Materials from Ethics lesson (2/19)

Here is a bullet-pointed synopsis of John Long’s video, along with some updated thoughts and suggestions:

Ethics in the Age of Digital Photography Study Guide

Also, please read and download the material about issues of “taste” in photographing and publishing potentially controversial photographs depicting death and tragedy:

Lessons in Humanity: The Ethics of Taste in Photojournalism

And lastly, as always, here is the PDF version of the presentation:

Photojournalism Ethics Presentation

NOTE: For those who missed class, make sure you scroll through the presentation and read my presenter’s notes. The associated videos are below.

These are important issues. Like I said in class, your generation will determine how photographs remain credible testimonies in the context of news. Know the issues and think about how to solve some of the problems we experience with credibility in visual journalism.

Expect to see some additional articles posted on the FB group to help you expand your understanding. Hopefully, we can generate further discussion about this.

As always, contact me if you have any questions.

Videos from presentation:

Photoshop CS5 Tutorial Content Aware Fill


Because of copyright restrictions, I cannot post James Nachtwey’s excerpt from “War Photographer.” But here is a link to the video posted on my Google Drive account:

Nachtwey’s Mission (Excerpt from “War Photographer”)



Assignment 3: Places and Faces

Deadline: Due on the the class website before 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 26


Most people simply point their cameras and push a button to take pictures. To move beyond the shapshot mentality, we must learn to start crafting our photos. Good composition gives structure to our images. This assignment will give you a chance to start practicing the fundamentals of composition – angles, perspectives, focal points, and controlling everything in your frame – front to back, side to side.

Beyond the basics, we want to start exploring compositional creativity. We want our photos to be eye-stopping and memorable. Graphic appeal elevates photographs above merely informational ones.

We need to start learning how to build a photograph.

Assignment criteria for credit

Three photos are required for credit (see the specific criteria for each photo below):

  1. Places
  2. Places with Faces
  3. Faces in Places

Use your Photo Checklist. Each photo must exhibit technical excellence (sharp focus, correct exposure and color balance) and compositional competence ( 1. Create a focal point, 2. control your background, 3. fill the frame).

WARNING: A “C” grade on a picture means that it is merely “publishable” in a professional environment. Nothing more. Slightly underexposed (and overexposed frames, to a lesser extent) can be corrected in post-processing. Make sure you do this, or your grade will be effected. However, pictures that are out-of-focus are not publishable! Don’t even bother turning them in, so make sure you nail focus in your pictures. Right now, you still have time to practice this. So keep practicing and keep shooting until your pictures are in-focus and you can control this.

For an “A” or a “B” on this assignment. you must show an effort to go beyond mere competence and explore compositional creativity in each of your photographs. Again, refer to your Photo Checklist under the #2 heading (Does the photograph have compositional creativity?). See if you can check off at least two of the categories for each of your photographs.

Write a caption for each photograph. For this assignment, I’m not going to require full AP Style, but you need to describe your place. Where is it? What’s it called? What’s interesting about it? For the last photo (Faces in Places), you need to identify your subjects in the caption.

Each photograph should be toned and cropped, if necessary, and posted with a caption and a heading to designate which category the photo fulfills. The caption, if it was properly imbedded in your image file, should automatically show up with the photo in your post. You will have to type a heading in the body of your post.

Include all three photos in a single post on the website. Don’t forget to include the assignment name and your full name in the title of the post!

In addition to shooting time, give yourself enough time for the editing and posting process. And give yourself enough time in case you are having trouble and need to contact me.

Again, note the deadline. Late assignments will not be accepted.

Criteria for each photograph:

Places: Try to capture the “spirit” of a place in a photograph. Rather than simply capturing a scene, see if you can tell a story. What’s significant about this place? Why might it be interesting to others? What do you feel when you are in this place? Don’t answer these questions in your caption. SHOW us! Use creative composition to help translate that feeling through your photograph.

Note: There can be people in your “place” photograph, because some places might always have people in it. Just make sure the emphasis in this photo is on the place itself.

Places with Faces: A person, or people, must be in this photograph. Give more or less equal value to the people and the place in your photograph. Try to capture a person, or people, interacting with your place. Or interacting with each other in a place. Use composition to draw attention to your subjects. That is, create a focal point! Think of it as “building a stage” for the people in your photograph. The stage itself (the place) must be important to this photograph, as well.

Note: The assignment specifically says “faces,” but you don’t necessarily have to show faces in your photograph. It’s a good idea, though, as faces help draw attention to our photographs. Substitute the word “people” for “faces” in your head, if it helps.

Faces in Places: Make a person, or people, the main focus of this photograph. Avoid large group shots for this photograph. Two or three people, max. You’ll probably learn more from this assignment if you concentrate on one person for this photo. You still need to show a sense of “place” so we have a contextual understanding of your subject and/or some graphic appeal. Use composition to make your subject the clear focal point.

