The lessons I learned at Fotoclave 2024

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    Bill Theis

      I just jotted down some things and hope this stimulates a discussion of what others saw or questions that we can discuss here in the comments.

      Everyone takes something different away from a gathering like this but here is a summary of what struck me (without referring to the specific speaker but you can ask me):

      The idea behind the photograph is key.  There was a nice illustration of this comparing to a Haiku as to what may be behind one’s emotional reaction.  It would be nice to be able to see this in the field as we make the image!  Relax and study everything.  Connect before decision.  –or—Drive by, see something, slam the breaks and just do it.  Photograph with a group of like-minded photographers for instant feedback.  This will not be competition since everyone sees differently.  Develop a personal vision and style.  In preparation, look at successful images of your own and others and ask WHY they succeed.  Expect to learn more from your failed images, though.

      After attending very good classes on bird photography, I don’t think that my personality and esthetics will ever make this “fun” to me.  If I want a bird photograph I will buy it from one of you!  However, I may go out with a pair of binoculars.  I don’t see anything that I can do that you haven’t done already.

      The same may be true of “people” photography.  After spending long years photographing weddings and events, I just don’t get joy out of that either.  That is not to say that I cannot admire such photographs and that I wouldn’t collect one from one of you, just that it is not for me (especially with my problem with speech).  There were indeed excellent tips… had I wished to pursue this.

      Macro photography, on the other hand, does interest me personally.  I have been doing close up photography but that is not the same thing.  The important thing here is that focus stacking techniques kill any sense of depth:  you have to restore this in post processing with dodging/burning, blurring through a mask (which I think might be accomplished by removing some the front and rear images in the stack? Will have to play with this)

      The genre that I do but not well is “Travel Photography”.  Yes, I travel but Scott Kelby is so much better it is intimidating.  He did share some of his (surprising) tips as well as his favorite (and not favorite) destinations:

      1.       Scout with a cell phone (which keeps GPS location so you can go back) makes it more efficient.  Don’t carry your main camera when scouting (besides the cell phone likely takes pictures that are good enuff)

      2.       Use only a single all-in-one lens at nearly wide open so you don’t carry a camera bag that is a target for theft

      3.       Set the ISO to “Auto” and the minimum shutter speed to 1/125 (good advice—effectively this is what cell phones do).  Noise removal is NO PROBLEM (Topaz or On1)

      4.       Assign a camera button to zoom in playback to check focus—reshoot if bad since you are not coming back

      5.       Sharpen every photo before posting!

      6.       Put camera on large sling (he recommends Black Rapid) or ThinkTank Turnstyle 10v2

      7.       Get low with a Platypod (or when a tripod is not allowed)

      8.       Try to make it a “timeless” set of images but shoot the cliché images to get them out of the way

      9.       Hire a model (may be cheap!).  Shoot the local people and the food.

      10.   Sometimes tripods are not allowed.  Sometimes camera’s are not allowed but cell phones are.

      11.   A better investment is an airline ticket than a new lens

      12.   Adobe Express is a great way to share your trip when you get home

      A big plus is that I have been sensitized to is returning to better capturing discipline

      1.       Check if polarizer helps

      2.       Use ND filters (even a 1000) to stretch shutter speed so motion blurring is facilitated

      3.       Using a viewing card (or a cell phone) for scouting before taking the camera out to get the best perspective (for your tastes)

      4.       Do more pano’s (even with telephoto’s!)

      5.       Return to keeping notes about what image was about so that post processing enforces that feeling

      6.       Carry that whistle and other survival gear (it doesn’t help you when it is at the car)

      7.       For those split ND filters, don’t use the holder!  Just hand-hold them with a slight movement.

      Bill Theis

        Another thing at FotoClave that I took to heart is Jason Bradley’s talk about making prints as opposed to keeping digital copies of your photos.  He said that disks break, DVDs fade, and even in some future time there may not be definitions for the “legacy” files like JPG and Tiff so no one will be able to read them.  True permanence is a print!  Something to ponder.

        Jason also went through a very thought provoking presentation about the IDEAS behind the making of photographs, both his own and others.  He traced photography becoming an art from pre-Pictorialism, through the f64 group, to today.

        A similar talk by Ian Bornarth also discussed how to create the right mindset to photograph, which I found very helpful.

        Scott Kelby talked about his favorite travel cities (and some not his favorite—although you can disagree with him!).  He gave info as to WHY they were a photogenic location, where to stay and what to eat, plus what was nearby, how expensive.  Favorites were

        1.       Havana

        2.       Paris

        3.       Venice

        4.       London

        5.       Dubai

        6.       Lisbon

        7.       New York

        8.       Prague

        9.       Rome

        10.   Tuscany

        11.   Lofoten Islands Norway

        12.   Agra Jaipur India

        13.   Iceland

        And locations not his favorites (leave the camera at home!) were

        1.       Zurich

        2.       Amsterdam

        3.       Madrid

        4.       Munich

        5.       Athens

        6.       Edignburg

        7.       Dublin

        8.       Honolulu

        9.       Innsbruck

        10.   Vienna

        11.   Oslo


        On Wed, Feb 21, 2024 at 9:13?AM Jennifer Marano <> wrote:

        Such varied reactions to Photoclave!  I, too, loved the Haiku talk and Frans Lanting’s photography.  Some others I enjoyed, and some not so much.  But the most fun for me was meeting so many different people who make their living doing photography.  I’ve never aspired to do that, but it didn’t keep me from enjoying interacting with them.

        The dog photographer was a wonderful woman who has such an intense love for the animals and their humans.  Many of the dogs she photographs are seniors and their humans want to preserve their memories.  She even had a special stand covered with memory foam to make them comfortable during the shoot.

        Then there was the printing guy with his many photographs printed on luscious papers made of cotton, bamboo, and even hemp.  He is passionate about printing and offers a psych 101 of printing consultation!

        The woman who photographs people in elaborate costumes underwater in her backyard pool was fascinating!  She told me how she got started and how she and her subjects hold their breath and duck under the water for the shoot.  Every time I think I’ve heard it all, something like this comes along!

        Frans Lanting uses his beautiful wildlife photos to further conservation causes.  The guy from B & H showed off wonderful gadgets to help people get the shots they want. Fellow photographers shared stories of wonderful places they have been.

        One of the biggest take-always was the motto shared by MH Rubin, the Haiku guy:  The opposite of perfection is authenticity.



        Sent from my iPad

        On Feb 20, 2024, at 1:10?PM, Dan Kabanuck Photography <> wrote:

        Thank you for this. I thought the talk on comparing the photograph to Haiku was really good. The idea of (I can’t remember his exact wording) of a 1 pop or two pop photo. Where your eye is immediately drawn to one subject but after really looking you see the secondary object(2 pop). Love this concept and it’s something I will be more aware of when I shoot. I took a class on shooting with a light box. I thought it was literally shooting products in a lightbox for websites like on Amazon. I was wrong. It was arranging flowers on a flat light box, then shooting them from above, I found out rather quickly that this is something I am not  into, and could not wait for the class to end. I did meet some people from the Santa Rosa photography group so that was good. The Frans Lanting presentation was good. He’s an amazing photographer with a very impressive resume. Good speaker as well. I didn’t really learn anything from a photographic standpoint. He was all about conservation(which he and his wife have accomplished some great things), but I felt it went too long and he wanted to sell books. I took a class on printing, which was great. I really need to buy a printer and take over my printing myself…you guys already know this. That was it for me. I did not go to any later sessions and left Sunday afternoon. Would I go again? Probably not. Congrats on the images in the book. The book  is really nice.

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