Spring 2012, GRA 2330, Digital Photography 1, 7366, W 2:30 – 5:50pm

Professor Michals, Office N1112, Hrs: W 12-2pm,


Course Description: This course will explore the foundational concepts of light and exposure in photography. The student will develop framing and compositional skills as well as an understanding of photography as representation. Students will become acquainted with a wide range of contemporary photographers and gain an understanding of how photographic style transforms subject matter into meaning. Using professional lighting equipment, cameras and software, the student will gain hands-on experience capturing, processing, and printing digital images in the studio as well as in the field.


Course Objectives




For the successful completion of this course, students should be able to: Evaluation methods and criteria

Describe a photograph, using professional vocabulary.


Students will demonstrate competency in writing assignments and in-class discussions.


Employ photographic style to convey a point of view. Use light, composition and exposure to create meaning in photographs.


Students will demonstrate competency by taking photographs of the same subjects using different stylistic choices to create different impacts on the viewer.

Write a caption that brings context and understanding to a photograph. Students will demonstrate competency in writing assignments and in-class discussions.
Analyze both the aesthetic value and the technical competency of one’s own work, the work of one’s peers, and the work of professional photographers.


Students will display competency through in-class discussions, writing assignments, and the creation of an edited portfolio of prints.
Work with teams, including those of diverse composition. Build consensus. Students will display competency through in-class team projects.
Operate compact digital cameras, dSLRs, tripods, light meters, continuous tone and strobe lighting equipment. Demonstrate proficiency in digital darkroom techniques and the color correction workflow. Students will display competency through in-class hands-on exercises.






Teaching/Learning Methods

  • Discussion and readings
  • Hands-on Photo Shoots
  • Editing, Color Correcting and Printing Photos
  • Photo Gallery Visits
  • Peer-to-peer review
  • Self-reflective Learning Log


Required Equipment

Each student will need a camera to complete his or her assignments.
If you do not have a camera, some are available for check out.

To get the most out of this class, your camera should allow manual control over exposure and flash.  Resource for buying a camera:


Required Materials

• Camera memory

• Flash drive

• INSTANT DRY Inkjet paper- Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl-letter size, 8.5×11″, 25 sheets ($16.50 at B&H)   ****If you do not have instant-dry paper, you will not print.


Attendance/lateness Policy

Your participation in class work is a crucial part of this course. Please make every effort to be present. You are allowed 2 absences. If exceeded, you will be asked to withdraw from the class. Late is defined as arriving 10 minutes past the start of the class. Being late twice counts as one absence.


Digital Landscape course documents, grades, written assignments

You should already have an invitation to join in your City Tech email. You may change the contact email once you join.

Flickr: In order to receive credit for photos, you must post them to the class group. Get a Yahoo account and join Flickr if you are not already a member. You will get an invitation to join the class group to whatever email address you supply this week.

Brooklyn Historical Society:

Some of the items we post to the OpenLab will push to the Brooklyn Historical Society course web site. You can see the material there but will never directly post to this site.


Grading Formula

This grading formula rewards consistent effort over the semester. There is a homework assignment every week. Please set aside several hours each week to do this assignment. If you complete all the assignments on time, you will do well in the class.


This grading formula is based on a point system. Each activity is awarded a certain number of points towards the final grade. You can at anytime see the points awarded to your assignments in the grade book on the Openlab.

  • 10 Homework Assignments: 40 pts. If an assignment is done conscientiously and on time, the student will receive the full credit. If the assignment is late, one point will be subtracted for each week it is late. If an assignment is incomplete or slipshod, only partial credit will be given.
  • Learning Log: 10 points. Each student will keep a self-reflective journal about his or her own learning process in this class. If responses are complete and well considered, full credit will be assigned. The Learning Log is not graded for “correct content” but for constructive effort. Individual entries to the log will be filled out during class time. At the end of the semester, each student will write a final evaluation of his or her learning in the class.
  • Quizzes: 10 pts. 2 quizzes will be given. Each one is worth 5pts. No make-ups.
  • Midterm project-Jekyll & Hyde: 15 pts
    -Use photographic style to create two very different portraits of the same person. 
  • Final Project-New York: Heaven and Hell: 25 pts

-A portfolio of 5 images of New York as Hell and 5 images of New York as Heaven shot in 3 to 5 different locations including Green-Wood Cemetery.


