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!

April Meeting Canceled

Oh, the lovely fickleness of an April day!  —  W. H. Gibson

Because of State of Colorado and local health orders related to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Pagosa Springs Photography Club will not be holding our regular monthly meeting on April 8. We will also not be doing any in-person group outings during April. 

We encourage our members to continue to practice their craft and develop their photographic skills. There are plenty of photographic opportunities near, and in, your homes. Just use your imagination, and maintain appropriate social distance. This is also a great time to make sure your backups are up to date, to make a few prints, or to develop your post-processing skills. Learn something new and different. Several on-line learning sources have made their content free for the time being. These include:

Professional Photographers of America, (https://www.ppa.com/education-unlocked)

KelbyOne: (https://kelbyone.com/free)

Nikon School: (https://www.nikonevents.com/us/live/nikon-school-online/)

Continuing to be creative and engaged can be a huge emotional boost while you are staying home to stay healthy. Also, consider taking part in our on-line Photography Club Shutter Therapy challenges. The first week (through April 6) is on the theme “Spring.” To view or participate, check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/PagosaPhotoClub/ and view the photos in the comments of the March 29 post on Spring Shutter Therapy. 

Spring Photography

The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also. –Harriet Ann Jacobs

I was surprised to note that the vernal equinox, the official start of spring in the northern hemisphere, comes on March 19 this year (In the USA). That’s early. Typically the first day of spring is the 20th or 21st of March. Indeed, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, this is the earliest spring equinox since 1896!  It turns out that this is due to quirks in our calendar system related to leap year (and leap century). And as a result of these quirks, spring will begin on March 19 every leap year this century. 

Given how early the vernal equinox is this year, perhaps I should not have been surprised (but was, at least a little) to have 7 inches of new snow on the first day of spring. That’s the heaviest single snow fall we’ve had, at our house, during this somewhat dry winter! It was just a little reminder that here in the Rocky Mountains,  spring doesn’t always pay strict attention to the calendar. Still, this is a good time for a post about spring photography. 

Although we have many great opportunities for landscape and nature photography in the winter here in the southern Rockies, there is no question that the new life associated with Spring makes it a joy to photograph this time of year. The grass is green, one of the most evocative colors for humans. Birds and mammals are migrating. Flowers are beginning to bloom. And, given our altered way of life in the era of COVID-19, it is fortunate that there is still a lot of photography that we can do locally, often in our own backyards, this time of year

In a recent video, Photo Tom explores 9 tips and ideas for spring landscape photography. It’s worth watching to revisit some ideas for the season. One that I think is big, is to look for the transition time between seasons. The snow this week may present opportunities for photographing the contrast of flowers, for example, in snow. Other ideas include taking advantage of the bright green of spring foliage, weather patterns, and foggy mornings. Check the forecasts for the day after storms move through. Cool mornings after a storm will likely produce fog in the valleys, especially around our hot springs. Fog creates opportunities for interesting, moody photos. If you are on a ridge above valley fog, you may have a dramatic sunrise. Later in spring, as the snow melts from the high country, waterfalls and streams will be flowing strongly, making for excellent photographic opportunities. For more ideas about spring subjects, as well as composition and lighting tips to take advantage of them, check out this post by Larry Price.

Of course, one of the highlights of spring are the blooming flowers.  Anne Belmont is a creative flower photographer, and shares a number of good ideas for unique, artistic flower photos in a two part series. These articles are full of ideas, including  seeing flowers uniquely, and suggestions for creative aperture and composition  When thinking about flowers, as well as other spring subjects such as butterflies, you’ll want to think Macro. Macro photography is easily done in your own back yard (or even inside) and can be very rewarding in terms of training your eye to see textures and patterns Lee Hoy has some good suggestions for getting started .  

There are plenty of subjects worthy of a photographer’s attention in the spring. So take advantage of the season to practice your photography, but be safe about it!

Inspire Yourself

It seems to me that modern art museums are more historical collections than aesthetic collections. If so, where do you go today to see really good art (including good photographs)? Galleries whether online or offline are uneven quality. Some good artists but mostly average artists.

Back in the good old days when I was a writer attending digital industry trade shows on a press pass, I was always thrilled to see the annual Adobe collection. Adobe featured about 50 works of digital art (including photographs) at its trade shows, albeit in physical form. The art was stunning. Much more great art in one place than anywhere else I’ve ever seen.

20180911_164237-c
My attempt at art, not from Adobe

Alas, today Adobe charges over $1,000 for entry to its trade shows, and I don’t have a press pass. I don’t know whether they still feature their annual art collection. If they do, it’s almost worth $1,000 to see it.

Fortunately, Adobe recently started Create, an online magazine. It’s wonderful. It’s free. And it’s an inspiration. I’m amazed at the high quality of the art. It’s one of those publications you don’t want to miss viewing.

https://create.adobe.com/

Think about it. Today the US population is triple what it was 100 years ago. Back then you could know most of the leading artists if you were an art aficionado. Today people have more leisure time. And artists find it easier to stay alive on a small income (although not to live a middle-class life) than ever before.

Today there are simply too many great artists. Even if you’re an aesthete, you just don’t know or have never heard of most of the great artists among us. Our descendants will still be discovering them many decades from now. But what’s a good way to gain some access to some of our great photographers today? I believe Create is one way. Not all the featured artists are great. But enough are in order for the magazine to stretch your imagination.

January topic: Ten Images

Pagosa Peak, from Ice Cave Ridge
A winter view from Ice Cave Ridge

The first meeting of the Pagosa Springs Photography Club for 2020 will be held on Wednesday, January 8, 6 pm, at the Community United Methodist Church at 434 Lewis Street. 

A major emphasis of the Club is to improve our photographic skills through learning from one another. In that vein, our January program will be Ten Images: Show and Tell. Members are requested to bring ten of your photographs from 2019 for discussion. These might be what you consider your best, your most interesting, or your most challenging photos of the year. 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). 

As an introduction to the discussion, we will re-visit a 10 minute video presentation on the “f-5.3” method of critiquing images (Gregg Heid presented this method to the Club a couple of years ago). The video will give us a good starting point for thinking about what makes great images.

Club members area also invited to our first Photo Talk and Coffee breakfast of the New Year, at Dorothy’s Cafe, on January 23 at 9 AM. These breakfasts are a great way to have an informal chat with other club members about photographic topics (or other topics of interest). 

The Photography Club’s membership year begins in January. For those of you have not yet paid your dues for 2020, you may do so at Club meetings. Dues will remain at $25 this year ($35 family). The membership form may be downloaded and mailed in with your payment (instructions on the form) if that is more convenient.

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