The September meeting of the Calvert Photography Club was called to order by our President, T.O. Galloway, who was also our guest speaker today, along with club member, Rick Macquade. The topic was entitled “Focus on Focus” and we learned about the different focus modes that are available to us on our cameras as well as how to test and make adjustments to obtain the best focus possible.
When you set your camera lens to AF (auto focus), you have a choice between AF-S - Single Servo, or AF-C - Continuous Servo (for Nikon) or One-Shot and AI-Servo (on a Canon). AF-S or One-Shot mode is good for photographing subjects that don’t move, such as flowers or portraits etc. It locks the focus on the non-moving object that you want to photograph. AF-C or AI-Servo mode is good to use when photographing moving objects. When your camera is set to AF-C and you focus on a moving subject, such as a dog running towards you, the camera will keep re- focusing and the focus will stay on the animal as long as your shutter button is held half way down.
There are a number of focus points in your camera. Focus points are the little empty squares or dots that you see when you look through your viewfinder. Different cameras may have a different number of focus points. A greater number of focus points gives you more AF points to use when composing a shot and focusing on a particular area of an image. Also the camera AF system can use the different focus points for tracking a subject. In addition, there are also different types of AF points – vertical and cross-type sensors. T.O. explained that when shopping for a camera body it is important to pay attention to the total number of AF points along with the number of cross-type sensors. Cross-type sensors are more accurate than vertical sensors because they can detect contrast on both vertical and horizontal lines. The more cross-type sensors your camera has, the better and more accurate your camera’s autofocus will be.
Rick Macquade gave us a brief explanation on the use of back button focusing. Back button focusing is a way of separating the focus button from the shutter release button. This allows you to focus on your subject, then re-compose if needed, and then shoot as many images as you want without re-focusing. The back button is used for focusing. The shutter release is used only to release the shutter and expose the picture. By pressing and releasing the back button you lock the focus on your subject and if the subject doesn’t move, the camera stays focused on that subject (even if someone walks between you and the subject.) Conversely, if you press and hold the back button, the camera will continuously focus on a moving subject. So you can do either single focusing or continuous focusing depending on how you hold the button! Either press and release to lock focus, or continuously press for continuous focus.
Did you know that your camera may not be focusing as accurately as it should? And that some cameras have the capability of adjusting the focus point for the individual lens? For the remainder of our meeting time, T.O. And Rick helped a number of club members check their lens alignment using either a Lens Align product (around $100) or Dot-Tune (which is free – information can be found online!)
The October photo assignment is: Illustrate the concept of “Resist”.
The August meeting of the Calvert Photography Club was opened by our President, T.O. Galloway. There is no Wednesday meeting scheduled for August. However, the topic of our meeting on September 19, 2015 will be “Focus on Focus” and will include an extra mini workshop to test and adjust the focus of your lens and camera.
Our guest speakers today were Tom and Carol Davis of Your Journey Studios. Tom and Carol, a husband and wife team from Southern Maryland, capture the essence of life and the personal journeys of their subjects. For them it has become a passion. Taking their time to listen to and understand the people they photograph enhances the story they tell. They shared with the club the setup for their unique Christmas portraits taken for the 2014 Christmas season, something they intend to recreate for 2015!
The idea for their holiday portraits came last year when they were inspired after attending a Light Pro workshop in North Carolina – http://lightproexpo.com It began as a way to build their portfolio and took off mainly through posts of their work on Facebook. Their set up was located in their living room which they transformed into a cozy log cabin Christmas scene. They began by taking some high resolution shots of a log cabin background which they had printed on banner material at their son’s business, Hilltop Graphics – http://hilltopsignsmd.com Although they used a satin finish, Carol says in retrospect, to reduce glare a matte finish would work better. The window was done in a similar fashion and is attached to the background with heavy duty two sided tape. Curtains tacked to the wall over the window disguise the fact that it is not a real window!
For the rest of the scene they used mostly items that they already had on hand such as old toys and Christmas decorations. A few items were purchased inexpensively such as a wooden rocking horse which Carol found at a second hand shop and some battery operated lights. The Christmas tree was their own. Carol says they are always looking for items they can obtain inexpensively to use for props and so collecting items for their sets has become a year round scavenger hunt. Changing things up periodically and switching out items in the scene keeps it interesting. It is also good when your subjects have a connection to the objects in the picture and you want to create a scene that gives your viewers an emotional connection to the image as well. During their Christmas shoots Carol and Tom try to create a whole experience for their clients by tying the scene together with music and scent as one enters the door.
For lighting the scene they used a combination of different kinds of lighting. Depending on the mood you want to create for the scene there are a number of options including flashes, strobes, video lights, ring lights, and battery operated lights. After some trial and error they learned that “simple is better!” A shot list of ideas created ahead of time (basically a storyline for the photo shoot,) helps creates a more relaxed experience for both the photographer and the clients!
For your white balance, it is better to choose one of the white balance settings then to use auto because depending on where in the scene you focus the camera, the lighting could come out differently. Also, the use of a good quality lens makes a difference in the crispness of the image. However, good quality does not have to mean the most expensive. Carol and Tom use Sigma lens which are good quality, but more econmically priced than Nikon lens.
Post work begins in Lightroom where all minimal adjustments to the images are made. Then, to create a painterly look, they use the Mixer Brush on different layers in Photoshop, painting in the light and dark areas to accentuate the highlights and shadows.
Carol and Tom also specialize in event photography as well as high school senior and family portraits.
Capturing memories and creating journeys is their ultimate goal. You can find them on the web at http://www.yourjourneystudios.com and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/YourJourneyStudios.
The Club picnic will be held at Jug Bay on Saturday, September 5th, noon-4:00 p.m. Further information will be sent to club members. The photo assignment for this month was H2O. Photos were submitted by Sandy Carr, Debbin McIntosh, Jim Rogers, Karl Barth, Rich Macquade, Teresa Barth, and Tammi Gorsak. Next month’s assignment is: Hot! Hot! Hot! Use your imagination!