Answers to some Frequently Asked Questions


Q: I’m just starting the program and I’ve never had any formal education in photography before. how should I begin?

A: There are three interrelated introductory courses in our program. All students will start with Photo 1100, Fundamentals of Photography. This course deals with capturing images with a camera (film or digital) and is 3 hours of lecture weekly with no lab component.

Companion courses Photo 1101, Foundations of Digital Photography and Photo 1102, Foundations of Film Photography use 6 hours of lab time weekly to explore the post-capture processing of images using either the computer (1101) or the chemical darkroom (1102).

These three courses can be taken one at a time (1100), in pairs (1100 plus 1101 or 1100 plus 1102) or all at once. A student wanting to move quickly through the program should take all three courses in their first semester, as all three are required to move on to the intermediate level of course work.

Q: What if I only want to learn digital photography (or) What if I only want to learn film photography? Do I still have to take the darkroom (or) computer course?

A: Students simply wanting to learn the basics of one aspect of the medium are welcome to take the entry-level courses that meet their needs and stop. If further, intermediate or advanced-level study is desired, however, all three of the introductory courses are necessary. This is because we believe that, for any serious photographer, knowing the basics of both the chemical and digital aspects of the medium is critical.

Beyond the first semester, though, students may use their choice of film or digital cameras to complete most of the assignments in most of the program’s courses.

Q: What kind of camera do I need? What else do I need to supply?

A: Students in photography courses are required to supply their own camera.

Film cameras must use 35mm format film and be capable of manual exposure control. Three 35mm cameras that we currently recommend are the Nikon FM-10, the Pentax ZX-M and the Ricoh KR5 Super II. Each of these are good, basic cameras that can be operated in a fully manual mode. Other cameras similar to these exist and, if the camera can be operated in a fully manual fashion, it will be fine for the course.

Digital cameras should be able to capture at least 5 Megapixels, be capable of manual exposure control and must be able to shoot a “RAW” file.

Digital cameras that we currently recommend are the Canon G6, the Canon EOS 350D Digital Rebel XT, the Nikon Coolpix 5400 and the Olympus C-5060 Zoom.

As for other supplies, students are responsible for providing film, printing paper, camera/computer recordables and a few incidentals like scissors. The Photography Program supplies all chemicals and specialized equipment.

Q: I’ve been involved in photography for (fill in the blank) years and I’m wondering if I have to take the beginning course(s) (i.e. Photo 1100, Photo 1101 or Photo 1102)

A: The answer is, "It depends". It depends on whether you have basic camera skills and, more importantly, basic darkroom and/or computer skills.

Any course past the 1100 level courses presumes that you have the ability to understand aperture, shutter speed, composition, focal length, depth of field and other basic camera concepts.

Passing by the 1101 course would suggest that you also have a firm grasp of Adobe Photoshop (you are adept at using Layers, Levels and Curves, know all of the toolbox tools, can create and modify selections, can download images from a digital camera and can use flatbed and film scanners) You should also know how to make high-quality prints from computer-based files. Our extensive experience with people who say they "know Photoshop" suggests that nearly every student would be well-served by taking this course.

Passing by the 1102 course presumes that you can process and print black and white photographs in the chemical darkroom with little to no review. You should have a solid background in black and white darkroom techniques and be able to produce a high-quality print.

If you have these skills, then you may want to bypass these entry-level courses.

Most students, however, are happiest when they go ahead and take the 1100-level courses, even if much of it is a review.

It is our experience that nearly all students should start with the entry-level classes.

Q: I have the basic camera, darkroom and computer skills that are mentioned above; what course should I take next?

A: You should start with Photo 1200, Intermediate Photography and select a lab course from either Photo 1201 (Tools and Techniques for Digital Photography) or Photo 1202 (Tools and Techniques for Film Photography) depending on your preference for digital or film-based image making.

Q: I want to take courses only on nights and weekends. Can I get a degree or certificate this way, or am I going to have to take day classes?

A: All of the courses that the Photography Program offers are taught both day and evening. Of course, one problem is that compared to daytime, there are fewer evening hours for us to schedule classes in, so it often takes longer for a daytime class to “come around”. For that reason, it sometimes takes longer for a student to complete a degree or certificate at night.

While most of our courses are offered during the week, a few of them are taught on weekends. Check the current Semester Course Schedule for a list of what weekend courses are available for a given semester.

Q: I don't want to take a class, but I'd like to use your darkroom or computer facilities. Is there a fee that I can pay? Can I rent your darkrooms or studios?

A: Our labs and studios are for the express use of students who are currently registered in a Photography Program class. They are not available for rental at any time. If you want to use the facilities, you must take a class.

Q: Prerequisites: do I really need to pay attention to them? I just want to learn one aspect of photography and I don't want to have to take any of those nasty prerequisites.

A: The courses that have prerequisites have them for a reason. The instructor expects that all students who enter the classroom have an understanding of the prerequisite materials. This way, the class can cover the material and learn the information in the fastest possible way. In other words, if you could skip the prerequisite, we wouldn't need to have any.