Please see the full syllabus inside of Canvas.

TITLE: JRN 204/ART 284, Basic Digital Photography
MEETING TIME: Asynchronous
INSTRUCTOR: Charles Mason
TELEPHONE:  474-7761


Students are introduced to the basic skills of shooting with correct manual operation of a digital SLR as well as introductory editing techniques with Adobe Photoshop. We cover techniques of interest to most any advancing photographer, whether their primary interest is art photography or publication work. Class materials focus on creative vision, composition, equipment and techniques that students practice in the field. Instructor and peer-reviewed critiques provide feedback weekly. Grow as you go. If you have a digital SLR, some basic computer photo editing skills, and a desire to learn photography, this is the course for you!



Students will gain knowledge and hands-on experience in the following fundamental areas of photography;

  • understanding Manual use of a Digital SLR camera and applying exposure settings (aperture, shutter speed and ISO) to the camera

  • understanding basic editing process and applying techniques with Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, or other editing software

  • acquiring primary knowledge and skills to producing a basic art series or photojournalistic photo essay



Digital Photography, A Basic Manual, First Edition by Henry Horenstein, ISBN:


Other Readings as provided or suggested by Instructor



A Digital SLR camera with a standard fixed or zoom lens. You will be required to only use it on manual (“manual setting’ means a camera on which you can set the shutter speed and the aperture). “Point and shoot’ cameras, which set themselves and cannot be controlled by the photographer, are NOT ACCEPTABLE for this course.


You are required to read your camera’s manual and be comfortable with its operation. Given that there could be a number of different models of cameras in use, we won’t cover every operation on each camera – pick up your manual and email questions if they arise; there is also a Discussion Board for these types of questions inside of Blackboard.


You will need to use Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom as photo editing software. The costs vary considerably. Some students may have access via a lab in their area, others will want to procure it for their own computer.



Students must have regular access to a computer and the Internet to access online materials in Blackboard. Students will be expected to download course material as well as upload assignments.


Students are expected to have basic knowledge of computers — preferably of the Macintosh operating system (or at least the ability to translate PC experience to Macs). This class is not an introduction to computers, but an in-depth discussion of camera use and function, and basic editing techniques. If you are questioning your current level of understanding of computers, please do not hesitate to email the instructor.



Instructor provides verbal and written lecture materials, samples of work that display the specifics of assignment goals, and provides feedback and review based off of assignment descriptions and blank score sheets. Most assignments have a recording explaining example pictures and an audio explanation of the work. Assignment reviews by the instructor are also to be considered instructional as you may turn your work in again, for a new grade. Essentially, you will receive verbal feedback on your work, and you may choose to resubmit new or altered items. Learning is strengthened and additional skills established/reinforced by this rework loop.



Visible inside of Blackboard.


As part of your attendance/participation you are required to critique fellow students twice this semester. IF YOU need to miss the window for critique for a pre-approved reason, you must arrange that with me ahead of time, and send me an email explaining your reasons.  If you miss due to illness, you again must let your instructor know via email that you will not be able to perform your reviews that week.



All regular assignments are due at the scheduled date and time on the dates listed. Late assignments are not accepted.  In this class, barring certifiable illness or emergency, NO ASSIGNMENTS are accepted late.

Weekly assignments require weekly use of your camera, your computer, the internet, Blackboard, and in some cases field (outdoor) trips in order to complete assignments. All assignments other than the first require/expect editing. While this class will help you become more proficient with editing a photograph in Photoshop (or Lightroom), you need some basic skills with that software to begin the class.



Students are required to actively participate in the class discussions and critiques by sharing photographs, ideas and opinions. Non-participation in the required discussion forums or not turning in your critique/reviews for a week will lower your grade. New assignments will be given out on Thursdays, and will be due the following Tuesday.



See the grading sheets used by the instructor. Similar aspects of these three sheets will be used by each student during the required student reviews.


C— (1.7) is the minimum acceptable grade that undergraduate students may receive for courses to count toward the major or minor degree requirements, or as a prerequisite for another course. A minimum grade of C (2.0), however, MAY be required by specific programs for prerequisite and/ or major / minor courses. Please consult specific program listings in the UAF Catalog.


C— (1.7) is the minimum acceptable grade required for all Core (X) Courses.



This course adheres to the UAF eCampus Procedure regarding the granting of NB Grades The NB grade is for use only in situations in which the instructor has No Basis upon which to assign a grade. In general, the NB grade will not be granted.


Your instructor follows the University of Alaska Fairbanks Incomplete Grade Policy:

“The letter “I’ (Incomplete) is a temporary grade used to indicate that the student has satisfactorily completed (C or better) the majority of work in a course but for personal reasons beyond the student’s control, such as sickness, he has not been able to complete the course during the regular semester. Negligence or indifference are not acceptable reasons for an “I’ grade.’


Successful, timely completion of this course depends on committing yourself early and maintaining your effort. To this end, this course adheres to the following UAF eCampus Procedures:

  1. The first contact assignment (Introduction) is due one week after the first day of instruction. Failure to submit this assignment within the first two weeks of the course could result in withdrawal from the course.

  2. The first content assignment (Lesson 1) is due one week after the first day of instruction. Failure to submit this assignment within the first two weeks of the course could result in withdrawal from the course.

  3. Failure to submit the first three content assignments (Assignments 1, 2 and 3) by the deadline for faculty-initiated withdrawals (the ninth Friday after the first day of classes) could result in instructor initiated withdrawal from the course (W).



Assignments will usually be graded within one week of the original due date.