SOUTHWEST WORKSHOP AND THE MAGICAL DIGITAL BUS

Our photography workshop to the American Southwest was enlightening,
intense, fun, exhausting, incredibly rewarding and resulted in some
fine photographs. The workshop itinerary was an overview of the
Southwest's wonders and having the bus along turned the workshop into
an innovative and deep photographic learning experience.

Balancing time between experiencing the parks, and interacting with
the photographs was a wonderful opportunity and challenge. There was
a constant range of options, sometimes too many, sometimes just right.
Students were torn between direct experience of the beauty of the
landscape and experiencing the photographs they just made. They were
also enamored with being able to do both. There were never enough
hours in the day. Many stayed up late working.

The ability to look at each others work produced some great
interactions, allowing us to react and be inspired by others
photographs.

Being able to check out our images as they were being made was dynamic
and very worthwhile. "Did you get that lightning?" "Was that
exposure right?" "Where did those highlights fall?" "What about this
composition?"

The bus provided an unprecedented opportunity to complete work on site,
and an air conditioned refuge from the heat. There were almost
instant detailed feedback/critiques on some occasions, others were end
of day looks back at the work. Lectures and demonstrations were also
part of the mix.

An interesting tactic developed where people were swapping their
compact flash cards around trying each others cameras and or lenses.
They were experimenting with the possibilities, while still writing
all of their photographs to their own storage card. Many discussions
centered around the technology, many around art, emotion and design.

We ran into a few interesting characters along the way. Two bikers
from Belgium on their way to the Harley-Davidson centennial were
photographed by Andrew Stern and gift prints made on site, then
bestowed while the subjects were still around.

There was unlimited beauty around us, and so many great things to do
and see. The tours into Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly brought
us to places we could not have otherwise seen. People did not want to
miss a dawn or sunset, or an opportunity for a full moon. There
seemed to always be lust for more, a desire to do everything possible,
which just about everybody did.

As a teaching tool, combining the bus with the making of the
photographs completed a critical circle of photographic realization.
The bus prints were often looked at as the final prints. Being able
to help with the seeing, the execution, the image processing and the
printing, was a kind of educational nirvana.

Thanks again to all of the trip sponsors, particularly the Community
College Foundation for supplying the eBus and covering its expenses.
Major help outfitting the eBus came from Apple Computer. Additional
sponsors included Adobe Systems, BetterLight, Epson, Foveon,
Gretag-Macbeth and Hewlett-Packard. Thanks to Nick Kiest for bus
technology management, our wonderful driver Mike, and Nikki Fox for
helping with logistics.

The workshop ended way too soon, but at about the right time. We were
all ready for more, but we were way tired. We liked the experience
very much.