Course Syllabus

University of Utah Art and Art History Department
Digital Photography 

Instructor: Martin Novak
Contact by email
Office: Film and New Media 100B (on map FMAB, Building #36).
Office hours by appointment

Class Meets: 1120  M Lib,  Tuesday and  Thursday 4:35pm - 6:00 pm

Class Objectives

In this course students learn the basic principles of the photographic media, basic camera functions, become familiar with various settings and presets on camera, explore the photographic process from pre-visualization, taking images, digital storage media and transfer of images, to adjusting and manipulation of digital images, output to print and creating digital portfolio. Emphasis is placed on learning design principles, composition, and fundamental history and theory of photographic media. Through number of projects students approach various subjects to create images that are personal and expressive.

Teaching Methods

This is a studio-based course, class time is divided between lecture, demonstrations, discussions and hands-on tutorials. From an experience, the most effective method to learn techniques is by practically solving problems and working on projects. Besides full class participation you are required to spend minimum 2 hours of your own time for each class period (about 6 after class hours each week).

The class time will be used on demonstrations and lectures. Several class periods, depending on the class progress, will be used to work on your projects and to get individual help and advice from the instructor. Most of the work on your projects will be done on your own time outside of class. It is absolutely essential you come to each class on time and prepared with questions to problems you may have not been able to solve by your self and class discussions of topics being covered.

Besides studio practices, we will also explore the history and theory behind photography media. Through readings covering various genres, you will gain a broader view of this field and its potentials in your own work.

Materials and equipment

Since this is course in digital photography you will need digital camera beyond basic point and shoot or your phone camera. If you don’t have one, there are great and reasonable priced cameras on the market. We will go over cameras and its various features the first week and talk about several options. The basic camera we use in our class should have at least 5MB resolution and include these feature: manual setting for aperture and shutter,  priority settings, most of the cameras will have already full auto setting. When you purchase the camera you may also have to buy memory card (512MB at least). Additional bits and pieces of equipment such as cables, batteries, card readers, etc…may be necessary. We will discuss various options in class the first week.
To store your work you will need some portable digital storage solution. One option is a flash cards with a good memory (if you choose to buy flashcard you should look for at least 4GB or greater). If you like to invest in your equipment I would recommend buying an external hard drive. You can find very reasonable priced ext. HD on the web (, ranging between $50.00 and 250.00 depending on its storage capacity. Using CD’s as a storage solution is good as the final storage. They are inexpensive but also least flexible in terms of manipulation of your images.

Required Text

Why People Photograph by Robert Adams

Short Course in Digital Photography  

Access to Fine Arts Server:

Fine Arts Server is an essential class resource, which will be used on daily basis. You will turn in your projects in a class folder on the server so it is imperative you have access. We will go in class over how to sign and use the finearts server.

To sign for access go to and follow the first topic Server Account Information -> Server Account Request.

Digital storage space: It is essential that you back up all your work on portable flash drive or portable hard drive! You are responsible for saving and storing your work! Digital files may get corrupted or not saving them correctly you can lose your work, this may effect your grade!
The art department is not responsible for your data. Art department provides server space for this course where you can store your work for the length of the semester, but you are responsible for safe handling and backing up your data. Your server space provided by the art department is limited to 4GB of space and all data will be deleted at the end of the semester. It is your responsibility to transfer and backup all your data before they are deleted from the server. If you accede this space you will have to use your own digital storage.

Instructions on how to use the fine arts server:

University Attendance Policy

You may not attend a University course unless you are officially registered and your name appears on the class roll.
The University expects regular attendance at all class meetings. You are not automatically dropped from your classes if you do not attend. You must officially drop your classes by the published deadline in the academic calendar to avoid a "W" on your record.
You are responsible for satisfying the entire range of academic objectives, requirements and prerequisites as defined by the instructor. If you miss the first 2 class meetings, or if you have not taken the appropriate requisites, you may be required to withdraw from the course.
If you are absent from class to participate in officially sanctioned University activities (e.g. band, debate, student government, intercollegiate athletics), religious obligations, or with instructor's approval, you will be permitted to make up both assignments and examinations.

Course Attendance Policy

This is a studio class; participation in-class activities, lectures and discussions is a critical component to the class content and cannot be made up if missed. It is expected that you arrive to each class on time, participating in all class activities, making good use of your time in class, and working until the end of the class period. 

Attendance is one of the most important aspects of this course. Missing class means you miss lectures, work time and meeting with the instructors and fellow students. As a result, a great deal of work and effort on your part will be required to make up for missed classes, and to keep up with course content. You are fully responsible for following up on missed work and obtaining missed handouts. Arriving late to class also slows down the tempo of class. Preventing any of these headaches is easy, simply by attending class.Tardy attendance accrues to equaling absences.  Grading is weighted by attendance. 2 tardies = 1 absence/participation.  2 absences = 1 grade reduction on final grade (from A to A-), 4 absences by 2 grade reduction (from A to B) and so forth. Unless prior arrangements have been made, more then 6 consecutive unexcused absences will result in course failure (E grade).
Please contact me ASAP if an attendance problem arises. In case of Illness, to clear your absence you have to provide doctor’s note proving you had legitimate reason to miss class.
It is much easier to take care of a problem if dealt with promptly. Do not wait until the end of the semester, there may be no options other that a failing grade.
Critique days are culmination of each of your projects and may absolutely not be missed and will be excused only by a University Approved absence.

Course work

Projects will be graded on how well you have interpreted the information learned in class, technical skills as well as conceptual ideas. Projects and assignments have to be turned on due date. We will look and talk about the work in class. Not turning the assignment you are not giving your self a chance to be critiqued and evaluated and miss important oportunity to hear constructive critique for improving your work.

Projects and Assignments turned pass the due date will be graded 50% of the full grade and additions 10% down for each day they are late. After 5 days, late work will not be accepted for grade. Late work may be submited only with prior aproval and valied serios excuse.

All images have to be current original work done by the student in and for this class! All images have to be created for this course specifically. No images from your vacation trips or prior to this course will be accepted for grading!

There will be number of short assignments which will help you to learn basic techniques using camera and digital applications.

Quizzes will test your technical knowledge. Quizzes will cover lecture materials coverd in class and reading.

Essays - explore your conceptual thinking for your projects and understanding the historical and theoretical issues discussed in class and readings. 


50% - 4 projects
25% - Assignments
15% - Quizzes
10% - Participation and attendance

Grade Equivalents 

A = sustained level of superior performance demonstrated in all areas of Course Requirements and Project Assignment Criteria
B = consistent level of performance that is distinctly above average in a majority of the Course Requirements and Project Assignment Criteria
C = level of performance that is generally average and in which all the Course Requirements and Project Assignment Criteria are achieved
D = below average performance and achievement of the Course Requirements and Project Assignment Criteria
E = accomplishment of the Course Requirements and Project Assignment Criteria is not at a level sufficient to receive a passing grade

Final Grade:

A 97-100 %
A- 96-93 %
B+ 92-89 %
B 88-85 %
B- 81-84%
C+ 80-77 %
C 73-76 %
C- 69-72%
D+ 65-68%
D 61-64%
D- 57-60%
E bellow 57%

The University of Utah seeks to provide equal access to its programs, services and activities for people with disabilities. If you will need accommodations in this class, reasonable prior notice needs to be given to the Center for Disability Services, 162 Olpin Union Building, 581-5020 (V/TDD). CDS will work with you and the instructor to make arrangements for accommodations.


Course Summary:

Date Details