Online course on scientific and forensic photography


Daniel Tamburrino


We developed jointly with the University of Lausanne and the University of Basel a CVS (Swiss Virtual Campus) online course on scientific and forensic photography, called nicephor[e]. By choosing scientific photography as the main theme of the project, we are able to cover multidisciplinary subjects related to photography, from physics to signal processing and from acquisition to reproduction.

Being a multi-university and multi-field project, the course content had to be adaptable for the different institutions to fulfill their needs. Therefore, we developed the course in small independent units, called learning objects, which are stored in a content management system (Typo3). Each learning object contains not only the theoretical content, but also the related exercises. From this system we created a course structure by selecting and arranging the relevant learning objects, which are accessible in an e-learning platform (LMS) like Moodle or WebCT Vista.

E-learning does not mean self-learning. This online course is used as a tool for teachers to provide the students an enhanced learning experience. By providing interactive animations and simulations on complex topics, we are able to increase the interest of the students. At EPFL, we developed the signal, image, and color processing part of this online course. We not only developed the text, but also interactive animations in Java and ActionScript (Macromedia Flash programming language) as shown in Animation 1.

Animation 1: Flash/ActionScript interactive animation demonstrating the concept of aliasing that appears when a signal is sampled to a frequency less than two times its original (continuous) signal frequency.

The content of this online course has been successfully used for two years in Prof. Süsstrunk's Digital Photography class, using Moodle as LMS. The students gave very positive feedback about nicephor[e], which they consider as a great help for the class.

Nicephor[e] was also part of the “All Photographers Now” exhibit at the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne (08.02 – 20.05.2007). The visitors could consult a limited number of learning objects and acquire knowledge about several digital photography topics.


Sabine Süsstrunk (IVRG, EPFL), Ecole des sciences criminelles (UNIL) and the Imaging & Media Lab (UNIBA).

Project Period :

January 2005 to August 2007.

Funding source :

EPFL FIFO matching funds for the Swiss Virtual Campus project, under grant number P-3-057.