Wild About Photography

Summary

Starting with the Block Island National Wildlife Refuge Quarter, students will learn and demonstrate different techniques for photographing wildlife. Students will identify foreground and background in a composition.

Coin Type(s)

  • Quarter

Coin Program(s)

  • America the Beautiful Quarters

Objectives

Students will learn and demonstrate different techniques for photographing wildlife. Students will identify foreground and background in a composition.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Art

Minor/supporting Subject Area Connections

  • Social Studies
  • Science

Grades

  • 9th
  • 10th
  • 11th
  • 12th

Class Time

  • Sessions: Four
  • Session Length: 90 minutes
  • Total Length: 151-500 minutes

Groupings

  • Small groups
  • Pairs
  • Individual work

Background Knowledge

  • Basic composition (rule of thirds, leading lines, repetition, etc.)
  • Three-dimensional space
  • Basic digital camera operation (Point and Shoot, DSLR or cell phone)
  • Sketchbooks and journal entries
  • Photographic presentation (mounting, matting)
  • Thumbnail sketching
  • Perspective

Terms and Concepts

  • Quarter
  • Reverse (back)
  • Obverse (front)
  • Foreground
  • Middle ground
  • Background
  • Wildlife
  • Photography

Materials

Preparations

  • Make copies of the following:
    • "Wild About Photography Sketchbook" packet (four pages, one packet per student)
    • "Wild About Photography Answer Key" (two pages, one per teacher)
    • "Wild About Photography: Final Print Narrative" worksheet (one per student)
    • "Wild About Photography Rubric" (one per student)
  • Bookmark Web sites that showcase environmentally inspired photography (see examples under "Materials").
  • Choose a wildlife video and preview it to find scenes where you can pause it for the students to sketch in Session 1.
  • Locate texts or web resources that showcase wildlife photography
  • Locate texts or web resources that give tips on wildlife photography
  • Arrange to use computer lab for Session 2 (if necessary)
  • Make a class chart with three columns labeled "foreground," "middle ground," and "background" for Session 1

Worksheets and Files

Lesson Steps

Session 1

  1. Display and examine the "Block Island National Wildlife Refuge Quarter" page. Locate this site on a class map. Note its position in relation to your school's location. As background information, explain to the students that the United States Mint began to issue the quarters in the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program in 2010. By the time the program ends in 2021, there will be a total of 56 designs. Each design will focus on a different national site—one from each state, territory, and the District of Columbia.
  2. Tell the students that the front of a coin is called the "obverse" and the back is called the "reverse." Tell students that Block Island National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1973 off the southern coast of Rhode Island. The site is a critical migratory bird stopover point on the Atlantic coast, with fruit-bearing shrubs providing essential food for the species of birds that come to rest there. Explain that the large bird population makes this spot popular with wildlife photographers. Tell the students that they are going to be learning photographic techniques for documenting wildlife.
  3. While examining the quarter, explain that three-dimensional space in a composition has foreground, middle ground, and background elements. Explain that foreground elements are closer to the viewer, background elements are farthest away, and middle ground elements are between foreground and background elements. Ask the students to discuss what they see in the image on the quarter's reverse. Explain that the design depicts a black-crowned night-heron flying over a view from the beach at Cow Cove looking towards Sandy Point. The North Light lighthouse is seen in the background.
  4. Distribute the "Wild About Photography Sketchbook" packet.
  5. Using a three-column chart, and with students working along in the first entry of the sketchbook, identify as a class the elements found in the foreground, middle ground, and background of the Block Island National Wildlife Refuge Quarter.
  6. Display the four other designs for America the Beautiful Quarters. Using the second entry in the "Wild About Photography Sketchbook," have the students identify these elements in each design. Collect the worksheets.
  7. Display a video that shows scenes of animals in nature like those listed under "Materials." Pause the video three times and have students work on the third entry in the sketchbook while identifying the foreground, middle ground and background elements present.
  8. Have students turn in their sketchbooks and explain that they will be learning more in the next session about photography that documents wildlife. Distribute the "Wild About Photography Rubric."

