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Ch 161 - Fundamentals of Photography for Forensic Science, F '11

This course is designed to teach the student the basics of using digital Single Lens Reflex (SLR) cameras in forensic science.

NOTE: This is not a course in artistic photography, but you cannot achieve good artistic results without being technically proficient! You are encouraged to apply the techniques you learn in this class to your own artistic endeavours.

Canon Digital Rebel

When posted here, PDF files require the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view.

Instructor Dr. Pete Poston
office: NS 110
phone: 503-838-8218
office hours: MWF 1,M 3 or please make an appointment.
email questions: postonp@wou.edu
Web page: http://www.wou.edu/poston
Pre-req's Consent of instructor

"A Short Course in Digital Photography", 2th edition by Barbara London and Jim Stone

"Photoshop CS3 for Forensics Professionals", George Reis

Lab & Supplies
The department has 10 Canon Digital Rebel SLR cameras that has manual focusing, aperture, and exposure control, as well as several automatic modes. If you have your own digital SLR camera, feel free to use it, just make sure you bring the owner's manual in case I have to help you use it.
Assignments & Special Project In addition to the lab, there will be exercises assigned where you will be asked to take photographs on your own that illustrate basic camera operations.

There will also be a special project where you pick a scientifically-oriented subject and prepare a portfolio. Each special project must be cleared by the instructor first. A simple example would be photographic documentation of an insect collection. Details of the special project requirements will be posted later.

Quizzes There will be four scheduled 10 point quizzes to help you keep up. The lowest quiz score will be dropped. Your final quiz total - minus the lowest score - will be scaled up to a total of 50 pts.


  • Since the lowest quiz score is being dropped anyway, there will be no make-ups on quizzes. The only exception will be if you have to miss a second quiz - then I will give you a make-up.


  • University policy states that the final exam time will not be moved unless you have three or more finals on one day. Please do not ask to take the final early because you want to leave for vacation early, etc.

  • If you have to miss the final due to some unforseen emergency, then it must be communicated through the Office of Student Affairs (838-8221). Illnesses, family emergencies, etc must be accompanied by some form of proof, e.g. a note from your doctor, funeral home, etc.

  • Under these conditions then I will give you an incomplete, not a makeup (see Incompletes section below).


  • Because of the limited amounts of equipment and time, there will be no make-up labs. NOTE: If you miss two labs, you fail the course!


  • If you get sick during a quiz and can't finish it, then that becomes the quiz you drop, unless it's the second quiz as stated above. Then I will give you a make-up. If you get sick during the final exam and can't finish it, then you will receive an incomplete as listed above. You will not be allowed to finish your final at another time.
140 pts (35%) comprehensive final (Wed, Dec 7, 12-2)
160 pts (45%) lab - 8 labs @ 20 pts each
50 pts (12.5%) Special project
50 pts (12.5%) quizzes
400 pts total

Grading will be no harder than A=90%, B=80%, C=70%, D=60%, F < 60%

Incompletes Incompletes are given under special circumstances such as medical reasons, family emergencies, etc. In order to receive an incomplete, the University requires you to sign a contract with me outlining the steps you must take to finish the course. Usually this means there will be a time deadline for completion of the course before your grade reverts to an "F".
Academic Dishonesty

The Code of Student Responsibility (PDF file) defines cheating as "intentional use, or attempted use of artifice, deception, fraud, and/or misrepresentation of one's academic work". For this class, which involves taking exams, quizzes, and perform labs, cheating is usually but not limited to talking or writing to other students, using crib sheets (prepared notes), or looking at another student's paper. The penalty for cheating will be a zero grade for the test or quiz or assignment in question.

Students have the right to appeal this action as described in the Code of Student Responsibility

Students with Disabilities It is your right to request special accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act. For questions, call the Office for Disability Services at (503) 838-8250 V/TTY, or email them at ods@wou.edu.


Click on each chapter topic for a link to the book webpage
where you can find supplementary learning materials including
demonstrations and practice exam questions.

Week of



Sept 26

Ch 1: Camera

Extra Lecture Time

Oct 3

Ch 2: Lens

LAB #1 - Learning How to Use Your Camera

Oct 10

Ch 3: Light and Exposure

Extra lecture time

Oct 17*

Ch 4: Digital Darkroom

LAB #2 - Exposure

Oct 24

Ch 5: Image Editing

Reference (handout): “Adobe Photoshop CS4 for Photographers”, Ch 7, Extending  the Dynamic Range

LAB #3 - HDR

Oct 31

Ch 8: Lighting (flash)

LAB #4- Flash

Nov 7

Reference (handout): “Adobe Photoshop CS4 for Photographers”, Ch 3, Camera RAW Imaging Processing

Photoshop book:
LAB #5, Part 1
- Ch 5, 7, 13

Nov 14

Reference (handout): "Crime Scene Photography", 2nd ed, Edward Robinson and Gerald Richards, Ch 6

Photoshop book:
LAB #5, Part 2
- Ch 14, 15, 18

Nov 21


Photoshop book:
LAB 5, Part 3
- 19, 20, 21

Nov 28


LAB #6 - Crime Scene Photography (photos edited using Photoshop)

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