I took 2 classes from my local university. Photo 1 was pretty standard stuff, but when I got to Photo 2 it was all digital darkroom. I was really disappointed. On one hand it was great to learn photoshop and gain some skills, but I was really bummed about not getting to make real prints. It was also frustrating because there were only about 3 of us who were really into photography not just trying to skate by.
Last week I started a Photo 3 The Expressive Print class offered by the Museum School at the Arkansas Arts Center. Wow! I really should have gone back and taken the Photo 2 the Museum offered. There are 4 of us in the class and two of them are focusing on printing for shows they have coming up. The irony is that the Museum School is working with older, donated equipment on a shoestring budget but totally committed to traditional photography while the University with its two roomy darkrooms has 8 brand new Beseler 45MXT's and 8 fairly new Omegas, but most of the classes spend their time in the computer lab. Even the Large Format class is digital darkroom--crazy!
I am just excited to have access to a darkroom again and be around people that I can learn from and who care about traditional photography. I am 34 and the rest of the class is 45 and older. There may be some young whippersnappers in the other classes though. I am hoping to recruit some of these folks to APUG so they can share the joy.
"Never assume that children will remain where you last saw them." --From the Lawn*Boy Operator's Manual
In the Detroit Area there are three undergrad programs you can attend; Wayne State, CCS and U of M. Wayne has an emphasis on traditional methods, but is not well regarded, the other two are fairly well regarded, and lean toward digital. There is a Photography graduate program at Cranbrook (as well as the the other 3) that is considered very good. At a recent pro lab auction (Color Detroit for those familiar) the place was crawling with people from Cranbrook looking to buy enlarger's lenses and other trad equipment.
The community college just outside of Detroit, OCC, has a very good 2 year program that is split between traditional and digital -- slightly more trad than digital.
I don't believe any program worth its salt ignores craft -- be it grammar in an english program or presentation in an art program.
IMO, at the college level it is really dependent upon the department heads and money. Cranbrook, CCS, OCC have good heads and deep pockets.
Slide rules are no longer manufacturered in the U.S. and possibly the world.
Originally Posted by blansky
Originally Posted by donbga
What's good for the mind is not always what's good for business. While I agree that learning any craft is enhanced by studying and even mastering traditional approaches, our world today doesn't offer much promise economically for a person to take their time and be well rounded and versatile.
The original concept of the technology revolution, as well as the now over a century old industrial revolution, was to provide us with convenience so we could spend our time pursuing more leisurely lives, and using our already cluttered minds for more cereberal processes. Unfortunately what really happened was that we created our lifestyles around the technology. (who says the human race has evolved anyway?)
So, now our lives are not only dependant on the technology, but we spend most of our time trying to keep up with it. It rules us.
For those rare folks who realize the need to slow down and be more careful and methodical about what they create, few will jump to reward them, but the reward for that approach is more introspective and personal. All aspects of society today function in the digital mode - either on or off.
When you take the time to see the tonal shades of gray, you more easily understand the path of getting from nothing to something.
It is not horrible to function in the all digital techno world of today, but in the long run, a bit less fullfilling. (BTW, I'm not just referring to photography)
Try reading "The Singularity is Near" by Ray Kurzweil.
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I've never understood how photography, which is basically a craft, can be taught as a primary subject at University level.
You need to see it as more than a craft.
Originally Posted by Bill Mitchell
Firstly I apologise for cutting Les' well crafted response down to a few lines.
Originally Posted by Les McLean
I am currently studying a BA(Hons) Photography in the West Midlands (UK), the University has very good darkrooms, both Black and White (with enlargers upto 10 x 8) & Colour as well as superb studio facilities.
In the first year the technical skills of photography, such as relationships between aperture and shutter speed, depth of field, hyperfocal distance, stops, the Zone System etc, studio lighting, medium and large formats are taught on film cameras. With at least 80% of projects having to be shot on film, the other other 20% is left open to the student to make his or her own decision. THe lecturers place a very high emphasis on very good darkroom skills above digital. I feel they consider digital as more understanding software manipulation rather than a true photographic skill.
They also teach alternative processes such as Cyanotypes, Gum Bi-Chromates and liquid light.
From my experience what concerns me most is that when the choice of format is allowed most students head back to digital because this is easy. They don't have to do a hugh amount of work themselves. When critics of finished work are carried out I have heard a number of students say "well I shot 300 images on my digicamera to get these 4 good ones" - this worries me as its more a law of averages than photographic skill.
But on a more positive note I have been amazed at the number of pure digital photographers who have never been exposed to 'traditional' techniques but having now used film and experienced the magic of the darkroom have headed out and purchased MF film cameras. They have especially been impressed with the quality associated with MF and LF, and in particularly with colour transparencies.
I feel that you need film to teach true photographic skills and for that reason film will always be around. The day film is lost will be a very sad day indeed.
I'm applying to an MFA program that allows students to work in whatever format they wish... I'll probably be the only one doing LF alt process stuff if I'm accepted. Maybe I can change that and interest some others, though
Let's see what I've got in the magic trash can for Mateo!
In my town, there are a couple of photography schools available to those so
inclined. I own one of them. PrairieView School of Photography is a private vocational institution with 16 full time students and about 650 part time evening/weekend registrants (mainly hobby type courses). Our full time program is geared towards those that intend to enter the photographic industry in some capacity or other. Traditional darkroom techniques are a core part of the program and will be as long as the buck stops with me.
Quote from CraigK above:
I had one of your students use the darkroom I maintain in Victoria over the Christmas break and she was one of the nicest people. Her name is Clara Katsumoto I think. What a small world. I hope she joined Apug?