Multimedia Production

A Communication & Journalism Course at the University of Wyoming

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HSI, Class 12: Conservatory Field Trip & HSI Reflection

Kahoot Media Literacy Quiz!

Let’s take a competitive quiz to review our knowledge of media literacy concepts and creative devices!

Blog Post: Self-Reflection & HSI

Your HSI experience is almost to an end. How do you feel about that? What stories will you tell about HSI? Let’s take some time to answer these self-reflection questions. Be honest and thoughtful when you answer these questions. In the distant future, you will want to remember what kind of person you were at HSI.

  1. What are the top 5 lessons you will remember from this class? Remember that the goal was for you to become more media literate and more knowledgeable about photography and blogging. Did you meet this goal?
  2. What are the top 5 lessons you will remember from your physical world class?
  3. What is your favorite memory from HSI? Describe the memory in detail. Why did that memory make such an impression on you?
  4. How do you think you’ve grown as a person from coming to HSI? Have you become more outgoing and friendly? Have you conquered any fears? Have you learned to be more independent?
  5. How do you think HSI prepared you for college life and your future career path?
  6. If you could re-live HSI, what would you do differently?
  7. What will you tell your friends and family back home about HSI? You know that question is just waiting for you back home…

I’m curious about what everyone took away from HSI. Let’s hear it!

Conservatory Field Trip

Let’s walk over to the UW Conservatory for our final field trip of the semester. Sad face.

We will post some more photos to our blog when we return.


HSI, Class 11: Censorship & Ethics of Banning Books

The First Amendment

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Class Discussion & Blog Post: Ethics of Banning Books

Now, let’s look at a list of books that are commonly banned. As you can see, the reasons often deal with foul language, racism, sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, and homosexuality. Also, let’s take a few minutes to read this article about how challenged books have changed over the decades.

Here is a video summary of 10 commonly banned books.

It’s important to realize that religious books and references are sometimes challenged as well. The Bible is a commonly challenged book, for example, because of content that some people find hateful and violent toward other groups such as LGBT people.

The sides of the debate are typically either:

  • Pro-censorship: Protect children, protect integrity of character
  • Anti-censorship: Protect free speech, do not shelter children from reality

Let’s talk about what these arguments mean.

Class Discussion:

  • Have your parents tried to prohibit you from reading a particular book?
  • Have you experienced any book challenges at school?
  • What side do you fall on? Why?
  • Who has impacted your thoughts on this topic?
  • If you are more anti-censorship, then what limits, if any, should be in place at public schools and libraries?
  • If you are more pro-censorship, then what would it take for you to support a book ban at a public school or library?

Case Study: And Tango Makes Three

Now let’s explore a case study of book banning. We’ll watch the clip together and then you’ll write a post that answers the questions below.

The local public library has banned the children’s book And Tango Makes Three. The book is based on the true story of Roy and Silo, two male Chinstrap Penguins in New York’s Central Park Zoo. The book follows the six years of their life where they formed a couple and were given an egg to raise.

Pick Out A Book At My Office!

Let’s walk over to my office in Ross Hall 435 and I’ll let you take a book home with you. While students are visiting my office in groups of 2-3, other students will be in Ross Hall 423 computer lab writing their blog posts on the questions below:

Blog Post: Book Banning

  1. Briefly summarize the book and its content
  2. Discuss both the pro-censorship and anti-censorship viewpoints.
  3. Was the ban at the local public library unwarranted? Or, was the ban appropriate? Use the First Amendment to defend your opinions. That is, even if you want to ban the book, explain how the First Amendment protects this decision. If you want to allow the book, explain how the First Amendment protects this decision.
  4. Do you have any personal experiences with your own school or parents banning books?
  5. How many books on the Top 10 Commonly Challenged Books Lists have you read? Which books have you read?
  6. What is your general opinion about book banning?
  7. Can organizations, schools, and families really “ban books” in our time of the internet and social media?

HSI, Class 10: Snowy Range Photos, Media & Body Image

Photo Editing

A popular open-sourced photo-editing and graphic design application is GIMP.  Another one is Pixlr, which has a helpful web application for photo editing. I will experiment with Pixlr for now. Here are some important basic terms with photo editing.

Cropping: Crop to ensure that only one clear subject exists. You can crop to ensure the photo fits a certain aspect ratio (e.g., 150 pixels height by 350 pixels width).

Resizing: Sometimes, you’ll need to resize your photo in order to make it fit a certain area.

Image Adjustments: My favorite is Contrast, but play around with them to get the look you want to achieve, without over-doing it and changing the essence of the photo.

