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COURSE NAME: "Basic Photography (Traditional Film Photography)"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2017

INSTRUCTOR: William Pettit
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TH 12:30-3:15 PM

This course is designed to give students an overview of the photographic medium as a means of communication and personal expression with the city of Rome as a vehicle. The major components of the class are use of the 35mm camera, introduction to darkroom technique, and an overview of the history of photography and its specific aesthetics. Class will consist of technical, theoretical, and visual elements to take place in class, on site in Rome, and in museums and galleries. Students must provide their own traditional 35mm film cameras.  The university provides a large format camera for use in class.  Students will develop and print their work in JCU’s Dark Room.

This course is designed to give students an overview of the photographic medium as a means of communication and personal expression with the city of Rome as a vehicle. The major components of the class are instruction in and the use of the 35mm SLR camera, developing film and printing in the darkroom, an overview of the history and medium and its specific aesthetics, and an inquiry into the value and meaning of images and ways in which an artist can manipulate them. Class will consist of technical, theoretical, and visual elements to take place in class, on site in Rome, and in museums and galleries. Students are asked to compile a portfolio of images during the semester. Students must have access to a 35mm SLR film camera with manual controls.



This course aims to provide students with the skills necessary to produce a coherent body of photographic work, and the means to analyze, understand, and interpret images.

Key skills taught:

 Use and understanding of manual slr 35 mm camera and its components, manipulation of medium to create meaningful images, evaluation and analysis of images in general. Traditional dark room technique and digital manipulation, and the fundamental difference among photographic technologies. 


see belowGrading is based on a student’s physical, mental, and verbal participation in class, comprehension of assigned reading, and a body of photographs, as follows: Attendance and participation. (20%) Any missed classes will be penalized. Three absences will result in failure regardless of test performance or other. Excessive lateness will also be penalized so be punctual. Discussion and critiques are the most important part of this class and will be evaluated by the professor to determine a part of the final grade. Midterm exam.(20%). Consisting of short answers on the technical aspects of photography and the assigned reading, and a short essay. Final Project: (30%) A body of photographic work pertaining to Rome and accompanied by an oral thesis to be presented to the class. This should be an accumulation and culmination or a semester of thinking about images. Size may range from 1 to 100 images. Porfolio: (30%) This is simply the whole of your work during the semester. Each student must shoot (at least) one roll (36 exposures) of black and white film each week. In addition, each roll must be accompanied by one (1) proof sheet (or small prints), and two (2) large prints. Your portfolio should contain 20 large prints and some 360 total shots in proofsheets. Students agree to fulfill the criteria listed above in order to receive credit for the course. Evaluation is based primarily on the student’s investment of time, reflecting an understanding of material addressed in class and individual research. As well as mandatory class time, students are expected to work at least 2 hours per week outside of class. see below

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.


The core of this course is an inquiry into the production and evaluation of images. Students will engage in the activities of both the artist, in creating images, and the critic, analyzing images, and acquire the necessary technical and verbal skills to do so. We will cover traditional and contemporary tools including darkroom developing and printing, and primitive and digital production. Through self-evaluation and investigation, students will create a coherent body of photographic work and acquire the ability to discuss it.

As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


1. Introduction to course objectives and requirements

            The Camera: basic handling and operation: light, aperture, depth of field, film

Reading assignment: Horenstein, chapters 1 and 2

 Shooting assignment  1, “Light”

2.  Review Camera Operation, on site shooting assignment

                        Reading assignment: Horenstein, chapter 3, 4, 5

                        Shooting assignment 2, “Movement” 

3.  Developing Negatives

                        Reading: Horenstein, chapter 9

Shooting assignment 3  “Markets”

4.   Printing

                         Reading: Horenstein, chapter 10

Shooting assignment 4,  “Tourists”

5.  Form and Content: Intro to Barthes. Discuss prints from SA 1, 2, and 3.

                        Reading Assignment: Barthes, to page 60.

Shooting assignment 5,  “Interiors”

6. Review for midterm exam.

Shooting assignment 6,  “Borders”

7. Midterm exam.  

Reading: Sontag, In Plato’s Cave

Shooting assignment 7, “self portrait”

8. Discuss Barthes and Sontag and SAs 4 and 5.

Shooting assignment 8, open assignment  

9. Pinhole cameras.

Shooting Assignment 9, pinhole photos

10. Semester Break, no class.

Shooting assignment 10, open

11. Gallery Visit, TBA

12. Discuss SA 6, and 7.  Darkroom part 3. Dodging and burning.

13. Discuss final projects

14. Presenting work. Prepare for Student Art Show

15. Portfolios due. Final projects presented