Quest class broadens horizons

Quest students practice their skills on a line of candles during a recent class.

Quest students practice their skills on a line of candles during a recent class.


I just finished teaching a five-week Quest photography class at Walla Walla Community College for those who have attained the age of 50 years and up.

The brochure for the Quest Program advertises this program is for “active learners,” stress-free learning offered in friendly, sociable settings free of tests, grades or credits and “curiosity” is the only prerequisite.

Now as a digital photography teacher I am used to having students in a class who are very curious, but tests, grades, credits and weekly attendance have always been mandatory.

My class was offered to photographers of all levels and was limited to 15 students because that is all the digital cameras I can monitor on our field trips. I have found that a smaller size class promotes great interaction and collaboration among the class members.

The theme for my new class would be, “An Inspirational Journey,” which would incorporate storytelling, landscapes, portraits and digital social networking. Three field trips would strengthen the essential elements of digital photography and would include composition, lighting, and balance.

So together on the afternoon of May 5, we began our five-week inspirational journey!

The first session I always ask the students to share why they are taking this class. The student answers are always revealing and help chart the course as I will attempt to build into the curriculum their needs. Some of those responses from the Quest students were:

“I volunteer at the animal shelter and would like to take better pictures of animals to post them on our website.

“I want to take better pictures of my grandchildren and develop a storybook or possibly a calendar.

“I want to learn how to reduce my pictures to post them on social networking websites.

“I have accumulated many pictures and want to learn what software to use to catalog and edit them;.

“I am looking for a new camera and need the teacher to prescribe a camera so my spouse will hopefully let me buy one.

“I love to take pictures of flowers (macro) and birds (telephoto) and want to know what lens to use.

“I want to know my camera controls better and just have fun taking pictures”

The second class focused on camera basics, and included a walk along Mill Creek, which was only a short distance from our classroom. On the walk we focused on flowers, leaves backlit by the sun, rippling water of Mill Creek and several hawks flying overhead.

The third class we had a field trip to Tertulia Cellars for an overview of the vineyard with new bud growth emerging on the vines, and were able to practice portrait and outdoor silhouette photographs of winemaker Ryan Raber. We also had the opportunity to photograph the fermentation, barrel and tasting rooms, which featured many colors and contrasts.

The fourth class was a walking tour of downtown Walla Walla. We began at the Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center and practiced low-light photos of the lobby chandeliers. We also visited Don Carlo Wine’s, Walla Walla Wine Woman, Providence Fine Living, Darrah’s Framing & Decorator and practiced composition with a number of Main Street scenes.

The fifth class was back in the class room to share experiences and I took the class on a visual journey to the Amazon, Africa, and Vietnam just for fun using my new iPad and the class room projection system.

This was a new program for me and there is no question the Quest program is fun and designed for those who enjoy life.

Don Fleming can be reached at He will teach a Quest digital photography program in the fall at WWCC, “A Digital Inspirational Journey.”


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