LAGUNA – Photography courses usually do not come cheap. So, it really came as a surprise when the university’s Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension (OVCRE) and the Museum of Natural History jointly offered something better than cheap last 25-28 April 2017 -- free biological photography courses for two batches of information officers.

The OVCRE partnered with the Museum to hold the course for the members of its Information Officers Network. The participants came from Center for Technology Transfer and Entrepreneurship (CTTE), Office for Initiatives in Culture and the Arts (OICA), National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (BIOTECH), and the OVCRE.

 As of now, the MNH is probably the only unit in UPLB that offers a short training course on biological photography. Other units have offered general photography courses in the past, but not so much catered to biologists such as the Museum’s current offering.

According to OVCRE University Research Associate Regina Mae C. Ongkiko, “the goal was to equip the OVCRE’s Information Officers with knowledge and skills in photography and reporting so that they would have better outputs after covering events and when preparing popularized reports.”

The instructors from the Museum were extension specialist Florante A. Cruz, who taught the basics of camera usage and its various extensions, general photography, macro-photography, portraiture, and artificial staging; and field biologist James DV. Alvarez who gave sessions on image post-processing and stacking.

After the lecture sessions, the participants also practiced using their DSLR cameras at the Makiling Botanical Gardens; their photos were presented and peer-critiqued afterwards.

The specimen macro-photography proved tedious because of the sensitive set up of the camera rig and specimen. Participants shot photos of the specimen - a minute wasp – with each shot only a small part of the subject is in focus. After the shot, the camera is moved backwards on a rail to gradually move the focus point to photograph the specimen once again. The images, around 15 to 20, were combined using Adobe Photoshop to produce an image in which all the parts are focused.

Using gathered materials from surroundings adjacent the Museum, the participants also set up a lifelike stage that featured three taxidermied animals. The specimens were photographed afterwards with the aid of lamps and external flashes which the participants smartly placed on the stage to produce good lighting effects.

The participants’ evaluation of the course and its instructors were highly positive: 100% of the participants found the course useful and everyone found it appropriate for their level of experience. The course was rated by the participants 4.81 out of the highest possible score of 5.

“We usually conduct events, specifically art festivals, and the course taught me ways how to take better photos during the event,” said OICA Administrative Assistant Kristine Matalog.

BIOTECH microbiologist Angelbert Cortes said that the course has aided him in his work, like photographing bacteria and fungi on microbial plates for use in papers and presentations.

The photography course is just one of the skills development programs that the OVCRE has lined up this 2017 for the members of the Information Officers Network (ION).

“Plans are already under way for the succeeding courses,” said Ongkiko. “We will hold training programs such as night field photography, gender sensitivity in media and content, press kit production workshop, and website content management,” she added.

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