Note: Definitely get IDs for any people in this last photo. Make sure your subjects are identified in your caption!



NOTE: I am not expecting award winning photographs from you as you learn. But I do expect to see effort while you try to embrace and practice the concepts. How do you know if you’re on the right track?

If your pictures are looking like anyone in the world could have shot the same image with their smartphone, then you probably need to make a little more effort. Your DSLR, your lenses, and your new knowledge should make your pictures look different from the snapshots most people take. To that end, here are some things to keep in mind …

Start at the beginning. Create a focal point! Always ask yourself, “What do I want people to look at first in this photograph?” By answering this question, you will get a much better idea about where you need to be when you make your pictures. Even landscapes are more interesting when there’s a strong focal point, as opposed to simply capturing an overall scene. Review the ways to create a focal point in the class presentation, if you need to.

Pay attention to your surroundings. What do you see? Do you see shapes, and lines, and patterns around you that you could utilize in your photographs? Where do those elements lead your eye to? How can you use that to your advantage. Remember: look up, look down, look all around!

MOVE!!! Photography is not a static activity. Now that you’ve started to notice shapes, and lines and patterns, where do you need to move to in order to make them a part of your photograph? How do your surroundings change, in relationship to your subject or focal point, as you move around? How do things change when you move closer. Or further away. Or to the left. Or right. Or up. Or down. Try shooting with different focal lengths, and see how things change as you move.

This is key: shoot pictures while you move. Don’t simply look through your viewfinder and keep moving until you think you’ve found the perfect spot. You learn by actually shooting pictures. Check your results as you move. You might like the results from a certain spot, but don’t stop there. Keep shooting until you’ve throughly explored your place or subject.

Carry a camera with you all the time, if you can! You need to make time and devote it to shooting photographs for your assignments. However, you never know when you might run across something or someone that would make a great photograph. Be prepared. It might even help you finish up your assignment early, as opposed to shooting it at the last minute.

Shoot LOTS of pictures! It might take you several images just to nail your exposure and focus. Don’t shoot lots of images just to make lots of images, though. This is about visual exploration. Sometimes you need to shoot pictures so you can identify what doesn’t work, as well as what works. Big changes in your physical position or big changes to camera settings (aperture or focal length, for example) will make obvious differences. But little changes to your position or settings can also can make a big difference. You won’t find out unless you are shooting pictures through the whole process.

Use your handouts for editing. So, you might have just shot several hundred frames for this assignment. Now what? Use the step-by-step instructions for Lightroom or the Photos app. More importantly, use your Photo Checklist when making selections. You can immediately eliminate any frames that are not in-focus or grossly under/overexposed. You can start evaluating composition, even at thumbnail size, as you scroll through your images in Lightroom or Photos. Hint: if the picture doesn’t catch your eye at thumbnail size, it certainly won’t improve when you enlarge it! So make your selections, crop and tone them if necessary, and make sure your caption is added to each of your selections. Also remember to export your selections so your changes are saved. Then you can use the step-by-step WordPress instructions for uploading your selections to the class website.

As always, contact me if you have any questions. Text message is the fastest way to reach me, btw.


Review the presentation on Composition

Due to many technical difficulties, we really didn’t get to spend enough time discussing composition, so here’s a link to the PDF version of the presentation, with my presenters notes:

Presentation: Composition

Contained within the presentation is another document which will not only help you through your latest shooting assignment, but it can help you through the rest of the semester as you shoot assignments and edit your work:

Photo Checklist

Make sure you download this one, and perhaps print it out. You might want to keep it with you. It could help you remember and get better at thinking your way through shooting assignments.

Make sure you review the presentation, especially the parts about compositional creativity and requirements for your next assignment, so you can see examples before you begin shooting Assignment 3: Places and Faces. Like I said, you might want to keep your Photo Checklist with you and start looking for elements, out in the real world, that you could incorporate into your photographic composition.

Before next class, watch this video!

In order to participate in class next week – and to pass a short, 5-question quiz at the beginning of class – you need to watch this video:

Ethics in the Age of Digital Photography

First, give yourself an hour. It’s not a short video – it’s an in-depth discussion about the most pressing ethical issues confronting visual journalism today. And the issues might not be exactly what many first think of when discussing ethics in journalism.

Why make you watch a video about ethics instead of simply presenting the issues in class myself? Well, I want everyone to understand that there are some prevailing thoughts and philosophies in the industry. I don’t want you, as students, to simply take the word of one photojournalist from the local newspaper. You need exposure to the thoughts and opinions of important people in the news biz. That’s part of my job as your instructor.

This is a video produced by the National Press Photographers Association in 2006 and features former Hartford Courant photographer and photo editor John Long, who was the NPPA Ethics Chair for over 15 years. While 2006 might seem a little dated (and the production quality of the video is certainly dated), the issues just might be more pressing than ever.

