ARTS241 Beginning Black & White Photography, Romeo Di Loreto, Fall 2019 | SACI College of Art & Design Florence

ARTS241 Beginning Black & White Photography, Romeo Di Loreto, Fall 2019

PHOTOGRAPH > noun a permanent record of an image that has been produced on photosensitive film or paper by the process of photography.
> Verb (photographed, Photographing) tra & intr to take a photograph of (a person, thing, etc.).

PHOTOGRAPHY > noun the process of making a permanent record of an image on light-sensitive film or some other sensitized material using visible light, X-ray or some other form of radiant energy.

PHOTOGRAPHIC > adj (1) relating to or similar to photographs or photography. (2) Said of memory: retaining images in exact detail. Photographically adverb.

Photography is one of the most exciting forms of image making. Invented in the 1820’s to 1840’s, it still remains a mystery for whomever uses it. For me it is still magic. Mistakes can easily become tools for beautiful image making. Photography’s weakness can even be its greatest strength; one can discover this very early or it can take years and years. Making photographs means making thousands of decisions almost instantly. To bring all the technical limitations and the artistic possibilities together into a single, well-seen and rendered photograph. A picture which conveys information and emotion is a juggling act that requires years of training to master.

What do I mean “to master”?

Simply not to think about what you are doing, but to respond instantly. It means to work intuitively, with feeling rather than with intellect. (I did not say intelligence.) Thinking about your photography is important, especially during the learning stages, but as you progress you will find you are doing less and less “thinking” and more and more responding.

A guitarist does not think of the individual notes, but is feeling the music. The hands and fingers are responding to the music. It is a physical, emotional and feeling activity. Should the artist “think” about what he or she is doing, mistakes flood in, the musician stumbles, misses notes and music fails. The same thing happens when we make photographs. We are musicians. Our instruments are the cameras and shutters, lenses and apertures, the film we select, the chemistry we use to bring out the nuances of light and shadow in our negatives and prints. Eventually you will be able to work without thinking, you will work intuitively.

Learning to work intuitively will take time. Within the first year, you will have found you have mastered many of the technical elements of photography and no longer have to think about them. This class is meant to help you along that path of mastery. However, the path is a long one, and in that there is joy. Learning is more important than arriving, the voyage more wonderful than the destination. Most successful artists and photographers will tell you it will take ten years for you to master all the elements and to begin to make your own statement. This may be frustrating news for the novice, but take heart. Photography is fun almost every step of the way. There will be periods of pain, disappointment, frustration, depression and even anger as you struggle to learn all the elements. Do not be discouraged, be overjoyed that you have ten great years to look forward to, to grow in, to experiment, to learn and to develop. It is a magical time, so use it wisely. Learn each of the steps well, and then proceed to the next. Do not rush. There are no short cuts, no quick solutions, no secrets, other than to work very hard.

PLEASE CHASE THE WIND… MOREOVER, I HOPE YOU NEVER CATCH IT!
BE A CHILD, ENJOY, INVESTIGATE, BE CURIOUS, QUESTION NOT ONLY WHAT YOU HEAR BUT ALSO WHAT YOU SEE ……… JUST DO NOT QUESTION WHAT YOU FEEL.

Course Content & Objectives

This course is designed to teach the fundamental skills and basic techniques in black and white photography. Special emphasis will be placed upon aesthetic and visual concerns as well as craftsmanship. The course will base itself on a basic understanding and operation of the camera, the lens, the shutter, film types, film exposure, film development, the negative, making the print, toning, and the final touches (re-touching, presentation). This information will be covered in more depth and complexity at the intermediate level.

I try to structure my class so that it becomes a sort of studio, with demonstrations and hands–on experience. Through my personal and teaching experience, I have come to the conclusion that certain things are taught much more sufficiently by watching and doing, rather than talking and doing.

You are required to keep a journal. I suggest you keep two! One as a technical notebook where you write class notes and keep all hand–outs, assignments, contact sheets and darkroom data (this notebook can be a binder). The second notebook is your creative journal. Be as creative as possible! Draw in it, paste and glue things in it, record data and feelings. I always make double contact sheets. One I put in my negative archive, the second I use to cut out the images that I feel are strong and glue them into my journal, where I write my ideas, quotes, re–write a poem or write a poem.

