Saturday, February 27, 2021

Online Teaching Update

My first fully online class is still going well! It wraps up NEXT WEEK - it was a full 3 credit class held online over 8 weeks instead of the normal 14 to 16 weeks.

I've been finding notes from recording my lectures laying around:

I have 1 more short video to record, but I'm up over 9 GB of lecture recordings already.

One of the biggest things I did to help myself out was print out weekly graphs to help keep track of a few things:

That's basically a version of my usual attendance log, only I printed a page for each week (instead of just 1 page/semester). And then I could note when I updated the class website, when I reached out to students, who had the projects turned in on time, who I needed to contact near the end of the week to remind them about upcoming deadlines, etc. It basically made my job easier being able to just glance over a sheet to see who's done what, and it allowed me to make sure I was getting info from (and giving info to) everyone.

Next year, I'm planning to make at least 2 adjustments to those weekly pages: first, I'll make the "boxes" maybe twice as wide (for more space to write and because I never came close to filling up a page). And second, I'll put large rectangular boxes at the bottom so I can label the columns. But these have worked great and saved me a lot of headaches.

Here's last week seen in my book.
(I create a new "book" for each semester.)

Here's a post from last month as I was preparing a lot of lectures and getting ready to kick off this online class.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

An Inspiring Thought About "The Queens Gambit"

Thursday, February 18, 2021

"The Dawn of the Color Photograph"

I've been checking out photo-related books from my local library over the last 14 months. I recently learned about Albert Kahn and his undertaking of hired photographers in the book "The Dawn of the Color Photograph: Albert Kahn's Archives of the Planet" by David Okuefuna.

I had never heard of Kahn or his contribution to the world just after the advent of color photography. Here's a bit about Kahn and this book from

In 1909, two years after the Lumière brothers invented the Autochrome process, French banker and philanthropist Albert Kahn initiated a twenty-two-year project (brought to an end by his ruin in the Great Depression) to photograph the world in color. Known as the Archives de la Planète, this astounding body of work, some seventy-two thousand images, captured life in more than fifty countries, many during moments of profound upheaval. Kahn’s hired photographers sat with French soldiers in the trenches, walked through a Smyrna razed in the Greco-Turkish War, and witnessed Emir Faisal’s campaign to free Arabia from Ottoman control. But the archive is particularly remarkable for its documentation of lands and peoples once little seen by Western eyes. The collection boasts what may be the earliest color photographs of the Taj Mahal and the Egyptian pyramids, as well as striking portraits of Kurdish women in northern Iraq, dancers from the Khmer ballet in Angkor, and itinerant Mongolian hunters on the steppes near the Russian border. But does the past change when we see it in color? In many instances, the vivid palette brings the images closer to our present moment, making the world—and the distance of history—frighteningly small.

His goal wasn't to have his photographers make "art," but more to simply "document" the world. As the book states, the images his photographers produced "were not works of reportage or ethnography, nor an attempt to produce works of art. The aim was simply to record human beings in all their diversity, living humble lives worthy of respect."

Here's a bit about some of Kahn's project from 2007 on BBC Two:

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Billboard Shoot

I had my first image on a billboard about a year ago, and now I have another one. Here's a photo that St. Thomas More Catholic School shared on Facebook recently:

On top of Green Mill Pizza on Grand Ave in St. Paul.

The file used for the billboard.

That was a socially-distant photoshoot I did for them about 3 months ago. They've also been using this image a lot from the same shoot:

They have that image as the "cover photo" on their Facebook page...

... and they've been using it for their "virtual info nights" as well.

Always fun doing things I'm less comfortable with! And by "fun" I mean "mildly terrifying." At least kids are always easy to work with...

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

The Evolution of Camera Shutter Sounds

Here's a short video sharing different shutter speed sounds over the years:

The 3rd one took me back: I had an old TLR that sounded a LOT like that!

Also, I didn't know that TIME Magazine produced a crappy looking SLR at one point.

Thursday, February 04, 2021

Who Shoots Film?

Here are some great "film shooting patches" from TheMikePadua:

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Instagram: Don't Fail Me Now!

I posted this on Facebook earlier this week:

I rolled up to the State Fairgrounds at 4:00 this morning. The police officer working the only open gate didn't care to see my driver's license or either of my faculty IDs. What "worked" was scrolling through my Instagram page full of 4 a.m. photos.

"Well, that's the strangest thing that I've ever let pass as 'credentials,' but head on in and make your photos" he said. Thanks officer!

And that's the EXACT reason I started a second Instrgram account 4 years ago: it's the easiest way to "prove" I'm legitimately making photos in the middle of the night, and not up to other nefarious activities. (And I sometimes get into places the general public isn't allowed into - the "drive through" snow and ice sculpture park didn't open until tonight.)

And I just HAD to add this as a comment on the post:

But truly, that was the main intention of starting an Instagram page for my 4 a.m. work. Literally the day Instagram updated and I found out that they allowed more than 1 Instagram page per user, I added a new account. When I was making photos around the Metro surrounding the killing of Geroge Floyd, I always made sure to have my phone on me with Instagram ready to go in case anyone questioned what I was doing.

Oh, and the Instagram page for St. Paul tourism asked if they could repost that image later the same day:

Find me as "PhotoStenzel" on Instagram if you're interested!

Friday, January 29, 2021

J-Term is Wrapped Up!

