Teaching for the Future: Digital Photography

By Nikirk, Martin | School Arts, January 1996 | Go to article overview

Teaching for the Future: Digital Photography


Nikirk, Martin, School Arts


One of the many new technologies in the visual arts field is digital photography. It's used in the advertising, publishing, printing and television industries. To keep current in the visual arts profession, the art teacher will need to have an understanding and practical knowledge of digital photography. This is a technology that students enjoy using; it is one that they want to learn and will apply to their daily work.

Traditional Film Photography

Traditional print photography uses a camera that requires light-sensitive film. Black-and-white film and color film are processed into negatives through specific chemicals that require temperature and environmental control. The negatives are printed onto paper.

Although many high school programs regularly produce black-and-white prints, few schools have the equipment, laboratory facilities or technical capabilities to process color film. Traditionally taken photographs for school projects may be enlarged or reduced either in the darkroom with an enlarger or electronically with a scanner attached to a personal computer.

Digital Film Photography

Digital film photography requires a digital camera which has a charged coupled device (CCD). A CCD is a computer chip containing photosensitive cells that generate voltage when struck by light. With a digital camera, a photograph may be taken in one of several resolutions such as 8-bit or 24-bit; 8-bit yields 256 grays or colors while 24-bit yields more than 16 million colors. The images are "saved" in the digital camera's specialized memory known as "flash memory." Flash memory should not be confused with the electronic flash device; these are entirely separate issues.

In our classroom, Apple QuickTake 100 cameras are used by students. For our work, 24-bit resolution is used. Most new Macintosh computers will display 8-bit and 16bit images on the screen; however, an additional graphics card, a device plugged into your computer, is generally required to display 24-bit images.

Once photographs are taken, the camera is cabled to a computer where QuickTake software is loaded. The photographs or images are transferred by software command electronically to the computer. QuickTake software permits resizing of the photographs.

In addition to QuickTake software, the images may be edited with software such as Adobe Photo shop or Kodak PhotoFlash. After editing, images may be placed electronically into a variety of documents such as cards, brochures, newsletters and newspapers.

Students plan project layouts on paper. Finished layouts are then designed using a Macintosh computer with desktop publishing software. Desktop publishing software, such as QuarkXPress, PageMaker or Ready-Set-Go, is ideal for projects. Our students prefer using QuarkXPress and ReadySet-Go.

The completed page layouts are printed on an output device such as an Apple LaserWriter or Tektronix Color Phaser Printer. If you do not have a color printer, color photographs on the computer screen may be printed black and white.

Problem-Solving, Projects and Possibilities

Ready-Set-Go and QuarkXPress are desktop publishing software programs that can be learned by senior high students. In our production environment, students use these programs daily to create work for blended instruction school projects, community projects and customer work. *

RELATED ARTICLE: Traditional Photography

In traditional photography, the artist uses a camera (1) which has film. (2) The exposed film is loaded into a developing tank (3) and processed with chemicals. …

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