Black and White Photography with Jeff Smallwood

Gloria Occhipinti

The January meeting was opened by our new President, T.O. Galloway.
Our new librarian, Brenda Schillaci, reported that she is still in process of getting the library in order and there will soon be a library update available on the club’s webpage.
The treasurer’s report was given by our Treasurer, Bonnie Bryant, who also reminded everyone that she is now collecting dues.  The fees for members are as follows:

• Individual: $25
• Family: $35
• Juniors: $15

Refreshment sign-up is open for the whole year, so anyone willing to bring refreshments is encouraged to sign-up!

Also, the club member survey is still open so club members are urged to complete and submit the survey as soon as possible so that all feedback and ideas can be taken into consideration in the planning of this year’s activities.

Guest Speaker:

Photograph by Jeff SmallwoodOur guest speaker was Jeff Smallwood, one of our own, who gave a wonderful presentation on Black and White Photography (Everything You Wanted to Know But Were Afraid to Ask.)  The presentation began with an excellent slideshow showing a variety of his black and white images taken in 2012 and before.

Jeff started out with some of the early history of black and white photography beginning in the early 1800’s with Louis Daguerre who developed the daguerreotype process. 
People started experimenting with color photography as early as the 1840’s.  An American minister named Levi Hill invented a color process around 1851 which came to be known as “Hillotypes”.  However, Hill’s color process was met with skepticism during his lifetime and he died before anyone else found out his technique.  It was more than a hundred years before anyone was able to replicate his method.

What makes black and white photography work?
Jeff says, “Photography is a medium of capturing light.”  Black and white photography makes you focus on the light as opposed to the color and can also make you pay more attention to the details in an image.  There is less distraction, so shapes, lines, and patterns are brought out more.  Portraits can be very powerful in black and white as well.
Critical elements of black and white photography are:

- Lighting and Contrast
- Patterns and Shapes
- Subject
- Human Emotions
- What Else?

Photograph by Jeff SmallwoodYou can see many examples of Jeff’s work in both Black and White and in Color on his website at:
Included on this website is a step by step process entitled “Creating Gritty Black and White Portraits” from January of 2014, which can be found at:
Converting Images to Black and White

There are multiple ways of converting a color digital image to black and white.  Jeff indicated that images can be easily converted to black and white in both Lightroom and Photoshop.  Color sliders can then be used to adjust different areas of the photo to bring out details.  Color filters can be used as well to adjust areas of the image.

Another good way to convert images to black and white is through the use of plug-ins such as Nik Silver Efex Pro which contains a number of presets that can be used for different effects as well as sliders, filters, and control points which can be used to adjust the entire image or just to accentuate certain areas of the image.

Jeff advised that if you want to buy Plug-ins, don’t pay full price!  You can easily find discount codes on a number of photo websites.

Meeting regular business:

Photo critiques are back this year by popular demand.  The member photo assignment for this month was Speed.  Photos were submitted by Debbie McIntosh, Tammi Gorsak, and Betty Tilley.

Next month’s assignment is:  Verti-rama (vertical panos).

Our next photo trip in on February 7th and will be to the Daughters of American Revolution Museum.  Further information will be sent out closer to this date.

Winter Mini Workshop

Brenda Schillaci

On January 3rd, our What? When? How? Mini Workshop was a boot camp style meeting where we learned some techniques to practice inside when it’s too cold to go out and shoot.

Photo by Brenda SchillaciWe met at the Prince Frederick Library to try our hands at some techniques to help fill those cold, dark, wet winter days when we are stuck inside but still want to capture some great photos.

Karl covered custom white balance techniques.  With natural light at the windows and overhead fluorescent lighting, plus lighter and darker areas in the room, it would be difficult to judge the white balance from the ones available in-camera.

Setting custom white balance was helpful for achieving our best results, especially when shooting the milk and food coloring abstracts that Sharon was demonstrating.  The white of the milk could look much too blue or much too yellow, but setting custom balance helped capture the whiteness of the milk, while getting truer blues, yellows, greens and pinks/reds from the food coloring.

At Nick’s station, he was showing how photo stacking using a camera on a rail system to take incremental photos let’s us compile a shot that is clear and sharp from the nearest point of an object to the farthest point.

Tammi sent an email ahead of time recommending some smart phone apps that she enjoys, giving people time to download a few before the meeting.  She was available to talk about these apps and answer any questions we might have about them.  She also brought a bouquet of brightly colored flowers and a plate covered with flat vase marbles that were sprayed with liquid for a dewy effect, which we used to practice macro photography.

Photo by Brenda SchillaciT.O. was present with a variety of filters for our use.  Photos of some of the results people achieved were displayed on the large screen in the meeting room.  One popular filter made the lights on the Christmas tree look like stars. There were also a few ideas for making your own filters, such as a stocking attached over the lens for a foggy looking shot.

Overall, we did learn some techniques that answered the premise of the meeting:

WHAT? to photograph
WHEN? it is colder/grayer/wetter and
HOW? to do it

Our next trip will be to the DAR Museum the first Saturday of February. We hope to see you there!