Manual Mode

For our final blog post we decide it was time for us to learn how to use a camera in manual mode. Where as in our previous blog posts we demonstrated how a camera could be used as an educational tool, this week we have learnt the basics of how to take pictures without using the highly convenient “auto” mode. The first step the learn how to do this we had to understand what aperture, shutter speed, and ISO actually do in a digital camera.


The aperture refers to the how wide the shutter is opening and will affect how much light is being exposed to the sensor, but also the focal length of the photos you take. When you are in a very sunny environment not as much light is needed to reach the cameras sensor to create a picture, so using the aperture you can set the shutter to open only slightly. When taking a photo in a dark environment more light is needed to for the camera to be able to create a photo, so in this case you can set the aperture to be larger so the shutter will open more to let more light onto the sensor. For photos where only a smaller depth of field is desired, a larger aperture is needed. For example a close up photo of a plant or a portrait of someone. A smaller aperture is needed for photos of a larger area, such as a landscape photo, so everything in the frame will be in focus.

Large Aperture (f/5.6)
Small Aperture (f/10.0)

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is the speed of which the shutter is opening and closing. This can be used to take photos of thing moving very quickly making it appear if they are standing still, or using a long shutter speed will make water looks soft and blurred or cars long steaks moving across the entire photo. If your shutter speed is too slow your photo could be overexposed, or blurry if your subject moves. If it is too fast your photo may end up underexposed.


ISO is the measurement of how sensitive your camera sensor is to light. ISO 100 is a low sensitivity, and would be used in sunny conditions where the sensor does not need to be very sensitive to achieve the correct exposure. A lower ISO also shoots a very clear, non-grainy photo. A high ISO, such as ISO 3400, would be used in low light conditions, such as a dark museum, to increase the camera’s light sensitivity and multiply the smaller amount of available light.

High ISO 6400

Lower ISO 200

Triangle of Exposure

These 3 functions all have an effect on your photo and must always be in balance with one another. If you were to set your aperture to be more large to let in more light and also set your shutter speed to be very slow you may end up with a very overexposed photo like this.

The stats on this photo are F / 4.5, 1/4000, and ISO 6400. So in the case of this photo the aperture was letting in lots of light by opening the shutter very wide, and the shutter speed was very fast to match this and not let the shutter stay open too long, but the ISO was very high meaning the sensor was very sensitive to light. The ISO and the aperture were not matching in this photo so it turned out to be over exposed. To make this photo balanced we would have needed to lower either the aperture so less light came in the lens or lower the ISO the sensor was less sensitive to light. To create a normal photo the aperture, shutter speed and ISO must all be in balance to not have a photo that is over or underexposed.

f / 5.6, SS 1/4000, ISO 6400
f / 4.5, SS 1/1600, ISO 100

/ 5.6, SS 1/3200, ISO 6400

f / 5.6, SS 1/320, ISO 400

Spring on the Island

For this week’s blog we decided to take pictures of our environment and what we had noticed happening around us, which was springtime! We wanted to try and capture a few moments that mirrored the changing of seasons and how beautiful the island is at this time of year. We think that this time of year has such a variety of conflicting emotions to it. People are beginning to feel the stress of school take hold, having the responsibility of school, figuring out summer time plans, and saying goodbye to people that you have come so close with throughout the year. All these things stacking up can take a lot out of someone emotionally and physically. We think that taking a walk and capturing some of the beautiful moments can help you remember that no matter what is going on the world keeps going and, in the end, appreciating the little things is very important.

You could implement this in a class room by getting students to take out cameras and go for a walk around the school property trying to find something that makes them feel peaceful or happy. Students may be free to create something, use nature, or work as a group to make a collage of things that make them feel grateful. Mental health is a topic that has recently become more normal to speak about with young people and this is a really good exercise to begin to speak about things such as taking time for yourself and slowing down.

Beach Cleanup

For our photography project this week we decided to do a beach clean up! We met at

Spiral Beach to find and pick up any garbage that had been left behind or drifted ashore. We started by walking down the beach scanning for garbage, but to our surprise there was none to pick up! We decided to walk to an area where the would be more people leaving things behind so we worked our way down to Clover Point. This is where we found lots and lots of garbage to collect. We found everything from broken glass, wrappers, cigarette butts, and even paintballs sitting in tide pools around the point. We used photography during this activity to document the process of cleaning up the beach.

We were inspired by the newest social media challenge, #trashtag, where people are taking photos of trash-laden areas before and after cleaning them up. Unlike some other social media challenges such as the ‘cheesed’ challenge that involves flinging a slice of cheese at your baby, or the cinnamon challenge, this challenge has positive, real-world impacts. Originally started by Stephan Reinhold in 2015, the #trashtag challenge has recently gained popularity again thanks to a few viral social media posts.

This activity could be used to show students how to make a positive impact in their community and on their environment. Students would be given the opportunity to see what sort of impact humans have on the world around them. This could tie in with a unit focused on marine life as we could study how human-made objects affect the natural cycles and systems of the ocean. It is important to learn about the world and community that you live in, and if a class was in Victoria and close by to the beach it could be very informative for the class to see how things they may have learned in class actually exists in the real world where they live.

