Point. Shoot. Repeat.
Want to learn how to use that fancy new camera? Focus on classes.
Need to learn how to crop out your ex with Photoshop? Want to take your sporting-events shots to the next level? How about taking more flattering shots of you and your friends for your online dating pics? Want to learn to make your black and white nature shots more majestic and sublime or your portraits more surreal? Or maybe you’re a technophobe who’s never touched a camera in your life? Whoever you are, there’s a fall photography class or workshop somewhere in the area that has exactly what you need.
This season’s lineup includes everything from ongoing college classes with well-known local photographers to one-shot sessions with visiting artists.
They wrote the book
You’ve probably seen their coffee table book, Nevada, or one of their calendars. Relative newcomers Deon and Trish Reynolds moved from Oregon to set up shop in Eureka, Calif., a couple years ago, mostly so they could photograph Nevada’s rural ruggedness and urban glitz. But they’re not just in the business of taking cool shots of the state’s lonely roads and glaring monuments to gambling. These friendly artists are also in the business of sharing their secrets. This fall, they’ll be camped out at St. Mary’s Art Center in Virginia City for most of a week, where they’ll focus on making the most of exposures, settings and composition using a digital camera. (If you’re a budding commercial artist, keep an eye out for Trish’s occasional classes in marketing your photos to greeting card and calendar publishers.)
Shooting Straight: Get Great Photos with Your Digital Camera
Fee: ($500-$600, depending on lodging arrangements)
Do not fear that strange contraption with the lens
M.D. Welch helps beginners learn their way around point-and-shoot digital cameras and basic digital manipulation in two- to-four-session evening classes at Damonte Ranch High School, offered by the Washoe County School District’s Community Education department. He starts from the beginning and talks about how to take better shots of everyday life. Welch, a graphic designer who does video and photo work for IGT, says, “I always bring in very real-world situations.” For example, he’ll tell you exactly what to do when photographing your kid’s soccer game in the rain. He doesn’t use a textbook in class, but he likes to make targeted book recommendations for each student’s extracurricular reading pleasure. He gives tips: “How to get more out of that pop-up flash on your camera,” for instance. Welch reports that people often leave the classroom saying “Oh! That’s why my photos were coming out blurry!”
Welch also teaches classes for pros, semi-pros and photogs who are thinking about going pro as part of the Extended Studies offerings at the University of Nevada, Reno. This is the place to go if you’ve bought a prosumer-level digital SLR (That stands for single lens reflex camera, the kind with a removable lens on the front, as opposed to a camera that’s shaped like a deck of cards.) or if you’re looking to explore a career in professional photography or design without pursuing a full degree.
Various short courses, various time slots
Light my way
Most people know Gordon’s as a photo equipment store. After hours, all those lights and backdrops on display get put to use, and the showroom doubles as a classroom.
Classes are usually two- or three-hour sessions, limited to 15 students. Topics covered range from first-timers’ basics to advanced digital techniques. Beginning and advanced studio lighting are this season’s highlights.
Gordon’s rep Pam Black says, “We have people who’ve just brought cameras; others are professionals who just want to learn more of the digital techniques.”
Gordon’s also archives the class notes and sells them on CD.
Classes are offered year-round
For photographers looking to study more seriously without making the commitment of a formal degree program, Truckee Meadows Community College has semester-long morning and evening classes taught by art photographers whose work you’ll recognize if you read the RN&R arts pages. If you’re wondering how to choose among the three separate classes called, “Photography I,” each taught by well-known landscape photographers, instructor Dean Burton has this advice: “There’s a flavor to each of them. We’re going to have a certain twist. Gerry [Franzen; “Black Rock frame of mind,” RN&R, June 7, 2007] has a commercial background. I have a fine-arts/MFA background ["Picture of success,” RN&R, July 6, 2006]. Matt [Theilen] is somewhere in between.”
Three-credit fall classes start at $176.25 plus fees
Meditate on this
Photographer and retired yoga instructor John Wimberley exhibits his bold, contemplative landscape photographs in galleries in New York, Indonesia and San Francisco. If you want to know how he harnesses all that poetic energy into such refined images, you can ask him when he swings by Virginia City this fall for an intensive workshop that deals more with creative process than technical advice.
“The most important aspect of photography is seeing,” he says. While equipment and technique have their place, it is the quality and depth of one’s seeing that determines whether or not a picture rises above being a mere visual record. It is the job of the photographer’s eyes to see through those surfaces to the meaning within.”
Sight and Insight: A Workshop on Seeing for Photographers
$700-$772 depending on lodging arrangements
If you are one of the die-hards who’s never going to give up the dim glare of a red safety light and the acerbic smell of acetic acid and come out of the darkroom to welcome in the digital age, St. Mary’s Art Center in Virginia City is offering you a free lunch. Well, not exactly—you need to bring your own lunch. But they have a kitchen you can eat it in, and the darkroom facility is open to the public every Tuesday, “from 9 a.m. until the creativity runs out.” For free! (This is the only open-to-the public darkroom in the area, but similar facilities in other cities tend to charge $15 an hour and up for the service.)
SMAC Director Linda Nazemian explains the method to the madness at this historic hospital turned county arts center: “The center is part of Nevada history. It belongs to all of the Nevada taxpayers. We feel really strongly that our job is to draw people in.”
Bring your own chemicals.