Photographic Lighting

I.     Course Prefix/Number: ART 219

       Course Name: Photographic Lighting

       Credits: 3 (0 lecture; 6 lab)

II.    Prerequisite

ART 115 or ART 117 or consent of instructor

III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course presents techniques of photographic lighting. Content includes using light as a creative tool, exploring tungsten light and electronic flash in studio situations. Studio and fieldwork outside of regular class time is required.

IV.   Learning Objectives

  1. Explore in depth and gain practical experience with the lighting techniques and procedures used in the field of photography.
  2. Create photographic images that take full advantage of lighting techniques.
  3. Demonstrate control over artificial light in order to better express creative ideas.
  4. Distinguish technical developments and artistic trends in the field of photographic lighting.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

  1. Portraits
    1. Camera’s sensitivity to light and basic problems of exposure
    2. Theory of exposure control
    3. How cameras measure light
    4. Practical use of filters and diffusers
    5. Using color
  2. Product / Table top
    1. How light reflects off of (and scatters through) surfaces
    2. Specular highlights
  3. Portraits II-background control
    1. The importance of background and hair-lights
    2. Flare
    3. Imperfections
  4. Table top II- reflective objects
    1. Lighting and backgrounds
    2. Shooting beverages and glass
  5. Location /Architectural
    1. Interior lighting equipment
    2. Lighting for interiors on location
  6. Fashion photography
    1. Model
      1. Working with the human body: faces, skin, and form
      2. Understanding layouts
    2. Tabletop
      1. Object and space
      2. Back lighting techniques
  7. Location / Event: advantages and disadvantages of flash photography
  8. Review of contemporary photographers
  9. Creation of a portfolio

VII.  Methods of Instruction

Lectures, slide lectures, demonstrations, and critiques.
Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

Completion of eight (8) photographic assignments and the final project.
Attendance is mandatory, especially for critique sessions and the final project.

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

  1. CAMERA:
    35mm negative size format or larger or a 14.0 megapixel or higher digital camera. Must have variable F-stop and shutter speeds. May NOT use a subminiature (8mm-16mm) or a Box camera (instamatic, point-and-shoot).
    A light meter is required. A hand-held light meter is preferred, but an internal light meter is acceptable.
  3. TRIPOD:
    One that is big enough to hold your camera steady.
    A small one that is six inches long will be more than adequate. Make sure that the thread fits your camera. This is optional on a digital camera.
  5. FILM:
    Color transparency film in 35mm or medium format or a one gigabyte storage card.
    Buy the correct size for your negative format. For digital, you will need a USB storage device.

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

The final grade will be based upon the following elements and their weights

  1. Photographic assignments 80%
  2. Final project 20%

XI.   Other Course Information

Please note:
Some of the activities, lectures and assignments in this class may include imagery that is controversial, uncomfortable, shocking, has nudity, and personally unpopular to one's beliefs. If a student objects to this practice, he/she is encouraged to discuss with the instructor early in the semester alternative ways of completing course requirements.

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.