Book Review: Fine Art Photography High Dynamic Range…

Bill Conway

I pre ordered this book and was surprised when it came earlier than predicted. As always, for me, Tony has not disappointed. I have all of the Tony Sweet Collection.

Fine Art Photography High Dynamic Range: Realism, Superrealism…As soon as it arrived I sat down and started reading. I haven’t finished it yet as I’ve had it less than 24 hours, but I was so impressed I had to write a review.

This book has lessons for everyone from the novice to the seasoned photographer.

Tony starts off telling you what equipment would be needed to produce a successful HDR image, then explains the software he uses to produce his images. This explanation goes into detail explaining the setting up of the options to detailed explanations of each of the settings and sliders and when to use them.

Tony then goes into producing an HDR Image and gives examples of the exposures that were taken and in great detail walks through producing an HDR image.

This is followed by examples of Tony’s images with detailed recipes and instructions on how each image was produced, including the location where the image was taken. These explanations go into detail about the post processing way beyond HDR. Leaving no questions for the photographer to ask.

Tony has revealed all the secret and held nothing back.

I’d recommend this book to anyone.

Thanks Tony.

Club discusses flash, tripods at June meeting

Megan Snider

The Calvert Photography Club met June 18 in Owings, where we were happy to welcome several visitors to our monthly meeting. President Guy Stephens opened up introductions and after we welcomed one another, Guy discussed the club?s exhibit at Solomons Island Visitors Center - now up and running! Photos from five club members are on display at the center. A new project is in the works, Guy reports, with more details to come. Also, a reminder that the club?s ?library? of books is available to members; contact Guy to borrow them.

Spencer helps with the lighting demoGuy?s presentation on off-camera flash was up next - a great overview of the many products out there to shed light on any subject! His interest in off-camera flash was born out of a desire to take better pictures and expand his opportunities, Guy said - plus, it ?sounded fun.? There are many ways to do things, he explained, and lots of options: small strobes; studio strobes; LED lights; continuous lights, etc.

Guy focused on small strobes, which are portable, flexible, powerful and largely affordable. We need a flash, he explained, when we?re working in low-light situations, wanting to freeze action, need more light or desire light for dimension. Regarding a built-in flash, it?s easy to use and great in a pinch - but has inherent issues. The built-in flash creates harsh light, shadows, red eye and lacks dimension. But on the plus side, you can work with it! Use flash compensation to lower output, try a diffuser; increase your shutter speed; buy a faster lens; turn on a nearby light or move yourself into better light, for example.

Rule No. 1 for taking better photos? ?Get the flash off your camera,? Guy said. And rule No. 2: the bigger the light source, the softer the light. Guy did a demo with Lynn and Spencer, demonstrating studio lighting and ways to manipulate a flash to get it to work for you. Using a diffuser and lightbox, Guy got some great and natural-looking photos. Rule No. 3 is, of course, to ?experiment and have fun!?

Bill Conway talks about camera supportNext up, Bill Conway gave a presentation on choosing a tripod - and the many options available to consumers. He shared his likes, dislikes and what works for him - all very valuable to photographers. Bill himself uses a Manfrotto tripod with a ball head. Make sure that it?s level, he said, and has retractable legs and rubber feet. He also recommends getting a ?leveling table? for its stability and ability to save time while out shooting. Bill?s favorite monopod is the Manfrotto 334B.

Our next photo trip is in the works and tentatively scheduled at Running Hard Vineyard in July, and our next photo assignment is shadows - interpreted to your liking! We will meet again in at the Prince Frederick Library on July 16, when Spencer will be giving a presentation and attendees are invited to bring their camera equipment for a ?What?s In Your Bag?? demo and talk. Hope to see you then!

Take a look at 10,000 photos on 500px

Guy Stephens

I started using Flickr in April of 2005 and currently have over 23,000 photos on the photo sharing site - of which only about 3,000 are publicly viewable primarily because I only want to show some of my better shots.  Flickr is undoubtably one of the biggest and best photo sharing sites on the Internet.  It features a large and highly engaged community and is a great place not only to post your photographs but to seek inspiration from the multitude of great photographers that share photos on the site. 

In the six years I have been on Flickr I have really enjoyed participating on the site.  It is a great place to share photos and discussions with other photographers.  Also a great place to look at the outstanding work of other photographers.  Perhaps one of my favorite features has been the groups.  Groups are typically a number of photographers that share some sort of common interest.  You can find groups on Flickr for virtually anything from anteaters to zebras and everything in between.  In short I love Flickr - it’s a really great site. 

500px websiteWhile Flickr has evolved over the years a lot of users have suggested that Flickr lacks the vision it once had in the photo sharing space.  A number of photo sharing sites have emerged since Flickr begun in early 2004.  Some really great sites with compelling features like SMUGMUG, Photobucket, Picasa, Zenfolio, deviantArt, Shutterfly and many more.  Today I wanted to talk a little about another photo sharing site that has been getting a lot of attention recently, a site called 500px.

