Thursday, August 01, 2013

Middlesex Community College Digital Photography Syllabus Thursdays Spring 2019

MCC ART144 Section 1 CRN#10885
Room AR-209
Teacher: Paul Light

781 280 3871

Thursdays 2:00-4:45PM

Required reading

There is no required book for this class. Over the past few years I have created 2 learning resources to give students options to a textbook. Both are works in progress. I would like to add new material to them more often, but see both as very long term, very exciting projects that sometimes I wish I had a small group of Star Wars like robots to help me with. Where is R2-D2 when I need him most? 

The first is a series of bookmarks of some of my favorite photographers. It is a biased list. I have intentionally not included photographers whose work I don't like. I do not expect anyone to work as many hours as these photographers or to produce work of the same caliber. These are benchmarks. Something to aspire toward. Something to help you understand what photography as art actually looks like.  The link is

Some Favorites Sites

The second link is to my blog. I fully understand many blogs are used to share one' s personal life with others. This is not that type of blog and no disrespect is intended toward personal blogs. This blog is an index of short technical articles about taking pictures, using image editing software and digital printing. Occasionally I will also write articles about exhibits that I am very excited about. The articles are arranged chronologically. There is a search box at the top left which I think is the easiest way to use this resource. The link is


All students will be required to open and maintain a Flickr account. Flickr is free. Many previous students have found this a valuable site to see previous MCC student's work.  It is also a great way to extend your audience beyond yourself and the class and help in your self evaluation of your photographs. To use Flickr's many features you post photographs and after doing so you must login to see all of the features.

Under the word "Your Photostream" you will see the word "Photostream".

To the right of this you will see a series of linked words. Click on "Recent Activity".

You should see a list of thumbnails of your photographs.

Click on the thumbnail and the screen will change to the full view of that photograph.

Below your photograph you will see "Comments and faves". Most people who like your photograph will make it a favorite rather than comment on it. Occasionally they will do both.

When someone chooses your photograph as a favorite, you will see a star followed by their name and the words " added this photo to his/her/their favorites". If you hope to have this person continue to follow your photography, you should click on this link, which takes you to all of their their favorites and make one of their photographs one of your favorites and consider making them a contact. This is similar to "friending" in Facebook

Scroll to the top and under their username click on "Photostream to see their photographs.

Click on any of their thumbnails and when the full photograph appears you will see a button at the top left with a star followed by the word "Favorite". Once you click on it, it goes into your favorites photograph collection as well as automatically sends that person a message that you have made this a favorite. You also may want to consider making them a contact.

Monitoring views is a good way to determine the visual impact of a photograph. The numbers can be played so comparative numbers are the best indication of visual impact. A photograph that gets 10 views probably does not have the visual impact of one that gets 50

It is not likely that very many people will see posted photographs on Flickr without interacting with other people. This can be done in two ways. The first is to go to

Over 8 million photographs a day are uploaded to Flickr. From these they use a secret algorithm to choose 500 images a day for the Explore section of the site. I have been lucky enough to be chosen for this honor 14 times.

The objective is to get "views", which is a good way to get started on getting an audience response to photographs beyond a small circle of family and friends. The best way to boost your views is to put your individual photographs in as many groups as possible.

The second way is using contacts favorites as a way to find your own favorites and new contacts.

The "popular" index is another way to measure the visual impact of a photograph, although probably less accurate than monitoring comparative view numbers.

I have used Flickr for my own photography since 2006.

MCC Catalog Listing
Introduction to digital photography as a fine art and as a means of personal expression. This class gives students the needed technical and aesthetic skills to make quality digital photographs. Topics covered include: digital cameras, basic use of Adobe Photoshop and inkjet printing. Students must provide their own digital camera.

Credit Hour Policy
Middlesex Community College follows the Carnegie Unit for credit. Students are expected to spend a minimum of 45 hours of work for each credit. The most common breakdown for one credit is one hour of class instruction and two hours of homework for 15 weeks each semester. A three credit course demands nine hours each week.

