From now on, I'll be teaching a yearly mini-course on photographic documentation of archaeological finds at the Ghent University archaeology department (3th bachelor students).
This university level initiation consists of three 2.5 hour sessions, aimed at introducing students to the scientific photography of artefacts in such a way that upon completion, they:
1. understand that an image of an artefact can be made to serve different goals, and/or show different aspects of the object in question;
2. have a basic knowledge of how to make images that answer those goals, in a practical and scientifically valid way (and know how to expand on that knowledge),
3. have attained a solid theoretical base to build upon, should their future research venture in that direction.
To those ends, the course starts with a technical overview of the nature of light, visual perception, (the limitations of) how cameras capture and process optical radiation, how lenses (and their aberrations) work, the basic principles of exposure, ... Essentially, in this part, all relevant aspects of digital still cameras are explored as if the cameras were scientific instruments rather than consumer devices, and photography as a scientific process rather than a form of expression.
The second part (i.e., the last of the three classes) focuses on studio photography, giving students a structured head start when experimenting on their own. Topics are metering, standard exposure, histograms, special techniques (tilt, focus stacking, fluorescence photography), and more practical skills such as working on full manual with studio flash, understanding and manipulating light in a studio context (creating hard and soft light, angles of incidence and reflection, the inverse square law), the use of colour, and how to post-process images (and, depending on the requirements of the image, how not to). In this last part, photography is portrayed as a craft, rather than the highly subjective art form that it is outside the tiny subfield of registration photography.
The course can also be organised on demand, in- or outside of an academic context; just drop me an e-mail or contact me through my facebook page. As photography can only be really understood and mastered by actually making images, ideally, the course should be followed by a hands-on, guided studio session, allowing each participant to experience the process first hand. That, and lots of practice.