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Past meets present at Sierra College

Students replicate 19th-century cameras
By: Anne Stokes, Placer Herald correspondent
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“Tech Know” exhibit

What: Projects from students majoring in applied art and design, computer information systems, drafting and engineering support, early childhood education, fashion design, mechatronics, metals, photography and technical theater

When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday through Feb. 23

Where: Ridley Gallery, on the first floor of the library, Sierra College, 5000 Rocklin Road

Info: (916) 660-7242 or www.sierracollege.edu

In this modern age of instant digital gratification, Sierra College's new Alternative Processes photography class has students going back to the craft's roots with turn-of-the-century techniques.

The class, which will be offered again next fall semester, explores different 19th century image-making processes. Students also get to build their own large format camera for around $15.

"Photography, as it becomes more and more digital, more media-oriented, part of what's happening, I think, is an appreciation historically for original processes and an understanding of where we come from," said Sierra College photography Professor Rebecca Gregg.

"Some of these processes actually have a revival now, especially in fine art photography," added Professor Randy Snook, who taught the class last fall. "And then also there's just an incredible learning process that goes on with the students as they learn these processes and how to create their own cameras, which was a great part of the class, as well."

Several samples of students' work, including a pair of handmade cameras, are currently on display until Feb. 23 as part of the “Tech Know” exhibit at the Ridley Gallery on campus. The exhibit features student projects from nine different Career and Technical Education departments.

"I loved making my camera. I loved learning new techniques. I loved working in the sunshine instead of in the darkroom to create photos. The whole experience was amazing," said photographer Sherle Curtice, whose images and 4x5 camera are on display at the Ridley Gallery. "Yeah, Photoshop is great, I use Photoshop all the time, but there's something so magical about not knowing exactly how it's going to happen, what exactly it's going to do. There are just so many little things that affect the final outcome that just I absolutely adore."

"It's photography at its roots," explained photographer Daryl Stinchfield, whose images are a part of the exhibit. "It's the magic of chemicals causing an image to form that you can hold in your hand. And the different processes display the images differently and uniquely. There's so many processes, it's just a vast subject."

"I give a lot of credit to Randy Snook, the professor,” he added. “I'm sure he spent a lot of time in the summer preparing for this class.”

"I was just amazed at the creativity of the students and how it really brought out creativity that some of them didn't even know they had," Snook said. "The excitement in that class was honestly beyond anything I've ever seen because they were exploring in a tactile way things they never thought were possible, like printing on tile or on copper or just all these different processes they didn't think were possible. It was very exciting."