Elementary Digital Photography

photo 2

Jackie Ruth Murray


All camera work in this workshop will be digital. Several aspects will be covered in this course and technical training will help participants to get to grips with the basic camera controls and post-production set-up for outsource printing. The technical training is done with practical demonstrations. The workshop further includes a closer look at images – the formation of the photographic image and the discourse of the medium. Practical assignments will include a ‘photo hunt’ and a ‘self-portrait’, both which will expose the participants to a variety of technical and conceptual observational challenges that photography, as visual language, poses the photographer.


Jackie Ruth Murray


Jackie Ruth Murray is a freelance photographer and videographer. Murray's main experience and interest in video is DOP and camerawork on documentary and corporate productions. Murray's photographic stills experience is in documentary and editorial, while having worked for a number of local and international NGO's. Murray is currently a consultant for Cameraland’s Be Inspired events and for photographer Paul Van Schalkwyk, working towards an exhibition and publication of his aerial work, and is also working as an ad hoc contract module lecturer for Stellenbosch University's Visual Arts Department. 
Murray was head of photography for 7 years at another tertiary design institution where she taught conceptual development, camera and lighting in all genres. Last year she secured the two top gold Loerie student advertising campaign awards for Art Direction and has recently been selected to pitch her short film proposal at the Encounters Documentary Film Festival Al Jazeera Pitching Forum.


A Digital SLR (not a compact camera)

128 MB compact flash card to fit camera


Technical Training, Aesthetics and Photographic Discourse

Technical Training: practical demonstrations in studio.

Aesthetics: practical demonstrations on location + presentations

Photographic Discourse: Presentations and discussions.


The Camera

The shutter and the aperture, the lens, focus, depth of field.



How to meter, Exposure modes and when to use them, responding to light, sensor speed.



Direction of light, degree of diffusion, available light indoors and outdoors, artificial light, simple portrait lighting, lighting textures, reflective and translucent objects.


Digital Hardware and Software

Resolution and file formats

Importing images into imaging software


Aesthetics: The Formation of the Photographic Image

Content and context, framing, perspective, depth, distance, design elements such as spot/line and shape/pattern, scale, foreground/background, emphasis/balance, placement and point of view.


Discourse of the Photographic Medium

Historical and contemporary work based on photographic genres.

The nature of photograph – psychological meaning and interpretation.

Formal analysis – how to read the image.

Students will receive reading references.



Assignments will be supplemented with one-on-one consultations and critique sessions.

Each assignment will be accompanied by a list of suggested journals and books.


Assignment 1. Photo Hunt

Aim: To expose the learner to a variety of observational challenges via photography as the visual language.

Outcome: To demonstrate use of design elements within photography – to exercise methods and the psychological effects of framing, perspective, awareness of light, content and context.

Shooting Format: Digital capture in jpeg format.

Presentation Format: Postcard size prints. Choose and present ONE image per target


Choose 6 of the 12 targets from the list below. Shoot them!

1. Photograph a billboard to show it in context.

2. Find- and document a shop front - one that you think is clever and well designed.

3. Make use of a minimalist and graphic style while shooting architecture to create one image that depicts balance.

4. Photograph a fish (or two!). If you can’t find one, improvise!

5. Shoot an inappropriate marketing application. (Remember, just because it’s an inappropriate application doesn’t mean it can be a crappy image!).

6. Create an available pack shot of a ‘found’ object. It has to be a branded object.

8. Create an image that shows one of the many socio economic boundaries found in our society.

9. Photograph a silhouette. The silhouette should consist of   two persons and the resultant shape should represent an animal.

10. Find a stranger and ask them to pose with you for a “self portrait”.

11. Show an example of how light interacts with space.

12. Show an object like we’ve never seen it before.


Assignment 2. Self-Portrait

Aim: To expose the learner to the challenge of visualizing their alter ego.

Outcome: Create a staged self-portrait, using a classmate to depict your alter ego.

Make use of props, wardrobe etc

Please do at least three different shoots, one using natural light, the other two using two different artificial light sources.

Shooting Format: Digital capture in large jpeg format.

Presentation Format: A4 size print


Outing to a Professional Studio or a Gallery

Professional studio live shoot and/or gallery showing photographic work including a walkabout with the curator/photographer.



Equipment and materials needed by the student

Digital SLR (not a compact camera)

128 MB compact flash card to fit camera

Tripod (not essential but recommended)

Flash (not essential but recommended)



All printing for assignments will be done at a local photo lab


For registration, pricing and contact information please click on the following link.

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