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Simple Home Studio

Lisa Snider

The Calvert Photography Club met for its monthly meeting on Saturday, February 16, 2013. Vice President Megan Snider conducted today’s meeting in the absence of President Jeff Smallwood. Megan opened the meeting by welcoming any visitors to our club, and began the meeting with Club Business. 

MeganThe club’s March field trip will be held on Saturday, March 2nd, when we meet at 9:00 a.m. in Alexandria, Virginia. Megan then introduced Karl Barth, who will be our trip sponsor. Karl explained that in advance of the trip, he will send out an e-mail on composition and key elements, which we will try to think about as we walk along the streets of Alexandria, and take our pictures. 

Megan next introduced club member Allen Barth, who indicated that he will begin presenting a series of discussions on composition, which will last about 5 minutes per meeting. Each month, a different aspect of composition will be discussed, and then a monthly assignment will be given. To introduce these new segments, Allen began this month with a discussion on “How the eye moves around in a picture.”

Allen indicated that unconsciously, the eye moves through a picture by (1) identifying recognizable patterns; (2) focusing on the brightest to the darkest objects; (3) focusing on high contrast to low contrast areas; (4) finding the sharpest areas of the photo (making the eyes in a photo very important), and moving to the unsharpest parts; (5) identifying the non-blur to the blurred areas; and (6) identifying saturation in a picture. We look forward to next month’s composition discussion by Allen. 

Megan then reminded the group that club member and Immediate Past-President Guy Stephens will be teaching a “Mobile Phone Photography class” on Februrary 25 at the Calvert Library, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. The class is free, and those who are interested should contact the library directly to sign up.

In other business, Club Librarian Spencer Johnson indicated he will bring 6 books to each meeting (as he did today), which will be available for check-out. Club members are asked to sign the sheet if they wish to borrow a book, and bring the book back within 2 months, so we can keep them circulating. Also brought to this meeting was a stack of photography magazines, which were “free to a good home.” Remember, too, our relationship with both Peach Pit and O’Reilly presses. New books can be obtained, for free, in exchange for your willingness to read and write a review of the book, for our blog.

Treasurer Bonnie Bryant provided her report next. Dues for the 2013 year are now due. An Individual membership is $25.00 per year, a Family membership is $35.00 per year, and a Junior membership is $15.00 per year. Please make your payment (cash or check) to Bonnie as soon as possible.

Bonnie also maintains a list which new members should sign, if they are interested in being added to the Yahoo group distribution list for our club. In addition, an attendance sign-in sheet is circulated at every meeting, and Bonnie maintains the monthly snack sign-up sheet. We are always in need of volunteers to bring a snack for the group – Bonnie will supply the paper products, and will send an e-mail reminder to you the week the snack is due.

We closed out the business portion of our meeting with an update from our Event Coordinator, Robbin Haigler. Robbin reminded the club about our field trip on March 2nd, which Megan mentioned earlier – see the e-mail sent by Robbin, and please let her know if you will be attending. Anyone interested in presenting a 5-minute slideshow to the club should see Robbin, who maintains a sign-up sheet for the same.
Our assignment for next month’s meeting will be “Broken,” to be interpreted as you see fit. Remember, that if you don’t want to have your “Broken” picture critiqued at our next meeting you may, instead, bring a physical copy of your photo for sharing.
Our next meeting will be held on March 16th at the church, but will be held in Room 102 (the smaller room). That meeting will feature guest speaker Darrin Farrell, of Images by Darrin. Finally, Robbin asked for a show of hands regarding a possible waterman’s cruise and those who might be interested in going. The cost would be approximately $25.00 for a 2 or 3 hour cruise, to two lighthouses which are only accessible by water. Many expressed an interest, so she will investigate this further, and possibly set up a cruise field trip for June.

With our business concluded, we moved on to the critique session of our meeting featuring our theme, “Ice.” Team members Jim and Shaara were on hand to do their reviews, and club members were also invited to participate. Many interesting shots were shared.

After a 15-minute break to allow our club members to stretch, mingle, and help themselves to a snack, we resumed our meeting with today’s program presented by Immediate Past President Guy Stephens, entitled a “Simple Home Studio.”

He began his presentation by asking “Why would you want to have a simple home studio?” Guy suggested the following: (1) for product shots – for shooting assignments; (2) to get creative (to shoot inside when the weather is bad), to play with shots and try new things; (3) for portraits; (4) to go on location – to be able to pack up simple gear and go out and shoot! and (5) to share – to take portraits for those that don’t have the ability to have portraits taken otherwise.

GuyGuy explained that for as little as a $200.00 investment (a small expenditure in the world of photography), you can put together a very nice kit. Here is what you will need (1) a Background – you can buy or make one for as cheap as $60.00. White seamless paper could be used, as well as a plain wall, or even a shower curtain; (2) Stands – a collapsible lighting system can be purchased for as little as $25.00; (3) Clamps; (4) Brackets; (5) Lights – your off camera flash, or a small strobe could be used; and (6) Light Modifiers – needed to limit dark shadows in your shots.

Examples of Light Modifiers are Umbrellas, which are light grenades – they are great, basic light modifiers; Softboxes – which are big, more focused light modifiers, and Reflectors, which are used to diffuse or soften the light.

