Photography School

I can’t believe that I am already at the halfway point of this first semester. Registration for Spring opened last week, and just looking at the class names is making me so excited for what’s to come.  But first I need to get through Fall!

The beginning of this semester had a slow start as we got acquainted with the labs, the equipment, and each other. Before we could check out cameras, we had to be taught how to use the cameras. Before using the enlargers, we had to be taught how to use the enlargers. Et cetera. At this point, we are in full swing, shooting our own film using medium format cameras, developing it ourselves, making prints in the darkroom, and mounting prints for presentation. IT IS FUN.

Here’s one of the first projects I did – a photogram. It was a way to get our feet wet using the enlargers.
(NB: We haven’t done any digital work at all, that will come next semester I think. All these pics below are only pictures of the work, not the actual work. Are you picking up what I’m laying down? Moving on…)

Trying to choose my favorite photogram. #rccphoto #photography

We mounted them, then had an in-class critique.

Before really getting to work on our own photos, we started learning how to mount our work. Here’s a picture of my first mounting assignment, using a leftover print from a previous student.

Photography School

The black edge shows the mat board. We use a dry mount press with tissue to secure the print. For me, this precise measuring and cutting of the mat board reminds me a lot of quilting and cutting fabric.

Our first real photography assignment involved gray cards and various lighting situations using the Sunny 16 rule of exposure.

Contact sheet. #ilford #xp2 #chromogenic #film #rccphoto

Because we had not yet learned how to develop the film ourselves, one of our teachers did it for us, in the pro-lab that they have on campus. I only had to re-shoot this assignment once, which I counted as a success! Matching gray cards in the darkroom, though, proved a trying experience. I used a lot of paper.Here’s a pile of 4×5″ prints that I went through trying to get it right.

Hopefully I'll get more efficient at printing, because dudes, that paper is spendy.

Just this week my second order from B&H arrived; more film and more paper. I have a feeling it won’t be my last order!

Here’s the film we’re using. It’s 120 film for medium format cameras.

Photography School

And my camera!

Photography School

This gal has given me a lot of grief the past few weeks. It’s older than most of the cameras my classmates use, and the main issue I’m having is with the gears. Film spools that were used when this camera was made were just slightly bigger than films spools of today (and film was thicker, too). So the gears are calibrated in such a way that my frames overlap by up to 1/8″, which is not okay when you are required to print your negatives full-frame. Luckily, there’s a very clever camera expert who works on our school’s cameras, and he suggested I tape my spools to make them slightly larger. And by God it worked! No more overlapping frames! Just when I had that problem solved, the shutter in the lens stopped working.  Sporadically. But it’s working now so keep your fingers crossed for me.

Photography School

Here’s my green light meter, which was required for use on our “motion” assignment. And all future assignments I presume.

And probably the most exciting thing I’ve done so far — develop my own film!

Photography School

That’s a rather mundane picture of what is an exceedingly exciting (and at turns infuriating!) process. Going into the dark with a roll of exposed film, coming out with negatives! It’s magic (and science). I’ve only ruined one roll of film so far, and that was a result of my own stupidity.

A handful of my classmates have already felt the pressure and have dropped out. I’m not specifically sure what their reasons were, but the lab is nicer without the crowds, as harsh as that sounds. And even though we’ve had a lot of projects to do, I have a feeling that it’s only just the beginning. We are preparing for a career where missed deadlines means lost jobs, and shoddy work is unacceptable. The high standards are there for a reason, and not everyone can keep up.

I feel like I’ve learned so much these past few weeks, but with that comes the feeling that I know nothing about photography. Absolutely nothing. I am grateful for the slow start. I look forward to the challenges. Getting to know all my classmates is fun. I really am having the time of my life.

backpack

Back to School

Here’s my new backpack (in real life it is more in focus). It was a gift from my mother-in-law and I got to pick it out myself. I absolutely needed a new backpack because I start school tomorrow (says the girl with more bags of all kinds than anyone could ever need, but whatevs).

One of the requirements I used to choose this pack was the availability of “open spaces” on which to sew the patches I’ve been collecting for years. I settled on the Quad Backpack from LL Bean. Only after I started sewing the patches did I realize this was a dorky sort of thing to do (says Gerald) but I am old enough now not to care about being dorky. Because I’m not that uncool, mostly.

Back to School

The most necessary tools for this project were my thimble, which is silver and does not fit on my large man fingers, and those good sharp needles. It is hard to 1) sew through thick backpack material and 2) maneuver such a cumbersome object as a backpack while 3) blanket stitching patches with thick glue backing meant to be ironed. I sewed on one or two patches each day, only poked myself badly once, and now she is completely dorkified.

Back to School

Confession. So, most of these patches I picked up at the places they depict. But, once I started sewing I realized I needed more patches to fill in more of the spaces and display things that are important to me (gosh that is SO dorky). So I went on ebay and cheated (says Gerald). The Buffalo patch was not purchased in Buffalo, even though I’m from there and take great pride in being a Buffalonian. It came from ebay. And the Bills and Giants patches? Also ebay.

Back to School

My favorite patch is the Blue Ridge Parkway one because it is the prettiest. It was also the hardest to sew, based on its location and thickness. But I love it.

Back to School

The Have a Nice Day patch is hidden under a flap, just in case I am not feeling friendly on a given day.

Back to School

Tomorrow is my first day at school, almost a year after I decided that this was something I wanted to do. Yeah, I went in the Spring for some of my general ed requirements, but tomorrow is the first time I’m taking the photography classes. I feel ready but nervous, not really knowing what to expect. It’s that freshman feeling all over again.

But at least in terms of carrying books and school supplies? I’ve got that covered.

Back to School