The September meeting of the Calvert Photography Club was held on September 18, 2016 at our new location at the College of Southern Maryland in Prince Frederick, MD.
Our guest speakers today were Terry and Belinda Kilby, who spoke to us about Drone Photography. Terry and Belinda began working with drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, in 2009 when Terry became interested in building them. At that time, since drones were still pretty expensive, building your own was really the only affordable option. Terry, who was a mobile software engineer, had always enjoyed tinkering with remote control cars and helicopters in his spare time. And Belinda, a visual art teacher and aspiring fine art painter, saw great potential in this new venture from an artistic standpoint. As their knowledge and experience grew, they were able to transform their hobby into a business and thus Elevated Element, Maryland’s premiere Aerial Imaging company, was founded.
Terry initially purchased a small lightweight digital camera known as a gum-stick camera and attached it to a small store bought remote control helicopter. After the Go-Pro camera was released, however, Terry began building his first custom tricopter prototype for mounting the Go-Pro. Once they realized the potential that lay in capturing images from an aerial perspective they began to look toward creating a custom built flying device that could carry a better quality camera and thus capture higher quality images. They sought information on the subject through the online community getting to know other multi-copter enthusiasts from all over the world. Through this online community they also became exposed to the Maker Movement, a subculture of do it yourself problem solvers and builders who apply their practical skills to creating new things.
Though the Go-Pro images were pleasing and inspired them to further pursue their interest, they found that the quality of the prints when enlarged were somewhat grainy. They began to learn more about photography including HDR and other post processing in Photoshop which eventually led to obtaining better cameras. They also say that the Smartphone has been a key ingredient in advancing the industry due to GPS and other applications that can be used to control the drone. Advancements in technology have made it possible to gain more control of their vehicles, making them easier to stabilize in the air and thus less subject to movement due to wind and weather conditions.
Early on in this endeavor they captured images of some of Baltimore’s iconic architecture, usually working in early mornings when there were fewer people and cars around. They soon found, however, that there are many uses for unmanned aerial vehicles other than artistic. They have been used for things such as infrastructure inspections of bridges, roofs, or other high structures, search and rescue operations, and even precision agriculture (flying over a field to see where more water or fertilizer may be needed.) Terry and Belinda have done video footage that was used in a commercial for the Maryland Board of Tourism. They have been published in other media outlets, as well, including National Geographic, CBS Sunday Morning, and Entrepreneur Magazine. They have worked for notable clients such as Nike, The U.S. Army, The State Department, and several TV and film productions often combining different technologies such as 3D animation, video, and still photographs.
Terry pilots the drone while Belinda controls the camera. They say that this 2 person system gives them the best control over the images they are able to capture. Battery time lasts only about 20 minutes so it is essential to make the most of the time you have in the air. Most of the camera functions can be controlled from the ground through an IPAD. There are a number of FAA regulations that must be followed when flying a drone, including keeping the vehicle within your line of sight. They are also limited to a height of 400 feet (except in certain instances such as an inspection.)
The services they offer include aerial photography, Cinematography, Photogrammetry (photographing a subject from many different perspectives, then stitching those flat 2D images into a 3D object using software algorithms), and software development. They have also been active in Outreach to educate the general public about the many capabilities of drones and their positive uses.
They have written two books on drone photography: Drone Art, Baltimore released in October 2013, and Make: Getting Started with Drones, released in October 2015.
You can find Elevated Element on the web at: http://elevatedelement.com/ You. can also view their work on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCszCsimT0AdBHH8RMJzOmVA/videos Or f.ollow them on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
The photo assignment for September was “Backlight and Silhouette”. The winners for this month were: 3rd Place by Beth Phifer, 2nd Place by Sandy Carr, and 1st Place by Tammi Gorsak.
Two slide shows were presented by Tammi Gorsak entitled “2016 Massachusetts” and “2016 MAFF Fireworks”. The October photography assignment is “Color, Color, and More Color”.
