I was contacted by Haley Van Camp, Arts and Culture Coordinator for the City of Grand Junction, if there was any interest by TMCC members, as a group, to display photos in one of their exhibit locations beginning in January. The exhibit would run for six months and all work may be for sale. Let me know if you would like to participate, either by email (email@example.com) or at the next club meeting.
The theme for the October photo challenge is “panorama.” Bring your panorama photos on a USB flash drive to the meeting on October 24th.
Reminder: Tuesday night’s meeting features Hank’s presentation on bellows, plus member pictures for the theme “perspective,” and lastly a photo critique of member pictures. If you’d like to offer a photo for a critique, please email it to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) no later than Monday evening. Keep in mind… a critique is a discussion of what we see in a picture, which can be something we like, as well as dislike. In other words, it’s not solely a criticism. Either way, it’s a good way to learn something about photo composition and technical components.
As advertised, the club meeting last night featured “metallic” images by nearly everyone there, subjects ranging from the smallest of family heirloom watches to the largest industrial structures, and even one member’s wife who graciously posed for a portrait wrapped in aluminum foil. After a short social break, the meeting continued with a lively discussion pertaining to the best advice we’ve been given concerning our photography, and some of the tips and advice we’d offer to other people starting their journey in photography. Not all of which is universally agreed upon. For example, the rules of photographic composition which we’re taught from day one (the rule of thirds being the first that comes to mind) are cited as a basic law of good pictures, but in our contrarian society (okay, maybe just me), we like to debate otherwise. And a good exchange of views it was.
On the agenda for next month’s meeting (September 26th) are three items:
Hank’s presentation on bellows. If you don’t know what bellows are, you need to be there. All I could think of was Dr. Bellows, the psychiatrist in the 1960s show “I Dream of Jeannie.” But somehow, I think Hank’s presentation will follow a different path.
The theme for next month is perspective. That’s all we know. Well… perspective is a noun, which we all remember from grade school is a person, place, or thing. If perspective were a person or place, the task would be easy, but it’s not, so we must think about a thing. The definition in my dictionary of perspective addresses one aspect of the word which is: an attitude toward, or way of regarding something; a point of view. Hmmm… that really helps. Photograph a point of view? Sounds like a political argument. No thank-you. On the other hand, maybe the way that we see something, the way we arrange elements in our photographs in position relative to each other creates depth, scale or some other “thing” that turns a flat two-dimensional picture into a three-dimensional impression… or perspective. In drawing or illustration, artists use perspective to make the human body look real. In photography, we use spatial relationships between elements to make better pictures. Or, less static and flat, I should say. So instead of thinking about a person or place, think about composition.
The last item on the agenda will be a photo critique of one picture offered by each club member willing to have their photo dissected by the club. But, really, it’s not as bad as the fate of those poor frogs in high school biology. Remember, a critique is not just a criticism or outright condemnation of all things deemed to be ridiculously stupid and obvious flaws in our photos by someone with a few awards under their belt. I flinch at the words “You Should Have…” so it will be none of that. Critique is an honest appraisal of what we like about a picture, what we don’t like, what’s in the picture, lighting, technical qualities, emotional impact, and how we see elements as relating to each other (perspective), emphasizing “why” we respond to an image more than just a simple like or dislike for a picture. It’s not a matter of flinging rules of composition at you or stating unequivocally that a picture is good or bad.
If you want to share a picture for critique, please email it to me ahead of the club meeting date… the sooner the better. The best thoughts come from having had some time to think about it. I’ll also post each picture as I receive them to a Dropbox folder for all club members to be thinking about beforehand. My email address is email@example.com. If you email a picture to me and I don’t reply within 24 hours, I probably didn’t receive it. Feel free to call me at 970-241-1124 if you have questions. And please… try to keep the file size below 5 megabytes or it might get blocked in the email process, so something in the neighborhood of 2500 pixels on the long side and a good to high quality JPG setting. I can’t emphasize it enough though… this is intended as an educational event for you to see how other people respond to your picture, and possibilities to consider for improving it. And if it’s truly a great image, we’ll discern why so others can learn from it.
We’ll start the meeting by reviewing club member pictures. The photo challenge theme for this month was “metallic.” So bring your pictures of that, or whatever else you’d like to share with the club, on a USB flash drive. For the second half of the meeting, we’ll have a general discussion focusing on “the best advice” you’ve ever received pertaining to your photography. It could be a technical tip for improving your pictures, or possibly some advice regarding your thoughts and approach to photography. And if you’ve never read or been given any advice, you might have some wisdom you’d impart to those beginning their path in photography.
One of my favorite words of advice is from Edward Weston: “If I have any ‘message’ worth giving to a beginner, it is that there are no short cuts in photography.” Of course, Weston did not live to see the myriad of photo apps available to today’s digital photographers… but does it really make a difference? Hmmm…. I guess we’ll talk about it Tuesday night. Hope to see you there.
