Saturday, April 14, 2012

Photography Field Trip

Even before I clicked "Buy" for my lovely new camera, I knew I was outmatched. Years of point-and-shoot experimentation piggy backing on high school black and white film photography classes was not enough of a background to be able to operate such a multi-dialed, mutli-buttoned piece of equipment. I will unabashedly say I was intimidated by the heavy, long lensed SLR now in my possession. Like the latest smartphones and facebook timeline, I had a sneaking suspicion it was smarter than I was.

But I wasn't about to take that defeat lying down. My favorite daily deal site, Livingsocial,...or was it Groupon..., had a deal for a 4 day Beginners photography course for people with digital SLRs. Specifically targeted at those who had a basic understanding of the fundamentals of making a photograph but are woefully lacking in understanding how to take a photograph with these new super cameras.

I'd never been a photographer who gets into the technicalities of aperture and focal length and shutter speed, especially not with a point-and-shoot where that was entirely out of my control anyway, but I did recognize that if I was going to be able to make this camera my friend (screw mastering it, I know that's impossible), I was going to have to go back to school.

Day one on a dark April evening, my roommate and I entered a sketchy building, climbed some sketchy stairs to an even sketchier industrial door and found a photographers haven among the backstreets of Bethesda. A small classroom with 10 students and an instructor, who looked like Santa Claus before he found Mrs. Claus and before he had abandoned his youthful artistic hopes for something more practical, was my reintroduction to the intricate and essential components of what makes a camera work.

Another classroom session followed the first before we took to the streets for a field trip 3rd class in DC. These are a few of the over 200 shots that I took while wandering the Portrait Gallery/American Art museum and spinning dials/pressing buttons like a newly acquired knowledge apprentice. 

I have to say it was a great experience. I love the slow shuffled pace of museums so to pair that with actively engaging a photographer's eye was a wonderful exercise in patience. It also brought a unique appreciation for the exhibits, as they provided not only an arena for learning (yes, I am one of those who reads every sign) but a canvas for my new chapter of photography.

Two thumbs way way up for the Washington School of Photography. I had a great time and learned a lot. Hopefully these photos reflect that. 


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