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Photographers Prepare to go to the Penitentiary

Ursula Lawrence

The Club met on a beautiful sunny Saturday, after some of our members attended the breakfast hosted by the church.

Karl started the meeting by letting us know that this month’s photo trip to Baltimore was a great success, with some attendees already posting photos to Flickr.  He also mentioned that we now have calendar cards that list all the Club’s upcoming events, as well as business cards which we are encouraged to share!

Next was the Treasurer’s report:  we currently have 58 paid members and have collected $175 in membership dues ($25 for individual/$35 for family), and our balance is currently $2183.66.

We currently need volunteers to bring snacks, starting in May.  A signup sheet will be available at next month’s meeting.

Our next photo trip will be on Saturday, April 5, to Eastern State Penitentiary in Pennsylvania.

To prepare us for our trip to the prison and the many opportunities there for HDR photography, our speaker was Bill Conway.  Bill has visited the prison several times and has extensive knowledge of HDR photography.  Bill presented a slide show of his HDR photos of Eastern State and gave us some fantastic information on the topic, as well as lots of interesting information about the prison itself.

Eastern State was built by the Quakers, and opened in 1829.  It was quite revolutionary for its time, in that it did not punish prisoners with corporal punishment and bad treatment; instead, it attempted to move prisoners toward spiritual reflection and change through isolation and labor.  One of its most famous and notorious inmates was Al Capone, who was incarcerated there for 8 months for carrying a concealed weapon.

Bill’s presentation on HDR photography was extremely informative – below are some of the highlights:

For handheld photography, Bill recommends the following settings:

  • Use AEB (automatic exposure bracketing)
  • Exposure compensation: -2, 0, +2
  • Use one shot focusing mode
  • Use AV (shutter priority)
  • Use the lowest ISO possible, as HDR photography will increase chromatic aberration and noise
  • Use continuous shooting mode
  • Look at your histogram and make adjustments as necessary

Using a tripod without AEB

  • Turn off image stabilization
  • Use your remote trigger release
  • Use manual mode
  • Use AV – in this instance your aperture will remain constant and you’ll be making exposure changes by adjusting the shutter speed.
  • Highlights: in the histogram, make sure the “tail” ends at the center and everything else is on the left
  • Shadows : in the histogram, make sure the “tail” ends at the center and everything else is on the right

This month’s slide show was from Tammi Gorsak, the topic was photos highlighting the colors of the rainbow.

Next month’s photos assignment is “Decay.” 

Our speaker in April will be Danny Douglas, who will be giving a presentation on running a photography business.

We still need photos for the Solomon’s Island Visitor Center.  Photos should be on topics related to Calvert County.  The only cost involved will be a $15 fee for the framing; please send your submissions to Karl.


Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens at Druid Hill Park

Brenda Schillaci

This month’s photo trip was to the Howard Peter Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens at Druid Hill Park in Baltimore.  We chose this indoor location in case the weather was bad.  Although the weather outside was fairly cool and went from cloudy to clear to cloudy again, inside was a surprising range of temperatures.

Photo by BrendaEntering the gift shop/entry area after taking pictures outside the building, my camera lens steamed up quite a bit, and I noticed at least a couple other people having to clean theirs off, as well.  We were grateful to be able to shed our winter gear once we got inside, thanks to a small coat room provided behind the check out counter.

The Mediterranean greenhouse, which contained an impressively large rosemary plant and some lemon trees among many other plants, felt amazingly cool after spending time in the very warm Desert greenhouse, which had numerous wonderfully strange looking, prickly and twisty plants and cacti.  In between those two rooms was the lush Tropical Forest greenhouse.  One of the popular plants in this room for several of the photographers was a small banana tree with very large leaves and a small bunch of bananas with the inflorescence (flower-like growth) under it.  The koi pond, with its miniature waterfalls and ranges of bright sunlight and dim shadows was also a popular subject. 

The amazing orchid room yielded many gorgeous photographs.  The Rawlings Conservatory website describes the orchids this way: “One in 10 of the earth’s plant species is an orchid. The orchids on display are selected to showcase a representative range of varieties and are usually displayed only during their blooming period.”  We were lucky to see a variety of colors of blooms, including eye-catching yellows and oranges and some lovely purple shades, as well as more subdued, elegant blossoms.

Photo by BrendaThe last main room was the Palm House.  This room does a great job invoking the Victorian era conservatories they were striving to replicate.  I noted several groups of people just hanging out there chatting, as well as taking photos.  The leaves of the tall palms with the light shining through and the various textures and colors of the trunks fit in well with our “abstract” theme for this month. 

A few of the group also went to the Maryland Zoo afterward, since it is in the same park.  You can see a few of those photos on the group’s Flickr page, as well as a large selection of the stunning photos taken at the conservatory.

This destination would be well worth another trip in warm weather when the botanical gardens are blooming and we can enjoy the outdoor beauty, as well as the indoor displays


Recapping December, January, and February Meetings


Karl Barth

If you’ve missed any of our previous meetings don’t worry here is what you missed in our December, January, and February meetings.  In our December meeting, Guy Stephens started the meeting and was also our guest speaker.  Guy opened up the meeting by introducing the new club board for 2014

 President: Karl Barth
, Vice President: Brenda Schillaci
, Secretary: Ursula Lawrence
, Treasurer: Bonnie Bryant and 
Immediate Past President: Jeff Smallwood. 

After the introduction he began talking about mobile phone photography specifically the various apps and accessories used on mobile phones.  It was a great presentation and also inspired the club members to use their phones for photography.  As Guy likes to say “the best camera is the one you have with you.”  Afterwards, there was a critique session and a slideshow by Sandy Carr.

In our January meeting it was announced the weekday meetings would be coming back and take place the 4th Wednesday of each month.  The topics would range from Photo Editing to Critique Sessions. 

Next up was our guest speaker, Brandon Kopp from Photo Tourism DC (http://phototourismdc.com/).  Brandon talked about shooting in the Washington DC area and within the various buildings.  He even talked about shooting in the Library of Congress which was where the club was going for the February trip.  His presentation was very informative and offered great tips. 

After the break, the club was treated to a great slideshow by Jeff Smallwood.  In wrapping up the meeting, new club president Karl Barth talked about properly posting photos to Flickr.

For our February meeting, members were encouraged to bring in anything photography related for show and tell.  This was a great event last year.  Some of the items brought in were photo books and camera cleaning kits.  The show and tell was another success.

In wrapping up the meeting, the member slideshow was provided by Mike MacWilliams.  Club president Karl Barth ended the meeting by talking about the next photo assignment, abstract.