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The Advanced Photography Winter Issue: Unmasked

by Andy Xie

“Should I add you to the Advanced Photography class? Mondays 3:30-4:45… It's a for-credit version of the Photo Program,” Leigh Klonsky, a photography teacher at East Side, emailed me on an autumn afternoon. Excited for what was in store this school year, I skimmed through the email again, replying with a quick “Yes!”

This year’s Advanced Photography class is similar to what the Photo Program was last year, but with a few new faces and different kinds of topics to focus on. The Advanced Photography class hoped to make a magazine by the end of the school semester, and now the semester is quickly coming to a close. Students finish up any quick edits they have to make on their pages, incorporating all the experiences they have learned thus far about photography.

The Advanced Photography class included students who ranged from 9th to 12th graders. Just like last year, the class meets once a week on Zoom. The class started off with each student capturing photos related to the assignment topic given. Every week, each student shared a photo and talked about it, one-on-one with another student. This way, each student can gain feedback to improve their photos and photography skills.

Midway through each week, some lessons were taught for beginner photographers. Photography can be a daunting task, especially for newcomers to the Advanced Photography class. Therefore, similar to what the photography class taught many years in the past by Leigh, the Advanced Photography class skimmed over the idea of how to use a camera and what key components are essential to look at when capturing photos.

Photography is not like how it was many years ago. There are three basic terminologies to look at when using a camera: aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. Aperture is the opening of

the camera’s lens, in a form of a circular shape that can be made smaller or bigger, allowing less or more light. Shutter speed is how long the sensor is exposed to light. The less time the shutter is open, the less light that passes through. ISO controls how much light the sensor needs. The higher the ISO, the camera can take pictures where there is a lot less light. The higher the ISO, the higher Noise, or film grain will be visible in the photo.

All three terms connect in order to take a photo. When one setting changes, the other two settings need to change correspondingly to that setting in order to capture a photo. This idea is also referred to as the Exposure Triangle.

With the newfound information that the students learned, they were quickly able to take impressive photos. The photographer now has control over their camera, having the ability to capture and convey a certain message.

All of the practice so far has led to a crucial moment and that is the third issue of Unmasked: The Winter Issue. This time around, the issue was not focused on a central topic. Students were on their own for this one, capturing photos to their own topic chosen. Each student had a chance to brainstorm and gather ideas on a mind map that they would focus on for the next three weeks. For each round of photos taken, students were paired up to gain feedback, but instead of looking at one photo, all photos in that one week of the shooting were discussed amongst each group.

As the end of the semester comes quickly to a close, students gather their photos and edit them onto pages. With one last meeting before the third magazine launch, Leigh asks for a zoom meeting portrait for the front pages of the magazine. Usually, Leigh takes multiple photos throughout the school semester and piles them all up to paste onto the pages of the magazine. However, with the lack of socializing and remote learning, she is constrained to taking three Zoom portraits of her students through thin digital screens, and bad quality cameras. Even so, something like this isn’t going to stop her from publishing the magazine: “I want to be able to put a little Zoom portrait on our magazine… Let’s do three. Let’s do one that’s just like school portrait cheesy, we’ll do one that’s like silly, and then someone else can think of another one…”

“You guys have an idea. I can feel it. I can feel the idea,” Leigh continues. Charli Rodriguez a senior replies in a funny, sarcastic tone, “It’s okay, no we don’t.” “All blank. Stop our videos,” William Webster, a 9th grader chimes in. Everyone turns off their cameras and Leigh takes one last photo of the Advanced Photography class.

“Okay, yay! Thank you, everybody!” Leigh cheers happily, clapping her hands.

Even though the school semester may be coming to a close, many students are excited about what is in store for the next photography class. The students marvel at their work, proud of what they have accomplished, hoping to share it with their friends, families, and the East Side community.

Celebrate the launch of the third magazine issue and feel free to leave a comment:

Unmasked: The Winter Issue

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