Advanced Digital Arts VSAR 440

Advanced Digital Arts: VSAR 440
SIGN WAIVERS for the semester
Deborah Small
Office Hours Tuesday 2:30-5:00, and by appointment
Deborah’s Ethnobotany blog
TA Jerry Slough
TA Julius Williams

Equipment Check-out: Chad Huggins and Albert Rascon
You may only check out equipment during the posted hours. Checkout hours are posted on the door to Arts 239.
Chad Huggins
Instructional Support Technician III
PH: (760) 750-8052
Fax: (760) 750-3090

Use your own hi-end digital cameras and tripods or check out our Canon cameras from ARTS 239. You can reserve the equipment online.

Required texts:
Online subscription to access to 5 software programs for the class
$10/month for 2 months: total = $20

ALWAYS back-up your work. Buy an external hard drive or check out an external hard drive for the semester from check-out.

Lab Access
Arts 239 is open so you can do your homework assignments. Hours are posted on the door. Labs are open 24/7, except when a class is in session. Please never let anyone in if you don’t recognize them. All software is also available on computers in the library on the 2nd floor.

Course Description:
This semester, the Advanced Digital Arts class will explore our San Diego ecosystems, environment, and landscapes and the astounding diversity and uniqueness or our region. 
San Diego County has more native species of plants and animals, and more species at risk, than any other county in the continental United States. San Diego’s coastline of coastal sage scrub is one of the biologically richest—as well as one of the most threatened—habitats in the world.

In southern California, it is not only the least Bell’s vireo and California gnatcatcher birds that are endangered. Equally endangered is our understanding of the rich and complex indigenous history of our region, as well as our relationship to our surroundings, our contact and intimacy with California native plants and species other than our own.

To help to transform this perhaps estranged relationship with our region, will will take several field trips during class time to explore our local landscapes: Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve in Harmony Grove, Double Peaks of Twin Oaks Valley Road, Daley Ranch in Escondido, San Diego Botanic Gardens in Encinitas. In the Spring we may venture further to explore the San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve, one of the largest remaining coastal wetlands in San Diego County, the Santa Rosa Ecological Reserve in Murrieta, home of the endangered Englemann Oaks as well as unique and endangered ecosystems, including vernal pools. We’ll use our cameras and equipment to explore our relationship to these environments and to create compelling landscape and environmental portraits while exploring macro, panorama, and HDR (high dynamic range) photographic techniques and the use of tripods, diffusers, reflectors.

Course Approach: This course will provide you with an in-depth examination of how the creation of art using digital tools can be a means to discover and develop your ideas about the world and to extend the power, clarity, and range of yourvoice and vision. You will engage in serious critical inquiry as well as hands-on experimentation and investigation with digital technologies, including SLR cameras and cutting-edge software for editing and enhancing your images. You will develop skills by learning advanced techniques in Photoshop, including HDR imaging and the use and creation of multiple exposures in Camera Raw, formal and informal lighting techniques outdoors and in the studio, advanced uses of layer masks and blending modes, and the use of smart objects, among other techniques.

We also will explore the work of contemporary digital artists and photographers and their documentary and experimental uses of digital media. In addition, you will be attending a photographic exhibition at a local museum. The class is conducted as a workshop: all students must participate actively and consistently. Part of the class will be devoted to the work of contemporary photographers, and to the development and discussion of your projects.

Student Learning Outcomes A
1. Learn the language
Software: We will focus on Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop CC, and Color Efex Pro software (as a short-term free download) for editing and enhancing your images. You will learn the software through classroom lectures and use of the online tutorials at Learning will take place via classroom lectures, demonstrations, online tutorials at, and discussions and critiques of the projects that you will complete for the class.

Digital cameras: In this class, you continue to use DSLR cameras and various lenses, focusing on understanding the controls on your camera to effectively manipulate the exposure triangle: aperture/depth of field, shutter speed, and ISO, to create compelling images. 

PrintingThis class require that you print several of your images at an inexpensive commercial printer such as Costco.

Contemporary Artists: Through classroom lectures, discussion, screenings, and web research, we will explore contemporary landscape photographers and environmental portrait photographers, as well as artists who do artwork about the land and environment. By viewing and discussing a broad range of artistic practices, you will learn how art making is a means to discover and develop your ideas about the world and to extend the power, clarity, and range of your voice and vision.

You will blog about 3 online landscape photographers who will inspire your final project. Each of the three blog posts will be @ 250 words, or the equivalent of one page. You will also write a one page post about your museum visit, focusing on one photographer whose work is compelling to you.  You will research and study their work, and then write on your blog about the work in relation to your own: what inspires you about the photographer’s work, how has their work has influenced your way of seeing and photographing the world, etc.

Student Learning Outcomes B
Using the Language/Creating Artwork: For the class, you will complete the following projects:
1. BlogsiteYou will create a blog at for all thoughts, ideas, research, and images.

2. Prints: triptych and grid

3. Final PDF slideshow with your strongest photographs: Landscape Photographs, HDR, Panoramas, Environmental Portraits, and Studio Portraits, can be included

4. Final Book Project which will include a substantial amount of writing/poetry/reflection about your relationship to the images you have produced.

Part of your final evaluation will focus on your ability to respond thoughtfully to other students’ artwork and to work collaboratively with each other. It is essential that you attend class regularly. Two unexcused absences will result in lowering your final grade. ALL FIELDTRIPS SCHEDULED DURING CLASS TIME ARE MANDATORY

30Photography Blog
10% Prints: Triptych, Grid
15% Final Portrait/Landscape Slideshow
30% Final Book Project
15Class Participation and Collaboration

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