SKU: digital-photo-2
Digital Photography 2

Explore light and develop your technical skill

Light is the raw ingredient of every photograph. Develop a good understanding of how light behaves and learn how to use it in a way that best suits your photographs.




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Course Overview

Light is the raw material of which photographs are made. Without it the medium wouldn’t exist. During this course we make a thorough and wide ranging exploration of light and its influence and effect in photographs. While the course primarily deals with the use of control of light, we visit several fields and aspects of photography, from landscapes, to portraiture to still-life, to basic post production, to gain insight and understanding into how the camera and subject interact with light. Every homework project is followed by a thorough feedback and debrief session at the start of the next week’s lesson.


Session 1
This session introduces the photographic interpretation of light, in terms of language and characteristics. By means of demonstration these characteristics are explained and visualised.  This session’s homework will look into the influence of light on a subject through the observation of changes in light. We also discuss some technical and visual aspects of urban landscape photography, to prepare students for the week’s homework project.

Project: Urban Landscape
As a subject that is already lit, urban landscapes provide an ideal context in which to observe how light changes, and how these changes influence the appearance of a photograph. Submit 2 sets of 5 – 7 prints

A general understanding of the characteristics of light, and the ability to identify these in a photograph.

Session 2
In this session we progress from simple observation, to taking a basic level of control over the light in a scene. We will work with window light, and will explore the use of some simple lighting devices to manipulate the available light. Additionally, we briefly unpack some subject characteristics that play a prominent role in how we perceive photographs, and how to use these. The session concludes with a demonstration of how to visualise a use window light for both portrait and still life subjects.

Project: Window light still life and portrait
Using window light affords the photographer the ability to exercise a basic level of control over the light on the subject. Working with both people and small objects allows the photographer to practice managing lighting over both large and small areas.

The student will develop a basic understanding of how to visualise and manipulate lighting in an available light environment, and an understanding of choosing a lighting environment to suit a specific subject and intention.

Session 3
This session turns our control over lighting up a notch. Where the previous two sessions both dealt with existing lighting situations, this session prepares students to create their own bespoke lighting set-ups from scratch. The emphasis is on using household lighting devices, like torches, desk lamps, bedside lamps, etc. to create lighting a lighting set up. The goal is to create lighting that plays to the characteristics of the subject being photographed, complimenting and emphasising those characteristics. A comprehensive demonstration of light sources, techniques and effects rounds of the session.

Project: Controlled light still life
Students will select two or more, small, visually interesting objects to photograph using a lighting set  they build from scratch. The object will be set up along with a background and other detail elements. We stick to small object for this project, since the lighting tools in use are makeshift in nature, and may not be suitable for larger subjects

Students will learn how to pre visualise a lighting effect, tailored to the object being photographed, and then create a lighting set up that produces that lighting effect.

Session 4
In this session we introduce flash as a light source. The differences between flash and continuous light, as well as basic flash operation and technique are explained and discussed. We look both at flash as a only light source, as well as using flash in combination with ambient light. The emphasis is on creating effects that are possible to achieve with flash, but difficult or impossible with continuous light alone. This session’s demonstration covers the use of flash for making portraits in a continuously lit environment, and using flash to arrest the motion of a moving subject.

Project: Environmental portrait, and frozen motion
Using flash as the primary light source, students will make environmental portrait images, and photograph moving subjects, using flash to freeze the motion of the subject.

Students will learn the basic concepts of flash photography, and the practical application of these concepts.

Session 5
The topic for this session is painting with light. The technique allows a playful, experimental approach to lighting that contrasts with the more serious, deliberate,  controlled approach that we have followed up to this point. We explore the use of unconventional light sources, using them in dark or dimly lit environments to create strikingly unusual lighting effects. We use these lights to create boldly colourful, textured lighting effects. The demonstration for this session covers the technical aspects of light painting and the part layered, part jigsaw approach to lighting typical of this technique.

Project: Painting with light
This week students have fee choice over their subject and working environments, provided the images show the use of light painting. Mundane, everyday subjects are recommended, to best show the surreal and transformative aesthetic of the lighting technique.

Students will learn how to how to make images using the painting with light technique, visualising and using light in four dimensions.

Session 6 & 7
This session introduces post production as part of our lighting workflow. We look at situations where our control over lighting at the time of shooting may not be adequate, or where characteristics of the camera or lighting situation allow us to further improve the appearance of lighting through adjustments to the RAW file. Our subject for this week’s session is landscape and location photography, since in this context we seldom have much control over the lighting, and images created tend to be good candidates for RAW editing. We also discuss technical and compositional aspects of photographing the landscape.

Project (Session 7): Landscape/location photography
Session 7 is a location session following on session 6, and doubling as the session’s homework project. We will visit a location that is well suited to available light photography at a time of day that should allow for interesting and varied light. Students may photograph the space, or bring other subjects to photograph in the space, making use of the available light and any lighting techniques they consider appropriate.

Session 8
This is, again, a practical session where students will have an opportunity to put into practice some of the RAW processing techniques covered in session 7. This session also covers in more depth the technical concepts at work in RAW processing, and other fundamental aspects of managing a digital photographic workflow. We also use this session to reflect on work produced during the course and prepare images for the end of term exhibition.

Students will learn the basics of RAW image processing, and some of the technical concepts involved.


Eight sessions, three hours each, over eight weeks


To do this course you need a DSLR Camera and have to have completed DSLR 1, or have knowledge of how your camera works eg. iso aperture shutterspeed.

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Students are expected to bear their own printing costs. (Payment in full before commencement of course or upon arrival. Card facilities are available at the school.)