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December Meeting: Lightroom vs. Aperture

Megan Snider

An epic battle began Saturday, Dec. 17 as Guy and Jeff provided points of view on two different software platforms: Aperture vs. Lightroom.

JeffBefore talk turned to computer comparisons, President Guy Stephens gave an update on our Solomons Island exhibit. Seven members submitted photos for our winter exhibit, now on display, and we?re already planning ahead to our spring display. Possible photo subjects include kick-off to a spring, wine festivals and art shows (March-May). Take a peek at your archives and look for shots you?d be happy to submit for display. Submission deadline is February.

We?re moving right along on our exhibit at the College of Southern Maryland! Fourteen members submitted more than 125 photos for consideration. Twenty photos will be framed and matted at the college in two displays: Southern Maryland in black and white, and a collection from dawn to night. Photos are currently being judged by the board and, if chosen, photographers will be notified by the end of this month. Guy?s goal is to get the exhibit up in January and would be grateful for volunteers to help get everything displayed.

Treasurer Bonnie Bryant gave an update on our club?s finances and announced we now have 33 paid members. We?re growing all the time!

Regarding elections for our 2012 season, the results are in: Guy Stephens will remain as president; Jeff Smallwood stays as vice president; Bonnie remains treasurer; and Lisa Snider will come in as secretary, replacing Megan for the coming year. The board will meet soon to discuss our calendar and possible photo trip and topic ideas, so feel free to email Guy with any ideas or tips on improving future meetings.

LIGHTROOM VS. APERTURE: Pros and Cons

Jeff kicked off the discussion by talking about Lightroom, a photo editing program that complements changes made in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements but does not inherently replace either one. ?Lightroom allows users to make non-destructive edits,? Jeff said, meaning the edits are not saved over your original photo files and can be undone at any time.

To get started in Lightroom, import photos to your Lightroom Library. Your options upon import are add, copy or move photos into the program. ?Add? is a way of making Lightroom aware of where photos are on your computer, and copy and move are just as they sound. Your Lightroom Library is a way to easily view your catalog of photos and can also be a way to tag and organize them, too.

The real power of Lightroom comes under the program?s ?Develop? tab. This is your digital darkroom ? the place where you can adjust all sorts of settings, add special effects and enhance the shots you?ve taken. When you?re satisfied with the new look of your pictures, you export them from Lightroom and save them however you choose as a new file. Your original photo files remain unchanged and intact.

In Aperture, an Apple-based program, Guy explained the ways the program can be used to refine images, showcase photography and manage your photo libraries. ?The software is designed to be simple but powerful,? he said.

Though similar to Lightroom, Aperture uses different management tools. The Library is where things are organized, and the adjustments are where changes are made.

Guy?s personal workflow includes importing his photos and immediately doing some cropping. He then adjusts a photo?s histogram until he?s happy with the outcome. Guy also showed the many ways Aperture can be used to create slideshows or photo books, and how the software is compatible with plug-ins that allow you to post your photos quickly to platforms like Flickr or Facebook. Lightroom utilizes similar technology, too.

Coming in January, we?ll be planning our next photo trip ? if you have any ideas for great shooting locations, drop Guy .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Be on the look-out for a message from him regarding trip plans. This month we shared photos from our December assignment, Flash. Our assignment for January will be JOY, interpreted however you choose.

Have a wonderful holiday, and see you in the new year!


Book Review: Ten Photo Assignments to develop your photographic skills

Robbin Haigler

Ten Photo Assignments
Amanda Quintenz-Fiedler
110 pages
$19.95
Rocky Nook Inc
802 East Cota Street, 3rd Floor
Santa Barbara, CA 93103
ISBN: 978-1-933952-79-6

Ten Photo Assignments to develop your photographic skills has a title that immediately grabbed my attention and a general description that sounded like the perfect solution for a beginner photographer wanting to improve her photographic skills.  The general layout of 5 chapters with 2 assignments in each chapter appeared promising and very feasible.  My intention was to have a plan of action where I could put all my piece-meal learning into practice with ten practical lessons as promised in the title. However, it was not the case - it took me three times to get through the first chapter and two assignments, without ever completing the first assignment much less the other nine as a I forced myself to read the entire book and tried to make an attempt at the other lessons offered. 

Book coverThe author assumes you have a good working knowledge of your specific camera on the first page - I think that is asking an awful lot from most beginners and it only gets more technical as she progresses with the first lesson.  She has a recommended equipment list consisting of: a fully manual adjustable camera, tripod, handheld light meter, manufactured digital gray card, a zebra card, a model in a textured white shirt, sunny day, notebook and pencil, computer and photo management software to open files and evaluate exposures. Don?t you think that?s asking a bit much for a beginner? 

It is my humble opinion that this book is too scientific for most beginner photographers - most of the lessons were about calibrating the camera more than devoting any photographic skills.  Because of the technicality of information I do not recommend this book to beginner photographers but rather to those who want to understand the scientific aspect of photography and their equipment.  I?m afraid this book only gets 2 stars out of 5 because it failed to motivate this beginner - there?s better resources out there and I will make up my own ?Ten Photo Assignments?.


Book Review: Canon EOS Rebel T3i/600D From Snapshots to Great Shots

Lin Moos

Canon EOS Rebel T3i/600D From Snapshots to Great Shots
Reviewed by Lin Moos
Calvert Photography Club

BookIf you have just purchased a Canon T3i and you are a relative beginner to anything other than ?point and shoot,? you will quickly realize that the T3i has more functions than you had imagined.  You probably don?t know what 1/2 of the functions accomplish and how they will affect the photographs you want to create.  Then you turn to the Canon T3i Instruction Manual and your enthusiasm for your new camera quickly wanes.  The Instruction Manual is written in tiny, blurry, fine print and only tells you how to push the buttons to activate the different features of your new camera.  It doesn?t tell you why these features are important or how you can use them to create great photographs.

