Is Horenstein's book over the head of a sixth grader?

Discussion in 'Book, Magazine, Gallery Reviews, Shows & Contests' started by Worker 11811, Jun 27, 2010.

  1. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    My nephew asked me to teach him about photography.
    He is 12 years old. He is in the sixth grade.

    He can operate a 35mm camera 90% by himself with only occasional help.
    We went out and spent a day on photo safari. I only had to help him 2 or 3 times in the four hours we were out.

    He knows what aperture and shutter speed settings are but he uses the camera on program-auto most of the time. I would rather he concentrated on focusing and handling the camera before I bog him down with those details too much. He has expressed a desire to turn off all the automatic exposure settings and operate the camera on full-manual. I will move him to manual when I think he's ready. (Pretty soon.)

    He can load and unload the film in the camera mostly by himself. I only stand by to supervise... just in case. He did reload the camera by himself without me being there one time. I would give him a 90% on film loading too.

    He understands that "wherever light touches film it turns black after you develop it."

    He can load film onto plastic reels and get it into the tank for developing without messing it up.
    I showed him how to do it with some practice film. He did it correctly while we had the lights on. He did it again with his eyes shut but with the lights still on. Then we did it a third time in the dark, still using practice film. Finally, after three practice runs, he did it with real film and had no problems doing it right the first time.

    He understands the developing process and can do it mostly by himself.
    I measure the chemistry and put the mixed solutions into marked plastic containers. He does the pouring and agitating. I help him remember what order to do it in and what the time is for each solution.

    I suppose I could put a chart on the wall. That's how I learned. I am just so used to doing it by memory I don't think of that but, if he's going to develop film on a regular basis I'm probably going to make a chart.

    He can operate the enlarger and develop a print by himself. I mix up the chemistry. He does the rest. Again, I should probably put a chart on the wall.

    The only thing about making prints that he needs supervision on is printing exposure but I can see he's figuring that out as we go along.

    So... The bottom line is that he is capable of making a photo, from camera to darkroom, mostly by himself if I supervise.

    I can't give him formal photography lessons. I don't have the time and he can only come to visit once every couple of weeks, at most.

    I thought I could get him a book to read but the only one I know that would be close to his level would be Horensten's book. However, I'm not sure that book would not be over his head.

    Personally, when I was that age I read books on that level all the time but I was an above average reader.

    Do you think that book would be appropriate or can you suggest another book that would be more appropriate for his level?

    TIA! :smile:
     
  2. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    That sounds like a fair description of me at that age too. I don't know the book you are referring to but it sounds as if he would have no trouble with it. Even if it was a bit advanced in some areas I'm sure he would eventually understand it. I think a book just above his abilities would be preferable than a more simplistic version.


    Steve.
     
  3. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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  4. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Your nephew sounds like he could help beginners here on APUG :smile:.

    In answer to your question, I'll come back to you with another question.

    At what level does he read?

    If he reads to a grade six level (or better) I would think that most of the book would be accessible to him, and those parts that might be over his head could always be explained by you.

    One of the good things about a reference like this book is that it doesn't hurt if you cannot understand it all, because it is broken up into discrete parts, each of which generally stand on their own.

    It's also good to give him a chance to challenge himself a bit - there is nothing better for learning then trying something new in order to figure it out!

    Tell him that those of us on APUG are rooting for him!
     
  5. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Member

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    Give him a copy and let us know. I am very interested in knowing if a sixth grader can understand it, because my college students seem not to. It's not a difficult book, I just think I have stupid students.
     
  6. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Let him take the pictures he wants to take,
    and help him print the pictures he wants to print.

    Henry is a great reference, but there isn't any reason to put a book, or organised instruction, between him and something he enjoys doing.
     
  7. Roger Thoms

    Roger Thoms Subscriber

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    That was the text for my beginning black and white photography class. If I could understand it a sixth grader should have no problem.

    Roger
     
  8. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    Just give him some time. He will get soon enough.

    Jeff
     
  9. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    First let me say that you should be complemented for doing this. I'm sure this will create a nice bond between uncle and nephew, and it will most likely go beyond photography.

    Alternatively to the book, I would try Kodak's introductions to photography on the web. If he is above that level already, try the book. It is a good choice for beginners.
     
  10. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    I think it's epidemic. I work at a college and a lot of students seem to be unable to understand things that I could do when I was in high school.

    I took my first official photography class as a Junior in high school.
    (The class was limited to Juniors and Seniors.) In order to pass the class with a "C-minus" you had to be able to take a photograph from camera to finished print without help. The better you were at making photos the better your grade.