Instructional Goals/Objectives
1 Camera Use
Students will demonstrate their ability to use the control mechanisms on their digital cameras to produce photographs that have a sense of vision.
2 Basic Aspects of Photoshop
Students will demonstrate their ability to use Photoshop to correct color, contrast, brightness and saturation in their photographs.
3 Digital Printing
Students will be able to evaluate and explain the advantages and disadvantages of various materials and processes.
4 Using Photography to Create Fine Art
Students will assess the merits of their finished prints as art and explain their reasoning.

Class Description.
This class is an introduction to basic photographic principles of using a digital camera and making digital prints. All students will be expected to know these principles as well as how to use them in such a way as to produce inventive and original photographs.  .

Each class will consist of 3 parts
Part 1 Looking at Photographs 2:00-2:30
Part 2 Taking Pictures 2:30-3:00
Part 3 Using Flickr, Image Editing and Making Prints 3:15-4:45
During the first class we will not be spending time making prints.
Beginning the second class, from 2:00pm to 2:30pm we will talk about prints. Prints will be graded outside of class time and returned to students at the beginning of the next class. We will talk about your prints, my prints and photographs from the required websites. We will be using the websites as a visual dictionary. We will be using it as a standard as to how people use photographs to communicate with the world at large.
From 2:30pm to 3:00pm we will talk about taking pictures. We will begin by discussing any questions that you have about your camera relative to the camera topic we are discussing for that class. Occasionally I will take a picture with one of my cameras to demonstrate a concept.
This will be followed by a 15 minute break from 3:00pm to 3:15pm where you are free to take a break.
The last part of class, 3:15pm to 4:45pm will be reserved for using the computers to work with Flickr to do image editing and print photographs.

Grading and Attendance Policies
All students will be required to produce prints of subjects and techniques of their own choosing. Students who would prefer assignments from me rather than choose a subject on their own should feel free to ask me. Students given an assignment by me are not obligated to fulfill it. It is a suggestion only.
One photograph is due each class beginning the third class. No grades are final without proof of the camera file.
The school has a computer lab which you will have access to that is set up for digital printing. Work will be graded primarily on one's ability to make an inventive and original photograph rather than on technical things like how dark or light the photograph is or how much textural detail is evident.

Photographs passed in late lose 3 points per day. In some special circumstances students will be given an extra class to produce a photograph.

Students will be graded only on photographs produced during the semester. Please do not bring in photographs shot before the class started. Each of the grades will be of equal weight. They will be averaged together to produce a final grade. This average is tabulated after each class and that grade is available on request.

There is no midterm or final exam. You will be given two sick days. After this each absence will cost you 10 points from your final grade. In other words, suppose your final grade was 81, but you missed six classes. The first two absences would not affect your grade, but the other four would reduce your grade to a 41. Each time a student arrives more than 15 min. late or leaves early without my permission 5 points will be deducted from their final grade.

All grades will be made numerically. The MCC grading system works as follows


The numerical grade is only a working standard. The registrar's office only records letter grades. So, a person with a 93 will get the exact same grade as a person with a 98.

I only give straight A's to students who have gone way beyond the rest of the group and have clearly demonstrated the ability to produce consistently outstanding work.

A- is the grade for work that is somewhat outstanding. B+ is for work that goes beyond the basics of making a photograph and shows some merit. B signifies that you have successfully completed the assignment. B- indicates that the photograph has some deficiencies. C+ is given to photographs that demonstrate a limited grasp of what are the elements that make up a good photograph. Grades below C+ are given for various degrees of deficiency or more often as a penalty for handing in any given photograph after the deadline.

