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Photographic and Digital Media Years 7–10: Advice on Programming and Assessment

5.2 Sample Unit 2: Shapes and Shadows

Year:9 or 10

Duration:This unit is intended to be taught over 10 weeks with approximately two

80-minute lessons per week.

Unit description

This unit introduces students to practice in still forms using SLR cameras and wet photographic practices including darkroom processing and printing black and white images. The structural frame provides a framework for exploring subject matter and a range of darkroom procedures and techniques. The focus of this unit is on the role of the photographer in selecting and manipulating aspects of the world and the expressive potential of the photographic image.

Students are introduced to the working of SLR cameras. Darkroom procedures such as cropping, burning and dodging are used to enhance the compositional, atmospheric and narrative qualities of photographic images. In the first activity the structural frame is used to explore the graphic qualities of relationships between physical aspects of the world and the aesthetic interest created by light and shadows. The second activity focuses on the structural frame and still life traditions to communicate meaning by the arrangement of chosen objects and the manipulation of light and shadow in studio settings. Students communicate interests in and responses to objects in the world through exploring ways in which light reveals, enhances or transforms objects and the world around them. A structural study of significant modernist photographers who manipulate light and shadow to communicate ideas about the world reinforces the students’ developing photographic practice.

In developing a pictorial language of shape and shadow, light and dark, students learn to consider the relationship between the photographer and the world as an integral part of the symbolic meaning of the photographic image and communication between artists and audiences. They refine their artistic intentions through exploring found and fabricated arrangements of objects, light and shadow and the interpretation of similar works by other photographers.

Note about this sample unit

Teachers may select and sequence activities to make the unit more appropriate to student levels. Students with experience of SLR cameras and darkroom procedures may move directly to more challenging aspects of this unit.

Year 9 students may explore simple revelations of the world and objects through light. Darkroom techniques can be confined to experience of cropping, filters, dodging and burning in as means of enhancing print quality. Year 10 students may explore more complex forms of light and shadow through extended exposures and arrangements of studio lighting. More challenging darkroom techniques such as negative sandwiches and tinting images may be employed as further extensions of layering symbolic meaning in the image.

Critical and historical interpretations focus on the structural frame and the practice of photographers in selecting and manipulating subject matter in the world, the studio and in the darkroom as a means of communicating meaning through signs, symbols and visual codes. Student understanding of more complex operations of signs and symbols within images is enhanced through the introduction of a cultural perspective on the relationship between the photographer and the issues relevant to their world.


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