Imagine trying to find the alphabet in nature, painting with light or making your own animation.
This was what the Digital Photography students were challenged with after they began their first year pioneering Clark High School’s photography class, offered for the first time as a class.
Also a challenge for instructor Kristin Janisch was the fact that she had 11 students, all with different cameras, and only two of the cameras had manual settings.
First, the students who didn’t have the instruction booklets to their cameras acquired them by downloading them off of the Internet.
Then was the task of learning what the different camera modes were and how they matched up with each other. Camera modes help with taking different types of pictures. Common modes such as portrait, sports, night view and macro (close up) needed to be determined as cameras vary with their individual selections and icons. Learning how to turn off the flash option when needed was also important to know depending on the type of picture.
Janisch then moved on to teaching her students how to see in a new way with assignments such as converging lines and perspective. Seeing things with a different perspective was the goal when Janisch had her students find the alphabet in nature. For example, they saw the curve of a park bench as a C, a telephone pole as a T, or a corner fence having an N in it.
“That assignment really made us look at things in a different way,” noted Jessica Petersen. “I learned a lot about the settings on a camera and how just changing an angle can add more character to a picture. Photography is one of the careers I may look into in the future.”
“I think the favorite project of the class was painting with light,” added Janisch. “After we learned about how to create a photo by streaking light to make a symbol, we then went one step farther with technology and each student created an animation with music. What they came up with was amazing! You can check them out at the Clark school website, www.clarkschooldistrict.org. Go to: high school; wiki space; Kristin Janisch; and then to Art student work. The students had to come up with their own idea. Besides the technical aspects of using their cameras, they used project management skills, directed their team if needed and applied failure recovery in some cases. These skills not only make for a successful classroom assignment, but are also necessary for success in life. My philosophy is to cross curriculums by incorporating science, math and geometry and even history into the lessons. We learned the progression of photography history over the years as well as playing with the new technology and being innovative,” said Janisch.
“Lighting is key in all photography,” continued Janisch, “and in a studio environment you really see what light does, whether you are shooting a senior portrait or a product.”
Hannah Steffen’s photos of colored water falling into a glass are displayed in the Art showcase in the hallway just to the east of the high school gym. “The shadows and splash were easier to see with the colored water,” explained Steffen. “The pictures really popped when you added color to water versus clear water. I’ve had fun learning more about depth of field (focusing) and the macro mode on my camera. I received a new camera for Christmas as a surprise, so now I can do even more. The light painting was my favorite. The longer the shutter was open, the more light streaks showed up in the picture.”
Willy the worm, a bouncing ball, Pac-Man and a tornado were among some of the students’ animations. Students had homework assignments such as taking shots in “the Golden Hour” one hour before and one hour after a sunrise, getting some interesting silhouettes with a golden light that makes everything look better, according to Janisch. They had assignments, often taking pictures outside of the classroom and even photographed the elementary students in action at their Christmas concert.
Steffen, Petersen and Joshua Callahan have signed up for Photography II, the second semester where the students will be expanding their skills. How to fix photos that didn’t work out as planned using the economical version of Photoshop, they will be removing backgrounds, adding smiles, opening eyes and brightening shadows. Putting multiple images of themselves into one photo will be another fun project.
“Students do everything with their phones, so I will also add a segment next year about using the camera on a Smart Phone,” ended Janisch. “In the future, I will be adding more studio projects. We had a pretty productive class this first year with a great group of creative students.”