January 12 Photo Club meeting: Ten Images

Ancient Twilight, © Andy Butler

The first meeting of the Pagosa Springs Photography Club for 2022 will be held on Wednesday, January 12, 6:30 p.m., at the Community United Methodist Church, 434 Lewis Street in Pagosa Springs. This will be a hybrid meeting, also available on Zoom. The Zoom link will be emailed to members; others who wish to attend may request the link by email to abutler@mac.com . If attending in person, feel free to arrive any time after 6 p.m.; the actual meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m., MST. 

The January program will be Ten Images: Show and Tell. Members are requested to bring up to ten of their photographs taken in 2021 for discussion. These might be what you consider your best, your most interesting, or your most challenging photos of the year. This is a good exercise in choosing your favorite images of the year. Be prepared to tell the group about each image, the situation when you took the photograph and what you like or might improve. The goal is to inspire Club members through a discussion of what makes good images, including aspects such as composition, impact, and technical quality.  This will be a more extensive discussion than what we typically have during our image share sessions (which we won’t do this month). Please bring your images to the meeting on a flash drive, or (if attending by Zoom) email them by the evening of January 11 to abutler@mac.com

The Pagosa Springs Photography Club promotes educational, social and fun interactions between all who enjoy making and viewing great photography.  The club sponsors educational programs and outings to help photographers hone their skills and learn from each other.  The Photography Club’s membership year begins in January. For new members, dues remain at $25 this year ($35 family). The membership form may be downloaded  and mailed in with your payment (instructions are on the form) or brought to a Club meeting.

Mark Langford’s Lifelong Field Trip

Mark Langford, in his darkroom, 1976. © Mark Langford

The November 11 meeting of the Pagosa Springs Photography Club will be held on-line via Zoom videoconferencing, beginning at 6:30 PM.  Our speaker this month will be Mark Langford. Mark is a graduate of the Brooks Photography Institute, and has been a commercial photographer with his own business for over thirty years. In addition, he has photographed several books about the San Antonio, Texas area. Mark now resides in Pagosa Springs.

Mark’s presentation will be Photography…One lifelong field trip. Join commercial photographer Mark Langford as he reflects on an exciting career capturing a wide range of subjects from his early years in high school through today. From people to buildings and food products, to coffee table books, fine art, and more. Come and relive Mark’s never-ending journey in photography – up close and in person.

This will be a virtual meeting, live on-line, using Zoom video-conferencing. Club members will receive the link for joining the Zoom session by email. If you are new to Zoom and have not yet downloaded it to your computer/tablet/phone, visit the Zoom download page, https://zoom.us/download , to do so. It’s really easy to use. For most of you, all you will need to do is click the “Link to join Zoom meeting”. Non Club members who are interested in taking part may contact Club president Andy Butler for information, at abutler@mac.com

Following Mark’s presentation, we will have our monthly image share. Club members may submit up to five photos to share and discuss. Please email your images for sharing, in JPG format, to abutler@mac.com , no later than November 10. For Zooming, an image size of 2000 tall by 3000 pixels wide, or more, is desirable. 

Update: A video of Mark’s presentation, taken from the Zoom meeting, is available for viewing at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6DIhR4xw40&t=5s

Angle

by Joseph T. Sinclair

The classic photographic angle for shooting is 4.7 feet off the ground to 6 feet off the ground; that is, it depends on the height of the standing photographer. Clearly, this angle is not one-size-fits-all. Consequently, you should strive to take photographs from an angle that best suits the subject. The question is, how do you do that?

First, always be aware of what the possibilities are. For example, you can easily change the angle just by sitting down and shooting or even lying on your stomach. Such an angle is not appropriate for all photos, but it can add a lot of drama to some photos.

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Taken at lower than eyelevel on a trail along the Carquinez Strait

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Taken flat on the ground

Second, if you have an articulating LCD screen on your camera,  you can set it so that you can lower your camera at arm’s length or raise your camera at arm’s length to get an extra couple feet for a different angle in your shot. You need to set the articulation, of course, so that you can see the screen while you shoot.

Third. Can you climb on something nearby to get a higher angle shot without being arrested? I don’t advocate jumping on top of someone else’s car, but there may be something nearby that you can climb on safely and get that extra high shot. If you’re doing a well-prepared photo shoot, you can even bring along a stepladder to get a higher shot.

