Ten days in, our second country of the trip, and we are finally getting to meet our Beginner students! This is going to be a big class, with the usual mix of rural and urban kids, boys, girls and faculty. This time it’s even more unusual than usual: we have 10 kids from rural programs, 12 city kids, and 6 of their program staff. On top of all of that, we have 4 of the TAs and faculty from Dushanbe! That means thirty-seven of us in this traveling circus, and on this first day, it feels like most of the animals have escaped from the circus and are running amok.
We are starting fresh new kids today and while we have a lot of ground to cover, this time we have Haidar, Anzurat, Marat, and Ghizol to help us. These four have been with us since our first workshop in Khorog and have come from the same place our new students are starting. Anzurat and Marat started as students in our Beginner class in October and then completed last week’s workshop in Dushanbe. Ghizol was one of our translator staff in Khorog and Haidar was our coordinator for both the beginner and advanced workshops. Now, all four of them, having traveled with through the Misty Mountains, are here to help us teach the new students.
Today started out like the typical first day of class: meeting the students, assigning groups, handing out cameras and lots of confusion. Fred gave his inspirational opening talk and presented his Burmese slideshow. Sarah and Arthur guided us through the mysteries of ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. By first using Av and Tv modes (Aperture Value and Time Value modes) the students began experimenting with making images. We started by setting the cameras to the Tv mode where the students control the speed for the shutter, and the camera changes the rest of the settings to make a proper exposure. On this setting we made pictures and learned the effects of fast and slow shutter speeds on an image. To help us with this, one of our favorite exercises, Anzurat did the running back and forth this time. With the students in a line shoulder-to-shoulder and shooting in the same direction, Anzurat ran laps parallel to the line while the students snapped away. First, they used fast shutters to freeze Anzurat in motion and then they slowed the shutter down until she was just a blur of color through the frame.
Have you ever seen a photograph where the only thing in focus is a bug or a flower and the rest of the image is just a blur of color? Or maybe a landscape where everything in the foreground is sharply in focus and the mountains way off in the distance are also in focus? These two extremes are examples of depth of field and are the effect of the physics of a camera lens; more specifically the aperture of the lens. Well, on Av mode, the students began to experiment with these properties to make images that exemplified each of these extremes. Av mode is used to control aperture, or opening of the camera lens, and photographers use this to control depth of field, or how much of a picture is in focus.
The final step in taking full control of the camera, is to combine these two properties to make the proper exposure. The schedule called for this to happen on day two of the seminar but these guys charged ahead and by the end of the day today we had already gone through our entire lesson for day 2! Apparently we are going to burn through the learning and get out to shoot pictures!
Bonus: a few of the students have taken it upon themselves to teach the staff Russian, and so I thought I’d pass it along with a Word of the Day. So your first Russian Word of the Day is: Sdrastvuyte (Strass vwee cha) = Hello!