JO305C1 Basic Photography spring 2021

JO305C1 Basic Photography Spring 2021


Peter Smith 
Master Lecturer

Class meets Mon.  2:30 – 5:15pm
Office: Zoom
Office hours: 
Monday: 1-2:15pm
Tuesday: 11am-12pm
Wednesday: 1-2:15pm

Cell:  617 548 0109

Course Description
JO305 is a basic digital photo course that covers camera operation, image processing, image tagging, and publishing.  Most assignments will be processed in black and white. Color is introduced later in the course. We will also cover the basics of file management and creating a photo portfolio.

Teamwork is essential in this course to create a strong learning environment. You will work with a partner and other classmates on field trips to complete assignments. Teamwork will also help to create a productive environment. Throughout this course we will focus on areas of aesthetics, light, and defining moment. We will complete a number of exercises to strengthen photo technique and prepare for documentary challenges as we learn to capture a sense of place and to define the world around us with compelling photographs.

The 10 shooting assignments in JO305 cover portraiture, motion, depth-of-field, hot-shoe flash for DSLR, night photography, silhouette, color, photographing an environmental portrait, shooting a selfie, producing a five-picture photo essay and creating an Adobe Portfolio.

JO305 covers the basics of Lightroom. Classic and CC, and Adobe Portfolio.  We will also cover digital hygiene, nondestructive editing, color correction, image toning, sharpening, tagging, caption writing and understanding resolution.

Photoshop tools may not be used in this class to alter the meaning of an image. Cropping is not allowed, but you are required to straighten your horizon.   Students will upload assignments to the class Smugmug account.

You can use a DSLR camera or a Smart Phone for class assignments. DSLR cameras will require a storage card (minimum 32 gig).  A 50mm lens or a zoom lens that can be set to 50mm is required for all assignments shot with a DSLR camera, except for the final project when telephoto and wide-angle lenses may also be used. 

Students are required to have a suitable laptop computer and an external hard drive.  A camera will not be needed until the second class.  There are handouts available for all assignments.


Daily read – pick one from below,
or substitute any large city paper/news site

New York Times 
Washington Post



Week one:  January 25
INTRODUCTION:  Meet and Greet. Where are you?  Why did you elect to take this class? How good is your internet speed? Tell us about the gear you have: camera, flash, tripod, computer, external hard drive?
Review syllabus and basic photo settings of: aperture (f-stop), shutter speed, ISO, lens speed. View gallery of past student work.

Download Creative Cloud to your computer. The download Adobe Lightroom Classic and CC, and download Adobe Portfolio.

Review best practices for keeping safe when working in the field.

Home work:
Learn about the exposure triangle.
Review Canon camera settings Keynote presentation.
You can reserve photo equipment from FPS in the basement of COM for up to one week at a time.

Week two:
  February 1

Review camera operation for DSLR and Smartphone camera.
We will cover camera operation, menu settings, exposure, filing system, color management and digital hygiene. 
View Portraits gallery:
Portraits handout

Photograph face of an individual (a) in bright sunlight, (b) on a cloudy day. Bring CF/SD card and camera to class to review camera settings and making exposure decisions using camera’s light meter.
Portraits: 10pts (exercise, lighting, esthetics)

Week three:  February 8
Bring CF/SD card to class with assignments 1&2 to download files to Lightroom Library. We will discuss tagging, converting files to black and white and exporting hi-res jpegs.  Download Creative Cloud to get Adobe Lightroom Classic and Adobe Lightroom CC browsers and functions.

Week four:  February 16
February 16, President’s Day Meet on Tuesday for holiday schedule.Images from assignment 1, Portraits are DUE and must be uploaded by the end of class. 

Learn depth-of-field

Focus gallery

Focus  handout:

Choose a general scene with infinite distance apparent in background with a person 6 feet from the camera.  Shoot at (a) 1/1000 with wide aperture, also shoot at (b) f/16 with slower shutter speed.  Use your camera’s light meter to establish correct exposure.
Focus: 10pts (exercise, aesthetics)


Week Five:  February 22
Images are DUE from assignment  2, Focus –  Upload to Smugmug.

Creative Shutter gallery

Assignment 3 Creative Shutter handout

Photograph Stop Action and Panning
Use fast and slow shutter speed to freeze and pan action
 (a) someone walking down steps (b) a bicycle in motion.
Creative shutter: 10pts (exercise, documentary, esthetics)

Week Six:
  March 1
Images from assignment 3, Creative Shutter are DUE. Upload to Smugmug. 
Understand lighting.

flash gallery!

