Digital Photography

Class Schedule: 


Office Hours:

Instructor:  John Sappington -




Course Syllabus

Online Syllabus (this page):


This course is an introduction to approaches and techniques of digital imaging with a focus on the use of the digital camera and Adobe Photoshop or a comparible graphics applications. The course will cover the technical and practical aspects of the digital camera, and the use of image editing software (Adobe Photoshop, GIMP), covering traditional darkroom concerns and exploring the technical particulars and aesthetic potential of digital photography.

This course will present an overview of digital imaging techniques as applied to the art of photography. Traditional and new electronic photographic methods are studied as a vehicle to understand the implication of this medium as an art form. Emphasis is placed on the creative process while exploring electronic image making as a means of communication used by contemporary artists.

Outcomes and Objectives:

Explore digital photography.
Understanding and applicable use of the tools of digital and electronic photography.
Employ creative thinking skills in assessing visual images
Develop skills in manipulating photo images with new tools
Examing past work for aesthetic and technical mastery.
Practice aesthetic criticism

Topics and Scope:

Synthesize digital tool manipulation with photographic images.
Produce work using a variety of digital equipment.
Investigate how digital tools change photographic images.
Analyze the work of current artists and designers using these tools.


1. Scanning Techniques
2. Digital Camera Operations *manual
3. File Management Practices
4. Printing Procedures
5. Text and Image, Alternative approaches to graphic use of photographic materials
6. Presentation Methods *Web/Internet

Reading List:

Photography: A Critical Introduction, Edited by Liz Wells, 1997, Routledge
Photography in Print, Edited by Vicki Goldberg, 1981, University of New Mexico Press
Criticizing Photographs, An Introduction to Understanding Images, Terry Barrett, 2006, McGraw-Hill
Crisis of the Real, Writings on Photography since 1974, Andy Grundberg, Aperture, 1999
River of Shadows, Eadweard Mybridge and the Technological Wild West, Rebecca Solnit, Penguin Group, 2003
Painting, Photography, Film, Moholy-Nagy, 1987, MIT Press
The Ongoing Moment, Geoff Dryer, 2005, Vintage Books

By Michael Lesy:
Visible Light, Four Creative Biographies, Michael Lesy, Times Books, 1985
Wisconsin Death Trip, Michael Lesy, ?,?

By Susan Sontag
On Photography, 1973, Picador.

By John Berger
Another Way of Telling, 1982, Vintage Books
The Sense of Sight, 1985, Vintage Books
Ways of Seeing, 1972. BBC & Penguin Books

By James Elkins
The Object Stares Back: on the nature of seeing, 1996, Simon and Schuster
Visual Studies, A Skeptical Introduction, 2003, Routledge

By Roland Barthes
Camera Lucida, 1981, Hill and Wang
Image, Music, Text, 1977, Noonday Press


Recommended Technical Texts:

Photoshop CS3 for Windows and Macintosh, Elaine Weinmann, Peter Lourekas, Peachpit Press 2005,

The Photoshop CS3 Book for Digital Photographers, Scott Kelby, New Riders Publishing, 2005,

Alternate Technical Texts:

Photography, Barbara London, John Upton, Ken Kobre, Betsy Brill, Prentice Hall

Photography, Revised Edition, Henry Horenstein, Russell Hart Prentice Hall

Required Supplies / Equipment:

A 5 Megapixel (or greater) digital camera is required.

Students are required to obtain backup media to store class example files and work in progress.

Optional media types are:

- 100MB/250 Mb Zip disks

- CD ROM/DVD-R, Write-once or Re Writable: Approx. capacity 700+MB

- Flash cards, memory sticks, removable harddrives, etc...  

Students are also required to have an e-mail account.  This can be accessed through the lab and may be a free account like those available from Hotmail, Yahoo, Freemail, Excite, etc.  The instructor will assist students in obtaining an e-mail account if necessary.  Students will be expected to check this e-mail account at least twice a week.  General class announcements will be reported via e-mail.


20% of student grades will be based on class participation. Students must attend class in order to effectively participate.

70% of student grades will be based on the completion of assignments. These assignments will not be graded for skill or content, but will be evaluated for technical completion.

10% of the student grade will be determined by the final portfolio presentation.


Students are expected to attend all of every class meeting unless they have received prior permission from the instructor. Attendance will be taken at the beginning of each class meeting. Anyone absent when attendance is taken will be assumed absent from the class.   If you are late to class it is your responsibility to make sure your attendance is acknowledged by talking to the instructor. 

If you are intending to drop the class, please notify the instructor.  You should not assume that the instructor will automatically drop you because of absences.  If you stop attending classes and you do not drop the class, and the instructor has not dropped you from the class; the instructor may be required to give you a grade of F for the class.


