Sorry for the long delay since the previous post. I’ve been a bit buried getting the Spring semester closed out with compiling grades for the three classes. Plus the San Diego Fair work judging the International Photo Exhibit and prepping for several in-person events. And, (in my spare time) doing a small video promo for Regional Rep of an International Company whose headquarters are in the Netherlands.
The grading part is easy since the computer collates scores and all I have to do is add any extra points, consider effort and participation then enter the results in the District Data Base. Easy… but time consuming and since it is a short break, there is always a shortened deadline for submitting grades since a pre-requisite course, like Photo 143 has to have its grades in the system before students can sign up for subsequent courses. But, for one of the few times I not only was in under the deadline but actually submitted them a few days early. I was on a mission to clear the decks for summer planning.
I have an online Beginning Digital Class for this summer semester which, coincidentally, started this week. It is already at capacity: 40 students. Whoa. Normal classroom-based courses are capped considerably lower and online actually takes more instructor time per student, especially for “lecture/lab” classes trying to simulate in the virtual world the hands-on interaction with students of the normal classes. But our admin, unburdened by actual in-class experience, thinks they are easy and so raised the caps.
Adding to that, the problem with summer classes is that semester is 8 weeks not 16 but we have to cover the same material if students are to be properly prepared for the intermediate and advanced courses. So it took some juggling of topics and materials to try to fit that in. But there is no way around it, this will be a LOT of work for the students and for me.
Summer is, however, also a chance for me to try out a “proof of concept” regarding teaching online. I am headed for retirement but would like to leave open the possibility for what this district calls “pro-rata” assignments for retired full timers like me. But I want to be able to conduct those courses online and from ANYwhere I can access the internet. I’ve been upgrading the Westfalia camper I have leased from a friend with an eye toward just that ability. I would happily buy it but she does not want to sell it outright… but she was willing to do a long term lease. That way if, for some reason I head off into that great darkroom in the sky, it will simply revert back to her with no muss or fuss. But I have added roof-top storage, a solar panel, and a WiFi signal booster to help in that plan. That added so much weight to the pop-up roof that I’m also installing powered lift mechanics to it.
My big motor home, Rocinante (the one on the banner above), is sometimes just, well, too big. It is great when parked in a full hookup campground where it becomes basically an apartment on wheels. But since I do not have a “Toad” (what the RV community calls a separate vehicle that is towed (get it?) by the main RV, I use the RV itself for daily treks so I don’t expect to be parked anywhere for long and it has proven to be too big to easily go on photo scouting forays where you might just want to pull off the side of the road. The VW Westfalia lacks the wonderful room of the big one but it makes up for it with location flexibility… or at least that is what I think will happen. Certainly some of the posts of this blog will reveal how that plan has worked out… or not. I do need a name for it but it will tell me its name as it is used more. I’ve not sold the big one, waiting to see if the little van will do as I am hoping.
The SD Fair started and there have been judges’ events and presentations to do. We have done both a judges “roundtable” where we talk about what, as judges, we look for in submitted photograph, and also the judges “critiques” where attendees can bring in a file or print and we’ll collectively critique it. That is also a good way to improve assuming you have a pretty thick skin. On the 17th I gave a workshop on Time Lapse Photography. And on the 27th at 7pm I’ll be part of a panel discussing the future of photography. My book on that very topic has managed to gain some interest so I’m very interested in hearing whether or not others share or disagree with my conclusion so it should be a lively discussion.
My old friend and incredible artist, Bill Duncan used to refer to this sort of time between creative activity as the time he could do his “monkey work,” the necessary work to close out the previous work (making frames, mounting, etc.) and prepping for the next onslaught of work (stretching canvas, replenishing supplies, etc. He called it that because he felt that a trained monkey could do it but his philosophy about art “production” was that to call yourself an artist and claim a finished piece as your own, then you had to do it all because, in the end, that additional work had an influence on the actual art piece, either positive or negative. Therefore if you wanted full credit for that thing hanging on the wall, it all had to be a result of your own effort. Otherwise you needed to credit the resources that helped you with the presentation. That was a tough approach to maintain; but he did. And to be honest with you, I agree with him. The images at the Fair have borne that out. Some that looked good on the computer for Tier 1 judging came as prints that we rejected for bad printing and a few actually looked better than it had as an electronic file. The credit or blame for the state of that final print really has to be shared with whomever actually produced that print.
We will be doing the orientation for the Bristlecone Pines workshop (click the link on the banner to see details about it) this week and then be heading out to get it started in a couple of weeks. It is nearly full so should be a fun time. I always look forward to it.
I also want to thank the individuals who have made my book, “The Future of Professional Photography & Photo Education” a success far beyond what I dreamed would happen. Though it was initiated to fulfill a sabbatical leave requirement it has been, to my surprise, quite successful. And also to my surprise my book on school shootings, “Making Schools Safe(r)” has begun to gather some steam. I appreciate that very much. If the results are that a conversation can be started then it too will have succeeded beyond my wildest expectations. If you might be interested in getting a copy, my “spotlight” page on Lulu.com (the printer) is: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/ndavidking . They are also available on Amazon but you can get the copy faster by ordering directly through Lulu. I’m hoping that for the next post I’ll have some images to share..