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How Berkeley Can You Be? Parade
How Berkeley Can You Be? parade

October 7th, 2004

Excitement, My Friends
I attended my first Photographing People class on Monday. One of my co-workers pointed out my calling it the “Shooting People” class had certain unfortunate connotations. The class instructions on the web said bring examples of our work. I interpreted this to mean - ouch! - our portfolio and I really don't have a print portfolio, so I arrived empty handed. A number of the people in the class, however, tacked a single print to a large cork board and we discussed them in turn. Two or three were very good, the rest were good. I could have brought one of my snapshots and gotten by, but I chickened out. This is good. My ego survived intact. Perhaps there really is room here to learn.

The instructor seems to be the real McCoy (big time long time national publication experience) and it's clear she has very specific ideas about how one goes about photographing people, many of which seem to superficially differ from my own. This is also good. My idea in taking the class is to be challenged in my insular ideas and stretch my fuzzy little brain. We were given assignments. Shoot “x” number pictures of a model, bring four of them with you next week to class. Ouch! Who do I know? I'm a freaking loner! It turns out I know more people, however, than I thought. Three women at the office agreed to shooting sessions, one of them scheduled for weekend after next. Wham! Just like that. A change in pace, a jump forward, a step beyond. This is good. Puts the pressure on me to deliver for the women who have volunteered their time and for the class. Can I produce decent work working with a model? I wonder. Is there any way to cheat?

You repeat “this is good” a lot. Kinda like taking Cod Liver oil when you were a kid? Makes you grow up big and strong, but it tastes like, well, Cod Liver Oil?

I liked Cod Liver oil when I was a kid, but yes, push has come to shove. I went to my beginner's class yesterday evening with my first two miserable prints in hand. Most of the other “beginners” had done a whole lot better, had gone out and actually photographed the assignment, which turns out to have been something about landscapes, and their blacks were really black and their whites were really white and mine looked, well, anemic.

My “landscape” was a photograph I'd taken in the first class, not a particularly good photograph, but for me an interesting photograph in that I printed it in the campus darkroom and then scanned the negative, futzed around with it in PhotoShop, and printed a comparison print on my Epson. I'm liking what I'm getting off the Epson, but I have much work to do before I come to any conclusions. Excitement, my friends, here in Oakland.

The banner photograph was taken at the How Berkeley Can You Be? parade with a Nikon F3 mounted with a 105mm f 1.8 Nikkor lens on Kodak Tri-X.