Light, Light, Light! Kutztown Library Teen Group Sparks A Reaction

Photo by Steven Stolley Kutztown photographer Joel Seidel demonstrates a photography techniques during the Spark A Reaction Teen Group at Kutztown Community Library July 14.
Photo by Joel Seidel Photography Kutztown photographer Joel Seidel demonstrates a photography technique using sparklers during the Spark A Reaction Teen Group at Kutztown Community Library July 14.

Spark A Reaction Teen Group celebrates science and sparks their imagination during imagination laboratories at Kutztown Community Library on Monday nights.

Activities have included Discover Me Collages; Appalachian Trail Through Hiker Tales; Explosive Experiments; and more recently Creative Photography on July 14, Art and Science by Alexis Bove on July 21 and Slam Poetry July 28.

Using light and sparklers during the teen program, Kutztown photographer Joel Seidel of Joel Seidel Photography, also owner of Pop’s Malt Shoppe, presented photography techniques to a small group of local teens.

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In the back room of the library with all the windows covered, Seidel brought out some of his professional equipment and projects to show the local teens. He began the program by asking the teens, “What makes a good photograph?”

The answer, he said, “Light, light, light!”

He explained that proper lighting is integral to photography.

He illustrated this point in a variety of ways. First, in an (almost) pitch dark room, he wrote his own name with a sparkler. He then encouraged the teens to follow suit. He had them “paint with light” using a flashlight and discussed a variety of ways this technique could be further used in photography by using a flashlight or colored light to paint objects such as houses.

Seidel talked about his professional career, which started, he said, with him taking wedding photos and senior photos for high school students.

He concluded the seminar by discussing a few photos he had taken professionally. One instantly recognizable photograph that Seidel took is a shot of the hill that is Kutztown’s West Main Street in its full wintertime glory. The photo, taken from between the four-way stoplight at the top of the hill and Uptown Espresso Bar this past winter, shows a snowy Kutztown, illuminated only by wreath-decked streetlights and devoid of people and cars. Seidel explained that in actuality, as he took the shot, there was a car coming up Main St. towards him that had to be photoshopped out of the final product.

He also discussed some of his glamour photography and promotional photography for Pop’s.

The Kutztown teens seemed to enjoy the program and consider it a fun educational experience.

Ana Kelsall, 11, was the youngest participant. There with her mother Stacy, she said, “It was cool; it was really cool. I liked it when he wrote his name with the sparklers.”

“I didn’t know what a shutter speed was at first, but now I know,” she continued.

Madison Bowman, 14, “loved it.”

“I learned the different effects, I loved the lighting, the painting with light; I’ll have to go try that out at home.”

She was there with her friend, Saffron Derr, who said, “I thought it was pretty cool. I came up to learn some more effects and stuff because this is what I want to do with my life. It’s my passion … I love it.”

She got her interest in photography from her mother, a professional photographer like Seidel. Her favorite part was also the light-painting.

Seidel, who grew up in Lyons and went to Kutztown High School, said, “The photography thing started as a hobby 25 years ago. I started doing a couple weddings, then I was doing more weddings through word of mouth. I’d never advertised.

“With Pop’s, I always said, ‘Okay, three weddings is all I can handle,’ because Pop’s has a busy season. So I just kept it to three, and then we started encroaching on four and I just didn’t have time.

“Once I started doing high school senior photos, I decided to make it a business, since we were working with kids and stuff, to make it legit. Then we started really growing, and two years ago we made it a company.”

An upcoming Spark A Reaction program is Science of Sport Aug. 4 with Ironman Triathlete and Coach Kenrick Smith, a former Kutztown High School cross country coach and a former engineer. While Youth Librarian Joy Newswanger said Spark a Reaction is a teen group, she said all are welcome to come out to this event.

“I’m trying to get the word out to swimmers, bikers and runners because he’s good at all three,” said Newswanger. “He’s good at conditioning and core strength and even people like me who are not triathletes can use in their everyday life to stay healthy because he lives a healthy lifestyle.”

She hopes the teens gain from the program a lifelong love of sport in their own way, that they can still benefit from sports even later in life.

“Even after no competitions, nobody cheering for them, no scholarship opportunities that they’re still doing it because they love it and it feels good, that’s what I want them to get,” said Newswanger.

Aug. 11 is Science and the Art of Poetry with Kempton area potter Will Singleton.

Spark A Reaction Teen Group is held Mondays at 6 p.m. at Kutztown Community Library.