Teaching Photography for Canon in the Parks and the American Parks Network in Acadia: Debrief

August 29, 2012  •  3 Comments

Great Meadow Birch Impressions

"Great Meadow Birch Impressions" walking around on a coffee break with my 24 ts-e and black glass making shaky pics-

Disclaimer: The following are only personal observations made as a subcontractor and needn't be confused with the opinions of any one company or organization. No photography noobs were harmed in the creation of this content. 

What a gas! What a blast! What a great bunch of guys (the other instructors) and for 99.0 percent of the participants- what a great bunch of eager and open minded students! I wanted to tell you about the whole affair as compared to my regular and usual life, as it really was a wicked great adventure! First of all the other instructors: there were 8, at 40 years old I was the oldest by at least a few years- the youngest was a nearly graduated college student at 22, then there was some adventure sports shooters: climbed Half-Dome in Yosemite (the steep way), then there was a guy who shot for mags in Vegas and claims to have shot pretty much everything in Vegas- which is a pretty good claim and must have made for some memorable scenes, then there was one of the best birders in America- a guy who could identify anything in the natural world who sounds way more useful than Siri on the Iphone anyday, another action sports shooter who works for like a production company that shoots deep powder skiing and such in B.C. and does a lot of vid- so he was kind of the go-to-guy for the video classes but I do vid too so I taught some of those, but he was way taller than me and better looking, anyways. There were a couple New York, New York shooters: one who works for one of the premiere head-shot photographers in the world and is a multi accomplished artist on many levels, and the other an unbelievable street shooter who makes ridiculously amazing candids on the subways and sidewalks and nature shots and teaches, etc. And as far as the participants were concerned: they were everybody you could imagine from folks who could hardly use a cellphone camera all the way up to advanced shooters who pretty much just wanted to check out some of the gear. So from old time film shooters who have made pictures for fifty years to many people who have never even hardly held a dslr in their hands. They were all over the map! The bottom line is that they all loved cameras, and they were in the right place at the right time. 

Typical coffee break: specimen is some crazy hairy caterpillar. 

Right so lemme give you some background on this- Canon and the American Parks Network has been doing an outreach program for a number of years now (I think it might be 7 or so but don't hold me to that) whereby anybody can come take a Free photography or video class at any level of experience and can use free Canon gear (we just hold drivers license and credit card during class. The participants are split into groups dependent on experience and the question for that is usually something like: if you understand manual mode shooting and are comfortable using your camera then you are advanced, if you want to shoot your camera more in the Av mode or Tv mode (S for Nikon shooters) and want to learn about maybe the histogram then you are intermediate, etc. Canon benefits on this of course by exposure of the gear to the world (they bring nearly everything they make: 5DIII's, 5DII's, 7D's, 60D's, T3i's, T2i's, some point and shoots for the kids, and lenses from 14mm rectilinear through the Ts-e's, 8-15 fish, all the kit lenses, 16-35 2.8's, 17-40 f/4.0's, 50 1.2's!, 85 1.2's!!, 50 and 60 and 100is and 180 macro's, 70-200 f/2.8's L IS USM II, 70-200 f/4.0's, 70-300 do's and 70-300 L's, a 500, and more stuff. And the American Parks Network benefits from the exposure as well just without the glass. 

So initially I was pretty nervous as to how I would fit in with the guys and how I would do as a teacher as I've never really done that too much up to this point. I fit in pretty well I guess because I'm young at heart although the frisbee breaks definitely strained a couple of muscles that I haven't used as much as I should have recently. And I did well as an instructor I feel because I've always had an insatiable desire for knowledge. A lot of these guys went to school for this- I went to school for Jazz, the right choice at the time I thought, but since my reinvention as a person I'm completely self-learned in photography from the internets and experience. So my point is dear reader: I'm just like you.

More showing the caterpillar some love. (By the way when you're a pro you don't need to put your lens hood on straight.)

The most fun and exciting people to teach I found were the intermediates: people who already knew how to turn their cameras on and had heard the words aperture and shutter speed before etc, I could fill their brains up with camera stuff and see great surprised looks on their faces upon touching on concepts like making white balance changes- I would run for them and get them to drag their shutters to make the race car pan blur shot and show them the effects of open aperture and teach manual exposure and have them practice in different lighting environments, etc. The advanced were always a little more challenging as you could see the effects of ego setting in and I had to really try harder to make a personal connection with them and look them in the eyes before they opened up to learning it seemed, and the very beginners sometimes were the kind of people who had a really difficult time filling out the forms at the tent to register and kept accidentally calling their significant others on cellphones and stuff like that. Which was pretty funny. 

