Lesson #2- Photo Basics

Lesson Overview

Introduction to exposure, 3-point lighting, natural lighting, and white balance through mini labs and lectures.  As a culminating project, you will shot a commercial integrating the Elements of Art and Design, Camera Angles, Shots, and Points of View and Lighting Techniques. This is the second of four lessons in the Plan, Point and Get Ready to Shoot Unit.

Objectives and Goals

  • Demonstrate proper knowledge with the tools of industry, standard software for modification of digital images at a proficient or advanced skill level for preproduction, production and publishing.
  • Understand how a camera works, the exposure triangle, and the use of white balance.
  • Demonstrate the use of 3 point lighting and natural lighting when capturing images.
  • Demonstrate ability to work with a client to meet their needs on a photography assignment.
  • Implement lighting techniques in the production of a 30-second commercial.

Activity 1- What is Exposure?

Essential Questions
      1. What is exposure?
      2. How can we use the exposure triangle to create specific desired results in photography and videography?
      3. How do we know which specific setting to use when determining our cameras settings in Manual Mode?

Part I. Introduction to Exposure

Step 1.   Exposure is controlling light.  Begin by watching Ben Long’s explanation of exposure.  http://www.lynda.com/Photography-Cameras-Gear-tutorials/What-exposure/71923/78465-4.html  This video is 4 minutes and 8 seconds.

Step 2. Open the document  Exposure Triangle Lab Part I.  Silently read this Lab capturing ideas and taking notes.  Make sure you write a definition for Aperture, Iso, and Shutter Speed!

Step 3. Then take notes on the following websites by completing the Student Understanding of Required Reading Task found here:

Step 4. Lastly, watch the following video.  Click here. 

Step 5. Take the quiz labeled Exposure in Schoology.  (+100) Submit your notes for a grade.(+100)

Part II.  Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO  Experiment

Obtain the  Exposure Triangle Lab Part II from your teacher.  Work with your partner or group to complete this lab.  You will need to use a camera and set your camera to M(manual) to control Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO. You can conduct this activity at your table or any available area within the class room. For your subject, you may use a person, or an object (apple, nail polish, bottle, lights, etc. )

Click here to read more if needed or Further Reading.  Very Helpful

Part III. Presenting Your Findings

Create a gallery in WordPress  displaying the changes in your images.  Each image must have the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO labeled correctly. Images should be placed in order according to changes that occurred.  Submit your gallery to portfolio for grading (+ 500 points for Study ).

Part IV. Reflection

Using the information acquired from the LAB (reading and results) and presented Articles in Part I, Step 3, write two informative paragraphs explaining exposure and the effects of exposure on a photograph.  Begin by completing the graphic organizer below.

Expository Paragraph Graphic Organizer

Then, using the graphic organizer, write one – two informative paragraphs explaining exposure to the reader.  Make sure that you cite evidence at least twice in each paragraph.  Title the final submission for this post in your portfolio “Exposure”. (+500 portfolio grade)



Sentences starters for citing evidence

  • According to Ben Long, exposure is…..
  • Ben Long states that light is…….
  • In this article, the author believes that ………..
  • Multiple tests were performed that provided the following evidence…
  • After experimenting with exposure…..

Transitions words/phrases that you may choose to use in your reflection for the Link section in the graphic organizer.

  • This relates to photography and capturing the perfect image because……
  • The message that the author portrays relates to photography………

Part VI. Further Research

Lastly,  watch How To Use the “Exposure Triangle” When Shooting Video with a DSLR Video by clicking here.  Now that you have experience with Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO, this video explores the Exposure Triangle with a DSLR while capturing video. Add one paragraph to your reflection discussion how the exposure triangle is used when capturing video.  (+500)

Activity 2- What is White Balance?

Student Learning Outcomes

      • I can explain the importance of white balancing a camera.
      • I can use the given settings to change the white balance on a camera. 
      • I can use a white card and custom white balance to manually set the white balance on a camera. 

What is White Balance?

In this activity you will explore the definition of white balance and the application of white balance using a digital camera.

Essential Questions
      1. How does a camera determine the value of white?
      2. In different settings, why does white appear in a variety of hues?
      3. How does your camera determine the correct hue of any element when capturing images?

Part 1.  Warm Up Reflection?

      1. Watch the  WHITEBALANCING video.  Explain to your elbow partner what is changing in each frame. The light sources were not changed, only the settings.  Why do  you believe it is important to have access to settings that determine the value of white?
      2. Read the following and capture notes in your notebook on White Balance. http://digital-photography-school.com/introduction-to-white-balance/
      3. In your portfolio, write one paragraph defining white balance from the knowledge you gained in the reading above. Title this post “White Balance”.

Part 2.  The Lab

Materials needed:

  • Camera
  • White CARD (White sheet of paper for CUSTOM WHITE balance setting)
  • Model

 Click here to view Student Sample

You are to capture each setting in the White Balance Menu on your camera including utilizing custom white balance.  Capture each setting indoors and outdoors. Attached are the directions for white balancing and custom white balancing using your camera. 

