Students take a shot at digital photography

November 6, 2009

By Chantelle Lusebrink

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Students at Maywood Middle School are looking at life through a different lens.

Jeremy Schnell (right) and Erick Fesler, Maywood seventh-graders, photograph the baseball diamond. By Greg Farrar

Jeremy Schnell (right) and Erick Fesler, Maywood seventh-graders, photograph the baseball diamond. By Greg Farrar

Allowed to roam the school property every other day, the students in Hilary Nadell’s class are using their creative license to create pieces of art and expand their knowledge of digital photography.“I dream of being a photographer when I grow up,” seventh-grader Anastasiya Kostanyuk said. “I like capturing the important moments in life.”

The class is offered as an elective for seventh- and eighth-graders and allows them a break from pre-algebra, Shakespeare and science experiments.

“It’s cool, because we get to go around the grounds of the school,” said eighth-grader Nathan Dahm. “We get free rein of practically the entire campus.”

But it does more than give them a hall pass to freedom, Nadell said. It teaches them how to be self-directed learners and how to organize and prioritize their time.

“I want them to build study skills tools and organizational tools they can use throughout their life,” Nadell said. “It isn’t only rigorous studies, like math and social studies, that help them do that.

“They come into middle school in sixth grade as babies and we have to hold their hands,” she added. “A class like this, I hope, helps them learn to think for themselves and organize themselves.”

“This is kind of a free class. We don’t have any order we do things,” seventh-grader Signe Stroming said while working on her photos in the computer lab. “Right now, we’re just playing with Photoshop and experimenting.”

Students are given a database of assignments they have to complete, but choose what assignments they want to do when. For instance, the first four assignments, geometric shapes, curious photographer, focal point and contrasting colors are due together. But students have the freedom to decide what ones they want to work on each day.

During one class, a group of girls wandered to a puddle to take photos of geometric shapes.

While holding a fallen maple leaf over the puddle, they took photos of it against the puddle that reflected the day’s blue sky and white clouds.

“My family loves photos,” eighth-grader Carolyn Aibinder said. “I like to take pictures, so, I thought I’d try this class.”

“We’re learning to take different kinds of pictures,” eighth-grader Victor Mai said. “I like the landscape photos and the ones from interesting angles. We take a photo straight on and then take another from a different angle.”

Students are also learning how to fade, texture, add color or eliminate color from their photographs.

“I’ve taken some good ones of a lamp, where the light around the lamp is blurry, but the lamp itself is not blurry,” eighth-grader Dane Hudson said.

Each assignment has roughly three components, Anastasiya explained. They are to take their own photographs using one of the techniques; analyze other photographs that exemplify the technique; and write a reflective summary about their photo and the other photos they’ve chosen to analyze.

“We find out how to be better photographers and how to focus our photos so they stand out,” she said.

“In order to become better photographers, they need to see what makes other photographs good and reflect on why they like the photograph,” Nadell said. In doing so, “they learn about what mistakes were made in the photograph, and what good things the photo has they can learn from.”

Projects the students are looking forward to are the portfolio project, where they compile their 20 best photos, and the alma mater project, where students describe their school and its culture through photographs.

“I really took the class to learn to take better pictures, because I might want to be a photographer one day,” Dane said. “So far, all the assignments have been really cool, and we’re using the camera and getting to know how to use them, which is pretty cool.”

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One Response to “Students take a shot at digital photography”

  1. Erick Fesler on November 10th, 2009 10:48 am

    yesss!!! now ive been in two newspapers in two months! im in 2 of these pictures!

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