Students Zoom In On Photography

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There are two confirmed shutterbugs in George Conley's art classes at Payson High School -- Lisa Bartoli and Jessie Carpino.

Bartoli plans to study photojournalism at Northern Arizona University, while Carpino considers photography a lifelong hobby.

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A flower right after it rained in Kauii, Hawaii, June 06

"I went on a family vacation to Florida and I had so much fun with this crappy (disposable) camera at the beach. Some of the pictures I took came out really good," Bartoli said.

That was several summers ago.

Now, the camera in Bartoli's hand outside of class is a Canon Rebel XT.

"I'm a poor high school kid, so I just have the basic zoom lens that comes with it," she said, but looks forward to NAU where department resources will be greater.

‘Basic' has not stopped her search for beauty.

Landscapes are her current passion, but on a trip to the Land Down Under, she found "a lot of faces to study."

So far, Bartoli has learned theory in class and reading books as homework.

"Lisa has good composition and her pictures are interesting to look at," Conley said.

"I drive my family crazy taking pictures sometimes," Bartoli said.

Still, when she was getting in everyone's way, snapping pictures as they prepared a big family meal, they had fun afterward looking at the pictures.

"I can forget about everything with a camera in my hand," Bartoli said.

If a camera is the extension of a professional photographer's hand, as a brush becomes an extension of a watercolorist's hand, then these teens are working towards mastery.

Jessie Carpino uses Photoshop to put a "creative artsy spin" on the people and objects she shoots.

Otherwise, she aims for a natural look in her portraits.

"When I overthink a composition, it doesn't turn out," Carpino said.

In one photo, a woman in black contrasts with falling red, gold and yellow autumn leaves.

In another, she uses light to enliven the face of a stone angel.

"It's the creativity of Jessie's compositions I like. She'll pose the person and think about the effect that the light and the view are going to have," Conley said.

"Lisa's pictures evoke more contemplative emotions," he added.

This school year is the first one advanced art students could capture the world through the lens of a Canon XTI digital camera, thanks to 2006 Credit for Kids donations.

C4K dollars made it possible for the art department to buy a new Epson 1280 printer for student photos.

Conley hopes to use 2007 C4K funds to buy a CPU capable of running Photoshop.

"The '98 computer just won't run it," Conley said.

Advanced art students also have access to a potter's wheel, acrylic and oil paints.

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Portrait of Jen Sandoval

In beginning art, Conley covers theory, history and assigns student projects.

"Advanced art is more like directed studies where they pursue the kinds of art that interests them, enhanced with lectures," Conley said.

Illustration is Anthony Pearce's art of choice for the semester.

"I think you can capture emotional detail in drawings that show how you are feeling," he said.

Shannon Psomas enjoys free hand drawings burned into wood.

Annual field trips to art museums and The Art Institute of Phoenix College are part of the curriculum.

Conley's students will have an art show in the lobby of the auditorium during the drama department production of Feb. 28, 29 and March 1.

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