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Monthly Meeting April 2016

Gloria Occhipinti

The April meeting of the Calvert Photography Club was held on Saturday, April 16, 2016.

Guest Speaker: 

Today we held a mini Photoshop workshop where members could bring their laptops and get some hands on experience and assistance in applying the techniques learned in class.  This was the first of a series of presentations we hope to provide on Photoshop.  As we continue our series throughout the year each subsequent presentation will include more features, increasing in complexity to build our knowledge and skills in Photoshop.  This month, club member Carl Occhipinti introduced some basic Photoshop features including working with Layers.

Photoshop was designed for a number of different things according to Carl, not just for photographers, and there are a number of ways to do everything.  Carl recommended the following settings:

Under Edit – set Color Settings to Prophoto RGB which is the largest gamut (this is because you can go to a smaller gamut later if you need to, but you can’t go from a smaller to larger.)  Set Color Management policies to Convert to Working RGB.

Bridge is a file management system that comes with Photoshop.  It is only for organizing your photos.

Camera Raw also comes with Photoshop, and here you can do the same initial adjustments as in Lightroom.  If you open your photo in Camera Raw and make some initial adjustments, then press Shift-Open to open the photo as a smart object.  Opening as a smart object will give you the option to go back and change things later without destroying any picture quality.  Also, Carl says, always work on a duplicate later, never on your original.  To make a new layer in Photoshop you can press Ctrl-J or drag the layer to be duplicated down to the Make New Layer icon on the Layers Palette.  Make sure that the new layer is highlighted to begin working on it.  You can name layers just by double clicking on the layer in the Layers Palette.

Blending Modes is a pull-down menu on the Layers Palette which allows you to make various adjustments to the layers.  If you want to lighten areas of a photo one good way to do that is as follows:

Make a new layer.  Change the blending mode on that layer to Screen.  This will lighten the entire layer.  Then hold the Alt key while clicking on the Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers Palette.  This will put a black mask on the layer effectively hiding that Screen layer that you just made.  Now make sure that the color is set to white and using a soft paint brush tool, paint in any areas of the photo that you want to lighten.  You can adjust the opacity of the paint brush tool at the top of the page and paint in areas a little at a time until you are satisfied.  You can also adjust the opacity of the entire layer in the Layers Palette if you feel that your paint brush adjustments are too much.  The size of the paint brush can be easily adjusted by pressing the [ key to make the brush smaller or the ] key to make the brush larger.

To darken portions of an image you can use the same technique as above using the Multiply blending mode instead of Screen.

Another method of darkening or lightning areas of a photo is by using a Curves Adjustment layer.  Click on the Create a Curves Adjustment Layer on the Adjustment Layer Palette. Then click on the finger at the top of the Curves Palette and click on an area of the image that you want to lighten or darken.  Then drag down to darken or up to lighten.  This also will darken or lighten the entire image.  Now do Ctrl-I which will put a black mask on the image, again effectively hiding the adjustment you just created.  Now using the Paint Brush Tool, paint in with white on the areas to be adjusted.  Again, as with the first method, you can adjust the opacity on the Brush Tool when painting in the adjustments, or adjust the opacity of the entire image by changing the opacity in the Layers Palette.

Here is another interesting trick.  Say you have some photos of a group of people and one person looks better in one shot while everyone else may look better in another shot.  Do Select All to select the image where most of the group looks the best.  Then do Edit Copy to Paste that image on top of the other image where maybe one of the group looks better.  To line up the images first select both layers on the Layers Palette.  Then click on Edit - Auto Align Layers.  You can then change the Blending Mode to Difference and use the Move Tool to line the images up further.  Next, click on the Mask icon in the Layers Palette and paint in with a black brush to expose the person who looks better in the bottom layer.

To Flatten your image into one Layer once you are done, click on the icon at the top right hand side of the Layers Palette and then click Flatten Image.

