Community College 'Intro to Photography' Class?

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May 21, 2019
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Albuquerque, NM USA
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Don
When I lived in NY I enjoyed taking a couple Anthropology classes in 2007 just before retirement, then actually taught computers as adjunct at the same local CC (my phase into retirement plan, 2008-2010). In early 2011 I moved from NY to NM and have been officially retired since. Now with time on my hands, I'm thinking of taking a class at the local CC here. I already registered for the spring semester, Jan 2020, as a real for-credit student (not 'continuing ed'), but am still figuring out what to take.

My short list includes 'Introduction to Photography', as well as more Anthropology, maybe Archaeology, maybe programming (don't know C++). Is anyone familiar with college level photography classes?

I was heavy into photography in the film days, then my son took over the baton with digital. I'm slowly learning how to use my 4 month old Z6 and Lightroom, so I thought a class might be fun. I'd appreciate any thoughts.
 
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I took photography quite a few times in the cc I worked at (when I worked. I'm recently retired too.)

'Intro to' was film based, and heavy into photo 'theory', meaning of photography, schools of thought, as well as how to use the camera, lenses, etc. We made a pinhole camera as well as photograms in the darkroom. Barry's right, the class can go in many directions, so can you scan the sylabus or course description?
 
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I audited a photography course taught by a young lady in the Art Department here at VT a couple of years ago. It was a totally online course with "virtual" live classes. This particular instructor was quite into Avant Garde scenes and compositions. I'm not sure she understood f-stops and I know she didn't understand iso.
 
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I took Photography in High School, used an Argus C3 and a free case of Plus X film was given to me, I learned a lot back in the day, that sure gave an intro to the subject of LIGHT strong light to dim light, you can always learn and expand, but you just can not beat the basics of photography.
 
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I took a Intro to Photography class in college, I had to take an elective, and wanted to meet some girls. There weren't any in the math/EE courses I was taking. This was 1966, long before digital. Best part of the class was using the darkroom and not having to pay for supplies.
Go for it, it sounds like fun. If there were a school near me I'd audit some classes.
 
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A few years ago I took one of those night school courses open to the public at a local high school - not a college course. As my career was in optics and imaging, I mainly hoped to learn more of the artistic side of things. The instructor, a pro photographer, was fairly good with that but he didn't have a clue about anything technical. As an example, according to him a flash measures the time it takes for the light to reach the subject and bounce back. I didn't want to show him up so I just cringed at his explanations and kept quiet but it bothered me all the misinformation that he was gratuitously distributing. So with these courses, it's important to know what the emphasis will be and whether that's an area where you think you can learn something.
 
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SF Bay Area, California, USA
I agree about both the course content and the instructor.

In high school, the photo teacher was an art teacher. His photography knowledge was barely above beginner.
IOW, it was either an easy A, or a waste of time.​
What you don't want is an unqualfied replacement instructor.

My Community College photo teacher on the other hand was good, he knew both photography and art/composition. But half the class content did not interest me, so I did not go back for the next class. I took it as adult education, not for credit, so my interest was different than most of the students. I wanted to learn specific stuff out of the course, not the stuff I already knew about. Dry mounting was neat, developing film was just a task to do to get something to print (I was the only one who used the stainless steel reels), printing was fun. Some of the assignments were interesting, but since I knew how to do it, it was almost boring.
And having taken that class, I realized that similarly some of the other CC classes would not match what and how I was looking to learn. I would have to take a class in something that I knew very little of; like programing in C++, CAD or astronomy.
 
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Don
Thanks for the replies! I got approval from the instructor to sit in on a lecture for the current class going on now. It's today(!), so I should have more info in a few hours. Here is the clip from the course catalog...

"This course introduces the making of photographic images from a broad viewpoint to consider both as an art practice and as a cultural practice. The course covers technical information on camera use and functionality, composition and visual design, digital workflow and editing, professional functions of manipulating and enhancing images, and printing correctly and effectively. The historical aspects of photography are also covered."
 
Many years ago I took several classes in photography at the local CC: Intro to Photography (PHT 101), PHT 102, Color Photography, History of Photography.... I loved History of Photography and of course also loved working in the darkroom doing our developing and printing. Now with digital photography I'm sure the entire focus of the classes has shifted significantly; next time a brochure comes in the mail I'll have to look at the class descriptions!
 
Got to thinking about this and realized that, duh, I could simply check right now online to see what courses are on offer. Yes, they have definitely expanded into digital imaging and instruction about use of the electronic darkroom but also still do offer good old PHT 101, 102, etc. They still start out with the basics and students who want to learn about using film cameras and developing/printing in the darkroom and do so. They also still have the one-semester course in Large Format photography, too, where students are issued a field camera and tripod to use; that class was invaluable to me and I learned a lot from it, even though I hated dragging all the gear around and fiddling with the sheet film and such. I'm glad to see that the school is still respecting the needs of some people to learn about film technology!
 
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You will Love it. The funnest year of my Grad work was teaching a Freshman Photography class they had disguised as "The Physics of Light and Photography". Don't be surprised if your knowledge may surpass the teacher's.😉

Carl
 
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Andy
Don't be surprised if your knowledge may surpass the teacher's.
While this is quite possibly going to be true, I think taking the class is an excellent idea. In the academic setting, you can learn a great deal just by placing yourself in the situation. At a minimum, it is a chance to refine and strengthen what you already know simply by studying and practicing it in the structured environment.
 