To hand in a shooting assignment, the student must upload all files to his or her Flickr account before the start of the class the week the images are due. Your assignment will be considered late if you bring in unedited images on your camera and spend class time downloading and/or uploading the images.


Academic Integrity Standards

Students and all others who work with information, ideas, texts, images, music, inventions, and other intellectual property owe their audience and sources accuracy and honesty in using, crediting, and citing sources. As a community of intellectual and professional workers, the College recognizes its responsibility for providing instruction in information literacy and academic integrity, offering models of good practice, and responding vigilantly and appropriately to infractions of academic integrity. Accordingly, academic dishonesty is prohibited in The City University of New York and at New York City College of Technology and is punishable by penalties, including failing grades, suspension, and expulsion.



Course Schedule

Each class with an asterisk requires a learning log entry.
Feb 1-week 1* Course Overview

Introductions, Review Syllabus, Digital Landscape Tour,

Discussion: photography in context, photographic style

Reading: Formats URLs, Seeing Photographs handout

HW 1: photo description


Feb 8-week 2*- Photographic Composition/Field Trip Brooklyn Historical Society

Composition principles, Setting the camera, Organizing your images

Reading: Lighting basics handout, Camera Basics handout

HW 2: Shoe-20 ways


Feb 15-week 3 *- Basic Studio Lighting-Still Life

Lighting Direction: front, side, back. Qualities of light: intensity. Introduction to strobe lights. Flash meter. Using distance and light size to control light intensity and contrast. Spotlight vs floodlight. Tripod use.

Reading: Depth of Field handout

HW 3: Lighting Direction


Feb 22-week 4* – Perspective vs Depth of Field

Field Trip: Steinhardt Conservatory Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Creating depth in a photograph with perspective. Controlling depth of field: aperture, focal length, proximity, Shallow depth of field with a compact digital camera.

Reading: Philippe Halsman handout

HW 4: Edit and Upload field trip photos


Feb 29-week 5* – Portrait Basics

The photographer-talent relationship, Pose: front, three-quarter, profile. Expression. Cropping. Lighting: fill and key, Introduction to strobe lights, broad and short lighting, reflectors, background separation.

Reading: Light: Science and Magic handout

HW 5: Portraits


March 7-week 6*- Portrait Lighting Continued

High-and low-key lighting for studio portraits, wide-angle distortion

Reading: Digital Darkroom handout

HW 6: Portraits 2


March 14-week 7*- Image editing and Printing, Mid-term project support, Quiz Review

Using the Histogram, Sharpening, Color Profiles, Inkjet printing

Assignment: Jekyll & Hyde Mid-term project, review


March 21-week 8- Quiz, Mid-term Critique

Reading: shutter speed handout

HW 7:  Reflections


March 28-week 9*- Controlling Time: Shutter Speed

Shutter Speed, Freezing Motion, Motion Blur

Reading: photography review

HW 8: Controlling Motion


April 4– week 10- Photography Gallery Field Trip

HW 9: Photography review


April 11 – Spring Break


April 18- week 11*- Exposure Challenges/BHS Field Trip

Exposure meters, exposure compensation, dark subjects against light backgrounds, light subjects against dark backgrounds, cityscapes with bright skies

Trip to BHS to research Green-Wood Cemetery field trip

Reading: Stephen Shore essay Form and Pressure

HW 10: Backlight and other exposure extremes


April 25 -week 12- Field Trip: Green-Wood Cemetery

Final Project: Shoot 1


May 2-week 13*- Digital Darkroom: Local Corrections, Quiz Review, Printing

Local tone correction, local color enhancement: hue/saturation, match color, replace color, selective color, photo filter, and reducing/increasing contrast.

Assignment: Final Project Shoot 2


May 9-week 14 Quiz, Final Project Support, Printing

Assignments: Final Project Presentation, Learning Log Evaluation


May 16 – Reading Day. No Class.


May 23-week 15- Final Project Presentations

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