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PHOTO-150 - Cameras & Composition - Ethan Pines

Course:Cameras & Composition
Professor:Ethan Pines
  • InPerson
Course Length:
  • 8 Week


Ethan Pines

Hello! I’m Ethan Pines, full-time professional photographer and adjunct instructor for Photo 150, and I can’t wait to work with you this semester. Since finishing my own photo classes at Santa Monica College in 2002, I’ve shot hundreds of ad campaigns, fine-art projects, commercial jobs and magazine portraits, including about 35 Forbes covers (see If you don’t already love photography as much as I do, I hope that this class will open your mind to the infinite, life-altering possibilities of “painting with light.” 

You’ll be learning and practicing the essentials of exposure control: shutter speed, aperture and ISO. You’ll get to know your camera backward and forward. You’ll study the basics of composition, integrate them into your photography, then see what radically new compositions you can come up with. You’ll learn to find good light — and even start to create it yourself. We’ll look at the history of the medium and its technologies; discuss where it’s at now and where it’s going; and examine work by master photographers both past and present. Finally, we’ll learn to analyze our own photographs and others’ with weekly in-class critiques. 

You’ll need a manually adjustable digital SLR camera, plus memory cards, batteries and a charger. If you don’t have one, you can check one out from the photo department. (You’ll first need to complete an online learning module on camera use and care.) PLEASE NOTE: I want everyone to bring their cameras to the second class on Thursday, October 19. 

Though this class is only eight weeks, it covers the same material as the standard 16-week version. We’ll move fast and have fun. I will help you develop in every way I can, but you need to bring your own passion and commitment to the process as well. In every aspect of photography -- as in life -- you get out what you put in. No one will ever take the exact same photos that you do, and I’m excited to see what you create. 

Course Description

Introduces the fundamental historical development, theory, technology, and basic applications of photography. Examines principles and analysis of artistic and aesthetic qualities of photographic images through group interaction and discussion. Provides demonstration, analysis of function, and technical experience with digital and film single lens reflex cameras. It is recommended students provide a digital SLR camera capable of manual exposure and adjustment. UC credit limitation: PHOTO-150 and PHOTO-160, credit for one course only.

What to Expect in this Course

You’ll spend about eight hours a week on this course outside of our twice-weekly class times. The course is divided into Modules in Canvas, with one module per class. For each week, you can usually expect to do the following outside of class:

  • Read one to two chapters from the textbook. 
  • Review PDF lectures and presentations from that week’s module. 
  • Shoot one photo assignment. 
  • Participate in online critiques and discussions. 
  • Take a quiz to make sure everyone understands what we’ve been discussing. 

Computer literacy is a must; you need to know basic word processing, how to navigate the Internet and how to use email. The course will be delivered through Canvas. Click here for information about the learning management system at COC.

You’ll be able to read more detail on the class in the syllabus, which will be in the class’s Canvas shell the week before the class begins. Until then, if you have any questions, feel free to email me. 

Student Email: In order to comply with FERPA, correspondence with the college not coming from your COC student email account will be disregarded. I will be sending out announcements within Canvas, and you will miss important information if you forget to check Canvas and your email. Certain email providers will either block or forward emails automatically to a bulk mail folder. Please double-check that course email communications are not in your spam folder.

Types of Assessments

  • Weekly photo assignments. All work submitted must, of course, be your own and be captured specifically for the given assignment. 
  • One in-depth photo project lasting all eight weeks. This will be a class-wide investigation of a particular theme. Each of you should end up with several portfolio-level images. 
  • Weekly quizzes on the material covered in that week’s classes and module. 
  • Weekly discussions and critiques. You’ll show your own work and comment thoughtfully on others’. 
  • Potential extra credit. 

Textbook Information

Note: While I highly recommend this textbook, if purchasing it presents a financial hardship, it is not mandatory. You may also be able to find a prior edition of it secondhand on Amazon or elsewhere at a steeply discounted price. This is fine, as prior editions still contain the fundamentals.

Stone, Jim; London, Barbara: A Short Course in Photography: Digital

4th Edition ISBN: 9780134525815

Other Relevant Course Information

Adding the class: Students will be sent add codes in the order of the waitlist. Please check your email a few days BEFORE the class begins. Because this is a short-term class, one week equals 12% of the course. The course moves too quickly for late adds.

Per education code, I am required to drop students for non-participation. Students who don’t complete the first week’s coursework will be automatically dropped from the course.

College of the Canyons does offer a section of this online course every five weeks. Please check the schedule of classes if you would like to register for a future section of PHOTO 150 Online.

Additional Resources


This course can be accessed on the first day of class via Canvas at Log into Canvas using your CanyonsID single sign-on:

  • CanyonsID Username is your COC student email address (Ex:
  • CanyonsID Password is your COC student email password

Please visit the Get to Know Your Online Classroom page for help logging into Canvas and for tips on using Canvas and Zoom. Canvas Chat Support is also available 24/7 for any Canvas related issues.

Online Education

Check out the Online Education website for more information on a variety of topics that can help you be a successful online student such as: exam proctoring, learning styles, computer skills, and tips for student success. If this is your first online course, feel free to take our online learning readiness assessment to assess your skills.

The Learning Center (TLC)

The TLC provides FREE online tutoring resources to COC students!

Academic Accommodation Center (AAC)

College of the Canyons AAC provides educational services and access for eligible students with documented disabilities who intend to pursue coursework at COC. A variety of programs and services are available which afford eligible students with disabilities the opportunity to participate fully in all aspects of the college programs and activities through appropriate and reasonable accommodations. For more information on their services visit the Academic Accomodation Center website.

Online Counseling

The Counseling Department offers appointments online. You can schedule an appointment by visiting the Online Counseling website. Counselors can help you map out a plan to reach your educational goals as well as advise you on course selection and registration.

Management of Stress and Mental Health

Often the pressure on our students is very strong, involving academic commitments, relationships, outside jobs and family pressure to name a few. The staff and faculty of College of the Canyons are here to see you succeed academically and care about your emotional and physical health. You can learn more about the broad range of confidential student services, including counseling and mental health services available on campus by visiting the Student Health & Wellness Center in the Student Services Building (across from the bookstore). The phone number is 661-362-3259 that you can call 24/7. You can also e mail for an appointment at At the Canyon Country Campus the Health Center will be in the new Student Services Building.

Also, the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline number is now 988. All students at COC are encouraged to enter that phone number in their cells. You can call it when you, or someone you know, is having thoughts of suicide or is in severe distress.

You can also now use the Crisis Text Line: Just text "Courage" to 741741. Someone will get back to you immediately. Its free, 24/7, and confidential.

Veterans Resource Center

The College of the Canyons Veterans Resource Center is a department within the Student Services Division at the college, created to help veterans and veteran dependents with applying to College of the Canyons, enrolling in classes, and requesting VA Education or Vocational Benefits. For more information please visit the Veterans Resource Center website, email or phone (661) 362-3469.


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Last updated: 09/28/2023 Sub#: 1656