When you purchase your T3i, it should come packaged with this book.  While it is too large to conveniently carry in your camera bag——it will become the manual you rely on to understand and use your new camera?s functions.  This book has wonderful full page photographs and is is clearly written to explain what the 35+ different buttons and dial points on your camera are for, and how to use the different features to take great shots.  Oh, did I note that in addition to the 35+ different buttons and dial points, there are at least another hundred or so discrete settings for these buttons and dials.  You need an instruction manual that is technical enough to explain these functions and their importance, but well written enough so that you want to keep reading!

?From Snapshots to Great Shots? provides photography instruction while being a reference guide for the use of the T3i.  The first chapter lists the first 10 things you should do when you take your camera out of the box.  It directs you on how to set your image quality, how to turn off the auto ISO setting, how to set the white balance, and how to review your shots as well as other things you should know.  From there the book describes everything from ?what is exposure? and ?lens and focal length? to advanced techniques such as bracketing exposures and macro photography.  There are chapters addressing landscape photography, portraits, lighting and action photography.  These chapters and others clearly explain how to use your T3i and its functions to produce the best images possible. 

The feature of the book that I most enjoyed was the ?Pouring Over the Picture? section in each chapter.  The full page photographs with the shooting data and descriptions of how the pictures were taken were invaluable.  In these cases, the pictures did speak a thousand words.  The photographs captured the essence of what was being explained so that the reader could visualize how composition and using different features of the camera created the final image.

There were only two shortcomings to the book.  On page 17, the instructions to “Review Your Shots” incorrectly direct you to use the ?display button? when the button used on the T3i for this function is the “Info button.”  Also, in a couple places, the book refers to “color space” but the term is not included in the index, nor is it defined in the book.

Overall, I highly recommend this book to anyone who is a beginning photographer and owner of the T3i.  Its direct and easy to understand description of the camera and its features combined with its photography instruction make it an unbeatable resource to enable you to fully use your camera and improve your photography skills.


Curves, masks, layers and more…

Megan Snider

The Calvert Photography Club?s November meeting was all about digital editing and making our photos ?pop? with tools like curves.

President Guy Stephens led introductions of the group and welcomed two new members, bringing our assembled crowd to approximately 20 people. We were happy to see new faces and grateful for the delicious cupcakes provided by Lisa of Imagine It Iced!

Guy discussed our winter exhibit at the Solomons Island Welcome Center (now in the judging phase) and a new collaborative project with the College of Southern Maryland. Club members are invited to submit images following one (or both) of two themes: Southern Maryland in black and white or morning to night (anywhere ? not just in So. Md.). To participate, send low-resolution images to Guy before Dec. 5. A vote by the board will commence later this month, and those with photos selected will be asked to pay only for printing costs. The display will be hung at the College of Southern Maryland?s Prince Frederick campus, and the photographer will, of course, retain all rights to the image. After the display is complete, the print will be returned to you.

Guy also reminded us that books in the club?s personal library are available to be ?checked out? by members. We are also able to obtain review copies of many photography-related titles ? if you?re interested, drop Guy a line for more information. You?ll be asked to read and review the title for the publisher, and the book is then yours to keep.

Treasurer Bonnie Bryant gave a report of the club?s current finances, and we now have 31 paid members. As we?re reaching the end of 2011, membership fees are now prorated. An individual membership is $10 or $15 for families.

Elections are coming soon! Lisa, Jerry and Greg reported on the selection committee?s choices for president, vice president, treasurer and secretary. With the exception of Megan, who is making room for another member to fulfill the role of secretary, Guy, Jeff and Bonnie will remain in their current positions. Lisa Snider is running for secretary. Voting is happening now, and the results will be reported at an upcoming meeting.

JeffAfter taking care of business, Jeff Smallwood began his presentation on digital editing. Using a cool online demonstration, Jeff discussed curves in Photoshop. ?Curves? are the lightest to darkest areas of a photograph, and how you move a curve line affects how a photo is exposed. Manipulating this line allows the photographer much more control than simply adjusting contrast, which can often produce a similar result. An ?S? curve or reverse ?S? curve in Photoshop can affect midtones, shadows and highlights. For more photographs, small edits can have a large impact.

Jeff also discussed dynamic range, which is the amount of space between the brightest and darkest areas of a photograph. Increase your photo?s appeal by stretching out the histogram slightly to the left and right, which increases the depth of tones in a photo.

Masks were touched upon, too, as Jeff showed us a recent photograph from a trip to the Bahamas and how he could combine the best parts of two different pictures using Photoshop?s masks and layers. A ?mask? is an ability to slightly erase part of a top layer to reveal a larger one beneath ? like taking scissors and simply cutting out a portion you?d like to change. Masks also allow for blending and slight opacity changes. Through a live tutorial, Jeff demonstrated how one stellar photo could become phenomenal with these tools.

After the digital editing tutorial, Guy gave a presentation on Lensbaby, a manufacturer of creative optics. The company offers a variety of manual lenses with manual focus that help change your perspective and create a variety of effects. Reasonably priced in terms of photography gear, Lensbaby makes a variety of products to suit many photographers. We have a special club discount code, if interested; contact Guy or Megan for more information.

Our next club photo trip is Saturday, Dec. 3 to Annmarie Garden?s Garden In Lights celebration. The group will be meeting on the premises at 6 p.m., so bring your tripod and get ready for some fun!

Our December meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 17 at the Prince Frederick Library. Bring your photos from this month?s assignment ? FLASH ? and join us all in celebrating the holidays!