Art 100

Introduction to Digital Photography

Spring 2007
Friday, 1:15-3:15 PM
Mr. Beckman

This introduction to digital photography shares essentially the same objectives as Art 50, "Beginning Black&White Photography." It is an introduction to photography as a fine art and emphasizes all aspects of the subject, pre-visualization and camera work to image manipulation and print processing. In Art 100, however, the computer, Adobe PhotoShop CS2, and a suitable inkjet printer replace the traditional chemical darkroom.

While it is possible to do "digital darkroom" processing starting with chemical film, my preference is digital image capture from the beginning. Students should have their own digital cameras or have ready access to an adequate digital camera. The camera must be capable of being used in "manual" mode and must be able to produce file sizes of at least 3.5 megapixels. (Larger file sizes are preferred.) [Note: Students who are already beyond beginning level photography in their camera work are invited to participate in this class and will be given appropriate alternative assignments. Also, students who wish to take a F 2:45-4:00 class will be accommodated. Please consult with me in advance.]

Personal Information

My office is Rm 1270 in Parson's Hall. You can contact me by phone at 607-3148; but you can contact me more quickly by e-mail at The course WebSite can be found at


Class sessions will be devoted to learning experiences relevant to general photography, demonstrations of Adobe PhotoShop and other "digital darkroom" manipulations, and critiques of current student work. Students are expected to produce new work on a weekly basis for these critiques. There will be weekly assignments, beginning with basic assignments on camera work and exposure issues and moving toward your own personal photo projects. Each student will make a presentation on the photographic art of some individual, will construct a portfolio of personal photography work for the semester, and will participate in a photo show at the end of the semester.

Please review the Policy Statement for this course. This will also apply to much of your serious work in photography later on.


The required text for this course is Kelby, Scott. The Photoshop CS2 Book for Digital Photographers (New Riders Press, 2005). I also highly recommend Kelby, Scott. The Digital Photography Book (Peachpit Press, 2006) and Johnson, Harald. Mastering Digital Printing (Muska & Lipman Publishing, 2003). The former deals with practical digital camera manipulation and the latter with printing digital pictures.

Outside of taking pictures and doing your data manipulation, the best ways to learn the art of photography are (1) to submit your work to thorough honest critiquing and (2) to study the images produced by recognized masters. We will provide many critique opportunities for the former. For the latter, the libraries in Claremont provide a large number of excellent artist portfolios and many contemporary photographers maintain nice WebSites. I have a number of portfolio books in my office which students are welcome to look at or borrow.

Presumably, the overarching goals of digital photography are the same as those of traditional chemical photography --- exploring photography as an art form. You should review some of the resource materials provided on this WebSite for Art 50 and Art 150, including my essay on "Photography as Art". While each choice of medium results in subtle differences and, occasionally, new opportunities, our goal remains the creation of "images that say something within an aesthetic context." If you have a long-term interest in photography, I recommend purchase of Ansel Adams's famous comprehensive series of three books (below) of which the first two continue to be directly relevant to the digital photographer.

As general guides, I recommend:

A few "can't miss" art portfolios are:

There are many specialty books on digital photography, digital printing, and Adobe Photoshop. I especially recommend Kelby, Scott. The Adobe Photoshop CS Book for Digital Photographers (Pearson Education, 2003). There is also a newish magazine (first number published September/October 2003) called Digital PhotoPro which has excellent articles in it.

Digital WebSites

If you have found a good WebSite on digital photography --- either technical or artistic --- please e-mail it to the group and it will be put up here for reference. I highly recommend Digital Camera Preview as a general resource.

Updated on September 18, 2006; click here to see the assignment schedule or return to the photography index page.