Nate began shooting photos fairly recently, purchasing his first DSLR camera in December 2012. He recently graduated from Salisbury University and presently works for South Moon Under as a photo retoucher. Nate, by his admission, started out knowing very little about cameras and settings. He began shooting automatic. However, after his half brother taught him some camera basics he switched to manual mode. Other than that he is largely self-taught, learning mostly through YouTube videos and tutorials along with experimentation. He knew early on that he wanted to make edgy photos and from that has developed his “creepy weird style” (his words!)
Nate started with a lot of photo manipulation using composites. He says “dark art” spoke to him and he wanted to get into more mysterious, artistic type of photography having been influenced in part by the 2001 psychological horror-science film, “Donnie Darko.” Knowledge of Photoshop helped him to make what he describes as “ok” photos into art.
Nate has tried some different photography techniques including long exposures, infrared photos using infrared filters, time lapse photography, and double exposures. Initially, he says his images had no real concept. He just set out to make “something cool.” Eventually, however, he transitioned into conceptual photography using concepts like “existence”, “living in the moment”, and “reflection.” He initially tried to copy the work of others just to see if he could do it. He also wanted to replicate the film look and got into making surreal photos and seeing how far he could take it. Nate says he has always loved silhouettes and also “fell in love with particles,” which he incorporates into a lot of his images. For this, he uses Adobe After Effects Particle World plugin. Many of Nate’s images are self-portraits and “floating portraits” have become an obsession with him.
While in school at Salisbury, Nate says he found his style and had a need to progress in his work. At one point he says he went through a “period of desolation” during which he spent a lot of time traveling around alone over a 15 week period working on a project for one of his classes. Since graduating, he has begun work on a film of the places he went during that time entitled “The Places I Go”.
Currently Nate has a makeshift studio in his basement where he shoots some of the self-portraits that he incorporates into his composites. He says he sees his work as 50% photography and 50% photo editing. Most of his images are “lucid” and begin with just a basic idea. He then plays with the image in Photoshop until he comes out with a final product that he likes, deciding what he wants to do as he goes along. You can find Nate’s work at http://natebittinger.format.com/ on F,lickr at https://www.flickr.com/photos/natebittinger/ on Fa,cebook at https://www.facebook.com/NBittingerPhotography or on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/natebittinger/ .
The July photo assignment was “Look Up”. We had some entries this month! The winning photos were from 3rd Place, Melissa Chin, 2nd Place – Sandy Carr, 1st Place – Jim Rogers. Congratulations to the winners. Your names have been added to the drawing for the end of the year prize of a boxed version of ProShow Producer, a $250 value.
Club members Tammi Gorsak and Debbie McIntosh shared their action/sports photography experiences, tips, tricks and gear with us today. Both members shoot local recreation club and high school sports events in the Southern Maryland area and have been published in the Calvert Recorder and Independent newspapers over the years. Both ladies became involved in sports photography when their children were playing on various sports teams. Though they both focus on sports photography, their techniques apply to any photography that involves motion.
Today, there are more sports photos on the market than ever before. An abundance of photos and photographers have driven prices down in the sports photography market. The ease of use of digital cameras has brought a lot of sports photographers into the business, and thus staff photographers are almost non-existent. For example, in 2013 the Chicago Sun cut their 28 person staff photography team. In 2015, Sports Illustrated laid off all six staff photographers. Also in 2015 the local Southern Maryland newspapers laid off staff photographers or redeployed them as journalists or editors. Therefore, the need for freelance photographers continues to grow and so there are still opportunities for the talented, hard-working sports photographer.
So how do you gain access to sports events? To begin with, use your family! Starting with photographing your children or grandchildren can often lead to other opportunities to get yourself noticed as a sports photographer. Volunteer! These relationships can also result in other opportunities to get your name and talent on display. Get to know the local journalists, sports officials, coaches, and parents. Have a champion – someone who promotes your work to others. And always be ready to talk about your work and your passion as a photographer. Basically, form connections!
