Communication Graphics II Special Topics - Research and Development & Teaching


Quick Summary of Steps

  1. Pick a topic and do preliminary research

  2. Submit brief proposal via Google Docs of a plan -

  3. Shoot for the topic

  4. Upload gallery for your specific shooting. Older work can appear in your gallery specific to the topic, but new shooting must be present and prevalent for your topic.

  5. Build a presentation Prezi of your research, "other" samples, and your work.

  6. Present your topic


Each student will be responsible for independently researching and developing various topics. The R&D that this project attempts to promote is the primary component of the Comm II+ class and replaces the Print Display Project from Comm I. You will be expected to be self-motivated and work on the projects we have at hand each day. There is to be NO off task work (outside class work, internet browsing, etc.) as you should always be working on something photography, video, or computer graphic related. In addition to the ST assignment, you will have a variety of Computer Projects in progress as well as other photo assignments and can expect to mount 8+ pictures for the fall semester. The ST assignment continues during the 2nd semester…but may be the only photo assignment due to video production. ONE of the fall topics can be conventional darkroom (film ONLY). The other topics will be digital. There is no darkroom after Christmas. With film topics, you may want still want to use a digital camera initially as an aid to your exposure and composition, and to document the process. Computer based topics (i.e. photoshop) should have original photography utilized (taken just for that topic). All presentations will be presented via Prezi, so start now as you develop your research. IOW, start building your Presentation as soon as you have picked a topic. Plan to incorporate staging/setup pictures into your presentation, especially of the film projects.


Topic Selection

One new topic is required per rotation. Only one topic per person per rotation, so choose your topic quickly. Two topic rotations will be done in the Fall, two in the Spring. Before a student does in-depth research, a minimal amount of research (via the Internet) will need to be conducted to determine practicality. It is important for a student to both be certain that the equipment necessary for the project is available or obtainable and is practical for he/she to complete in a timely fashion. Some materials may need to be purchased by the student. Some topics are easier than others, therefore, complexity will be considered in the final evaluation. Students are expected to choose topics appropriate for their skill level. Those choosing the simpler projects will be expected to complete a higher level of proficiency with more or better examples than a person attempting a more complex topic.


No topics may be repeated with in a class.


Some topics are too easy for Photo 2, others too easy for Photo 3 and/or 4. Be sure to ask BEFORE investing time and energy in the proposal. Topics which are deemed too easy will start with a max grade of 90...make surer it is perfect.


Sign up Sheet:


Photo 3s: Topic 3 (just after Christmas), shall be video based. Topic 4 may be either photo or video.

Photo 4s: Topic 3 and 4 shall be video based.


4th Topic Details: The 4th and last topic should be defined by the PICTURES, not the researchable topic. This means that the topic should be based on PHOTOGRAPHY work, not COMPUTER processes. 4th/5th 6 weeks can be duplicate (of others, not yours) and you will not have a formal presentation. IOW, for the 4th/5th 6 weeks, you will shoot and present your pictures. The presentation need only be enough to show your picture and tells us how you did it, specifically anything special about it. IOW, 1, 2 and 3 are the more formal presentations, with steps, screenshots, how-to tips, other peoples examples, etc. A 4th topic is spread out over the 4th & 5th 6 weeks and will be more informal (PicasaWeb Gallery only to show case your photos). There is no 6th ST.

  1. Determine your topic EARLY in the 4th 6 weeks.

  2. Shoot for the topic during the 4th and 5th 6 weeks.

  3. Gallery your images in a gallery on your computer.

  4. Create a Web Gallery of your best examples of the topic.

  5. Present Slide Show directly from PicasaWeb on presentation day.


See below for grading expectations.




A proposal for topics 1-3  must be submitted via Google Docs Share and approved by the teacher.  It will contain the following information:

o      name of the project to be studied

o      method used (how are you going to do it)

o      equipment/supplies necessary

o      resources needed (books, etc.)

o      Preliminary sample images, like from the Internet


Once the proposal has been approved, students will need to begin work immediately, completing additional research from other sources, such as more in-depth Internet research, our photo library or the school library, and begin completing the work for the examples. Be sure to allow time for repeating any work if results do not initially turn as expected. Be sure to allow time that the PROP gets graded. If you do NOT receive a reply on your PROP, it is NOT approved and you are on your own if you forge head with work and I subsequently REJECT your PROP. In other words, late PROPs (after the 3 week interim) may be graded, but may not be done in enough time to get a reply in order for you to complete the work. So, if you choose a topic that is NOT approved, and you have don't work on that project, you may end up wasting your time.



