The Digital Photo DeCal is a course intended to introduce students to the world of digital photography, with a focus on the science behind how cameras work, and technical proficiency in operating a camera. The Digital Photo Decal is composed of one large lecture section, and two optional, specialized discussion sections.
The purpose of the Lecture section is to build an understanding of the underlying science behind photography, and technical proficiency in using camera equipment. The lecture is aimed towards students with any level of photographic experience, and will build a foundation in photographic knowledge from the ground-up (so even if you're completely new to photography, that's fine!).
Coursework for the lecture section will consist of weekly online quizzes based on the lecture material. Students will be required to score a cumulative 50% on the quizzes. Optional weekly photo assignments will also be given, and students are invited to post and critique other students' photos on the course gallery.
The discussion section is intended as a supplement to the lecture, and will offer a mix of photo assignments followed up by photo discussions/reviews, supplemental lectures and demonstrations on more advanced topics, and field activities to put theory learned in lectures to practice. Students who wish to take the discussion section must have take the Lecture section concurrently, or have taken the Lecture section previously.
Coursework for the discussion section will consist of weekly photo assignments, loosely based upon topics covered in the lecture section as well as special topics covered in discussion. Students will be required to complete all of the assignments with new photos taken this semester.
The Introduction to Photojournalism is an applications course that expands on material taught in the lecture section. This section will teach fundamental concepts in the field of photojournalism, with the goal of teaching students how to document events, find stories, and industry practices with regards to ethics and information gathering - in short, the rudimentary training one might use to start doing photojournalistic work (this class is in fact used as a training course for new photographer hires at The Daily Californian. Students who wish to take the photojournalism section must have take the Lecture section concurrently, or have taken the Lecture section previously.
Coursework for the discussion section will consist of weekly photo assignments, based on topics covered each week in the Photojournalism class. Students will be required to complete all of the assignments.
A detailed curriculum for all three courses can be found on the schedule page. If you are interested in seeing lesson material from the Fall 2009 semester, see the Fall 2009 lesson materials in the archive.
The Lecture section will be broken up into three general units - low light photography, lenses, and exposure/color. Material for the Discussion section will have less structure and tend to be more open-ended and student-driven.
This semester, enrollment is open to all students. If you are a student with 1st or 2nd year standing, enroll in the EE98 section. If you are a student with junior, senior, or above standing, enroll in the EE198 section.
You may enroll in any combination of the three sections. Note that if you wish to enroll in the discussion or Intro to Photojournalism class, you must be enrolled in the Lecture section concurrently, or have taken an equivalent class as part of the Digital Photo Decal previously.
In order to enroll in the course, you must come to the first lecture on Tuesday February 2nd, 6-7pm in 160 Kroeber. Enrollment information will be announced there.
I've received a few emails about this so I thought I'd address the issue here. An SLR camera will be highly recommended, though not required for the Discussion section, as most of the additional material there will be SLR-specific. For the Lecture and Photojournalism class you do not need to run out and buy fancy equipment for this class. If you've got any kind of digital camera, you'll be good for this class. I will mostly be teaching the class from the perspective of a digital SLR user (digital SLRs are those monstrous bulky cameras with detachable lenses - like this) - some of the material won't apply to users with non-SLR cameras. However, any digital camera will suffice for the majority of the material and all of the assignments.
There are those of you who were planning on a new camera or equipment purchase anyway and have asked me for advice, so here it is:
My main philosphy behind a beginner camera is features and versatility first, and quality later. Many beginners get hyped up over high-end equipment - they start right away with the "professional" camera body and only want to use lenses that are "sharp". This is an expensive and detrimental trap to fall into - most of the features offered by higher-end camera bodies are of little use to most photography students, and only come into play if you're doing serious sports photography, or regularly taking out your camera to shoot in pouring rain as a photojournalist. The vast majority of photographers don't need it, and if you really do need it, you won't have to read a decal equipment recommendation guide to tell you so.
The best thing to do is to go after the camera setup with the greatest versatility - as someone learning photography, you want the greatest capability possible to experiment with different focal lengths, using large apertures, etc. Whether a lens is "sharp" or not does nothing to help you creatively. And as we'll talk about much later in the class, much of the "image quality" assessments of equipment are complete bullocks.
So what do I recommend? Grab the cheapest camera body available, since they all basically function the same, and invest the rest in lenses and possibly a flash, which will actually let you try different things and get creative. The short list of cheapest camera bodies on the market currently (in order of recommendation).
After you have the body of your choice, you have to decide on a lens. There are currently three ways to go (this applies to almost all systems) - use the cheap 18-55 kit lens, get a more versatile 18-135 or 18-200 lens, or get a larger aperture 17-50 f/2.8 lens. The basic kit lens costs about $100 or so in most cases, while the 18-200 or 17-50 f/2.8 lenses typically cost around $400. If you can afford it, I would go with one of the 18-200 or 17-50 f2.8 lenses, since this will afford you more versatility to learn with. However, the 18-55 kit lenses will function just fine, and may even be better since they'll save you money and you'll have a much better idea about what equipment you want after the course.
A second lens you may want to pick up is a large aperture prime lens, which will be a 35mm or 50mm lens (or something in that range) with an aperture of f/1.4, f/1.8, or maybe f/2. This will allow you to experiment with shallow depth of field, which is an extremely useful tool, and one of the main reasons to use an SLR camera rather than a smaller-sensored non-SLR camera. These are fairly cheap for most systems, running around as low as $80.
Lastly, another common question was - do I need any image editing software for this class? If you have a program like Photoshop, Lightroom, or Aperture, that's great. Otherwise, there are many free alternatives available online that we'll be using for the class, so there's no need to go out and buy software. If you happen to have a choice between a Windows or Mac OS computer, a lot of the free photography software available is only for Windows.