Photographic Technology

Be able to take a good photo and identify problems by learning online about image formation, lighting, lenses, filters, colour and sensitometry. For film and digital.

Course CodeBPH201
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

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Learn About Cameras and Other Photographic Equipment

This is a fascinating area of photographic study which any good photographer needs to understand in order to not only take good photos, but also identify and understand problems when they occur. This course is equally relevant to digital and film covering such things as image formation, light, lenses, filters, colour and the sensitivity of film or electronic surfaces that record the image.

Did you realize that lenses for film cameras are not going to perform the same if used on a digital camera?


Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Image Formation
    • Interaction of light with matter (Reflection, Absorption, Transmission, Deviation, Dispersion), Lenses (6 main types -Double Convex,. Plano Convex etc), Understanding movement of light, Image formation in a camera.
  2. Lighting
    • Characteristics of light (Spectrum characteristics, Overall Output, Consistency, Efficiency, Illumination, Quantity, Economy etc); Natural Light, Artificial Light (direction, intensity and colour); Generating Light (From Burning, Heating, Spark or Arc of Electricity, Electrical Discharge); Lighting Equipment (Tungsten Filament Lamps Tungsten Halogen Lamps, Fluorescent Lamps, Flashbulbs.
  3. Sensitometry A (ie. Film Sensitivity)
    • How a Negative is Created; Film Contrast Characteristics (medium, low or high),Resolving & Grain, Speed, Light Meters
  4. Sensitometry B
    • Luminance range, Scatter affect, Under & over exposure, Callier coefficient,, Difuse & parallel illumination
  5. Understanding Colour
    • White light, Primary colours, Subtractive colour, Short & long wavelengths, Colour differences in negative and positive film.
  6. Chemistry of Colour Photography
    • Colour chemistry, Colour image development, Alternative methods of image formation and processing.
  7. Optical Filters and other activities
    • Applications for different filters, for special affects, comparing with and without filters.
  8. Lenses
    • Wide angle Lenses, The Standard Lens, Telephoto Lens, Zoom and Macro Lenses; Applications for different lenses

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 in technical terms, how an image forms when a photograph is taken.
  • Explain the nature of light and how this relates to the finished photographic product.
  • Describe how sensitivity of a photo sensitive surface and its development affect the photographic image.
  • Explain sensitivity relates to development affect the photographic image.
  • Explain the composition and manipulation of white and coloured light to create different photographic images.
  • Discuss the chemical process that occurs in producing a colour film photograph.
  • Explain how the photographic image may be manipulated by using optical filters or other camera attachments, other than lenses.
  • Explain how the photographic image may be manipulated by using lenses.

What You Will Do

  • See an example of the course notes below:

Technology Has Changed and Will Keep Changing!
The 20th Century saw the steady refinement of photography. Over the decades it has matured dramatically, from images on glass plates, using large and heavy brass and mahogany equipment on a sturdy tripod (created by diligent and technically capable camera operators), to lightweight pocketsize cameras which even the most technophobic amateur can use.

Technology has rapidly become much more sophisticated. But during almost that entire period, the picture was recorded using a coating of light-sensitive chemicals on use once-only, consumable film. The precious latent image had to be precisely processed to reveal the picture, which we saw hours, or sometimes days later. There was a cost associated with the purchase of each film and its processing, and most of us had to go to the trouble of visiting a photographic laboratory before we could see our pictures (which, almost invariably, are unusable for the intended purpose without further processing on a scanner or in a darkroom).

The 21st Century arrived, and so too did digital imaging, which had been forging its place in parallel with the personal computer, offering a high tech, simple to use alternative to film. It has improved at a remarkable pace to compete head to head with the wet-process, avoiding the expense of film purchase and processing, and offering the opportunity to see images immediately, and use them fruitfully by means of computer software.

It has been a dramatic transformation and the revolution is almost over. Digital will prevail, and film may one day disappear. The dust is settling and improvement continues, but at a slower pace. Sensitivity of digital sensors will continue to improve to tweak colour accuracy, and the depth and available range of colour, so too will storage and retrieval.

As computer size and speed increases, image size and quality will almost inevitably grow and eventually surpass the capability of film. Cameras may become smaller and lighter still, and ease of use will be improved further.

Yet, despite the differences in technology, some things still remain the same, such as the way that the camera records the image. Although we now seem to prefer to view images on computer screens and save on a disk or microchip, the activity of photography by a photographer still remains largely much the same. It may be easier, quicker, and less hassle with the new technology, but the basic principles and underlying skills of technique and creativity remain largely unchanged.

We still need a light sensitive surface in a dark chamber on which to record the image. At the front of the chamber there is still a necessity for a hole, fitted with a lens (unless we are performing pinhole photography) to point at the subject we wish to photograph. This is so that light can pass through to form the picture on the sensitive surface in the dark chamber. We still need a method of opening and closing the hole to control the duration of the light falling on the sensitive surface.

We will explore the technology of photography as it applies to film and digital and, where difference exists, will draw attention to the variation. Digital and film photography are so different, yet still so much the same.


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