Part of this this week’s ds106 work on Visual Storytelling is the “photoblitz”. We ran this in the in person sections last year as one way of making the class sessions active; we would give students 4 photo assignments to find examples of within the building our class was in. The idea was just to practice looking at details in the places around us, and in bending our creativity in interpretation of the task.

In moving to an online activity, we came up with the idea of making this aself directed activity, and taking pictures of a time piece to document your start and stop times. So one part of this is thinking about using a place that has enough variety, though I have read many students who manage to do this in their dorm room.

I did mine today, mostly around the outside of my house, and clocked in after 16 minutes. I scribbled down the list on a piece of paper:


cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

The full list:

  • Make an ordinary object look more interesting, almost supernatural.
  • Take a photo that makes use of converging lines.
  • Take a photo dominated by a single color
  • Take a photo of something at an unusual angle
  • Take a photo of two things that do not belong together.
  • Take a photo that represents the idea of “openness”
  • Take a photo that expresses a human emotion
  • Take a photo emphasizes mostly dark tones or mostly light ones.
  • Make a photo that is abstract, that would make someone ask, “Is that a photograph?”
  • Take a photo of an interesting shadow.
  • Take a photo that represents a metaphor for complexity.
  • Take a photo of someone else’s hand (or paw)

Here’s my output, as a flickr set:

This again, is one of the ways we have students tune their media awarenesses, to get them seeing their world differently, and includes:

  • Hearing differently: Listening more to sounds in movies/audio shows, nting use of music for mood, foley sounds, ambient environmental sounds (week 4, Audio)
  • Seeing differently This week’s photoblitz, noticing details not previously recognized, thinking in terms of metaphor, framing, cropping, thinking of the camera as a window.
  • Seeing design Next week, we have a design blitz, where they are to look for exmaples of font, type, color, metaphors, etc in ads, magazines, signs. etc.
  • Reading Movies (week 10) Learning how to see lighting, character placement, camera angle as all deliberate parts of video storytelling.

It’s usually the Photoblitz that makes many of the students much more aware to the details of the world they previously walked right past. Is that a skill? Will that get them a job? Can that be measured on some rubric? I don’t know, but I am really confident it helps students learn to be deliberate in the way they go about their regular activities, to just be noticing more.

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

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