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January 19, 2012: Seeing the Light

I decided to take a photography course at Mat-Su College. This was a tough call, but I sense that taking up yet a second art form (writing is the first) will take up more time than I have. But I reminded myself of what I’ve been thinking, that time can be elastic. And also, my brief forays, on my website, of combing words and images has made me want to do more of this.

This is going to be a huge commitment both in terms of time and money. I gulped last night when Jim Frye (the course instructor) pulled up a handful of websites, and we looked at digital SLR cameras and I saw how much they cost. Yikes. I’ve also been put off by the fact that everyone and their brother seem to be taking photos, mainly with their iPhones. But I’m going ahead with this because it intuitively feels like a good thing to do.

I took a photography course in college, then a few more when I moved to Oregon. I was young, and then did not seem to have an eye. I now have a better one. As of late, I’ve been obsessed with snow, drifts, mounds, cornices, wanting to take photos –but have not had the equipment or expertise needed to do this.

For the first five minutes of the class I had one foot out the door, mainly for time and expense related reasons. Then there was yet another one. It has to do with being more left than right brained. Photography is both an art and a science. The science part – having a knowledge of the process whereby you create the photo – techne – the little I know, that has not come easy to me. Had Jim Frye, (the course instructor) focused exclusively on this, I would have bolted the way Raudi bolts when she sees a moose.

But no, he struck a nice balance between art and science last night. The art part – which centers around composition, the interplay of light and dark – it all made sense to me. I have always enjoyed listening to artists talk – maybe because they are more left brained – dunno – but I feel comfortable around them. He showed a photo of the photographer Edward Westin—he had coke bottle thick glasses—I took heart when I saw this.

I wonder if the sensibility of those (like Jim)—who began their photographic careers in the film era – and have since made the transition to the digital era – is different from that of those who started their careers in the digital era? They’d probably say no, but it is an interesting question. Jim did indicate that photographic sensibilities are, with digital, like they are with film – meaning one can do what they used to in the dark room, on the computer. If this is so, the main advantage is that one doesn’t have to deal with all those chemicals.

Jim also talked some about the nature of success and failure, as this relates to photography. He said we’ll be taking a lot of photographs, and that most of the photographs we’ll take will be failures. “Art is pushing the limits. Art also asks questions, such as, what is the photo going to look like as a photograph?”

I’ve been taking a photo or two a day, and pairing them with my dispatches. It will be far more interesting to take numerous photos, and in this way, increase the odds of coming up with a better photos.

Good stuff, gave me a lot to think about.

On Monday we’ll take our cameras and get acquainted with all the features. Jim said to come in with the instruction manual. This sounds like a very practical way to begin.

Okay, so this new camera of mine – I need to check the batteries, set it to the highest resolution, set quality, set the file format put it on program mode, TURN OFF THE FLASH, set the ISO and set the white balance. I understood what Jim was talking about when he talked about all this. By the conclusion of the class, both feet were firmly on the floor.

Next: 45. 1/20/12: Albino Dust Storm