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The Wisdom of Stones with Dr. Brian Flynn

Lisa Snider

The Calvert Photography Club met on Saturday, November 16, 2013, for its monthly meeting. President Jeff Smallwood introduced our host for this month’s meeting, Dr. Richard Fleming, who was kind enough to allow the CPC to meet this month at the Prince Frederick campus of the College of Southern Maryland (“CSM”).  Dr. Fleming provided an overview of the new “green” building which opened this fall on campus, and mentioned a possible opportunity for our club to provide photographs for hallways, nooks, and crannies in the building. The Arts Alliance will coordinate with CSM to provide large pieces of artwork for the walls. 

CSM by Lisa SniderAfter the overview, club members were treated to a tour of the facility. Unique to the building is a flat roof, which is literally green, as plants have been added as roof-cover. 

Back in our meeting room, Jeff introduced our guest speaker for today’s program, Dr. Brian W. Flynn. Dr. Flynn is a multiple award-winning photographer and psychologist, and the former Rear Admiral/Assistant Surgeon General in the U.S. Public Health Service. His professional career has been spent dealing with the individual and collective psychological impacts of large-scale events, such as disasters and terrorism. For the past thirty years, he has gone on-site immediately following most of the nation’s most tragic events, including the Columbine High School shootings, the Oklahoma City bombings, and the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. He is currently an Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, at USUHS.

Dr. Flynn visited us today to discuss the writing of his two books, “The Wisdom of Stones,” and “The Voices of Stones: On Hope and Loss,” which feature his photography taken at his summer home on Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada, and his astute observations on life.

His presentation was a fascinating one, as he chronicled his life’s journey, and how the collective of all of his life experiences led to the photography and writing of his first book, “The Wisdom of Stones.” “Any creative endeavor,” he offered, “is the culmination of all of your experiences, thus far.”

Dr. Flynn spoke of the cycles of life, and the patterns that can be found in nature. He emphasized the comfort one can find in difficult times by getting outside and reconnecting with nature. Dr. Flynn spoke about the beauty and healing he experiences when he visits his summer home on Campobello Island, and the breath-taking photography opportunities that exist, there. Dr. Flynn stated that images and symbols are sometimes more powerful and effective at cutting across cultural and language barriers than the written word, and that is why he loves photography so much. The faith community and military, he added, are especially good are demonstrating the importance of symbols and rituals, which can provide structure and comfort to one’s life.

In writing his two books, Dr. Flynn effectively combined his life-long love of photography and nuggets of wisdom, and draws upon his extensive background in psychology to show a correlation between the permanence of stones and the resiliency of the human spirit.

Brian Flynn by Lisa SniderHe was inspired to write his books about the stones on Campobello Island after witnessing the profound effect they seem to have on all the visitors to the island, who will walk along the shore of the 4 beaches for hours, collecting them.

One incident in particular gave him the idea for his books. A friend on the island shared this story with Dr. Flynn. A widow on the island was visited by a friend, who recently lost his wife. Grief-stricken, the widower wondered how he could go on with his life without his wife. The widow left his side for a moment, and returned with a stone from her vast collection of stones, gathered on the island. She handed him the stone, and comforted him by saying “like this stone, over time, your hard edges will become soft and while you will remain a solid person, you will learn how to roll. Your life will never be the same without your wife, but you will go on.”

After discussing the genesis of the book, he explored the process he went through to find a publisher for the first book, and the faith required to believe in your project through continual rejection, in the hopes of eventual success. Success in the publishing world should not be measured by the expectation of great financial reward, Dr. Flynn offered, but rather in the feelings of personal satisfaction.

Dr. Flynn then took questions from the audience, and offered to stay after our meeting, to sell and sign books to those who were interested. We thank Dr. Flynn for his very thought-provoking visit, and sharing his life’s journey and passion with us.

The club then took a 5-minute break to stretch and grab a snack, and returned for a brief item of business. Karl Barth recently sent out an
e-mail, soliciting nominations for the 2014 roster of Board of Directors nominees. It was hoped that at least 2 individuals would step up and run for the elected positions of President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer of the club. Elections will be held between now and the December meeting, via electronic ballot. The new Board of Directors will be put in place beginning with the January, 2014 meeting.

Karl announced the following nominees for these offices, and also solicited for any additions to the roster from the floor, for which there were none: President – Karl Barth (Karl will run unopposed); Vice President – Brenda Schillaci and Beth Graeme; Secretary – Ursula Lawrence and Sandy Carr; and Treasurer – Bonnie Bryant and Teresa Barth. Club members in good standing should watch their e-mail for an opportunity to vote for our 2014 Board of Directors.

With this business item concluded, we moved on to this month’s Image Critique. Our assignment was “Black and White,” and we received 4 images for critique. Two minutes were allotted for each image, and Jim, Guy, Sandy, Lin, Shaara, Megan and Spencer were among those who offered their thoughts and suggestions.

This month’s slideshow was presented by Sandy Carr, featuring her photography of Charleston, South Carolina, captured during a 2-week trip with her sister. Her images of the old south were riveting, and the soundtrack which she added, harkening back to the days of the Civil War, made for a wonderful sensory experience for all.

In closing today’s meeting, Jeff outlined CPC’s upcoming events. On December 7th, the CPC will meet at Jefferson Patterson Park at 4:45 p.m., to capture the sunset along the water (this is the earliest sunset of the year). Next month’s assignment is “The Body,” to be interpreted as everyone wishes, and Guy Stephens will present a program on the use of Camera Phones. Beginning with the January, 2014 meeting, there are openings for slideshow presenters, and everyone is encouraged to volunteer and sign up.

As I wind down my second-year tenure as Secretary of the club, I would like to leave you with the following quote from Ansel Adams, which further expounds upon the words of Dr. Flynn: 

“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.” 
― Ansel Adams


Beware of the Oompa Loompa

Karl Barth

In reading the title of this blog you are probably asking yourself what the heck are you talking about Karl?  Well I’ll explain it to you.

My wife and I recently celebrated our 13 wedding anniversary.  If you are fan of my page (http://www.facebook.com/kbarthphoto), you’ll know that I’ve been doing a 365 day project.  Anyway for my picture of the day, I wanted to take a picture of my wife and I under this tree that had some beautiful fall colors.  I setup my camera on a tripod and had my daughter take the picture with a wireless remote.  The picture looked great.

During post processing though, I edited the photo using Nik Color Efex Pro with minor adjustments from Lightroom.  I use Color Efex Pro for a majority of my photos.  When I posted the image on Facebook though, my wife’s face looked like a Oompa Loompa from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  Her face was too orange.

Although it was a great shot and a lot of people loved it I was still bothered by the result.  I didn’t like the skin tone on my wife.  I decided to edit the original image using only Lightroom.  The results were much better.  My wife’s face wasn’t too orange.

So what happened?  Well first my white balance was set to cloudy.  Why?  It gives a sense of warmth to the image especially when doing portraits.  The skin tone won’t be so ghostly.  It doesn’t matter whether it is sunny or cloudy, the cloudy white balance will work.  

Secondly, during post processing with Color Efex I added a brilliant/warm filter completely forgetting that I had my white balance set to cloudy.  Plus I added a strong contrast filter.  As a result that created the Oompa Loompa look.

By Karl Barth

While I love Nik Color Efex the lesson I learned from this little gaffe is that it is not always necessary to use it for post processing.  Plus I should only use it for nature or landscape photography. That’s the thing I love and hate about photography.  You learn from your mistakes but you can also miss those golden moments. Oh well…lesson learned.  Thanks for reading.