When it comes to gear, what you need depends on the sport, the location, the time of day you’re going to be shooting, and how much you are willing to spend. When shooting any event, you should have at least two camera bodies with you in the case of a malfunction. A full frame camera is capable of a higher dynamic range which will give you less noise. You should also have a camera that shoots at least five frames/second minimum to get good action shots. Also, consider buffer size – how many burst images can the memory hold? The speed of your card is another consideration. A higher end card with a high write speed is essential.
As far as lenses, ask yourself: What are my goals? How close can I get? How much light do I have? How much is distance/clutter going to be between my subject and the background (depth of field)? Having several different lenses with you will give you some flexibility as well as cover you in the case of damage to or malfunction of a lens. The following chart shows the minimum lenses you should use depending on the sport:
For stability, a good tripod or monopod is a necessary item. Also, you should consider what you will need to protect your gear from the weather when shooting in rain or snow.
Another thing to plan for is the lighting conditions. Will you be indoors or outside? Will you be shooting in the bright daylight or at night under the field lights? Settings for shooting action in full daylight are the manual mode, 1/1000 shutter speed, aperture wide open, and auto ISO. (If it is really bright, adjust the shutter first before changing the aperture.) If you are shooting ice hockey, you need to meter off of the ice for a correct exposure.
The movement of the game must be considered as well. With fast moving sports like lacrosse, soccer, or field hockey you are going to have to move. For car racing, you want to get some blur in the background to show movement. In Basketball, it is important to get the ball in the frame.
When planning a sports photography shoot, knowing your sport is essential. You need to be able to anticipate the action and know the best positions needed to capture that action. Have a vision for at least three shots and set up a goal list in your head. Respect the rules and know where you can be and where you cannot be. About the game, remain neutral! But most of all….get there early!
Planning and technical preparation for all action/sports work involve knowing your gear, its limitations and how to change settings. Get as close as you can to your subject and be aware of the background. Get both tight and wide shots. Look all around you for details and don’t forget about the sidelines and reactions of the viewers.
Final words from Debbie and Tammi….practice, practice, practice! Understand your light and where it is coming from. Take the safe shots, but then look for something new. Try different lenses. Always evaluate your work afterwards – don’t spend time “chimping”! (You may miss a critical moment in the game….or a hockey puck flying at your head!) Study the images of the professionals. And most of all…have fun!
See Debbie’s work at: http://www.facebook/mcintoshimages or www.mcintoshimages. Tammi’s images can be viewed at https://www.flickr.com/photos/tgorsak/.
The June photo assignment was “Light Trails”. The winning photos this month were submitted by 3rd Place - Sandy Carr, 2nd Place - Sandy Carr, and 1st Place - Tammy Gorsak. Congratulations to the winners. Their names have been added to the drawing for the end of the year prize which is a boxed version of ProShow Producer - a $250 value – http://bit.ly/1UivwYo The .July photo assignment is: “Look.”
Our guest speaker today was Paul Mamangakis from the company Fracture. Paul spoke to us from the Fracture office in Gainesville, Florida via Skype and gave us a virtual tour of the facility. The site for Fracture is at http://www.fractureme.com The .central concept of the company is that you upload your images to their website, and they will print them for you directly on glass combining the picture, frame and mount into one beautiful, lasting product!
The company started in 2008 by two friends, Abhi Lokes, and Alex Theodore. The entire company is web-based and currently employs approximately 35 people. Fracture has grown and changed many times over the years as they have adapted the business to the needs of their customers and the market. But their vision is clear: “to make printing as customized and personal as the pictures themselves and to make decorating as easy and exciting as taking the picture.”
