Watch One, Do One, Teach One
It is a frequently sited axiom of medical education. You watch someone start an IV, and then you do it yourself, but you never truly understand the process until you are required to teach someone else. Scary? The rule may engender terror among patients in teaching hospitals, but the basic idea is sound. The best way to fully understand anything is to force yourself to teach it to someone else, and this is true for any subject, including photography.
I began writing my photography blog in January of 2009 and in the subsequent seven years I have published over 280 articles covering
a broad range of topics related to digital photography, image processing and capturing the special magic of the New England landscape. Writing a weekly blog requires a great deal of time and effort and It shouldn't be surprising that I often wonder why I keep at it. I started blogging for many reasons, but my most important excuse for continuing my weekly chore is that it is my primary path to expanding my understanding of the art and craft of digital photography. The process of researching and writing an article can open up many new subjects that I may have only vaguely understood, but it is also amazing how much I learn just by being forced to explain things that I having been doing automatically for years.
|Lightroom Develop Module|
The Joy of Teaching
I have always enjoyed teaching. In medicine that involved sharing my knowledge with patients, students and colleagues. For years I
have also shared my photographic experience through presentations to photography clubs and community groups and, as is true for my blog, preparing those talks has resulted in a remarkable increase in my own understanding. This autumn I responded to multiple requests and offered a more formal class on basic digital photography. I gave the course through the Keene Continuing Education program. Assembling the content for a comprehensive introductory class was time consuming, challenging and quite scary. My usual talks last 60 minutes or less but for the course I had to prepare material for four, two hour sessions. Eight hours of me talking, no wonder I was scared.
|Basics of Digital Photography|
|Class Shoot, Ashuelot River Park|
To Many PowerPoint Slides?
I ended up with over 280 slides, but also broke up the sessions with questions and critiques of my student's work. Topics included camera types, file handling and backup, also longer discussions covering the factors contributing to proper exposure and composition. I also reviewed approaches to a variety of typicalphotographic situations. Surprisingly the evaluations suggested that my victims enjoyed the class and felt it was valuable. Some even said that they enjoyed the PowerPoint slides, almost impossible! I enjoyed working with this group of eager learners and, as always, I
|Linking Aperture and Shutter Speed|
learned more than I taught. I limited the class to ten and was fortunate to have very engage and motivated students with a wide range of experience. In addition to the 8 hours of classroom time, I joined the group on two field trips which provided the material for productive critiques of their work. The feedback on the course seemed quite positive and there is a significant list of folks on the waiting list for a future class. I have agreed to run the course again in the spring. It will be easier now that I have my PowerPoint slides "in the can", but I would like to expand my teaching to other topics.
|In the Weeds|
With time restrictions, I intentionally limited my basics course to the image capturing side of photography, covering topics that would largely apply equally to film as well as digital photography. In the process I discussed how digital capture differs from film, anticipating, but not exploring, the capabilities of the digital darkroom, but many of my students wanted to learn more. Essentially all had access to editing software including Lightroom, Photoshop and Photoshop Elements and although understanding the basics of image capture is critical, I decided to dive into post-processing for my next course.
I have used Photoshop for years but was forced into Lightroom mostly because of an increasing need for a powerful image management program to get a handle on my expanding image library. My library is currently over 400,000 images and, without a database, a brut search for an image with Photoshop's Bridge could take hours. I purchased a stand-alone copy of Lightroom, but quickly switched to Adobe's photography
|Lightroom Image Management|
package when Photoshop was drawn into the Creative Cloud. I
initially adopted Lightroom solely as a database and this greatly simplified my image management, but I became impressed with the broad power of recent revisions of the program, especially in the Develop Module. Although I still bring my images into Photoshop for fine tuning, the majority of my global image editing and some local adjustment now occurs in Lightroom. I also value the other main modules of the program especially the Map and Slide Show capabilities. I've become comfortable with features of Lightroom that are most important for my workflow, but There is still a lot to learn. My plan is to do what I often do when I don't know enough about a important topic, I will teach it.
|Up To the Barn, Chesterfield, NH|
|Lightroom Map Module|
I plan to offer a course on Introductory Lightroom for Photographers. With my basic digital photography course in the spring, I will try to get the Lightroom course together for the mid to late winter. To allow for close feedback I will keep this class small, probably just as many people as I can fit around my dining room table. I will likely schedule informal evening sessions on a weekly basis for 5-6 weeks. The course format will necessarily be different from my digital basics
course. Instead of a Power Point presentation I will be walking through the features of Lightroom in real time. I strongly believe that an understanding of such a complicated program can only to achieved through practice and I will encourage participants to follow along with Lightroom installed on their own laptops. Although Lightroom is still available as a stand-alone product, the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan makes acquiring the latest versions of Lightroom and Photoshop very affordable.
|Glade Wall, Chesterfield, NH|
Both Lightroom and Photoshop have an aura of high complexity that can be intimidating for new users, but the most important thing to realize is that you don't need to understand all the features of these programs to make a remarkable difference in your images. I have a good functional understanding of the capabilities of these programs, but there is always more to learn. It remains exciting to discover new features as I try to improve my own image processing. My hope is to provide a level of understanding of the essential features of Lightroom to break through the intimidation and allow us all to learn more about this remarkable tool for better photography.
|Lightroom Graduated Filter|
I've SEEN it and done SOME of it
and now it's time to TEACH it.
If you are interested in getting on the list for my Lightroom for Photographers course email me or give me a call. I promise snacks!
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