Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2001/01/25

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Subject: [Leica] last night
From: Jim Brick <>
Date: Thu, 25 Jan 2001 15:57:10 -0800

You've heard me mention Angela, the "young girl" of 29, who is my swimming
partner, received a free R8, uses a Pentax 6x7 as her personal camera,
loves Ernst Haas' & Eggleston's work, and teaches journalism and
photography at a collage prep school (Eastside College Prep School) in East
Palo Alto CA...? I remember catching flak. "She's a young woman, not a
young girl" said many.


But I'm 63 and my four kids are 20, 25, 28, & 30 and are still boys and
girl to me.

This prep school is in the middle of one of the most depressed cities in
the state. The crime rate is astronomical, drugs and shootings are rampant,
but nestled in behind some residential housing, are a half dozen portable
classrooms, and a gymnasium with accompanying multipurpose room. The only
real buildings on the site.

Angela was able to convert one of the two bathrooms in an office portable
into a darkroom. Nearly all of the equipment was donated. Two Beseler 23
enlargers, trays, old Kodak safelight, wires strung to hang prints and film
for drying, etc.

She has six photography students (the school is very small with very
limited enrollment) none of whom had ever used anything other than a simple

She bought a few Pentax K1000's and a few equivalent Nikon mechanical non
auto cameras (all used.) Each student had a camera and had to learn how
film worked, how to use a meter, how to focus, how to expose, how to mix
chemicals, how to develop film and print. They used Tmax 400 and Tmax 3200
and Tmax developer per Kodak info. They had class assignments as well as
personal projects.

The learning curve for these students was enormous. Things we take for
granted, that are intuitive, that we cannot remember ever even thinking
about, were astronomical hurdles for these kids.

So last evening she held an exposition of her photography students work.
She had postcards made using one of her students photographic work which
announced the expo. A lot of people came.  Each student hung six
photographs, 8x10's, mounted, matted (white), framed (thin black), glass,
label below each framed print with the students name, photograph title, and
a description of the photograph. The room was bright and the photographs
hung around the perimeter of the room. Each student was with their work and
answered questions anyone had about their photographs.

I had seen some of the work before as 8x10's in a box as Angela had showed
them to me and asked me for my opinion on some technical matters. They were
what I expected for first time camera/darkroom students.

But seeing the same photographs, printed a little better, and mounted,
matted, framed, and hung, made all the difference in the world. Of course
there were some nonsense photographs, but there were also some very good
photographs where the feeling of the moment was caught on film. Nearly all
of the photographs could qualify as "street" photographs as they depict
some real life aspect of the students, their family, events, or just the
public at large. There were a few simple landscapes as well.

It was evident that these were first year photo students. But I was
certainly impressed with the overall effort, quality, and obvious pride
that the students had about their work. I took my chrome M6, 50mm Summilux,
Neopan 1600, and took some snaps of the students with their work, and, of
course, of their teacher.

This was one of those situations where, after a long day's work, after
getting home, having dinner, the last thing I wanted to do was go out
again, to a very depressed area, on a rainy night, to see what was probably
going to be depressing photographs. What a surprise! I was having so much
fun talking to the students, I didn't want to leave.