    I took two more classes in college. "Photography 101" was the prerequisite but I sailed through because of my high school experience but most of the students in that class were able to learn it at least as well as the kids I was in high school with. "Photography 201" was harder, of course, but, again, most of the students passed that class with a "C" or better. There are always one or two who are either slackers or dumb asses. That goes with the territory. Still, I would say 90% of the students understood the classes well enough to get a "C." From what I remember, the average grade was a "B" or better.

    I shoot the bull with the photography teacher at the college where I work. He tells me all his horror stories. Frankly, I wouldn't believe them if I didn't know the guy.

    Just this last term, he told me that 15 out of 20 of his "Photo 101" students didn't complete their last assignment and only about half of them passed with a "C" or better.

    I don't think it's because students are any "less intelligent" than they were 25 years ago when I was in college. I think it's because they have an attitude of entitlement. They want "Instant Gratification" and they don't want to work for anything. They are too accustomed to having everything handed to them and, if they can't do something right the first time, they give up and stop trying.

    This is why, when my nephew asked me about photography, I jumped on the chance.

    I want to make sure that he can produce a photo, start to finish... from camera to print... with only basic supervision. Hopefully, I can get him to the point where I can turn him loose on his own and he'll only need to come and ask the occasional question.

    That is still getting ahead of things a little bit. I want to get all the basics covered before we go there.

    That's what the book is for. I want him to have something he can read now but still be able to use as a reference later on.

    Ever since I was a kid, I have always preferred to swim in water that's just a couple inches over my head. (Both figuratively and literally. :wink: )
    If I get him this book (or better yet, convince his mom to buy the book for him) that's what I hope it will be: Just a little bit above his level but not too much that he'll be discouraged.
     
  11. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Let him do everything himself, without supervision. He may make mistakes, however, he will learn faster.

    JMHO
     
  12. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    I'd think the Horenstein book would be appropriate for his age.
    The fact that college students can't read at grade level is unfortunate but we don't want to hurt anyone's feelings by not advancing them to the next grade.
    In a (sort of) related rant. I was in a video store recently and a young man about twenty was attempting to read a synopsis of a film & stumbling over just about every word.
    Disgusting!
     
  13. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    When my father took me deer hunting, we had an agreement:

    The first time I shot a deer, he'd clean it and I'd help.
    The second time I shot a deer, I would clean it and he would help.
    The third time I was on my own.

    Daniel, the nephew, is on his second time. One more time and I'll try to get him to work on his own, at least as much as possible.

    I think it's time to start printing up those charts for the wall. :wink:
     
  14. Alex Bishop-Thorpe

    Alex Bishop-Thorpe Member

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    When I first started out when I was 15, there was stuff I'd encounter in the books I read that was over my head. I'd keep at it, and a few months later I'd re-read the same section that I couldn't grasp, and by then it'd make perfect sense. Books that can be too advanced in areas initially aren't a bad thing...but I think the fact most photography related books have plenty of pictures helped me, too.
     
  15. lns

    lns Member

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    Last summer I gave my copy of this book to my son, who had just turned 12. He was taking a b&w film class at a local art center. Some of the book was slow going for him, but I do think he got something out of the more practical information. But honestly he got a lot more out of just shooting and developing film and printing negatives with the teacher's close instruction. The book alone would have turned him off photography. He's a great reader and student, but it was clear to me that the book is pitched above his level.

    I disagree somewhat with the guy who says let him do everything himself without supervision. My son did need supervision and instruction, and I think any kid his age would, just to know how the mechanical parts work, and how to load the film, and other things that aren't intuitively obvious. How the shutter speed and aperture integrate is easy for them to understand when you explain it -- it's like a puzzle -- but it's not self-evident. I think you don't want to hand him a camera and a roll of film and a developing reel and walk away. That would be a recipe for a broken camera and a ruined film and a kid who gives up film. But in my son's case, talking it through and then letting him do it himself was a lot more helpful than reading about it.

    If you've ever seen kids this age with a new device or video game or anything, they just pick them up and start working them, so I think they have a lot more confidence than we older folks do.

    -Laura
     
  16. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    The book would definitely be an adjunct to the learning process not a substitute for it.

    As much as I want him to do things by himself whenever possible, I don't think it's right to simply turn him loose in the darkroom until I know he's ready. Right now, he can perform all the tasks and I don't need to be there looking over his shoulder every minute but I do need to remind him of things. Making some charts for the wall will help with a lot of that but, until he proves he can do it 100% by himself, I'll be there to help. Even when I'm not right there, he can still holler when he needs something.
     
  17. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    great job randy.
    he sounds about ready to do it on his own :smile:
    ( with or without the book )
     
  18. Paul VanAudenhove

    Paul VanAudenhove Member

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    The only things I would add to what has been said is to get him to make his own wall charts, and let him put them next to yours. Also get him a small notebook, if he has questions he can write them down, or he can make his own notes for what he wants to do. You can always double check his work before he makes a wall chart, or he can work directly from his own notes.