Friday, April 23, 2010

The Photography class is finished

I took an entry level digital photography class this semester. I have had two film classes; one in high-school and again years ago in college. I needed to upgrade both my skills and my equipment in preparation for my career.

I did both but not without some growing pains. Without question, the purchase of a decent DSLR camera plus an extra lens and a couple of filters set me back. However, I also desperately needed a new laptop with the processing juice to handle large files and multiple processes at the same time. My faithful old laptop was just not up to the task. So not only did I shell out for one of the most expensive tuition fees at my college, I also shelled out for the technology upgrades. Ouch.

I admit I was looking forward to joining the ranks of the Nikonians after waiting seven years for a DSLR, alas it was not to be. Long story short, I needed the camera as soon as student financial aid disbursements were processed in January and ended up having to make another choice in order to maximize the available funds.

I am proud to be an Olympian. I bought an Olympus E520 and the aforementioned accessories. Luckily I already owned a tripod. I did not use it near as much as I thought I would. The camera has just the right grip for my hands and the right heft to hold it steady without the anit-shake function ever being employed. It is a nice camera at it's price point.

I worked pretty hard in this class; I shot over 2,000 images throughout the semester and deleted at least 600 before ever processing them.  The bulk were trashed before mid-term, the rest were bracketed exposures, not dumb mistakes post mid-term.  I wrote three essay reviews for extra credit.  One was a review of selected works from the photography gallery at the GRAM in town.  One was on the first time experience of being part of the paparazzi for the Waterfront Film Festival Oscar Party fundraiser.  One was of the experience of attending the College Arts Association annual conference.  Close to 3,000 words for three points extra credit.

You might be expecting me to crow about the A I earned, nope.  Somehow with all my work I earned one quiz A and one near A- on a shooting assignment.  I will probably end up with a B.

I am not unhappy with the impact a B will have on my g.p.a., it will help not hurt.  What I am not so happy about is I do not feel prepared to go into the 102 section of digital photography.  I discovered pretty late in the semester many of my shots were unprintable.  Not the grossly under-exposed or grossly over-exposed.
Some of my favorite shots cannot be printed despite the fact they look very nice onscreen.

The thing that bothers me about this situation is that we were tested twice on a laundry list of about 30 printing acronyms and terms.  Without being able to print our work at school.  I discovered this as I was preparing to send some prints to Snapfish so I could have them for my own use.

The second thing that leads me to think I am not well prepared is that our school provided no studio at all.  Part of learning basic photography is to be able to shoot under a variety of lighting circumstances, it is a huge part of the curriculum and the learning curve.  There is no excuse for this at the tuition rate we paid.  Even a scaled down light tent with two ten dollar lights would have given us the experience of shooting in studio lighting for small objects and displays.  There is no excuse for not providing even a small scale studio set-up.  A small scale set up can be made for less than a hundred dollars.  The DIY instructions can be found on a fabulous website entitled DIYPhotography. [here]

Nevertheless, I learned a great deal this semester, became a fan of the late Gordon Parks and discovered my analytical ability for literature translated to photography very easily.
When I walked out of class today I thought of Meg Ryan and smiled a little smile.