Here’s an asset of downtown that I never considered before. I always think of UT as being more-or-less downtown since I can walk there from my home. I’ve walked over to basketball and football games as well as lectures and readings. I plan to make the trek for a play at the Clarence Brown Theater at some point. What I’ve not realized until now is that the UT Conference Center isn’t just a place for the university to host out-of-town dignitaries. It’s also where they offer non-credit classes.
The conference center occupies a block bounded by Locust, which it faces, Clinch, Henley and Church. It is a modern building featuring glass tiles on the Locust and Henley sides as well as a undulating awning facing Locust Street. The unusual exterior got a face-lift just a couple of years ago at great expense to the University which preserved its original architectural style. I wasn’t so crazy about it at first, but I’ve grown to really like the building. There’s nothing much like it downtown.
My wife recently won a half-off voucher for a photography class through the UT non-credit program. It’s the most expensive class offered at this time. The regular price is $250 for the eight week course (one night each week, two-and-a-half hours) and at $125, she urged me to pursue it. When I learned it would be a couple of blocks from the house it was hard to say, “no.” So, I signed up.
About a year ago I moved up from a simple point-and-shoot camera to a Canon Rebel T3. I thought that was the end of the story. My pictures definitely got better. I never bothered to open the manual or download any software. I continued to use a free program for re-sizing and generally making my photographs a bit more acceptable. Green Automatic, the setting of the ignorant seemed good to me.
Now that I’ve started the class, taught by Mr. Tom Geisler, I’ve learned that Green Automatic is laughed at by real photographers. Who knew? Goofy concepts like aperture, shutter speed and ISO are creeping into my vocabulary. The result after two weeks? Look at the picture below and judge for yourself! That’s right, I’ve generally gotten worse. Sometimes too dark, sometimes bright enough to illuminate the entire city in one photograph.
So, I’m working at getting better, but in the mean time I’m probably going to get worse. None of these photographs were made in Green Automatic. I’m trying my best to use manual and see what happens. If you see me and want your picture on the blog, you might want to wait a few weeks until I get the hang of this manual business. I’ve also purchased Lightroom photo-editing software and will be learning that. Photoshop will come later. This is a lot for someone who last attended a class of any sort in the previous Millennium. It’s all for you, dear reader.
Hopefully after my learning period you’ll see some modest improvements. If not, maybe I’ll go back to Green Automatic. Somehow, even now, I don’t think I’ll ever go back. I think I’ll get better, though I’m not sure I’ll ever get fast enough. I may manage only one or two photographs from next December’s Christmas Parade – but then, some of you would feel that was an improvement. Having access to these great classes within a few blocks of home is just another reason to love downtown.
You can see the variety of classes offered by following the link above. Not all classes are offered at the conference center, but many are. Upcoming courses offered at the center include Harmonica (with Michael Crawley!), Wire Jewelry Making, Cartooning, Making Caricatures, Designing Wedding Flowers, Chainmaille and others.