New Pictures: Regardless of the topic, pictures must be shot FOR this project. IOW, you must shoot new work that is inspired by the research. No matter how perfect a shot you took last year fits the criteria for what you are going to use, older photos can only be used as other personal photos in support of your topic presentation. For example, if you are going to do hand coloring in Photoshop, then you might go shoot a barn for this topic. It would NOT be appropriate to use a picture you shoot 12 months ago as your "new" work.


Subject Selection: Difficult topics or special effects is NOT a reason to slack off on the subject. Your subject should find material suitable and worthy of your time for a project of this caliber and magnitude. IOW, make sure your samples are of excellent quality. For example, lets say you choose Pano. Rogers Park would NOT make a good Pano. The Neches River Rail Bridge would be a good subject for a Pano (I know, because I have done a few down there). There are other subjects around town for Panos, but don't just walk out into your front yard and shoot the trees.



Presentation slides should be YOUR original work. It is ok to use some images from the internet as long as they are properly sited. IT IS NOT OK TO COPY SOMEBODY ELSE'S PRESENTATION. You must make your own screen shots and write up your own details. Do NOT just copy large portions of text. Read over the material from several sources, and come up with your OWN take on things and present THAT to us. Do not try to find somebody else's presentation and they try to present it. It will ALWAYS go poorly like that. It always work better when you make your own slides.


In the presentation, use the following guidelines:

  • State "Other's Examples" and site the source

  • State "My examples, previous work" vs. NEW examples

  • Stage "Final Work" for your best image as a result of your research and personal experimentation with the topic.

The culmination of the project is the presentation to the class. A successful presentation will be one that the other students can use as a model for future projects.  The presenter will be responsible for teaching the technique(s) to the other members of the class since he/she should have obtained the necessary expertise and experience through the research and should include a handout.


Evaluation (grading) will be based upon: (see sample grader below)

  • Finished presentation turned in (submitted to Public Folder)

  • Presentation to the class

  • Complexity and effectiveness of final work

    • Examples of your trial and errors is expected to be shown.

    • Shooing Notes (not just an Exposure Log) while your are shooting are expected to be taken and turned in with your grader.

    • Web gallery of work online at the time the grader is submitted for grading

  • Completion on time.

Special Topic Documentation of your project work, when it applies:

This is actually required in some high school contests. We don't participate in the organization that requires this, but I think this is a neat idea. This is something you probably wont appreciate until a few years from now, but I want you to shoot some pictures of your setup.



For example, there is this picture my dad took of me taking a bike apart for cleaning when I was about 16 that my dad took. I am glad to have it. Unfortunately, I don't have a shirt on, so I am not going to show you. But, it is still special. Here is one I will show you from about the same time frame. I was preparing for a Triathlon.


My point is...shoot what you do. Shoot your friends. Shoot your activities.





For each project the student will be required to provide the following:

o      Approved proposal by the 3rd week of each 6 weeks

o      Power Point Pres or Google Docs Presentation  written report covering the research with references to the resources used. Site a minimum of 2 sources on your write up. PowerPoint should be detailed enough and designed in such a way that a student who did NOT view the presentation could read the report/handout and complete a project of that topic successfully.

o     Posting of PowerPoint to Google Docs.   hand out for the presentation to the class, preferably in color (printed at home...or use supply coupons for excess prints here)

o      Examples produced supporting the research (one final example and several others incorporated into the presentation) and a WEB GALLERY (with a minimum of 12 pictures on the topic). Be sure the GALLERY is ONLINE when you present the project to avoid a 10-30 point deduction for entire project)

o   Shooting log/notes - (5 pts) - Take notes while you are shooting. These can be on a formal log sheet or just hand written notes. If shooting film, be sure to record the exposure, if known, or settings used. With digital, you will not need to record the exposure, but you should log the Exposure Index number (IMG_####) so that you can refer to the EXIF on the computer.

o    Final Image  1 mounted print (8x10 or larger, unless topic deems other specifications) - final image now only has to be in the presentation as the final slide.


