Research Project Due Monday

I hope everyone has enjoyed a week off from class. This is a reminder the Research Project due this coming Monday.
9:15 am: Research Project Presentations
Be prepared (with a powerpoint file or PDF) to transfer your file onto the overhead computer. Be on time. Be present. 

Project Guidelines: 


For this project have been asked to choose a type (genre) of photography that interests you. Next, you will then select two photographers that work in the genre of your choice, research their life, and analyze 3 of their photographs. A minimum of 6 photographs (each on their own slide) should be included in your presentation.

Please label your file with your first and last name.

Below are the assignment requirements. The total possible points earned for this project is 100.

Each line item (or number) is worth ten points so pay attention and be sure you include all line items!

Your research paper project begins with a fact-finding search on some photographers in your genre of choice to advance your knowledge. After you brainstorm about possible photographers and then select some, narrow it down to two. Investigate their work and map out your strategy of presenting their work.

Your final presentation will be judged on how well you succeed in producing a well thought out and visually interesting presentation which shows you can interpret and intelligently discuss the genre, two photographers and how well you can back up your findings with evidence (aka examples of their work and details about their life/work).

Assignment Requirements:

1. In-Class Presentation of two photographers working in similar style.

2. Title-slide featuring the name of the assignment and/or the photographers you have researched.

3. Each photograph should be on its own slide and labeled with the photographer’s name, title and if possible, date of creation.

4. Include pertinent information in your presentation such as the photographer’s date of birth, nationality and some biographical information.

5. Typical subject matter of photographs made by each photographer (i.e.: portraiture, war photography, fashion photography).

6. Included text on slide and/or in presentation on what the photographers themselves and/or others have said/say about their work (quotes OK).

7. Include something referencing how these photographers have influenced photography at large as well as you.

8. Include language explaining what visual design elements and principles make their individual photographs effective or interesting.

9. What do you appreciate about this person and/or his/her work?

10. Your opinion of the work and anything else you find important to include.



Spring Break, Research Project & Student Art Exhibit

This is to say: 

  1. Have a great spring break whatever you do. 

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2. Upon return to class on Monday, March 20 we will begin at 9:15 am promptly with presentations for everyone’s Research Project.


Find the guidelines here (Research Project Guidelines). If very stuck, check out this list (Research Project Prompts). 


3. I will bring this up in class on the 20th (and other times) but please consider being part of the Student Art Exhibit this spring.

This year’s Student Exhibit will be comprised of ceramics, sculpture, photography and digital artworks. The exhibit will take place in CFA’s galleries from April 17 – May 5. Artwork is selected by faculty, meaning, if you want to participate (and I hope you do) let’s go over some possibilities during lab time. There will be a reception with drinks and snacks on Tuesday, April 18th from 6:00 – 8:00 pm.

Exhibiting one’s work is the best way to begin your photography career, and/or be part of something creative that will without a doubt make you feel good. Exhibiting  often starts out small (at school with one piece) and then one can move toward local galleries with more work, regional exhibitions, etc. and eventually, larger scale institutions.

My first exhibit was in the hallways of my high school and local mall. During college I exhibited some works in both the student and local gallery. Eventually, my work was chosen to be exhibited at museums and galleries in the U.S. and abroad. Each was a learning experience; one built upon the next.

I encourage you to participate, even if hesitant, and will help you each step of the way. 



Some Reading on The Self-Portrait


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REMINDER: Tomorrow 2 Self-Portraits are due.

  1. With intention, thought, creativity and a self-portrait that tells a viewer something about you
  2. A headshot, passport style self-portrai for Photoshop Zombie-fying.


SOME LIGHT READING (worth a peek):


“There’s been a lot of talk about selfies recently. The Oxford Dictionaries named “selfie” the word of the year for 2013, and “Museum Selfie Day,” last month, encouraged museumgoers to take creative selfies in front of art. But what distinguishes a selfie from an artist’s self-portrait? A smartphone and a Tinder account is the easy answer, but, in general, we ask more from a self-portrait than we do from a selfie: more consideration, more composition, more psychological insight and aesthetic care. From family photographs to annual staged series and quirky snaps captured in a street windows, here is a selection of my favorite self-portraits.”



