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Stitching things together - March Meeting

Lisa Snider

The club met at the Fairview Branch Library in Owings, behind the beautiful, blooming willow tree. Club members couldn’t help but take a few minutes before and after the meeting to photograph and take in the beauty of this magnificent tree, which welcomed our club to the library, and spring.

WillowPresident Guy Stephens opened the meeting with a warm welcome to all, and a recap of the club’s February trip to historic Leonardtown. He further reported on the Solomon’s Island Visitor Center project, in which 40 images of Calvert County were submitted and 6 images were selected to be displayed as the March-May exhibit. The summer exhibit will be the next opportunity for club members to enter photos for review and a chance to be selected.  An e-mail will go out in May announcing the details, including possible photo topics such as boating, the beach, fishing, water sports, and maritime heritage. Guy ended this portion of the meeting with a beautiful slideshow, featuring all 40 entries for the spring exhibit. 

The Calvert County Chamber of Commerce contacted Guy, on behalf of the club, asking for images for their use in their Community Services Directory, which was scheduled to go to print in a matter of days. While the time frame for submitting photos was very short, ten photographs were submitted by our members for inclusion in the directory. While the club appreciated being thought of, Guy asked that if the Chamber were interested in photographs next year, it contact the club well in advance of its deadline, and perhaps offer incentives for our participation in offering photographs for their use.

Under development is a “Members Only” portion of the CPC web site, which Guy highlighted in a brief demonstration. This portion of the site will have content which is exclusive to our members, including our contact names and e-mail addresses, information on our lending library of photography books, and copies of presentations made at the meetings, among many other things. Our Board members have all reviewed the early prototype of the site, and have received their accounts. After the site is fully developed, the remainder of our paid club members will be contacted by Guy, and given access to their accounts.

Treasurer Bonnie Bryant gave her report. We currently have $378.52 in our bank account, and have 19 paid members. The club’s yearly membership dues are now being collected, so those who have not yet paid and intend to do so are encouraged to pay Bonnie as soon as possible. Bonnie also reminded our club members about the signup sheet for snacks which she is maintaining. People have signed up to bring snacks through the July meeting. Those that are interested are encouraged to sign up for a future month. Bonnie will send out a reminder about your snack commitment prior to the meeting.

Next up, Spencer Johnson provided us with an update on our photography lending library. Members are free to borrow books for up to 1 month, with an additional month available upon request. This month’s featured book is the “Better Photo Guide to Digital Photography.”  Spencer reported that it is a good, basic book for beginners, and is currently available for loan. Guy also reminded our members that “free” books are available from Peach Pit Press and O’Reilly and the only cost to our members is their willingness to write a review of the book for the club’s blog.

Today’s featured topic was “Panoramic Photography,” presented by Nick Iascone, complete with a slideshow and demonstration on stitching. Panoramic photography is defined as the technique of using specialized equipment or software to capture images with an elongated field of view. It is sometimes also referred to as wide format photography. Both the aspect ratio and coverage of field are important factors in defining a true panoramic image.  A panoramic image may have an aspect ratio of 4:1 and even 10:1, covering fields of view of up to 360 degrees.  Panoramics are popular as they offer the ability to piece together many frames, which will feature greater resolution, smoother color transitions, and allow spatial and tonal detail to be retained.

To create a panoramic image, one must take a sequence of overlapping photos of a scene, carefully taken to be parallel to the horizon, and with the exact same exposure. Shooting files in RAW, and in manual mode, will offer the photographer the greatest degree of control over the exposures, to be sure that they match exactly. A “panohead” is sometimes attached to a tripod, to help to take the photos smoothly, and keep the camera straight.

After shooting the sequence of photos, software is used to stitch the photographs together.  The software uses a complicated set of algorithims to study the photographs, and stitch them together. Software programs that offer the ability to stitch multiple photos together include Photoshop, GIMP, PTGui, and a title offered by ArcSoft, a software developer. 

HDR photos may also be stitched into Panoramas, and the same rules as above, apply. Process the HDR photos in sets first, and then stitch them together at the end. Additional post-processing can be done by uploading your stitched image into Lightroom, Photoshop or PSE.

