Photography and Art

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Art City Part II

Art City Toronto Storefront
I was feeling a bit worried about the second part of my photo class with the students of Art City. In my previous post, I described how I'd volunteered to teach digital photography to a small group of kids from Toronto's St Jamestown district. We had a great time shooting indoors and outdoors using some cameras donated by my friends and I'd taken all the cameras and photo cards home to figure out how we would complete the digital darkroom part of the class.

Still Life
Deborah Harding, who runs Art City, had found a computer lab in a housing cooperative down the street that the students could use, but I didn't have the money to buy a copy of Photoshop for 7 students, so I was looking for some digital darkroom software that was easy to use as well as cheap (or even free). That's when I discovered If you haven't checked this out, it is really worth your while. Adobe has created a free photo sharing web site that has an excellent photo editor as part of the package. If you are on the look-out for photo editing software for someone who isn't particularly handy with computers, is just perfect.
Student Photographer
It allows you to do all the usual editing stuff (exposure, brightness, saturation etc.) with a very easy interface. For example, if you pick the exposure control from the menu, you are presented with a little slide show of examples of your image in a variety of exposures ranging from dark to light. You mouse over the thumbnails and your image changes to the exposure of the thumbnail. When you see the exposure you like, you click on the thumbnail and the image changes.

I set up 9 accounts on (one for each of the cameras that we used in the workshop) and uploaded all the photos that we had taken.

When the kids showed up on Sunday, we hiked down to the computer lab and I showed them how to sign into and let them get on with editing their photos. They were asked to focus on developing two or three of their best shots that I would print out for them.

Little did I know that had just released a beta of a photo decoration feature that allows you to decorate your images with clip art. One of the kids discovered this feature and from that point on, the class took on a whole new dimension. The Art City students had a wonderful time putting little animals and captions on their photos and the afternoon passed very quickly.
Photo with Decorations
The kids all managed to prepare 3 or 4 excellent photos and enjoyed themselves immensely. I was able to download the photos and printed them off during the following week. I heard that the plan for the next Sunday was to build picture frames for the photos.

All in all, this was a wonderful experience and Deborah and I have decided to have a repeat class in the spring where we'd visit the zoo and take pictures of the animals.

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