Night Photography with Jeff

Megan Snider

Meeting for the first time at Northeast Community Center in Chesapeake Beach, the Calvert Photography Club gathered Sept. 17 for our monthly meeting and an informative presentation on night photography from Jeff Smallwood, our vice president—and a talented member of our group.

Guy began with a slideshow of the fall photos submitted for consideration for the Solomons Island Visitor Center project, which is now home to six of our autumn prints. Our next exhibit will feature winter in Calvert County, and submissions will be due in November. Start thinking of cold-weather shots and plan to submit some to Guy for our next display!

Our second annual club picnic will be held in Solomons Island at the Navy Recreation Center, where we’ve secured a gazebo for the day. We’ll meet from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 1, so plan to bring your cameras as we enjoy good food, good times and, with any luck, a spectacular sunset. As the event is on a military base, Spencer is collecting the names and vehicle models of anyone planning to attend, so please see our Yahoo! group for information on contacting him. All members, past and present, and their guests are welcome.

And it’s almost time for our board elections once more! A selection committee will be announced at our October meeting with nominees to follow. Our election will be held in November with those chosen announced at our December meeting. If you’re interested in running for a position, prepare to throw your hat in the ring in October!

Jeff SmallwoodJeff then kicked off our monthly presentation by discussing the ins and outs of night photography. It’s an “ingredient substitution,” Jeff said; shooting at night means substituting light and other elements for something else. When considering an evening shoot, think about how you’re going to introduce light into your frame. Will you be using natural or artifical light? Will it modify the subject, or is it the subject?

There are many cool effects you can use in light photography, including:

  • Light painting—which is a manual manipulation of light which creates the subject.
  • Urban lights—which create mood, bring out the ambiance in a scene. This works well because this light is no longer competing with the sun.
  • City/building light—best to capture when it’s not totally dark, and you can use the lights from a neighboring building to expose the object. In this semi-darkness, familiar scenes take on completely new character.
  • Moonlight—unique lighting modifies the subject, and you can actually use the “daylight” setting for white balance.

At night, play with documenting stars and the Milky Way. Get out of the city, where everything is darker, and you’ll be able to easily see the stars. To take photos of them, it helps to have a fast lens and the darkest night sky you can find. In these shots, light is your subject.

Some other examples of fun things to document at night? Jeff suggested moon and moonlit scenes; lightning; fireworks; cities; some landscapes; and any subject in low or accentuated light. As far as equipment goes, some useful tools of the trade would be a cable release, manual/bulb settings on your camera and a tripod. Faster lenses are a plus. When you’re shooting at night, be aware of any minor or faint lights, distant glows or emerging colors, all of which could change or taint your shot.

When should you be out photographing the evening? The golden hour and beyond, Jeff said, when the sky takes on that flattering and beautiful golden glow. Look for last light, too, and be wary of light pollution which can tint your photos unwelcome colors. Moonlight, city and man-made lights all cast interesting effects, and the lights playing during winter, especially on snow, can be fascinating.

To achieve interesting effects like bokeh, motion blur or panning, use long exposures to show lights or an environment, like water, in motion. No special filters are needed at night because the light will be soft. But if you require some light to get set up in the dark, use red light; it’s less invasive than white. When going out for a night shoot, plan ahead and check the weather.

How to get good night shots? Use a low ISO and long exposure setting on your camera. Bring your tripod and a cable release, and put your camera in manual mode. “Practice,” Jeff said, “and don’t be afraid to ‘chimp’ after taking a photo.”

The best places to capture night photography are safe ones, of course—but ideal locations are where you will get controllable, predictable light. If you are happy with the settings in a certain picture you took, it would be great to be able to return that same spot another night and produce similar results.

And if Jeff’s shots are any indication, his advice is worth taking.

After our night photography presentation, we enjoyed two slideshows from Reggie and Jim. Reggie’s photos are all shots he’s taken since joining the club in August, and his portraits and shots at Great Falls are stellar. Jim’s slideshow from a 2008 trip through Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota showed his true talent and penchant for incredible portrait work, and the scenes out west were beautiful.