Session 2

  1. Have students review their sketchbooks from the previous session. Display the "Block Island National Wildlife Refuge Quarter" page. Explain to the students that many people visit Block Island to watch and photograph the birds there. Remind the class they are going to be learning photographic techniques for documenting wildlife.
  2. Using computers (lab, laptop cart, or equivalent technology) and using links like those listed under "Materials," review photography that showcases natural resources and habitats.
  3. Have students individually research to find four photographs that document wildlife.
  4. Have students list the information from their research into their sketchbooks and label them with the photographer's name, the title of the work, the elements in the photograph, and the location where the photograph was taken.
  5. Using the resources in the "materials" tab, give some of the photographers' tips for capturing wildlife on camera. Tell students to take notes using the page in their sketchbook, as they will be demonstrating knowledge of these tips in their own photography.
  6. Tell the students that they will be photographing wildlife for homework. Explain that wildlife is everywhere, and their subject can be any animal or insect they're able to capture in their community.
  7. Assign the students to take their sketchbooks and cameras or equivalent technology home and, while using the photographers' tips as a guide, shoot 15 photographs, including five to nine photos from different perspectives (20 to 24 total shots). Have students record the photography tips they used for each photo in their sketchbook.

Session 3

  1. Review the parameters for the previously assigned homework. Have students print contact sheets of their photographs and pick their favorite. Have the students paste their contact sheets in their sketchbook.
  2. Have the students print a 4"x6" copy of their chosen photograph. Then, have students mount the photograph.
  3. Have students fill out the "Wild About Photography: Final Print Narrative" worksheet and paste it onto the back of the mounted print.
  4. Collect the final prints and sketchbooks.

Session 4

  1. Arrange gallery space in the school or another area for display. Have the students present their final mounted photographs.
  2. After the presentations, have the students fill out the rubric, including the self-reflection.

Differentiated Learning Options

  • Have students work in pairs to identify elements in Session 1.
  • Have students ID only foreground and background elements.

Enrichments/Extensions

  • Have students identify foreground, middle ground, and background elements in other United States Mint coin designs.
  • Assign students the added element of "depth of field" in creating emphasis in compositions.
  • Invite a wildlife photographer to visit the class to share tips.

Assess

Use the rubric to assess whether the students have met the lesson objectives.

Common Core Standards

Discipline: English Language Arts
Domain: Science & Technical Subjects
Grade(s): 9–10
Cluster: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:

Standards:

  • RST.9-10.7 Translate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text into visual form (e.g., a table or chart) and translate information expressed visually or mathematically (e.g., in an equation) into words.

Discipline: English Language Arts
Domain: Science & Technical Subjects
Grade(s): 11–12
Cluster: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:

Standards:

  • RST.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., quantitative data, video, multimedia) in order to address a question or solve a problem.

National Standards

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: English
Cluster: Developing Research Skills
Grade(s): K–12
Standards: 

  • K-12.8 Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.

Discipline: Visual Arts and Music
Domain: 9–12 Visual Arts
Cluster: Standard 3: Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas
Grade(s): Grades 9–12

Standards:

Proficient:

  • Students reflect on how artworks differ visually, spatially, temporally, and functionally, and describe how these are related to history and culture
  • Students apply subjects, symbols, and ideas in their artworks and use the skills gained to solve problems in daily life

Advanced:

  • Students describe the origins of specific images and ideas and explain why they are of value in their artwork and in the work of others
  • Students evaluate and defend the validity of sources for content and the manner in which subject matter, symbols, and images are used in the students' works and in significant works by others

Discipline: Visual Arts and Music
Domain: 9–12 Visual Arts
Cluster: Standard 1: Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes
Grade(s): Grades 9–12

Standards:

Proficient:

  • Students apply media, techniques, and processes with sufficient skill, confidence, and sensitivity that their intentions are carried out in their artworks
  • Students conceive and create works of visual art that demonstrate an understanding of how the communication of their ideas relates to the media, techniques, and processes they use

Advanced:

  • Students communicate ideas regularly at a high level of effectiveness in at least one visual arts medium
  • Students initiate, define, and solve challenging visual arts problems independently using intellectual skills such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation

Discipline: Visual Arts and Music
Domain: 9–12 Visual Arts
Cluster: Standard 6: Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines
Grade(s): Grades 9–12

Standards:

Proficient:

  • Students compare the materials, technologies, media, and processes of the visual arts with those of other arts disciplines as they are used in creation and types of analysis
  • Students compare characteristics of visual arts within a particular historical period or style with ideas, issues, or themes in the humanities or sciences

Advanced:

  • Students synthesize the creative and analytical principles and techniques of the visual arts and selected other arts disciplines, the humanities, or the sciences