Using Adobe Lightroom

We ran through the basics of using Adobe Lightroom to create a catalog, download your pictures, select and edit those pictures, and export them.

We’ll run through this in class (2/10) one more time, and I’ll show you how to upload your final selections to the class website. So bring the same things to the next class that you did for the last (your camera’s card with your images, a carder reader, and your storage device. Since you’ve already created a catalog on your storage device, you can skip the directions on how to create one. I’ll show you how to load it.)

Here are the step-by-step instructions in writing, so you can have them near you the next time you go through this process. You might want to go ahead and print them out.

Using Adobe Lightroom

You’ll notice that the last two pages of this document include directions on how to use the Apple Photos app on a Mac, and how to use Google Picasa on a PC. I included these in case you want to complete your assignments on a personal computer that doesn’t have Lightroom installed. The process is basically the same. The interfaces are just a little different. If you have a Mac, you can install Picasa and use that, if you prefer. However, the Photos app does everything you’ll need it to do.

Again, these are the basics of Lightroom to get you started and complete your shooting assignments. I suggest you do a little reading if you want to know more.

Heres a link to Lightroom tutorials on Adobe’s website: Lightroom Tutorials.

There’s a ton of tutorials and learning materials out there, and you can take it as far as you like. I encourage you to share any materials you might find with your classmates (and me!) here on the website or on the FB group.

As always, contact me if you have any questions.



AP Style Captions

This is one of the most important topics we will cover this semester, and you will need to put this into practice from here on out. Expect to be tested on captions in addition to being graded on them with your shooting assignments.

Download the PDF with examples of real AP photos with captions:

AP Style Captions.PDF

You can also view the slides on captions from the presentation (you’ll have to scroll down for the captions section):

Creative Control/Captions presentation

In the news business, photo captions are a fundamental, professional requirement and are necessarily included with every photograph submitted for publication. The Associated Press style for caption writing assumes that each and any picture it moves on its wire service may be used by itself, not necessarily with a story, so each photograph is accompanied by complete information. Whenever possible, try to keep captions to no more than two concise sentences, while including the relevant information. Try to anticipate what information the reader will need.

The 5 Ws:

  1. Who – Captions must include the full name, age, and home town of any identifiable subjects included in the photo. Also, if there are multiple subjects, indicate their position within the image (left, right, center, etc.) so there is no confusion about who is who. Titles and/or designations are also included. Ex: Georgia Southern University journalism professor Charles Brown, 54, left, …
  2. What – Be concise and clear about any actions depicted in the photograph, but don’t simply state the obvious. For example, if people are talking – what are they talking about? If someone is running – are they exercising, escaping danger, playing, etc.
  3. Where – Be specific, such as “in Veazey Hall on the campus of Georgia Southern University,” but also mark the town or city and state. Use AP Style for state abbreviations. Ex: … in Veazey Hall on the campus of Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Ga.
  4. When – Include the day of the week, month, day, and year the photograph was taken. Follow AP style for the date. Ex: on Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2009.
  5. Why – The first sentence of an AP style caption typically includes the first four Ws. Additional sentences – usually one sentence – can explain the “Why,” helping the reader understand the photo in its proper context by describing why the action, situation or content of the picture is important or interesting. It may include additional facts or statistics, either from the photographer’s own observations or from the accompanying story. Sometimes, the use of a subject’s quote may be appropriate. Ex: Brown is teaching the first multimedia course offered at the university in a program boasting record enrollment this year.


Style and form

First Sentence:

  • Active verbs – always use the active form of verbs. Ex:John Smith runs …” never “John Smith is running …”
  • Present tense – cutlines should always be written in the present tense, as if the moment depicted is happening right before the viewers’ eyes.

Past tense and passive verbs may be used in the contextual second sentence.

Signoff/Credit – Always at the end of a caption, in parentheses, the photographer includes a signoff – the photographer’s affiliation and name. Ex. (George-Anne photo/Jane Smith).

Use **CQ** after names that are not common spellings. Ex: Micheal **CQ** Jones learns audio editing software in a mulitmedia communications class …

Use double asterisks “**” before and after any information that is not meant for publication, such as CQ or contact information.

Note: AP captions are usually rewritten to fit a newspaper’s individual style and to avoid redundancy of information when multiple photographs of the same subject or event are published.

