We Photograph Light

If I was organized, I’d keep a list of which photos I’ve used on the blog before.

In fact, feeling a surge of organizational enthusiasm, I just started a spreadsheet to track them. I know you’re relieved. Though we walk through the Valley of Chaos, we fear no disorganization, for Excel is by my side.

Okay, yeah, I had fun at the photography class last night.

After I reluctantly dragged myself to it. Working from home, I’ve developed a disconcerting tendency to not want to leave the house. Not to mention in the evening, after a full day of writing and day job. Somehow it feels like so much effort.

Which I know is lame and pathetic.

Fabulous class, really. One thing I should remember about myself is that I’m an auditory learner. My reading comprehension is decent, but there’s nothing like having someone EXPLAIN something to me. Also this guy, Steven Walenta, clearly teaches this Digital Photography class for the Continuing Education end of Santa Fe Community College quite a lot. He had clear, informative slides, took his time and showed patience for all questions.

One of my favorite things he said: We photograph light.

Of course, we kind of know this already, right? We only “see” objects because of the photons bouncing off of them and back to our eyes. So we don’t photograph the rain chain, for example, but rather the light bouncing off the rain chain. This changes how you make decisions about your camera settings.

Suddenly it all makes sense to me.

Oddly, I was the youngest person in the class, with the possible exception of a woman with some kind of Scandinavian accent. She also had gorgeous Scandinavian skin, so I’m not positive of her age bracket. The rest of the ladies – yes, all women taking this class – were more in their 50s and 60s. Do the younger people all understand their cameras already? One of my twitter friends, Chudney, suggested that many people don’t pursue their interests until later in life and I’m ahead of the game. Which is a lovely spin.

But why no men in the class?

In my previous snarky literary circles, and yes, they were famous for being snarky – that’s how you could tell they were literary – authors would bitch about “all the middle-aged ladies” taking writing workshops. Oh, I’ve seen and heard the most disdainful remarks about how these women have money and nothing to do with themselves. Some of these “vacation-type” writers workshops you see now and again that look obscenely expensive? Yes, targeting this type of student.

The implication, of course, is that these are lesser humans, who will never achieve what the teacher has. But we’ll take their money, anyway.

Instead, I find them admirable. They’re dragging themselves out to an evening class to learn something new and intimidating. I think I’m overwhelmed by my new camera? How about the lady in her late 60s/early 70s who’s never downloaded a photograph to a computer?

I watched Steven move around the room, helping people find the settings on their cameras. Never impatient, never disdainful, even though he must have explained pixels ten-thousand times before, he showed a gift for teaching what he knew. And a pleasure in his subject.

The literary snarks could learn something from this.

8 Replies to “We Photograph Light”

  1. Gorgeous pic!

    Photographing light. I think I just had a "duh" moment. Of course I knew that, on some level, but I never really thought of it that way.

    Re the snark: I see stuff like that and think, do we ever really get past high school? I can't see the value in denigrating anyone for attempting learn something new.

  2. I had the same "duh" moment, Linda – glad it's not just me!

    And yeah, I think in some ways we never leave high school behind. We fight it all our lives.

  3. Just a random thought your blog put in my head: humility is born of confidence. My guess is the more secure you are in your place in the world, the talent you possess, the life you lead, the less likely you are to be snarky and demeaning to others.

  4. Wow, Keena – that's a terrific insight. Yes, the literary writers seem to be forever jostling for recognition – a sad demonstration of their insecurity. Whereas this photographer knows his topic and what he's teaching. He has no need to condescend because he's confident. You're so right.

  5. I think that's awesome, Jeffe. I've always been a great believer in keeping yourself educated, learning new things. I took a continuing education ceramics class a couple of years ago and loved it. I sucked, but I loved it. My brother is taking a beer-making class right now.

    I admire people who take these classes, whether they're a beginner, or an expert because it gets you involved with other people who share your interest. It's wonderful.

  6. You did ~gasp~ public?

    Glad you opted for the class, better still that you have a teacher who doesn't need to use it as a power-trip and fellow students who are there for the joy of learning.

    We, your avid blog-gobblers, await more fabulous photos of light.

  7. Yes, Danica – I admire them, too. Learning means growing!

    KAK – I *love* blog-gobblers! I'm using that from now on!!

    I love the Beasts of Bourbon version in 10 Wheels for Jesus: "for the Lord is by my side, waiting at the next truck stop with a burger and fries, and a can of beer."

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