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Course Materials

Course Introduction

Welcome to Digital Photography. This class will give you a beginning understanding of the digital camera and basic picture editing. The skills you learn in this class will help you to take better pictures for the rest of your life.


This is an introductory course so there aren’t any prerequisite courses that you should have already taken. The course covers topics you’ve undoubtedly heard about to some extent. The content of this course should help you expand your knowledge.Because this is a beginning class you do not need any understanding of photography. Any classes you may have taken prior to this one will help you as you compose pictures.

Learning Outcomes

Once you have successfully completed this class you should be able to do the following:

  1. Understand the history of photography and the development of digital photography.
  2. Develop the skills to use a digital camera to record light.
  3. Use the manual settings of the digital camera to have greater control of your work.
  4. Learn how to use editing software to bring out the best in your pictures.
  5. Explore careers that use photography.

Course Materials

  1. A digital camera. You may not use a cell phone or similar device. A camera with manual settings is best but not required.
  2. The owner’s manual for your camera. If you do not have this you can look it up online.
  3. Digital editing software. I will refer to Photoshop Elements 10 in this class.
  4. A tripod (optional).
  5. An open mind. This is the most important ingredient for this course! You need to be willing to try new things with your camera.

The course material should give you everything you need to be successful in this class. If you want to read further and go into greater depth, there are a number of good books in local bookstores. The Internet is also a great resource when you want to know more.

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Self-Check Questions

Each unit has Self-Check questions. The questions are true-or-false, fill-in-the-blank, or matching questions. The questions are designed to help you see how well you remember what you have learned in the unit. The questions are based on information taught in the unit.

Unit Quizzes

The unit quizzes are designed to see how well you can apply what you have learned throughout the course. The questions are based on information taught in the unit. Each unit quiz has between ten and twenty questions, and combined, unit quizzes are worth twenty percent of your course grade. Units 1-5 each contain a unit quiz.


Each portfolio is worth fifteen percent of your total course grade. Combined, your portfolio submissions make up forty-five percent of your grade. Units 1 and 2 each contain projects that will be turned in as the first portfolio, after Unit 2. Units 3 and 4 each contain projects that will be turned in as the second portfolio, after Unit 4. Units 5 and 6 each contain projects that will be turned in as the third portfolio, after Unit 6.

Each portfolio will need to be submitted online through the course.

I will critique your work and offer suggestions as necessary. It is my hope that you won’t take my criticisms personally. I intend to always be constructive and never destructive with my suggestions.

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Final Exam

The final exam consists of about eighty-five questions. The final exam is worth thirty-five percent of your course grade.

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You will be graded on three things: Unit quizzes, photography portfolios, and the final exam. Unit quizzes are completed at the end of each of unit (except Unit 6). Each quiz will amount to four percent of your grade for a total of twenty percent.

Photography portfolios are completed at the end of each unit, but are turned in as portfolios after units 2, 4, and 6. Each portfolio equates to fifteen percent of your grade for a total of forty-five percent.

The comprehensive final exam has about 85 questions and accounts for the other thirty-five percent of your grade. The following is the grading scale:

Grade Breakdown
Unit Quizzes 20%
Portfolio 1 15%
Portfolio 2 15%
Portfolio 3 15%
Final Exam 35%
Total 100%

Grade Scale

Grade Scale
A 100–94
A- 93–90
B+ 89–87
B 86–84
B- 83–80
C+ 79–77
C 76–74
C- 73–70
D+ 69–67
D 66–64
D- 63–60
E (FAIL) 59 or below

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Course Organization

The course consists of six units and a final exam. What follows is a brief overview of each unit:

Unit 1: Introduction to Photography

This unit will give you an introduction to the history and development of the tools of photography and the people who brought it to the important art form and tool. You will first explore the history of photography by researching important developments and placing them in the correct order on a timeline. The second part of the unit will help you to identify influential photographers and their contribution to photography. The final lesson of this unit will familiarize you with photographic terms that will be used as you complete this introductory course.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Identify the major photographic discoveries and changes in photography throughout history.
  2. Identify some of the influential photographers and their contributions throughout the brief history of photography.
  3. Define basic photography terms.

Unit 2: Equipment—Digital Camera Basics

This unit will discuss digital cameras. You will want to pay particular attention to information about the type of camera you will be using to complete your class assignments.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Explain the function of various parts of digital cameras: body, viewer, lens, shutter, aperture, and picture data storage.
  2. Use shutter speed together with aperture to achieve desired degree of motion and desired depth of field in your photograph.
  3. Identify the basic types of cameras, and list the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Unit 3: Composition Basics

The way you compose a picture when you take it will determine if you have a snapshot or a photograph. Everyone sees snapshots of vacations and other activities. Your goal is to create memorable photographs that will remain in the mind of the viewer. To do this you must understand some basic rules of composition.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Decide what type of photograph you will take based on content and purpose.
  2. Describe the rule of thirds and other rules of composition.
  3. Describe the basic elements of design and their application in photography.
  4. Describe the basic principles of design and their application in photography.
  5. Know how and why to choose a focal length for each photograph you take.

