Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

CCOG for ART 143A Winter 2024

View archive version »
Course Number:
ART 143A
Course Title:
Darkroom Photography II
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:

Course Description

Covers intermediate level darkroom processes, techniques and concepts while addressing historical and contemporary issues. Develops the creative problem-solving and critical skills necessary to examine aesthetic and formal solutions and explore artistic intent though the medium of darkroom photography. Requires access to a film camera with manual exposure controls. Prerequisites: ART 142A. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon completion of the  course students should be able to:

  • Solve problems in the art making process using a variety of strategies for making prints, which demonstrate a more advanced command and understanding of processes, techniques and materials in darkroom photography.
  • Participate in a critical dialog about ideas and issues in darkroom photography using industry terminology and advancing self-critiquing skills
  • Interpret and critically evaluate photographs strengthening their relationship with photography and its connection to the viewer, ideas and culture/s of past and present.
  • Express connections to personal experiences through their photographic practice and the process integral to darkroom photography with awareness of the standards and practices established by artists, both contemporary and historical.

Integrative Learning

Students completing an associate degree at Portland Community College will be able to reflect on one’s work or competencies to make connections between course content and lived experience.

General education philosophy statement

The study of Visual Arts is essential to the development of the individual and one’s meaningful participation in society. At the heart of artistic practice is the ability to organize experience and recognize its meaning. The creation of artwork and appreciation of aesthetics is a source of great pleasure and also a valuable means to effective visual communication. Participating in Visual Arts is an important way for individuals to connect to the past and respond to the present with a stronger sense of engagement with culture and society.

Course Activities and Design

Students will engage in studio work during and outs of class time to critically engage with the practical studio application of skills, techniques and concepts in addition to lectures and presentations, demonstrations, critiques, group discussions and activities.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

  • Actively engage in studio work and complete all projects and homework assignments on time
  • Develop photographic images, prints and projects that are aesthetically and formally challenging and demonstrate the student’s evolution through intermediate level ideas and processes.
  • Demonstrate sound foundational level photographic technique and safe and efficient studio habits with respect to the communal environment and equipment
  • Participate in discussions and critiques. Take an active role and make contributions applying concepts and terms used in the discipline at a more sophisticated level.
  • Evaluate both technical approaches and conceptual directions in photographs through comprehensive responses, critique, self reflection, and peer review.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)


  • Visual communication
  • The photographic image as a tool for expression
  • Explore new directions and photographic possibilities


  • Formal and aesthetic considerations
  • Connections between content, form and meaning
  • Consideration of presentation materials, prints and technique


  • Better understanding of Photography through darkroom practices and techniques, the specific challenges and possibilities inherent to darkroom photography and the reasons for their exploration.
  • Historical knowledge of photography
  • Building independence and autonomy in students critical thinking and problem solving skills relative to darkroom and photographic practices
  • Awareness and exploration of the broad influence of photography’s influence and impact on daily life and how historical works effect and led to contemporary artists, issues and techniques.


Intermediate methodologies for designing and completing photographic prints

  • Strategies for generating ideas
  • Image generation - bridging ideas with darkroom processes to create images of both formal and conceptual power
  • Intermediate camera exposure controls - exposing for the desired negative and of the relationship between exposure, development, and contrast.
  • Aesthetic effects of the use of lens, shutter and aperture for creative control
  • Essentials of Lighting; design and modification
  • Film - exposing, processing and enlarging the negatives to create photographic prints, introduction of multiple film formats and possibilities
  • Printing - demonstrated sound darkroom technique to enlarge and print negatives
  • Curating, selecting and arranging prints
  • Archival printing methods, exploration of scale, materials and techniques
  • Print finishing,  presentation and preservation strategies.

Critique and self reflection strategies for evaluating prints

  • Appropriate mounting, care and archival strategies for film and print.

Studio safety

  • Intermediate level of chemical safety and sustainability considerations, best practices for personal safety and elements of darkroom workflow, coordination, time management and lab notation practices.