Presentation Week

At the end of each 6 weeks, you all will present the topics to the class. You will sign up for a day filling in the first available days first. Any 3rd/4th year students will start first. You are expected to dress for success for your presentation day...which means dress up. No blue jeans, no shorts, no flip-flops, no tennis shoes, no t-shirts, etc. We do one day of refreshments to start the presentations off for the 6 weeks. Everybody is asked to participate...or team up in pairs to coordinate the refreshments (one person go to the store, split the cost). If anything is left over, it will be carried over to the next day (like drinks or pop tarts, etc.). If you participate (that means you BRING food...not just eat), then you can simply wear a dressy top...allowing you to wear blue jeans and sneakers. Of course, dressing for success is always expected and you may STILL dress up fully for your presentation even if you do bring refreshments. :)


ABSOLUTELY NO DUPLICATION OF TOPICS. Once a topic has been done, per class, it is OFF THE TABLE for available topics for the year (per class period).


Possible Topics - A primary source of topics comes form the Photo Exploration Collection…but not all topics are suitable for an approved STs. Generally...if I think you are doing it because it is an easy topic, you should choose another. IOW, your topic should match your skill level and equipment available. And TRY to choose a topic that hasn't been done a) in your first year of study and b) done a dozen times in years past. If you are doing one that has been done a dozen times, be sure to do a really thorough job as the resources in previous students Prezi's should make your job easier.

o      Animation - Digital project of converting images to animation. This could include how to make an animated Screen Saver out of your photo. This is quite new...with little background info. I want to know more's make this a topic. :)

o      Astro-photography: Wide Field or Telescopic. Wide Field can be accomplished with a simple 50mm lens. For Telescopic, you pretty much need a telescope (friend/family). You do not necessarily have to HOOK up to the telescope...if you can shoot the viewfinder with your camera. For the wide field astronomy, you will need a Barn Door Star Tracker. For both types, you will probably need to download special software at home to stack exposures...called "Exposure Stacking". Photoshop will do it...but there is special software that is designed for stacking images of stars on top of each other. Additional Info: Scotch Mount Camera Tracking Platform - for tracking of stars. Thanks to Angelique L and Ricky Jimenez of Comm II 08-09, we have a very nice and operational Star Tracker. You may check it out or you may want to still make your own of which I have the materials if you would like to donate it to the class. (I have a print out of the design plans). You could get shots like this:!i=2657449477&k=C5rqjQW  Granted, some of those were taken with a pretty fancy star tracker, but the Scotch Mount is a great way to get started with Wide Field Star Photography. And for next to nothing compared to commercial start trackers costing thousands of dollars, you can get some pretty good results. Please NOTE: PLANNING AND SHOOTING FOR THIS TOPIC MUST BE DONE WEEKS IN ADVANCE. My recommendation is to choose this for the 2nd 6 weeks topic and start shooting in the first. The reason why is that you have to pay close attention to when there will be dark skys AND good weather. For at least 1-2 weeks of the month, the moon will be too bright and high in the sky. Please also note that Star Trails is a SEPARATE is Lunar Light Photography and Lunar Photography.

o      Blurred Action - pretty basic seeing as we did this as a class during 1st year. Plan to be sure to have some really cool examples.

o      Collage/Montage - Think Carnival Cruise Line advertisement where LOTS of pictures make up the image. This would require determine how to do this as it has never been done before

o      Color Printing** - From a color negative. This would involve using the front darkroom color enlargers. We have RA4 color chemistry and paper that MAY work. YMMV

o      Double exposures - Darkoom or Photoshop - The double exposure will be made on the negative. Be sure your subjects are ideal and not contrived! They should represent real-world examples of use of double exposure photography.

o      Double Printing** - Printing in the darkroom with two negatives. Involves printing either as a negative sandwich (two negs stacked on top of each other) or expose paper to one negative...changing to a different negative for a subsequent exposure. The latter is better...but harder.

o      Etch bleach** - kind of complicated...but somewhat successfully done by Kristen Warner. Would like to see this done again.

