Digital Photography

Singapore American School High School – Digital Photography Syllabus

Digital Photography


Instructor Details: Matthew Laurence   Office : H100   Studio: H100G

Phone #: 6363 3404 ext 6528      Email:

Studio Open: After school Monday, Tuesday, Thursday Free Blocks

Lunch and Flex Period Wednesdays

Course Description: Digital Photography

ID: 46519 Grade: 10-12   Length: Semester  Credit: Visual/Performing Arts    Homework: Light

This course will introduce students to the limitless possibilities of image making in the digital age. Students will be expected to learn the fundamental concepts and skills related to digital photography and graphic design. This is a project-based course that will require students to integrate the concepts of art and design into a series of assignments that they will create on the computer using Adobe Photoshop software. Students will also learn to use digital cameras, and scanners as image input devices and laser and color ink jet printers as output devices. Topics will include: digital vs. traditional photography, basic digital image adjustment, advanced digital image manipulation, type and text, composite and photomontage, methods of printing and presentation of digital images. Students will be required to submit prints for exhibition as well as prepare and present a final digital portfolio of their work at the end of the semester.

 Units/Projects: Each Unit/Project will run for approximately 1-3 weeks.


  • Get to know your camera and settings/ fundamentals of a camera

  • Compositional Devices

  • Image organization and filing using Adobe Bridge

  • Image editing using Adobe Camera RAW/ Photoshop

Shutter speed: Controller of motion Project

  • Capturing the image in motion/ frozen in time

Aperture: Controller of Depth of Field Project

  • Shallow depth of field/ Deep depth of field

Compositional Device Project: 9 compositional techniques to organize your photograph

    • Learn to use compositional devices such as: rule-of-thirds, balance, symmetry & pattern, follow the eye, lines, fill the frame, framing, leading lines, point of perspective

    • Develop a theme of your own choice

Composite photography: Combine images in interesting and unusual ways

  • Overlap unrelated images to create new pictures
  • Use blend modes to merge layers
  • Experiment with filters

Portrait Photography: Capture images within a studio and out in the environment

  • Learn basic studio backdrop setup

  • Different studio lighting variations

  • Lead model(s) to complete a studio photo shoot

Student Life Project:

  • Students have the opportunity to create a series of photographs revolving around school life and activities associated with the school

  • Potentially have work published for the school year book

Photoshop editing techniques:

  • Learn from a range of editing techniques in Adobe Photoshop to create various effects to a captured image

Formative vs. Summative Assessment: Formative Assessments takes place in a variety of forms throughout the semester via instructor and peer critique. There is also a digital Journal to be completed as students investigate the concepts of compositional devices, image reference/inspiration, and critical analysis of professional  artwork throughout the semester. This digital journaling work will not comprise of more than 10% of the total grade.

Summative Assessments are the final projects/ works for each unit. These will be assessed using the High School Visual Arts rubric listed below.  These can be found on Powerschool under the Studio work category and will contribute to 75% of the final grade.

At the completion of the semester course work, students will present and showcase a digital portfolio of all of their work through their school blog. This portfolio of work is counted as their final exam for the semester and will contribute to 15% of the final grade.

Required Course Materials: Access to a personal digital camera is strongly suggested, but not mandatory for this course. The Art department has a range of digital cameras for students to borrow, but options are limited and are loaned on a first come first serve basis. Digital cameras that provide options for shutter /aperture control and with a .RAW image capture option is advisable.

Access to the Adobe Suite software programs to include: Photoshop, Camera RAW, and Adobe Bridge (version CS4 or higher) is required use for this class.

General Course Policies: Students are required to adhere to the SAS Core Values which include respect, responsibility, honesty, fairness and compassion.  It is imperative that students feel safe to be innovative and take risks in an environment that remains organized, user friendly and positive.

You are expected to:

  • Be prompt, come prepared to work and to share ideas

  • Respect others, the room, and it’s contents

  • Manage the cleanup of your space and help others do the same

  • Be alert, focused, and use your time wisely

Tech Integration:

Google Docs

  • All documents will be shared via Google Docs

Teacher Website

  • In addition to Google Docs access, additional support material, student examples, and links to art resources can be found on my teacher website:

Google Calendar

  • Studio projects for each unit (Summative Assessments) and Journal assignments (Formative Assessments) will be listed on the class Google calendar the school day that it is assigned. You will also see them posted on Powerschool.  This calendar will be used to help you stay organized and to help me communicate with you regarding deadlines and reminders.


  • FInal exam portfolio presentation via Blogger.

Semester Grade Breakdown:

The Semester Grade will be weighted as follows:

  • 50% Studio Projects

  • 35% Journal Assignments

  • 15% Final Portfolio presentation of all studio work

Absences/ Submission of Late Summative Work:

  • Late work will automatically drop half a letter grade for each day late up to two days. A work that is submitted two days late will result in the drop of a full letter grade. If you are on campus you are responsible for submitting work.

  • Pending assignments due to absence are due upon returning to school.

  • Assignments should be submitted upon arrival to school if class is missed due to late arrival or early dismissal.

  • Please note that this is by day and not by class.

  • Please see or contact me for prolonged absences.

  • If late work is not submitted before exam review days, a NC ( no credit ) will be given and will calculate as a zero on a nine point scale.

Alternative Credit or Mastery Policy:

  • Redos or reworking a studio project will not change the initial grade given; however, reworking or redoing a studio project for the betterment of your portfolio is encouraged and will enhance final grade as part of the final exam.

Academic Dishonesty:

The High School Visual Arts Department will strictly adhere to the Academic Dishonesty policies laid out in the Student Handbook. This includes but is not limited to reference material.  All images used for reference to a Studio project must be an original image.  Images from sites such as Creative Commons, Google can not be used.

Grading: The High School Visual Arts Department assesses work in the following five areas:

  • Creative and Analytical Thinking

  • Manipulation of Material

  • Problem Solving through the Elements and Principles of Art

  • Presentation and Quality

  • Time Management, Process and Work Ethic

These five areas will be assessed in this class in equal parts using the High School grading scale listed below:

Additional Responsibilities:

  • Digital Photography students are required to choose their own work and to assist with the Art Exhibition before, during or after the show.