My Introduction to Digital Photography Class is underway at Keene Community Education. This is my second try at this basic course and again I am pleased to be blessed with an enthusiastic and energetic group. I have been impressed with the number of people, even in our small community, who are struggling to grasp the challenges and great capability of digital photography. There level of interest is such that they seem willing to sit through my two hour classes of endlessly, mind numbing PowerPoint slides, but I am a strong believer that repeated practice is the only way to firmly embed the often abstract principals behind the faithful capture of the visual image. My essential rule is:
Practice, Practice, Practice
Throw Out Your First 10,000 Images
Shooting What Nature Provides
|Ashuelot River Falls |
Scouted before the Shoot
Last Tuesday evening, nine of my 15 students were able to come out for my first group shoot at Ashuelot River Park in Keene New Hampshire. We escaped the rain, but the sky was mostly overcast. I welcomed the conditions, since it allowed me to point out the importance of using the weather to help dictate the best photographic opportunities. The clouds robbed us of the chance to shoot the glorious sunset color, but it did facilitate the capture of the soft, cotton candy appearance of the Ashuelot River Falls and made it possible to record the rich, saturated colors of the parks exploding spring foliage.
I started by gathering the class for a group photo and then answering a few of the many questions that my first formal class had created. After a quick review of equipment, which included admonitions to bring a tripod, I let everyone go to find their muse. We split up into two groups. One heading to the dramatic environs of the waterfall, which was rendered more dramatic by the recent rain, and the other following a more contemplative stroll along the path which follows the Ashuelot River up-stream.
A Little Help from a Friend
|Steve Hooper Guidance|
another excellent photographer and teacher. Again this year Steve Hooper generously offered to help coach my students. Steve is retired from many years as a photographer for the Keene Sentinel newspaper and continues to share his love of photography by teaching in at "Class", Keene State College's senior continuing education program. Steve and I enjoy sharing each others class shoots and on this occasion he shepherded the waterfall group while I ambled up the river.
These shoots provide the opportunity to cover a broad range of topics, reinforcing information already discussed in class and also introducing material that will be covered in future sessions. In about 90 minutes, I reviewed shooting techniques for maximum stability, the pros and cons of jpg and RAW image formats, automatic and manual focus techniques, and the use of the histogram to establish optimal exposure. We cover aspects of strong composition, including the importance of including foreground elements and the avoidance of distractions around the edges of the frame.
The time went quickly. On these shoots I always concentrate on the needs of the students and don't leave with many of my own images. What I did come away with was a better sense of my classes level of understanding, their needs and a file filled with their images, ready for my gentle critique during the next class session. As I review the pictures I am always looking for images that will help demonstrate important points about digital photography, but it is amazing how many times the students come up with remarkably fresh and interesting perspectives that I had never noticed. I love praising all these efforts, and love even more my plans to go back to the location to feed off of their inspiration.
I have two more classes to come, one on composition and the final session on photography in different kinds of light, and we will have one more group shoot after the composition class.
Over the years I have prepared many short talks on aspects of photography, but it is amazing how much more time it takes to organize a full course with eight hours of fresh material. But the work is amply rewarded by the opportunity to share my passion for photography with so many people who are just discovering the incredible possibilities of photography in the digital world.
|Squirreling Away the Kids, Ashuelot River Park|
I'm sorry I could only show a few of great images that came from our shoot, but I'm sure there will be much more to come.
Coming up later this year I plan to repeat my Introduction to Digital Photography Course along with my Adobe Lightroom for Digital Photographers class. In the fall I am planning an Autumn Foliage workshop and who knows what else in the new year - I'm hooked - The only challenge is to find time to actually get out to shoot.