o      Filters, Len attachments - Lost of filters to choose from...or do a general topic on all of them. Filters can be very specific or very diverse. Photoshop or Camera based. Some are more specific to film...some more for digital. As far as Lens Attachments, we have in stock: Star Filter, Gradients, Vertical/Multiple Exposure, Spot (outside is soft), Close-Up filters (a set of +1, +2, and +3 magnifying glass), Fluorescent correction, Y2 (contrast for B/W Film), 81a (warming), Polarizer, UV, IR.

o      Filters, Photoshop, Creative

o      Filters, Photoshop, Photo Filters

o      Flash, Slow Curtain or Rear Curtain - Use of flash with shutter speeds of less than 1/60th

o      Focus stacking - very interesting topic involving the shooting of extreme DOF by bracketing the focus to different points. May require special software.

o      Food coloring - never been done successfully, that I know. Probably best to refer to Tinting/Toning below.

o      Glass (photography of)

o      Hand Coloring - Starting with a B&W image...remember to shoot FOR this topic to get a good sample to hand color

o      High contrast - can be either darkroom based or photoshop. Using high contrast film, photograph a scene that has a lot of contrast and strong lines; print normally. You must use Kodalith film and Kodalith developer for this process. It has a film speed of 6. On a bright, sunny day, you should bracket your exposures at 1/60 of a second at f/4, f/5.6, and f/8. Choose subjects that lend themselves to high-contrast presentation.

o      High Dynamic Range* (HDR) -

o      High speed flash - water drops frozen in mid air, etc.

o      Holga Camera** - Find out just what is so exciting about this special camera...and what has lead to Holga Mania. We now have one of these cameras in stock.

o      Infrared* - can be film or digital...but digital will be a lot easier to monitor your highly experimental results. Best if done in the first 6 weeks because shooting for IR is best done during the summer or spring months. Pictures needs lots of greenery.

o      Insects

o      Juxtaposition - although this is more a composition than a topic, it is one that I don't talk about, and would to have some samples and a worthy presentation. This would be good for PPoint. Generally WAY to easy for a ST for CGII+, so pictures would need to be of exceptional quality, well thought out, and planned for.

o      Kaleidoscope

o      Lens Baby - - we now have one Pentax mount Lens Baby 2.0 and one Nikon Lens Baby 2.0   Check out the galleries at:

o      Light Table - recently done at the Beaumont Camera Club

o      Line drawings - not much is known about this. See the Special Topic Research Binders.

o      Lunar Light Photography - This is NOT shooting the moon, but the LIGHT of the moon. Review Astro photography above regarding the planning...there are only 2-4 days of the entire month that these photos can be taken.

o      Lunar Photography - Here is your opportunity to "Shoot the moon". Long lens of 400mm+ needed for this topic UNLESS you want to specialize in the moon juxtaposed over special landscapes. Review Astro photography above regarding special time constraints. There is MUCHO information on this. Just plan to get good shoots. Overexposed white discs in a black field of fabric will not constitute Moon Photos.

o      Macro - Equipment

o      Micro - we have a microscope adapter...but it has been difficult to get good results

o      Mylar - EASY topic...but fun...plan to produce something really interesting with this

o      Negative Print - This is produced by making a contact of another print. All the values will be reversed; dark areas will be light, and light areas dark. Some subjects lend themselves better than others; usually more contrast is appropriate. Choose a scene with a relatively low difference in contrast. Start with a normal negative; make a 8x10 enlargement, cropped and dodged as you want the final print to be. Make a paper negative by contact printing the enlargement onto another sheet of paper, print sides together. Exposure times will be increased compared to making normal contact sheets considering you are exposing through paper instead of film. Develop normally. Mount the positive and negative prints on different boards. They will be "reverses" of each others, both in dark/light and in direction; this will maximize the detail available in the negative print.

o      Panorama - requires special large printing...either Sams or mail-order to get at least an 11x14 or larger print. - Several photographs are made by rotating the camera on a tripod to produce a 180 degree view. The prints are trimmed to make a panoramic view when mounted together. Choose a scene which would not normally be viewed in a single exposure. Use the 35mm camera to take a series of slightly overlapping frames. You must use a tripod with a rotating head; make sure that the camera is perfectly level. Check to see that you can "pan" through the entire scene before beginning. Do not move your tripod position as you photograph. Make the first exposure of the far right area of your scene. As you progress, swivel the camera from right to left, so the next view slightly overlaps the first. If the camera is not level, the prints will be much harder to align. Print the prints, taking care to match exposures from frame to frame. The prints are trimmed and joined to form one long panoramic view of your scene.