Here's one for ya: at one point during registration for one of the classes a very nice but particularly effervescent lady in some really unusually interesting clothings came up to me to ask some questions about her lens: she thought it wasn't focussing well, she wanted to show me a particular image on her camera so she began scrolling her back wheel to find it- and she scrolled and scrolled and scrolled and scrolled (I'm not kidding) it was going on for maybe about 50 seconds or a minute when I finally looked around at the other guys to see if anybody was seeing this, she scrolled and she scrolled and she scrolled, (she had lots of pictures on that card I guess, either that or she'd already gone by it at least a few times) finally she found it- I swear it took maybe like 2 or 3 minutes and lo-and-behold! It was sharp. Yikers, I'm thinking something like well what's the problem? So one of the other guys finally picked up on this and explained that the older Canon fd lenses won't focus well to infinity on the new EOS system= which was news to me, and satisfied her desire to hear of the potential that perhaps her equipment was failing her instead of her own decisions perhaps failing her imagery- but the point is- wow that was a lot of scrolling! I mean you should have been there, the wheel was making those clickety click noises and she was going and going and going-

So, see- I had always had the impression that people had a better understanding of using their cameras- not to say that the scrolling lady didn't: she sure knew how to scroll! But what I guess I mean is that I see so many DSLR's in the world with red rings on the lenses etc, and it seems to me that the user base is extremely avid, but the state of the nation in photographic comprehension really seems to be lacking in comparison to my sense of the proliferation of gear. Here's the thing: one of my beginner students said she loves to shoot Iphone pictures but wants to learn the DSLR because her boyfriend shoots DSLR. But she totally wasn't responding to me at all and I tried hard to connect with her, she seemed completely happy the whole time but I really felt that she just wasn't getting it- so in this case I'm almost certain that a DSLR would not necessarily make her pictures better. Some people just really love making pictures on an Iphone or whatever and it's not important to try to convert them- the bottom line should always be to enjoy photography and make the pictures that you want to make. On whatever device you feel the most comfortable. Some people showed up with killer pro gear but just were never introduced to the next concepts or the possibilities and potentials of a DSLR: i.e. they're shooting jpeg's in AWB in program mode unaware of Ev comp, Etc, etc. Then there were the kids who were all over the cams and had no problem at all- digital menus to these people were as simple to comprehend as a twist top soda cap, they're gonna be Killin it in a few years! Right- been rambling for a while- gotta wrap it up:

When I set up my webby site to sell prints this past winter a number of my respected and highly regarded friends said to me that "that's great but these days more people want to make that picture themselves than buy it" or something like that- I initially balked at that and said something along the lines of putting that where one shouldn't etc, but the more I think on it and it becomes obvious to me- they are right and I'd be truly happy to show someone how to make the pictures that they want to make- so long as I'm compensated well for my time, because I think it will only benefit us all as a community more to have a better standard of imagery and photographic understanding- and it never needs to be about the competition because as competent photographic practitioner's we should always be able to differentiate and interpret the same scene just through our unique approaches and individuality. 

The bottom line is that I definitely intend to embrace teaching with open arms and I'll update the old webbysite here to reflect that but the main thing is that I love photography and would only love it even more if I can help other people love it more. Or something like that. Ayuh. 

Thanks for looking, and don't forget to read your manuals you noobs! :) -Nate from Maine Usa.

One more-

Great Meadow Grass and Birch

"Great Meadow Grass and Birch" Walking around with a Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS USM II (I must have you!)



JSC Result 2019(non-registered)
Every year, The JSC Exam Start on the 1st Week of November. The JSC Exam Result will also publish on the same dates every year.
Mary Lee(non-registered)
Nate, I disagree with the guy who said no one wants to buy a photograph but do it themselves. That may be true to a degree, but your photos are art and will always be different from anyone else's photo. We've all said at some point when looking at artwork that we could draw or paint that, but the artist did it first! So, I hope you keep up your work for sale and enjoy the teaching gigs. You are good at both!
stephen cairns
That sounds like a blast. I wish I could participate. Looking forward to seeing how you get the educational side of photography into your site (be good if you could make a little money at it as well).
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