Finals in my J-Term class happened over a week ago, and I submitted final grades a few day ago. I set some sort of "personal record" 10 days ago by getting grades from a project back to all my students within 3 hours of wrapping up critique! But they needed that feedback as the next project was due just a few days later in this compressed timeline.

I really enjoyed the fast pace of the first week, especially. I love banging through those technical lectures and getting students excited about trying out different functions / modes / manners of creating an image. It's just nerdy fun.

I also really liked having the ENTIRE class laid out before the semester begins. Yes, I usually have a tight syllabus that we follow, but this was different as I had all handouts and examples all laid out and ready to go before day 1. I'm never THAT prepared before the semester begins. (And here's why: it bit me in the butt at one point as I had to adjust a due date by 1 day, so I still had to rework that project.) I shared in this post that I had 197 files all organized online for my students. I added a few things to that during the 2.5 week term, and I ended with nearly 250 files (which does NOT include files students turned in or that number would be around 450 files). And it's worth noting that big 100 slide PowerPoints just count as 1 file.

Alright, back to "regular" teaching... meaning 1 normal in-person class and 1 fully online asynchronous class currently.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

New Headshot

My department asked for a new headshot at Hamline University, so I snapped a few back in November. I just had access to a small softbox and a small "bare bulb" flash with a gel, so this is what I was able to do in a random small basement classroom at Hamline:

[click each image for a larger version]

Without a gel in the back.

With a blue gel.

As I was getting ready to turn those in last week, I realized my beard wasn't trimmed, and I had been unhappy with how my collar was laying (I was wrestling with it as I was shooting those 2 months ago). So I quick shot another headshot with a "better" shirt and with a trimmed (but longer) beard:

This new one is the one I submitted. I'll post about the updated faculty/department page when it goes live.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Praxis Facebook Post

I nearly forgot to share this. Praxis Gallery and Photo Center posted this on their Facebook page when I stopped by to see the exhibition that I was a part of last year:

(Had I known I was going to be photographed, I would have worn a better shirt...)

Here are some photos that I made of that exhibition, and here are a lot more images from a Facebook album that Praxis shared.

Monday, January 18, 2021

J-Term Zoom Meetings

I posted this on Facebook last week:

This is exactly what happened in yesterday's class when I joined a few minutes early. This is also the reason I purposefully joined today's scheduled class 1 minute late.

I added in a comment: "Don't worry: my Minnesotanness kicked in and we chatted about the weather for a minute before the rest of the class joined in." J-Term is still going well! Looking forward to my students wrapping up their final 2 projects this week.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Recording Lectures

Over the weekend, I prepped for my first fully online course. Like, SUPER prepped. I moved a table (that had an iMac locked to it) in position in front of one of my classrooms, erased the board, and then started giving lectures to the (recording) computer. Here was the scene 7 hours later when I was wrapping up on Saturday night:

CLICK HERE for a large version.

That image shows my laptop on the far left (because I had to glance at the syllabus now and then), cameras and other things to discuss in the back left, the iMac propped up and pointed at the white board to record, and my 2nd camera on the far right. And obviously, a board full of notes at the end of the day.

I was there for 2 days recording demos and recording lectures. By the end of the weekend, I had about 2.5 GB of videos (just the ones worth saving), which totaled nearly 3.5 hours of video. Whew! (And this is all moving "faster" than a normal in-person class because I know students can pause to get caught up and/or rewind for a moment to reiterate a point that they didn't quite understand the first time.)

I have the video files saved 5 different ways/places right now: on that iMac, on a flash drive, on Google Drive, on a private (new) YouTube channel, and on North Central University's video sharing platform. The whole idea with the YouTube channel is that they are not public, but anyone with the direct link can view them, so I can share them in the future when I have a student miss an important class: "Here Johnny, check out this video. It's not EXACTLY what we covered, but it will get you mostly caught up!"

The start of a new (and private) YouTube channel.

On top of everything listed above, I have 4 more videos ready to upload as well: the running total is now just over 4 hours, and I've got close to 4 GB of video files. Sheesh!

Thursday, January 07, 2021

J-Term: First Critique!

I'm 4 days into my first J-Term class (as I wrote about this past weekend). I posted this on Instagram on Monday after class:

"Before and after on the first day of J-Term. Here’s to packing a 16-week semester into 2.5 weeks..."

Today, we had our first critique (with prints, just 4 days in). Tonight, I posted this on Facebook:

Whew. Let's keep this up. This is kind of fun!....

Sunday, January 03, 2021

Monthly Challenge 12 of 12: Prepping for J-Term

Tomorrow I start teaching my first J-Term class. My department at Hamline University hasn't offered J-Term classes before, but they have one this year. So I'm working to pack as much of a normal 16 week semester that I can into 2.5 weeks. Yikes.

I've been working on this pretty much since Thanksgiving. I'm more prepared for this than ANY other class I've taught. I won't have time to prep things "mid-semester" like I usually can. So I mapped out the folder structure that I have placed on Google Drive for my students:

That shows the main ideas of what's there: 42 files (or folders). But in reality, at this moment, there are already 197 files (or folders) uploaded within this structure so far. And I know I'll be adding a few more things to go over as the J-Term moves along.

Stay tuned, as I'm sure I'll be sharing updates about how this fast-paced J-Term class is going. Happy New Year!

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