The process is this: you upload your image to the website, choose the size, and place your order. There are eight sizes to choose from – five rectangles and three squares, all in a 4:3 ratios to cater to smartphone images which many clients take. The website even tells you if the resolution of your image is too low for the size you have chosen. They will then print the picture on pure soda lime glass using an inkjet process, add a 2nd layer of white ink behind the photo, and add a foam core backing complete with keyhole and wall dog screw for hanging. They ship it to you in environmentally friendly packaging ready to be mounted on your wall! Every Fracture comes with a Happiness Guarantee and Lifetime Warranty. If the product is damaged at all, or if you are dissatisfied with the final result, Fracture will work with you to get what you want, and they will reprint it for you at no extra cost. The ink used is UV cured so should never fade. The care and maintenance of the product? Paul says you can clean it with a household glass cleaner.
There is also an Art Store online from which you can choose many popular images. Club member Debbie McIntosh brought in some of her beautiful Fracture prints for us to see.
The May Photo Assignment was “Food Lovers”. This month’s winners were:
3rd Place – Sandy Carr
2nd Place – Brenda Schillaci
1st Place – Tammi Gorsak.
Next month’s photo assignment is: “Light Trails.”
A slide show entitled “Women of the Former Yugoslavia” by Jim Rogers.
Kinetic Sculpture Race – Baltimore, MD
May 7, 2016
Here is how the website http://www.kineticbaltimore.com defines a Kinetic Sculpture Race: “Kinetic Sculptures are amphibious, human powered works of art custom built for the race. Each May, the American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM) hosts the East Coast Kinetic Sculpture Race Championship on the shore of Baltimore’s Harbor in central Maryland. The eight-hour race covers 14 miles—mostly on pavement, but also including a trip into the Chesapeake Bay and through mud and sand.”
We arrived early in the morning to view and photograph the sculptures, the participants, and the viewers of the race. Everyone was invited to dress up, so costumes were seen everywhere, not just among the racers. The sculptures ranged from fairly small and simple designs to large, elaborate floats. All had wheels for the peddling, land based part of the race and lots of Styrofoam or recycled water bottle bases for the floating part of the event.
We had time to view all the sculptures, plus check out the views from Federal Hill, and view the various pieces of art around the museum, which is an amazing work of art in itself.
When the race began, participants started up on Federal Hill, then ran down to their sculptures, which were parked in parking spaces alongside the museum. There was quite a traffic jam as the floats proceeded out of the parking lot, around the block, up and around Federal Hill, and back out onto the streets to head through the city to the water part of the race.
There were so many fun floats, it was hard to pick a single favorite. I really liked The Bee’s Knees, Tick Tock Croc, Poe’s Toaster, and Kinetic Couch Reborn. All the floats can be seen at http://www.kineticbaltimore.com/KSR/2016.
I had to leave after this beginning part of the race. The group took water taxis across the harbor, then I went off to Fell’s Point while Debbie, Gloria, and Karl continued on to the water aspect of the race. Here is Debbie Mcintosh’s recap of the rest of their afternoon:
The club members headed for the nearest launch and boarded a water taxi to meet the race leaders at the water’s edge at Canton Waterpark. There were already a few sculptures that couldn’t make it that far, but the favorites were all there: Fifi, the Bees Knees, the Egyptian Mummy, and Tick Tock Croc. Each sculpture had to enter the water and navigate past the pier to a cone and return on the other side of the pier. Each sculpture was equipped with flotation and oars.
Spectators lined the edge of the waterway to get the best vantage point. The crowd screamed as they watched the Pink Unicorn collapsing into itself while it was in the water! Judges and volunteers had to fish several riders and part of the sculpture out of the drink! But the race must go on, so the remainder of the sculpture with its team continued on its course around the pier in hopes it could still finish and head to the mud and sand pits. The biggest splash had to be from Mobile Mobile. That roller in the front kicked up quite a wave. We watched and photographed the Egyptian Mummy open and billow smoke as it navigated the course, and Tic Toc Croc, probably the longest sculpture, navigated the course like a pro!
All in all, the weather held off, the members got to experience something new and by the time the water event concluded, they were ready to sit back and enjoy good food and each other’s company.