Method of Evaluation
Your grade for each print is made up of 3 parts
25% Technical camera use
25% Technical printing ability
50% Content
This is a measure of your ability to observe animals, people or spaces and then turn this into a photograph that is more than a simple visual record of what you saw. You will be judged on (1) choice of distance from subject, (2) choice of camera angle, (3) choice of lighting. In all of these situations I expect bold experimentation resulting in surprising and original visual images.
Decide on each of these very carefully. Look at the required websites and see how professional photographers use distance, angle and lighting.

A technically flawless photograph that is no more visually literate than an everyday photograph is a creatively worthless photograph.

Assignments submitted that ignore content issues will be given a maximum grade of 50.

One print is due at the beginning of each class beginning the third class. Prints passed in at the end of a class will be graded as one day late. All prints must be at printed on 13"x19" paper.

The Computer Lab

The Computer Lab
The computer lab is Room 209 in the Academic Resources building on the Bedford campus. In addition to class time, there are open computer lab sessions. A monitor will be there at all times to assist you.
A good store to buy photography supplies is Hunt's Photo and Video. Hunt's has several locations. To find the store closest to you see their website. A good place to have broken cameras fixed is Sanford Camera Repair at 1056 Massachusetts Ave. (781 648 2505) - Arlington, MA

Do not leave cameras, memory cards and paper in your car on hot days. All of these things are easily damaged by exposure to heat over 80ºF.

You will be expected to do at least 3 hours of work outside of class between each class. Outside work will include taking pictures, making prints and looking at websites.

January 24
#1 Choosing a Camera, Choosing ISO and Choosing Resolution
We will discuss what is a suitable camera relative to individual student budgets.
Homework: Create a series of photographs of any outdoor subject shot during the first two or last two hours of sunlight.

Buy a flash drive and a 20 sheet package of 13"x19" Epson Premium Photo Paper Glossy and bring it to all of the remaining classes. You will need these supplies plus your camera to participate in next week's class. These are the only supplies you will need for this class.

January 31
#2 Varying exposure brightness, Levels, Printing Steps
Students will demonstrate the ability to use Levels.
Homework: First print is due next class.

February 7
#3 Levels -Part 2
Students will demonstrate the ability to use Levels.
Homework: Second print is due next class.

February 14#4 Clone Stamp Tool,
Students will demonstrate the ability to use the clone stamp tool to remove flaws from their photographs.
Homework: Third print is due next class.

February 21#5 Clone Stamp Tool - Part 2,
Students will demonstrate the ability to use the clone stamp tool to remove flaws from their photographs.
Homework: Fourth print is due next class.

February 28#6 Printing Papers
Students will demonstrate the ability to evaluate the merits and differences of contemporary photography digital papers.
Homework: Fifth print is due next class.

March 7
#7 Shutter Speed
Students will demonstrate the ability to use Levels.
Homework: Sixth print is due next class.

March 14
#8 Aperture, Magic Wand
Students will demonstrate the ability to use the magic wand to selectively edit specific sections of their photographs.
Homework: Seventh print is due next class.

Spring Break 2019 - March 18- March 23 (No Day or Evening Classes)

March 28#9 Lenses, Magic Wand-Part 2
Students will demonstrate the ability to use the magic wand to selectively edit specific sections of their photographs.
Homework: Eighth print is due next class.

April 4
#10 Curves
Students will demonstrate the ability to use Curves.
Homework: Ninth print is due next class.

April 11
#11 Curves 2
Students will demonstrate the ability to use Curves
Homework: Tenth print is due next class.

April 18
#12 Black + White Printing
Students will demonstrate the ability to convert a color photograph to a black and white photograph.
Homework: Eleventh print is due next class.

April 25
#13 Repieced Photographs
Students will demonstrate the ability to create a repieced photograph.

May 2 Assessment Day- No Day Classes, Evening Classes Meet

May 9
#14 Night Photography

All text by Paul Light is copyrighted 2007 - 2019 Paul Light
All rights reserved on text by Paul Light
Last revised January 17, 2019


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