Lights, camera and, with luck, action

24th November 2006 at 00:00
Gregor Steele reveals a little more of himself at

"Now you've seen the best of me, come on and see the rest of me ooooh baybeeeeeee!" Getting the photie to your left was not as easy as you might think. The editor's email asked for a jpeg at my earliest convenience, a statement that I took to mean "now".

It arrived on a school day, so I fired up my cheapo digital camera and set to work at lunchtime in my classroom. Somewhere nearby, there was a tripod locked in a cupboard, but time was short so I sat the camera on a stool on a bench, set the self-timer and stood awkwardly in front of it.

Attempt one was too dark to make out, so I switched to flash mode for attempt two. When previewed, this shot was completely washed out, with only my irises distinguishable against the whiteboard background. I'm not a physicist for nothing, so I improvised a flash diffuser from a handy piece of filter paper that I had sensibly failed to tidy away.

One second from the shutter clicking, the filter paper fell off.

Instinctively, I stretched my hand forward to replace it. I was rewarded with a picture that made me look like a minor celebrity trying to fend off the attentions of the paparazzi as he emerged from court, having been fined for shoplifting.

Technically, attempt four was perfect, except the top of my head was missing. Not having a way of adjusting the height of the camera, I bent my knees into a 1960s comedy policeman "Evenin' all" pose. I found this amusing, hence the big silly grin you see before you.

I often have a digital cameracamcorder at work. I find it useful to record some of the children's experimental work to be projected for discussion on the board. This proved quite effective when the class were doing electrostatic repulsion experiments that involved plastic rods and dusters.

Some groups were better at handling the apparatus than others.

Others were not sure how to interpret the results of what they had done.

Three 10-second video clips of their own work (and that bit is important), annotated using the whiteboard, seemed to help. Yes, I'm only dipping my toe in the water here and, with this area of ICT, I don't yet think we've seen the best of it - but please bring on some more of it (ooooh baybeeeeeee).

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