DGMD E-10: Exposing Digital Photography

Fall 2014

Instructor: Dan Armendariz
Teaching Fellow: Shelley Westover
Harvard Extension School

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Questions? Email the staff at staff@dme10.org or tweet us at @expodigiphoto.

Course Information

Welcome to Digital Media E-10: Exposing Digital Photography, offered Fall 2014 at Harvard University's Extension School.


This course explores the artistic aspects, scientific foundations, and techniques of digital photography with the goals of enabling students to expand their knowledge of photography as an art form, to develop a deeper and broader understanding of the scientific basis of photography, to improve their photographic technique, and to effectively use photographic software tools. Although the primary focus is on digital photography, many concepts apply to other photographic disciplines including film and video. Topics include quality of light, exposure control, depth of field, aesthetics, composition and patterns, perspective, color science, the human visual system, spatial and color perception, exposure, metering, digital sensors, optics, analogies to biological systems, color filter arrays, file formats, sensor linearity, color spaces and profiles, optical and computational image artifacts, and software tools and techniques for modification and enhancement. Through lectures, hands-on assignments, and critiques, students expand their understanding of digital photography while exploring their creativity to broaden the possibilities and improve the quality of their photographs. Upon successful completion of the course, students can expect to take photographs with an intuition of the camera's behavior, and its limitations, and an ability to think critically about light and the resulting appearance of a photograph.

Students should have access to a camera with a manual mode and an option for RAW for the duration of the course.

Grading Criteria (with approximate weightings)

Here is the percentage break-down of what will be covered in this course. More details will be posted as the class gets underway. As always, we may make adjustments to this scale if necessary.

Problem Sets: 20% (five assignments at 4% each)
Projects: 40% (four projects at 10% each)
Final project: 25%
Critique Participation: 15%
Total: 100%



Office Hours

Online and in-person office hours are scheduled by appointment; we encourage you to contact us if you would like to schedule a meeting or if you would like to chat!

Tentative Lectures and Due Dates

All assignments (except the final project) are due at 11:59 PM on the listed due date.

Date Lecture Assignment due
September 3 Welcome!
10 Software Tools & Light
17 Exposure Problem Set 1
24 Exposure (continued) Project 1
October 1 Optics Problem Set 2
8 Histogram Project 2
15 Software Tools (continued) Problem Set 3
22 Digital Cameras Project 3
29 Digital Cameras (continued) Problem Set 4
November 5 Color and Artifacts Project 4
12 From Stills to Video Problem Set 5
19 Expanding Your Photography Final project proposal
26 No lecture (Thanksgiving)
December 3 Movie night
10 No lecture (final project work)
17 Final Project Exhibition Final project (due at 12:00 PM, noon)

Note: all listed dates subject to change.

Recommended Books


Four projects and a final project based on creating photographs will be assigned. Each project is due by 11:59 PM on the Wednesday listed and, unless otherwise noted, each will be released two lectures prior to its due date.

"Keep an I[SO] Out" due September 24
"Great (Focal) Lengths" due October 8
"Frames of Mind" due October 22
"Raw Material" due November 5

Final Project

A larger final project will be due at the end of the semester in addition to the four projects above. The project requires a proposal to be submitted after the specifications are released, and you should be sure to get approval on your proposal before working on the project. The final project will not be accepted if a proposal for it is not approved.

Specifications released November 5
Proposals due 11:59 PM November 19
Final project due 12:00 PM (noon) on December 17

Though every assignment is normally due at 11:59 PM on its due date, the final project itself is due at 12:00 PM (noon)!

Note: all listed dates subject to change.

Problem Sets

Five problem sets comprising theory-based questions will be assigned during the semester. Each problem set is due at 11:59 PM on the Wednesday listed and, unless otherwise noted, each will be released two lectures prior to its due date.

Problem Set 1 due September 17
Problem Set 2 due October 1
Problem Set 3 due October 15
Problem Set 4 due October 29
Problem Set 5 due November 12

Note: all listed dates subject to change.


This course includes in-class critiques. These critiques offer opportunity to showcase ongoing work and receive constructive feedback on it while exchanging ideas and foster conversation among everyone in the course. More details on requirements for the critique forthcoming.