There will be a series of slide presentations to give you an idea of the history of photography and a sense of visual aesthetics.

We will go on several field trips: Giardino di Boboli, Museo Zoologico (La Specola), if possible, the Alinari Archive, and to any contemporary photography and art-related exhibition.

Attendance

This includes participation/full participation.
Attendance and promptness are mandatory. Two absences will result in one grade less. Chronic lateness will result in same (2 lates = 1 absence). Assignments must be turned in the day requested. No exceptions.

Grading

This class is designed to teach the fundamental skills in photography. Each assignment requires a certain skill level, presentation and thought. This is university level.

Students can achieve a passing grade by completing the assignments, having good attendance, and participating in class and during critiques.

Standards: Depending on your school, + or - grades can or cannot be given.

A = Work that far exceeds the minimum requirements in craftsmanship, presentation, and visual/intellectual order. Your concepts, ideas, and insightful participation in class and in critiques have to be of high level to obtain this grade.

B = above average work that far exceeds the minimum requirements. Skillful handling of the materials with good concepts, showing initiative in critiques and in class.

C = Average work completion with only adequate control of the materials. Minimum class and critique participation.

D = Failure to complete assignments resulting from a minimum amount of effort, poor execution, and sloppy craftsmanship in the handling of the materials with little or no class participation.

F = Little or no effort with consideration to the assignments. No participation in class or critiques.

Grading System:
Midterm -
(completion of assignments, punctuality/attendance, quiz grades, journals): 40% of the grade.
Final -
(final presentation and project, and punctuality/attendance): 60% of the grade.

Graduate Students
Students in MFA, MA, and Post-Bac programs are expected to complete additional assignments and to produce work at a level appropriate for students in a graduate program. They are graded accordingly and, if they successfully complete all course requirements for graduate students, receive graduate-level credit for the course.

Required Materials

  • 35 mm or Medium or Large Format (must be manual) - macchina fotografica
  • 50 mm or equivalent lens - obiettivo
  • 20 + rolls of 35mm B/W film (Suggested film Kodak Tri-X 400 A.S.A) – Pellicola
    (I suggest all students purchase film here, due to risk of airport x-ray fogging and suggestions of diverse film from professor. This will be taught during the term.)
  • 18x24 variable contrast / resin – coated photographic paper pearl finish (carta politenata / perla 18x24)
  • 24x30 variable contrast / resin – coated photographic paper pearl finish (carta politenata / perla 24x30)
    (More advanced students may use Fiber based paper)
  • 35mm or other format clear plastic negative sleeves - porta negativi
  • Binder to keep all negatives and contact sheets - quaderno per porta negative
    (It is a good suggestion to buy the last two items in North America or country of origin, this will allow for a consistent system of archiving your negatives.)
  • Ilford anti–static cloth - panno anti–statico
  • Towel - asciugamano
  • Apron - grembiule
  • Scissors - forbici
  • Rubber gloves (optional) - guanti di gomma

Where to Purchase Photo Materials

  1. Bongi Ottica (they give a student discount)
    Via Por Santa Maria, 82/r Firenze
    Tel: 055-2398811
  2. Ottica Fontani
    Viale F. Strozzi, 18-20a
    Tel: 055–470981
  3. Toscana Foto Service / Internet Mail Order Service. www.toscanafotoservice.it
  4. Internet Ordering: These websites are excellent for finding photo materials required by MFA students. You can also find good pre-cut or custom cut archival matt board (with sufficient notice) at Fotomatica at very good prices!
    www.fotomatica.it
    www.ilfotoamatore.it
    www.tuttofoto.com

For Camera Repairs

  1. Ask Romeo
  2. Bongi Ottica
    Via Por Santa Maria, 82/r Firenze
    Tel: 055 2398811
  3. TECIAS (for digital equipment and some analog)
    Viale Corsica, 39AB
    Tel. 055 359968
    Web site: www.tecias.it - E-mail: info@tecias.it

For Computer Repairs (MAC)

  1. Juice Apple Premium
    Via Fra Giovanni Angelico, n.6/R
    Tel. 055 660337
    www.juice.it/firenze
  2. Apple Firenze
    Piazza della Repubblica,
  3. Apple I Gigli
    Via San Quirico, 164, Campi Bisenzio (FI)

Textbook

In compliance with the Higher Education Opportunity Act Textbook Provision, SACI provides, when possible, the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) and retail price of required and recommended reading. 

