In due course

Fellow Record photographer Craig Sanders and I attended the 50th
anniversary Short Course at San Jose State University this past
weekend. It was hosted by the university’s photojournalism program. It’s the National Press Photographers Association’s annual weekend-long seminar put on by the NPPA for it’s members to help them keep in touch with the latest technologies and techniques and be inspired by some of the best photojournalists in the business.


Record Photographer Craig Sanders, right, talks with Modesto Junior
College photography instructor and former Moedsto Bee director of
photography Al Golub at the National Press Photographers Association’s 50th annual Flying Short Course at San Jose University. (Camera: Nikon D3. Lens: Nikkor 14mm. Exposure: f/5.6 @1/250, ISO 6400)


Photographer Rick Rickman speaks on the business of photography at the NPPA Flying Short Course at San Jose University. (Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 26mm. Exposure: f/2.8 @1/8, ISO 800)

The seminars gives us the
opportunity to find out about new trends and equipment of the industry
and network with colleagues as well as meet up and coming young
photographers and students.

I haven’t attended a Flying Short Course in years and it seemed that far fewer people attended than in the past. Whether it was because the state of the business or lack of interest, I don’t know. In it’s heyday, the seminar attracted several hundred people. This year there were less than 100 in attendance.


Various new lenses on display at the Nikon vendors table at the National Press Photographers Association’s 50th annual Flying Short Course at San Jose University. (Camera: Nikon D3. Lens: Nikkor 14mm. Exposure: f/5.6 @1/250, ISO 6400)

There were also fewer vendors than in years past. Nikon and Canon were there showing off their latest wares. I think the last short course I attended film was still used and Kodak and Fuji were prominently featured. With the coming of the digital age, understandably neither were there this year (I’m guessing haven’t been for quite a few years). But there used to be over a dozen reps from photographic supply retailers to manufacturers of lighting equipment among others. This year there were just a handful. Curiously Apple, not far away in Cupertino, and Adobe, who’s headquarters is just a few blocks away, were absent. Both companies produce products (computers and software) that are used throughout the industry.


Craig Sanders holds up a free lens cloth from Digital Railroad at the Flying Short Course.(Camera: Nikon D2X. Lens: Nikkor  17-35mm @17mm. Exposure: f/5.0 @1/250, ISO 250)


A bucket of free candy bars at the Newswear table. (Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 16-35mm @ 16mm. Exposure: f/2.8 @1/20, ISO 200)

Along with the vendors the freebies were also in very short supply, almost non-existant. In the old days, vendors freely gave out pens, key chains, lapel pins, shirts, hats, day planners and even free samples of film. We’d walk away with bags of stuff. This year the only freebies given out were a few bits of candy at the Newswear and Calumet Photographic tables and lens cloths from Digital Railroad.


Craig Sanders tries out a Nikon D3 camera at the Flying Short Course. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 24mm-70mm @ 24mm. Exposure: f/2.8 @1/125, ISO 1600)

Still, we got to listen some of the most influential people in the photo side of the industry and we got to play with, check out the the latest, greatest and coolest new things from the biggest camera companies.

Newest on display were Nikon’s incredible D3 and D300 cameras as well as Canon’s fantastic 40D, 1D Mark III and 1D-S Mark III. Being a long-time Canon man, I hate to say it, but I think Nikon might have a slight, but distinctive edge over Canon.

All in all the weekend was informative, interesting and inspiring, but like the the rest of the newspaper industry these days, it was downsized.

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