Mostly A Teaching Update
The second pass through my current WIP, the Pa’adhe short story Keylim is now under way. I’m looking forward to the feedback on this one but as usual am also a little nervous. This one doesn’t take place on board Pa’adhe, which in itself is no biggie. I’m just nervous as to whether or not some of the experiences in it come across the way I want. I still remember how I felt when those events happened, and I tried to incorporate those feelings to make it more real. Writing about raw emotion without over-using superlatives is difficult. We’ll see how I pull that off, or if.
The class is going surprisingly well. I had expected one person to drop out, and that person didn’t. However, two students from the first class didn’t show up. It turns out one was sick, and I have no idea about the other. Balancing that, a student showed up that had been sick the first class. One of the things I do the first day is to ask the students what they want to get out of the class. I then re-arrange my planned teaching sequence around that so that if nothing else, they get what they sought from the class. Do they always get it? Probably not but unless they speak up I have no way to tell. Naturally, I had the new student fill me in on what she wants to learn.
The problem is the class likely will not meet her needs. She wants a more basic, more general class on photography and my class is specific to astrophotography. There are things that will carry over into other photographic realms, such as night photography downtown, but most of that was covered in the first class that she missed. I’m going to have to talk to her before the next class starts. I want her to understand that I will not be covering basic photography and give her the option to try and get her money back before the class actually starts. (I volunteer my time to teach but the school district charges the students for the use of the classrooms.) That way, technically, she might be able to beat the half-way point and get her refund. I’ll also, probably, offer her a chance to sit down with me for an hour or two outside class for a crash course in basic photography.
I had an experience after this second class that reinforced why I enjoy teaching. One of the students was showing some really great astrophotographs he had taken. After discussing them a bit, I asked him why he wasn’t teaching this class. He said he didn’t think he was good enough and wanted to learn more. When I asked if he was learning anything from the class that was helpful, he said he really was. It doesn’t get much better than that when you’re teaching.
A friend asked me if I was aware of a technique called ‘focus stacking’. I had come across it a long time ago when I was initially interested in improving my macro skills. At the time, I had also come across a bit of software called Combine Z5. It showed promise but I never followed through with using it. His question made me dig it out and go look for any updates. As Combine ZP is now available, I downloaded and installed it. It looks more promising than the version I’d originally played with and I’m looking forward to trying it out. Comments on this product are pretty positive on the whole. From the website, the latest version is dated 2010 so I suspected it’s not really being maintained and there may well be better products out there now. A quick check doesn’t really bring up any comparable free products, though. I plan to try it out this weekend and if it works easily and well, will suggest it as a possible solution to my friend.
It’s good to get back into doing the photography that I enjoy, both the teaching, experimenting, and the actual photography.