 Creative Flash handout

Turn in 3 examples of flash technique: (a) two heads using direct or bounce light, (b) fill-flash with direct flash (in front of backlit background, (c) bounce flash portrait. Use a hotshot flash for DSLR or us a fill card. Use a hot light to light indoors without a flash.

Week Seven:
 March 8
Images from assignment 4, Flash Photos are DUE. 

Night Photography gallery
Night Assignment handout

Shoot night scenes of (a) incident light and (b) reflected light night scenes (tripod helpful).
Night: 5pts (documentary, lighting, esthetics)

Week Eight:  March 15
Images from assignment 5, Night are DUE. Upload to Smugmug and post best shot. Create ‘about me’ page for Adobe Portfolio.

Silhouette gallery:

Silhouette handout

Photograph silhouette, a backlit subject – expose meter for the bright background.
Silhouette: 5pts (exercise, lighting, aesthetics)


Week Nine:  March 22
Images from assignment 6, silhouette are DUE. Upload to Smugmug.

Color gallery

Color handout
Shoot a color photograph with strong color contrast and process that image three ways.  Second, using a daylight setting for your white balance, shoot photos with heavy overcast for blue light and shoot with very warm light from sunset.  Use color to enhance mood of image.

Color: 5pts (documentary, lighting, aesthetics)


Week Ten:  March 29
Images from assignment 7, Color are DUE. Upload. 
Create ‘best of’ gallery.

Self Portrait gallery

Self Portrait handout

Self-portrait (taken inside without a flash).
Self: 5pts (exercise, lighting, branding)

Week Eleven:  April 5
Images from assignments 8, Self-Portrait are DUE. Upload.

Review Adobe Portfolio final requirements, add ‘photo essay’ and portfolio page.
Assignment nine, environmental portrait.

Famous Person gallery

Famous portrait handout

Environmental Portraits

Photograph an environmental portrait of someone you do not know and who does not work for BU.
Environmental portrait: 10pts (documentary)

Week Twelve: 
April 12

Images from assignments 9, Famous Person are DUE. Upload

Shooting assignment 10 Photo Essay

The Photo Essay handout

Alternative assignment to photo essay

Finish shooting narrative photo essay.   
Final photo story: 20pts (documentary)

Week Thirteen:  April 21
Patriot’s Day: April 21, meet on Wednesday for holiday schedule.

Assignment 10, Photo Essay Due
Ten images should be uploaded to Smugmug.

Week Fourteen:  April 26
Portfolio is due: About page, 10 photos of best work, 5-10 photos of photo essay.

Open lab to finish portfolio.

There are a total of 11 projects due during the semester and class reviews of stories. They are rated as follows:

  1. Portraits:10pts (exercise, lighting, esthetics)
  2. Focus:10pts (exercise, esthetics)
  3. Creative shutter:10pts (documentary, esthetics)
  4. Night:10pts (documentary, sense of place, scene setter)
  5. Flash:5pts (exercise, lighting, esthetics)
  6. Silhouette:5pts (exercise, lighting, esthetics)
  7. Color:5pts (documentary, lighting, esthetics)
  8. Self:5pts (exercise, lighting, branding)
  9. Environmental Portrait:10pts (documentary)
  10. Final photo essay:20pts (documentary)
  11. Adobe Portfolio:10pts (publishing)
  • Grades are based on quality, content and punctuality of work submitted.  
    Late assignments lose one grade point (A to B) for each week they are late.
    Assignments that are not turned in receive an F.  The final grade is an average of all grades received during the semester.
    Assignments are DUE at the end of class.

GPA conversion

A: 4.0
A-: 3.7
B : 3.0
B-: 2.7
C : 2.0
C-: 1.7
D : 1.0
F : 0.0

Percentage based Grade Scale

A : 93-100
A-: 90-92.99
B: 83-86.99
B-: 80-82.99
C+: 77-79.99
C: 73-76.99
C-: 70-72.99
D: 60-69.99
F: 0-59.99

Each assignment is graded on the following:
•        Technical (40%):    Camera (exposure) settings and focus.  Toning adjustments and sharpening.
•        Demonstration of assignment concept (40%)
•        Captioning and metadata (20%)

For the final photo story – technical, concept, and text/metadata will be weighted equally.
Adobe Portfolio will be graded on two galleries (best work and photo story); about me page.



  • After shooting 10 assignments students will be able to:
    Shoot portraits, freeze action, create motion through panning technique, photograph incident and reflective light at night with a tripod and use a flash.
    Produce well-toned, tagged images and publish them in their own blog.
    Produce well-framed, strongly composed images that are properly exposed with good use of lighting – all to industry standards.
    Communicate with strong black and white photographs and be capable of producing a color image that is color corrected and has thoughtful use of color.
    Understand the broader concepts of photojournalism.
    Gain photographic visual literacy, with the ability to deconstruct how an image was created and to better understand a photograph’s manipulations, biases and narrative.
    Develop a strong visual awareness and strong observational skills.



