Picture perfect ...
Jan 05, 2013 (Odessa American - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
The world is a more beautiful place for Odessa College student Summer Wright.
Looking through a lens -- of no rose-colored tint to speak of -- colors are more vibrant, landscapes are more dynamic and the night sky is rich with dimension. The credit goes to her OC instructors who have helped give her a global perspective.
A trip to Northern New Mexico in July for OC's landscape photography class was a chance for Wright and her classmates to experience nature and culture beyond Odessa.
"(Instructor Steve Goff) tries to get you out of the box to look at things differently. He teaches you to see the world in a different way," Wright said.
Some sheer talent coupled with Goff's teaching forte after 27 years of experience as an OC instructor led to eight photography students' images getting chosen among hundreds of others in the nation to be exhibited in Texas Tech's 12th annual High and Dry XII exhibit.
Of 452 images by 106 photographers submitted this year, just 75 images were selected for the exhibition, according to International Cultural Center Director Jane Bell at Texas Tech.
Of 10 honorable mentions, four were awarded to Odessa photographers: Goff, Wright, Leslie Roman and Fran Sherpa. And, to add on more accolades, just five photographers had multiple images selected and two were from OC: Wright and Melissa Wells.
A hauntingly pretty nighttime skyscape taken from a graveyard earned Wright an honorable mention. Her black-and-white photo of a cactus that Wright distorted using a "lens baby" is also on display at the International Cultural Center at Texas Tech through Jan. 18. A layperson might not guess it, but it was the first time Wright entered a photography contest.
"The quality of the students of this class was very high," said Goff. "They got to see a different part of the country, and when you're not used to the scenery, people respond to new things. They did a great showing of coursework on that trip and that was reflected by how many were accepted in the show."
The weeklong fieldtrip was to La Madera, a quaint artist's haven in the Carson National Forest north of Santa Fe.
"It's a really rustic place. We hung out with the locals. There was no schedule. If we wanted to stop, we stopped. We were like gypsies for a week," Wright said.
The class drove into Santa Fe and Taos, and the enchantment of the Southwest provided the ideal backdrop for the High and Dry XII exhibit criteria: photos of landscapes or portraits set in an arid or semi-arid place in the world. Certainly, the Permian Basin qualifies, but Goff encourages students to experience life beyond Ector County.
"What we try to do is provide as many opportunities to succeed. Getting out of town and going places is an important experience," Goff said. The OC honorees also traveled to Lubbock Dec. 7 for a reception and slideshow presentation by juror Luther Smith, who chose the finalists.
Goff's work wasn't forgotten by Smith. A black-and-white photo of a smirking lizard seemingly posing for Goff garnered an honorable mention.
"It's a comical image ... we were about 12 to 14 inches from the lizard and all the students were watching while it happened," Goff said.
There are classes for all levels of budding photographers available at OC, including shorter sessions for people who want to elevate their knowledge of photography.
Though for serious, seasoned photographers like Wright (she started with a Barbie model as a child), it is an obsession.
"It's a release for me; to get away from the real world and get out of my head. It's my therapy," she said.
Wright is a photo lab assistant besides devoting her time as a full-time student. She will graduate in May and said while it's taking portraits that often pays a photographer's bills, her dream is to travel the world shooting for National Geographic. She credits her "amazing" OC instructors for her progress.
"I've learned how to take photos technically and make them beautiful. Rather than taking snapshots, I'm making images," she said.
--Contact Lindsay Weaver on twitter at @OAschools, on Facebook at OA Lindsay Weaver or call 432-333-7781.
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