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All about lenses in October

Lisa Snider

On Saturday, October 19, 2013, the Calvert Photography Club met for its monthly meeting. President Jeff Smallwood welcomed everyone, and opened the meeting with a big thank you to T.O., Carl, Spencer, Mike, Rick, Robbin and Bonnie, among others, for their hard work in organizing and executing this year’s Photography Boot Camp. Despite the rain, the day was a tremendous success, with positive comments from participants, and the club realizing a nice profit, thanks to Robbin’s creativity in cutting costs. The club looks forward to using proceeds from the Boot Camp to fund a new projector, which is needed. 

Also successful and highlighted by Jeff was the club’s recent field trip to Terrapin Park, to shoot the sunset. Thanks to those who have shared their pictures on FLICKR.

Jeff next welcomed any visitors to today’s meeting, and invited them to see Bonnie to provide their contact information. Bonnie 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 other club business, it is now time for club members to submit photos for The Visitor’s Center at Solomon’s Island. These photos should depict fall and winter scenes, as taken by club members in Calvert County. Club members should watch their e-mail for an upcoming invitation from Jeff to make these submissions.

Jeff announced that annual club elections are up coming, with Karl and Sandy serving on the nominating committee. Club members with an interest in running for President, Vice President, Secretary, or Treasurer should approach the nominating committee, and submit their names for the ballot. Nominees will be announced in November, with voting occurring in December.

In other business, Club Librarian Spencer Johnson indicated that he brought books for loan to the meeting today, as well as some freebies left over from the Photography Boot camp, for anyone who is interested.

Finally, Treasurer Bonnie Bryant provided her report. She advised that the club currently has 75 paid members, with a balance of $1,983.45 in our account. Bonnie circulates an attendance sign-in sheet at every meeting, and encourages all in attendance to sign, as well as maintaining the monthly snack sign-up sheet. We are always in need of volunteers to bring a snack for the group, and are looking for volunteers beginning with the December meeting. Bonnie will supply the paper products, and will send an e-mail reminder to you the week the snack is due.

With our business concluded, Jeff introduced today’s program, “Lenses,” by Club member T.O. Galloway. Throughout the business portion of the meeting, T.O. treated us to a video showing how camera lenses are made. After viewing the video, we could all clearly see what T.O. then explained - lenses are labor intensive, with many portions done by hand. Over 100 materials are used – glass is mixed, melted, formed, crushed – then glass sheets are hand-cut – hand pressed – and grinded and polished again and again. 

Allen and T.O.Lenses come in all shapes and sizes; expensive glass equals good photos – but, how do you choose a lens?  Wide or telephoto lenses are great for scenery, but not great for portraits – they tend to make people look fat. Choose a Portrait lens for outstanding people pictures.

Prime lenses vs. Zoom lenses – Primes provide a fixed length and are generally smaller and lighter. Zoom lenses feature a variable length, but tend to be heavier and can be more expensive.

What are the two most expensive features when buying a lens? Telephoto plus wide/constant aperture features. Sigma has come out with a new lens which features a constant aperture throughout the image – an exciting new advancement.

Speaking of advancements, the last 5 to 10 years have yielded the most advanced camera lenses ever made, as the technology to produce them did not exist before this time. An example of this is improvements in the focusing motors. New focusing motors use sound waves to drive the motor as opposed to using a standard DC motor with gears. This yields a quieter, faster focusing and more accurate lens. Before investing in a new lens with new focusing motors, keep in mind that these lenses won’t work on many older camera bodies.

What is the difference between a regular lens and a pro-lens? Pro lenses feature additional weather proofing and are built stronger, to withstand harder use.

Vibration Reduction is a feature built into most digital lenses which is provided now routinely by most camera companies. When shooting on a tripod, be sure and turn Vibration Reduction features “off.” When shooting on a tripod, there should be no vibration issues, and if there are no vibration issues but this feature is turned on, the lens will still try to correct for motion, sometimes creating some.

Cameras are built with different sensor sizes, and these sizes determine the type of lens you buy, as certain lenses work only on certain camera bodies. An example of this is a “full frame” camera (very expensive), which takes only full frame lenses.

There are many “special” lenses which can be purchased for special shooting needs. Some examples of special lenses are extreme depth of field (dof) lenses, tilt/shift lenses with small apertures, and macro lenses which offer the ability to shoot extremely close up.

In closing out his program, T.O. offered the following alternatives to purchasing expensive new lenses. To extend the reach of an existing lens, you may purchase a teleconverter. A teleconverter is a secondary lens which is mounted between the camera and a photographic lens. Its job is to enlarge the central part of an image obtained by the objective lens. Teleconverters (sometimes called extenders or multipliers) are generally much cheaper than a new lens and can multiply the focal length of your lens by anything from 1.4 times to 2 times.

When buying a teleconverter, keep in mind that you should buy the brand that matches the lenses/camera you own, so the electronics will be compatiable, and work at peak efficiency. Also, when using a teleconverter, you will have to compensate for the loss of light.

To bring items closer to an existing lens, consider buying and using extension tubes. They can also be a great replacement for a macro lens, and are much cheaper to purchase.

