Darrin Farrell discusses Photoshop and more

Lisa Snider

The Calvert Photography Club met for its monthly meeting on Saturday, March 16, 2013. President Jeff Smallwood welcomed everyone, and opened the meeting with our Club Business. 

Jeff began by thanking club member Karl Barth, who was the trip sponsor for our Saturday, March 2 trip to Old Town Alexandria. While the day was a cold one, it offered many interesting opportunities for shooting, with a mixture of history and architecture, and the additional excitement of the St. Patrick’s Day parade. Karl’s tips, in advance of the trip, were helpful and much appreciated by those who attended.

Donations for the CSM fundraising event are due to Jeff no later than March 20th. CSM is looking for framed, matted prints for the college’s upcoming silent auction. Club member Teddie Watts is also looking for donation items for an October 5 yard sale to be held at the Calvert Marine Museum. Donations of books, records, and photos are being accepted, with money being donated to a children’s fund. Please see Teddie if you can help.

Treasurer Bonnie Bryant provided her report next. She advised that the club currently has 45 paid members. Dues for the 2013 club 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.

In other business, Club Librarian Spencer Johnson indicated club members should look for books to borrow at the next meeting, in April. Along with the books at the April meeting will be a “sign out” sheet. Our club members are asked to bring books they borrow back within 2 months, so we can keep them circulating. Club members are also reminded that with the club’s relationship with both Peach Pit and O’Reilly presses, new books can be obtained, for free, in exchange for your willingness to write a review of the book for our blog.

DarrinWith our business concluded, Jeff introduced today’s guest speaker, Darrin Farrell, of Images Photography by Darrin. Darrin is a well-traveled and seasoned photographer, who owns the longest running portrait studio in St. Mary’s County, located in the Wildewood Shopping Center in California. Darrin’s discussion for today centered on photo retouching after his photo shoots, and old photo restoration. While the techniques he demonstrated were done using Photoshop software, other software programs, such as Photoshop Elements, may be used to create the same effects.

Darrin proceeded to open several sample photos from his studio, and show our club members the Photoshop tools he uses to quickly retouch, or repair, a photo in his studio. Much of his studio business these days revolves around shooting High School Seniors. These photographs are retouched at different levels – 1, 2, & 3, with level 1 consisting of minor retouching, such as flyaway hairs, which are included in the price of the shoot and level 3 retouching done with a heavier hand, and Portrait Professional software.

Darrin demonstrated how he retouches blemishes and glass glare, and how he whitens teeth, which he does with the use of the clone tool. When using the clone tool, Darrin recommends pulling from various reference points, throughout the image, so that the photo retouching doesn’t look artificial. He demonstrated an “aligned” and “non-aligned” repair using the clone tool, and how to change the opacity of the tool in order to gain a lighter touch.

Darrin also demonstrated how he uses levels to improve the overall look of the photo, and the Channel Mixer to balance the colors. He suggested that when a photograph has a color cast, applying the opposite color from an RGB color scale will usually fix the color cast. 

Other studio services that Darrin offers are the restoration of old photographs. He accomplishes this by first carefully photographing the old image using his studio lights and digital gear. He has found this is more efficient, and yields better results, than scanning the photos to put them into a digital format for repairing.   

While demonstrating his techniques, Darrin fielded questions from our club members, and was kind enough to stay after his presentation for a few more one-on-one questions. We thank Darrin for his informative presentation, and for taking time away from his busy Saturday schedule at the photo studio.

The club then took a 15-minute break to allow our members to stretch, mingle, and help themselves to a snack. The break featured a slideshow of images shot during the past month by our club members, depicting any subject of interest to the shooter. This was a great way for everyone to share their creativity for the month.

We resumed our meeting with our new monthly segment from club member Allen Barth, focusing on composition. Allen opened his presentation with a definition of composition: “the placement or arrangement of visual elements.”

The theory of composition is not new – it was developed and refined in painting and sculpture. Good composition is the cornerstone of photography, and is accomplished when the photographer uses his imagination and skill to frame a shot. Good composition allows you to show your sense of style through the elements you include, and decreases your post processing time. Studying good composition techniques helps you to increase your critical eye in reviewing your own and the photographs of others. 

Allen and JeffWhile not an elegant acronym, Allen introduced us to the idea of “FART” – feel, analyze, refine, and take – words to remember when composing a shot in your viewfinder. Feel – look for something which grabs you; Analyze – why do you want to take the picture? Refine – compose your shot in the viewfinder as strongly as possible; and Take
the shot, with an eye toward any technical adjustments to be made.

Ideas for creating a good photographic composition: fill the space, or the frame, with the object of interest; use texture, color, or point of view to direct the eye to the object of interest, such as getting low or shooting high, to provide a different point of reference. Allen suggests being aggressive in looking around the scene for captivating images. He also suggests using the rule of thirds as a guideline only, as many interesting photographs can be taken which break this rule.

Club members are encouraged to use today’s presentation to go out and challenge themselves to shoot photos using a different perspective, and post their photos to our shared Flickr page. In closing, Allen indicated that he is looking for a club member to volunteer to take on the compositional assignment of “lines.” Anyone interested in shooting “lines” for an upcoming presentation should see Allen. We thank Allen for his thought-provoking presentation, and look forward to his topic in April!