Just because you can edit your photos, doesn’t mean that you should. If you’re engaging in photoJOURNALISM, then you want to capture the photo in a way that does not require editing. However, if you do edit, be sure you follow good common sense and do not go past the ethical boundaries of photojournalism.

Snowy Range Photography

Post your top 5-10 Snowy Range Mountains photos and write a blog post about your experiences on yesterday’s field trip.

Media Literacy: Media & Body Image

Females, Media, and Body Image

Take a look at these magazine covers.


The average female is 5’4 and 165 lbs, yet the average female model is 5’10 and 120 lbs.

But, this ideal female body image has not been stable throughout history. There have been periods when both thinner and fuller female body shapes have been idealized. This website documents some of the various idealized female body types. What is interesting is that many idealized body types have been dictated by men (e.g., religious figures, artists, movie producers, politicians, philosophers). Keep that in mind as we go through more content below.

In modern culture, beauty is often airbrushed; Photoshop or another photo editing program are regularly used to change models’ appearances.

Males, Media, and Body Image

The average male is 5’9 and 195 lbs, yet the average male model is at least 6’0 and weighs about 175 lbs.

A Culture Obsessed with Appearance

Our culture places an emphasis on female empowerment through sexuality above most other qualities, such as intelligence, strength, spirituality, etc.

Why does media perpetuate these body image ideals?

Advertisements and media imagery play on our insecurities to make money. Magazine, TV, and billboard images create a false idea of what we should look like, and this false advertising can make people feel bad if they don’t look like that. Thus, they hope to sell their products and *make money*.

If our society was completely confident and happy with how we looked, then we wouldn’t buy stuff that claims to help improve our bodies. At the same time…we live in a consumer-oriented capitalist economy and people have their own free-will to perpetuate the cycles of insecurity and spending money to fix the insecurities. 

What are your thoughts and your experiences? I want to learn from YOU now!

Blog Post on Media and Body Image

Please write a blog post that discusses these questions:

  1. Describe some examples of media images that are problematic for girls/women and boys/men. What does the media “say” girls/women and boys/men should look like?
  2. To what extent is it realistic for everyone to achieve the looks of models and celebrities in the media? Imagine if everyone was the same as the ideal body image perpetuated in the media. What would that mean for our society?
  3. Have you or your friends ever been affected by media images? How so?
  4. List three things the media can do to change the promotion of an ideal body image.
  5. List three things that you can do to promote acceptance and appreciation of unique qualities in others.

Creating a Healthy Body Image

People differ in a wide variety of ways (e.g., eye color, weight, height, skin color, hair, likes/dislikes, abilities, interests).

Some things we can change through effort (e.g., studying, practicing), and some things we can’t change even if we want to (e.g., height, skin color).

Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses as well.

Let’s take a look at some critical views about media and body image. Advice for girls. Advice for boys.

 Take home points:

  1. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses.
  2. We are all different in terms of our physical appearance, which makes us unique.
  3. Each of us should focus on staying healthy, being the best we can be, and showing respect for others and their abilities.
  4. There is no ideal body image. Everyone should strive to be physically, emotionally, and socially “fit” and happy.
  5. With maturity comes the capacity to think about how our actions toward others make them feel.
  6. And as we learn to think for ourselves, we are better able to cope with how we perceive others view us.
  7. Do not fall trap to media expectations of how you should behave. Value yourself not on your appearance; rather, value yourself based on your intelligence, kindness, empathy, friendliness, talents, etc.
  8. Demand that other people value you on more than just than your appearance.

HSI, Class 8: Biodiversity Center and Geological Museum Photos; Media Content and Reality

Post Your Top 10 Berry Biodiversity Center and Geological Museum Photos

Write a short paragraph about your photographic experiences at these locations. Discuss the difficulty or ease that you had taking these photos. Discuss anything that you learned while at these locations.

Media Literacy: Media Content and Reality

Key Idea:

The media spin reality to make it appear more exciting and thus attract people away from their real lives.