Extra things can also be purchased to enhance the kit such as gray cards and sandbags, which will hold your stands and umbrellas down
during outdoor shooting.

When choosing your lights for your kit, you may choose between continuous lighting or a small flash.

Continuous lighting, using compact fluorescent bulbs, emits a cool light which is inexpensive, and easy to learn – “what you see is what you get.” The disadvantages to continuous lighting is that the setup is not very portable – you usually will require a power source - and the output of light is usually lower, requiring a higher ISO on your camera.

MeganVP Megan Snider volunteered to be photographed in Guy’s Simple Home Studio, which he erected right before our club meeting. He demonstrated for the club taking a portrait of her with a softbox, taking a second portrait of her with a softbox and a reflector, and
taking a third portrait of her using two softboxes.

Small flashes may also be used as your lighting. Small flashes are powerful and flexible, very portable and expandable. The disadvantages of using small flashes are that batteries are required, you must trigger your camera, and there is a higher learning curve – “what you see is not what you get.”

Megan again volunteered to be photographed, this time with Guy using an umbrella and a small flash, which he fired using a radio signal trigger. A reflector was added for a second shot, to eliminate the shadow on the other side of her face.

Guy provided a sample shopping list for both the continuous lighting and small flash options, and ended his presentation with a discussion of brand vs. third-party small flashes (third-party options are much cheaper, and can be very effective). There are wonderful resources for learning portrait techniques and creating home studios – he encourages everyone to experiment and have fun as they learn. Thank you, Guy, for your interesting presentation. 

Megan closed out the meeting with a question and answer segment, which Jeff added to our meeting format last month. This month’s “Did you know” question was “What is Light?” Club member Spencer Johnson presented an interesting segment on light, which is so crucial to all of photography.

In closing out this Blog Post, as we near the end of February and look forward to spring, I can’t wait to get out and shoot! Remember that “Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.” ― Marc Riboud


Sunset trip to Solomon’s Island

Karl Barth

Sometimes in photography things don’t always go as planned.  When that happens, you have to go to a Plan B.  That’s exactly what happened on Saturday, February 2 when the Calvert Photography Club met at Solomon’s Island, MD for its monthly trip.  The purpose of the trip was mainly to capture the sunset.  However, Mother Nature was not in a good mood again.

by Karl BarthNot only was it cold and cloudy, there was a chance of snow later in the evening.  Needless to say there was no sunset to shoot but all was not lost.  There was a Plan B.  Despite the cloudy conditions there was a great opportunity to work on long exposures along with shooting in black and white. 

The trip was also a great opportunity to learn from other photographers in the club even for me.  I am by no means a professional photographer but I’ve always wondered how photographers achieved a 4 or 30 minute exposure.  On several occasions, I have been able to create the blur effect when I slowed my shutter speed down but the exposure certainly didn’t last 4 minutes. 

by Karl BarthI took the opportunity to pick the brains of club president Jeff Smallwood and club member Reggie Bishop how they achieved long exposures.  I was surprised to learn they used neutral density filters specifically 10 stop density filters.  I thought it was a camera setting.  Thankfully I had a neutral density filter in my bag but it wasn’t a 10 stop filter.

I spent the rest of the trip using the filter and I was able to get those longer exposures.  I also used aperture priority mode.  Unfortunately I also discovered that using a higher aperture on my camera also created some unwanted “dirt.”  I didn’t realize it until I was looking at the pictures on my computer.  Another lesson learned.

While the weather didn’t cooperate it was great to see a good turnout for this trip.  I hope those that came were able to get some great shots and learn something new.


Organizing Your Photo Library

Karl Barth

Several weeks ago, my wife was preparing for her annual Creative Memories scrapbooking trip.  She was working on getting her photos together and had trouble finding them.  She was looking for photos taken in a particular month and year.  Unfortunately, my photo library was a mess.  The pictures were put into folders based on an event or subject.  I’ve wanted to reorganize my library but I kept putting it off because I knew it was going to be a big task. 

My wife was able to find her photos but I decided to take action and start organizing my photos better while she was out of town.  I couldn’t take any more of the disorganization.  I took action and decided to reorganize my photo library.  The first dilemma was deciding how to organize 46,000+ photos into folders.  I knew I wanted to organize my photos into folders based on the month and year.  Easier said than done right?  Thankfully in using Adobe Lightroom some of my pictures were already in folders under the date they were taken.

After working 2.5 days I got my photos organized into yearly and monthly folders.  Now I had to work on updating my Lightroom catalog which was my next dilemma.  For those unfamiliar or not real experienced with Lightroom catalog, I recommend checking out Understanding the Lightroom Catalog and File Management System.

Unfortunately I wish I read this article sooner.  When I setup Lightroom, I thought it would be easier to set it up using one catalog.  This way I could easily find my images and search for them.  What I didn’t consider is how Lightroom would be affected performance wise.  Lightroom took a long time to open and to backup.  When synchronizing Lightroom with my folders that took a longer amount of time.

After reading Understanding the Lightroom Catalog and File Management System I created new catalogs based on the years and removed the original catalog I setup.  Once I was done, Lightroom was working much faster.  I was able to synchronize my folders and backup a lot quicker.  I wish I had organized my library a lot sooner.  It’s a lot easier to find my photos now.