ART 160—Basic Photography

Course Overview

ART 160 Basic Photography is an introductory course in digital photography. Students should leave the course with a sound technical, visual, and contextual foundation upon which to build other photographic knowledge. Students will learn photo capturing, editing, and critique as they work through the lesson activities and create their own shared portfolio and series.

Many of you took this class because you have an interest in photography and/or you thought it would be a fun class. This is a fun class, but it is not necessarily an easy class for everybody. Art 160 is not designed simply to teach students how to use a camera. This is an art class; much of the class time is spent in the lab and in studying photographs.

Our goal is to help you produce aesthetically pleasing images as you become increasingly aware of yourself and your environment. A brief history of photography will be presented to give a complete perspective of this valuable means of communication and expression. Those who attend to the course activities diligently, watch the lectures and tutorials, and accept advice and input from the instructor and other students will find themselves making successful images. Students who remain un-teachable, don’t watch the lectures and tutorials, and don’t interact with others will struggle. If you enjoy new challenges and new experiences and desire to communicate with an audience visually, this class will be rewarding. If you want a guaranteed “A” to keep a scholarship or raise your grade point average, you may want to sign up for a different course.

So, if this course is what you were looking for, then come and join the fun!

Course Requirements

Access to a Digital SLR Camera (Single Lens Reflex) is required. If you do not own or have access to one, you will need to purchase or borrow one. If you can’t do that, then you will probably need to drop the course. If you would like to purchase one, please email your instructor for help in making your decision.

We will be using Adobe Lightroom to manage, edit and upload your photographs. You will need to download a free version of Lightroom (You will be emailed a link with instructions on how to do this from the school) and install Lightroom on your computer. Refer to Get Adobe Lightroom within L01: Intro and Setup for more details on how to do this.

You will be uploading your images to your own personal Flickr account for review, discussion, and critique. If you have Flickr already, fabulous! If not, refer to Set Up a Flickr Account within L01: Intro and Setup for more details on how to do this. To upload, name, and share your photos properly, follow the instructions on the content page, Uploading to Flickr within L01: Intro and Setup.

At the end of the semester, you will be required to turn in a final portfolio, which will be a body of work consisting of 8 images addressing a topic of your choice. You will need a software that can produce a PDF file (MS Word, PowerPoint, Google Docs, etc.)

Several lesson Self-Assessments will count for 25% of your grade. These quizzes will cover the information covered in lecture video, lab, and reading assignments.

Supplies and Resources


  1. Digital SLR Camera
  2. Adobe Lightroom
  3. Flickr
  4. Software for creating a PDF for your portfolio


  1. Sturdy tripod
  2. A selection of lenses
  3. Electronic cable release or remote

Course Outcomes and Objectives

Our goal for you is to leave the course with a sound technical, visual, and contextual foundation upon which to build other photographic knowledge. In order for us to accomplish our goal, the following objectives will be met in the course.

  1. Technical Competency: Image workflow, camera operation
  2. Form: Design, light, color theory
  3. Content: Self-expression, visual communication
  4. Image Craft: Relationships of values (lights and darks in an image), image refinement (basic editing), presentation
  5. Visual Literacy: Contemporary and historical context, critical analysis


Weighted Grading Categories
Item Percent
Assignments and Assessments 25
Photo Captures and Reviews 50
Final Series portfolio 25

Grading Scale
A 93-100% C 73%


C- 70%
B+ 87-89% D+ 67%


D 63%
B- 80-82% D- 60%
C+ 77% F Below 60%

Course Schedule

We will spend the first three or four weeks learning the basics of digital capture, Lightroom, black-and-white photography, exposure, and presentation. We will then concentrate our efforts on the finer aspects of photography such as: composition, color theory and practice, lenses, light, digital capture and manipulation, and the history of photography. You will be given specific assignments, which will aid you in gaining a greater understanding of photographic principles.

Refer to the Course schedule under Welcome for a detailed schedule of each lesson.


  1. I do not accept late work.
  2. If work was turned in on time and you are unhappy with your grade, you may redo the assignment at any point during the semester up until seven days before the end of the semester.
  3. You must photograph for the assignments after you have been given the assignment. For example, if I give an assignment that requires you to make a portrait, you cannot look through your archives and print a portrait you took earlier in the semester. You need to shoot for the assignment. You are not allowed to use any photograph for any assignment or portfolio that was not taken by you this semester.
  4. Make-up tests or quizzes are not allowed without prior approval. No exceptions.
  5. Some of you have more experience than others and know techniques such as panoramas, HDR (high dynamic range), and the use of actions and presets. These are banned in this course. Sorry. We want you to learn to make strong images in the field and then use subtle editing techniques to help you communicate what you experienced.
  6. If you are unhappy with a grade please discuss it with your instructor. If you make a compelling case, I may change your grade. I want you to succeed.