AR 235 Introduction to Photography
Jerry Nevins , Professor
Office at Albertus Magnus,
203 Aquinas Hall, 773 - 8546
Spring 2020


(Art) is both the taking and giving of beauty; the turning out to the light the inner folds of the awareness of the spirit. It is the recreation on another plane of the realities of the world; the tragic and wonderful realities of earth and men, and of all the inter-relations of these.

--Ansel Adams in a letter to Cedric Wright

Inspiration is highly overrated. If you sit around and wait for the clouds to part, it's not liable to ever happen. More often than not work is salvation.

::: Chuck Close :::


AR235 will introduce you to the art of black and white photographic image making and printing. You will learn to see and appreciate light in a new way, learn to see and design shapes in the frame, and you will learn how to make fine black and white prints and finish them to the matted presentation. In this course, you will learn how to properly expose film, how to develop that film, and to make beautiful exhibition quality black and white prints. This is not merely a technical course however. The most important thing you can bring away from this course is a new sense of seeing. To be able to have a finer appreciation of light in its myriad manifestations, to discover meaning in images rather than words, or most importantly, how to make images, important and powerful in their own right, rather than merely "take pictures" is the main goal of this course.

Topics to be covered include:

The Camera, Rangefinder. Single lens reflex, twin lens reflex, the view camera. . .

Camera controls: shutter, aperture, light meter, depth of field control, how shutter and aperture work together.


Great article on lenses

focal length.

Filters for black and white film.

Film:  ISO and grain size, developing the film properly, reciprocity failure.

Massive List of Developing Times/Termperatures

How to develop film video

How to make a print video

Printing The enlarger, set up, timer use, the safelight, condenser vs. diffusion enlargers, enlarging lenses, the test strip, developing procedures, dodging and burning, contrast control with variable contrast filters, spotting and matting, archival processing.

TECHNICAL: Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO, how do they relate to one another?

Learning Outcomes For This Class


-To learn to properly expose and develop B and W film to high craftsmanlike levels.

-To learn how to craft a fine print using traditional b and w paper in the darkroom. This will include extensive practice in dodging and burning, contrast control, archival processing methods and final print finishing including spotting and matting your final exhibition quality prints.

-To fully understand the workings of your camera in particular and broad concepts in general such as reciprocity in aperture and shutter.


-To learn how to "see photographically" That includes developing a fine appreciation for seeing light and the way light works on photo sensitive materials to produce expressive, elegant prints.

-To learn how space works in the frame to create intentional, elegant design.

-To come to understand the metaphoric possibilities in the images we create that transcend the literalness of the object(s) photographed.

The Classic Approach

       This approach to photography was first championed in America by Edward Weston and Ansel Adams in the 1930's. This approach affirms the legitimacy of "straight" photographic seeing and shooting. This method encourages us to discover the most important things about a subject, to then visualize them as simply and directly as possible, then to present them in a photograph as forcefully as possible. Rather than mimic other arts such as drawing and painting, the classic approach emphasizes unmanipulated printing, clear shooting using maximum sharpness, the use of available light, whose images are rich in continuous tone and have great detail.

1) Selection
        Our world is fairly chaotic and the light isn't always right, so the first job is to carefully look at the environment you are photographing. Where is the light? Is the contrast too low or too high? Or does the light transform the ordinary into something beautiful and expressive?

2) Framing the Subject
         Learn to be aware of the edge of the frame, visible in the viewfinder. Think of it as a picture frame that you hang in the world. Is it filled with a coherent, expressive design? Does the essential subject fill the frame? Don't rely on the enlarger to crop the image for you. Robert Capa stated, "If your photographs aren't good enough, its because you are not close enough."

3) Light and Form
          The shape of the object(s) in the frame usually is the photograph's major organizing element. We isolate the form from its surroundings by closing in and by seeing the light. Light shapes the appearance of objects. Light and its absence (shadow) can separate those objects from its surroundings. Light can be a magnet, drawing the viewer into the picture. Usually we make the area of light the focal point of the picture, leaving the edge of the frame a bit darker.

Week by week expectations....

Week 1. Introduction to the course. 2nd class, bring in your camera for a discussion of lenses, aperture, shutter, depth of field, loading film, etc. Shoot your first roll of film.

Assignment 1, Introduction to composition. Concentrate on geometric, built structures. Windows, doorways, edges of buildings, etc. Pay attention to the way light and shadow work on your subject. Move in, fill the frame. Look for angles, reflections, corners, street life, etc. Emphasis here on design and abstraction. How does the frame pull together shapes to create new visual relationships?

By the end of the 2nd week, you should demonstrate to me that you camera is fully functional, you know how to load it, make proper exposures that are perfect, you know how to load and develop film, and we have started our first contact sheet and print.

Weeks 3-4... You have settled into a comfortable shooting routine. You are going out once or twice a week to shoot a roll film. You are seeing the role natural light plays in creating an expressive print. Your skills in printing independently are growing. You begin to take a personal interest in developing a coherent portfolio centered on the strengths of strong seeing and sensitive appreciation of light.

Weeks 5 - 7... You are preparing for the mid-term critique. You are able to articulate your appreciation for the role depth of field, lens choice, focal point and strong design plays in your work.

Week 8 Mid term. Present your best 4 prints for a group discussion. Discuss your successes as well as difficulties.