The Un-Selfie: Taking Back the Self-Portrait

Portrait or Landscape Project Due Tomorrow


Just a reminder that the Portrait or Landscape Project is due tomorrow, at 9:15 am.

Photographs should be ready to go at 9:15 am meaning this: RAW images made in camera should be processed through Camera Raw/Adobe Bridge (CR/AB), converted and saved into JPEGS (or TIFS). As a further reminder, the CR/AB interface looks like this:


If you are fluent in Photoshop and would like to further process your photographs in that program, that is fine, but at this point is it NOT a requirement. Processing in CR/AB however, is.

Submitting RAW files is unacceptable at this point.

This project is worth a total of 100 possible points toward your final grade. Each photographic requirement is a total of 10 points. A total of 8 photographs are required for this assignment. The remaining 20 points will occur in the group critique.

Portrait Project requirements are as follows: 

1: Indoor Traditional Portrait: Make a portrait of someone using a traditional lighting setup as described in the lectures (a key light, a fill light, and possibly a background light and accent/rim light). This could be a light in your house or your subject’s house that you make the portrait in. You do not need to go out and buy lighting equipment. Either relocate your subject toward the lighting source or move the light if needed.
2: Indoor Natural Light Portrait: Make a portrait of someone indoors-using only non-electric sources of light (a fireplace, candles, the sun, etc.). You might want to arrange someone near a window. Think about the light.
3: Outdoor Available Light Portrait: Make a portrait of someone outdoors using only available light. This could be at any time of day.
4. Close Up: Make a close- up portrait.
5. Long shot:  Make a long shot portrait.
6. Environmental Photograph: Make a portrait of someone in his or her environment (i.e.: cook in a kitchen, worker in a store, artist in studio, etc.).
7. Freebie: Make a portrait of any subject of your choosing (pet, stuffed animal, etc.).
8. Freebie: Make a portrait of any subject of your choosing using any portrait mode/method/technique.

Landscape Project requirements are as follows: 

1. Urban: You don’t have to go to NYC  (although you are welcome to) but create an image that evokes the feeling of an urban landscape? Think lots of buildings.
2. Suburban: Same as urban, what constitutes a suburban landscape? Think houses, not tall buildings.
3. Rural: You don’t have to go to a farm or to a country location. Find an unpopulated and peaceful scene – think about what is in the frame.
4. The Golden Hour: Landscape photography is best done in the golden hour. This is the hour after dawn or the hour before sunset when the light is a rich golden color and strikes subject matter with an emphasis to detail. At least one of your photographs this week must be of a landscape taken during the golden hour. Dawn is definitely preferable, as the air is much clearer, but if your sleep schedule makes dawn either too late or too early, sunset is also acceptable. Take note of the time of the year – which affects sunrise and sunset.
5. Texture: Take at least one shot in which the main, or even sole compositional element is a natural texture. Use a small aperture (large F-number) to get everything in focus. Interesting natural textures include grass, rock, sand, and clouds.
6. Close Up: Shot under any conditions that you want as long as the image is somehow representing a close-up view of a landscape.
7. Long Shot: Shot under any conditions that you want as long as the image is somehow representing a long shot view of a landscape.
8. Freebie: Any landscape of your choice, in any compositional or light-evoking manner.

*A Freebie could mean photograph you want to include that does not fit the “categories” or is another really great texture shot, natural lighting shot, close up, or environmental photograph, etc.



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Adobe Camera Raw: Using the White Balance Tool

Setting your white balance is one of the most important edits you make in Camera Raw because if you do it right, your color will be spot on, and you won’t have any color correction problems to deal with later on in Photoshop.

There are three different ways to set your white balance in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR): the Temperature and Tint sliders, the White Balance presets drop-down menu, and the White Balance tool.

But before we get into these different methods, let’s discuss the difference between RAW and JPEG when it comes to white balance.


When you open a RAW image in ACR, it initially displays the white balance choice you made in camera, but there’s a White Balance preset drop-down menu where you can actually pick your white balance after the fact. When you shoot in JPEG, the white balance preset you chose in your camera is baked into the image, so the only preset available in the drop-down menu will be Auto.

Because of this, there’s a myth that you can’t change the white balance for JPEG images, but that’s not true. You can change it using the Temperature and Tint sliders and the White Balance tool (and I use those two the most anyway). However, the fact that white balance adjustments look better when performed on RAW images vs. JPEG images is not a myth, and you can test this for yourself. The next time you’re out shooting, change your camera to shoot in RAW + JPEG mode. Find an image whose white balance is off, correct the white balance on both images in ACR, and compare the results.