Next up was a slideshow by club member Sandy Carr, showcasing her trip to Muir Woods. Muir Woods is located just outside of San Francisco, California, and features the tallest Redwoods in the world. The trees featured in Sandy’s pictures were majestic and awe-inspiring, and we thank Sandy for taking us on a mini-trip to enjoy their beauty.
Our March critique session was done next, featuring our theme of “Broken,” to be interpreted as one wished. Team members Jim and Shaara were on hand to do their reviews, and Guy Stephens and other club members were invited to participate. Many creative shots were viewed and discussed.

Jeff then provided an overview of our club’s upcoming events. Our next meeting will be held on April 20th, and the shooting assignment is “self” – to be interpreted as one wishes. The program for April will be jointly presented by Jeff and Guy, and will discuss Backup and Recovery techniques.

Our April 6 field trip will be led by Jeff, when we tour and photograph Georgetown. Those that are interested in an early start time can meet up with Jeff at 8:00 a.m. at the Rosslyn Metro Station, to do an early walk about of that area. This group will then walk over to Georgetown, for the “official” start time for the Georgetown tour at 9:30 a.m. Watch your e-mail for all of the details and a call for RSVP’s by our Event Coordinator, Robbin Haigler.

Finally, the August 3rd field trip will be a cruise for interested club members to sail on the Chesapeake Bay and shoot pictures of four lighthouses.  Information on the exact itinerary, availability of seats, and cost of the trip will be forthcoming from Robbin; watch your e-mail for more information.

Jeff closed our meeting with his newly-introduced “Did you Know” segment. Today’s topic was “the National Geographic.”  Jeff was privileged to have lunch with Steve St. John, the Senior Picture Editor for the National Geographic Image Collection. After lunch, Steve treated Jeff to a tour of the building, and shared many interesting insights into the magazine. Jeff showed us some of the pictures from his tour. He also shared many fascinating facts, some of which are presented here:

Did you know that:

(1) Alexander Graham Bell was one of the original founders of the magazine?
(2) the first photograph was published in the magazine in 1889, and was a photo of North America?
(3) the first nature photograph was published in 1890?
(4) the magazine was originally founded as a technical and scientific journal? Many individuals in the early days of the publication resigned over the use of photos, which they thought detracted from the content of the articles; and
(5) the magazine receives 1½ million photos per month, and 2000 photos are typically reviewed when only 1 is selected to accompany an article.

Thanks Jeff – I did not know that!

Do you know this quote from Ansel Adams?  “To the complaint, ‘There are no people in these photographs,’ I respond, “There are always two people: the photographer and the viewer.”

Field Trip: Old Town Alexandria

Karl Barth

Karl BarthFor the third photography trip of the year, the Calvert Photography Club got together on Saturday, March 2 in Old Town Alexandria for a photo walk trip.  As an unexpected bonus there was a dog show, a car show, and a St. Patrick’s Day parade scheduled later in the day. 

In preparation for this trip and my new role as trip sponsor, I wrote up some tips/suggestions for the trip.  I also discussed the assignment of the trip which was composition.  Some of the suggested things to focus on were:

  • Shapes/Forms
  • Patterns
  • Lines
  • Texture
  • Tonal Contrast
  • Negative Space

The club members met at the George Washington Masonic Memorial in the morning.  If that name doesn’t ring a bell, you can easily see the building when crossing the Woodrow Wilson Bridge from the Maryland side.  I’ve seen it so many times but didn’t know what it was.  I can now put a name with the building.  It’s really a beautiful building close up.

Our street walk took us down King Street where the parade and the other festivities were going to be held.  In walking down the street, I immediately saw the attraction with Old Town.  The beautiful red brick sidewalks along with the brick houses immediately drew your attention with the various lines, patterns, shapes, and textures.  I took several pictures of the sidewalk from a street level view.  I was not only attracted by the lines leading up the sidewalk but also the texture of the bricks as well.

Karl BarthAs we walked to the midway point of King Street, we came across the car show.  The first car that caught my attention was a DeLorean.  If you’ve seen any of the “Back to the Future” movies you know exactly what I’m talking about.  It was my first time seeing one in person.  I was really disappointed when I didn’t see the flux capacitor or Mr. Fusion (another “Back to the Future” reference).  There were other beautiful cars at the show.  Most of them were antique but there were a few modern cars such as a Ferrari and a Porsche.  I can’t imagine how much work goes into keep these cars in pristine condition.

Towards the end of the street, there was the dog show which wasn’t really interesting to me.  I along with other club members kept walking towards the end of the street where the waterfront was. You could see the entire Woodrow Wilson Bridge and had some great views of the Maryland Shore.

We wrapped up the day at a Thai restaurant for lunch and walked back up King Street.  Some members stayed for the parade and got some great pictures.  I decided not to stay and head back home.  It was a great, but cold day.  I’ll admit I was tired from the long walk but it was a great day for shooting despite having no sun.