ARTS(PH)400 Advanced Color Photography, Jacopo Santini, Spring 2020 | SACI College of Art & Design Florence

ARTS(PH)400 Advanced Color Photography, Jacopo Santini, Spring 2020

The course program will consist in an intensive study of color digital photography techniques and its applications to both traditional photography, digital cameras and digital printing. Utilizing color film (color transparencies and negatives) made from traditional SLR cameras, students will engage in a specially designed series of classes and learn how to apply them using Camera Raw and Photoshop to produce final digital images. Students will create prints (particularly in the second half of the course) by using flatbed scanners, Camera Raw, Photoshop, ink jet printers, as well as specific paper types.

Class emphasis will be both creative and technical, focusing on image correction and adjustments to make the desired print by using Photoshop (and particularly its plug in, ACR, i.e. Adobe Camera Raw - levels, contrast, color balance, color hues, histograms, use of masks). In order to do this, color theory will also be taught. Examination of the creative, fine art and critical aspects of digital image making will also be covered and a special care will be devoted to the concept and analysis of the students’ projects. With regard to the creation of the weekly projects (that will be discussed in class once a week) and of the final project (during the second phase of the course) I will try, as a sort of guide, to help the student, as much and frequently as possible, to take advantage of Firenze (the place names as well as persons’ names should never be altered, so forget “Florence”, it doesn’t exist!) as a context and an issue. My belief is that photographing in Italy and Firenze is challenging. A huge postcard, an old, big déjà vu hides the soul of a town, full of beauty and history, but also of contradictions, troubles and unforeseeable grace. My duty and my pleasure as a teacher and as a photographer will be leading the students behind the “postcard” to unfold what, probably, is still unknown to me.

Since there is no traditional (silver halide) printing in this course, students who will decide to use non digital SLRs will have their film ‘process-only’ by an outside lab and then make their prints utilizing the multimedia lab after scanning the negatives. It is essential to consider that a laboratory needs a minimum of 3 to 7 days to process color films. The students must organize their time in order to complete their assignments by given deadlines.

Students are expected to shoot outside of class time. Class time will be spent mainly for digital imaging, but at least two field trip and visits to exhibitions will take place during the course. Students will work on two main assignments, the first one due before the midterm break, the second as a final project. As for the latter, they will work on one main, self-assigned project to be decided upon with the instructor. The development of the projects will be checked weekly, and, if possible, in the course of individual meetings. The course culminates with the students presenting a final portfolio with 15 printed “final” images.

Students should have at least an intermediate knowledge of SLR cameras (exposure control, film types, etc.). In any case a complete review about the functioning of an SLR or DSLR (either digital and traditional will be analyzed) Students should feel comfortable using computers, but no knowledge of Photoshop or Apple Computers is necessary.


Attendance is mandatory. In case of illness, medical proof is required. An excused absence form has to be requested from the Dean and submitted to the instructor.

For every 2 unexcused absences, the term grade will be lowered by 1/3 of the grade. Two late arrivals are considered the equivalent of one unexcused absence. Students who miss more than 20% of the course owing to unexcused absences, cannot be given a passing grade.


Grading Standards

A- Work that far exceeds the minimum requirements in craftsmanship, presentation, and unity of concept to produce a visual statement of the highest order. Participation in class and in critiques is frequent and insightful.

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

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.

Final Grade
Participation 15%
Midterm critique 35%
Final Critique 50%

Students are expected to be doing work also out of class time.

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.

Field Trips

Periodically field trips may be planned. Scheduling and destinations will be made available as soon as show dates are known. They are serious, and also fun! It is an occasion to see how we all photograph. The instructor will photograph as well as the students, and they can observe the methods used.


It is necessary to have a 35 mm single lens reflex (SLR) or (preferably) digital SLR (DSLR) camera with the possibility of manual controls. Any other camera will be insufficient for the completion of class projects. No point and shoot cameras will be allowed.

Required Materials

- 35 mm camera with manual control settings
- Negative anti static cloth (if using film)
- Digital Printing Paper (to be discussed in class - do not purchase in advance)
- 35mm or medium format clear negative sleeves (if using film)
- External hard drive
- Card reader

Required Reading

The instructor will provide all of the necessary reading material, either as a hard copy or via email as an attachment.

Recommended Reading

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. Note: Many required and recommended texts are available for loan or can be consulted in the SACI Worthington Library.

