Photography Merit Badge
Rules for Photographs

This page should help clarify what sorts of pictures you are expected to take for requirements 4-7 of the badge. 

A few general notes:

- Mike Brown

4. Do TWO of the following, then share your work with your counselor.
a. Photograph one subject from two different angles or perspectives. Definition: "Angles or perspectives" means how your camera is positioned relative to the subject. For example: high angle (looking down on the subject), low angle (looking up at the subject) or eye-level (looking straight at the subject), or a front view or side view. 
NOTE: This does not mean two pictures of the same subject taken from (or in) two different places.  

Front view of a Beech Starship

Side or oblique view
b. Photograph one subject from two different light sources-artificial and natural. Definitions: Natural light is sunlight, whether the picture is taken out of doors or inside by light through a window. Artificial light includes any man-made light source, which could be ambient indoor lighting from lamps or overhead lights or even candle light. Flash counts as "artificial light" for the purposes of this requirement. 
Natural Light (sunlight through windows)

Artificial Light (Flash)
c. Photograph one subject with two different depths of field. Definition: "Depth of Field" means how much of the subject is in focus from the foreground of the image to the background. You control depth of field using the lens aperture ("f/stop") - the larger the aperture (smaller f/number) the less the depth of field, the smaller the aperture (larger f/number), the greater the depth of field. To adjust the aperture, use "aperture priority" (A or Ta) or "manual" (M) mode on your camera. 
Large Depth of Field (small aperture - f/22)

Small Depth of Field (wide aperture - f/5.6)
d. Photograph one subject with two different compositional techniques. Rule of Thirds: Divide the picture up in thirds, like a tic-tac-toe board. Position the subject on one of the one-third lines - or, better yet, on one of the intersections. 
Rule of thirds - hikers on left-hand one-third line
Hiking to a bothy at the Blair Atholl Jamborette in Scotland

Lighthouse on one-third line
Tobermory Light, Isle of Mull, Scotland
80/20 Rule: When you have a horizon in the image, don't put it in the middle. 

Rather, the horizon should be either 80% up from the bottom with the remaining 20% being sky, or 80% down from the top with the remaining 20% being foreground. 

Choose which you use depending on whether the interest is the foreground or background. 

Aird Uig, Isle of Lewis - emphasis on the moorland in the foreground. 

Aird Uig, but emphasizing the mountains and sky in the background.
Leading Lines: Use elements in the image to lead the viewer's eyes into the picture. 
Railroad Tracks are the traditional leading lines...
Blair Atholl station, Scotland

... but a winding road can provide leading lines, too.
Atholl Estate, Blair Atholl, Scotland
Move in Close / Fill the Frame:  Just what it says - move in closer to make the subject fill the frame. 
Wide shot - not bad, but...

...better if you move in close.
Framing: Use elements of the image to surround and emphasize the subject. 
A literal frame in Caerlaverock Castle, Scotland...

...or a background element of another sort, a ferris wheel in Edinburgh.
Patterns / Colors / Textures / Shapes: Look for these sorts of interesting things to make the subject of your images. 
Color - forty shades of green with black and white cows in Dingle, Ireland.

Pattern and texture - lichen and rock with a piece of broken pottery, Crail, Kingdom of Fife, Scotland
Light / Shadow: Look for interesting shadows, or the effect of unusual lighting situations. Watch as the color of the light changes throughout the day and into the night...
Sunlight and tree shadows on a roadside plow mound.

Light and shadow from a midnight snow plow.
Reflections: Just what it says. Include reflections in your images to make them more interesting. 
Lock-keeper's house reflected in the Caledonian Canal, Fort William, Scotland. 

Reflection in a spherical mirror - Camera Obscura, Edinburgh
5. Photograph THREE of the following, then share your work your counselor.
a. Close-up of a person Definition: picture is taken from close enough to fill the frame with part of the person. 
b. Two to three people interacting Definition: obviously, the picture must have two or three people in it, and the people have to be "interacting" - that is, doing something together or reacting to each other. This does not include just a posed group picture where everyone is just staring at the camera. 
There's always a Gift Shop - in this case, at the Scottish Seabird Centre

If knights could take selfies - Bannockburn Battlefield, Scotland
c. Action shot Definition: the subject of the photograph must be doing something active. Here's an opportunity for you to practice your panning technique (move the camera with the subject using a slow shutter speed to blur the back ground) or freeze action (high shutter speed or peak of action). To select a shutter speed, use Shutter Priority (S or Ts) or Manual (M) or Sports Modes on your camera. 
NOTE: Blurry pictures are not acceptable.

