Course: VIS213
Instructor: Lawson
S 2018

Description of Course Goals and Curriculum

VIS 213 is a course introducing students to digital photography. Through a series of projects, you’re taught how to effectively take pictures in different situations/settings (such as moving objects or people as opposed to still figures), edit them, and present them. You’ll be introduced to programs such as Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop and will have a lot of experience making prints.

Learning From Classroom Instruction

There’s one 3-hour class per week and each is different. They contain a combination of any of these: learning about prominent photographers and their contributions, learning new editing and/or printing techniques (such as masking in Photoshop), critiquing each other’s work, practicing taking pictures on different settings (for example, manual instead of aperture priority), and learning from a guest photographer. There were very few assigned readings which solidified your understanding of cameras and certain techniques. However, most of the learning came from the projects since you applied what was taught in class. The professor goes over the important parts of the readings so they expect you to come to class having an idea of what is important. Make sure to keep up with the workshops during class and don’t be afraid to ask the professor to repeat something if you fall behind. This was my first photography class ever so I learned a lot from all the different aspects of the course that I mentioned above. However, even with past photography training/experience, the professor makes sure that you learn something new and improve your skills.

Learning For and From Assignments

All the assignments were individual projects where the professor would give you a theme, such as Light and Shadow or Emulation, and you’d be responsible of taking pictures within that theme and presenting them to the class. The first few projects are presented on the projector but as you learn how to edit pictures effectively you present them as prints. You’re given a chance to speak about your work and the other students and the professor tell you what they like about your work and how you can improve it (for example, increasing the exposure or decreasing the red component in the pictures). You’re usually given around 2 weeks to work on each assignment, where after a week you’re asked to bring some pictures to class so you can start editing with the professor’s help and the next week to bring your final pictures. Thus, you’re expected to dedicate time outside of class to shoot photos as well as edit/print them. You’ll most likely spend more time doing this as the semester progresses since you’ll learn a lot more techniques and will be expected to produce better quality pictures with each project. Each assignment had a challenge of its own but ultimately the goal was to capture something unique (whether it be the story behind the picture or taking the picture in an unexpected manner) that stimulates conversation. There were no problem sets, exams, or papers but for the final project you’re expected to write a one page artist statement describing your work.

External Resources

You can email the professor with any questions you have. I also asked some of the students while editing for input if I was unsure that I was executing something correctly (i.e. having good contrast); the outside advice was helpful. The Lewis Center Staff was also helpful, especially with working the printers in the classroom. If you forget how to do a certain technique you can always google tutorials.

What Students Should Know About This Course For Purposes Of Course Selection

This course can be taken by absolute beginners as well as experienced photographers. Some students are evidently more experienced but don’t let this discourage you. Keep in mind that it can be time consuming (especially if the material is new to you) as most of the time working on your project will be outside of class. Do your assignments on time! I believe some programs required are only available in the classrooms so you’ll probably have to walk to Nassau to work on the assignments (unless you have the program on your laptop). Always start your assignments early in case you run into any problems so that the professor can help. This will also allow you to properly balance the required work and the demands from your other classes. You’re not required to purchase anything (textbook, camera, Adobe programs) besides a hard drive. DSLR cameras can be borrowed from the university. VIS 213 allowed me to comfortably move from automatic mode and utilize the numerous features included in the camera. I also learned a lot about editing pictures and producing Photoshopped pictures that did not look Photoshopped. Your work will be seen and critiqued by everyone in the class and it is up to you to take their advice or not (since arts in general are subjective). I found most of the critiques helpful though as they made me see my work and others’ in a different light or notice something I hadn’t before. This in turn helped me improve my work as well as critique others’ work better. Ultimately, I fell in love with photography even more as I had a deeper understanding of it.

Digital Photography

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