Henri Cartier Bresson, The Mind's Eye: Writings on Photography and Photographers , Aperture, 1999.
ISBN: 9780893818753 (Retail price: $19.95)

Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida, trans. by Richard Howard, Vintage Books, 1993.
ISBN: 9780099225416 (Retail price: To Be Determined)

Susan Sontag, On Photography, Penguin, 1979.
ISBN: 9780140053975 (Retail price: To Be Determined)

Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Inc., 2003.
ISBN: 9780374248581 (Retail price: $14)

John Berger, About Looking, Vintage International,1991.
ISBN: 9780679736554 (Retail price: $15.95)

John Berger, The Shape of a Pocket, Bloomsbury, 2001.
ISBN: 9780747558101 (Retail price: $16)

John Berger, Another Way of Telling, Vintage, 1995.
ISBN: 978067937247 (Retail price: $21)

Berger, John, Photocopies, Editions de l'Olivier, 1999.
ISBN: 9782879292120 (Retail price: To Be Determined)

Robert Adams, Beauty in Photography: Essays in Defense of Traditional Values , Aperture, 1996.
ISBN: 9780893813680 (Retail price: $16.95)

Geoff Dyer, The Ongoing Moment, Abacus, 2007.
ISBN: 9780500201879 (Retail price: $16.95)

Ian Jeffrey, Photography, a Concise History, Thames and Hudson, 1996.
ISBN: 9780500201879 (Retail price: £8.95)

Georges Perec, Species of Spaces and Other Pieces , Penguin, 2008.
ISBN: 9780141442242 (Retail price: $18)

Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities, trans. by William Weaver, Vintage Books, 1997.
ISBN: 9780099429838 (Retail price: £7.99)

Italo Calvino, Difficult Loves, Mariner Books, 1985.
ISBN: 9780156260558 (Retail price: $14.95)

Suggested DVDs

William Klein, Contacts
Dziga Vertov, The Man with a Movie Camera
Chris Marker, La Jetee / Sans soleil
Zana Brizky, Born into Brothels
Christian Frei – James Nachtwey, War Photographer
Laura Israel – Don’t Blink: Robert Frank
Werner Herzog, Land of Silence and Darkness
Federico Fellini, Amarcord
John Maloof, Finding Vivian Maier
Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger, Restrepo
Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, The Salt of the Earth

Suggested Web Resources
(students will be asked to share with the class and in class their preferences about websites and photographers)

Where To Purchase Photo Materials

Ottica BONGI
Via Por Santa Maria n. 82/r - Tel.: 055 2398972
Tue-Sat 9am–1pm, 3-7pm
Closed on Monday

tel. 055-47098
Viale Strozzi 18 R

For Camera Repairs

PUNTO REFLEX tel. 055-353733
Via Ponte di Mezzo 16 R

Via Luigi Da Palestrina n. 4/A
Tel. 055 359968 – Fax: 055 355776
Web site: - E-mail:

For Computer Repairs

For Computer Repairs (MAC)

Via Fra Giovanni Angelico n. 6/R
Tel. 055 660337 – Fax. 055 667415 (8)

- APPLE FIRENZE – Piazza della Repubblica – 50123 Firenze
- I GIGLI - Via San Quirico, 164, 50013 Campi Bisenzio (FI)


(Please note: This schedule is subject to change.)

Week 1

Tuesday, January 14
Introduction to the course, syllabus, description of the needed materials, check of the students’ photo stuff, orientation and usage of the multi media lab (lab rules and usage of it), visit to Bongi and/or Fontani photo store to buy material if needed. Reading (a gift rather than homework): an excerpt from Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino. It will be your guide during the semester through Italy and Europe

Thursday, January 16
Theory: basic functions and use of a SLR, exposure, exposing modes. Comparison between traditional and digital cameras. If needed we will go over different types and formats of films (negatives and slides). Color theory: the color wheel, blending and mixing (adding/subtracting) color.

Sign up list for the: “Artist Presentation” by a student.
1st assignment, title: “the first impact of the town on you, an impression about its colours and spaces” (at least 10 images, group critique will be held on Thursday, January 23 - Note: compulsory only for beginning students ).
It will be projected in class.

Slide Show
Reminder: bring your cameras
If possible view of Martin Parr's Hot Spots and/or Contacts

Week 2

Tuesday, January 21
Bridge and Adobe Camera Raw (Downloading your images, Bridge options, ACR Basic Panel).
Individual meetings if needed.

Lecture: John Szarkowski’s The Photographer’s Eye
View of an excerpt from The Genius of Photography and analysis of the collective project This Place. Link:

Thursday, January 23
Group critique of 1st assignment. If possible recap of previous lesson.
“Artist Presentation” #1
2nd assignment. Title: “A person in the crowd/Portrait” (at least 10 images, group critique will be held on Thursday, January 30 – Note: compulsory only for beginning students).

It will be projected in class.
Individual meeting if needed. Reading: Handout of the chapter titled The Adventure of a Photographer from Italo Calvino's Difficult Loves.

