Digital Photography

Learn how to take photographs using a digital camera. Study equipment, computer applications, editing software, photographic composition, and more.

Course Code: BPH202
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Digital Photography allows you to use image editing software to apply special effects, and gain quality control over your pictures.   You will:

  • Find out the equipment you need to move to digital photography. 
  • Understand computer specifications and factors affecting computer performance for digital imaging.  
  • Learn to transfer an image from a digital camera onto your computer.
  • Be able to process digital pictures and output them.
  • Understand scanners and image editing software.
  • Be able to utilise your camera to take great digital photographs.
  • Learn the basic principles of photographic composition.
  • Find out about image formats and types of files.

Lesson Structure

There are 11 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction To Digital Technology
    • How images are captured and stored
    • categories of equipment & software
    • scope of applications
  2. Equipment
    • Getting started; deciding what you need
    • CCD's
    • Image Sizes
    • Raster Images
    • Video Cards
    • Colour depth
    • Computer terminology etc.
  3. Digital Technology
    • Colour
    • resolution
    • sensors (how technology enables digital images to be captured).
  4. Digital Cameras
    • Image formation
    • lenses
    • camera stability
    • one shot cameras
    • Three shot cameras
    • terminology (eg.DPI, DVD, Bit, EDO RAM, Plug In etc)
  5. Taking Photographs
    • Principles of Photo Composition
    • Creating effects
    • Default Setting
    • Compression of Data
    • Dithering
    • Halftones etc
  6. Scanners
    • Techniques which can be used for digitally capturing images from film photographs
    • or graphics
  7. Uploading Images
    • How digital images can be transferred effectively from a camera (or scanner) onto another device (eg. a computer, video monitor, television set, etc).
  8. The Digital Darkroom
    • Techniques that can be used to process digital photographs within a computer to achieve improved or changed images
  9. Compositing & Imaging
    • Production & manipulation of images
    • How digital photos can be manipulated and changed to produce altered images
  10. Special Effects
    • Scope and nature of special effects that can be created with digital photographs
  11. Outputs & Applications
    • Printers
    • The Internet
    • How and where digital photography can effectively be used.

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Describe the scope and nature of digital photography
  • Select appropriate equipment for use in digital photography
  • Explain how technology enables digital images to be captured.
  • Compare different digital cameras and select an appropriate camera for a particular application.
  • Control the effects created in a digital photograph which you take.
  • Describe techniques which can be used for digitally capturing images from film photographs, or graphics.
  • Explain how digital images can be transferred effectively from a camera (or scanner) onto another device (eg. a computer, video monitor, television set, etc).
  • Describe techniques that can be used to process digital photographs within a computer to achieve improved or changed images.
  • Explain how digital photos can be manipulated and changed to produce altered images.
  • Discuss the scope and nature of special effects that can be created with digital photographs.
  • Identify how and where digital photography can effectively be used.


Here are just a few examples of what you may do:

  • Investigate software available for processing digital photographs
  • Obtain literature on Photoshop and any two other types of software.
  • Compare the different software options which you investigate.
  • Develop a check list of what would be required if you were to purchase a digital camera for professional freelance photographic work (such as studio portraits and wedding photography)
  • Find five photographs you have taken in the past which have not been as successful as you would have liked. Consider what you might have done to improve the way in which the image was taken in each of these. Consider what advantages digital photography might have offered if you had taken these using a digital imaging rather than film.


You will need access to a digital camera and some type of storage or output device during the course.

This is required so that you can take some photographs on a digital camera and submit them as a print or as a digitised file. A digital camera (SLR or Phone) and computer to download to would be a minimum. If you plan to purchase a digital camera, but have not yet decided what to buy, it is recommended that you delay buying a camera until you have asked your tutor. You may not need a camera until you have completed Lesson 3 and commenced Lesson 4.



Conventional film photography using chemically photo-sensitive film is a well known and highly developed quantity – very close to a perfected technology.
We know how to use it, how to get the best out of it, and how its life span can be optimised because it has been around for so long, used so much and had so much effort and expense spent on its development.

Digital photography is a newer and radically different technique that records images in the form of digital (ie. 2 digit or binary) codes. In simple terms digital codes are similar to Morse code. A pulse of electricity indicates one number or digit, a second digit is indicated by no electrical pulse. By combining these pulses and lack of pulses into codes, we can, for example, create representations for letters of the alphabet; allowing us to write language or text on a computer. When we combine these electrical "pulses" and "no pulses" (or ‘ones’ and ‘zeros’) in more complex combinations, we can create more complex representations. These can include the colour, and degree of darkness or brightness in a single spot on a picture. When huge quantities of such dots are combined into a grid or array, we can then create a digital picture. (This is basically how digital photography works!) Each dot is referred to as a pixel ( PICTURE ELEMENT) and is represented by ‘bits’ of data – thus the digital image array is often referred to as a ‘bitmap’.


