Blog of note
My colleague David Weintraub, who occupies the same nook as I do oh so far, far away from the main office, has been blogging for Black Star. Good stuff, especially if you are into teaching -- or learning -- visual communications.
David is an accomplished photographer. His latest post (yeah, yeah, try not to look at the date, OK; I said I was behind) is a good recap of the joys, mostly, of teaching the beginning and advanced photography classes. Some good thoughts, I think, that apply far beyond just photo classes:
- Here's the take-away message for me from all this: given something fun and creative to do, students will figure out the technical challenges -- this is their reward for being so-called digital natives. They still need to be taught the broad concepts: developing a story arc, shooting sequences and details, editing for maximum impact, and using audio effectively. (David was talking about having them do slide shows.)
- The students themselves told me they need more training in basic photographic principles -- good old f-stops and shutter speeds, lighting ratios, depth of field, etc. I think I've succumbed to the "set it on auto" syndrome. ... The fact is, the current crop of auto-everything digital SLRs are so good that you can hardly go wrong by using the auto setting. But what I heard from my students was instructive: they weren't learning much from letting the camera do the thinking. They wanted to be in control and, if need be, learn from their mistakes. (That's something we all can remember as more and more of this stuff just becomes turning to a site on the Web, be it audio, video, slide shows, site creation, etc.)
- I've found that teaching is a delicate balancing act: sometimes you provide as much information as possible, and sometimes you stand back and get out of the students' way. Knowing when to do which is a challenge.
- What do you tell students who want to be photographers in the age of everyone-can-do-it photography? (Hint, that they need to realize they are not just photographers, but visual problem solvers. And I like David's implicit endorsement for why many vis comm students should take my editing class: They may also be called upon to write captions, press releases, articles, and produce infographics.)
- A solid piece exploring the bounds of ethical practices in visual communication.
On the other hand, Black Star is using Joomla, which brilliantly is one of the few content management systems that allows you to immediately download a PDF of a post (yes, it's not that hard to print to PDF these days, but this one is formatted correctly the first time -- ever run into the fun of printing some sites in a Mozilla browser? -- and is quick). Again, a small quibble that so few sites seem to get -- include a URL in that printout. Maybe I want to hand it off to someone else who wants to see the thing digitally or who wants to cite it down the road.