500px began in early 2003 as a moderated photography sharing site. In 2009 version 2 of the site launched with the goal of being a “photographic community powered by creative people from all over the world that lets you share and discover inspiring photographs”.  I suggest you take a look at the site but in short I think they are meeting their goal - there is some truly fantastic photography on the site. 

I discovered 500px a couple weeks ago after reading an article on TechCrunch titled “White-Hot Flickr Alternative 500px Raises $525K In Series A”.  It was an interesting article and it peaked my interest in the site.  I did a bit more reading and found that a lot of Flickr ?power users? were migrating to the site.  According to a May 2011 GigaOm article 27,000 of the site?s 67,000 current members joined in the preceding two months.  I immediately visited the site and was very impressed with the quality of the photography on the site.  The site was truly inspiring.  The photography represented in the “Popular” and “Editors Choice” sections of the site were breathe taking. 

I decided to sign up for a free account and give it a try.  Here are a couple random observations.

  • The photography on the site is phenomenal!
  • The site lacks support for third party uploaders so you have to use their upload page - a bit of a drag from a workflow perspective.
  • There is currently no API for the site, so it lacks the diverse third party apps that make Flickr so compelling.
  • A lot of artistic nudes are featured on the site, but there is a filter that hides most of it.  While I have no problem with artistic nudes its not something I want on my screen for my children to see.
  • A free account lets you upload 20 photos a week and they strongly encourage you to choose only your very best photos for upload.
  • The user community seems to be very active and supportive. 
  • I love the “Like” button - nice to be able to “like” an image without having to leave a comment - although it is nice to have the option to leave comments and choose favorites as well.
  • The site does a great job showcasing photos - much more visually appealing than Flickr in my opinion.
  • It lacks groups and discussion forums - this is one of the core strengths of Flickr in my opinion.
  • There are some compelling features included in the paid version of 500px including: custom URL for a portfolio site and unlimited uploads.
  • Did I mention that the photography on the site is phenomenal?  It really is - there are some very talented photographers active in the 500px community.  It’s funny I find it very hard to find “favorite” photos on Flickr these days.  Don’t get me wrong there are some great photos on Flickr, but I don’t find that “exploring” on Flickr yields the number of high quality shots that I can easily find on 500px.

My ProfileAll that said I really like what I see at 500px I would highly recommend that folks take a look at the site.  I am not sure if I am sold enough to sign up for the paid account - although it is reasonable at $50 a year and I would like to contribute to the development of the site.  I think 500px holds a lot of promise and look forward to seeing it evolve.  It is in my opinion one of the most inspiring photography sites on the Internet.  To be clear I have no intent of leaving Flickr right now, but nice to see some quality competition and there is no reason not to share on multiple sites. 

I think the value of looking at other photographer’s work is tremendous.  I once heard a professional photographer say that if you wanted to be a better photographer that you should critically look at 10,000 photographs.  I think this is great advice and 500px is a great place to begin this journey.

New exhibit at the Solomons Island Visitors Center

Guy Stephens

The Calvert Photography Club is proud to announce the opening of a new exhibit at the Solomons Island Visitors Center.  The club has been working with Joyce Baki, a Tourism Specialist with the Calvert County Department of Economic Development, to develop a “summertime” themed exhibit that displays photographs from several club members.  The exhibit is designed to promote the theme of summertime in Calvert County.

The club held a contest earlier in the year to select shots for the exhibit.  Over 40 images were submitted by club members and it was a difficult process to select the 5 images that best represented the theme of the exhibit.  The photographs selected for the exhibit included:

Photo by Allen Barth
Solomons Morning by Allen Barth

Photo by Sandy C. Carr
Fisherman at Dusk by Sandy C. Carr

Photo by Jeff Smallwood
Oysters at Daybreak by Jeff Smallwood

Photo by E. Guy Stephens
Marine Museum in Focus by Guy Stephens

Photo by Teddie Watts
Proud Angler by Teddie Watts

Below is a slideshow that features all of the shots submitted for the exhibit.  A very big thanks to all the club members that submitted photographs for this project - really a great selection of work!

The exhibit will be at the Solomons Island Visitors Center throughout the summer - I would encourage everyone to stop by and check it out. 

A special thanks to Sandy Carr for all her hard work leading to this great opportunity!

Macros, Focus Stacking, and Electron Microscopes

Jeff Smallwood

Butterfly Extreme MacroAlthough we don’t have lenses for our cameras that can capture photos like powerful microscopes can, that doesn’t mean we can’t create images that appear that way. In order to simulate this effect, I incorporated a number of tools and techniques that I explain in the article linked below, including macro photography and focus stacking. I used Adobe Photoshop & Lightroom, and Nik’s software suite. However, this technique does not specifically require a single one of those software packages so don’t fret if you don’t own them…you can still create similar images with software you already have or can download for free.

Read the details of this technique here.