Okay, now back to actually tweaking our white balance. We’ll start with using the presets because this will either make fixing your white balance a one-click proposition, or at the very least give you a good starting place for further tweaking.

Click on the drop-down menu that says As Shot and start with Auto to see how it looks. If it looks right to you (and there’s a reasonable chance it will), then you’re done. If it doesn’t look right, try each preset until you find one that does look right. If you can’t find one that’s right on the money, then choose the one that looks closest to what you want, and use that as your starting place.


These two sliders let you tweak the white balance by dragging toward the color you want. This is easier than it sounds because Adobe added a color gradient behind both of these sliders so you can see which way to drag to get the color you want. For example, if you think your image looks a little too blue (cold), to make your image more yellow (warmer), drag the Temperature slider to the right. You can tell by looking at those color gradients that the farther you drag to the right, the warmer your image is going to look. Although the Temperature slider’s numbers are displayed in Kelvin degrees (the standard system used to measure the color temperature of light), this is totally a visual call on your part—stop dragging when the image looks warm enough to you.


Also, if you choose a White Balance preset and then you move either the Temperature or Tint slider, the preset menu now displays Custom, which just means you started with a preset and then tweaked it.

By the way, there’s no “International Committee of White Balance” that stands in judgment of your choice—you choose the white balance that looks best to you for what you’re trying to create.

The point where your choice becomes critical is when you’re doing commercial product photography, where the color of the product has to be exactly right for sales purposes. If that’s the case, you would use a color checker/gray card during the shoot to set a custom white balance in your camera.



This is my favorite way to set the white balance because it’s easy and I can try a number of different white balances quickly. Here’s how it works: Choose the White Balance tool from the toolbar (or press the letter I on your keyboard), and then click on something in your image that’s supposed to be gray. By telling ACR, “This area right here is supposed to be neutral gray,” it removes any yellow, blue, or other tints so that area actually becomes gray, and that corrects all the colors in your image.


If you click on the wrong area in your photo, you’ll instantly know it—your color will look awful (see below). If that happens, just click on a different area to try again. In just a few clicks, you’ll usually find a white balance that looks good to you. If you can’t nail the color exactly, get as close as you can and then use the Temperature and Tint sliders to tweak it; for example, if it looks a little too blue, just drag the Temperature slider to the right a tiny bit and you’re done.


Tip: One reason I don’t mind experimenting with different white balance settings is that it’s easy to start over from scratch. Any time things start to look funky, just double-click directly on the White Balance tool up in the toolbar and it resets everything back to the As Shot out-of-the-camera settings.


Setting the white balance is usually the first thing I do in ACR because if the color is really off, it’s so distracting that I can’t work on anything else. I usually don’t have to use all three methods to set white balance (presets, Temp/Tint sliders, and WB tool), I normally just use one or two.

First, decide if your white balance really needs adjusting at all—”if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” If you think it needs fixing, look for something that’s obviously supposed to be gray, click on it with the White Balance tool, and you’re probably done (it might take two or three clicks in nearby areas to find one you like).

If you don’t see an obvious area to click, then try the presets from the White Balance drop-down menu. If one looks good, then you’re done. If not, choose the one that looks the closest to the look you want, and then drag the Temperature and Tint sliders to tweak it. Normally, you’ll only have to use the Temperature slider, dragging it left to make the image cooler or right to make it warmer.


This Adobe Bridge tutorial shows how to correct a color cast with the White Balance tool in the Adobe Camera Raw view.


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100 Photos Assignment


Before you proceed with the 100 Photos Assignment, or if you’re in the middle of it and feel stuck, I’ve posted some short videos below that may help to inspire.

Powerful Photography Tips for Amazing Photos

What Makes a Great Picture? | National Geographic

As a reminder the Assignment guidelines are posted here (100-photos).

Please bring a copy of the guidelines to next week’s class as this is a multi-step assignment.






Upon arriving to class tomorrow morning (on time aka 9:15 am), please transfer your files to the desktop folder on the instructor’s computer) labeled “Student Work Documentary Walk.”

Be sure photograph files are in their own folder with your name.