Two Worlds

  • Media world vs. real world
  • Why do we enter the media world?
    • To get experiences and information that we otherwise cannot get very well in our real lives.
  • We need to increase media literacy by being able to tell them apart as they merge together

How We Approach Media Reality

  • Magic window: Young children see media as window to the world
  • Adult discount: As we age, we distinguish between fiction and nonfiction
  • Multiple dimensions: We evaluate media reality on:
    • Plausibility (possible?)
    • Social utility (is it useful for me? social scripts as tools for real life)
    • Identity (parasocial relationship? identity development and character relationships)
  • Differences across individuals

Organizing Principle: Next-Step Reality

  • Next-step reality: Audiences want media that gives them another level of reality and takes them one step further.
  • It takes less time, energy, and money to experience the world via media than real life
  • Messages must appear real and must present a little more than everyday reality.
  • We want sweetened reality.
  • From the media producer perspective,
    • Make messages that are anchored in real world, but tell stories that are bigger than life.
  • For entertainment: characters, plot, and setting are a little more interesting than real life.
  • For news: feature novel, unusual, conflicts, extraordinary, negative events
  • For persuasion (ads): show a problem and show how the product solves the problem

Importance of Media Literacy

  • Next-step reality principle asks:
    • Which elements reflect reality and which are removed from reality in some way?
  • People vary in terms of how big of a step from reality they desire/are willing to tolerate
  • Don’t limit yourself to the reality end of the spectrum, but being flexible and aware

Next Step Reality and Comedy

We are going to watch a comedy show called “The Office”. We will:

  1. Make of list of “reality indictors” of events and characters that are typical for real life.
  2. Make a list of “non-real world indictors” of events and characters that are a typical for real life.
  3. Tally totals at the end
  4. Discuss our examples as a class.
    1. What events and characters are typical (or plausible) vs. atypical (or not plausible)?
    2. How does comedy use the “next-step reality” organizing principle to attract viewers?
  5. Pick a genre of TV/movies and write a blog post about how that genre uses the “next-step reality” organizing principle. You can discuss the entire genre or one particular TV show or movie in the genre. Think about how each of these genres takes reality and then “sweetens” it for our liking. What scenarios or characters are removed from reality in some way in the genre you choose? What scenarios or characters are more grounded in reality in the genre you choose?
    1. Comedy
    2. Police Drama
    3. Medical Drama
    4. Documentary-Style Reality TV
    5. Competition-Style Reality TV
    6. Fantasy / Science-Fiction
    7. Horror and Mystery

HSI, Class 7: Broadening Our Perspective on Media Effects & Campus Photos of the Geological Museum and Berry Biodiversity Center

Media Diets: A College Student Perspective

Comments From My College Students on Their Media Diets…

  • Common results of their reported media diet and exposure:

    • Consumed media in the dorms or on-campus
    • Engaged in media consumption rather than media creation (yet, media creation like making a video/music, writing a blog, journaling can be much more relaxing and cathartic)
    • Music, social media, Netflix, and texting were common
    • News consumption and reading for fun were least common, but we know that news consumption and reading for fun are two of the BEST activities to improve your learning
  • Problem of turning to phones when bored

    • The value of being still is not taught anymore
    • Clearing your mind and allowing yourself to ponder, reflect, and create ideas can help us relax and reduce anxiety
    • PollEverywhere: “Do you turn to your phones when you are bored?”
    • College students reported feeling shy, quiet, or awkward when she/he didn’t have their phones to distract them in social situations
    • Start practicing being an interactive, friendly, and open human now, before you get to college.
    • HSI helps you make that first step. Encourage yourself to practice striking up conversations with new people at school. That’s what you’ll need to do in college to make friends.
  • Students reported a wide variety of media impacts, but common examples were:

    • Body image: The media that we consume negatively impacts our confidence. Why would you keep exposing yourself to someone who constantly makes fun of you? Think of media consumption of distorted body images the same way. Don’t expose yourself to media that glorifies unrealistic body images. If you do expose yourself, be sure you remember that advertising purposefully distorts body image and entertainment media does not promote healthy body image role models (for the most part).
    • Romantic expectations: The media does not tell stories of realistic romance. Media love stories are fantastical, whimsical, and funny, but oftentimes don’t show the hard work, dedication, grit, challenges, tragedies, and sometimes just plain mundane-ness of real love.
    • Limited view of world by narrow exposure to news: We realized that there is so much more to news than what we see on our social media feeds or what’s on TV. Expose yourself to different news media, like the BBC, Al Jazeera English, NPR, PBS, your local newspaper, The Denver Post, and more.

Broadening Our Perspective on Media Effects

Key Idea:

When we take a four-dimensional perspective of effects, we can better appreciate the broad range of effects the media are constantly exerting on us.

1. Timing of Effects

  • Immediate: During or immediately after exposure (e.g., screaming during a horror movie)
  • Long-term: Show up after many exposures; slow and gradual (e.g., stereotype development)
  • Immediate effects are easier to notice

2. Type of Effects

  • Cognitive: Media can immediately plant ideas and information in our thoughts.
  • Belief: Media can illustrate beliefs (faith that something is real or true)
  • Attitudinal: Media can influence our evaluative judgments (attitudes rely on beliefs)
  • Emotional: Media can trigger an emotional reaction (immediate or long-term)
  • Physiological: Media can arouse or calm you (beyond conscious control: blood pressure, heart rate, pupils)
  • Behavioral: Media can trigger behavior (immediate or long-term)
  • Macro: Media influence society’s structure: politics, family composition, religion, etc.