Black and White Photography: A Basic Manual , Henry Horenstein
ISBN: 9780316373050 (Retail price: $28)

Other written research information will be assigned on a class to class basis.

Course Goals

1. To learn basic B&W photographic skills
2. To develop individual artistic expression
3. To develop skills in discussion of photographic work
4. To have fun

A basic black-and-white photography course designed for those with no experience in photography. Emphasis is placed on the application of technique in terms of personal expression, through the selection and composition of subject matter. Class size is limited, providing for a greater degree of individual critique and classroom participation. The course comprises technical lectures, darkroom demonstrations, slide lectures on historical and contemporary work as well as class critiques. Each student must have a camera with manually adjustable aperture and shutter speeds.

Six hours of obligatory class work are done weekly in addition to shooting and extra open lab time that is expected to be used to finish projects at a university level. Darkroom schedules and lab time cannot be changed, due to other classes that may need the laboratories. Upon completion of the course, a student can expect to have a thorough understanding of the basics of black-and-white photography

Assignments are designed to help explore options for technical control as well as visual experimentation. Keeping in mind the inseparability of photographic technique and expression, students will be expected to articulate their particular choices in relation to the overall conceptual approach of the projects.

General Safety & Emergency Instructions

Click here for a pdf of SACI's General Safety & Emergency instructions.

Additional Safety Information

First-Aid Kit in the Photography Darkroom
In the darkroom upstairs, next to the entrance, is a green first-aid kit for eye injuries. It contains a solution for application to the eyes, eye patches, a plastic container, and scissors.

Schedule

(Please note: The following schedule is subject to change.)

Week 1

Tuesday September 10
Introduction to course.
Visit Photo store to buy all material for class.
SUGGESTION! GET A LOCKER TO STORE YOUR MATERIALS.

 

Thursday, September 12
The camera and the lens: How they function.
Test of light meter, aperture and speed (reminder: Bring camera and manuals if you have them).

Assign Project #1 (expose at least two rolls of film). One of the rolls must be made at SACI (example, the gardens) – yes, the entire roll and this is the only requirement! Use your creativity, you are individuals and you all have a personal language.
Photograph – Sensations, feelings and fears…notes of the new! I would like to see you use the camera and film like a notebook. Transmit your state of mind. Observe the blindingly obvious!
Is a photograph a window or a mirror?

** Read chapter #1 "In Plato’s Cave" of Susan Sontag’s On Photography** and write a short description of your thoughts, a personal opinion would be appreciated. I would like it typed, short and anonymous.
Due September 19.

Week 2

Tuesday, September 17
Film development (reminder: Bring one exposed film and negative sleeves).

Lecture and demo on film development (break any bad habits).

 

Thursday, September 19
Contact Sheets (reminder: Bring developed film, 24x30 cm paper and 18x24 cm paper).

*** Hand in reading assignment, paragraph on Susan Sontag ***
If we have time we will have a quick overview on the use of aperture and shutter speed for creative use, the importance of selective focus. The camera as a television screen.
OR
Slide shows on a variety of photographic artists.

Week 3

Tuesday, September 25
Printing: Demo and explanation on use of contrast filters and burning and dodging.

(Reminder: Bring developed negatives and 18 x 24 cm paper).
** THE MORE PROCESSED NEGATIVES YOU HAVE THE BETTER IT IS **
Printing demo in trays and in the processing machine.
Perhaps a demo by teaching assistant! On tray processing of paper.
Assign reading.

 

Thursday, September 26
Hand in first assignment, contact sheets in an envelope with name, class and first selections.

Slide show (The Landscape and Nature).
Assign assignment #2 “The Urban or Natural landscape could include Natural Form”
Due October 15.
I would like a minimum of 6 images.

Week 4

Tuesday, October 1
Negative evaluation, what a negative should look like, how they should be interpreted.

Review on aperture and speed controls and film development in theory.

Demo: Contrast control. Flashing of the photographic paper and Farmers Reducer.

Free printing time for assignment #2.

 

Thursday, October 3
Field Trip to Boboli Gardens.
Bring lots of film.
Lesson on the hand-held light meter.