However, because one never knows how or when a photograph may be used, learning to write an AP style caption ensures that vital information and context always stay attached to the image file. Complete information is also extremely important for archiving and searching for photographs

Review of Creative Control basics

You need to learn how your gear (especially lenses) can affect your creative choices. Review here, if you need to, and start practicing!!!

PDF version of the presentation:

Creative Control/Captions

Here is the video on depth-of-field basics:


Here is the video that demonstrates how perspective changes with focal length:


Let me know if you have any questions.

Assignment 2: Part 2 – Depth-of-field/lens perspectives

It’s important to learn how your choice of aperture and focal length can change the way your pictures look and feel. And practice staying out of “the middle!”


Find ONE subject and make four pictures of this subject, each one framed the same way, with the subject the same size, showing him or her from the chest up, positioned in the bottom third of the frame to the left or the right. Make sure there is some kind of background element at least 10 feet beyond your subject (don’t use a wall or something featureless). Example (make sure you read the caption):


Try to compose your images for this exercise in a way similar to this photograph. Position your subject in the lower third of the frame (either side is okay) and make sure the subject’s head is the same size in ALL FOUR pictures.


Picture #1  

  • Find the shortest focal length of whatever lens you are using. If you have more than one lens, start with the one which has the widest angle of view (shortest focal range). If you are using the lens that comes with your university kit, that means 18mm. If you are using your own kit lens, that probably means 17mm.
  • Set your aperture to the widest setting, or smallest f-value (we call this shooting “wide open”). If you are using the university’s lens, that means f/2.8. If you are using your own kit lens with a variable maximum aperture, that probably means f/3.5
  • Set your shutter speed and ISO accordingly for a correct exposure.
  • Make several pictures. You may pose your subject for this. Try to pay attention to the background and shoot in a way that creates a visual relationship to your subject.

Picture #2

  • Shoot this at the same focal length, without changing your position and using the same composition, but now set your aperture to f/16, again, adjusting your shutter speed and/or ISO to maintain correct exposure.

Picture #3

  • Now, change your zoom (or lens, if you have more than one) to the longest focal length (50mm on a university lens, 55mm for most other kit lenses) and move back until you can compose the photo the same exact way as the first two. Don’t zoom back and forth to recompose! Simply zoom all the way out and leave it there. Adjust your composition by moving yourself back and forth.
  • Shoot wide open (widest aperture) again. This will still be f/2.8 on a university lens. If you have your own variable aperture lens, then f/5.6 will probably be your widest aperture once you zoom out to 55mm.
  • Adjust your shutter speed and ISO to get proper exposure.

Picture #4

  • Shoot this final image from the same spot as #3, setting your aperture to f/16 this time (and, again, adjusting your shutter speed/ISO for proper exposure).


Collect the same information for this subject that you did for your mugshots. You may use one of your mug shot subjects for this assignment, if you wish and he or she has the time.

Assignment 2: Part 1 – the Mug Shot

The head shot – or mug shot, as it is commonly referred to in the newsroom – is the most rudimentary type of photograph used in the news business. It is often used to identify a subject and/or to add a small graphic element to a story. As photo staffs are shrinking in newsrooms, every journalist should know how to shoot a competent mug shot. Shy? This will help you get over it. As journalists, we constantly have to approach strangers and talk to them. Here’s your chance to practice.


Shoot mug shots of FIVE different people and gather their basic personal information. No more than 3 out of the 5 mugs can be students. For each person photographed, you should get this information:

  • Any title or designation, including the institution (institution first THEN title, no separator)
  • Name (First and last name)
  • Age (separated by commas, after name)
  • Hometown (full-time residence, town/city, state)
  • Contact info (phone # and/or email address) 

Example:  Georgia Southern University biology professor Jim Smith, 54, of Brooklet, Ga.  (

Why the contact info? It’s good journalistic practice. If you have contact info for the people you photograph, writers or designers can contact your subjects for quotes or to verify facts. Do we always do it? No. But it’s a good habit to get into, especially when you are starting out. It’s always better to have more information than you can use rather than not enough.

Also, as a student, teacher, and practicing journalist, I have known people to occasionally make up information for their own convenience. This is a major breach of ethics. Accuracy must be journalists’ continuing bond with their audience. There’s a good chance I may randomly contact subjects to verify their information.

