PALM BEACH GARDENS – Taking GOOD photos of cars is a lot trickier than it seems.
Just ask the students in Isidro Pentzke’s photography class at the Fine Arts Academy at Wellington High School. Pentzke recently took them to the Cars and Coffee Palm Beach car show to take auto pictures. They found out just how challenging it can be and shared their thoughts with Florida Fine Cars:
“There’s a lot of things with cars. They reflect a lot of light so it messes up the photos,” confessed Maylon Rodriguez, 15, who was taking pictures with a Nikon D-3400 at the crowded car show. “It’s my first time taking pictures of cars. A lot of the time you have to step back a bit and study the scene and study what you have to work with. It’s an enlightening experience.”
Photographing Cars Poses Tricky Challenges
The sun reflects off just about every surface on a car. It’s hard to get the whole car in one frame. And sometimes when you do, it still looks wrong. Those are a few of the things the students discovered, and exactly the type of experiences Pentzke wanted his photography students to have. His goal was to get them thinking instead of relying on the camera to do all the work.
“The biggest thing I wanted was to get them out of that program mode and let them learn about light,” Pentzke said.
Pentzke is a Wellington High School alumni with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Lesley University in Boston. He came back to the high school he attended to teach students what he loved.
But getting the right equipment to teach kids photography is expensive. So Pentzke had to be creative. He applied for and received approximately $80,000 in grant money, and his students raised about $10,000 selling cookie dough and candy. He was able to equip his students with state-of-the-art equipment.
Pentzke purchased 15 new Nikon cameras with lenses, along with new three top notch printers and 28 new laptop computers. His students were able to get certified to use Photoshop.
“We bus in a lot of kids who may not be able to afford a camera that allows us to do what we teach. I wrote a proposal and told the school this isn’t a theory class, this is a hands-on class,” Pentzke said.
Pentzke was thrilled with the photos his students shot at the Cars and Coffee car show. He challenged the students to get him 10 really good shots each and they delivered.
“They did really well,” Pentzke said.
Students Embrace Hands-On Learning in Outdoor Setting
Taking his photography students OUT of the classroom is part of learning how to capture real life in images, he noted.
“We try to get at least once a month different locations. The reason I take them out there is to get them out there in the real world. In my classroom everything is controlled but when we go into the world everything changes,” Pentzke said. “The clouds are one way or the light on the cars is changing. They have to figure out how am I going to meter this car, where is the light coming from and how am I going to frame this car?”
When Rodriguez looked at the photos he had taken, he was happy.
“I was actually pretty impressed with how I did taking pictures of the cars. I did better than I thought I actually did,” Rodriguez said. “The challenge I ran into was pretty much the lighting. A lot of the light was reflecting off the cars and there were a lot of reflections with people in them. I was proud of how detailed they came out and the different angles.”
Senior Angelina Guadagna, 17, a car buff who loves to shoot pictures of cars, had a blast finding out what she could do with a camera at the car show.
“I love cars and think they photograph incredibly well. I’ve been studying photography about six years and have gone to multiple different car shows,” said Guadagna, who uses a Sony II 35mm camera. “This is one of the biggest and it’s great being out here with all these different cars and being able to challenge yourself to take pictures of them. It’s tons of fun.”
Guadagna was pleased with her photos.
“It was a beautiful day out so the sun provided great lighting. The only issue I ran into was that people turned up in the background,” she said. She said Pentzke encourages his students to come up with new ideas for subject matter and locations for taking photos.
“He really lets us express our creativity,” Guadagna said.
Photography student Stephanie Monaco, 16, a junior, said it was a learning experience shooting cars.
“It’s really cool. I like the old cars. My dad’s really into those so I have an appreciation for that too,” Monaco said.
Student David Sanchez, 17, also a junior, said the car show was a great opportunity to practice photography.
“I’m just here to get better at what I do,” Sanchez said. “If you’re not learning something new about photography you’re really not a photographer. I just enjoy doing this. I love my teacher. He’s really helped me to improve.”
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