o      Panning - generally WAY TOO easy to be worthy of a ST for a 2nd year photo student. - Use shutter speed controls & panning techniques to freeze moving object against the background still in motion. The object of this assignment is to stop the motion of a object while allowing the background to stay in motion. You are probably familiar with photographs using this technique in many advertisements. You will utilize shutter speed controls in combination with your panning to accomplish this.

o     Paste-up - Two or more photographs are printed and physically combined using glue to create the illusion of a single image. A copy negative is made and a final print produced. Paste-ups are created when two or more photographs are printed and physically combined using glue to achieve an effect that would not be possible in real life. Be sure that the edges of the small photo(s) that are pasted on have been cut carefully with an exacto knife. If they are being placed onto a dark area of the larger print, you might want to used a marker to color the edges to hide the blending of the images. A copy negative will be made and an 8x10 print will be produced and mounted.

o      Perspective Control - controlling the perspective of a scene using different lenses.

o      Picture Puzzle - not a lot of guidelines on this. I have seen some really creative work over the years...although not really from any WB students. And I have no samples to show. This is a really a basic topic, although it is interesting, especially the idea that you can send any picture off and have it made into a puzzle. If you are going to to do this, be sure to do do something interesting. The biggest error for this is people make the pieces too small and/or too many curves, which makes it nearly impossible to trim up with either a exacto knife or a pair of scissors. Commercial puzzle makers use a die cutter and laser cut outs for smoother curves, etc. Keep the In the last couple of years, the digital picture puzzle has emerged with two pictures of the same thing with lots of changes.

o      Pinhole camera - basic but the beginning of everything...and a worthy topic. - Since this was done as a first year student, to add something exciting to the project, you will need to construct a pinhole camera to expose photographic enlargement paper; the print size will be determined by the size of your camera; it can be smaller than 8x10. Consider what type of unique camera you could make. Pinholes can be made from refrigerators to walnuts. One thing to consider is to have more than one camera so that you can take several out shooting. Also, of high importance is WHAT you shoot. In summary, since this is a FIRST year topic, you project should include extensive research into exemplary samples and procedures, above and beyond what is discussed in class. And, your samples should be of the very best quality and representative of advanced work.

o      Polarization - Probably too easy of a topic...and should probably fall under the category of "Filters" in general...that is...covering this and other filters to use.

o      Posterization - Process of limiting the levels of tones to a minimum. You see this all the time in videos. Used to be pretty hard in the darkroom...but is pretty easy in Photoshop.

o      Reticulation** - this is a film developing process. It can pretty cool if done correctly. This used to happen by accident...but is rather hard to force to happen now.

o      Sabatier Effect - Pretty tough topic, but cool effect. I have seen samples, but I don't know much about this process...and haven't personally done this, nor seen it done.

o      Selective Focus - Pretty easy better have some really good pictures.

o      Snapseed on a Cell Phone - Based on the Smart Phone App Snapseed by Google. This is new for 2013-14, so please ONLY choose this topic if you plan to take this series.

o      Solarization - pretty neat topic...and fairly easy. Plan to have a good subject that will lend well to the process. This can be done easily in the darkroom. - A solarized print is produced by exposing a piece of photographic paper with a negative in the normal manner. The print is put into the developer; at some point during the development (start at about 1/3 into development), put the print face up into an empty tray (do not use an easel for this re-exposure) and expose it to the light of an enlarger (no negative). Be careful not to drip development anywhere. There are three variables that will affect the amount of reversal in a solarized print: the amount of re-exposure, the extent of development after re-exposure, and the time during development when the re-exposure takes place. If the reversal is too strong, reduce the re-exposure or develop longer before re-exposure. To increase reversal, increase the amount or re-exposure or make the re-exposure earlier in the development process. There are several books in the department library covering details of this process.

o      Sound Trigger - Loud sounds triggering a a hammer crashing into a light bulb. We have the equipment to do this. It has been done successfully, although this is a little more difficult. Plan on some time to get the equipment from me...or buy your own...and plenty of time to experiment. Please exercise EXTRA caution...and have parental guidance around.

