Creative Exposure, January 13

Sunlight in an Aspen grove in the San Juan Mountains, © Andy Butler

The Pagosa Springs Photography Club will hold it’s first meeting of 2021 on Wednesday, January 13, via Zoom videoconference. Join us  at 6:30 p.m. We will have a few Club announcements, followed by a discussion of “Creative Exposure”. In this presentation, Club president Andy Butler will explore how to use your camera’s exposure controls to assist making creative photographic decisions. Learn how to control the look and feel of your photos using aperture, shutter speed and other basic camera controls. Both beginners and enthusiast photographers will likely find the information helpful.

Club members are encouraged to submit up to five images to share and discuss following the program. 

The Photography Club sponsors monthly programs on photographic topics, and field trips to various areas of photographic interest.  Longtime photographers and those just starting out are welcome in the Club. Club members will receive the Zoom link by email; non-members may request the Zoom link by email to For information on joining the Club, visit our website at .

Update: A video of this program, recorded from the Zoom presentation, is available at: .


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.


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


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.


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.


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.



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.

Rotation of 100-0096_IMG-d

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.

Luminosity & Color Masking in Lightroom, July 8

Fisher Towers, © Doug Coombs

The July 8 meeting of the Pagosa Springs Photography Club will be held at 6:15 p.m., on-line via Zoom videoconference. We welcome back Doug Coombs, who will give a presentation on Luminosity Masking in Lightroom.  

Adobe Lightroom added the capability to use luminosity and color to target local adjustments using the Gradient, Brush, and Radial tools in 2018 using the “Range Mask”. This enables the photographer to make precisely targeted adjustments to selected areas of a photograph. Think of it as dodging and burning, contrast adjustments, color adjustments and other post processing techniques on steroids. Doug will demonstrate how to use the Lightroom Brush and Gradient tools with and without the Range Mask. We may even distribute a photograph to the audience that Doug will process in Zoom and Lightroom while the audience opens Lightroom on their computers to perform the same adjustments. Everything Doug will show in Lightroom can also be done in Adobe Camera Raw, for those you only own a recent version of Photoshop. For a video tutorial on these controls, check out Matt Kloskowski’s blog post on the subject, at:  .

Doug is the chair and co-founder of the Los Alamos Adobe Users Group in New Mexico and a former chair of the Los Alamos Photography Club. He has been doing photography since high school, worked as a photographer and dark room tech in college, and fell in love with digital photography in 2003. Doug is primarily a landscape and nature photographer, with an affinity for birds and wildlife. He now splits his time between Los Alamos, Pagosa Springs, and a generous amount of travel to various photogenic destinations.

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 the Zoom weblink to participate in Doug’s presentation. Members may also submit up to five photos to share, following Doug’s talk. Others who are interested in taking part in the Zoom meeting may contact Club president Andy Butler for information, at . 

The Pagosa Springs Photography Club promotes educational, social and fun interactions between any and all who enjoy making and viewing great photography. Annual membership dues are just $25. For membership information visit our website at 

Shooting Horses

by Joseph T. Sinclair

I had occasion recently to visit a small ranch to shoot horses, and I learned some valuable lessons that I will pass on to you.

First, if your camera has a shutter click, you will need to wrap your camera in a beach towel or something comparable to muffle the click. You don’t want to spook the horses.

© Joe Sinclair

Second, horses respond very well to common courtesy.  You’ll need to bring some sugar. Two pounds per horse is about right.

© Joe Sinclair

Third, don’t let the horse flies bother you. Yes, there a lot of them, and yes, they have a nasty bite. But remember, you’re a professional and must remain concentrated on the shoot.

Fourth, wear shoes that you want to throw away. Otherwise you will have an unpleasant cleaning job when you get home.

Fifth, if you get suckered into riding a horse, make sure you have plenty of Eczema Honey Healing Cream at home to rehabilitate your backside.

Sixth, if you ride a horse, be sure to mount it on the left side. If you mount on the right side, everyone will know you’re a dude, and PETA may single you out for horse harassment.

Let’s make the ride short, pal. I have some grazing to do.

Seventh, take a telephoto lens in case you happen to spot a barn rat. Barn rats make a unique photo-op that you don’t want to miss.

Finally, never walk in back of a horse. Horses are related to donkeys. If you’re a Republican and the horse knows it, the horse may kick you across the barn. Your camera would be OK because it’s wrapped in a towel, but the kick may knock some sense into you.

Good luck with your shooting.




Geyser & Hot Spring Photography, May 8

Giant Geyser, Yellowstone NP, © Bill Johnson

The Pagosa Springs Photography Club will hold Its next meeting on Wednesday May 8, at The Community United Methodist Church, 434 Lewis Street.

Join us for socializing at 6 p.m., followed by a brief business meeting and our presentation at 6:30 p.m. The Photography Club welcomes all who have an interest in photography, whether beginner or expert. 

The presentation at the May Club meeting will be by Bill Johnson, on Geyser and Hot Spring Photography. Bill will cover various topics, emphasizing the geysers of Yellowstone and how best to go about photographing them, but extending to geyser fields world-wide.  

Bill Johnson is a retired nuclear scientist who lives part-time in Pagosa Springs and part-time in Los Alamos, New Mexico. He holds a Ph.D. in nuclear chemistry and spent most of his career at Los Alamos National Laboratory in arms control, nuclear nonproliferation, and counterterrorism.  His fundamental research interests were diverse and ranged from cosmic-ray physics to the geosciences to computer chess. Since his retirement, his volunteer activities include serving as “shopkeeper” for the Geyser Observation and Study Association (, an organization, “devoted to the collection and dissemination of information about geysers and other geothermal phenomena in Yellowstone National Park and elsewhere.”

Geyser photography at Yellowstone is a timely topic, not just because the national park is opening for the year, but also because several rarely seen but spectacular geysers are in an active state at this time. Steamboat Geyser, the world’s tallest, which after decades of near-dormancy, has been exceptionally active for the last year. Bill will be giving some tips on how best to position oneself for a chance to photograph Steamboat, other Yellowstone thermal features, and some of the world’s most famous geysers.

Club members may bring up to 10 photos on a thumb drive to share with the group after the presentation.

Using Selections, Layers, and Masks in Photoshop, Feb 13

The Pagosa Springs Photography Club will hold Its February meeting on Wednesday the 13th, at The Community United Methodist Church, 434 Lewis Street.

Join us for socializing at 6 p.m., followed by a brief business meeting at 6:30 p.m. Long time photographers and those just starting out are welcome.

The February Photography Club Meeting will feature Bill Milner. His presentation is entitled, Photoshop Selections, Layers and Layer Masks for Image Enhancements.

Bill is a former commercial photographer, and will give a presentation on using selections, layers and layer masks as techniques for enhancing digital image files. Bill operated a commercial photography studio in Salt Lake City, UT for 35 years doing product, architecture and industrial photography for advertising. An early adopter of digital imaging, he has years of experience using and teaching Photoshop. He and his wife Jacquie have owned a home in Pagosa for nearly 5 years and now spend about half their time here and and half in Salt Lake. They hope to make a permanent move here by the end of this year.

All members may bring up to 10 photos on a thumb drive to share with the group after the presentation. For February, members are encouraged to bring photos on the theme of Winter.

A reminder, it’s time to pay your Club dues for 2019. Dues are $25 for an individual, or $35 for a family. You may bring your dues to one of the Club meetings, or take to Susanne Russell at the Art & Framing Center of Pagosa Springs, 235 Country Center Drive, Suite E

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