Shoot Me

I see that I’ve fallen behind on much of my writing. I was going to try and keep up with my photography class, but that too, has slipped through the cracks.

Last semester was the  black and white film class. I did eventually remember how to load the film, change the batteries,  locate all the dials…oh, and actually take pictures. The class was okay and I learned how to better use my camera’s features, but the most important thing I learned was that I despise film cameras. The class was a pre-requisite to any of the other photography classes offered at the college so I had to take it to move on. I got an A in the class and an A in the lab, but I cheated as much as possible. Mainly by taking my film to professional development company. I even decided to skip one assignment, as it involved buying a toy camera and the film to accompany it and I was over spending money for something I despised.  Fortunately, the last few assignments could be done on a digital camera and printed with the school’s digital printers.

I did relearn several of the features of my camera that I had forgotten about and therefore improved my photography. The hardest part of the class was dealing with my classmates. I do believe several of them enrolled in the class as part of the work release program from prison. Seriously!

I’m already into my second semester of photography. This is the semester where we learn how to use Photoshop to enhance our digital photos.  As we learn each new tool,  it has become more and more fascinating to see what can be done to enhance digital photos. Photoshop is so complex that I think that each menu could be taught in its own semester. The Help pdf is over 700 pages.

This class had a slow start, as there were more than 30 students in the class.  Critiquing photos became a nightmare.  Six hour classes turned into five-hour critique classes with an hour for lunch.  I think it was about the fourth week (so 24 hours into the semester) when we finally learned a software package.  I like the instructor though. He’s organized and uses technology as it should be used. The syllabus and homework assignments were all posted online and he had us all open a flickr account to post our assignments. (mine is It’s hard to tell the befores and the afters on some of the assignments though.)

As with the last semester, the hardest part for me again are my classmates.  There are no criminal types, fortunately, but there are a few misfits.  The first being “The Licker”. This man is obviously a smoker, because he smells like cigarette smoke and breath mints.  I think from years of cigarette smoking he burned out his salivary glands, and therefore spends the entire class trying to water his mouth by licking. The sound is similar to your pet grooming themselves while you’re trying to watch TV.

The second misfit is “the know it all”.  She is always interrupting to impart all her knowledge, experience and wisdom.  Often times, she knows more than the teacher, or so she thinks.  Her favorite lines are “I was just going to say that”, and “I was just thinking that.” One time she did not upload the assignment until after the teacher had already critiqued everyone else’s photos.  When it was her turn to be critiqued, amazingly, all of the  teacher’s corrections were already incorporated into her work.

The last annoyance is the one I refer to as “the dinosaur”.  This is a woman who decided to take a digital photography class without knowing a thing about computers.  And I mean not a thing. She does not know what software is,  she does not know what a hard drive is.  She does not understand what a flash drive is.  She does not know what menus are nor does she know what icons are. How does somebody sign up for digital photography class and not even understand what “digital” is? You have to have some inkling of computer software just to get the photos off your camera! The teacher had to tell her he could no longer tutor her in computer technology.  She would have to find her computer knowledge elsewhere. She’s dropped the class.

It’s not hard to understand why, when the teacher asked the class if anyone was interested in shooting people, I raised my hand. I soon realized he meant shoot them with a camera.

Round about the fourth week, we went from 30 students to 15.  Now we have six.  This is fine with me because the class moves along rather quickly and leaves more time for open lab. I am very excited about using Photoshop and have ordered the newest version along with an instruction manual.  I also found that Costco can print photos at professional levels, as long as you download their print profiles into Photoshop. But just in case, I bought myself a used printer on craigslist.

For the summer semester, there is only one class offered for photography and it is a class I have already taken. Hopefully California’s budget crisis will not affect the school system and there will be more classes offered in the fall semester.

(this post was dictated using Nuance software)

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