In addition to reviewing club member architectural photos, we’ll have a general discussion regarding camera lenses. That’s a discussion, not a lecture. So bring whatever burning questions you might have about lenses, and share some of your thoughts and insights into the lenses that you have. What’s your favorite lens in your camera bag? What lens do you not have that you would really, really, really like to have? Are more expensive lenses worth the price? What are good lenses for the types of pictures I like to shoot? Do I even need more than one lens? And more… hope to see you there!
The July photo challenge theme is “Architecture.” Try to get out and make a few new pictures, bring some of your old ones, whatever… just bring something for discussion. Photography of buildings is probably not something most of us do very often, so it’s a good subject for getting out of our comfort zone. We’ll also talk a little about camera lenses. Why you might want more than one. Some of the key differences. Which ones are better for portraits, landscapes, sports, wildlife, etc.
The TMCC club meeting is tomorrow evening, June 27th at 7:00. I’m not aware of a previously established meeting plan or agenda, so if that’s the case and there is none, we’ll just talk photography. Please be sure and bring a few pictures on a USB flash drive, otherwise the meeting will be short. The last challenge subject was texture. Bring those pictures or anything else that you’d like to share. If you don’t have a flash drive, you may email a few JPG images to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The approach for discussion will be this: Last month we had an informal, lively discussion regarding what we think about between the moment of seeing a subject for a photograph and clicking the shutter button. What sort of thoughts and considerations go into composing the picture? This month, with the use of club member pictures that everyone is gonna bring to the meeting, we’ll ask the question “What If…” for each picture, and explore the process of “seeing” a picture using real images as examples. What if we had changed our viewpoint or camera position? How would that have changed the picture? What if we had positioned the camera higher or lower, closer or farther away, more to the left or right? How would those choices have changed the spacial relationships of the elements in the picture? You see… composing a photograph gives us a lot of options. The idea is to encourage everyone to think before you shoot.
While there’s always plenty of opportunity to improve our pictures by studying composition, the point of the discussion is not to determine a “correct” composition, or decide which is better or worse, or put a label such as good or bad on a picture. Certainly not giving the picture a score. It’s all about considering your options, and allowing the individual person to decide whether the picture could be improved by embracing fellow club members’ comments, or not. Hope to see you there.
Since there were no board members present at the meeting last night (it appears that we only have one person remaining on the board), I doubt there were any minutes recorded, so I’ll communicate what happened. As there was no formal beginning to the meeting, I offered to start a discussion about… photography. The opening question I asked was: Between the time that you see a subject that you want to photograph, and the moment you click the shutter, what goes through your mind? What do you think about? What sort of planning is involved in creating the picture?
Of course, the conversation detoured through all kinds of subjects, including a little art history. It helps that we have a few people who hardly need any encouragement for breaking out of their shell, but on the flip side of the coin, there are some shy people hesitant to speak. I’m particularly sensitive to people who might feel they are not skilled enough with their photography to say anything in front of others. But this is a club for all skill levels so everyone’s opinions are as valid as anyone else’s. We’re all at different places with our photography, so it’ll be natural for the club discussion to reflect that. That said, I think everyone contributed to the discussion… and that’s good. People develop a commitment to the group when they get to know each other a little better. Now I recognize that some people learn more from a formal presentation focused on a single subject. And we discussed how one meeting agenda or another can influence a member’s desire to stay or quit the club. But I sensed throughout the evening that everyone was, indeed, processing a lot of good information. The act of articulating one’s own thoughts often helps us to put some clarity on our own beliefs. So, I think it was a good meeting.
As far as the predicament that the club faces of having no officers… I suggest we forget the problem for the moment, and focus on the present. We got by for roughly an hour-and-a-half last night before the issue was even raised, and I’d have been content going home without talking about it at all. There were no answers. Some good ideas were mentioned for club activities, programs and such, but still nobody making any commitment for serving on the board. Eventually we need to fix that, but my proposal is to ignore it for a few months. We have enough cash on hand to pay room rent through the rest of the year. Maybe we can conduct meetings as if everything were perfectly normal… show pictures, discuss photography, and share our experiences; and by the end of the year, the board positions will take care of themselves. Put our best face forward for awhile; conduct a meeting that people will look forward to coming back to the next month. Let’s see if we can double the size of the club meeting attendance by the end of the year, at which point the formal structure of the club might look different.
I’m willing to keep the club meetings going for a few months, but I’m just one voice though. If you support my plan for the club, bring a couple pictures to the next meeting and we can discuss what we like or dislike about them. More importantly, we can discuss why we respond to an image the way we do. After all, the “why” is the path to improving our images. But say absolutely nothing about either Voldemort or the issues that “must-not-be-named.”