Week 5

Tuesday, October 8
Printing and processing film from field trip, printing is suggested.
Assign reading.

 

Thursday, October 10
Light and how it can fool the camera - white subjects, dark subjects, skin tones and back lighting. Pushing and pulling.
If we have time, review of work completed.
**Perhaps: Visit to exhibition**
Printing (Reminder: critique next class.)

Week 6

Tuesday, October 15
Critique of assignment #2 (6 images or more).

 

Thursday, October 17
Slide show (people, portraiture, self-portrait and the human form).

Assign assignment #3 “The Portrait or the Human Form” (6 images or more). Due November 19.
Contact and non-contact: The psychological impact and the power of the camera.

Requirements:
1. At least one image must be of someone in our class or a self-portrait.
2. One of the portraits must be manipulated during or after printing.
or must be taken or stolen from any source you wish (example: magazines, films, internet).

Week 7

Tuesday, October 22
Field Trip: The MNAF – The Alinari Photography Museum (if they re-open) or another exhibition in Florence if possible!

Assign reading and written project on the found portrait.

 

Thursday, October 24
MIDTERM EXAM
Lecture on how image syntax can change with papers, developers and different photographic techniques and even size. Lecture will include demonstrations.

** If the lecture finishes early, you have printing time to practice what we discussed**

REMINDER: A PERSONAL INVESTIGATION PROJECT WILL BE ASSIGNED ON NOVEMBER 14.
THINK ABOUT IT, THERE IS A MINUMUM OF 12 IMAGES.

   

Week 8

MIDTERM BREAK (October 26 – November 3)

   

Week 9

Tuesday, November 5
I will show my work and discuss my philosophy as a photographer. If we have time, open darkroom lab.

 

Thursday, November 7
Free Printing time.
Take up midterm tests.

Week 10

Tuesday, November 12
Free printing and processing time.

 

Thursday, November 14
Assign assignment #5 “A Personal Investigation.” Start thinking about it! Requirement: A written project proposal, and individual meetings with Romeo. I would like the written proposal ASAP. Printing for assignment #3 REMINDER! CRITIQUE NEXT CLASS.

Week 11

Tuesday, November 19
Critique of assignment #3 (6 images).

 

Thursday, November 21
Slide show on indoor photographs or Projection of a DVD called “Contacts” Printing.

Week 12

Tuesday, November 26
Presentation and demo on mounting and matting.
Where to buy boards.
Demo on Spot Toning or printing.

*** Perhaps visit to exhibition ***

Assign reading.
Reminder of assignment #4 Final Project “A Personal investigation.”
I would like the project proposals today!

 

Thursday, November 28
DEMO AND LECTURE.
CONTINUOUS TONED LITH FILM (MACRO FILM) FOR INTER NEGATIVES OR FOR LIGHT BOXES.
Printing Individual meetings with Romeo.

Week 13

Tuesday, December 3
Printing for final project.
Sign-up sheet will be posted for the final critiques.

 

Thursday, December 5
Demo on how to make reproductions of your work for galleries and portfolios.
PLEASE BRING A FEW PRINTS FROM YOUR FINAL PROJECT SO I CAN MAKE REPRODUCTIONS. Printing for final project.

Week 14

Tuesday, December 10
WORK ON FINAL CRITIQUE!

 

Thursday, December 12
WORK ON FINAL CRITIQUE!

(FINAL EXAM WEEK: December 16 to December 20)

Week 15

Tuesday December 17 and Thursday December 19

FINAL CRITIQUE (12 images and a written paragraph of the presentation).
I may keep your work until the end of the week, so I can make reproductions for SACI documentation purposes.
All students must be present at both final critiques.

A sign-up sheet will be posted for the final critiques on December 3.

Students have the option of signing up to have the final critique on Tuesday December 17 or Thursday December 19, depending on the progress of the final project.

THERE ARE NO EXCUSES FOR MISSING A FINAL CRITIQUE! YOU ARE TO ATTEND BOTH CLASSES DECEMBER 18 AND DECEMBER 20. STUDENTS CANNOT BOOK EARLY FLIGHTS OR MISS THEIR SCHEDUALED CRITIQUE ORDER. THIS IS A FINAL EXAM, AND IT IS CONDUCTED IN GROUP (CLASS) FORM NOT INDIVIDUALLY.

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