To take the photographs now on display at Kodiak College, students in the six-week photography class were asked to tell what they liked about Kodiak using 12 photographs.

To add to the challenge the students were asked to take pictures in different genres, including portrait, macro (close-up), action and long exposure time.

One student picked a seagull hovering just over a streetlight. Another fulfilled the long exposure assignment by bringing a camera to the Y after dark and capturing cars’ lights as they whipped by.

The students use their own digital cameras in the class. In one class there are usually a dozen brands of cameras and many different models being used, but that seldom disrupts the class, instructor Marion Owen said.

“Good photography has little to do with the kind of camera you have,” she said. “It’s composition — it’s the ability of the eye to see. Too often we just snap without thinking, instead of thinking about the image we want.”

Owen has been teaching the class for 23 years and said digital cameras are great for students of photography because they let students practice without worrying about wasting film. But they can also be overwhelming for casual photographers.

“For many people it’s an antagonistic, tense situation. In many cases people are coming from film to digital and it’s just too technical,” she said. “In my opinion the industry has done a tremendous disservice for the (casual) photographer by trying to jam in so many bells and whistles.”

During the class students learn to take the camera off of auto or program mode and practice controlling the camera’s aperture and exposure time.

Field trips take the class to Fort Abercrombie, local beaches and harbors and Marine Way near Fuller’s Boat Yard.

Besides teaching photography, Owen works as a photographer for Alaska Stock Images. Her photographs of Afognak Island after the 1989 oil spill have appeared in Time magazine and her commercial fishing photos have been used in Business Weekly.

Her students’ photography can be seen in the foyer of the Benny Benson building at Kodiak College. Owen hopes to next teach Photography for All in April.

Mirror writer Sam Friedman can be reached via e-mail at

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