Attendance Requirements

It shall be the policy of the Sonoma County Junior College District to maintain an attendance policy and procedures consistent with State and local requirements.

1.0 Attendance

1.1 Students are expected to attend all sessions

of the course in which they are enrolled.

1.2 Any student with excessive absences may be

dropped from the class.

2.0 Excessive Absence Defined

2.1 A student may be dropped from any class when that student’s absences exceed ten percent (10%) of the total hours of class time.

2.2 Instructors shall state in each course syllabus what constitutes excessive absence for that course.

3.0 Excused vs. Unexcused absences

3.1 Unless state or federal law requires that the absence be deemed excused, no instructor shall be required to make a distinction between excused and unexcused absences.

3.2 If individual Instructors wish to distinguish between excused and unexcused absences the instructor shall state in each course syllabus all criteria for any excused absences in addition to those required by state or federal law.

4.0 Nonattendance

4.1 Students who fail to attend the first two class meetings of a full semester course may be dropped by the instructor.

4.2  Faculty are required to drop all No-Show students by the Census Date of each census course.  A No-Show is an enrolled student who has not attended any class meeting of the course at any time, or who has not contacted the instructor to make arrangements to remain enrolled in the course.

 Policy 8.15, Revised July 10, 2007


Digital Photography

(subject to change)
Photography Resources
Week 1  

Syllabus Overview Expectations, Requirements, Objectives, Best Practices.


  • Bring Camera to second class meeting with cables (usb/firewire), or card reader.
  • Locate and begin reading Camera Manual - Cover to Cover.
  • Set Camera to highest resolution / lowest compression.
  • TURN OFF THE FLASH! Until further notice.

  • Make 5-10 Digital Camera images between the first and the second class meeting
    - Bring these to share on the 2nd class meeting.
    - (1)

  • Begin JOURNAL of questionable functions, settings, usage, portfolio ideas, reading notes etc...
  • Email with your current email address
    - include SRJC Digital Photo and your section number in the subject line.


Northbay Photo Supply (Santa Rosa, based photo supply)
location map

Freestyle Photographic Supplies

B and H Photo Video

Masters of Photography - Good starter site for Analogue Masters

Lomographic Society

Camera Reviews

Week 2



Digital Technology

Camera / Scanner
Scanning Procedures - Flat Art

Transferring images from camera/media to system.

Begin fundamentals of camera technology/exposure.


Establish Home Directories
Work with camera connection / file transfer


Objects for Scanning - 3 Dimensional Objects as well as prints or flat art that you may want to digitize. -

Review Historical Photograms/Montage works:

Photograms and Montage Samples
Niko Robinson - Student Scanner work
more scanner work - various



Moholy-Nagy - From Pigment to Light - 1936


Lazlo Moholy-Nagy
Man Ray
David Hockney

Olivia Parker

Bruce Conner
David Hockney


A Street Gallery
312 South A St., Santa Rosa

Arts Council of Sonoma County
529 Fifth St, Santa Rosa

Sonoma County Museum
425 7th Street, Santa Rosa

Santa Rosa Junior College Art Gallery
Bussman Hall, Santa Rosa

Sebastopol Center for the Arts
6780 Depot Street Sebastopol

SF Camerawork

Robert Koch Gallery

Fraenkel Gallery
49 Geary Street
San Francisco, CA 94108

Tuesday - Friday: 10:30 - 5:30
Saturday: 11 - 5

(415) 981-2661 p.
(415) 981-4014 f.

Haines Gallery
49 Geary Street, Suite 540
San Francisco, CA 94108

Tel: 415-397-8114
Fax: 415-397-8115

Tuesday - Friday 10:30am - 5:30pm
Saturday 10:30am - 5:00pm

Urban Digital Color / Gallery 16

Camera Configuration

- Highest Resolution
- Lowest Compression
- No Flash
- Shooting Modes - (*P), Av, Tv, M
- ISO - (*Auto, 50, 80, 100, 200, 400), 800, 1600, 3200
- White Balance - Auto

Experiments with :

- Half Step Shutter Lock
Auto Exposure
Auto Focus
- Auto Bracketing
- White Balance Bracketing
- Exposure and Focus Modes - Multizone/Pattern, Center-weighted, Spot
- Exposure Compensation

Best Practices Camera

- Formatting media card after every major upload
(erase all, delete all, format)

Work Flow

Adobe Bridge - preview and editing

NO Classes Monday

Week 3  


  • Camera Operation

    Exposure basics

  • Photoshop Introduction
    File Browser - Bridge
    File Types, Format


First File Transfers


Bracketing Exposures

3 Subjects - 3-5 exposures for each with alternate exposure.
- (3)

1st exposure according to meter reading.
2nd + .5 half step greater aperture/shutter selection or more exposure (over)
3rd + 1 whole step (full stop) greater aperture/shutter selection (over)
4th .5 half step smaller aperture/shutter selection or less exposure (under)
5th - 1 whole step smaller aperture/shutter selection or less exposure (under)


Experiment with White Balance Bracketing.


