Foundation Courses

The first year of the Professional Photography Program establishes a solid foundation in photographic craft and visual communications in contemporary (digital) and traditional (film) technologies. This year emphasizes mastery of basic technical skills and the underlying principles of black & white and color photography through proper metering and exposure methods, image capture and final image output in both digital and analog formats.

As you progress technically, the program structure enables you to explore design concepts and develop your ability to convey ideas in a solid and exciting visual language. While emphasis is on current digital technologies, NESOP incorporates film into its first-year curriculum as a unique teaching and learning tool. Working with film breaks down the image-making process, requiring students to slow down and engage in the practice of bringing their images to perfection from negative to print. This valuable practice strengthens their skills and supports the students' understanding of the digital process, ultimately augmenting their ability to use the full range of digital imaging tools available. From capture to process to output and from black & white to color photography, year one ensures the solid formation of the technical and aesthetic skills necessary for success in the advanced specialization areas during the second year.

Term 1

Introduction to Digital Capture :: 5 units

This foundation level course introduces students to the digital single lens reflex camera as the primary tool with which they will capture and create images. Comprehensive lectures and instructor-led shooting exercises will familiarize students with basic camera controls including ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed. As the course progresses, more advanced concepts such as white balance, light metering, the histogram and basic TTL flash operation will be added to the photographer’s tool box. Students will leave this course with a comprehensive understanding of basic camera equipment and camera functions necessary to move forward in the program.

Digital Workflow I :: 4 units

Working in tandem with the Introduction to Digital Capture class, this course introduces students to Adobe Lightroom as a database management and digital darkroom tool. Throughout the term, students will delve into RAW file development, file formats and interpolation, color correction, inkjet printmaking as well as data back-up strategies. At the end of the course, students will have a thorough understanding of how to manage a photo database and process their images for digital and print output.

Photographic Art and Design :: 5 units

This course shifts the emphasis from technical skill to the visual aspects of image making that transform a photograph from a simple picture to a powerful visual communication tool. Through visiting galleries and museums, viewing films and analyzing photographs in class, students learn to identify the elements that allow images to communicate and develop a language to critique work. Students break down photographs to their core compositional elements and gain a greater understanding of how to employ these visual components in the creation of their own work. Weekly assignments encourage students to utilize different compositional elements in their image making and explore ways to communicate visually.

History of Photography :: 2 units

Understanding the technical and aesthetic development of photography is essential to a complete photographic education. In this course, students examine major figures, movements, techniques, contributions and breakthroughs within the field, in holistic context. Lectures and discussions, demonstrations and handling of historical photographic objects involve students in learning about the history of this profession. Outside reading and photographic research assignments supplement lecture and class content.

Term 2

Exploring Studio Lighting :: 5 units

Testing and refining the basic camera, exposure and lighting skills learned in the previous term, this class provides intensive training in controlled studio lighting using tethered digital capture and multi-light portrait and tabletop sets. Students will master exposure, contrast, light quality and mood through the use of professional studio strobe equipment and various light modifiers, reflectors and diffusers. Daily exercises and shooting assignments will demonstrate techniques for lighting textural, transparent/translucent and highly reflective objects. Emphasizing a proficiency and comfort level working under creative direction and production deadline pressures, students will discover the endless possibilities available to the studio photographer and will leave this exciting class with professional-quality portfolio pieces.

Digital Workflow II :: 3 units

In this course, students continue to develop their workflow skills using advanced methods for preparing and processing digital files. The power to edit, adjust, create and manipulate images is discovered by students as they are introduced to the essential photographer’s tool, Adobe Photoshop. Hands-on, experiential learning is emphasized as students explore the valuable tools within this software, and weekly assignments allow students to unleash the creative possibilities within their photographs. Effective and efficient printing skills and scanning methods are also introduced.

The Black & White Darkroom :: 5 units

This film-based, multi-format course brings students into the traditional darkroom to explore the black & white photographic medium. Different film development techniques and printing skills illustrate the creative possibilities in this traditional method of photography. The Zone System, an advanced method of film exposure and development, is explored and the 4 X 5 view camera is introduced to highlight the unique camera movements that large format photography offers. Through weekly lectures involving historical and contemporary black & white photographs, students gain a greater understanding of this powerful medium.

Practical Business and Marketing for Photographers :: 3 units

This course focuses on target marketing and business strategies for specific areas of professional photography: advertising, editorial, fashion, portraiture and the fine arts. Through course lectures and expert guest speakers, students gain detailed insight into the business and marketing skills required to succeed in these specialized areas of photography. Additional topics include portfolio development, résumé writing and interviewing techniques, website design and self-promotion.

Term 3

Advanced Capture with Photoshop :: 5 units

Today's digital photographers often must move beyond simply recording "found" images and instead assemble final photographs from carefully crafted pieces. This advanced capture/post-production course challenges students to apply their imagination to a solid understanding of the nuances of composition, lighting and Photoshop layering, blending and selection techniques in order to push past conventional constraints. By creating and printing simple product composites and convincing and confounding photographic illustrations captured both in the studio and on location, students will gain an appreciation for the potential of digital imaging to solve technical problems or to realize an artistic vision.

Video for Photographers :: 5 units

The convergence of filmmaking with photography has created a profound shift in the nature of visual media, and with it, broad new opportunities for photographers. The ability to tell stories with still imagery enhanced by movement and sound has become a crucial (and highly marketable) skill made more accessible by video-capable DSLR cameras and simple, intuitive authoring tools like Apple's Final Cut X. This course combines Final Cut X instruction with professional DSLR video, lighting, audio recording, narrative and interview techniques. From concept to completion, each student will be guided through the production process of a sophisticated multimedia story.

Speedlights :: 3 units

This course focuses on electronic flash and lighting techniques applicable in contemporary photography. Weekly lectures and demonstrations paired with in-class shooting exercises will cover on-camera flash operation to advanced off-camera multiple flash synchronization. Methods of modifying ambient light will also be introduced. Weekly assignments will help students build a foundational understanding of controlled lighting outside of the studio. Students will be encouraged to develop and explore their own creative aesthetic concepts in a thematic final project presented as a print portfolio.

Intensive Digital Printing :: 3 units

In this course, students will learn the art of high quality inkjet printmaking. Beginning with Adobe Lightroom and later moving into Adobe Photoshop, color management with profiles will be stressed in order to create a workflow based on refinement of test prints. Weekly lectures and assignments will focus on color theory, media substrates, soft proofing, digital black and white conversions, as well as interpretive control of contrast, tone and saturation. By the end of the term, students will have learned to effectively see color, translating the image from screen to print.