3. Valence of Effects

Positive or negative direction: Value-laden

Individual perspective

  • Example (Positive): Influence of YouTube on learning about your course
  • Example (Negative): Influence of YouTube on learning how to become anorexic

Societal perspective

  • Example (Positive): Media promote peace, cooperation, and health through coverage of the Olympics
  • Example (Negative): Media promote perceptions of crime and violence

4. Intentionality of Effects

  • Expose ourselves to media for certain reason: intended effect
  • Unintended effects occur often when we are in state of automaticity
  • Simultaneous intended and unintended
  • Actively analyze and evaluate messages to gain more control

Don’t Be a Faulty Thinker

Do not:

Have a narrow perspective on media effects

Believe that media effects only happen to other people


Take a broader perspective on media effects

With that, you’ll have more awareness and control over what media effects you desire and what you want to avoid

Media Effects Bingo

Goal: Familiarize yourself with the 4-dimensional perspective on media effects

Task: Listen to scenario. Cross out square when you match a scenario to the media effect. Keep track of which scenarios go where on your BINGO sheet.

What Media Literacy Topics Do You Want to Talk About Next Week?


Campus Photography Trip: The Geological Museum and Berry Biodiversity Center

Let’s get up and moving with our cameras! First, we will spend 15 minutes in the Geological Museum and then we will walk to the Berry Biodiversity Center and spend another 15 minutes there.

These field trips offer you practice at taking photos in low-light situations and indoor fluorescent light situations. Keep your camera or phone extra still and/or adjust the manual settings on your camera to accommodate for these situations.

Keep moving around, too. Think about how you can get a creative shot that no other students will get. Look where everyone else is going, and think how you can be different!

HSI, Class 6: Cheyenne Reflection & Photos & Why Increase Media Literacy?

Class Reflection on WTE Field Trip

Students from last year named one thing that they learned at WTE. Can you add anything to the list?

  1. There are multiple colors of ink for the newspaper that have to be layered properly. The ink consistency is more like pudding than water.
  2. The paper rolls that the newspaper is printed on are each 15 miles long and weighed half a ton.
  3. The size of the printing press was impressive: it took 2 ships and 20 semi trucks to deliver the printing press from Germany.
  4. There are special technicians that are experts on the printing press in case it needs maintenance.
  5. There are only 3 of the WTE-type printing presses in the US. There are about 11 of them in the world.
  6. The managing editor assigns individual reporters to specific “beats” (e.g., education, sports, features).
  7. The WTE printing press also prints other regional papers, such as the Laramie Boomerang and The Greeley Tribune (in Greeley Colorado).
  8. The printing press and the editors/reporters are seemingly working 24 hours a day to keep the news cycle going.
  9. The WTE keeps an archival library of every daily WTE newspaper that has been printed.
  10. The WTE prints their own newspaper as well as flyers, advertisements, and other paid media materials (i.e., commercial printing). About 15% of revenues comes from paid newspaper subscriptions, with the remainder of revenues originating from commercial printing and paid advertising. Some of that commercial printing occurs on $1 million printers and copiers.
  11. The printing press speed was impressive.

Let’s download and post our 5-10 favorite Cheyenne Photos.

Why Increase Media Literacy?

Key Idea:

In order to survive in our information-saturated culture, we put our minds on “automatic pilot” in order to protect ourselves from the flood of media messages we constantly encounter. The danger with this automatic processing of messages is that it allows the media to condition our thought processes.

The Information Problem

  • World Wide Web: 13.4 billion pages
  • Hollywood feature films: 700 hours each year
  • Commercial TV: 48 million hours each year
  • Radio: 65.5 million hours each year
  • YouTube: 100,000 hours each day
  • Total amount of information doubles each year
  • Multitasking with new technology is increasing media exposure

And It’s More Than Just Direct Exposure…Types of Media Exposure

  • Direct Exposure: When we perceive a media message
    • Listening to music
    • Watching a video
    • Surfing the web
  • Indirect Exposure: When we think about a media message while we are not being actively exposed to it.
    • Talking about the news with family
    • Thinking about why you love a song
    • Making judgments using standards that the media have conditioned –>For example, stereotypes!
      • What images come to your mind, when I say the following words:
      • Professor
      • Superhero
      • Scientist
      • Nurse
      • Lawyer
      • Teacher
      • Criminal
      • Most likely, the media have conditioned you to think about a particular gender, race, and age for each label above.

