When we introduce a new course to the training programme, we do so in the belief that it will enhance the range of courses offered so as to benefit you and your photography.

The one key course that we introduced at the start of 2018 was Get Off Auto.

Now, the course title was something we deliberated over for some time, but we eventually chose the Ronseal approach... (you know, does what it says on the tin).


EOS_1300D_mode_dialThere’s a wealth of information to get to grips with when starting to take control of your camera – after all, that’s exactly what you’re doing when you move away from the automated modes. And so to start with, you’ll learn about three of the shooting modes that make up what Canon calls the Creative Zone – Program (P), Aperture priority (Av), Shutter priority (Tv) – and when you should use each of these different modes.

You’ll also learn about aperture, shutter speed and ISO, how these three elements combine to form your exposure and how using selected shooting modes and camera features can still let the camera have a say in determining the exposure as you learn to take more control.

In addition, you’ll learn about exposure compensation and Auto exposure bracketing (AEB) – how you can shift the exposure settings yourself if the camera doesn’t get it quite right. EOS cameras are clever, but that doesn’t mean that they get it right every time!

Critically, you’ll also learn about light levels – how to read the light to make important decisions about settings, composition and the achievability of a particular shot – and developing the thought process that’s needed when you’re approaching different subjects, conditions and locations.

Every Get Off Auto course will cover these topics, and more. Unusually, however, this course does not feature exactly the same content every time. Why?


To start with, this is a practical hands-on course. In a classroom environment, it’s much easier to direct the content and keep on track with the training objectives, not least as you have a handout to work through.

On a practical day, you help define the content – your tutor is there to help you tackle your current difficulties and tailor what’s covered on the day to meet your needs.


This tailored approach is made possible by the small group numbers that are allowed on the course. Practical days events are limited to a maximum of eight photographers, but some courses, like Get Off Auto, are further restricted to only five photographers. And that’s a maximum. If the course isn’t full, then you could be one of only three or four, with an even larger than usual slice of your tutor’s attention.


When developing this course, we were determined to make it one that runs at a wide variety of venues – both in terms of accessibility and location. And so as well as choosing a few of our regular and successful locations – such as central London, York, Chester Zoo and Pensthorpe Natural Park in Norfolk, we decided to add some other photogenic places where we knew we’d be able to find suitable subjects to practise the techniques needed to get you off the automated shooting modes.

So as well as increasing the city locations to including Oxford and Cambridge – with their resident bikes and punts to practise on, we also looked for heritage centres, like the brilliant Crich Tramway Museum up in Derbyshire for some more unusual subject matter.


Different locations bring different challenges and opportunities.

At city-based events you’ll learn about safely handholding your EOS so that camera shake doesn’t affect your images, focusing and about how where you focus affects the exposure, plus how to produce beautifully blurred backgrounds. If there’s opportunity to do so, you’ll also get to see how to override the white balance to improve your colours.

At places like Crich, you’ll find out how to focus on moving subjects and how to freeze that movement, plus how you can use the movement creatively in your images. Oxford and Cambridge are good places for this too.

Then, at locations with animals – Chester Zoo, Cotswold Wildlife Park – you’ll learn how to shoot through bars and glass, how to cope in lowlight environments and how to prevent blur. You’ll need a longer lens for these locations – at least one with a focal length of 200mm, though 300mm will give you better results.

By the end of the day, you’ll have your questions answered, your confidence boosted and have the skills and knowhow to improve your images in a variety of situations. And we guarantee that you’ll be using your Canon EOS camera with greater familiarity, control and creativity.

Take a look at where this hands-on practical course Get off Auto is taking place over the next few months.