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New York State
I was lucky enough to get a place in the Photography department at the Guildford College of Art under Ifor Thomas.
This was Film photography of course but the initial emphasis was placed on teaching us Lighting and the art of seeing.
I don't remember any basic lessons about apertures and shutter speeds because all of us knew that and had been using a camera for some time or they wouldn't have been accepted on the three-year course to begin with.

Processing and Printing skills were acquired as we wnt along and learned how to integrate the requirements of exposure, subject selection, framing and lighting conditions to bring our original concept to fruition. There should be nothing "standard" about processing: it should always be customised to fulfill the photographer's deliberately intended final result.
That remains as true now with digital photography as it was (and is!) with film.

At Guildford, we shot on large format film, learned to use camera movements and processed each sheet of film individually; and then re-shot and re-processed until we got it right.

Thursday was Crit Day when we put up our best 15' x 12" print of the week and discussed and criticised each others' work under the guidance of one of the teaching staff — usually Ifor Thomas himself.

I am a bit surprised that the courses being described in this thread are more involved in camera mechanics than in stimulating imagination and teaching the students how to start with a Concept and then work to use the necessary technical resources to realise the concept in the way that they had originally envisioned it.

None of the courses which members have described here seem to be teaching the ability to pre-visualise or to use Lighting to its fullest advantage.

I feel that the emphasis that these courses seem to place on mere camera mechanics (instead of encouraging and inspiring the development of individual creativity) is very disappointing.
 
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Feb 2, 2005
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35,159
Location
Arizona
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Chris
I was lucky enough to get a place in the Photography department at the Guildford College of Art under Ifor Thomas.
This was Film photography of course but the initial emphasis was placed on teaching us Lighting and the art of seeing.
I don't remember any basic lessons about apertures and shutter speeds because all of us knew that and had been using a camera for some time or they wouldn't have been accepted on the three-year course to begin with.

Processing and Printing skills were acquired as we wnt along and learned how to integrate the requirements of exposure, subject selection, framing and lighting conditions to bring our original concept to fruition. There should be nothing "standard" about processing: it should always be customised to fulfill the photographer's deliberately intended final result.
That remains as true now with digital photography as it was (and is!) with film.

At Guildford, we shot on large format film, learned to use camera movements and processed each sheet of film individually; and then re-shot and re-processed until we got it right.

Thursday was Crit Day when we put up our best 15' x 12" print of the week and discussed and criticised each others' work under the guidance of one of the teaching staff — usually Ifor Thomas himself.

I am a bit surprised that the courses being described in this thread are more involved in camera mechanics than in stimulating imagination and teaching the students how to start with a Concept and then work to use the necessary technical resources to realise the concept in the way that they had originally envisioned it.

None of the courses which members have described here seem to be teaching the ability to pre-visualise or to use Lighting to its fullest advantage.

I feel that the emphasis that these courses seem to place on mere camera mechanics (instead of encouraging and inspiring the development of individual creativity) is very disappointing.
You are very lucky to get into a course like this! While creative expression is important, that's the one thing that artists will bring to the table regardless of their background, including their technical ability. You can 'pre-visualise" or just visualize, as much as you'd like. Pretend to see what you want, and make that picture. Accept the additions or limitations of your media, that's called craft.

Push the button and you are done. Well, you gotta process the picture, but that's ...
 
I remember that in the community college PHT 101 class, the instructor would discuss various concepts -- and, no, there was not a lot of focus on cameras and their mechanics because students all had different film cameras of various brands and functionality -- only the first day were cameras discussed much and that was mainly to be sure each student at least had a basic idea of how his or her camera worked. In that first semester, too, yes, the basic principles were discussed and examples provided, so that the instructor could be sure that students understood about aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and how they all work to control the light. Basic stuff, necessary because there were students who did not know that much about photography beyond point-and-shoot. When assignments were handed out, they were designed in such a way to stimulate and foster creativity, being open-ended to allow for individual interpretations of the topic. Even at that, yes, there were students who were rather a bit too literal-minded! I'll never forget the one who in PHT 102, which is the next level up, in response to the general topic of "light," brought in a photo he'd shot and printed......of a lightbulb!

Now, with digital imaging, things have moved to another level, including the need to have some additional/different technical knowledge and skills now regarding use of the camera gear itself and then in the post-processing and editing that follows, but the bottom line still remains that photography is about the use of light and as such provides opportunity for creative expression. However, photography is used in many ways for many purposes, not just artistic -- from documentary recording of an event (including crime scenes) to simple snapshots of a family having fun or people celebrating special occasions to showing interiors and exteriors of a house as it is being put on the market to capture soaring birds to successfully scoring an image of elusive and sometimes rare wildlife to yes, artistic interpretations and use of light in new and fascinating, creative ways.

Photography itself, the art and science of actually composing and shooting images is somewhat different from later editing and at times drastically manipulating an image so that in the end it looks quite different than what emerged from the camera in the first place. Retouching and what is often called digital art, creating composites, etc., are what comes after the initial photo shoot.... PHT 101 and 102 are the courses which establish the foundation for students to learn and develop skills in photography so that they can go on and experiment with other techniques, which are often the focus of additional, separate courses.
 
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