Getting Back To The Information Problem: How Do We Deal?

  • Automatic routines help us filter information quickly and efficiently
    • Like computer codes in our minds
    • Sequences of behaviors or thoughts that we learn from experience and apply again and again with little effort
  • Automaticity: A state where our minds operate without any conscious effort from us
    • We filter almost all messages with little effort until something triggers our conscious attention

Where Do Automatic Routines Come From?

  • Family, institutions, society, and mass media
  • Some routines help us
    • Local newspapers program us to focus on our community
  • Some routines further the interests of others
    • Advertisers program us how to think about ourselves (body image, shopping habits)

Are Automatic Routines Helpful or Hurtful? Well, Kinda Both…

  • Advantages:
    • Helps us making quick, effortless decisions
    • Allows us to multi-task
    • Protects us from information overload
  • Disadvantages
    • Exposure to so many messages that we pay less attention to each
    • Less likely to learn from any one message
    • Lose opportunities to expand our experiences

Re-Programming Ourselves

  • Motivation is key
  • You must learn:
    • Why media messages are produced.
    • Who makes media messages. What are THEIR interests?
    • What effects media messages have.
  • Knowledge will give you CONTROL
    • Build the life and knowledge you want, rather than letting media build the life they want for you

Risks of Media Illiteracy

  • Habitual exposure patterns make you miss valuable messages
  • You accept the meaning of messages presented by the media without challenge

Activity and Blog Post: Estimate Your Media Diet

  1. What kind of media routines to do you have? Think through your day, from the moment you wake up until the moment you fall asleep. Write a paragraph about what media that you typically encounter in a day back home. And, estimate how many minutes that you spend with each media activity. How much of this media consumption is automatic and how much of this media consumption is critical and thoughtful?
  2. How much of your media consumption is news? What is news to you? Name what sources you get your news from. Why do you use these news sources? Why do you trust your news sources? Is the news you consume slanted or bias in any way? What improvements to your news diet can you make? How much do your parents impact your news diet?
  3. How much of your media consumption is entertainment and sports? What are your favorite entertainment sources? For example, TV shows, websites, movies, books, gaming, etc. Why do you use these entertainment sources? How much time do you spend with entertainment? Does it interfere with other aspects of your life, like your social life or academic life? To what extent do your parents regulate your exposure to entertainment? Are they more lenient now than in the past because you’re in high school now?

— My Thoughts —

Young people need to be critical of their media routines. Media can very easily impact how we think and act, even if we don’t realize it and it’s not purposeful. For example, media can greatly impact our expectations and behavior when it comes to physical intimacy and interactions with significant others; we learn this from movies and TV shows — we learn “social scripts” about how to act. Thus, it’s important to think about how our media consumption impacts our behaviors, thoughts, emotions, and attitudes.

Young people also need to know what is going on in the greater world around them. Being more aware of news around the world, nation, state, and local community makes you a more informed, well-rounded, intelligent, and understanding person. It also improves your grades in school and gives you a better chance at getting a good job.

Basic Photography Terms


Aperture: Refers to the amount of light that enters the camera. Small aperture means little light is entering the camera. Large aperture means a lot of light is entering the camera.


F-Number (or F-Stop): Also refers to the amount of light that enters the camera. Higher numbers denote less light is entering the camera (i.e., a small aperture). Smaller numbers denote more light is entering the camera (i.e., a large aperture).

For example, at F-22, the lens allows only a small amount of light, and at F-2, the lens allows the maximum amount of light. Each F-number represents a double increase or decrease in the amount of light allowed into the lens. Remember the relationship is inverse (i.e., opposite–when one goes up, the other goes down). On point-and-shoot cameras, you can adjust the F-number with the manual function.

Shutter Speed

Shutter Speed: Device that controls the exposure time of the photo. The exposure time usually begins at 1/2000 seconds and goes up to 30 seconds. A fast shutter speed is indicated by a smaller amount of exposure time. Thus, a 1/2000 second exposure time is a very quick shutter speed. A 30 second exposure time is a very slow shutter speed. These are some great examples of slow shutter speed photography and fast shutter speed photography.

ISO Speed

ISO Speed: ISO speed is the sensitivity of the digital sensor. It is usually expressed with the following numbers: 50 | 100 | 200 | 400 | 800 | 1600 | 3200. These numbers tell you how fast the digital sensor reacts to the light. A small number means that it takes a relatively long time to take a photo, which is helpful in low-light settings and nighttime. Whereas, a large number indicates that is takes a relatively short time to take a photo, which is helpful in sunny conditions.

