A Round-up of the T189 Open University Photography Course

In October this year myself and hundreds of other students began a journey to develop our photography skills with the Open University.  The course ‘T189 Digital Photography: creating and sharing better images‘ is a 10 week, 10 point online module  aimed at helping you to improve your photography skills. Today, 10th December is submission day for our final assignment…As the course comes to an end everyone has been frantically preparing their final assignments for submission – a set of 10 photographs to be assessed by the course team.

For each of us there have been highs and lows, some weeks assignments proved particularly challenging whilst other weeks inspired great fun and really showed how much you can enjoy photography as a hobby or even for some as a career.

So, as we reach the point where we will be parting ways I just wanted to share a few of the students experiences and photos, chosen by them to demonstrate how they have improved during the course…

Jodie Lianne

I’ve achieved a lot from this course. How to frame an image to reach its potential, how to use different settings for catching that special moment and how to look at the world with a whole new set of eyes. As well as the technical abilities that I’ve picked up, I have also learned all about a photograph and what stories it can tell. This course hasn’t just taught me how to be a better photographer, its taught me how to look at the beauty and nature of the world in a different way. What would seem like a boring photograph to some people, can be interpreted into a beautiful capture and have a story behind it.

This monkeys photo was taken at Trentham Monkey Forest last year. At the time I thought the photo was a good one. But since doing this course I see a lot wrong with it.
1. It’s not in focus
2. The subjects are too far away
3. Too much foreground
It’s only now after doing this Uni course that I can critique my previous work and see where I’ve gone wrong and what I could have done to improve the composition.
This second photo is of an Amur Leopard at Twycross Zoo. This is one of my favourite photos. A lot of people would say the cage distracts, and at first I thought this too. But it actually adds to the photo. The Amur Leopard is a critically endangered animal. The cage also helps with Rule of Thirds which I knew nothing about before this course and it has since helped.

Hayley Gooden

I have learnt so much from this course, being a single parent it has given me an interest and also my two young sons have grown to peeking at everyone’s pictures! I have ‘met’ some great people and characters along the way and its been a step up to  learning ready for my next course in February. Many thanks all! 🙂

Before T189

Taken during T189

Kirsty Heard

Image 1, of Trafalgar Square was taken before the course started after following some guidance by my boyfriend. However, although I really like the photo, it was very much by luck and trial & error rather than any real skill.

The second photo has been edited in photoshop elements and is entirely thanks to the new skills learned throughout the course. I had to separate the photo into layers, remove a deckchair, bring the chairs back into colour and touch up many parts of the picture. Without the course I wouldn’t have taken the photo or edited in such a way.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed this course; it has been informative, interesting and, most importantly, enjoyable. My perspective has changed and I find that I’m looking around me for suitable photos wherever I go, analysing my own photos more critically and also being aware that a lot can be achieved in the ‘digital darkroom’ if there’s something wrong. The support through the facebook group was amazing as well, thanks everyone!

Susie Bray

Dunure Castle – a snap shot of a local castle ruin taken before the course and totally unedited…it was there and is like a million other images of the same ruin…

Since starting the course I have learnt so many things including image placement, composition and to think about lighting. I have also learnt to take my camera off auto settings and use manual to get more from it. For me learning to use editing software has been the highlight of the course along with meeting and becoming friends with so many great people who share my passion for photography.

Going for a Paddle – The course has taught me to look for images that I might have otherwise have dismissed and not to be afraid to edit it for the enhancements. I have also gained the confidence to try new editing software. I now go out looking for totally different types of subject matter and appreciate the beauty in everything I see. For me the course has been the best 10 weeks of my photographic life and I would recommend it to anyone no matter what level you are at 🙂

Carole Povey

 taken on 1st June 2011 with a Sony Cybershot using Intelligent Auto

taken on 20th November 2011 using a Canon EOS DSLR Rebel XS using Programme setting, manually adjusted the lens.

There were two reasons why I decided to enrol on T189, firstly I had come to a point in my OU Degree Course where I felt I could do no more.  I needed to have a break from the intensity of Computing and Web Applications/Design.  So here I am on what I can only describe as being an absolutely fantastic course, the students, the course mods, everyone.  It has taught me things about photography and taking photos that I never, ever dreamed I would do.  I have proved to myself I can do it especially going by all the wonderful comments I’ve received on those photos I have shared in OpenStudio and on the Facebook group.  I cannot thank everyone enough!! ….. and the second reason I decided to enrol – well simply, I would have been totally bored if I’d done nothing between the last Level 2 course and the next one which starts in February next year!!

Lorraine Bennett

Original cow, taken before the course, on auto, colours not so good, barbed wire right through its face. I added this because its the pic I used for my Warhol cows during the course, I learnt to photoshop the barbed wire out and how to ‘Warhol’  (You can see Lorraine’s Cow in a different view here)

Vache de Limousin, taken during the course, not on auto focus! And good colour/composition.