Boston University stated policies:

Sexual Misconduct

Boston University is committed to fostering a safe, productive learning

environment. Title IX and our school policy prohibit discrimination on the basis of

sex, which regards sexual misconduct – including harassment, domestic and dating

violence, sexual assault, and stalking. We understand that sexual violence can

undermine students’ academic success and we encourage students who have

experienced some form of sexual misconduct to talk to someone about their

experience, so they can get the support they need. Confidential support and

academic advocacy resources can be found with the Center for Sexual Assault

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treatment of students and guests on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, gender

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Discrimination for any of these reasons is prohibited. Please refer to the

Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Policy for more details.

Diversity in the Classroom

Please alert me to anything related to preferred pronouns, preferred name or

nickname, or any extenuating circumstances or trigger warnings (personal, medical,

etc.) that might affect your classroom experience via our pre-class survey. I want to

make sure you have the most positive experience in the classroom as possible.

Boston University’s founders opened its doors to all students without regard to

religion, race, or gender. Building and sustaining a vibrant community of scholars,

students, and staff remains essential to our mission of contributing to, and

preparing students to thrive in, an increasingly interconnected world.

We strive to create environments for learning, working, and living that are enriched

by racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. We seek to cultivate an atmosphere of

respect for individual differences in life experience, sexual orientation, and religious

belief, and we aspire to be free of intellectual parochialism, barriers to access, and


Success in a competitive, global milieu depends upon our ongoing commitment to

welcome and engage the wisdom, creativity, and aspirations of all peoples. The

excellence we seek emerges from the contributions and talents of every member of

the Boston University community.

This course encourages open discussion and respectful debate, as students are

expected to hold a variety of beliefs and attitudes, particularly with regard to

communication. At times, we may cover topics that you are uncomfortable with, or

lectures may include information that cause you to feel uneasy. Such controversial

topics will only be discussed if they hold academic merit. However, discussion and

debate will at all times be respectful and appreciative of others. If this is found to

not be the case, or if statements are made that are decisively determined to not be

respectful, appropriate action will be taken.

Hate speech will not be tolerated under any circumstances, and any instances of

hate speech (either online or in-person) will result in the maximum allowable

punishment, up to and including the potential for federal-level investigation and


Social Climate

Any student who has difficulty affording groceries or accessing sufficient food to eat

every day, or who lacks a safe and stable place to live, and believes this may affect

their performance in the course, is urged to contact the Dean of Students for

support. Furthermore, please notify the professor if you are comfortable doing so.

This will enable them to provide any resources they may possess.

Also, it is not unusual for students to feel stress, and about 15% of students

experience depression, anxiety or other mental health concerns. We are here to

help you find the resources to help you get through this stressful time.

If work shown in this class, professional or student-generated, offends you in any

way, please mention it in class or talk to us privately about it so that we can all

learn from each other. This is not to say we will ever restrict freedom of speech or

water down an aggressive or edgy idea, but we want to discuss anything that

someone deems troublesome or offensive.

Finally, there are many resources available to students. COM has a

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee as well as a DEI student group and

Facebook group. All are welcome.


Disability and Access Services

If you are a student with a disability or believe you might have a disability that

requires accommodations, please contact the Office of Disability and Access

Services(DAS) at 617-353-3658 to coordinate any reasonable accommodation

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Student Athletics

All student-athletes should be provided with a sheet from Student-Athlete Support

Services regarding absences throughout the semester. These sheets should be

handed in as soon as possible to avoid potential conflicts and so arrangements can

be made to provide for missed lecture notes, classwork, or discussion.

Recording of Classes

Due to the majority of classes being offered in the Learn from Anywhere format,

students should expect that each class session will be recorded. It is important to

note that recordings on Zoom may capture the chat during the class, including

private chats. If you have questions or concerns regarding recording of this class, please see your professor. Note also that recording devices are prohibited in the

classroom except with the instructor’s permission.

Academic Code of Conduct

All BU students are bound by the Academic Conduct Code. Please review to ensure

you are acting responsibly and ethically in regard to your academics. There may be

changes here due to the nature of the pandemic, so please read everything very

carefully. Students must be familiar with college handbook and have a full understanding of expected code and conduct. The academic code of conduct is fully explained at:

Regarding Group Work:

Each student involved in group work is potentially responsible for all work turned in

by the group. If a student knows or has evidence of academic misconduct within a

group, the student should address it with his or her group or professor prior to

submitting the assignment.