With point-and-shoot cameras, you don’t really need to worry about the ISO speed, the camera sets it for you. Generally, you want to stay in the low range when you take photos.

Balancing Stops

Balancing Stops: Since f-numbers and shutter speeds are both measured in stops, keeping balance is easy. If you take away 2 stops from the aperture (f-number), you can give 2 stops back with the shutter speed and end up with the same exposure level.

Resources for Learning Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO Speed

There’s plenty of resources online for help, such as Photonhead, Amateur Snapper, and Digital-Cameras-Help.

HSI, Class 4: Vedauwoo Photos & Critical Thinking About Your Online Identity

Happy Birthday to Makena!


Post Your 10 Best Photos of Vedauwoo

Download and go through your photos. Pick and write a blog post about your Top 10 Best Photos of Vedauwoo.

After everyone is finished, let’s have a vote to see who captured the overall best photos!


Media Literacy

Class Discussion & Blog Post: Your Online Identity

Activity: Interactive on How Teens Share Information on Social Media

Teen Voices: Dating in a Digital World – This is a brief review of survey data and comments from teens about dating nowadays.

Our first discussion topic today revolves around your online identity. Check out this visual data about what teens are doing online.

More information about social media and teens in 2015.

Important note: There are no right or wrong answers to the blog post questions and discussion. In fact, more diversity in the class’s opinions is actually helpful. We get to learn more when people share their unique and genuine opinions.

Let’s write a blog post about these questions and discuss them as a class. Please answer:

  • How does your own online behavior compare to the data that we just examined?
  • How many limits do your parents put on your online identity and internet time?
  • How do you think your online identity should look for college? For when you want to get a job?
  • What privacy concerns exist for you and potential college admissions officers and employers?
  • Is it right for a college or employer to reject/fire you based on your online identity?

— My Thoughts —

Be proud of whatever you write on your blog and whatever you share online. You do not want to regret something in the future. Remember, if it’s posted online, it’s there F O R E V E R!

HSI, Class 2: Photography Basics


Blogging Workshop


While it is great to use a DSLR camera because they produce high-quality photos, you can still capture great photos using your smartphone or point-and-shoot camera.

— Finish Blogging Workshop, if needed —

Document Your HSI Experience with Photography

We will go on three field trips during this class: Vedauwoo, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, and the Snowy Range Mountains. At each field trip, I want you to take as many photos as you can that use the creative devices and strategies that we learn today.

During class, we will share your HSI photography and memories on your blog.

You are not allowed to use your phones during HSI unless you are in my class. And, you are only allowed to use your phones for class-related activities. No Snapchating your friends back home!

First things first, we’ll learn about the basics of photography and forever-useful creative devices.

Creative Devices for Composition

Good photojournalism begins with understanding basic composition and design principles. Here’s some easy ways to improve your shots.

Steady Does It: Hold the camera steady by digging your elbows into your chest, placing your elbows on something, using two hands, or leaning against a wall.


Move around to get different angles and perspectives.

Move Around and Get Closer: You need to constantly be moving around to get a variety of good shots. Go on your stomach, your knees, a ladder, or chair. Change your position and your angle. Don’t be afraid to get very close to your subjects.

Use Vertical Shots: Don’t always shoot horizontals, be sure you use vertical shots as well.

Pick A Focal Point: The automatic focus on point-and-shoot does a good job at focusing on what you desire, but it is sometimes limiting to work with. So, when you want to focus on something very close and want to blur the background, you can use the “macro” function on your camera (if it has one).

Light: Natural light provided by the sun is the best light to shoot in. If there is bright sunlight and you’re shooting people who are facing the sun, they may squint and shadows may be cast on their faces. Be sure to avoid those shadows by moving around to find the best angle. If there is bright sunlight and people have the sun behind them, their faces will be dark. You can compensate by using a flash. Noon and mid-day sunlight is typically bad sunlight for photography. Sunrise and sunset light is better. But, partly sunny days provide the best light because it is much softer on skin.


Shooting into the sun will create shadows on your subjects. This creates interesting contrast of color and texture. Alternatively, you could use a flash in order to provide some lighting on your subjects.

Now for the Top Composition Tips as outlined by Photography Mad, as well as a few more suggestions of my own.

