Students in grades ten and eleven at Seneca Valley had a long-anticipated new course option this year- Digital Photography 1.
In previous years, photography has been incorporated into other art-based electives. Courses such as graphic arts, video production, and other art-related classes include certain aspects of digital photography in their activities. However, this is the first class solely devoted to digital photography, allowing for a much more devoted study of the topic.
The new course comes hand in hand with a unique classroom set-up. The class is taught by two teachers: Mr. Shafer, from the arts department, and Mr. Witt, from the shop department. Having originally been a theater room, the photography classroom now doubles as a portrait studio. The stage is offset from the rest of the room, providing plenty of space for the class’ activities.
The portrait studio consists of a large black backdrop, with lights staged at various angles around the subject.
Several weeks ago the class photographed theater students in their classroom studio. They served as active models for a study in portraiture, and were able to utilize the shots for their acting portfolios.
In October, the students of all 3 class periods embarked on a field trip to McConnells Mills State Park. McConnells is more than 2,000 acres in size, featuring attractions such as the Slippery Rocks Creek and a historical gristmill from the mid nineteenth-century.
The purpose of the field trip was to shoot landscape, culminating the efforts of several weeks with shots of scenery such as the McConnells Mills covered bridge, the Slippery Rocks rapids, or the namesake mill itself.
Mr. Shafer said that the most rewarding part of the trip was in the location itself. McConnells Mills provided a great subject matter, and the lighting .
Once a week, students of the class are required to share one of their own photos across Google Plus. This motivates students to actively shoot and improve upon their photography techniques. Additionally, a photo is chosen from the submissions once a week to be featured on the Seneca Scout webpage, as well as shown on the televisions of the Intermediate High School during the morning announcements.
A second digital photography course is already in the works for the following school year, says Shafer. Digital photography 2 will utilize the principles of photography taught in the initial course to allow students to develop their photography and branch into independent projects.
Thanks to smartphones, more people are taking pictures than ever before, and the understanding of the methods behind photography are all the more important.