365 Days

Karl Barth

Well 2013 is in the books and a new year has arrived.  Of course with a new year comes the new years resolutions.  I’ve always found that resolutions are a waste of time because I never keep them.  I rather set goals for the year.  Goals have more substance and are more meaningful.  Just my opinion.

As I reflect on the past year, one of the biggest successes I had was my 365 day photo project.  That meant taking a picture everyday.  I tried doing this project in 2012 but quit after 4 days because it was getting tough and wasn’t dedicated enough.  When 2013 arrived, I was determined to finish it to completion and I did.  Let me tell you though it wasn’t easy.  Towards the end of the project, I was like “The Little Engine That Could” and saying to myself “I think I can, I think I can.”

If anyone out there has thought about doing this project I figured I would write this blog and explain what I liked versus what I didn’t like.  I hope this information is helpful to you.

In doing this project I learned where my strengths and weaknesses are with photography.  I went out of my comfort zone of only shooting landscape/nature.  I worked on my portrait skills and became more creative like shooting water drops.  I feel my skills improved.

By Karl BarthAnother key thing I learned from Bryan Peterson and practiced was learning to shoot creatively meaning making a picture more interesting.  For example, I have this Christmas decoration hanging up in my kitchen.  It’s a red snowflake with a bell hanging in the middle.  Rather than shooting the entire snowflake I took a picture of the bell. It was much more interesting to me.

Finally the biggest pro to this project is you get to use your camera everyday and not let it collect dust.  Sure you can use a cell phone but I much rather use my real camera and take pictures.  The quality is much better.

As for the cons, the biggest challenge is time.  That may not sound so complicated but when you have a full time job and a family, there is not enough time in the day.  It got worse later in the year when the time changed and there was less daylight.  

Then there is the ever important question on what to shoot.   On most days ideas just popped out.  Then there were those other days  towards the end of the project where I had no clue what to take a picture of.  I didn’t want to be repetitive and shoot the same thing over and over.  I also wanted the subject to be interesting.  It got to a point where it stressed me out which was no fun.

by Karl BarthFinally the biggest con I found was picture quality.  I’m my own biggest critic and I’m probably really hard on myself.  As I look at the pictures in this project there are some bad photos.  They either were not composed properly, over processed, or simply a bad subject.  As a result I felt this project really impacted the quality of pictures I posted.

I don’t want anyone thinking that I hated this project because that isn’t true.  I simply misunderstood how hard this project was going to be.  I’m glad I started and finished the project.  Will I do this project again?  I can’t see myself doing this project again but I may look at doing a 52 week project.  I created a video slideshow of the project.  You can check it out on YouTube at:

I’ve posted a few of my favorite photos in this post.  Enjoy!  Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!

Reflecting on the past year and looking towards the New Year

Karl Barth

Much to the disappointment of the Mayans, 2013 arrived and is well underway. I hope everyone is having a safe and happy start to the New Year. The annual tradition for most folks is to make New Year resolutions. Have you made any photography related resolutions? If so, have you already broken them or you sticking with those resolutions?

As I reflect on the past year, I remember deciding to set goals rather than resolutions for the upcoming year. Goals, at least to me, seem to have more value than a resolution. When you set and reach a particular goal you get some satisfaction in knowing you worked hard to achieve it. With resolutions you have intentions but don’t necessarily following through with them.

My goal for last year was to get out and take more pictures; after all if you want to be a better photographer, you will only get better by taking more pictures right? I read several articles talking about 52 week or 365 day projects. That means you either take a picture every week or every day. I decided to try the 365 day project but stopped after 4 days because it was really hard getting motivated to take a picture of something every day.

After giving up on the 365 day project, I started looking into joining a photography club. I looked into the various area clubs but the ones I saw looked intimidating to me. Thanks to the power of social media I found the Calvert Photography Club and the rest is history. I’ve enjoyed the monthly meetings along with photo trips. Along with the way I’ve taken more pictures and I feel I’m getting better. I’ve learned a lot more about photography thanks to the main topics along with the critique assignments.

One of Karl’s shots from the 365 project

As we get more in 2013 I’m excited for the year ahead. I’ve started a 365 day project again. This time however I’m going to stick with it. You can check out my progress on Flickr. Thanks to fellow club member Robbin Haigler she provided a site, that gives suggested assignments for each month. I’ve had to use that site on several occasions for ideas.

If you’ve set a resolution or goal I hope you stick with it. If you are not sure about photo projects check out for some ideas or inspiration. Mostly importantly take lots of pictures!

