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Introduction to Digital Photography (10 credit points)

Course Times & Enrolment

Wednesdays from 27th September 2023 (Code PG002-105) Wednesdays from
27th September 2023 6:30pm - 9:30pm • (10 classes)
1.14 Thomson's Land, Holyrood Campus • Tutor: Scott Hunter
This course is now closed for enrolments

Course Summary

This course will introduce you to the creative controls of working with a digital camera. The course will include both a range of creative, photography and computer-based projects, using Photoshop to digitally enhance, adjust and process images. Students will also be introduced to the elements of developing a photographic visual language and how concepts, ideas, and mood, can be communicated through photography.

Please be aware that all of our digital courses that employ the use of computers and Adobe software are delivered on Apple Mac computers.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

No previous experience required.

What type of camera do I need for this course?

Please do not purchase a new camera just for this course, but ideally you should have a digital SLR (DSLR) camera, which gives you full manual control for focusing, shutter speeds, aperture and ISO settings. A standard 50mm lens is all you require, or a zoom lens that includes a 50mm focal length. You may have other lenses too; these will give you a greater range of possibilities, but they are not necessary to take or complete the course successfully. You can still take the course and gain a range of knowledge without a fully manual DSLR camera with these features such as a Digital Hybrid ‘Bridge’ camera, or Digital Compact Camera, however you will not be able to put into practice everything that is being taught and get the most from the course.

Special Information

In addition to the course fee, students are expected to provide the following list of indicative tools, materials and equipment:

  • Digital Camera with memory card (Entry level Digital SLR, Digital Hybrid ‘Bridge’ camera, or Digital Compact Camera, all suitable)

Content of Course

Over the class sessions the course will cover:

1. Introduction to camera handling and creative manual controls. Assignment 1: Photographic seeing and abstract photography.

2. Introduction to digital darkroom with bridge and Photoshop downloading and working with images, further camera handling.

3. Working with bridge and Photoshop, organising and editing.

4. Image adjustments and adjustment layers in Photoshop. Assignment 2: Still life photography.

5. Digital darkroom: digital tools and retouching techniques. Assignment 3: Portraits and photographing people.

6. Night photography: urban landscape photography session.

7. Digital darkroom work with Photoshop. Assignment 4: Landscape and urban landscape.

8. Introduction to developing a personal photography project.

9. Working with a visual journal for photography.

10. Photography project work: editing, sequencing in Adobe Bridge

11. Making digital contact sheets and work-prints.

12. Colour, tone and contrast adjustments, elective adjustments.

13. Preparing images for digital output.

14. Introduction to mounting and presentation for photography.

15. Informal critique and group discussion of student work.

Teaching method(s)

The teaching will be based and delivered in specialist art and design studios or workshops and will typically include a range of practical exercises, introductions to techniques, processes and concepts, and set projects which lead to more focused and personal exploration. Over the course, students’ progress will be monitored and supported by the tutor.  Teaching will include practical demonstrations, one to one tuition, group discussions and critiques.

For work required to be undertaken after the class hours are complete, the course tutor will set students a ‘directed study plan’ which can be undertaken without the need for specialist workshops or access to models.

Directed study will include research into a range of suggested artists and their associated movements to engender a contextual awareness. Students are expected to demonstrate how their research has informed their work through annotated sketchbooks, a visual digital journal and practical outcomes. 

The Directed Study Plan will include preparing evidence of research and practical work to form an appropriate presentation for assessment.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an enquiring approach to exploring a range of photographic vocabularies as a means to communicate creative ideas for a theme or subject, supported by contextual research and references.

  • Show an enquiring approach to using a range of manual and automated digital camera controls, together with using digital imaging software as a digital darkroom to develop a personal body of work.

  • Evidence an appropriate judgement to document, select, edit, print and present a coherent digitally-based photography project.


Core Readings


  • BATE, D., 2016. Photography: The Key Concepts. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

  • WELLS, L., 2004. Photography: A Critical Introduction. New York: Routledge

  • WOLF, S. and Henry Art Gallery, 2010. The Digital Eye: Photographic Art in the Electronic Age. New York: Prestel

  • SHORE, S., 2010. Nature of Photographs: a Primer. New York: Phaidon Press.

  • ALEXIS-CASSEL, A.  and Schneider, N., 1996. Photography After Photography: Memory and Representation in the Digital Ages. USA: DAP distributed Arts.

  • BUCHER, C., 2011. Black and White Digital Photography: Photoworkshop, USA: John Wiley.

Web Sources

Specific web resources will be determined by course tutors.


Details of the Art and Design assessment requirements can be found on the short course website. Please click on the following link for more information: Submission and Assessment Information

Studying for Credit

If you choose to study for credit you will need to allocate significant time outwith classes for coursework and assessment preparation. Credit points gained from this course can count towards the Certificate of Higher Education.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.