Discusson Group Notes September 18, 2009

Discussion Group

The head count this night was eight, with four being first-timers.

Art talked about the PVC frame he made for his tabletop photography.  For the upper corners he used T's instead of elbows which he found to be handy.  He wanted to add a backdrop for a particular shoot so he dropped some poles down the pipe (through the open T's), made a cross piece, and draped his backdrop over it.  Real quick and easy.

Some of our regulars were at Bodie this night but Pat and Dale skipped it this time since they had been there a few times before.  We talked about some of the buildings and other sites that had been photographed so often that they were immediately identifiable, even to those of us who've never been there.  The art of taking photos of such well known scenes is in making them look different.

I showed a couple of books I have of movie stars, both on the set and off.  These start in the early 1900s and go through the black-and-white era up to the 1970's.  I really like the drama of some of the B&Ws.  Bob talked about how drama is enhanced with high contrast ranges.  He also described the methods used on several other photos in the books.  One in particular that I liked, was a glamor shot of an actress with the entire photo being soft.  Art mentioned the use of soft focus lenses http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soft_focus which give that effect.  The book also talks about using a filter to create the effect.

Bob also commented on the "butterfly light" on one actress's face.  Bob said that this usually casts a poor shadow on the neck but in this case she was holding a large flower at about her chin level hiding her neck.  http://www.studiolighting.net/butterfly-lighting-on-a-budget/

Ted stopped by to talk to Pat and Dale but stayed to show us his "Wet Plate Colloidal" (aka tintype) photos which he does from scratch.  He mixes his own chemicals, applies them to metal sheets, exposes the "film," then develops them on the spot (you have to with this type process).  Wet plate colloidal was used from 1851 to 1880, during the civil war period.  Ted's camera is a reproduction from the 1870s with an original lens.  He showed us about eight of his photos and they were very interesting.  He and a few others teach this process and he believes that there are about 1600 people who currently know how to do it.  When Kodak and other companies quit making film this may be the only film photography left.

Since this was Bob's first time with us Art and I passed over our portfolio's for him to look at.  He was very impressed with Art's tabletop work, including his most recent three shots.  These looked so professional that Bob suggested Art consider selling his work and maybe joining Advertising Photographers of America http://www.apanational.com/.  Bob said that the local group used to meet at Sammys on a regular basis and that they (Sammys) should be able to give him information on them.  I think that Bob said that the local group was Professional Photographers of California http://www.prophotoca.com/

Bob looked at my portrait of Michelle and immediately noticed that the hand was too light.  He said that the trick is to turn the photo upside down and squint and see what pops out.  Sure enough, the hand is too light.

But he said that this was easy to fix in Photoshop.


It got down to Bob, Julia, and I so Bob and I swapped a few stories.  One of these was his lens shroud which he made out of a heavy black 2-liter soda bottle bottom (which aren't made anymore).  He recommended that I take some age shots of Julia because she'll never be this age before.

I mentioned the studio I'm building which I'm painting all black inside to control reflections.  It's mostly for tabletop but can also be used for portraits.  Bob said that there was one very famous black studio, I think in California.  At an earlier Friday meeting Bonnie and I talked about setting up a "studio walk" along the lines of an "art walk."  The idea would be to designate a few hours where those interested would go to one person's studio, get the nickel tour and ask questions, then on to the next one, and so on.  Maybe when it cools off in a few weeks we might try this.

Bob also suggested an exercise that was used in the PSA group he belonged to where everyone would present a photo which would be mailed around among the members.  Each member would make their comments and pass it on.  The last person in the chain would be a professional who would add their comments.  Back before computers and digital this would take quite a while because of the mail but he said that it was very educational.  He said that our group might consider something like this.


If you can, please join us each Friday evening at Denny's at the corner of Ave K and 20th West. We begin about 6:30 PM and usually go to at least 8:30 PM. You can drop by at anytime and stay for as long as you like (you don't even have to buy anything). Denny's has graciously provided us a section to ourselves and the service is great.

All photography related subjects are fair game and there's never a planned agenda. You can bring in your questions, your stories, your equipment, your photos (paper or digital), or even just yourself to sit, listen, and/or talk.

By the way, we would like to include more photos in these write-ups so, if it's not inconvenient, please bring (or send me afterward) a digital copy of what you show at the discussion group to go in these notes.  There are many folks who can't make it on Friday evenings who would like the visuals to go with the narrative.  Thanks.

You are welcome to visit the LPA forum and leave your comments......


Glenn Olson
Coordinator and Moderator

Share It

Login required to comment
Be the first to comment

Shopping Cart

View Cart

PSA & S4C News

Get your S4C UEN here

My Account