Digital Camera Review - Technical Glossary


Paul Strand
Eugene Atget
Eadweard Muybridge



Week 4  


Camera Operation


  • File Browser - Adobe Bridge Intro



- Equivalents: Depth of Field

3-5 Images which illustrate the side effects of aperture selections.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

Wikipedia Entry:

Depth of Field Calculator


Edward Weston
Minor White
Ansel Adams

Robert Adams

Uta Barth



Week 5



Exposure Continues ...


PS Best Practice #1 - Duplicate the pixel based background layer as first step on opening a .jpeg.

  • Layers Palette Introduction
  • Adjustment Layers
  • Levels Adjustment Layers

Photoshop User Guide - 42.6Mb PDF



- Equivalents: Motion / Blur

3-5 Images which illustrate the side effects of shutter speed / time value selections. -

Shutter / Time Values:
Fig 1


Contact Sheets of Brackets/Equivalents

Create a minimum of 3 contact sheets documenting bracketing exposure experiments.
- (6)

Review :

Equivalents (Shutter and Aperture side effects)
Wrap up current technical experiements


Ansel Adams - .pdf - 344KB - 3 pages
Edward Weston -
.pdf - 360KB - 3 pages
(Last page of each essay is the first page)


Henri Cartier-Bresson

Hiroshi Sugimoto

John Divola


Depth of Field Calculator

Zone System | Wikipedia Entry:


Week 6  



  • Adjustment Layers
  • Levels Adjustment Layers
  • Histogram
  • Size / Resize / Resolution

PS Best Practice #1 - Duplicate the pixel based background layer as first step on opening a .jpeg.

PS Best Practice #2 - All adjustments to adjustment layers - no pixel damage.



Shooting in Low Light without a flash.
- (7)

Feel free to experiment, try to find the lowest level of light possible to render a readable image.

Depending on what you may or may not know regarding ISO, experiment with this setting in your camera as well.


Henri Cartier-Bresson
- .PDF - 234KB


Henry Wessel

Stephen Shore

Todd Hido
Larry Sultan



Week 7



  • Curves - Adjustment Layers
  • Channel Mixer- Adjustment Layers
  • Size/Resize/Resolution
  • Shadows and Hightlights
  • Working with layers as masks



John Baldessari
Sophie Calle
Nick Waplington
Michael Light

Week 8  


  • Roxio Toast - CD and DVD Burning


  • Working with and around Selections
  • Photo Filters- Adjustment Layers
  • Sharpening
    Unsharp Mask
  • History Brush
  • Compositing
  • Extract
  • Selections - Paths (Pen)
  • Blending Options


Critiques - 5 pnts.

5 Images - should represent beginnings of portfolio subjects either content or technique.


Subject explorations / Framing exercise.
- (8)

Shoot a minimum of 20 images of a single subject from every angle and a variety of compositional arrangements.

explore position/ balance/ background/ etc...


William Carlos Williams

William Klein
Lorna Simpson
Richard Prince
David Hockney

Week 9

Mid-Term Interviews - 5 pnts

The midterm interview is mandatory and = to a shooting assignment.

Prepare a selection of ideas for you your final portfolio. Write up a brief description of each and submit during the interview. Reference specific images within your home directory if you have images related to the subjects chosen for the final portfolio.

You are only required to show up for the time of your interview.

If you haven't signed up email me for a time.

Evaluation Form <--click here
(Please Complete and Submit from your home system)



Diane Arbus
Lorna Simpson
Bernd and Hilla Becher
Gregory Crewdson


Robert Adams - Truth
Robert Adams - Beauty


Week 10  

10.22 Field Trip

Shooting Field Trip to Graton, CA
Both Classes invited to meet at 9:30 am in central Graton -then fanning out to canvas the entire town and outskirts until 12:00.