o      Star Trails -

o      Tabletop - TT has a wide degree of such...I did NOT write the following description (former teacher did). You will use miniature models to replicate a real-life scene. Reality is achieved with attention to detail. Build a scene using models. Attention to detail will promote a successful project. The look of reality is your goal. Think through this assignment carefully before you start. Careful lighting will help to contribute to the reality.

o      Texture screens - screens added at the time of printing in the darkroom. Probably more easily done in photoshop...but...this is a good topic that can be easily done in the darkroom. Be sure to shoot something that will look good with a texture screen applied at the printing level.

o      Time Lapse* - requires special effort to assemble the project. Difficult...but probably one of the cooler least to me. (software for home...I can also install it here at school for you). Be sure to print up a sample of a selection of your images. NOT available as a Special Topic as this will done as a class project in the 2nd semester.

o      Tinting/Toning - so much easier to do via Photoshop. Toning is done via different chemicals, like Selenium (blue) or Sepia (brown).

o      Twin Lens Camera** - shoot with 120mm film...and print from super sized negatives. We have one fully operational 124, sans meter (use a digital camera to meter a scene)

o      Ultraviolet/Blacklight - can be cool if you illuminate the right stuff. So, this involves getting the right lighting...and the right stuff to shoot. You will need access to your own Black Light.

o      View Camera - We have one...the camera, film, film backs, etc. The camera comes in a large suitcase. Check it out...and get a REAL Ansel Adams experience. Use your digital camera as a guide to get the right exposure, etc. This has never been least not while I have been here...but would make for a great experience.

o      Miscellaneous (search through Popular Photography for ideas) - There are other advanced process techniques available which are more or less complex. You must discuss with the teacher the nature of your special request and get prior approval before you begin this project.

o      How to Critique a Photo - This is new for 2013-14, so please ONLY choose this topic if you plan to take this series. More details to follow.

o      Benefits of a Tripod - This is new for 2013-14, so please ONLY choose this topic if you plan to take this serious. This would include taking a serious of shots with and with out the tripod, zoom in very closely, to show the minor differences that do not show up when looking at the back of your camera but DO show up when viewing full screen.

o      Famous Photographer - This topic is NOT eligible for the 2nd semester topics. Based on one specific photographer, or possibly an entire STYLE of photography. Be VERY specific in proposal. Research the artist, learn everything you can about the artist, then go shoot like the artist mimicking their style. This is new for 2013-14, so please ONLY choose this topic if you plan to take this serious. THis is NOT an easy topic and quite possibly very difficult to demonstrate that you have replicated a style. The question you need to ask about a photographer is if there is a distinctive style you can copy.

Instagram - considering??? It would not just be shooting with the would involve the many new features that have been added in recent versions.



ABSOLUTELY NO DUPLICATION OF TOPICS. Once a topic has been done per is OFF THE TABLE for available topics for the year (per class period).



* Digital Only (or digital preferred)     ** Darkroom/1st Semester Only - should be 2nd or 3rd 6 weeks...but CHOOSE the topic during the 1st.


Note: Some of the topics are more suitable for film, and others digital. Darkroom based topics must be done in the first semester before Christmas. You should plan ahead to best maximize which topics would be best for each media format.



Can't find one you want to do? Grab an issue of Pop Photo and look through the issue to find a topic. In particular, look for the "How To" issues where they will cover 10+ different topics and how to do them.


Sample of a proposal (email sent via Google Drive):



Sample of a presentation: (older version done in use Prezi)



Sample Grader:

Be sure yours is ready for your grader BEFORE you step you to speak. Review the indices of the rubric to determine what areas you do well in. Remember to practice your presentation PRIOR to presentation day so that you are organized and ready to go.

Topics 1, 2 and 3:


Grading for the 4th Topic is a bit different:



Notes about the Special Topics as presented on the focus (outdated):

**Special Topic #1 8x10 sample needs to be mounted by Monday, 10/13 regardless of the day of your presentations. Remember that you need to have one mounted 8x10 and several unmounted samples, which can be 4x6 or larger. Provide internet samples on your hand out in an addition to your own samples (scans and or digital samples if you shot film). All write ups need to be ready by 10/13. See sample binder for examples. Not all samples provided are appropriate.