For this lab, work with a partner.  You will take turns taking images of each other.

Student A will shoot indoors and Student B will serve as a model. When outside, Student B will shoot and Student A will serve as a model.  Keep poses the same and frame the human face using the Rule of Thirds and a Medium Close Up shot.

Part 3. Submission

Submit your presentation to your portfolio within the post “White Balance”. Include a GALLERY created in WordPress with your images.  Use captions for each photo defining the camera white balance setting.  Review the attached rubric and assess your submission before posting.  (+500 points)

Part 4. Reflection

Revisit your White Balance one paragraph reflection.  Add one more informative paragraph (+500) to this post summarizing important ideas about the ESSENTIAL questions below.

Essential Questions
      1. How does a camera determine the value of white?
      2. In different settings, why does white appear in a variety of hues?
      3. How does your camera determine the correct hue of any element when capturing images?

ALWAYS use your own words!

Activity 3- What is 3-Point Lighting?

Materials Needed:

  • Backdrop
  • 4 lights
  • Light diffuser(s) (5-n-1 Reflectors, Soft box, white foam board, black foam board)

Step 1. Warm Up- Simulation

Begin with the lights off in the classroom and blinds closed. Have a student volunteer sit in the middle of the room. Turn on one Key light that is roughly 45 degrees from the center of the subjects face. Make this a Warmup Reflection Post and title it “Warm Up Key Lighting”. ( +100 points)

          • What do you notice about the light on the subjects face?
          • When filming, what situations would this light be appropriate?  What effect does it give?  What message will it translate to the viewer?
          • How can we eliminate the dark shadows on the face or how can we change the mood of this scene?

Turn on one fill light to illuminate the other side of the subjects face.

          • When filming, what situations would the use of 2 lights be effective? What mood is conveyed to the viewer when using 2 lights?

Turn on a backlight.

          •  What effect does the backlight have on the subject?

Step 2- Introduction to 3-Point Lighting Video

Step 3-  Assessment:

Complete the 3-point lighting quiz in Engrade.

Step 4-  3- Point Lighting Lab

Part 1: Light on the Human Face Lab

Review the Light on the Human Face Directions.  Set lights according to the chart on the document attached.  Make sure you have a copy of this chart while working through the lab.  Make sure you use the RULE OF THIRDS, CAMERA EXPOSURE, and WHITE BALANCE while taking these images.  Keep track of your images while you shoot.  Record each shot on paper while you are working.

Part 2: Presentation of Images Captured

Present your images in a .pdf, wordpress gallery, website, or rendered film.  Add light settings and shot information (ISO, Shutter Speed, and Aperture) to each frame.

Part 3: Reflection

Write a one-paragraph reflection on the effects of light on the human face (+100 points).  Be specific and provide examples.  Be sure to discuss your experience with diffusing light.  Also apply new ideas to shooting video. Answer the following questions in your reflection.

        • When filming, what situations would the use of 2 lights be effective? What mood is conveyed to the viewer when using 2 lights?
        • When filming, what situations would the use of 1 light be effective? What mood is conveyed to the viewer when using 1 light?
        •  What effect does the backlight have on the subject?
        • Describe the emotions that are created with different light set ups.  Be specific by providing at least one example.

 Submit your final reflection and presentation to your portfolio for a grade.

Activity 4- Natural Lighting


  • Digital still cameras with manual settings feature.
  • Reflectors or foam posters to bounce light (white)
  • Camera Hoods or card stock for blocking sun light
  • Outdoor area to shoot
  • Lab Natural Light _Student Handout

Part I-Article Reading on Natural Light Photography

Natural light is the all around us that is derived from primarily the sun. Natural lighting techniques can be used in still photography and video.  This lab begins by exploring three articles,

Part II- Assessment on Reading

Before beginning Part III, complete the following questions in  your portfolio. Title this post “Natural Light Warm Up” (+100 points)

  1. What is natural light?
  2. Compare and contrast hard and soft light.  Give an example how each may be used.
  3. What is a reflector and how may it be used outdoors?
  4. Explain at least one challenge you may have when shooting outdoors and discuss how you will overcome this challenge.

Part III- Required Course


In this task, you will capture 15 images using natural light. See lab for descriptionsUse the rubric as a guide.  

Part IV. Presentation and Reflection

Present your images in a PDF/Website/Film identify lighting techniques.  Then, write a 2- paragraph informative essay on natural light describing new insights citing at least 2 sources.  Submit to portfolio for a grade.

Part V. Critique

Critique one of the images listed on the  webpage below.  In your critique, discuss composition, elements of art, principles of design, camera angles and shots, exposure and natural light.

Submit this critique to your online portfolio (+100).  Title this post, “Natural Light Critique”

Assessment- Commercial Shoot

Your Task- With your group, using the camera angles, shots, and points of view, along with scriptwriting, storyboarding, and lighting techniques, create a commercial preproduction package and shoot your commercial.  Edit your commercial and submit to your portfolio along with your preproduction package.  (+1000 assessment points)