If you are waiting please read the handout entitled “Learning to Critique a Photograph.”


Bring Your Camera To Class



Today we will continue to go over the basic functions of a DSLR camera, including manual operations and shooting in RAW. Please bring your camera to class. Also, dress warm as pending time, we will go outside to make some photographs to ensure everyone is on the same page with knowing how to operate their cameras.

DP 129 Necessities

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Hopefully by now, you have or have looked into getting a DSLR camera. A DSLR camera is necessary if you want to take this course.

SLR is an abbreviation: it stands for Single Lens Reflex.

Now you know what SLR stands for but that doesn’t really help answer the question, does it? Let’s define further:

  • With an SLR camera, you see exactly what the lens sees
  • You can change the lens on a digital SLR
  • Digital SLRs have large image sensors that produce high-quality photos
  • An SLR has a near-zero lag time, and is ideal for action photography

Bottom line? Digital SLR cameras are versatile.

You can take photos of everything from sleeping dogs to race cars and you’ll never be limited by your camera. With an SLR in your hands you can rest assured that you’ll only miss great photo opportunities because you weren’t prepared, not because your camera wasn’t able to get the shot.

The Anatomy of a Digital SLR

To properly answer “what is a digital SLR?” you have to understand a bit about the mechanics of an SLR camera.

In order to avoid getting overly technical I’ve simplified this diagram and am highlighting the key elements. Those interested in the minute details can read about Single-lens reflex cameras on Wikipedia.


  1. Light passes through the lens and strikes a mirror (green)
  2. The mirror reflects the light up to a focusing screen
  3. Light passes through the focusing screen and enters a block of glass called a pentaprism (orange)
  4. The pentaprism reflects the image so that you can see it in the viewfinder
  5. When you take a photo, the mirror flips up and a shutter (blue) opens that exposes the digital sensor (red) to light

This is a great example of what-you-see-is-what-you-get. By using the viewfinder you can precisely compose your image and adjust the focus.

Is the image that you see in the viewfinder 100% accurate? In most cases it isn’t. If you read digital SLR camera reviews, you may hear a lot about viewfinder “coverage” and “brightness”.

Many digital SLR viewfinders only show you 95% of the image that will be captured by the sensor – this is what “coverage” refers to. Unless you are extremely precise when it comes to your photographs you won’t notice the 5% difference.

Digital SLR viewfinders also vary in brightness, which is another way of saying how clear the image appears. “Bright” viewfinders make it easier to use manual focus, since you can clearly see the details of your subject.

A Lens for Every Occasion

In addition to the pentaprism viewfinder, one of the key features of any digital SLR camera is the ability to change lenses.Most people think that the camera alone is responsible for capturing an image, but this isn’t the case. The lens that’s attached to it can play a huge role in the color, contrast and clarity of every single photo that you take.

Owners of digital SLR cameras can buy lenses that match their photography style, since a landscape photographer should not use the same lens as a wildlife photographer. The ability to swap lenses at any time adds to the versatility of a digital SLR camera, and means that even if your photography needs change in a couple years, you won’t have to buy a new camera, you’ll just need a different lens.

Next Steps

Hopefully you’re starting to feel more comfortable about this whole digital SLR camera thing. If not, don’t worry, you will as each week goes by. The most important thing, once you get your camera, is to USE it. Push its buttons, LOOK at the manual! There are likely even instructional DVD’s for your camera model, and even free, instructional You Tube videos online.

If you have ANY questions or concerns, please reach out and ask me.

bs2-9780714859040 The Nature of Photographs: TEXT BOOK 

The Nature of Photographs is an essential primer of how to look at and understand photographs, by one of the world’s most influential photographers, Stephen Shore. In this book, Shore explores ways of understanding photographs from all periods and all types – from iconic images to found photographs, from negatives to digital files. This books serves as a  tool for anyone who wants to take better pictures or learn to look at photographs in a more informed way. This book is the only required text book for DP129.

Please get this book before class on Tuesday. You can purchase the book at the SUNY WCC bookstore. You can also order the book from WCC’s online store. Another go-to is Amazon, where you can purchase the book in soft or hardcover, and also used.

Next class’ homework will ask that you complete a written response to this textbook (due a week later).

AS ALWAYS, If you have ANY questions or concerns, please reach out and ask me.