  1. Rule of Thirds: Example
  2. Balancing Elements: Example
  3. Leading Lines: Example
  4. Symmetry and Patterns: Example
  5. Viewpoint: Example
  6. Background: Example
  7. Create Depth: Example
  8. Framing: Example
  9. Cropping (Note: This does not refer to cropping in Photoshop; this refers to compositional cropping when you take the photo): Example
  10. Color: Example
  11. Texture: Example
  12. Establishing Size: Example
  13. Contrast: Example
  14. Focus: Example

Let’s take a look at some photos on The New York Times Lens photography blog and talk about what kind of devices their photos use.

A note about your rights and duties as a photographer.

  1. In public, you can photograph anyone or anything. If they approach you and request you don’t take their picture, you may respect their request; but, keep in mind that they are in public and they cannot expect any privacy in public (i.e., you can keep taking their picture).
  2. In private residences, businesses, and property, you should get permission. They may not allow photography. **You can always ask for forgiveness rather than permission, though.**
  3. If people ask why you’re taking photos, explain it is for your class blog and schoolwork.

Now that you know how to take better photos, you can avoid cutting people’s heads off and having poles or trees stick out of people’s heads!

It takes 100 photos to get about 5 great photos. The point: TAKE A LOT OF PHOTOS!

Activity: Photo Practice

Let’s practice our photography skills around campus. Here’s a list of things to photograph this morning. Be sure you can tell me what creative device you used!

Our goal: Take 50 photos in 15 minutes. Work fast!

  1. The inside or outside of the Geological Museum
  2. The enormity of Prexy’s Pasture
  3. An extreme close-up photo of something in Prexy’s Pasture
  4. A flower, tree, or animal
  5. Your HSI friend and/or instructor
  6. Climb on top of an object (preferably, a steady object) and take a photo from up above
  7. Something that has made you happy at HSI
  8. A physical object that can be interpreted as the first letter of your first name
  9. Get on your belly on the ground somewhere and take a photo

Activity: Photo Reflection Blog Post

Let’s discuss your photos. What did you take photos of? What did you learn about photography?

Now, in your blog post, post your five best photos. For each photo, please explain what creative devices are used in the photo.

Write a paragraph about you learned about photography.


Media Literacy

Class Discussion & Blog Post: Your Online Identity

Activity: Interactive on How Teens Share Information on Social Media

Teen Voices: Dating in a Digital World – This is a brief review of survey data and comments from teens about dating nowadays.

Our first discussion topic today revolves around your online identity. Check out this visual data about what teens are doing online.

More information about social media and teens in 2015.

Important note: There are no right or wrong answers to the blog post questions and discussion. In fact, more diversity in the class’s opinions is actually helpful. We get to learn more when people share their unique and genuine opinions.

Let’s write a blog post about these questions and discuss them as a class. Please answer:

  • How does your own online behavior compare to the data that we just examined?
  • How many limits do your parents put on your online identity and internet time?
  • How do you think your online identity should look for college? For when you want to get a job?
  • What privacy concerns exist for you and potential college admissions officers and employers?
  • Is it right for a college or employer to reject/fire you based on your online identity?

— My Thoughts —

Be proud of whatever you write on your blog and whatever you share online. You do not want to regret something in the future. Remember, if it’s posted online, it’s there F O R E V E R!

HSI, Class 1: Welcome, Class Goals, Media Literacy, & Blog Setup

Let Me Introduce Myself…

I’m Dr. Kristen D. Landreville, PhD (2010, The Ohio State University). I’m an associate professor and the director of graduate studies in the Department of Communication & Journalism at the University of Wyoming.

But, you can call me “Kristen.”

I’ve lived in the Northeast, South, Midwest, and now the West. And, I love Wyoming. I’ve lived here with my family for 7 years. My husband is getting his PhD in chemical engineering. I have three daughters (ages 9, 4, and 3) who you will meet tomorrow at my house for dinner. They always LOVE the high school students each year and they are very excited to meet you.

At UW, I regularly teach courses in multimedia production, web design, political communication, and quantitative research methods. I’ve also taught media writing, magazine and feature writing, introduction to mass media, and media literacy. I’m teaching a new science journalism course next year, too.

I research topics like political campaigns, political narratives and media (e.g., political humor/satire, political documentaries/movies, political news), and the intersection of politics, science, and narratives.

Your class is my 5th HSI class. I keep coming back to teach at HSI because I love meeting, teaching, learning from, and interacting with exceptional high school students in Wyoming. I’m proud to say that several of my former HSI students are now my COLLEGE students at UW! So, I am very excited for these next few weeks together.

Who Are You?



What is your favorite media activity and why? For example, listening to music, reading books, watching movies, checking and updating social media, taking photos, blogging, making videos, etc.

