Aalto University

Your research, your photos: The Photography Online Course for Scientists

Photography Online Course for Scientists (POCS) consists of tutorial videos, assignments, quizzes and designed for independent learning. POCS is suitable for anyone who wants to learn photography from scratch, and is especially recommended for materials scientists
Photo demonstrates the lighting of a materials samples composition. Photo: POCS team/Tiina Puputti & Valeria Azovskaya., research samples provided by Aalto Materials Platform.

Do you want to learn how to take better quality photos for scientific use?

Have you thought about presenting your research with your own photos?

Have you thought about having your own photo library to communicate your work?

Course information in MyCourses

Every photo has a story to tell

The POCS core idea is photography with ease. It introduces you to a functional photography-based workflow: from a story via a visualization plan to a final photo.

The first module is about how you set up a DSLR camera before you begin to take photos.
In this module we will go through the camera functions that are important to know to get better quality photos technically and to be able to control your equipment. 

The second module is about the basics of photography. 
In this module, we will talk about shutter speed, aperture, f-number, depth of field, ISO, white balance and most importantly, how to determine the exposure. In the end, we will introduce what is good to know about lenses. Every tutorial video includes recommendations on how to set up your camera when you take photos of scientific samples. 

The third and the fourth modules are about practical photo demonstrations which are all done in a classroom. The last two modules are focused on lighting: we will work with a window light and then teach how to use artificial light sources.

In the last two modules we will demonstrate: 

  • Storytelling: we introduce the documentary-, narrative- and commercial-style scientific photography.  
  • The key components of technical quality: we are taking photos of matt, glossy, translucent or transparent samples to show how to emphasize the material's structure, surface texture and other qualities. 
  • Composition and visualization: we explain how to compose and visualize scientific photos differently in order to emphasize various aspects of your research.
Text: Narrative style photo with a person and action.  (Photo: POCS team/Tiina Puputti & Valeria Azovskaya, materials samples provided by Aalto Materials Platform.
Narrative style photo with a person and action. Photo: POCS team/Tiina Puputti & Valeria Azovskaya, materials samples by Aalto School of Chemistry

Photography with ease

The POCS mission is to help Aalto University researchers to build their own, unique photo library to communicate their research. POCS provides easy-to-apply tips for photography without a lot of equipment. 

  • The course introduces the step-by-step workflow which is easy to follow.
  • Tutorial videos include recommendations how to set up the camera for taking photos of scientific samples. 
  • All the practical photo demonstrations are done in an ordinary classroom, lab or even at home, so anyone can do it.
  • Additional equipment (tripod, light sources and stands) can be borrowed from the Aalto Takeout.
Narrative style photo and the first visualization. Photo: POCS team/Tiina Puputti & Valeria Azovskaya, materials samples by Marianna Grantier.

Narrative-style photo and the first visualization. When you look at the photo, you find answers to the questions: who, where, what and how. 

Photo: POCS team/Tiina Puputti & Valeria Azovskaya, materials samples by Marianna Grantier.

Narrative style photo and the second visualization. (Photo: POCS team/Tiina Puputti & Valeria Azovskaya, materials samples by Marianna Grantier.)

Narrative-style photo and the second visualization. You just change where you focus, and you have a researcher working as main subject. 

Photo: POCS team/Tiina Puputti & Valeria Azovskaya, materials samples by Marianna Grantier. 

Narrative style photo and the third visualization. hoto: POCS team/Tiina Puputti & Valeria Azovskaya, materials samples by Marianna Grantier.

Narrative-style photo and the third visualization. When the researcher looks at the camera, you have a portrait. It is one way to do a professional portrait for scientific use. 

Photo: POCS team/Tiina Puputti & Valeria Azovskaya, materials samples by Marianna Grantier.

Learning by doing

POCS is based on functional photography, a special step-by-step workflow and rules of thumb. We believe that the best way to gain a new skill is to practice it and use it for actual projects. Moreover, POCS provides the possibility for independent learning. And it is not just tutorial videos and assessments: for the best learning experiences we included tools for self-evaluation and testing your knowledge. Please note that in this course, there's no registration and no study credits. 

To support independent learning, POCS includes: 

  • Tutorial videos divided into logical and easy-to-follow modules.

  • Assignments based on the functional photography workflow. 

  • Quizzes based on tutorial videos.

  • Takeaways from every tutorial demonstration. 

  • Self-evaluation forms for reflecting and analysing your individual learning process and progress.

hardlight_color in materials sample. POCS team/Tiina Puputti & Valeria Azovskaya, materials samples by Teemu Välisalmi)

Documentary-style photo of two samples. It’s important to show the difference in the structure. Hard light brings out the texture more clearly. 

Photo: POCS team/Tiina Puputti & Valeria Azovskaya, materials samples by Teemu Välisalmi.

Soft light brings out the texture more clearly. Photo: POCS team/Tiina Puputti & Valeria Azovskaya, materials samples by Teemu Välisalmi.

Documentary-style photo of two samples. It’s important to show the difference in the structure. Soft light brings out the texture more smoothly. 

Photo: POCS team/Tiina Puputti & Valeria Azovskaya, materials samples by Teemu Välisalmi.

Tutorial videos include tips for composing your photos. You find different tips almost from every video.(Photo: POCS team/Tiina Puputti & Valeria Azovskaya, materials samples by Teemu Välisalmi)

Tutorial videos include tips for composing your photos. You find different tips almost in every video. 

Photo: POCS team/Tiina Puputti & Valeria Azovskaya, materials samples by Teemu Välisalmi.

POCS production team

Photography trainer Tiina Puputti has over 16 years of experience in photography training, teaching professionals, semi-professionals and amateurs. She has a master's degree in education, further qualification in photography, and specialist further qualification in photography. In 2015 she was awarded the title of The Master Photographer of the Finnish Professional Photographers’ Association. She’s the author of photography guidebooks Light & Lighting – Portraits in studio and in locationPOSE – Guidance of the Model and Storytelling & Lighting – Portraits in studio and in location.

www.tiinapuputti.com

Producer Valeria Azovskaya's background is in service design, visual and scientific communications. She has been working as an Aalto Materials Platform assistant and together with the Platform's team developed a series of services to support the Aalto scientific community. She earned her master's degree in design (Collaborative and Industrial Design major and Design Business Management minor) at Aalto University in 2017.

Photography trainer Tiina Puputti with a camera.

POCS background

In 2016 professor Robin Ras and his team members Mika Latikka and Johannes Haataja together with Tiina Puputti created a content for the first photography course for Aalto School of Science. Since then, Photography for Scientists workshop series has been held six times in cooperation with the School of Science, Aalto Materials Platform, the School of Chemical Engineering and Aalto Communications. In 2020 Aalto Online Learning funded the POCS production.

Thanks to all the support from Aalto community and dedication of development team the course is available for independent studying starting from November 2021 via Aalto MyCourses platform.

Go to POCS MyCourses page

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