The Art of Photography

posted Feb 24, 2012, 8:36 AM by Wayne Wieseler

This course will introduce you to the art of photographic image making. You will learn to see people, places, and things in new perspectives, and apply the principles of composition to capture those images. Focus classes will be offered to students and graduates of the course.

This course does not focus of the technical aspects of photography (ISO, shutter speed, aperture) even though you will learn aspects of them during the course. Please refer to Amateur Snapper for information regarding the principles of photography as well other technical information.

It also will not teach you how to use a specific camera. The range of cameras now sold prohibits this, but most cameras have detailed instructions that go with the purchase.

Inspiration is highly overrated. If you sit around and wait for the clouds to part, it's not liable to ever happen. More often than not work is salvation. -- Chuck Close


You will learn to see and appreciate light in a new way, and learn to see and design shapes in the frame. The most important thing you can take away from this course is a new sense of seeing. It will enable you to have a finer appreciation of light in its myriad manifestations, to discover meaning in images rather than words, or most importantly, how to make images, important and powerful in their own right, rather than merely take pictures.

Most people own at least one camera and have used it to capture images of family, friends, outings, and vacations. The camera is the one art tool that most people have used, but few have considered how to use it to capture better images that embody the essence or character of the subject.

Course Objective

The objective of this course is to develop your skills from that of a casual photographer to an intermediate level of photographic artist so that you will be proud to show your photographs to family, friends, and members in the art community.

(Art) is both the taking and giving of beauty; the turning out to the light the inner folds of the awareness of the spirit. It is the recreation on another plane of the realities of the world; the tragic and wonderful realities of earth and men, and of all the inter-relations of these. -- Ansel Adams in a letter to Cedric Wright

Course Instructor

Wayne Wieseler has been teaching photography for over 30 years. Students from the age of 5-years-old to 72-years-old have learned how develop their skills from that of a casual photography to the level of photographic artist. He began his professional career as a teacher.

Later he owned six newspapers where he won over 75 awards in writing, design, marketing, and photo journalism. After selling his newspaper operation at 33-years-old, he spent over 15 years in the high technology industry as a first to mid-level manager.

He currently resides in Sebastopol and works as a business management consultant, property manager, designer, and innkeeper.


Learners most likely have taken photographs. The only prerequisite is a commitment to improving the quality of images

Course Outline

Applying the principles/Guidelines of Composition

There are so many approaches to the rules of composition. Some say there are five rules to composition while others believe that there are up to 50. With this many, the principles of composition tend to be more like guidelines rather than rules. Here is one approach by Vidiojug

Vidiojug: The Rules Of Composition

But, for the purpose of this course, I focus on 10 principles or guidelines for our discussion. By no means do I suggest that this definition is the final answer to the myiad of approaches. Please refer to the following site for our discussions.

10 Top Photography Composition Rules Project Work

Select projects from the following list for your final presentation for the course. The minimum number of projects will be determined by the members of the class.

  • Abstract and Surreal
  • Animals and Nature
  • Architecture
  • Black and White
  • Close Up Photography
  • Creating 3-D Images
  • Creative Effects
  • Macro and Closeup
  • Night Shooting
  • Panoramas and Landscapes
  • People and Portraits: Samples 
  • Photojournalism: Telling a Story
  • Still Life
  • Transportation
  • Travel
  • Urban and Rural
  • A Day in the Your Life: Living with Your Camera: Carry your camera for one day from the moment you wake up until you go to sleep.
  • Photographic Safari: Take a trip to a specific area and capture the essence or character of that area in a maximum of one hour. NOTE: This can be a members of the class project sponsored by me. I will spend time discussing the approach to this project, and will determine the location. (An addition charge of $25/member will be assessed.
  • Demystifying Ansel Adams Zone System; This project requires the student to research Ansel Adams Zone System and make a formal one-hour presentation to the members of the class.

Demystifying Ansel Adams Zone System

This approach to photography was first championed in America by Edward Weston and Ansel Adams in the 1930's. This approach affirms the legitimacy of "straight" photographic seeing and shooting. This method encourages us to discover the most important things about a subject, to then visualize them as simply and directly as possible, then to present them in a photograph as forcefully as possible. Rather than mimic other arts such as drawing and painting, the classic approach emphasizes unmanipulated printing, clear shooting using maximum sharpness, the use of available light, whose images are rich in continuous tone and have great detail.

Photography Mad has a variety of project ideas from which to choose. For more information, refer to the following site.

Photography Tips, Techniques, and Tutorials

Additional Study

Digital Cameras and Photography


Additional Photography Resources