Revisiting the past – through forgotten photos

Megan Snider

When I received my first digital camera in 2007—a Canon PowerShot A460, a cute little guy—I knew nothing about photography. I’d grown up under my mother’s watchful eye (and lens), so I was used to posing for photos—but never taking them. That camera was a college graduation present, unveiled just before I went to Italy with my family, so I had no time to adjust to the new point-and-shoot. Not that I really needed to.

Photo by Megan SniderI was recently thinking about that Italian vacation, the photos I took—and where they were. In an era pre-Flickr, Shutterfly and the iPhone for me, my photos were all burned to CDs and removed from my old laptop. By some miracle, I found the two CDs with my Italian images and started looking through them this week. What an eye-opener.

In the years since that vacation, I’ve upgraded to a “big girl” camera, joined the Calvert Photography Club, met countless photographers and learned tons amount about style, composition and the technical aspects of getting a winning shot. Though I have much still to learn, where I am now is a wide leap from where I was in June 2007.

More than understanding exposure and shutter speed, I’ve learned about what makes a photo . . . nice. I’ve developed a personal style and love playing around with vintage filters. My Photoshop skills have increased tremendously—but more than that, I’ve learned how to take a better photo while I’m actually taking the photo. Everything I didn’t know in 2007.

Photo by Megan SniderAs I was clicking through the pictures, I kept thinking, “Man, if only I’d had my Rebel.” Looking at the gorgeous scenes of Venice, Rome and Florence made me wistful for what I could have captured had I been interested in photography beforehand. But then I realized, hey—as Guy always says? The best camera is the one you had with you.

And since I can’t re-create that trip and the magic of my first time traveling abroad, I decided to fake it.

Opening the pictures I thought had potential, I made my way through the shots armed with my new knowledge and taste. The Calvert Photography Club has definitely sharpened my critical eye. I cropped out power lines I’d never noticed—along with the clipped masts of ships, the stray arm of someone just off-screen. I fixed the white balance in many, darkened the “blacks” with the levels to make them pop, cloned out unattractive signs in the backgrounds of portraits. I leveled the horizons – something I never, ever noticed until club members began pointing them out in critiques.

But beyond the technical quirks, I thought about what makes a compelling photo to me now. I love vignettes, drawing the eye to action, the serenity of a simple landscape. I’m drawn to paths and bridges and walkways. I love epic mountains, peaceful water, laughing people. Those were the pictures I singled out from the 500 I took on that Italian trip.

Photo by Megan SniderOnly five hundred photos—in a week and a half. Makes me laugh. On a just four-day trip to London in 2009, I took almost 1,200. And in California this year? About 1,600.

After playing with my old photos for an hour or two, I couldn’t believe the results. What I’d considered basic, “blah” point-and-shoot shots from my vacation had morphed into something else entirely. Though far from an expert, I was impressed with how much I’d been able to change them. Without setting foot in busy, bustling and fume-clogged Fiumicino Airport in Rome, I’d “revisited” a beloved place—and emerged with fresh images.

Though, you know, I’m totally cool with a wealthy benefactor sending me back to Italy—this time with my Rebel. It’s no problem.

Carnival and Fair Photography

Jeff Smallwood

Long Exposure fair ride Carnivals and fairs offer such a wide variety of unique subjects, it really is one of the best opportunities to get different shots without having to travel too far from your home. From animals to people to the colorful rides themselves, take your tripod, wander the grounds and see what you can find.

If you check the photo exhibit, you might even find award winning entries by your fellow club members!

Read the full article here.

Sun Surveyor: Tracking the sun and moon

Karl Barth

Several weeks ago I wrote about an engagement shoot in DC.  During my preparation for that shoot, I needed to determine what time to do the shoot.  I was anticipating the sun being out and I wanted to do an evening shoot but I couldn’t figure out what time.  The first thing I tried searching for is a way to track the sun and where it would be for a particular time.  I tried running a Google search that would tell me but I couldn’t find anything. 

That’s when I came across a useful app called Sun Surveyor.  There are two different versions available in the iTunes and Android Stores: Sun Surveyor and Sun Surveyor Lite.  I decided to purchase the full version, Sun Surveyor, from the Android market for $6.

Sun Surveyor

I absolutely love the app and it was well worth the price.  The app allows me to turn my phone into a compass and show me the track of the sun along with the moon.  It also allows me to search the map for a particular location and show me the sun track from that location.  For this shoot, I wanted to start off at Constitutional Gardens.  With the help of this app, I was able to determine what time to start the shoot which was 5 PM.  Check out the below example.  The yellow line represents the track of the sun while the white line represents the moon.

?I’ll get some great use out of this app for future shoots.  I’ll be honest though it took me a little bit of time to familiarize myself with the app and how to use it.  The help functions are a little helpful but not great.


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