Photography Class

comments: 60


I spent yesterday at my photography class. It's the second of four five-and-a-half hour classes I've been taking at PNCA. It's the first time in, WOW, fifteen years since I've taken a class in anything. My ability to sit in my seat for several hours at a time seems to have greatly diminished, if nothing else. By the end of the class I am freaking-out anxious to get up.


The past couple of weeks have been so overwhelming! I won't really complain about or bore you with the details, aside from the fact that I haven't really left the house at all during that time, have been on a steady diet of CNN and other financial- and election-related news pretty much all day long (can't seem to turn it off), misread the book deadline I thought was coming up as the 15th of October when actually it's the 1st of October (double-take, whiplash, scramble), and my internet connection is still not working and we will now, after two weeks, need to switch companies completely, and start over. My new iMac is sort-of hooked up, though not really, since I have to wait until our internet service is restored before I finish all the registration and stuff, and the color on it seems to be in dire need of calibration. I think.

So I guess I am actually going to complain AND bore you with the details. Yawn.


But back to the digital photography class. We are learning SO MUCH. It's incredible how much I don't know, and how far I feel I have to go. Our teacher wants us to shoot everything in manual-mode, and, although I understand the concepts of aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and white balance in theory, it's kind of like starting over, since I usually always shoot in aperture-priorty mode, and let the camera control most everything else. But I know I must learn how to understand and be responsible for all of these aspects if I ever want to get better. We are also learning how to shoot in RAW, and using software like Bridge and Photoshop CS3 which are both new for me. I am so behind that I think I have been using Photoshop 7, which doesn't even allow you to look at RAW images. So I feel insecure and quite far behind the curve, and that's never been more clear to me than it has these past two weeks.

Sorry. It's still boring. This really is how boring I am anymore. It's awful. We're all sad about it.


Yesterday in our class, we were supposed to go out during our lunch-break and take photos of familiar things and try to make them look unfamiliar. I was so focused on trying to get my settings correct that I wouldn't say these images are particularly inspired, or as abstract as I think our teacher was wanting us to shoot. But I love assignments like this, where you are really very consciously trying to change your perspective, and perhaps even photograph things you wouldn't otherwise think were worthy of being subjects. So I tried to do both: practice seeing something in a conceptually interesting way while really focusing closely on my technical settings. Or maybe I'm being too ambitious and I need to stick with the settings only until they become automatic, and I can see interestingly again. I did manage to shoot all of these in manual mode so that was one thing, at least.


I will say that it is so incredibly exciting to finally have the time and wherewithal to take a real photography class. I feel excited and nervous and overwhelmed and just happy to be learning all of these new things. Isn't the technology astounding? It kind of blows my mind. And we are constantly having to stretch out of comfort zones (and buy a bunch of new crap) to move along with it. This is so hard, but frequently so rewarding. But hard. And expensive. I try to remember how shaky I felt last year when I first got Big Black, and now that camera, or at least what I do with that camera, is as familiar to me as Small Silver once was, and it's funny how that just happens automatically, with time, even though you just don't think it will. You get there. One day at a time.


But then again, I never, ever thought that photography would be something that I would grow to love, or even care about. I never thought that it would become another language for me . . . another way to say it . . . another way to speak. I hope I get more confident. I hope I have the patience to deal with the computer, too.


Yay for photography classes! If you need an extra boost, there is a really, really good book out there that covers apeture, shutter speed, etc. in really good layman's terms - it's called Understanding Exposure by Brayn Peterson.

Wow, sounds like fun. Before I went digital, I used my love, a Pentax ME Super for all of my photography. Now I use an automatic Olympus most of the time. My dear husband gave me a Professional Olympus for Christmas, but I still haven't gotten completely comfortable with all of its choices! I tend to fall back on the "little silver" as you call it.

I think it's great that you're taking a photography class - I've always found your images so inspiring. I can only imagine how much more amazing the future photos will be!