Humanae , Angélica Daas’s project about the representation of the entire chromatic spectrum of human skin’s colors: humanae-work-in-progress/ and her TED conference: angelica_dass_the_beauty_of_ human_skin_in_every_color

Week 3

Tuesday, January 28
Camera Raw in depth: beyond the basic panel. How to set the white balance. Curves, Color balance, analysis about using layers to enhance and correct specific portions of the image/use of masks or (in ACR) the adjustment brush.

Reading: John Szarkowsky’s introduction to William Eggleston’s exhibition at MoMa

Talking about Colors and their social history: view of Le Ballon Rouge by Albert Lamorisse. Link:

Suggested Movie: The Red Desert by Michelangelo Antonioni (Red), Vertigo by Alfred Hitchcock (Green and Red), Blue by Derek Jarman (Blue, only blue).

Thursday, January 30
Group critique of 2nd assignment.
“Artist Presentation” #2
3rd assignment, title: “Time and space - how the passage of time, during the day, changes a place, its people and our perception of it” or “A story” (at least 10 images group critique will be held on Thursday, February 6 - Note: compulsory only for beginning students).
It will be projected in class.
Reading: The Case of the Colorblind Painter by Oliver Sacks.

Week 4

Tuesday, February 4
Different file formats: tiff, jpeg, psd, raw. Sharpening techniques.
Lecture/Slide Show: History of Color Photography.

George Eastman Museum – The Invention of Color Photography

Thursday, February 6
Critique of 3rd assignment.
“Artist Presentation” #3
Start thinking about the Midterm project (a minimum of 10 printed images and a project proposal). Memento : project proposal due Thursday, February 20.
Reading: Handouts from Georges Perec's Species of Spaces and Other Pieces.

Week 5

Tuesday, February 11
Field Trip (Cascine Park).

Thursday, February 13
Digital Lab: Printing demo / Editing

Week 6

Tuesday, February 18
Technical review.
Digital Lab. Printing.
Individual meeting. Issue: Midterm project. Handout from John Berger's Another Way of Telling. A written statement about the midterm project due by next session.

Thursday, February 20
“Artist Presentation” #4
Editing and sequencing techniques for the midterm portfolio presentation. View of a documentary from the “Contacts” series.

Use of the scanner
Digital Lab. Reminder: bring your project proposals

Week 7

Tuesday, February 25
Editing and printing for the Midterm project (12 prints at least).
“Artist Presentation” #5
Lab Time – Printing – Individual meeting if needed. Introduction of the final assignment (A minimum of 15 printed images and a written statement). Proposal due November 14. Portfolio to be presented in the final two classes. The progress of your work for the final project will be checked weekly)

Thursday, February 27
Midterm Critique (12 prints at least).


Week 8

MIDTERM BREAK (February 29 – March 8)


Week 9

Tuesday, March 10
Presentation of a selection of the instructor's work.
“Artist Presentation” #6
View of a documentary from Contacts.
Download and work time

Thursday, March 12
Work Time
View of an excerpt from The Genius of Photography

Week 10

Tuesday, March 17
Work Time.
“Artist Presentation” #7
Visit to an exhibition (FSM Gallery or others, depending upon their availability).

Thursday, March 19
Proposal Due for Final Project
Field trip (San Salvi, the former mental institution of Florence / or Scandicci, a Florentine outskirt).

Week 11

Tuesday, March 24
“Artist Presentation” #8

Digital Lab.
View of the movie Born into Brothels by Zana Brizky or Salt of the Earth by Wim Wenders.

Thursday, March 26
Start to discuss with individual students their final presentation and portfolio.
Digital Lab

Week 12

Tuesday, March 31
“Artist Presentation” #9
Individual meetings.
Digital Lab.
If possible field trip or visit to an exhibition.

Thursday, April 2
Individual review of the students’ work.
Digital Lab.

Week 13

Tuesday, April 7
In depth digital printing techniques.
“Artist Presentation” #10
Digital Lab.
View of a documentary: Richard Mosse, The Enclave and Heat Map

Thursday, April 9
Individual review of the students’ work.
Printing, Digital Lab.
If possible short field trip to SMN train station area (street photography)

Week 14

Tuesday, April 14
Individual meeting.
“Artist Presentation” #11
Digital lab. Editing and printing for the final critique.

Thursday, April 16
Individual review of the students’ work.
Digital lab. Editing and printing for the final critique.

Week 15

FINAL EXAM WEEK: April 20 – 24

Tuesday, April 21
Final Critique (Presentation of a minimum of 15 printed images and a written statement).

Thursday, April 23
Final Critique (Presentation of a minimum of 15 printed images and a written statement).​



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