Unit 4: Technique—Digital Black and White

You will learn about the effect light has on the sensors of a digital camera and how to select the correct ISO setting for a picture. The correct use of natural and artificial light will be explained. Methods to upload pictures to editing software and the use of tags will be explored.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Explain the effect light has on the sensors of a digital camera. Choose the best ISO setting based on available light, flash, and equipment.
  2. Explain the appropriate use of natural and artificial light in photography.
  3. Describe the process used to upload pictures to your editing software and set up tags for use with your pictures.
  4. Tag your images and troubleshoot and delete all poor quality images.

Unit 5: Evaluation—Introduction to Editing

You will need to have access to a computer with photograph editing software to complete the assignments for the rest of the course. You will also need a digital camera. The outcomes for this unit are as follows:

Learning Outcomes

  1. Use various tags to organize your pictures.
  2. Edit and improve your images by using zoom, crop, levels, contrast, and brightness.
  3. Save your pictures in a version set.
  4. Edit and improve your images by using marquee, lassos, magic wand, clone stamp, spot healing brush, and fixing camera distortion.

Unit 6: Careers in Photography

This unit will give you the opportunity to explore different careers in photography. You will be asked to compile information about three different careers in the field of photography. After collecting information about these three careers, you will write a two-page paper about one of the careers.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Use investigative skills to research three careers in the field of photography.
  2. Create reviews of careers researched to gain insight into possible professional pursuits.

Copyright Notice

The materials used in connection with this online course are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated. Any copying or further dissemination of these materials may be subject to applicable U.S. Copyright Laws. For questions or more information, please visit the BYU Copyright Licensing Office website.

“Members of the BYU community who willfully disregard this Copyright Policy or the BYU Copyright Guidelines place themselves individually at risk of legal action and may incur personal liability for their conduct. The unauthorized use or distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject individuals to civil and criminal liabilities, including actual and statutory damages, costs and fees of litigation, fines, and imprisonment

Violations of the Copyright Policy may result in university disciplinary action including termination of university enrollment or employment.” (Emphasis added. Excerpt taken from the BYU Copyright Policy)

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Accessibility Notice

BYU is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which reasonably accommodates persons with disabilities who are otherwise qualified to participate in BYU's programs and activities. In this spirit, BYU Independent Study aspires to improve web accessibility for users. While not required by law, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Levels A and AA provide a wide range of helpful recommendations to make Web content more accessible. BYU Independent Study strives to apply WCAG 2.0 recommendations where feasible, but may deviate from any recommendations that would result in an undue hardship to BYU Independent Study or alterations to program and course content and objectives. If you have questions about accessibility, or if you need to report problems with any accessibility features please see our Accessibilities and Accommodations Web Page.

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Course Policies

These policies are specific to this course. For additional information about general policies, please refer to Independent Study Course Policies page.


Summary: 5 computer-graded unit quizzes, 3 portfolio compilations, may be resubmitted once for a fee

Final Exam

Summary: 1 proctored, computer-graded final exam, may retake once for a fee, must pass to earn credit for the course

You must pass the final exam with a score of sixty percent or higher in order to pass this course. If you fail the final exam, you may retake the exam once for a fee. If you need to retake an exam, contact the Independent Study office. 


It is important that you understand that plagiarism is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in this course. Plagiarism is claiming someone else’s work as your own. If you quote work from another author either directly or through paraphrasing, you must cite your source both in the text as well as in a bibliography page. Remember, if you quote someone directly, you must use quotation marks around the text. BYU Independent Study has provided you with definitions of plagiarism along with a website to check your work for plagiarism. If you plagiarize any part of a unit, appropriate action will be taken which may include the following: rescinding the grade for the unit, failing the course, or being prohibited from retaking the course. Please take this information to heart and do your own work. To check your work before you submit it, use the website

Course Duration

You have 1 year to complete this course. You may purchase one 3-month extension if you need more than a year to complete this course. 

University Policy - Title IX Statement

Preventing & Responding to Sexual Misconduct

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Brigham Young University prohibits unlawful sex discrimination against any participant in its education programs or activities. The university also prohibits sexual harassment—including sexual violence—committed by or against students, university employees, and visitors to campus. As outlined in university policy, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are considered forms of "Sexual Misconduct" prohibited by the university.

University policy requires all university employees in a teaching, managerial, or supervisory role to report all incidents of Sexual Misconduct that come to their attention in any way, including but not limited to face-to-face conversations, a written class assignment or paper, class discussion, email, text, or social media post. Incidents of Sexual Misconduct should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator at or (801) 422-8692. Reports may also be submitted through EthicsPoint at or 1-888-238-1062 (24-hours a day).

BYU offers confidential resources for those affected by Sexual Misconduct, including the university’s Victim Advocate, as well as a number of non-confidential resources and services that may be helpful. Additional information about Title IX, the university’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, reporting requirements, and resources can be found at or by contacting the university’s Title IX Coordinator.