Type your IDs and save them in a text or Word document on your storage device before class. You will save time by copying and pasting them into your image files rather than typing them all in during class.


Watch your background

Try to find a clean, non-distracting background, but don’t stand your subject up against it! Get some separation between the subject and the background. Watch out for “hot spots,” or areas of extreme brightness in your background. The light in the background shouldn’t be brighter than your subject’s face, if you can help it. Have your subject pivot and move your position until you have a clean background, if necessary. Wide apertures (small aperture values) are usually best to utilize a shallow depth-of-field and make your subjects stand out from the background.

Fill the Frame!

Shoot VERTICAL, as the head has a vertical orientation. Don’t shoot a picture with a tiny head centered in the frame. However, try to leave enough space above and below the head so your frame can be cropped into a square without cutting any of the head off. This is important because head shots are often cropped in different ways. They tend to be vertical in print, but square seems to be most common in web templates.







Stand back and zoom in

It’s better to shoot mug shots with lenses in the telephoto range. If you shoot in the wide angle range and are too close, facial features will begin to distort. With some camera and lens combinations, longer focal lengths can also help clean up your background by dropping it out of focus. If you are using a kit lens, either your own or one of the university’s, stick to the longest focal length – 50 or 55mm.

Put your subject at ease.

Many people are uncomfortable being photographed, so it’s up to you to make them comfortable. Tell them to relax and be themselves, and shoot lots of pictures. Often, you’ll find that the more pictures you shoot, the more relaxed your subject becomes.

Wait for the moment

Yes, even mug shots can have moments. Be mindful of facial expressions. Even small changes can infer different meanings to readers. Try to capture different expressions (try not to coach too much), but make sure you have a shot with a neutral expression, because you never know what type of story that picture might be used with in the future. You don’t want to run a mug shot of a smiling public official after they’ve been indicted for embezzlement or misconduct.

Did I mention, shoot lots of pictures?

Make sure you shoot test frames to check your exposure and camera settings. Tell your subject what your doing.  A couple of test frames might help them relax. Make adjustments if necessary. Be methodical and don’t proceed until your test frames look acceptable. Once you get your exposure correct, then shoot away!

NOTE:  Be careful about letting your subjects view the results in your camera: some people will never be happy with the results. Those people often see this task as an opportunity for a personal portrait – your job is to capture their likeness for informational purposes – that’s it.

Invitations sent!

I just sent out invitations to everyone to become users with “author” status so you can post on the website. You’ll need to do this because this is where you will turn in most of your shooting assignments. Just follow the directions. Feel free to post a little “hello” right here so you can try it out. Or share a link or something you’ve seen that we all might find interesting. Just make sure you accept the invitation and join.

Also, you should have received another invitation to share a Google Drive folder with me. We won’t use these as much, but you’ll need to upload the pictures from your Nouns & Verbs assignment in your folder.

Let me know if you have not received both invitations.

Don’t forget what you need to bring to class Wednesday (2/3). Re-read the Nouns & Verbs assignment if you don’t remember.

See you soon, and – as always – contact me if you have any questions.

Review of class (1/27)

If you need to review the material we went over in class, here you go …

Here is a PDF version of the presentation, with my presenter’s notes:

Technical Control: Photography basics

I’m going to post some videos here, too, in case you want to review what we watched in class, as well as a couple of videos that go into more depth about what we discussed:

This is the first video we watched, so you can review the basics. The terminology is important:


Second, here is a video that goes into detail about aperture values and why some lenses have a range of maximum apertures vs. a fixed maximum aperture value:


If you need to review how to shoot in manual mode and using your light meter, watch this:


Here is the video that helps explain the process of choosing the best exposure values (aperture, shutter speed, and ISO) for your conditions:


If you want a primer about how to use your autofocus points, view this:


And here is the video on using back-button focus:


Shooting news photographs is a lot more like shooting wildlife than you might realize! If you want more info and details about using back-button autofocus, watch this (NOTE: this is especially good for Nikon users who don’t have a dedicated AF-On button – such as the D3000, D3100, and D3200 – but Canon users should watch this, too, because the technique is the same):


So, there’s your review.

A couple of you missed class. This is where you need to start. Read and watch everything, with your camera in hand. Then contact me ASAP if you have any questions.

That goes for everybody, if you have any questions, contact me!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 42 other followers