Directions from SRJC Campus:



A) Santa Rosa Junior College, 1501 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa, CA 95401 US


    1. Start out going NORTH on MENDOCINO AVE toward BURBANK CIR.  (go 0.4 miles)

    2. Turn LEFT onto STEELE LN.  (go 0.6 miles)

    3. Turn SLIGHT LEFT onto GUERNEVILLE RD.  (go 6.5 miles)

    4. Turn LEFT onto FREI RD.  (go 1.4 miles)

    5. FREI RD becomes GRATON RD.  (go 0.6 miles)

    6. End at 9030 Graton Rd Graton, CA 95444


B) Mexico Lindo Restaurant, 9030 Graton Rd, Graton, CA 95444 US


>> TOTAL ESTIMATED TIME: 16 minutes | DISTANCE: 9.59 miles



To view your map, click on the link below or copy and paste it to your browser:*pDgPet


MapQuest - Helping People Find Places


Download the MapQuest Toolbar


    Photoshop: Printing

    Handout - Processing a Digital Image.pdf
    Printer Profile File Names: profilenames

    Printing Demonstration - Epson R1800 / 1280

    - Sharpening
    - LAB Color Mode/Luminance Sharpening

    Printer :

    • Resolution (review)
    • File Preparation
    • Color Management
    • Color Modes

    adobe RGBsRGB


  • Text - Typography
    Text tools
    Vector graphics


5 prints - 5 pnts. - 8x10 minimum - (9)


Printing continues through to the end...

Additional Printing Resources: - see contents for various PDFs

Epson R1800 Printing Guide

Device/Paper Profiles - additional resources

New site:

Color Field Guide - how to install and apply
Epson's ICC Profile Guide

Red River Paper -How to Install and apply profiles.Epson(PC)
Red River Color Profiles -How to Epson(MAC)


Review my internet resources re: printing here:

PS Print (LA based commercial printer)
Preparing files for print - Pagemaker, Illustrator

Urban Digtial Color (SF, printer)

Digital Art Supplies (San Diego based, print supply )

---------------local printers santa rosa

Northbay Photo Supply (Santa Rosa, based photo supply)
location map

Skylark Images

The Lab

Lenny Eiger


Week 11





Critique - Current progress on portfolios - (5 pnts)


3-5 images of light
- (10)

- Pre-Visualization
- sensitivity toward the lighting conditions(less focus on subject)



Harold Edgerton
Richard Avedon
Irving Penn


Week 12





Susan Sontag - Plato's Cave


Diane Arbus
Jeff Wall
Richard Barnes
Daido Moriyama

Rule of Thirds
Golden Mean

Week 13


Camera RAW





Camera Raw:

dcraw is an open source computer program which is able to read numerous raw image formats, typically produced by high-end digital cameras. dcraw converts these images into the standard PPM and TIFF image formats. This conversion is sometimes referred to as developing a raw image (by analogy with the process of film development) since it renders raw image sensor data (a "digital negative") into a viewable form.

The Unidentified Flying Raw (UFRaw) is a utility to read and manipulate raw images from digital cameras. It can be used on its own or as a Gimp plug-in. It reads raw images using Dave Coffin's raw conversion utility - DCRaw. UFRaw supports color management workflow based on Little CMS, allowing the user to apply ICC color profiles. For Nikon users UFRaw has the advantage that it can read the camera's tone curves. Even if you don't own a Nikon, you can still apply a Nikon curve to your images.

Gimp plugin to decode RAW

GUI Ports:



Wikipedia entry regarding model release/liability waivers for subjects in a photograph.

Example Model Release Forms - my boilerplate examples release examples.txt

Dan Heller's very wording primer regarding the release. (who is Dan Heller?

Photo District News Online Business/Legal Section

Week 14


Automation / Scripting

Internet Presence / Websites

  • Batch and Automation
  • Image Ready
  • Optimization

Text - Typography

  • Text tools
  • Vector graphics


Critique - 5-10 Progress toward final subjects

Review images of light.

Printing continues ...

Photo Sharing

Commercial Photographers - Online presence (sampling)

Artists :

Lynn Hershman Leeson

George LeGrady

John Maeda

Ted Nelson

Lev Manovich

Victoria Vesna

Timothy Druckrey

Week 15  


Legal / Copyright Issues

Protecting your images
Respecting the work of others

Photography - Model Release Examples

Photographers Rights



Critiques contine...


Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that offers flexible copyright licenses for creative works.

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Intellectual Property Online: Patent, Trademark, Copyright

U.S. Copyright Office


The Free Expression Policy Project


Zhang Huan

Additional Readings:

Orphan Works

An orphan work is a copyrighted work where it is difficult or impossible to contact the copyright holder. This situation can arise for many reasons. The author could have never been publicly known because the work was published anonymously or the work may have never been traditionally published at all. The identity of the author could have been once known but the information lost over time. Even if the author is known, it may not be possible to determine who inherited the copyright and presently owns it. Nearly any work where a reasonable effort to locate the current copyright owner fails can be considered orphaned. However the designation is often used loosely and in some jurisdictions there is no legal definition at all.



Week 16   Lab
Week 17   Lab

Week 18   Final Critique

Presentations of selections from individual portfolios 10-20 images. = 10 pnts

Final Exam is here --> TEST

Walter Bejamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction", 1936 - Excerpt translanted by Harry Zohn