You NEED to watch this video in order to participate in ethical discussions. And I WILL be asking questions and we’ll be looking at a few current examples of the issues and discussing them.

The video isn’t published anywhere on the internet, so – for copyright reasons – I can’t post it on Facebook or the class website.

If you have problems watching it, contact me RIGHT AWAY!

Take notes while you’re watching it. I’ll even let you use them when you take the quiz!

Get your mugshots/depth-of-field assignments turned in!

Make sure you get both parts of Assignment 2 (Mug Shots and Depth-of-Field/Lens Perspective) posted to the website by the end of the week. I suggest a separate post for each part. Note that most of your shooting assignments should be a single post, even if multiple pictures are assigned.

Here is a link to a PDF with step-by-step instructions for posting your shooting assignments to the website:

Posting assignments to the class WordPress website

We also went over the entire process of downloading, organizing, selecting, and preparing your final images in Lightroom. Very quickly, obviously. I posted this last week, but I’ll link the step-by-step instructions for Lightroom again:

Using Adobe Lightroom 

Again, we went over these things very quickly in class. Don’t worry if you feel like you didn’t get everything down. These two documents should be everything you need to make sure your shooting assignments are turned in on time and that you have access to your pictures for later on . Remember that a portfolio of your work is due at the end of the semester, so don’t lose your photos!

So keep these instructions handy and always give yourself enough time for the downloading/editing/selection/uploading process for each shooting assignment.


As always, contact me if you have any questions.

Invitations to become website “users”

I sent out invitations to everyone so you can become users with “author” status and post on the website. Following the “Visual Nouns & Verbs” assignment, all of your subsequent shooting assignment will need to be posted right here.

If you have not received an invitation, contact me right right away. Sometimes email addresses can get messed up during mass emailings.

If you do not currently have a account, just follow the directions so you can create one. Using your pics from the Mugshots and Depth-of-Field assignment, we’ll quickly be going over how to post your assignments on Monday (2/12). Go ahead and create your user account right away.

If you want to, 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 before 2/12.

More on Lightroom & digital workflow

We ran through the basics of using Adobe Lightroom to create a catalog, download/import your pictures, and copy images to your Google Drive folder.

Next week, we will import our images from Assignment 2: Parts 1 & 2, but we will learn how to select and edit those pictures, and how to export your finished images into a new folder.

So, we’ll run through the Lightroom workflow in class (2/12) one more time, and I’ll show you how to upload your final selections to the class website.

In order to do this, I will need to designate every one of you as website users, with “author” status, so you can submit and edit your own posts. Look for an invitation and accept it right away.

Bring the same things to the next class that you did for the last one (your camera’s card with your images, a card 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. Just be advised: we will proceed with haste! So review the Lightroom/workflow process so we can quickly dispatch with that task and move on to other topics.

This is important: Monday is the last time we dedicate class time to the process necessary to submit your shooting assignments on the class website. After Monday, it will be up to you to get your assignments posted on the website outside of class time, before deadline!

I gave you a handout with step-by-step instructions in class, but here’s a link to those instructions in case you need them on your devices or need to print them out again:

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 Windows 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. If your personal computer is Windows-based, please read the note below, however.

NOTE to Windows users: I used to recommend the Picasa desktop app for Windows users as a free photo management app. However, Google has dropped support for Picasa. They have moved to a completely online model with Google Photos, but that is not sufficient for what we need to do as journalists. The Picasa desktop app used to be still available to download and use on your computer if you needed a free photo management application. However, most download sites have stopped making Picasa available for download.

Like Apple, Microsoft now has a Photos app available. I don’t know much about it, but I will try to find out more. If you have a Windows-based computer, try this link to learn more about Microsoft Photos: How to use the Windows 10 Photos app

You can probably tell that Microsoft Photos, like Apple Photos, is geared towards sharing photos online. I’m not yet sure if Microsoft Photos has the advanced capabilities to edit your photos and embed captions, however. I will share as I learn more. If you learn more before I do, please share that info with everyone via the FB Group.

If you own a Windows-based computer, you might want to stick to using Lightroom on a University computer to turn in your future assignments until we learn more about Windows Photos.

Again, these are the basics of Lightroom and digital image workflow 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!) on the FB group.

Ultimately, this is more about learning a proper workflow than about Lightroom. Frankly, I don’t care what software you use to turn in assignments, but these things are REQUIRED!

You need is software that is capable of :

  • browsing images for editing/selection purposes
  • embedding captions and other metadata into the image file itself
  • cropping your images
  • making basic color and tonal corrections (white balance, lightness and darkness, contrast)
  • saving or exporting your images as JPEG files


As always, contact me if you have any questions.