Pioneer photographer Don Backman’s Photography Classes at TBCC Winter Term

EDITOR’S NOTE: You’ve seen his wide range of photography here on the Pioneer … but did you know that he’s a teacher, too? Don has over 35 years of teaching experience, and he loves sharing his knowledge about photography and the local area. Winter term is a great time to take a class so you can polish up or learn some new photography techniques to use when the weather improves …

Do you have a camera that you have always wanted to learn how to use? Are you stuck on Automatic Mode and want to take control and use your creativity to create beautiful photographs? Is your camera gathering dust? Or, are you a photographer switching to digital or getting back into it after a period of years and need a refresher?

This winter, local photographer Don Backman will be able to help you. Backman is offering two classes at Tillamook Bay Community College during winter term that are designed for the beginner and intermediate photographer. Backman brings over 35 years of teaching experience and his lifetime love of photography to the classroom.

“There is a real need for these classes,” says Backman. “I often talk with people who have a camera and want to learn how to use it and want to know if there are any classes taught locally.” Backman offers classes through the community education program at TBCC. “TBCC gets asked all the time if they offer photography classes,” he explains. “They have great facilities.” People interested in an online option would need to contact JoAnn Critelli, Community and Continuing Education Coordinator at TBCC. “We can potentially offer the classes online to those who are unable to make it to evening classes because of the time of night or the distance from North and South County, or for any other reason,” Backman adds.

The trail is in great shape. Photo by Don Backman

The first class, Real World Photography: Understanding Exposure is for those who are just starting out or who need to learn how to operate a camera, how to use it to its fullest potential, and covers the basic principles of photography that every photographer needs to know. The only requirement for this class is to have a camera with manual controls and know how to turn it on, and a charged battery. “Virtually all interchangeable lens cameras such as DSLR’s and Mirrorless cameras have this ability,” Backman says. “A lot of other cameras do as well, and this includes most popular cell phones.

“The goal for Real World Photography: Understanding Exposure is for those taking the class to leave confident in their ability to operate their camera and use it to to take creative photographs,” he explains. “Ideally, they would have the basic principles needed to be able to advance their own education from that point forward whether it is through additional courses or through experience.”

The class does require students to have a copy of the book Understanding Exposure, 4th edition, by Bryan Petersen at the first class meeting on January 10th at 6:00, at TBCC in Tillamook. “The book is available new and used through a variety of booksellers,” says Backman. “To be clear, the class will meet in class for each of the five weeks. However, it would be fun to arrange some optional meetings outside of class to practice on beautiful Tillamook County.”

Backman will also offer a second class, Real World Photography: Photo Processing, to teach students how to process their photographs on a computer or other device capable of operating Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop. “Lightroom and Photoshop are the gold standard in photo processing,” added Backman. “These used to be the realm of professionals, but the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan makes these programs available to anyone for a small monthly fee. The principles students will learn will also apply to other apps, some of which are free.”

Much like film photography where much of the magic of photography takes place in a darkroom, Digital Photography requires using software to do much the same thing. “Sunsets are a great example of this,” Backman explains. “It is possible to take gorgeous images in camera and use them as is, but due to the limitations of camera equipment the photographer needs to be able to adjust images to bring out the image they actually saw or envisioned. Our eyes are capable of seeing much more than even the most modern cameras can capture. Shooting in RAW and using software allows that to be recreated.”

“People often comment that their cell phones take better photos than they do with their DSLR,” recounts Backman. “That is because cell phones are really powerful computers which are making adjustments to your image for you. It’s like having your own photographer and Photoshop inside the phone. However, the technology in cellphones has physical limitations which DSLR cameras are not limited by. “

Real World Photography: Understanding Exposure class begins January 10th and meets once a week for two hours each, and runs for 5 weeks. Real World Photography: Photo Processing class starts at 6:00 PM on February 15th and also meets once a week for two hours each for a total of six weeks.

Backman plans to offer a series of Photography classes featuring seasonal photographic opportunities during the upcoming Spring and Summer terms. “Most of my classes meet in class the first day so we can get organized, then we meet out of the field and take photos.” Check the TBCC website or the TBCC catalog to see details on future classes.

To register, contact JoAnn Critelli, Community and Continuing Education Coordinator at TBCC 503-842-8222 extension 1320, or go to the TBCC website and sign up online. For more information, you can contact JoAnn Critelli at TBCC, or email Don Backman at