What are the Trends?

The popularity of film photography declined as digital emerged, but a generation on there has been a resurgence of interest in film. 
Many professional photographers shoot both in film and digital.  Film photography may be viewed as offering possibilities that cannot be obtained when using digital.

Digital photography can be cheaper per photo taken, and there is a temptation and tendency for digital photographers to shoot lots of images fast and edit later, Film photographers however are more likely to think first, plan, prepare, and then shoot. In some respects, a more careful approach may result in fewer, but better images.

Even if the same final result can be achieved through using both film and digital, it may be that the process followed with film is faster. To get a required result with film might be simply a matter of choosing the right type of film, whereas achieving that result with digital might require taking time to edit the image.



Film photography, based on the light sensitive silver compounds silver bromide, silver chloride and silver iodide (known collectively as silver halides).  Silver has been with us since William Fox Talbot pioneered the negative/positive process in the first half of the nineteenth century. The image is fixed onto a surface by capturing the image onto different sized particles of silver.

Available equipment has achieved a very high level of sophistication whilst also producing very high quality images. The shutter and aperture exposure control system on film cameras, co-ordinated with a film speed (or sensitivity) system based on a simple geometric progression (the ISO system), allow the photographer to select combinations of film speed, shutter speed and aperture to creatively increase or decrease depth of field, enhance or reduce movement and operate in virtually any lighting conditions. Film cameras may have a longer lifespan than digital.

Film can capture some fine details in ways that are not readily captured with a digital camera e.g. black and white details, subtleties
Film does require elaborate facilities and a delay to process but may not require the same time for editing that digital could need. 
Film can deteriorate and be damaged by such dust and moisture. Making a print from a negative involves copying one analogue system to another.



Storage media for digital image files (generally magnetic or optical in nature eg. zip drive, CD ROM or hard disk) have long been shown to be reasonably resistant to physical problems, but files can still be corrupted and back ups of valuable images are needed. Over time storage technologies have changed and this can sometimes present difficulties for resurrecting images created decades earlier and stored on old devices. 

Apart from this, a digital code stays a code until it is interpreted into an analogue artefact by the use of hardware and software. Consequently, digital can be copied to digital directly. Reading the code is largely unaffected by physical factors which trouble analogue copying and this enables simple, cheap archiving of digital imagery. Digital storage systems can even be arranged so that if data is lost through damage or equipment failure, the missing code can be reconstructed by analysis and comparison of the remaining pieces of data. In essence this means that the digital image you create today can be preserved with no loss or deterioration into the foreseeable future by simply copying the file to new media, provided you always keep copies on the latest storage technology.

With the exception of some very simple and relatively cheap cameras, many of the early problems of digital have been eliminated or have become largely irrelevant. Most basic digital cameras now have image sensors capable of giving high enough resolution for good quality postcard-size prints at very least. When you take a digital photo the image is captured by a sensor, which is actually an analogue device. The digitising process and writing of the image data to memory in the past took time; but as cameral technology kept improving that is no longer an issue.

Significantly, digital cameras are based on conventional cameras for their exposure systems and allow, depending on the degree of sophistication, the same image controls as any standard film camera. The film speed, shutter and aperture systems of ‘old style’ cameras are an integral part of all but the simplest point-and-shoot digital hardware. 

Digital cameras store images on compact ‘cards’, which are essentially computer memory chips. The most common way to store images from a digital camera long-term is to 'download' them from the camera’s memory card (the digital ‘film’) onto a computer hard drive. This then allows the camera memory card to be re-used over and over again. The highest quality images use a lot of memory, and these can take longer to work with. Smaller images may be faster to work with but not as good quality. The digital photographer needs to understand and choose the appropriate quality to be shooting.

There is a use for both film and digital in the world of photography and probably always will be. Knowledge, experience and the development of equipment in both of these options have followed different paths, and will continue to do so. 
Some photographers use both and need to learn and understand both, while others focus only on one. 

This course focuses on digital.



Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.
Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.
Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.

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Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

John Edwards

Professional photographer. Experienced in Environmental and Water Services management. Has traveled extensively for photography projects. John has a BA (Hons) Photography, BSc (Hons) Env.Mgt, PGCE

John Mason

Writer, Manager, Teacher and Businessman with over 40 years interenational experience covering Education, Publishing, Leisure Management, Education, and Horticulture. He has extensive experience both as a public servant, and as a small business owner.
John is a well respected member of many professional associations, and author of over seventy books and of over two thousand magazine articles.

Christine Todd

University lecturer, businesswoman, photographer, consultant and sustainability expert; with over 40 years industry experience
B.A., M.Plan.Prac., M.A.(Social).
An expert in planning, with years of practical experience in permaculture.

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