Monday, September 19, 2011

Teaching what the heck reciprocity means

   We officially ended the law and ethics portion of study today with a fitting conclusion - a 40-point test. I'm happy to report everyone passed! So, with a basic understand of what news is and what their rights are, we are moving on to my favorite part of the course: explaining camera controls, exposure metering and compositional elements.
   This morning, when I asked the students what reciprocity means, I mostly got blank stares. I understand that, considering it took me a few weeks just to learn how to say the word. I know what they were thinking: what the heck is reciprocity? It's a math miracle! The concept of taking these weird sets of numbers (ISO, shutter speeds and f/stops) and making them work in unison is amazing stuff, and I love teaching it. OK, I admit the reason I enjoy teaching is because it makes me feel, well, smart.
   I started out as a journalist. I'm pretty good with words and have a knack for spelling. So, when I started taking photos for my stories (when I was a cub reporter), the camera controls were totally confusing to me. It wasn't until I was an assistant instructor at a two-week Army photojournalism workshop in the early 1990s that it clicked. I've had a yearning to be a teacher ever since.
   Maybe it's a good thing that a word person is teaching a numbers game...because I can sympathize with the blank stares and the resistance to memorize 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16 and 22. Brilliant.

No comments: