6.163 | Fall 2005 | Undergraduate

Strobe Project Laboratory


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1 hour / session

Labs: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session



Lab Notebook - Obtain the ‘duplicating’ type that has alternating white and yellow pages, and carbon paper.


Horenstein, Henry, and Carol Keller. Black and White Photography: A Basic Manual. 2nd revised ed. New York, NY: Little Brown, 1983. ISBN: 0316373141.

What is 6.163 About?

This is a laboratory experience course with a focus on photography, electronic imaging, and light measurement, much of it at short duration. In addition to teaching these techniques, the course provides students with experience working in a laboratory and teaches good work habits and techniques for approaching laboratory work. A major purpose of 6.163 is to provide students with many opportunities to sharpen their communication skills: oral, written, and visual.

Do I Need to Know Photography?

Black and white photography will play an important role in the course. No prior knowledge of photography is assumed - all necessary techniques will be taught at the beginning of the semester.

What About the Labs and the Final Project?

Students will be assigned to lab groups of 4 students each. Each lab will meet once a week for three hours. Students will need additional time to complete their darkroom work. During the first six weeks, each group will complete 6 setpiece laboratories. Then each group will spend two weeks planning and executing the “Mark 1” version of their final project (a project of the group’s own design). For the remainder of the term, laboratory time will be spent executing these final projects.

How are the Lectures Structured?

For the first six weeks, the lectures will provide the detailed technical information required to carry out the laboratory exercises and to prepare students for their final project. The next two to three weeks, the lectures will provide an overview of past final projects, as well as presenting many different imaging techniques that may be of use in planning final projects. For the remainder of the term, the lectures will review on various applications of strobes.

Grading and Course Expectations

General Statement

The point of this course is to provide students with experience in doing and thinking about experimental laboratory work. To achieve this, each student must become actively involved in laboratories and projects. Since you will be working in groups there will always be the possibility that some students will pick up points quicker, be more forceful with their opinions, or in some way tend to lead or dominate the group. It is the responsibility of each student to ensure that they are participating in and benefiting from course activities.

This is also a subject about communication: oral, written and visual. You will be expected to make several brief presentations in class regarding the previous week’s lab or your group’s project.


The general distribution of grading between labs, quizzes, problem sets, etc. is shown below. Grading for the course is part objective, part subjective. The objective part is simply the numerical grade you receive for any given item. The subjective part arises from how the staff perceives your involvement with the course - attendance, active participation in labs and project, preparation for labs, etc.

All assigned work must be submitted in order to receive a grade.

Laboratory Work and Reports 30%
Problem Sets, In-class Work, and Practical Exercise 10%
Quiz 10%
Mark I Progress Reports and Mark I Project Work 15%
Final Project Work and Final Report 35%

Each student must have a bound laboratory notebook and use it to record all lab work. Weekly lab reports are due at the following week’s lab session. Each lab is worth six percentage points. Late reports will lose 1 percentage point per day. Each student may have one no-penalty extension during the term, applicable to any of the first six labs. Weekly lab reports are an individual effort.

The Mark I project closes with a 15-minute-long group presentation and a written report from your group. The Final Project closes with a final 15-minute-long group presentation of the project in the last week of class, and a written report that is due on the last day of classes. The Mark I and Final Project reports and presentations are group efforts.

Again, all assigned work must be handed in to receive a grade.


Regular attendance is expected. There is a lot of material in the lectures you might consider extraneous. They are designed to give you the background material relevant to the laboratory exercises or to further your understanding of experimental techniques or applications. There will be occasional guest speakers. Out of simple courtesy, full attendance is expected.


There is one in-class quiz about midway through the term. The quiz will cover basic knowledge of photography and strobe illumination. It will also test your ability to apply that knowledge in new situations.

Laboratory Work

It is mandatory that you show up at your regularly scheduled lab time so that you have ongoing interaction with the course staff. Arrive at these lab sessions with a brief written plan in your lab notebook of what you intend to work on or accomplish in that lab period. Your TA will collect the carbon copy of that plan.

Final Projects

Mark I and Project Written Reports and In-class Oral Presentation

  • These are intended to be joint efforts, with all members of the lab group receiving the same numerical grade for both the report and the presentation. A subjective assessment for individual effort will be made by the course staff. In a few cases, lab groups have had problems in sharing effort fairly and amicably. If there is any anticipation that this might be a problem, we request that the group make a clear written delineation of responsibilities for the various parts of the project so that individual efforts can be properly assessed.

Laboratory Work for Final Project

  • It is not expected that you will be able to complete the project using only your regularly scheduled lab times. Since the laboratory resources will be needed at off hours (nights, weekends) by all groups there will be a need for mutual cooperation and courtesy between lab groups. If staff assistance is needed at odd hours, you must arrange for the help ahead of time.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2005
Learning Resource Types
Image Gallery
Demonstration Videos
Exams with Solutions
Projects with Examples