Each AISD high school received new cameras and lenses this year for their journalism, newspaper and yearbook programs, funded by the technology section of the 2014 Bond package.
Emily Miller, the journalism teacher at Arlington High School, and her yearbook students could not be more thrilled with the new equipment. They received five Cannon 70D cameras, “the newest, the best, the latest edition of the DSLR cameras,” Miller raved, along with MacBook laptops, two wide angle lenses and a 75-200mm zoom lens, the kind real sports photographers use on the sidelines of Cowboys, Mavericks and Rangers games.
Hannah F., the yearbook’s junior photography editor, said the quality of their photographs has improved dramatically and used basketball pictures as an example. Taking good basketball photos had always been a challenge because of the players’ quick movements and the poor lighting in gymnasiums. But with the new cameras, Hannah said they have been able to take magazine quality pictures. The cameras have also made a big difference in photos taken at fine arts events, especially in the auditorium. They give the photographers the ability to shoot in low light environments and still capture “gorgeous” photos.
The reason the photo quality has improved so much is because the cameras are easy to use and teach. Previously, Hannah explained, many of the photographers did not really understand how to take good pictures. They would go out to events and come back with a bunch of bad photos. But with the new cameras, the photographers can quickly learn and grasp the different settings. Hannah actually does much of the camera instruction herself, sharing how to set up the camera and compose the best picture possible. “They have really learned how to adjust settings to take good photos,” Miller said.
The cameras have also “allowed us to do so much more” for the school newspaper, added Miller. The newspaper staffers are not only taking better pictures, they have also started shooting video for interviews posted online. Miller is excited to do even more with video next year as the students learn how to edit and utilize the video function further. (Check out the online version of the AHS school newspaper, The Colt.)
In addition to the cameras, the MacBook laptops have also been a great help to the yearbook staff. The student editor can take the laptop and work on layout from home, which reduces the number of late night hours at the school, a major benefit for both students and teachers.
“Without the bond, we would not have had the funds to buy these,” said Miller about the new equipment. “My goal with yearbook is to make sure every kid can afford one.” So they keep the price down and make very little money off sales, which also means they don’t have extra money to buy new equipment. But thanks to the bond, each Arlington high school’s journalism program now has state-of-the-art equipment that improves the students learning experience, along with the quality of the newspapers and yearbooks they produce.