This activity could also be used as a way to introduce students to the concept of ‘viral posts’ and the positive and negative impacts that internet can have with real-world issues and concepts. Photography ties in well with this challenge and project because it was Reinhold’s before and after photos in combination with his hashtag that led to this viral trash pick-up movement, and so we chose to document our own #trashtag experience in hopes that we inspire a few people to pick up some trash of their own.

Staying Warm

It’s starting to get cold here in Victoria again, and keeping our heat on is just too expensive! This week we decided to get crafty and sew up our very own microwaveable heating pads. All we needed to make them was:

  1. Fabric (100% cotton so that it’s microwave safe)
  2. Thread (also cotton so that it’s microwave safe)
  3. A sewing Needle
  4. Scissors
  5. Pins to hold the fabric in place (you could also use hair clips or sticky tack)
  6. Filling (wheat, dried peas, say beans, rice, barley)

This is a very inexpensive way to spend an afternoon, especially when you are buying fabric and other supplies for a group of you. We thought that this project would relate seamlessly (pardon the pun) to the home economics curriculum in middle school, or even for a fun cross curricular art/science project. All we had to do was pick a fabric pattern that we liked, cut it to any size we want, pin it so that the pattern is on the inside, and sew it together leaving about a one inch whole! We hand stitched them because none of us have a sewing machine so we had to reinforce our stitches a couple times to make sure our grains would stay in. Once the pouch was stitched we turned it right side out and filled them with barley. We chose to use barley because it was on sale in the bulk isle, has no smell, and won’t expand or explode in the microwave. After filling our pouches the last step was simple, stitch up the remaining hole!

My roommate and I have been fighting over mine every night this week, it is an awesome way to stay warm and the weight from the pouch helps to calm anxiety and stress. It’s great for sore muscles, warming up cold toes, or simply having something warm to snuggle while falling asleep.

The photography documentation of this project was not our best work, not only did we have other friends come over to make them (which distracted us), but we were also so busy with our hands that we did not think to pick up the camera!

Documenting Travel

This week was our reading week so our whole group went and traveled every which way! Of course, our individual adventures meant that we couldn’t meet up as a group to work collaboratively on a theme this week, so we chose to document some of our travels! We each have some individual pictures that we took and wanted to share on our blogs.

In the classroom, it is important to allow students to work both in groups and alone! A fun project that we thought of to do alone is to document the place that you are in. This place could be your hometown or it could be a city/town that you travel to! By taking these photos students will then be able to share their own story with others while using a visual aid.

This past week I was fortunate enough to go to Cancun, Mexico with my mom! What I had thought was going to be a week of lounging around and relaxing from a busy semester turned out to be action packed. In the seven days we were there, my mom and I went ziplining, swam through cenotes, drove amphibious vehicles through the jungle, visited Isla Mujeres, went to a turtle sanctuary, went parasailing, and snorkeled on the world’s second largest coral reef! Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take pictures of everything because a lot of the activities were soaking wet, but there are a few cool ones that I think tell my story perfectly!

Documentation of a Cupcake Surprise

For our Digital Photography project this week we decided to give it a theme which was Valentines day. We wanted to make a special treat for our classmates( Cupcakes) and to document the process that went into making them as a way to capture how fun it can be do do things for others. While this was a very simple task, it was a good way to implement photography in a way that is easy for any one to participate in. In a classroom you could assign students the job of using photography to document an experience in which you worked together with a peer, family member or friend to create something nice for others. This would get the students to engage creatively with each other, promote a positive classroom environment and use digital photography all at the same time.

We definitely got a little side tracked during the experience but that was half of the fun, Oliver brought maple syrup and we attempted to create the traditional treat of maple syrup on snow also known as “tire d’érable”. This is traditionally done by boiling maple syrup/sap, spreading it onto snow and then immediately lifting it up and wrapping the syrup in a fork or wooden stick. We were actually very successful and all had to really work together in order to pour it, lift it and create the right consistency. We documented as much of the process as we could but most of the time needed all hands on deck. You could also promote this in a classroom in the project of promoting what it means to be a Canadian for students. You could tell students to create something that makes Canada feel special to them and to document this through photography. In the end we all had a ton of fun baking together and learned a cool new skill on the way.

Outdoor Education and Documentation

For our photography this week we decided to experiment with the outdoor education side of inquiry-based learning. We chose to go down to the beach and build a fort! While this may sound simple, the act of building a fort out of driftwood actually provides a great outlet for hands on learning. While we were building we used problem solving, estimation, prediction, angles, and a little bit of measurement. Playing around with different sized sticks and angles to make the base of our structure was a great test for not only our physical ability to carry the logs, but also for our understanding of how the angle of the logs affects the stability of the structure.

We chose to document the process of building our fort as a form of assessment. By documenting the entirety of the project you are able to not only see the final project but also further comprehend the learning experience. It gives the viewer a way to see where the learner started with their work and all the steps they had to take to be able to get to the final product. When only a photo of the final product is shown, the view cannot see the journey the learner took. In the case of our fort, looking only at the final product the fort looks like a regular beach  fort. However, when you are able to see the entire process of the hard work we had to do to get there it puts the outcome more into perspective for someone looking in on it. Throughout the journey of this project, we were able to learn more about digital photography through the process of documentation, setting up and using a tripod, and using the self-timer.