Club Business:

A slide show with Scenes from Philadelphia was presented by Sandy Carr.

The April photo assignment was “Black-Out” (Photos showing black or dark backgrounds).  Winners for April were:  3rd Place – Melissa Chin,  2nd Place – Don Tyndall,  1st Place – Rick McQuade.

The May photo assignment is “Food Lovers”.  The limit is 2 images per person and 1500 pixel max on the long edge.


Monthly Meeting March 2016

Gloria Occhipinti

The March 2016 meeting of the Calvert Photography Club was held on March 19, 2016. 

Guest Speaker:

Our guest speaker today was club member Jeff Smallwood who is, in his own words, “a skeptic-scientist-engineer with a passion for photography, philosophy, software development and everything science.”  He gave us a very interesting presentation on Image Manipulation, Optic Research, and Brain Science. Jeff reminded us that all of the images we see in advertising, on the Internet, or in any printed media, even the news media, do not necessarily depict reality.  Though photo manipulation is much more common today with digital images and photo editing software available, it has actually occurred throughout the history of photography.  There are a number of historical instances, some of the most notorious and controversial of which can be found in the article, “Photo Tampering Throughout History” at:  http://www.fourandsix.com/.

In addition, there are often things that are right before our eyes that we miss due to something called inattentional blindness.  Rather than focusing on every little detail of the world around us, we concentrate on the things that are most important to us at any given time and our brain fills in the gaps based on our past experiences, biases, mood,  etc.  If we are concentrating our attention on one demanding task, we may be oblivious to other things going on around us.  Take this Selective Attention test at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGQmdoK_ZfY .  Pretty interesting, huh!?

It is also important to remember that all of our impressions are not correct.  The book by Daniel Kahneman called Thinking Fast and Slow addresses two different ways that the brain forms thoughts.  Fast thoughts are automatic, subconscious, and effortless, while slow thoughts are calculating, conscious, and effortful.  Fast thinking is based in emotions; slow thinking is based in logic.  Check out the following video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JiTz2i4VHFw

Visual input is heavily weighted by our brain.  In other words, what we see has a higher impact than what we hear, smell, taste, or feel.  Visual elements can strongly influence both emotion and memory.  However, our memories are far from perfect and change over time.  In addition, we all have a narrative that we bring to everything we see and that has an impact on our perception of visual media.  For this reason, eyewitness testimony is not always as reliable as one may think.  Every time we recall a memory our brain is open to changing that memory.  False memories can easily be implanted, especially in time of stress.  For more information on this check out the following article entitled, “Is Eyewitness Testimony Too Unreliable to Trust?” at:  http://theweek.com/articles/480511/eyewitness-testimony-unreliable-trust  This. is one reason why photography has become a critical element in telling a story and documenting events.  Everyone is empowered to create and share photographic media for whatever purposes they choose.  But as our exposure to photographic media has grown, so has the capability to manipulate photographic images.

So how can you tell if an image has been manipulated or staged?  Ask yourself, is it just too amazing?  Is it too good to be true?  Is there an agenda?  Does it strongly align with a particular political or religious perspective?  If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then there is a good chance that the photo is either staged or that some manipulation has taken place.  Some other things to look at are incorrect shadow angles and lighting, reflections, inconsistencies in the relative size of a person or an object, repetitive sections or elements in the image, and cropping and masking mistakes (such as extra limbs or fingers or other odd remnants!)  Another thing to consider is the source – is it credible?  We have a tendency to believe because we want it to be true, but remain skeptical!

And when is it ok to manipulate or stage a photo?  The key lies in what you plan to do with that photo – is the image only meant to be an artistic creation, or is it intended to document an actual situation?  Jeff says to ask yourself, “If the manipulation were made public, would it create distrust, doubt, or foster an unreliable relationship between the producer, subject, and consumer of the image?”  Once an image has been made public, even if it is later disclosed as having been staged or manipulated, people have already formed an opinion or impression based on that original image and that may be hard to change even after they know the truth!