Steve Jones

T189 has been a very enjoyable course, one of the best photography ones i have been part of.  I have had the pleasure to meet some fantastic people and hope to stay in contact with them for years to come.  I think anyone who wants to improve their photography skills should give the course a go

Steve McAleney

The boats taken in Oban was shot on a canon A2100 compact on auto setting. I thought at the time it was a good photo but having done the T189 course realized that a lot could be done to it to improve it. Using elements I tried cloning out the buildings adjusting levels contrast saturation and sharpness, also I cropped it a bit and it did make a vast difference. this is the unedited version.

The second photo of the Squinty bridge in Glasgow was taken during the course and didn’t look anything special until it was edited in elements I cropped it to make it a a square picture contrasting with the arc of the bridge then i burned in the shadow to give me a letter O and made the usual adjustments for lighting contrast levels and  sharpness. As i was on the course when taking this photo i did pay attention to composition which made a difference to the final result.

The T189 course has been invaluable to   gaining insight into the more technical aspects of taking photos shutter, f stop, macro etc., and also into learning the rudiments of editing and helping take my photography to the next level .

Asad Khan

I am a consultant physician who took up the T189 course to enable me to take better pictures of my infant son. However the course has encouraged me to push my boundaries further and I find myself taking pictures of subjects I would never have gone near before.

The picture of the breaking waves was taken in 2004 in South Africa. I thought this was a reasonable image as it was taken at a ‘decisive moment’. However, some weeks into the course I realized there was a lot wrong with this picture – it was underexposed; the horizon was tilted; the blue in the sky was dull; there was insufficient sharpness and colour in the foreground rocks; and, most importantly, the composition was faulty in that the proportions of sky and foreground were not pleasing to the eye.

With the editing skills taught in Elements, I made some minor adjustments which have, I think, dramatically improved the impact of the picture. I hope you agree!

I have never been comfortable photographing at night and have been so disappointed with results in the past that I haven’t taken night pictures for years. However, in T189 I learned the importance of using a tripod and long shutter speeds where appropriate. I therefore bought a cheap tripod and ventured out to the bridge over the M66 in my village to attempt to capture some light trails. I didn’t expect to achieve much in one attempt, especially as I only have a compact camera with limited settings –  however I discovered that the ‘Starry Sky’ mode allowed exposure up to 30 seconds, which I used to pleasing effect. My fellow students were delighted with my effort.

Teresa Daniels

For everyone that knows me I had a stroke last October and never thought  in a million years I would have done and completed an Open University course in photography a year later!

I have and I loved it.

Maybe I have even got the learning bug now!

The sense of achievement I feel now is amazing. Everyone in my life have been a great support, encouragement  and some have even modelled for me.  Thanks Niamh, Simon & everyone else who took part.  I truly see life from a different angle now thanks to photography & the amazing people that I have had the pleasure of doing the course with.

Thanks to the T189 group.



Sharon Howard (Me)

I guess I can’t really do this without including something of my own to show how my own work has improved since starting this course!  So first we have a before shot, just random snapping using a camera in ‘auto’ mode at Stonehenge.

Then we have one of the favourites from during the course. I didn’t even do much editing on this as it was just ‘good’ straight from the camera.

And finally, the wonderful Jodie Lianne also produced a short video showcasing some of our work:
We all had great fun doing the course and as a result of having a Facebook group we can all continue to share our progress even after the course has finished.
Good luck to everyone with the EMA (End of Module Assignment) and if you would like me to showcase your work, especially if you are setting up in business with your new found skills, please feel free to drop me a line and we can put together a post to promote your new business! 🙂
Which is your favourite of the images above?
Would you take an OU course to develop your hobby?

18 comments on “A Round-up of the T189 Open University Photography Course

  1. hi sharon, very well done on all this, everything you’ve done for us fellow students has been so lovely. love the blog and video and your input on the fb page! could i send a couple of pics too to add either on here or to the video?
    stay in touch and i’ll bookmark your blog so i can keep up with you. cheers hun, :o) x

  2. How neat. I’ve never been into taking pictures myself, but I love looking at them. I’ve been interpreting a Photoshop class this semester, and it’s been fun to see what the students come up with. Steve Jones’s second picture is breathtaking. It stirs the writing muse in me. 🙂

  3. I love Asad’s last one, everyone has improved so much! I did AS level photography but was thinking of doing it with the Open Uni, so much less pressure! Maybe I’ll look into it (: Thanks for this!

  4. Pingback: 2011 My Year in Review Part 1 | Day in the life of a Busy Gal…

  5. Great posting about the course. I’ve been waivering about doing it as the (many) reviews have been varied, but this has helped me decide that it’s worth doing. I just hope I get as much out of it as you all did. The before and after photos are a great idea. Thanks.

  6. Hi, I’m starting T189 in May 2013 and your blog has confirmed that its the right course for me. Its good to see that a lot of people have got so much out of it!

    And produced some excellent pictures!


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