I've been wanting to take a photography class for awhile, and last week I happened upon a flier for the non-credit program at Northwestern University, Norris Mini Courses, just a few days before the class began. It's a nice program, affordably priced, and not far from our house. I also registered for a ceramics class, which I'll write about in a separate entry.
I've had a lot of fun noodling around with the Cannon EOS Rebel T3i I got last summer, took an afternoon "how to use your camera" course thanks to my thoughtful husband, and did two short e-courses. I was at a point I wanted technical help for tricky photo situations (e.g. lighting, movement), I was ready to expand my subjects, and I do well as a classroom learner. The timing was also good, as I'm "less-employed" (the labor department would probably call the situation under-employed) and it is good to have a regular thing to do outside the house involving other people.
Week One was mostly an overview of the course, introductions, and getting to know our cameras and the buttons and dials. Reading the manual was one assignment. I've been told numerous times to read the manual, and this time I actually did. I wish I had sooner, good info in there!
I had the idea to head to the Garfield Park Conservatory to take shots for the other assignment, which was to explore the camera settings and have a few images to share with the class. I've only been to Garfield Park one other time, in the late '90s, for the Dale Chihuly exhibit. If you live in or visit the Chicago area, go to the Garfield Park Conservatory. It's lovely, and visiting feels like a mini-adventure, definitely a respite from the urban environment. And it's free! There is a parking lot, I found easy street parking, and it is right by the green line "Conservatory" stop.
The park is set within Chicago's boulevard system, traversing it makes me feel like I've stepped back in time. Sadly, some boulevards run through neighborhoods that have declined. As gentrification happens, areas have seen renewal. There is a small gift shop at the Conservatory, but no other amenities, so eat before you go! I found out too late there is a new Garfield Park location of Inspiration Kitchen nearby. Next time I go to the Conservatory I'll plan to have a meal there.
The Conservatory currently has a special Wind Chime exhibit until November 11. A cheerful volunteer gave me a map and tips for my visit. All ages were there, as well as a variety of group sizes and ethnicities. There are a number of attractions geared toward children, and the kids I saw seemed to be having a great time. Areas are under renovation, due to hail damage suffered during a storm a few years ago.
Below are some images I took during my visit (and one taken by another visitor!). The Garfield Park Conservatory is certainly a gem in Chicago, and I'm glad I took the time to go. Drop me a note if you have suggestions for other photo adventures!