Fourth. Can you find a place where you can get a low shot? I don’t advocate removing manhole covers and climbing down into the sewer to get a street-level shot. But there are plenty of places where you might be able to get significantly downhill from the subject to take a good shot.

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Gerald R. Ford memorial nondominational chapel at Beaver Creek, Colorado

Fifth, along a horizontal plane, you can change your angle by moving right or left. It’s usually standing in front of the subject that might be the least interesting. But with a little energy, you might visit each side of the subject to see whether you can get a good side-angle shot that’s better than a front shot.

Sixth, what about a shot from behind? Maybe shooting the subject head on is not your best photo. Maybe getting behind the subject and shooting will give you a better photo or at least an additional worthwhile photo.

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A horse of a different angle

Seventh, think of your subject as having a transparent geodesic dome over it and that you can take a photo from any place on the dome that you can reach safely (e.g., by walking, climbing, or drone).

Eighth, consider all the angles that might bring you some additional interest. For instance, if you consider all the angles, you might come with an angle it has a surprising foreground or background that you had not previously perceived. You might see additional subjects that you can include in your photograph that are otherwise not visible from your original shooting angle.

Ninth, when you find yourself at an unusual angle, take full advantage of it while you can. For instance, if you happen to be driving along the top of a hill, stop and take a look to see if there’s a good photograph to be taken of something below.

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Taken from a cruise ship in Alaska 70 feet above the water

Tenth, dive into the subject (the scene) to look for a photo. I once got to sit in the middle of the Denver Symphony Orchestra while in rehearsal, a great photo-op. For a more pedestrian example, most people go to the Grand Canyon, stand on the rim, and take photos. Sure, you can get some great shots. Never mind the haze in the air from West Coast pollution that’s been there for last 60 years. And when you’re done, you have the same photos that have been on 900 million postcards going back more than a century. But if you take the nearest trail down into the canyon, with each step down you’ll begin to see fantastic photo-ops that you’ve never seen before. It doesn’t matter which trail; you don’t have to go very far; and most of the tourist trails are not difficult. It’s the same world from a different angle. The different angle yields original new images.

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On a trail in the Grand Canyon below the rim

Finally, think ahead and go prepared. For instance, if you’re going to shoot flowers for several hours and be on your knees much of the time doing so, take along some knee pads. If you going to shoot insects laying on your stomach for a considerable time, take along a blanket to lay on. If you’re going to climb a hill to get a good angle, wear some sturdy shoes or hiking boots.

June Program: From Field to Framed

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Eagle in Flight, © Chris Roebuck

The Pagosa Springs Photography Club will next meet by Zoom video-conference on Wednesday June 10 at 6:15 p.m. Our speaker will be Chris Roebuck. His topic is Highlights from a photographer’s education: From field to framed. In his program, Chris will discuss why he photographs, how he uses the language of photography to tell a story, and how he takes his images from an encounter in the field to a framed print. 

Chris Roebuck has been a member of the Photography Club for several years. He began his digital imaging education nine years ago by attending a community college (Lansing Community College). There, Chris learned Photoshop in-depth. After 2 ½ years he went to the Rocky Mountain School of Photography, in Missoula, Montana, to learn Lightroom. That same year he attended printing workshops at Maine Media Workshops and College.  Chris has continued to attend photographic workshops every year since.  He is a firm believer in continuing education.  Chris takes a philosophical approach to his photography rather than an artistic one.  He is primarily a wildlife photographer, and hopes to always be a student of the photographic arts.

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Maine Fox, © Chris Roebuck

This will be a virtual meeting, live on-line, using Zoom video-conferencing. You may participate in the program from the comfort and safety of your own home. Photography Club members will receive a Club email containing a Zoom weblink to participate in Chris’s presentation. Members may submit up to five photos to share. This month’s theme is “Animals”. Others who are interested in taking part in the Zoom meeting may contact Club president Andy Butler for information, at abutler@mac.com. 

The Pagosa Springs Photography Club promotes educational, social and fun interactions between any and all who enjoy making and viewing great photography.  The club sponsors educational programs, themed challenges, contests and outings to help photographers develop their skills. Non-members are invited to attend a meeting to learn more about the club. Annual membership dues are just $25. For membership information visit our website at https://pagosaspringsphotoclub.org/about/ .

