Course Description

Course Name

Cultural Photography

Session: VSJF1121

Hours & Credits


Prerequisites & Language Level

Students must bring a camera for the course

Minimum specs:
Compact camera, with multiple scene selections.

Manual exposure controls (aperture, shutter speed, iso), optical zoom of 3X or higher.

Entry level DSLR

Not allowed:
Cell phones, GoPros or similar.

Taught In English

  • There is no language prerequisite for courses at this language level.


Course name: Cultural Photography
Code: Phot 2130
Total count of hours: 48 hours

The course offers the acquisition of basic photographic skills as a means of cultural exploration.
Through practice exercises and field trips aiming to apply the information provided through lectures, students will consciously explore Costa Rican culture through the creation of photographic images and essays.
Students will be able to consciously create photographs that document aspects of Costa Rican Culture through Portraiture and Landscapes.

-Have a clear knowledge of the basic principles of photography to consciously handle a digital photographic camera.
-Have a basic notion of the importance and the structure of the photographic documentary essay.
-Have a basic knowledge of the principles of photographic composition and lighting.
-Perform basic manipulations through Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Camera Raw.

Students will develop creativity and artistic sensitivity for the elaboration and critique of photographic images based on the following subjects:

Subject 1: Introduction to Photography. History/ The Photographic Camera. / Exposition:

Subject 2: Shutterspeed and f. stop
Depth of Field. Definition / Factors that affect the depth of field. Capture of Movement.

Subject 3: Frozen movement and Panning.
Photographic Optics.

Subject 4: Type of lenses/ Focal length and angle of coverage/ Zoom, Macro, Fisheye/ ISO factor / ISO in the digital camera / Intelligent use of ISO in point n shoots. Digital photography: resolution, format
Documentary Photography and culture.decisive moment The photographic essay/ Types of photoessays/ Investigation of documentary photographers/ The Photographic critique/ Portraiture and Landscapes/ the / Building a photoessay

Subject 5: Composition. Basic principles of the photographic Composition/ Light.

Subject 6: Basic use of lighting/ Color Temperature and white balance/ Direction of light
Digital manipulation.
Introduction to Photoshop CS4. Crop, Contrast, Color, Selection tools, Layers, Filters/ Adobe Camera Raw/ HDR

Lesson 1
Introduction/ History of Photography
The Camera Obscura: How does a
photographic camera work?
Photosensitive materials, Shutterspeed.

Lesson 2
The Photographic Exposition part 1
The Shutter and Shutterspeed
Factors that affect the shutterspeed in a
point n shoot camera (EV / Settings)
The Light meter
Assigment 1: Light Graffiti

Lesson 3
Review Assigment 1 / Critiques
Movement and shutterspeed/ Types of
movement- Frozen and Panning
Practice in class

Lesson 4
Depth of field: The fstop
How does the fstop affects the appearance of an
The relationship between fstop and shutterspeed
(Equivalent exposures)
Assigment 2: Practice types of movement/ P.S 3
equivalent exposures

Lesson 5
Review Assigment 2 / Critiques
Optics / Type of lenses/ angle of view/
Characteristics angular and telephotohow
do they affect appearance

Lesson 6
Review Depth of field and exposition
How to achieve short and wide depth of
f. stop, lenses.
Practice in class
Assigment 3: Angular and telephotolens / 5

Lesson 7
Review Assigment 3
ISO factor / ISO in the digital camera /
Intelligent use of ISO in point n shoots/
How does ISO affects the exposition
Practice in class- Equivalent exposures

Lesson 8
Composition part 1. How to take a ?good?
photograph. Composition with lines/the golden
mean/ Rule of thirds/ Types of lines: Curves,
diagonal, Vertical, Horizontal. Composition part 2 /
Negative space/ Rhythm/Converging lines/ S Curve/
Conversation/ Angles/ Distortion/
Assigment 4: Photograph each compositional
aspect BN

Lesson 9
Written Test
Review Assigment 4 / Critiques
Assigment 5: Redo the ones that
weren?t ok for composition 2

Lesson 10
Basic use of lighting/ Color Temperature
and white balance/ Direction of light
Practice in class

Lesson 11
Documentary Photography and culture.
The photographic essay/ Types of
Assigment 6: Portrait unknown people
Investigation of documentary

Lesson 12
Review Assigment 6 / Critiques
Portrait and the different types of approaches
Assigment 7: Do a Photographic Essay on your Tico
Family 3 pics

Lesson 13

Lesson 14
Review of Assigment 7. Critiques and
improvement. Choosing pictures for a
portfolio/ Upload pics in

Lesson 15
Fieldtrip to San José- Practice different
approaches to people

Lesson 16
Review of personal work / Critique
Lanscape Photography and its importance in
contemporary art
Assigment 8: Landscape

Lesson 17
Review Pictures of Assigment 8
Introduction to photoshop CS4: Crop
tool, Dodge, Burn, Brightness and
Image Formats (Jpeg, Raw, Gif, Png, Tiff)
Assigment 7: Change resolution, crop,
and format

Lesson 18
Selection tools / Basic Layers/ Adobe
Camera Raw and Bridge
Assigment 8: Digital manipulation1

Lesson 19
Final project preparation and review

Lesson 20
Final project preparation and review

Lesson 21
Final project preparation and review

Lesson 22
Final project preparation and review

Lesson 23
Final project preparation and review Final evaluation

The course is theoretical and practical. Lectures will be imparted to present the theoretical aspect of the subjects with visual support and applied practical exercises in the classroom. Students will perform practice exercises to apply the lessons studied in the classroom.
Students will investigate about documentary photography in order to create personal and coherent photographic series of images.

Students must have a digital point n´ shoot or SLR camera and a basic knowledge of Mac and Windows Operating Systems.

Field trips:
Two day field trips will be on Saturday and Sunday. Participation in field trips is mandatory.
Attendance to every class is mandatory. If a student gets sick or has some other important problem, he/she has to bring a document justifying their absence.
After 2 absences, students will fail the course.

Professors have the right to expel a student from the classroom should he / she:
1) be disruptive in the classroom
2) be under the influence of alcohol
3) behave in a disrespectful way.

This course is structured for International Students attending the Study Abroad program at Universidad Veritas. However, courses are not exclusive to foreigners so a few native student could enroll in this course.

Evaluation System:
5% Attendance and Participation
10% 1 written test
10% Investigation
50% 9 assignments
25% Final project

Azoulay, P. (1998). The adventure of photography. 150 years of the photographic imagen. Estados Unidos.. [DVD.DOC.EU 0020]
Evening, M. (2009). Adobe Photoshop CS4 for Photographers. A Professional Image Editor's Guide to the Creative use of Photoshop for the Macintosh and PC. United States: Focal Press.. [IMF.W 0061]
London, B. (2002). Photography (7ª ed.). Estados Unidos: Prentice Hall.. [IMF.T 0055]
McCollough, F. (2008). Complete Guide to High Dynamic Range Digital Photography. United States: Lark Books.. [IMF.W 0056]
Varis, L. (2001). Digital Photography for Creative
Professionals: From photo shoot to image output.
Estados Unidos: Rockport.. [IMF.W 0002]
Tarantino, C. (2003). Step by Step 004. Digital Photo
Retouching. Cambridge, Inglaterra: ILEX

*Course content subject to change