Jeris Stevens stands next to a display of photos she took as a student in beginning photography, which is a Career Technical Education class at Westwood High. Photos by Susan Cort Johnson

Gallery Night highlights local photography students

The photos displayed at Westwood High School Gallery Night Thursday, Feb. 20, represented all the techniques the beginning and intermediate photography students had learned in class. Each student displayed six photography and three photoshop projects.

Julian Carillo displays a semester of assignments for the intermediate photography class he is taking at Westwood High during Gallery Night, Thursday, Feb. 20.

Julian Carillo, like all intermediate students, exhibited photos in the categories of Texture, Food Photography, Song Lyrics, Bokeh (technique that focuses on the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image created by a lens), Light Art (slowed shutter capturing trails of light) and Astrophotography (photography of the night sky).

“My favorite technique was Bokeh because it wasn’t a hard technique to learn, but it gave the coolest effects,” said Carillo.

In the Bokeh project, Christmas lights in the background were blurred behind a very close shot of sunglasses. An object in close focus helps create the background blur, said Carillo.

His least favorite technique was Light Art because it took many attempts to get a good photo, and it was very time consuming due to the long shutter speeds. With an assistant, he captured the words “help me” by covering a flashlight with a balloon.

Jeris Stevens, a beginning photography student, liked Portrait and Landscape photography best. The portrait of her sister was taken near the railroad tracks at nine o’clock at night with light from the headlights of her mother’s car. She liked the fact that photographers can add different components to enhance a portrait. In addition to these two techniques, she was required to display photography using Forced Perspective (which is an optical illusion), Photojournalism, Selfie and Song Lyrics.

She said she will continue the photography pathway, which is a Career Technical Education class available to students at Westwood High. The class is split into two sections, photography and digital cinema, with three years available encompassing introductory, intermediate and advanced techniques.

Molly Barber, the teacher, said she was working with Butte College on a way for students who pass the class to earn college credits.

“My job as a CTE teacher is to get the kids to a point where they are comfortable enough with the equipment and software, which is industry standard, that they could take tests to become certified and go straight into the industry to work,” said Barber.

The knowledge of the techniques and their portfolios look good on a resume, she added.

After each assignment, students critique each other’s work. This process is difficult at first, said Barber, but by the end of the semester the photographers are excited to show their peers what they’ve captured. Photographers need to know how to present their work to the public, she said. They defend their work by explaining what they did to create the photo and why.

Barber has her students display their work for the public because it is not enough to get feedback from their peers and teacher; she wants them to hear from their families, friends and the community regarding the quality of their work.

“They get the recognition they need to believe in themselves, and I think that can flow into other areas of their lives. These kids are pretty talented, and I’m excited to share their work,” said Barber.

All who attended the photo show were given a ballot to vote for their favorite photo display, photoshop piece, Song Lyric photo, Bokeh, Landscape, Astrophotography and Selfie. Each technique was explained in the program to help those attending evaluate the photos. For example, the description of Song Lyrics read, “This project was fun because both classes competed against each other. They were asked to pick lyrics from a song and take a photo that captured either figuratively or literally those words.”

Barber said a significant time in class is spent teaching the technique before students go out to shoot, so they are comfortable with their ability to capture what they want.

Twenty students showed their work. In addition to Carillo and Stevens, here are the student photographers in their categories:

Intermediate class: Amelia Peters, Bradly Bolton, Dale Fawver, Isaiah Halcrow, Jaydee Urtiz Haro, Jeremiah Taylor, Kori Duerksen, Sebastian Lutes, Servando Melendrez and Yves Santa.

Beginning class: Abraham Acosta, Doryin Gale, Emma Ortlieb, Genesee Majors, Jerome Ensign, Joseph Gremler, Kasen Gunn and KeYonna Walker.