Beyond The Campfire was created to encourage readers to explore the great outdoors and to look at it more closely. Get out and take a hike, go fishing or canoeing, or simply stretch out on a blanket under a summer sky...and take your camera along. We'll talk about combining outdoor activities with photography. We'll look at everything from improving your understanding of the basics to more advanced techniques including things like how to see photographically and capturing the light. We'll explore the night sky, location shoots, using off camera speedlights along with nature and landscape. Grab your camera...strap on your hiking boots...and join me. I think you will enjoy the adventure.

The Pilot

The Pilot
The Pilot

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Teaching a Photography Workshop


Photo courtesy Ronnie Ryne
One of the more challenging things I've ever been asked to do is to teach a Photography Workshop.  The first time I was asked to do that my initial reaction was..'sure I can do  that...' then I got to thinking about what I actually needed to do to pull it off and I rapidly began to understand just how involved something like that was.

I went over and over all kinds of scenarios...should it be a beginners class...generic...advanced, well as advanced as I could make it anyway...lecture material...hands-on...and so on.  It was hard to focus in on one agenda.  I eventually settled for Generic that would include some basics and tips and techniques.

Photo courtesy Ronnie Ryne
That ended up being the easy part.  Now I had to come up with a viable program that would fit inside a 2 hour window.  Good grief!  Photography concepts are full of material that would probably require a single subject to take a full 2 hours if I thought about long enough, but it had to all make sense for people with a wide range of skill levels.

What I ended up doing was to create a program that was based on many of the same problems I had difficulty with over the years.  As I began to ponder about those difficulties, one recurring idea kept infiltrating my thoughts.  What was the one thing that gave me the most trouble?  As I thought about it, I began to understand that it was not the technical/mechanics of the camera, for those things are rather objective in nature and for the most part, can be learned with a bit of practice and simply reading your owners manual.  No, what gave me the most trouble over the years was learning how to see photographically.

Being able to see photographically requires a different thought process than simply understanding the mechanics of the camera, or to take simple snapshots.  It requires an understanding that light is the key to creating those amazing photographs.  It goes way beyond simply relying on the camera to make all the decisions for you...it requires a blending of how we visually perceive light vs how the camera sees light...the two are not necessarily the same.  Once I began to grasp that concept and apply it to what I was doing photographically, for the first time my photographs began to evolve away from the realm of the ordinary toward the realm of extraordinary...I said it was evolving toward it...I haven't reach it yet.  In fact, the more I evolve toward it, the more I realize that it is becoming one of those journey's that never has an end point.

So with that in mind, I formulated a program that would get the participants to thinking about what they are doing...to possibly change their perspective about photography and remove the intimidation factor related to the mechanics of the camera, and focus their mindset more toward understanding how to see light...how to see photographically.

Although I had previously presented similar material at our local photography club meetings, the first real presentation occurred back in March of 2010 that was sponsored by the county library.  They signed up almost 50 people of which about half showed up.  The program went very well for the first hour until the digital projector lost it's red color and all the sample images thereafter were displayed with a strong greenish hue.  Not exactly the best way to talk about and demonstrate how to see light...but overall it worked out pretty well.

Photo courtesy Ronnie Ryne
Since then I've refined the presentation and have broken it into two sections each about 90 minutes long.  This makes for a much more relaxed presentation as I now don't have to hurry through the material to squeeze it all in in under 2 hours.  The next presentation is coming up next June...it should be a good one as I now know more about how to present it, and have smoothed over some of the rough edges, plus I'll have more time to work through the material.

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