Our next meeting will be held Oct. 15 at the Prince Frederick Library, and night photography will be our sharing assignment. This month we shared photos of our August theme, People and Portraits, and are gearing up for our Oct. 1 picnic in Solomons. A reminder to submit your full name to Spencer to be put on our “guest list,” and to let Sandy know what dish you plan to share with the group! We’ll be discussing DSLR Basics and Beyond on Oct. 15, so come ready to learn and have some fun!

Autumn exhibit at the Solomons Island Visitors Center

Guy Stephens

The Calvert Photography Club is proud to announce the new autumn exhibit at the Solomons Island Visitors Center.  The club continues to work with Joyce Baki, a Tourism Specialist with the Calvert County Department of Economic Development, to develop themed exhibits that displays photographs that highlight Calvert County.  The new exhibit is designed to promote the theme of fall festivals in Calvert County.

The club held a contest earlier in the year to select shots for the exhibit.  Over 48 images were submitted by club members and it was a difficult process to select the 6 images that best represented the theme of the exhibit.  The photographs selected for the exhibit included:

photo by Megan Snider

Sunset on John’s Creek by Megan Snider

photo by Tammi Gorsak

Kids having fun at the Calvert County Fair by Tammi Gorsak

photo by E. Guy Stephens

Redcoats by E. Guy Stephens

photo by Bonnie Bryant

The Defense of Freedom by Bonnie Bryant

photo by Teddie Watts

Reflecting trees by Teddie Watts

photo by E. Guy Stephens

Apples in Southern Maryland by E. Guy Stephens

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 fall - I would encourage everyone to stop by and check it out.

Annapolis at sunset

Lisa Snider

On Saturday, September 3, 2011, members of the Calvert Photography Club met at 5:15 p.m. at the Annapolis City Dock for a relaxing evening of cruising and shooting (not guns, but photography, of course!) Ten club members were in attendance, many bringing their husbands or wives and children along for the fun. Club members in attendance were Sandy, Jim, Bonnie, Jerry, Lisa, Robbin, Ken, Reggie and his wife and Guy. 

Annapolis at sun downThe weather was beautiful as we boarded the Harbor Queen at 6:00 p.m. and embarked on a 40-minute cruise of historic Annapolis Harbor. The cruise featured views and narration about the banks of the U.S. Naval Academy, and the historic waters that surround it. It was interesting to learn that there are more miles of shoreline all around the Chesapeake Bay than the coastline of California! All of this shoreline in our region certainly affords the photographer in each of us plenty of local seaside spots for capturing the beauty of the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. On this particular evening, however, we had the privilege of enjoying it all not only by the shoreline, but also as we took to the sea, aboard the Harbor Queen. 

While listening to the narration and cruising, club members spread out among the lower and upper decks to take pictures of all they saw. The sun glistening off of the water, and the American flag waving in the breeze behind the Harbor Queen, made for some beautiful images. 

After the cruise was over, we gathered the group on the dock, and then commenced a ?walk about? of the city dock area, with the goal of shooting the late-day sun, as reflected in the waters of the marina and boats which were docked. The city dock area was awash with activity ? people walking dogs, families strolling and feeding ducks, boat owners ?holding court? on their boats or cruising about, tourists heading for ice cream, dinner or shopping in the area - so many people, enjoying so many different activities!

There was much to see and capture on camera. The sun, casting its warm, late-day glow, made all matter of subjects pleasing to the eye, including the buildings around the dock area, with their interesting architecture. 

As twilight approached, the glow of the businesses and headlights of the cars going up and down the main street made for interesting light trails to capture. I especially enjoyed trying to capture the silhouetted images of the Naval Academy Cadets, walking back to the Academy after attending their victorious football game. It was moving to see so many uniformed cadets, some carrying flags, walking in tandem toward their home away from home. These were the final images I tried to capture at twilight, as we drove out of Annapolis, and headed for our home.

I have always loved visiting Annapolis, and this photo trip with the Calvert Photography Club will always be especially memorable. Check out the Club?s Flickr page for images posted by our members from this photo trip, and many others, at