory stick, external hard drive or cloud storage such as Dropbox. 

Course Outline

Day 1: Introduction and discussion of participants’ Photoshop experience followed by an introduction to the Mac workspace, the Photoshop workspace and the Bridge. We will use Bridge to browse, preview and open files. We will look at some of the technical issues of handling picture files such as file types, sizes, digital tonal levels and colour channels – it’s dry stuff but helps avoid tears at a later date. Once the technicalities are out of the way we start correcting images using the crop, clone, colour and tone techniques. We will be developing techniques for non-destructive editing, and will start to use layers to protect the image from damage.

In the afternoon, we will look more closely at two tools – the curves and the levels adjustment layers, which between them can fulfil most of your editing requirements. We will also begin to look at techniques for localised tonal control by using a layer mask.

Day 2: We will recap a little, before continuing to work with layer masks and brushes to selectively correct and enhance images. To further control our effects we will start to use selection tools. This leads into using selections to combine images and make composites. 

If time and pace allows, we often cover monochrome conversions, noise reduction, lens correction, sharpening and RAW file editing, with the hidden powers of Adobe Camera Raw. 

Courses are open to all individuals aged 16 and over. We cannot accept bookings for participants under this age.

Book Now  or call us on 0131 622 6200.

Please read our cancellation policy before booking


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