We thanked T.O. for his very informative presentation, and the club promptly took a 15-minute stretch and snack break.

After the break, T.O. entertained us with his slideshow, created on behalf of the Calvert Animal Welfare League. It featured many adorable animals and fun, catchy music, highlighting the good work that T.O. and many others do as part of the Calvert Animal Welfare League.

Next up it was time for our critique session. Five images were submitted this month for the assignment “Night Photos.” Jim, Megan, T.O., and Guy were among those that offered thoughtful critiques of the images.

In closing out this month’s meeting, Jeff highlighted the club’s upcoming events. On Wednesday, October 30, at 7:30 p.m. – Fairview Library - Jeff with host a segment on Black and White Processing.

Saturday, November 2 at 3:00 p.m. is the club’s next photo trip, also hosted by Jeff, when participants will meet to shoot the National Mall at night. The sun will set that day at 6:00 p.m., with twilight occurring at 6:30. Those who are interested in attending should watch their
e-mail for the details of the upcoming trip, including exactly where to meet.

Finally, next month’s meeting will be held on Saturday, November 16th at the Prince Frederick campus of the College of Southern Maryland. Our assignment for this meeting is Black and White photography. Our guest speaker will be Brian Flynn, a photographer, author, and psychologist, who has written the book “The Wisdom of Stones.”
Wisdom of Stones combines fine photography and inspirational text intended to provoke thought, promote reflection, and engender connections between people and their environment.

Until next time, as you work on your Black and White assignment for November, remember that “When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls!” ― Ted Grant


2nd Annual Bootcamp

Karl Barth

By Karl BarthLast year the Calvert Photography Club held its first boot camp to help inexperienced photographers get more comfortable with their camera and shoot outside of auto mode.  The event was well received and a great success for the club along with the members/volunteers who put it together.

As a result of that success, a second boot camp was planned and scheduled for October 12.  Like last year, the workshop was held at Annemarie Gardens in Lusby, MD.

In planning the workshop, the lessons along with exercises would be the same as last year.  There would be a lesson then hands on exercises after the lesson.  The lessons focused on Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO.  In addition the handouts from last year’s workshop were reused with some minor tweaking.

On the day of the workshop the club members and volunteers faced two issues: Mother Nature and setting up the classroom.  The forecast called for scattered showers throughout the day.  There was hope the rain would hold off but in case it didn’t there was a Plan B.  The other issue was Annemarie Gardens wouldn’t let us setup the day before because of an event held in the classroom.   Not to mention they don’t open the gates until 9 am.

As soon as the gates opened the club members and volunteers sprung into action and got the classroom along with registration table setup very quickly.  By 9:30 everyone was registered and had their workshop folder.  It was truly a tremendous effort by everyone to work together to get this done quickly especially when students were already arriving and anxious to get started.

Overall the workshop was another success for the club.  The weather wasn’t a major issue despite some drizzling during the lessons.  The students each got a goodie bag full of free stuff from Sigma.  Sigma was very gracious and provided a t-shirt, thermos, and 2 GB thumb drive.  Also in the bag were special offers from Nations Photo Lab and O’Reilly publishing. 

Special thanks goes to:

  • T.O. Galloway for coordinating and planning the workshop.  He did a great job with the lessons and explaining the material.
  • Robbin Haigler and Bonnie Bryant for getting the gift bags filled with some great free stuff from Sigma, lunch, and snacks.  They also did a great job with getting everyone registered quickly and putting together the workshop folders.
  • Finally thanks to Spencer Johnson. Richard MacQuade, Allen Barth, Dan Emmart, and Mike Donahue for helping out with the exercises.

Terrapin Park for a Sunset

Karl Barth

Photo by Karl BarthOn October 5, the Calvert Photography Club’s monthly photo trip took place at Terrapin Park for a sunset shoot.  The park is located on the Eastern Shore along the banks of the Chesapeake Bay and is about 20 minutes from Annapolis on a really good traffic day.

Aside from the problems I had with Google Maps on my phone, the park wasn’t too hard to find.  I arrived early to explore the park before our meet up time.  Despite the unusual warm weather for October, walking around the park was relatively easy since the trails were flat.  As Jeff mentioned in his email, the walk to the beach was about 10 minutes.  

The only wildlife I saw were a group of deer.  Unfortunately they ran off before I could take a picture.  I was hoping to see more wildlife but maybe it was too warm for them too.

At 5:15 we met as a group then headed towards the beach area.  When we got to the beach it looked like the sunset was going to be a bust.  There was a haze around the Bay Bridge which would not have been very appealing around sunset.  Thankfully the haze burnt off just in time and there was an incredible sunset along with great colors in the sky.  

My goal was to get some long exposures but I was not getting the results I hoped for.  It also doesn’t help when you have a “dirty” sensor which I hope to get fixed soon.  I was able to get some great shots especially when the sun was going behind the bridge span.

Overall it was a great trip.  I’m glad the sunset wasn’t a bust for everyone.   If you weren’t able to make the trip, I would recommend coming here at least once to capture a sunset it was really worth it.