Guy and NickClub members who currently shoot HDR offered the following tips: make sure you remove any polarizing filters on your camera lens before you start; consider taking photos to stitch vertically, rather than horizontally, as you sometimes have more room to play with the images, and “shoot your feet” before and after the series of shots that you take which you wish to stitch, to easily identify them. Difficult scenes to create panoramas from include action scenes and low-light situations, as well as cloudy skies and water, which move. Finally, don’t forget that white balance – it has to be exactly the same in all of the images that you take, in order to create the panorama!

After a brief break for some mingling and snacks, Nick concluded his presentation by demonstrating how to stitch a series of photos together, and both he and Jeff showed some lovely examples of finished Panoramas. Next month’s shooting assignment is to create and bring in a Panorama image, using the new skills we have learned today. Get out and have fun with this assignment!

In other club news, our April 1 field trip to shoot the Cherry Blossoms has been changed to Saturday, March 24th. The extremely warm weather we have had lately has greatly accelerated the blooming of the trees, necessitating this change.  Jeff will lead an informal tour that day for those who are interested in coming down to see the trees, before all of the blooms are gone! Watch for a follow-up e-mail on this. Also, the April 1 Capitol Photo History Tour will also be conducted on this date, to coincide with the blooming period. There are still spaces available on Rick’s “World War II, MLK and World War I Memorials Tour,” which will also include the Cherry Blossoms.  Those that are interested in signing up may do by visiting his web site at www.capitalphotohistorytours.com -  group discounts are still available – please inquire at the site.

Looking ahead to our April meeting, Robert Tinari will be our featured guest speaker, discussing Macro photography.  Our field trip which follows this meeting, in May, will be to Sotterley Plantation. There is a $3.00 fee to be admitted to the grounds, where photography is permitted. A tour of the mansion is also available for $10.00, but photographs are not permitted inside the mansion.  Further information on the trip will be forthcoming, and members will be asked to RSVP, so that Sotterley may be given a head count of the number of members planning to visit. 

Jeff gave an update on the Flickr critique site. Members are encouraged to sign up. You may either be a reviewer, have your photographs reviewed/critiqued, or both. Those that have submitted photos for critique thus far have found it to be a rewarding experience, and encourage others to participate. Before and after photos may be posted in the future. See Jeff with any questions or concerns.

The meeting was concluded with our sharing assignment, “On the Go”. Members had some interesting images to share, and enjoyed talking photography, as the meeting wound down.

Get out with your camera, and enjoy the fine weather we have been having. Until next time, take care and Happy Shooting!


Leonardtown and the Port of Leonardtown Winery

Lisa Snider

On Sunday, March 4, 2012, the Calvert Photography Club met in historic Leonardtown, MD for the March photo trip. Under cool and cloudy skies, 22 members of the club descended upon the quiet, Sunday morning streets of Leonardtown, with tripods and DSLR’s in tow. Established in 1708, we found this historic town intriguing, with its beautiful architecture and waterfront views. It offered many subjects to study and photograph, which made it the perfect photography field trip.

SpencerIn addition to taking photographs of whatever the members found interesting, they were also invited to participate in a scavenger hunt, looking for an item to photograph beginning with the letter “A,”  an item to photograph that was a Circle, and an item to photograph that was Red. For those who participated, this was a fun exercise. Members are encouraged to post their photographs of the scavenger items, plus the town and surrounding waterfront, on the club’s FLICKR page
                                                 
By noon, we had all worked up an appetite for lunch, so those that were able stayed and had lunch in the town square, at a lovely diner. Our group of about 13 was ushered into a private room of the diner, and sat at a large banquet table. With our big cameras and tripods in tow, we settled in to enjoy the good food and each other’s good company as we talked about our favorite hobby – photography!

Our grand entrance into the diner, carrying so many cameras and camera equipment, piqued the interest of the diners. It wasn’t long before we were told that “the talk” of the diner was us – “Why were so many photographers in Leonardtown? “ I, for one, was flattered. I guess the locals have forgotten how photogenic and special their small town is. We certainly found it to be so. 

After lunch, we made a final stop at the Port of Leonardtown Winery. Those that were interested were treated to a wine tasting, and were later given a special tour of the facility. It was a lovely way to end the afternoon.

In closing, everyone seemed to really enjoy our trip to both Leonardtown and the Winery. The CPC was made to feel very welcome at both stops, and we thank our hosts for their warm hospitality.