I’m here in beautiful Liptovsky Mikulas, a four-hour train ride from Slovakia’s capital Bratislava, teaching a workshop on digital documentary photography. Of course, I have brought along Aperture, which has proven to be a teacher’s best friend and assistant extordinaire.
Arriving in this beautiful year-round vacation village popular with Slovakians for skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer, I didn’t expect to see an Apple Store–but there was a small Apple Authorized Reseller near the main square, selling iPods, iMacs and Macbooks.
I am here as one of 16 international teachers from nine countries at the Summer Photo School, a place where passionate amateurs and professionals pay just 200 euros to attend this intensive 9-day workshop, culminating in a final exposition where the work created here is showcased.
My class has students from all over Europe, including the only other Aperture user, a recent photo grad from England. Most of the students are from Slovakia, The Czech Republic, Russia, and thankfully, they all speak English.
Inside the no-frills communist era sixties-styled building, is our classroom, equipped with five PC’s. Seven students have their own laptops, of which two are Macs.
I have talked about Aperture as a teaching tool before, but this was to be an intensive test to see how Aperture performed, in a mostly PC environment.
In my opinion, the beauty of using Aperture as a teaching tool is how quickly and seamlessly I can bounce around the various images. I hop in and out of full screen often calling up the Adjustments HUD to make minor changes quickly.
I crop and toggle the M for Masters key to see the before and after to compare–all without interrupting the flow of conversation, actually encouraging the critiquing process, taking it to a higher level.
Dealing in an overwhelming PC environment in this small country of 5 million people in Eastern Europe was not a problem for me or Aperture. I had students save their best work from each assignment in a folder with their name on it on their desktop.
The daily takes were transferred onto their flash-drives or mine, and I then imported “Folders into Projects” and immediately, I have all the class work neatly stored in individual albums in seconds. For each student’s work, I batch- changed basic metadata and copyright info in seconds and edited overnight, rating the selects to a manageable number and I was ready to start the critique the next morning.
There were a variety of different cameras being used and I encouraged RAW Format shooting.
During the critiques, I would constantly choose several images at a time to compare them, which was great for making a point of comparison and I would often summon the loupe to magnify a small detail for critical viewing, in a split second.
This allowed me to show and compare subtle details in facial expressions and gesture, to emphasize their importance and that these small differences often make the difference between good and great photographs.
I have to tell you that the speed and usefulness of the editing features in Aperture were a joy to use in the teaching environment. Everything I do on my screen is projected onto the wall for all to see. The only limitation seems to be the quality of my older projector, where subtle adjustments are sometimes difficult to see clearly.
As you can see from some of the work here, the images the students produced were inspiring. More on my Slovakian/Aperture experience next week.