PHOT 262: Beginning Wet Darkroom Photography
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Department of Studio Art, Art History, & Design Zora Murff, Instructor of Record


Course Description

PHOT 262 Beginning Wet Darkroom Photography is a three-credit course that provides an introduction to traditional photographic processes using black and white film and the wet darkroom with an emphasis on technical and conceptual development. A study of historical and contemporary work using traditional photographic processes will complement and inform these pursuits. The content of this course builds on PHOT 261: Beginning Digital Photography’s content and requires that students are familiar with cameras, photographic seeing and image interpretation.


PHOT 261 or permission

Attendance and Participation

Attendance is mandatory, it is taken every class period, and class time cannot be made up. Demonstrations, discussions, presentations and other group activities only take place during class time and are not repeated for those absent. Due to the cooperative nature of our class, each time a student is absent the quality of the experience is diminished for everyone because one perspective is lost. Take seriously the responsibility of attendance and participation for yourself and your colleagues. Your questions, opinions and experiences are an essential part of this course. Students are expected to a[end all listed Critiques and Lab Days. 15% of your grade is based on your active participation in discussion, preparing for class by doing the assigned reading and completing assignments on time. See the schedule for specific reading assignments and activities for the semester. Students are required and expected to a[end every class. If you miss more than 3 class periods, 5% is deducted from your final grade. If you are absent 6 times, you may be asked to withdraw from the course.

Attendance Calculation:

Each class period is worth 4 points (29 class periods x 4 points per class = 116 points) -4 points for absences
-2 points for tardiness
-2 points for sleeping or mobile device/laptop usage during class time
-2 points for leaving early
-2 points for not participating in class


  • Students will learn about photographic seeing in black and white.

  • Students will become familiar with their film camera’s manual controls.

  • Students will learn how to process film and evaluate negatives.

  • Students will learn how to edit images from contact sheets.

  • Students will learn how to mix chemistry for film processing and printing and how to maintain the darkroom

    and other photography work areas.

  • Students will learn how to make and evaluate gelatin silver prints.

  • Students will complete assignments that lead them toward developing independent work.

  • Students will engage in critiques that focus on both technical and conceptual aspects of their work.

  • Students will learn about historical and contemporary photographic work in traditional processes.

Assignment Synopsis

Below are general breakdowns of the assignments for the class. Each assignment has more in-depth instructions that will be posted on Canvas when they are officially assigned. Please note: as a general rule, all images submi[ed for assignments must have been captured during the course of this semester. Photos from before the beginning of the semester will not be accepted.

Photography Assignments (25%)

The four photography assignments students will create during the semester will be specific only in the technical or visual aspect that they are concerned with. They will build upon each other and will provide students a facilitated way to explore the topic, concept, or subject of their interest for the semester.

Final Portfolio (30%)

One of the main outcomes for this course, in addition to the acquisition of photographic technical skill, is for students to depart with a cohesive portfolio of high quality photographic prints. The purpose of the Final Portfolio is to put a cohesive punctuation mark at the end of the semester and will consist of a combination of revisited images from the course of the semester coupled with new photographs that refine and push the students photographic exploration of their topic, concept, or subject that they have been involved with during the semester to a resolution.

Formal Analysis Essay and Presentation (15%)

Each student will have the opportunity to explore the work of a contemporary or historical photographer who has had a great influence on the medium. Students are expected to research one of their artist’s photographs and write a Formal Analysis Essay about that photograph. Students will then deliver a presentation of their formal analysis. Research is expected to be completed during and outside of class. All papers will have a bibliography and figures page, cited in Chicago MLA style.

Attendance/Participation (15%)

Absences will result in a lowering of the final grade. Attending all critique days and lab days are mandatory unless otherwise indicated by the instructor. Coming to class late will also effect attendance grades. Students are expected to be in class and participating for each and every class meeting unless otherwise indicated by instructor. Students are also required to complete all reading assignments and come prepared to discussion meetings during the semester. Participating in class also requires more than simply a[ending class. To receive full participation points, students must engage with other students and the instructor during class time, they must not be utilizing mobile devices, sleeping, or working on other course work.

Technical Examination (10%)

During the course of the semester students will be assigned readings from their required textbook. This examination will cover the vocabulary, concepts, and technical information provided in those readings and relevant photographic information provided in class or otherwise assigned. The exam is a review of concepts learned in PHOT 261.

Reading Responses (5%)

During the course of the semester, students are required to complete reading assignments to explore critical photographic theory and practice. Students will discuss their responses in class to facilitate critical discussion. Students must bring at least four questions from the readings, and they must be submitted in Canvas at the beginning of class that they are due.