At first glance, today’s high tech digital cameras seem to have streamlined everything about the photo-taking process to the point that almost anyone can shoot professional quality pictures. That statement could not be further from the truth, as I learned in one of our nighttime classes. I had the pleasure of attending the fifth session of The Joy of Photography last week. This class teaches the technical skills needed to improve the quality and diversity of one’s photos.
Led by Marty Kaplan, this particular evening focused on image diffusion and manipulation.
He demonstrated how one could use a stocking or pint glass to diffuse an image. Marty even brought some of his personal equipment to class to demonstrate image manipulation. He demonstrated ways to use a variety of filters to change some aspect of a picture. The group discussed gradual filters, neutral density filters, double masking, point source of light, auto-bracketing, double or multiple exposures, close-ups and a host of other ways to manipulate our images.
On a break I asked several students how long they had been using all these features on their cameras, figuring that the answer would be years given how much they knew the “tech talk.” However, five out of the six students identified themselves as newcomers, saying that they had learned all this in only the previous four classes.
What I really enjoyed about this class was the way it was taught. While I know nothing about photography beyond pointing and shooting, everything Marty taught conceptually made sense to me. Whenever the class had a question, he not only answered it enthusiastically but also showed us how to do it ourselves and had each student attempt the issue individually while he monitored and gave help. He always answered the why AND how of any students’ questions. All of his critiques were constructive.
At the end of class students had the opportunity to share their “homework” from the previous week. Each student presented some photos they had taken and explained the style they were going for as well as the techniques they used that they learned a week earlier. Each student photographed whatever their particular interest was so I got to see a very diverse set of photos using similar techniques. No matter how much you know about photography as a genre, if you want to master the functionality of your digital SLR and develop your picture taking skills beyond just pointing and shooting, then take this class. Next session’s classes start in April.