Antarctica-May 13 Presentation

The May program of the Pagosa Springs Photography Club will be held on Wednesday the 13th at 6:15 p.m, Mountain Daylight Time. This will be a virtual meeting, live on-line, using Zoom video-conferencing, consistent with Colorado’s current “safer at home” rules. You will be able to participate in the program from the comfort and safety of your own home. Our speaker will be Frank Comisar, whose topic is Expedition to Antarctica. Frank will show photos and videos of the wildlife and amazing scenery of Antarctica, taken on a recent cruise to the ice continent. Further, he will explain the logistics and daily routines of his trip, and considerations involved in planning for a cruise to Antarctica. Photography Club members will receive a Club email containing a Zoom weblink to participate in Frank’s presentation. Others who are interested in taking part may contact Club president Andy Butler for information, at abutler@mac.com. 

Frank Comisar is the founder of Scenic Aperture Gallery in Durango, and is a well-known wildlife and nature photographer. Frank travels throughout North America making beautiful photographs for his Durango gallery and leading small group photography workshops emphasizing landscape and nature photography.

Influenced by a previous career in Architecture, Frank’s images are well known for artistically depicting our three-dimensional world in a two dimensional medium. Frank learned early in his architecture career that “. . . the creative process is not a destination but a journey. It is a journey that includes research, planning, timing, technical skills, creative judgment, and a bit of good luck.” Frank’s success as a photographer is founded on these principles.

The Pagosa Springs Photography Club promotes educational, social and fun interactions between any and all who enjoy making and viewing great photography.  The club sponsors educational programs and outings to help photographers hone their skills, whether novices or enthusiasts. Non-members are invited to attend a meeting to learn more about the club. For membership information visit our website at https://pagosaspringsphotoclub.org/about/ .

April Dark Skies

Spring in the northern hemisphere is the beginning of Milky Way season, when the Galactic Center is above the horizon at night. Although the Milky Way can be photographed anytime of the year when the sky is dark enough, the region around the Galactic Center contains the most detail and so is more photogenic. Spring is also the time when the Milky Way can be seen as a full arch, low enough in the horizon to photograph with some landscape visible. Fortunately, many of us in the Pagosa Springs area live where skies are dark enough that we can photograph the Milky Way without traveling, so it could be a good subject while we are “staying at home”.

In April 2020, opportunities to photograph the Milky Way from Pagosa Springs, without interference from the Moon, begin on the 14th and last into the first couple of days of May. The new moon will be April 22, so the best dark sky conditions and longest time for viewing the Milky Way would be a couple of days on either side of the 22nd. During this period, you could photograph the Milky Way from around 1 a.m. until shortly before dawn, about 4:45 a.m.. For details, see any of a number of apps, such as PhotoPills, Sun Surveyor, or The Photographer’s Ephemeris, desktop programs such as Stellarium. 

Night sky photography isn’t just about the Milky Way. A classic method of photographing the night sky is to make very long exposures which show the motion of the stars as star trails. As with any night scape photography, the best images will also have a strong foreground, perhaps illuminated by the waning moon, low level LED light panels, or by light painting with a flashlight. For tips and references on start trail photography, see this post. 

Also coming up next week is the Lyrid meteor shower, which should be active beginning April 19, and  peak in the predawn hours of April 22 this year. However, you should be able to see some activity of the Lyrid any dark night from April 10 through 23, with up to 10-15 meteors per hour. The Lyrid shower occurs every spring, and if the skies are dark and clear, it can be one of the best meteor showers of the year. Fortunately, with the new moon on the 22nd, there should be excellent viewing of the Lyrids this year. To photograph the Lyrids, all you need is a clear, dark sky, wide angle lens, camera and intervalometer (built in or external) and lots of patience. For an excellent introduction to techniques for photographing meteor showers, see this article by Glenn Randall.

If you are sheltering in place, don’t live in a dark sky area, or just are not into going outside to photograph the Milky Way in the wee hours, here is an indoor activity.  The week of April 19 to 26 has been designated as International Dark Sky Week by the International Dark Sky Association, with the goal of reconnecting people around the world with our night sky. On their website, https://idsw.darksky.org , you can find a variety of virtual presentations that you can watch each day of that week. Topics include the relationship between humans and the night sky through history, basic astronomy, and art and conservation. Some of the presentations are stories about the night sky, appropriate for kids. You can also follow these and other presentations of the IDSA on their Youtube channel.

Happy star gazing!

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