Not bored. There is comfort in reading that the people I admire are as preoccupied and prone to muddling through as me. I appreciate your art and success more, when I can see the process, the journey. I am a few steps behind you, feeling certain there is a photography class in my future, so I am going to enjoy hearing the good, the bad, and the technical!

Loved this inspiring to me because I would also love to take a class. Getting into the world of blogging without photography skills has felt so funny to me. Keep sharing your assignments please, it is very interesting! :0)Kristin

you can bore me anytime! if you want boring see my blog!

Photography classes are so much fun. I think you are going to enjoy yourself.

Well, those photos sure look amazing! I'm just getting into the whole photography thing and I know ZIP! Point and shoot. As usual, you inspire.

I'm so sorry that deadlines and technological difficulties have been stressing you out. Those are two of my least favorite things, but my thesis writing experience is still fresh in my mind, and it entailed both of those.

Your photographs are lovely. How wonderful that we will all benefit from you new knowledge!

Wow, I could have written this post (except for the computer problems that is). I just started a photography course myself, to learn to use my own Big Black in the way it was born to be used. I just started and have so much to learn. Please post often about your assignments, so that I can steal your ideas, when I get to have the same tasks ;-).
Greetings and have a nice week!

Oh, I am really hoping to take a class like this sometime in the near future...
It scares me a little, but I guess hearing that you are scared and feel behind the curve makes me feel just a smidge better.

You look like you are doing just great in the photography class. Keep it up. The rewards of learning to use the camera and process the images properly will pay off.

Great pictures...I especially like the Yummy guy at the end of the counter in your 1st picture :)
I too am looking forward to taking a class someday, I've got sooooo much to learn!

I think you're already a very instinctive photographer - always great feeling, moods and colour in your lovely photos.
As for being distracted by politics - we had live coverage of the first debate here in Australia - watched some of it but it did sort of clash with the grand final of our Aust rules would think McCain and Obama should have kept that in mind when they set the Why ever not?
All the best with the class and the computer issues. x

Love your photos. You are anything but boring, so just forget that. Kudos to you for taking a class that is so indepth and loving it. Hope all the computer stuff gets worked out OK and soon.

Great photos - I love the tree! Congrats on taking the class. I've always thought you take beautiful pictures - hope you have fun!

It must be great to take a photography class! I was just talking to my husband today about how I really need to have a better understanding the mechanics of digital photography. Have fun!

Bravo! I think what you're doing is fabulous and I've been looking forward to doing a class like the one you're taking - for a while. My work this autumn will be learning how to make glass beads...THEN I'll take the photography class, and the weaving class...and...and...etc. Thanks for always being so inspiring in spite of all the technical glitches with your internet service - AH! mercury retrograde can be blamed for all technical and communication glitches - and look for things to smooth out after Oct. 15...
Keep up your great work!

This post is so timely for me. Since I carry my own "small silver" everywhere, my husband just surprised me with a "big black." I so want to learn all it/I can do, but dread reading that thick manual. Also signing up for a class. I'm terrified!

The study of shadows and the picture of the bread are especially nice! Keep at it, you are really growing!

Ginger&Pickle says: September 28, 2008 at 06:57 PM

Oh! I was just so thrilled that you left a post on the weekend! I usually can't wait until Mondays... when I know all my favourite bloggers will tell me how their weekends went.... when what, huh??.. a Sunday post! How UN-boring is that?! Thanks! :-)

Alicia, I have always been impressed with your just seem to have "an eye." Can't imagine how fabulous your shots will be now after this class!

Yay! I can't wait to see how your photography changes. Maybe you can teach those of us who aren't taking a class a few things? No way is this boring!

i love these photographs! they are so un-YOU, but so fantastic! i havent had a photo class in 6 years and sometimes it takes a trip to someplace new to get me excited about it, but when i do, im amazed at how it all comes back! and i still shoot in manual mode after all these years--with real film! haha antiquated, i know

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at