Goals for the Class:

  1. Becoming “Media Literate”
  2. Understanding Blogging and WordPress
  3. Expressing Your Thoughts About Media in a Professional, Critical, and Personal Style
  4. Becoming More Open-Minded About Diverse/Different Points of View
  5. Participating in a Community of Students Who Support and Encourage, Yet Also Challenge, One Another
  6. Using Creative Devices to Improve Your Photography
  7. HAVE FUN!

Side note: While you are allowed to challenge each other and question each other, you are NOT ALLOWED to be rude, mean, condescending, superior, and just plain ugly to other people based on their opinions, views, orientations, gender, race, age, capabilities, etc.

Discussion of Media Literacy

Define media literacy. How does it impact you?

Part of understanding how media impacts your life is dependent on how “media literate” you are. Let’s formally define what skills it takes to become “media literate”. (Note: Adapted from Stanley J. Baran’s “Introduction to Mass Communication”, 8th edition).

The ability and willingness to make an effort to understand content, pay attention, and to filter out noise — The quality of our meaning making is related to the effort we give it.

An understanding of and respect for the power of media messages — Break down the third-person effect

The ability to distinguish emotional from reasoned reactions when responding to content and to act accordingly — Ask yourself, “Why does this content make me feel this way?”

Development of heightened expectations of media content — Expect more from your media content

A knowledge of genre conventions and the ability to recognize when they are being mixed — Realize that news, entertainment, and marketing are all mixed now

The ability to think critically about media messages, no matter how credible their sources — Analyze your news source from a balanced and objective point-of-view

A knowledge of the internal language of various media and the ability to understand its effects, no matter how complex — Understand how production values (e.g., lighting, editing, special effects, music, camera angle, location on the page, and size and placement of headline) impact the audience

We will cover most of these 7 skills in our class. My goal is for you to view media–ads, movies, news, TV, Facebook, etc.–in a whole new way after this class. Be empowered by media literacy!

Blogging Your HSI Story and Media Literacy Experience: WordPress Blog Setup

For your blog, you’ll be posting your classwork here, but I strongly encourage you to also post other thoughts to your blog, like posting some of your HSI feelings and experiences.

So think of your blog as like a continually updated “live” storytelling portfolio. Google yourself right now. What website pops up first? If you post to your blog frequently, then your blog may pop up first (which is what you want). And in the future, you want employers to find your blog when they Google you. So keep updating it!

And you may want to connect your blog to your greater online presence. Post the blog link to your profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and any other online presence you have.

Once you have your blog set up, you need to post! Good blogs do the following:

  • Update frequently
  • Write in the first-person (i.e., “I think) and use conversation-style that shows your personality
  • Provide specific headlines
  • Provide links elsewhere to helpful information
  • Allow readers to comment and comment back to readers
  • Are ongoing conversations among members of a community
  • Can be your professional portfolio, journal, or brainstorming session
  • Embed photos, video, audio, and other multimedia features
  • Are relatively short, usually less than 800 words

Now that you know more about blogging, let’s go to and get your blog setup.

Example HSI Student Blogs

Let’s look at a few examples of HSI student blogs from last year. In particular, please read their “last day” posts. These students have some helpful hints and messages for you today!

Blogging Workshop

  • Create an “about” page
    • Your name. You do not have to use your real name anywhere on the blog if you want to preserve your privacy. But, you must tell me what your blog name is so I can link to it from our class blog.
    • Some demographic information, such as where you are from and what your family is like.
    • What the purpose of this blog is (e.g., it’s to showcase your storytelling work and/or express your memories and experiences from HSI).
    • Some interests and what you like to do in your spare time.
    • Your career goals.
  • Linking to other web pages
  • Posting photos and inserting other media or files

 Write Your First Blog Post

  • Create a new post
  • Using categories
  • Using tags
  • Saving drafts
  • Changing the visibility
  • Publishing the post

Let’s address these initial topics. Remember the blogging tips. Remember to look for relevant photos and links on the web to include on your post. Let’s write.

  1. Your HSI Experience So Far
    • Explain how you were nominated for HSI. Why did you want to participate in HSI?
    • What do you expect or hope to learn from your HSI classes? From your fellow HSI classmates? What do you expect or hope to learn about yourself?
    • How has your HSI experience been so far? Is it what you expected?
    • Is there anything about HSI that you are NOT looking forward to?
  2. Reading Past HSI Students’ Blogs
    • What information did you find insightful or helpful on past HSI students’ blogs?
    • Was there anything on the past students’ blogs that surprised you?
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