Oysterponds kids really get the picture

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Dr. Dan Goldfarb gives student Nico Wittenburg hands-on instruction in the use of a camera.

In the new literacy center at Oysterponds Elementary School in Orient, a variety of digital cameras were scattered on a table one September morning beneath a projection of an iconic North Fork image.

It was the Oysterponds Camera Club’s first meeting of the new school year, and school psychologist Dan Goldfarb, who’s run the club for the past six years, was using an iPad to zoom in on the photograph, depicting a haystack on a farm. The image had something unusual superimposed on it: thin, green lines resembling a game of tic-tac-toe.

It’s all part of the club’s mission of teaching Oysterponds students about photography. They learn balancing elements, leading lines, symmetry and patterns, viewpoint, background, creating depth, framing, cropping and experimentation.

“The only rule in photography is that there are no rules,” Dr. Goldfarb explained to a group of six students. “But I am going to teach you some guidelines.”

At the start of his lesson, Dr. Goldfarb explained how photographers apply the “Rule of Thirds,” the most common method used to set up a shot.

His example of the haystack showed how a person’s gaze is naturally drawn to the nine segments of an imaginary grid, especially at the points where the four lines intersect.

Since the haystack was located at an intersection, Dr. Goldfarb deemed the image a good photograph. The horizon’s setup was done nicely, too, he added.

“You either show a lot of ground and very little sky, or you show a lot of sky and very little ground,” he said. “When people take pictures, they tend to put the thing they want to take a picture of right smack-dab in the middle. That’s OK when you’re taking photos of friends and family, but it doesn’t make the picture interesting.”

This year, for the first time, the club will run for six weeks instead of four and will meet twice a week.

Each student will work with a partner and learn how to use professional Canon cameras, which Dr. Goldfarb provides from his personal collection.

“They all get the lecture about making sure they are wearing the strap,” he said. “I’ve never had a problem and trust them.”

Photography is his hobby and said he still has his Minolta SRT-202 35-millimeter film camera.

“I have a great deal of difficulty drawing a stick figure,” Dr. Goldfarb said. “There’s something about photography that the machines allow me to have some creativity when I have absolutely no manual dexterity in terms of anything artistic.”

Oysterponds student and camera club member Nico Wittenburg said after the meeting that he’s excited to learn about photography.
“I have a lot of fun taking pictures when my mom lets me use her camera,” he said.

Students have already completed their first project where they walked around the school and took pictures of rusty items. Other projects will include taking pictures at nearby Orient Congregational Cemetery and various houses located throughout town.

To follow along with the Oysterponds Camera Club’s progress, visit

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