When editing your own images, Jeff suggests looking at them upside down.  This will allow you to get a fresh perspective (and hopefully pick up on those extra body parts or odd remnants of deleted objects that we may otherwise miss!)  The more we remember how our brain works, the more we can pick up on details that we didn’t at first perceive.

Club Business:

Sharon Shifflett presented her slideshow “Donna’s 50th Birthday Party” and shared her ideas for making videos of grandchildren and other family events.

The photo assignment for March was Pastel Tones.  This months’ winning photos were submitted by:  1st place - Beth Phifer,  2nd place - Tammi Gorsak,  and 3rd place – Lisa Goldman

The April photo assignment is Black Out – photos showing black or dark backgrounds.


Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

Brenda Schillaci

April 2, 2016

This trip started out on a chilly, drizzly morning.  It was hard to believe we might get clear skies later in the day to take pictures of the outside of this impressive Byzantine-Romanesque building.  While waiting and hoping for that, we had plenty of photo opportunities inside the Basilica, which is “the largest Roman Catholic church in the United States and North America, and is one of the ten largest churches in the world,” and, also, “houses the largest collection of contemporary ecclesiastical art on earth,”  according to their website.photo by Brenda Schillaci

There is the smaller, but lovely, Crypt Church on the lower level, and the much larger Upper Church on the level above.  There are 70 small chapels and oratories throughout the structure. The Upper Church has section after section of high, vaulted ceilings, plus two domes, covered with art work including mosaics, stained glass, sculptures and polished stone carvings. 
Again, taken from their website: “Dominating the North Apse of the Great Upper Church is the Byzantine style mosaic Christ in Majesty. It is one of the largest mosaic images of Jesus Christ in the world and contains more than 4000 shades and colors.  Other mosaic images depict the Creation of the World, the Incarnation, Redemption, the Outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and the Last Judgment.”  I tried to take photographs of all these ceilings and mosaics. Sadly, I don’t think I did justice to the amazing colors of these art works.photo by Brenda Schillaci

I managed to find my way outside in between drizzles to discover a lovely garden with a fountain and sculptures of Mary, plus a gorgeous tulip bed on the lawn.  I managed to see parts of the outside of the Basilica before the rain drove me back inside.  By then, it was almost time to meet up with the group in the cafeteria to plan for the afternoon.  First, I browsed the bookstore.  There is also a gift shop, which I didn’t get a chance to enter.

The cafeteria had a choice of two entrees, plus a nice selection of sides and desserts for very reasonable prices.  There is a lighted (what I assume is a) stained glass rendition of the Basilica on the wall in the seating area that I especially liked.  After eating and chatting awhile, I took a quick trip outside to see that the sun was actually shining, and big, white clouds were in the sky.  I grabbed my stuff and headed back outside to get exterior shots of the Basilica, and the surrounding Catholic University buildings.photo by Brenda Schillaci
 
The only problem with photographing the outside of the Basilica is that every 10 to 20 feet the view changes.  A tower comes into view here, a carved sculpture on the building there, an arched opening onto a balcony the next little way around…each section as beautiful as the next, and I just had to keep stopping to take just “one more shot.” It is very hard to pick just one picture of the exterior to share for this blog!photo by Brenda Schillaci

The ladies I rode in with and I decided to leave the Basilica and head over to the Arboretum, if the weather stayed cooperative.  It did!  I enjoyed seeing it for the first time.  There is currently a Bonsai exhibit, an Ikebana exhibit, an herb garden, a group of columns on a hill that came from the U. S. Capitol when it was remodeled, and other wonderful sounding areas that I didn’t have time to see on this trip.
 
Every place we go on the club photo trips leaves me more impressed than I could have imagined.  I have gone to so many wonderful places I would never have seen without the influence of Calvert Photography Club.  If you haven’t participated in these trips, please consider joining in!