Panning - a P-40 Warhawk at the Sun'n Fun airshow
Used a 1/350th second exposure, and moved camera with the airplane to blur background (the airplane was flying fast - normally you'd want to use a speed of about 1/60th for panning)

Freeze Action - Hammer Throw at a Highland Games in Scotland
High shutter speed - 1/1500th sec
d. Animal shot Definition: The subject is an animal. It could be a domestic animal or pet, or a wild animal (for the purposes of this requirement, people are not considered animals).  
Raven at the Grand Canyon - wide aperture to blur background
e. Nature shot Definition: The subject is something natural other than an animal - a plant or flower, a landscape, a close-up of an interesting rock... use your imagination. 
Landscape - cobble beach at Machrie Bay, Isle of Arran, Scotland
f. Picture of a person - Candid, Posed or Camera Aware Candid - the subject wasn't aware of the camera (or, at least, not actively looking at it).
Posed - the subject was put in a position by the photographer and held it for the image. 
Camera aware - the subject knew his/her picture was being taken, but wasn't specifically told to take a pose. 
6. Describe how software allows you to enhance your photograph after it is taken. Select a photo you have taken, then do ONE of the following, and share what you have done with your counselor. 
i. You should present both the original image and the processed image, so your counselor can see what you did. 
ii. Whatever change you make should enhance the picture not just change it. that is, the changed picture should be better than the original in some way. 
a. Crop your photograph. Definition: select part of the original image, and extract it to a new image. 
(Also used Field Blur filter to blur background)
b. Adjust the exposure...  Definition: make the picture darker or lighter, or adjust the levels or shadows/highlights to make the picture "pop". 
Original Image - boat on Caledonian Canal, Scotland

Exposure Adjusted (Auto Tone)
           ....or make a color correction. Definition: Adjust the color of the image. This can be to remove a color cast (for example, to make a picture taken under fluorescent light less green or to remove a blue cast in a snow picture), or to convert a picture to grayscale (black-and-whate), or to make the color in a picture more or less saturated. You can even convert a picture to partial color (mostly grayscale, but one element is in color) if you like.
Original Image - Isle of Lewis, Scotland

Image converted to grayscale
c. Show another way you could improve your picture for impact. Definition: This is a catch-all - if you would like to try a filter effect or make a composite or panorama or HDR image, go for it!
Edinburgh, Scotland - an HDR (High Dynamic Range) picture made up of five different images, each taken at a different exposure so that both the shadowed Flodden Wall and the illuminated Heriot's School were properly exposed. .

Several different filters used to convert a color image of the Camp Barton Mess Hall into black and white line art.
7. Using images other than those created for requirements 4, 5 and 6, produce a visual story to document an event to photograph OR choose a topic that interests you to photograph.
c. Select eight to 12 images that best tell your story. Arrange your images in order and mount the prints on a poster board, OR create an electronic presentation. Share your visual story with your counselor.
  • This requirement is as much about storytelling as it is about taking pictures! Take and arrange your photos to tell a story.
  • Definition: If you choose to "document an event", the photos need to be related, and arranged in a chronological order to tell the story of the event. The "event" could be something as simple as taking your dog for a walk to a pond, cooking a favorite dish, making a model airplane or exploring your neighborhood, or it could be about a campout or hike with your troop.
  • Definition: If you choose to illustrate a topic, the photos need to be related to the topic and chosen and arranged to tell the story of your interest in the topic.
  • The acts of choosing and arranging are part of the requirement! You must have no fewer than eight pictures, and no more than twelve.
  • As with the earlier requirements, don't just pick any old eight to twelve pictures and expect the counselor to figure out what they show or why you chose them.

My Story:

A Ride on the Hogwart's Express (Jacobite Steam Train) in Scotland

The train is waiting for us at Fort William Station in the West Highlands

"All Aboard!" We have our own section on the train.

Crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct - can you see Harry Potter and Ron Weasley flying a Ford Anglia up ahead of the train?

The train has to stop at Glenfinnan Station to allow another train to pass, so we all get a chance to step out and visit with the engine driver and fireman.

The West Highland line passes through some beautiful scenery.

It's been a long day - some of the Scouts nodded off...

We made it to our destination - Mallaig - a fishing and ferry port...

...just in time for a great fish dinner.

Photos Copyright 2000-2021 Mike Brown