Saturday, September 01, 2007

At the Dog Park in Worcester 8/26/07

Classes started this week at Clark and for a lot of students, it has to feel like the big dawg is about to eat them up. For some reason, I have more first year students than previous years. Not a bunch more, but more partly due to the pre-registration process where the courses are capped during fall enrollment at a certain number and then the cap is lifted to allow a few 1st-years in. But unlike previous years, there was much dropping and adding of my courses, especially the digital course. All this makes for a slow start of the semester. Usually by the second class I have my beginning students headed to the darkroom to process their first roll of film. Kinda' hittin' the ground running. But this year, what with Labor Day taking away Monday in the coming week.....well, I've pushed my normal schedule back by a week. What it really means is one less week of shooting for the students. One additional lecture for me, and since I have little trouble talking about “Photoing”*....

These first few classes are rather steep on the learning curve. For the Intro wet darkroom classes, these are generally students who are for the first time holding other than a small P/S digital camera, and now they have a film SLR ...and it's B&W film at that! And in the digital intro course, it's kinda' the same – not only do you have to learn the ins/outs of a digital SLR, but you have to learn Photoshop.

One of my theories about teaching photography is you learn to photograph by learning not to repeat your mistakes. We've all shot film at the wrong ISO (or in my case, the wrong ASA – I go back aways), screw-up putting the film on the processing reel, made horrendous exposure choices, opened a box of paper in normal room light, and on, and on, and on. And this year's student are no different, and they will make all the same mistakes I made when I first started. The difference is, they have someone to guide them around obstacles, whereas I did it all by trial and error. I won't call it the “hard way” but I will say it was a much longer road.
I was in the Navy when I first started to photograph, and my teacher was a stack of old US Camera and Modern Photography magazines to guide me. This was the late 1950's and as I think back, I believe that those “camera magazine” were better written than what we have today. I still have a copy of Modern Photography from March 1954 with an excellent 35mm film processing article by Bob Schwalberg. My first 35mm camera was an Argus C3,
and it wasn't until three years later that I bought my first SLR....and Exakta VX-IIa

with a 50mm f/1.5 Angenieux “pre-set” lens.

Hell-of-a-nice lens on a crappy body. My first medium format camera was a Minolta Auto-Cord.

As good and “wonderful” as our modern film and digital SLR cameras are, I kinda' miss the era of “DIY” photography. My first really good camera was NikonF,

and later the NikonF2.

My first view camera was a Calumet,

the old re-badged Kodak Master View. All of that was awhile ago....
While I'm a better photographer today, it is not because of the cameras I use. It's because I made all the mistakes you can make photoing, and learned not to repeat them. Or if the “mistake” turned out to be a better picture, I learned to use that mistake, and told everyone I did it on purpose. Yeah, “good answer.”

*Speaking of “Photoing” -- this is a term coined by my friend, Billie, and means doing anything that pertains to photography. As most spouses know, photographers can busy themselves with photography in so many ways, it would be hard to count them.


Billie said...

I wish I could say I never make the same mistake twice but that ISO thing trips me up from time to time.

Thanks for adapting my "photoing" word. Hahaha


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