Expectations vs. Reality: Precollege

When enrolling in Precollege, I had a lot of misconceptions about the program and a lot of expectations that actually turned out to be very close to reality. Putting oneself in a situation that for many people is foreign, can be nerve-wracking. The following are some expectations I had of Precollege at FIT, and what the reality turned out to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Expectation: The environment would be intense, competitive, and stressful.

Reality: The environment at FIT is supportive and helpful. There is no denying that the courses are very educational, but it is not nearly as similar to a normal high school or middle school setting as it may appear. It is not to say that the environment of the class is not sufficient, but rather that the environment is perfectly appropriate. The community of students and professors involved in Precollege is lovely, and I am yet to meet anyone who expresses any aggression at all.

Expectation: The emphasis on paperwork would be heavy in order to calculate grades, and there would be tests.

Reality: I can’t speak for the other classes, but at least in my classes and in those of other students who I’ve spoken to, the amount of paperwork is minimal. The grading system is almost always based on rubrics and project work, including a final project. Again, I can’t speak for every class, but in the course I am taking, there are no tests and our final is an artistic portfolio assignment that is very open in concept and in grading.

Expectation: We would never leave the FIT campus.

Reality: My class has left the FIT campus several times to go on field trip style walks around the city in the area. It has always been safe, staying in a group and never being more than about a mile radius outside of the campus, but going outdoors has definitely had a positive impact on my experience. I was gifted with a lot of inspiration and the quality of my work and photos has improved.

Expectation: The class populations would be large, and the teaching would mostly be lecture-based.

Reality: The classes are not overpopulated at all. My class has around 15 students, and the course is super individualized. It’s a teaching style that I really benefit from, and I think most students would agree because it’s easy to stay focused. The class keeps the students extremely involved in the work with hands-on and visual methods. This is super helpful to me and to artistic right-side brain learners, who have trouble listening to something like a lecture and taking in the information.

Overall, Precollege has exceeded my expectations by far, and I am so grateful for it.

Chloe Abidi

Get Out Of the “Dark” About Darkroom Photography

Traditional film and darkroom processes have been undeniably dying out over the past several decades with the invention of the digital camera. The new generation of photographers is following an interesting trend, though, with a sudden enthusiasm for the film medium. It’s a craze led by the likes of Gucci muse Petra Collins that can be compared to the record player: trend in music, people seem to believe that film is more “raw,” “real,” and creative.

Sheets of rolls of film.

Last class, when had my second experience with traditional black and white manual photography, I worked on developing film. If you aren’t familiar with this, there’s an entire process including working in the darkroom, that allows photos that are taken on a roll of film to be accessed. The whole process of development is multilayered and can be stressful for a beginner, especially in the darkrooms; a pitch-black environment that is essential for the photos to not be ruined because they are light-sensitive materials. After processing the roll of film, it is soaked in chemical baths and left to dry. This process allows you to access only 36 photos that one cannot see until the end, meaning that there is no way to tell if the shots will appear until you take out the photos and set them to dry. This is the risqué nature of the medium that some people reference as more artful than digital.

I interviewed photography instructor Cornelia Hediger to create an exposé on the ins and outs of traditional darkroom film, in comparison to digital photography.

Q: Do you prefer digital or film photography, and why?

A: Overall, I prefer the look and quality of a darkroom print vs a digital print. A traditional printed image, shot on film, has grain. I love the look of grain printed on fiber based paper. You cannot beat that look. It is absolutely stunning.

Q: What are some of the advantages of darkroom photography? What are some of the disadvantages?

A: The advantage of darkroom photography is that you have a negative to work from, versus a digital file. Each image is unique as the prints are done by a person and not a machine. A darkroom print still looks superior to me than a digital file printed in black and white. There are some very nice papers out there that mimic the look of a traditional fiber based print. Definitely, the paper and technology have come a long way and prints, produced with digital files, are starting to look better. The ‘disadvantage’ of a darkroom print is the time factor. It takes longer to produce a darkroom print versus a digital print.

Q: What is your favorite aspect of black and white film photography?

A: My favorite aspect of black and white film photography is that I absolutely love the process. I love to develop film and I love printing in the darkroom. I find it magical to watch an image come up in the developer and I like the slower process of producing an image. In the end, I also prefer the look of a black and white image printed on fiber based paper vs. a digitally produced image.

Q: For young photographers, do you recommend that they learn how to use both film and digital cameras? Do you consider film photography an essential for photographers?

A: I think it is a good idea for young photographers to learn shooting with film and at least experience the process in the darkroom. Film ‘forces’ you to slow down and perhaps be more responsible when taking an image. Each image is recorded on a negative and cannot be deleted like you would delete a digital image. Personally, I find the experience of learning how to take images with film/print in the darkroom essential when learning photography. To some people, it opens up a whole new world whereas others will find the process a slow and tedious one.

Q: Do you think darkroom photography will ever go “extinct”?

A: I do not know if darkroom photography will ever go extinct. In the fine arts, it seems to be making a comeback. The masses and everyday household will not turn around and go back to film. It seems that film and traditional darkroom printing is perhaps surviving through the arts. I have no idea, however, how photography will develop over the next decades.
-End of Interview

Chloe Abidi

Introducing Precollege Blogger: Chloe

Hello! I’m Chloe Abidi. I’m 16 years old and a sophomore at Ridgewood High School – Ridgewood is a NYC suburb in North Jersey that I moved to three years ago. My interests include modeling, the visual arts (more specifically photography and traditional mediums, like oil paint and graphite), the fashion industry, writing and traveling.

This is my first semester at FIT’s Precollege Programs and I am taking HPH 168 55A Introduction to Traditional Darkroom & Digital Photography. Photography is something that has become more and more prevalent in my life over the years. Growing up in a world of constantly evolving technology, I have seen photography grow into something that, quite literally, sits in the palm of everyone’s hands on a daily basis with the introduction of smartphones. For me, it seemed like a natural direction to move into.

The visual arts have always been a huge part of my life. I have a passion for all of the arts and find my own personal liberation within them. In addition to this, fashion modeling has entered my life as I’ve gotten older, and I’ve developed a love for it and the entire fashion industry on top of the visual arts. Photography is the perfect combination of those two things, and it is what I hope to pursue a career in.

~ Chloe Abidi