manual, actual film

The Brightworks students have been presented with an incredible opportunity to print their own photographs in a darkroom in Soma, assisted by expert photographer and teacher Victoria. For the next few weeks, each band will be venturing out into the world to take photos with film cameras, then heading to Rayko to see what they were able to capture.

On Monday afternoon, the Indigo Band went for a neighborhood photo safari, and on Tuesday they visited Rayko to do their prints.





Check back for their images and for more film adventures from other bands!

camera evolution

So many good things are humming along at Brightworks! On Monday, the Green Band explored the evolution and development of the camera, beginning with George Eastman and his Kodak camera and continuing to the development of DSLRs. Amanda writes,

“What originally began as a quick timeline and discovery activity quickly evolved into in-depth understanding, research, and expertise on a single iteration of a camera in camera history. We spent the greater part of the morning in pairs to become experts on specific types of cameras.

Ally and Khalia compiled their very own timeline of Polaroids.


Amelia and Oscar started testing whether using one-eye versus two-eyes makes a difference when judging distance (re: stereoscope).


Julian used his knowledge of mirrors to create diagrams of DSLRs.


Audrey and Lucie drafted a list of qualities in digital point-and-shoot cameras.


Frances and Kaia took apart an old Brownie to see how it works.



The Blue and Green Bands have been talking about the Rule of Thirds when taking photographs. Phillip reported, “Several students are interested in the historical implications of photographs and the more current methods of manipulating images digitally. Almost students are interested in taking better photos.” What better way to improve at something than to do a lot of it? Both bands went on an adventure yesterday to Glen Park Canyon to practice their new skills and learn about nature and landscape photography while focusing on taking pictures that emphasize lines.



aidan pic

(photo credit to Aidan)



(photo credit to Frances)

The Orange and Indigo Bands headed out to the Cliff House on Tuesday to see the giant camera obscura out on the edge of the continent. While they were there, they ran into Chris Honeysett, who is a photographer who uses wet plate collodion prints for his photos – one of the earliest forms of photographic development.







The Yellow Band visited Pier 24 on Tuesday. Pier 24 is a museum dedicated solely to photography. Right now they have a couple of exhibits that explore found photographs and the modern way of taking pictures. The kids were immediately drawn to the room filled to the brim with pictures uploaded to Flickr in one day.


(photo credit to Norabelle)


As with every arc, each band approaches the topic with their own flair, modes of inquiry, and topics of study. Since Gever’s official declaration of the Photograph arc last Wednesday, the Brightworks kids have started their exploration of the Photograph through photo safaris, camera obscuras, and studying the contents of a single photo.


The Red Band was invited to investigate what was depicted in a photo that Shawna put up in their bandspace. She writes,

“I taped a “mystery photo” to our easel and provided oil pastels for the children to add onto the picture…. By Friday, all of the white had been filled in with color and shapes. Sadie and Isaac both postulated theories as to what it was. Sadie said it was a giant pillow fight, which she remembered from seeing it before.


“Isaac said it was a crowd of people in a room with a flag pole. He could see the people’s heads. When I asked him what all the white rectangles were, he thought maybe they were white shirts. When I told him what Sadie said, he at first laughed, but then, looking closely, he said, “Yeah, it could be a giant pillow fight!” And he laughed again.


“It was indeed a mass pillow fight, which convened on Valentines Day. I found it in an old San Francisco Magazine spread. I look forward to continuing this game with the children with different photos every week.”

Last week, the Orange Band began constructing a giant camera obscura in the bottom part of their bandspace. Mackenzie writes,

“When the question inevitably arose of how big the hole should be, Quinn ran to his Chromebook and started researching. Bruno, Huxley and Ben joined him the following day watching videos and reading articles about camera obscuras. Quinn discovered that a big hole let in more light while a small hole allowed for greater focus. Because of this we began with a hole the size of a pin.


As you’d imagine it was too small to project an image on the opposite wall, but Lola held a paper up to the hole and discovered that it was indeed projecting an image. This gave the group the gust of excitement and energy they needed to finish the project. While Quinn, Selina, Huxley and I were outside taping cardboard, we could hear the squeals of excitement coming from inside as the image projected on to the wall. This is our first iteration, we still have plenty tinkering to do with the material, size and shape of the hole.”


The Green Band launched into photo safaris and have been snapping like crazy. Amanda was impressed by a conversation they had as a band yesterday:

“Today we began our inquiry by listing all of the reasons to take a photo, and the conversation quickly evolved into jobs that use photographs, ways in which photos affect us, varying levels of importance of a photo. By the end of our conversation, each one of us had pieced together a beautiful reflection to answer, “Are photographs powerful? Why? How?”


“But even this question, in itself, is up to interpretation. A picture of my family, for example, is important to me, but not many others. Versus a picture of, say, the moon landing – something that permeates through the masses, pulling similar emotions or reactions from an entire population. What separates these photos? Just significant events? Strife? Surprise? Survival?”


We are excited to share more of the kids’ photographs as the arc goes on!


Proposing Community Friday activities has become so popular that there may soon be more provocations than kids available to do them! It’s a generally successful day overall, but today was especially lovely with all the kid-proposed activities that were actually better attended than the ones that the adults were leading.




One of the projects that appealed to kids of all ages today was Max and Isaac’s video making challenge. During the last school year Max directed, filmed, and edited a short video (called “How We Reacted”) all in a single day and showed it at the end of school. He was going to do another during the same year, but was devastated by a lost film accident that put him off the idea for a while. Today, however, he and Isaac reinvigorated that project and invited kids to come up to the mezzanine to make a plan and do some acting.


They trooped down to the garage to film, of course respecting the vehicles parked down there as they worked.


Shawna, who accompanied them, said she heard the kids getting inspired by the angles, the brightness of a white wall, a spider they found, Ramses and Sadie’s movements and expressions, the exit sign, and the storage units.


She also said there were great dynamics between all the kids, as well as between Max and Isaac who were co-directors and co-filmmakers.


After Community Lunch, they showed the movie in the quiet room to the whole school. All editing had been done in the morning and early afternoon, and Max and Isaac also composed the music. We were all impressed! Max explained that the idea was about kids trapped by their lack of school supplies or curiosity, perhaps, and that when Sadie and Ramses ran through the scenes, they were re-inspiring the other kids to come alive again. The filmmakers and actors were on hand to answer questions and we watched it one more time. Well done, everyone! I’ll put up a link to it once it’s been posted.


We’re off for Thanksgiving break next week. Happy Thanksgiving and happy Hanukah!

on a clock face

The Hummingbirds have been exploring the fundamentals of clocks using counting, number lines, and physical representations of clock hands, faces, and numbers. Shawna presented the group with several tools in the last week so that they can begin their exploration of clocks: circles with lines around the edges that they immediately identified as a clock face, and strips of paper as number lines that they used to plot the number of seconds it took them to complete a designated task.


Shawna also reports, “We have been playing ‘What Time is it Mr. Fox’ – the children take big steps for hours, tiny steps for seconds, and regular steps for minutes. At the fox’s command, the clock can go backward or move forward. This has been really fun for us, and it’s yet another representation of the passing intervals of a clock.”


In their explorations they have been thinking about animal migrations and internal clocks, as well as looking at the solar calendar as the sun relates to seasons and the measure of days.


This week, they’re turning to a study of clock functions, Shawna says. They’re going to look at telling time, gears and pendulums, and examining clocks for time data. Today they are on their way to the Ferry Building at the wharves to look at the clock tower and listen to the chimes for clues about its mechanics. Good thing it stopped raining!