Weeks 9 - 10  Light and Shadow. Concentrate on finding both projectins of light and shadows the objects you photograph cast.

Weeks 11-12 Water, reflections, moving water, water and rocks, etc.

Weeks 13-14The Portrait. Use natural window light, tight framing, and a longer lens to photograph a freind or loved one in a quiet, truthful session.

Weeks 15-16. Finish up your printing for the final critique. Matt all yor best 12 prints edited down from approximately 20 of your best prints from the semester's work.

Academic Expectations: The grade for this course is based upon the care and attention you bring to your work in this class. The portfolio is the most tangible evidence of your progress and attention. Care about what you are doing, help others in the class to succeed, consult frequently with me about your inspirations and problems and most of all, work hard. Attendance is crucial. A maximum of 3 absences is allowed, with or without a valid excuse. After that your grade will drop. I am asking for your prints to be beautiful, exhibition quality and nuanced works... I need to help you with the subtleties of contrast, burning and dodging, editing and final presentation. Your portfolio needs to be matted with bevel cut mats... there should be close attention paid to perceiving light and finding elegant design. The final portfolio should be edited down to the very best 12 pieces from a pool of 20 excellent prints. Only those who are able to pull off the above criteria will be able to earn an A or a B.

Lab Fee:   A $50 fee is billed to cover the cost of expendable materials you use in class to create your portfolio such as chemicals, paper, film, mat board, print files and darkroom equipment. This fee is now billed directly by AMC.

Accommodations for Special Needs: Please advise the instructor of any special problems or needs at the beginning of the semester. Those students seeking reasonable accommodations based on disabilities should contact Shayna Chomko, Director of the Germain Center and Coordinator of Disability Services, (203) 672-1050 or, to obtain a Faculty Accommodation Letter. Albertus Magnus College complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

In order to respect the independence, rights and dignity of students with disabilities, the College initiates services only after a student makes a voluntary disclosure of a disability to the Office of Academic and Student Disability Services. Students who are approved for accommodations are responsible for approaching instructors in a timely manner to provide faculty accommodation letters and to arrange how accommodations will be implemented. Accommodations cannot be retroactive, so we strongly advise students to make accommodation appointments as soon as possible.

In providing reasonable accommodations, the College shall not fundamentally alter the nature of programs, services, or activities, require a waiver of essential academic standards, or violate accreditation requirements.

Tradition of Honor: As a member of the Albertus Magnus College Community, each student taking this course agrees to uphold the principles of honor set forth by this community, to defend these principles against abuse or misuse and to abide by the regulations of the College. In art work, that means you have taken all of your photographs and have not appropriated any of the images presented as your own.

Tradition of Respect: In our class: 1) Everyone is allowed to feel they can work and learn in a safe and caring environment; 2) Everyone learns about, understands, appreciates, and respects varied races, classes, genders, physical and mental abilities, and sexualities; 3) Everyone matters; 4) All individuals are to be respected and treated with dignity and civility; and 5) Everyone shares the responsibility for making our class, and the College, a positive and better place to live, work, and learn.

Accommodations for Special Needs: Albertus Magnus College is committed to ensuring that all qualified students with disabilities are afforded an equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from its programs and services in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The Office of Disability Services is responsible for the determination of appropriate accommodations for students who encounter barriers due to disability. Contact the Office of Disability Services at or 203-672-6671 to schedule an intake interview and provide documentation. If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, the Office of Disability Services will provide you and your instructor with a Letter of Accommodation. Please discuss the accommodations with your instructors as early in your courses as possible

The Germain Center for Academic Success provides quality tutoring services to all students at Albertus Magnus College. Students can make appointments by booking through Navigate, emailing, or calling 203-773-8590. The Germain Center is open for normal hours during the academic year (Monday-Thursday, 9:00 a.m.- 8:00 p.m.; Friday, 9:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m.; Saturday, 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.) and abbreviated, virtual hours during the winter intersession and mod five. Further, (Online Tutoring 24/7) provides online tutoring for many subjects throughout the year -- even when the Germain Center is closed. Students can access through the link at the top of their eLearning pages. If students have any questions about tutoring, they can email

PGS offices are now located on the first floor of Aquinas Hall.

The Registrar's Office, Financial Aid, Human Resources, and the Business Office are now located in the former PGS suite, now called the Student Administrative Services Suite, found on the ground floor of Aquinas Hall.


 It is the responsibility of the student to officially drop or withdraw from a course.  However, failure to attend a course for 14 calendar days may result in an administrative withdrawal from the course. The policies on course withdrawals and administrative withdrawals may be found online at

Albertus Magnus College adheres to the definition of a credit hour in compliance with, and as defined by, NECHE commission policy.

Prevention of Power-Based Violence Resources 

If you or someone you know is concerned about, have experienced, or currently are experiencing sexual harassment, assault, power-based violence, or stalking, there are many resources available both on and off campus for students to utilize.Click on the link above or here

Suggested Reading:

Schaefer, John P., Basic Techniques of Photography, An Ansel Adams Guide: Little Brown and Company, Boston, 1992

Horenstein, Henry, Beyond Basic Photography, A Technical Manual: Little Brown and Company, Boston, 1977

Craven, George M., Object and Image, An Introduction to Photography. Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1990



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Andrea Brucella photographing on the Dingle Penninsula, west coast of Ireland with the 4x5 field camera as part of the landscape photography course, Irish Journal offered May, 2000

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