Category Archives: Travel Planning

Accueillir de France – Welcome from France

By: Terry Tallis

We visited France this July on a small river boat (when do they determine when it is a boat or a ship? – but that is a different story). 0223There were 46 of us who ventured from Nice (it was), France, to Paris (it was okay) France worming our way up the Soan river. Geographiles will know it does not go all the way to Paris nor come from Nice. It is just stuck in the middle of the country where all the fine wine is. Nice!

Anyway, to get back to what Helen might want in this epistle. It’s a tour, Terry! Get over it! You will be herded here and there and told to stand back, move along, lets do it at noon, keep up and watch your wallets from the pickpockets. And it helps to speak the language! When Napoleon went to the Balkans, he took all the consonants with him and left the vowels in France. Ugh! I digress.

Approaching this trip, I had several decisions to make. What was the purpose of my photography. That became rather simple. I wanted to document the trip. (We always make a photo book of our adventure). So ideas of getting that early morning, or late night classic photograph was out of the question. We ate then! As a group! In boring places!

So do I lug the Canon 70D or something smaller. The 70D was out of the picture (weight, and, remember, pickpockets) so I had my Canon G1X. It too was to large to stuff in a pocket unless I went disguised as a kangaroo. Enter my friendly photo guy, Mike Lowery at Focal Point  (Is this a commercial – yep) and traded my G1X in for a Canon G16. Wow! Just the ticket!  Loaded on a wrist strap so if someone in Paris tried to grab it, they would have had to take an arm.

This little critter worked great. Most of the time I was on program mode, but if I had a chance, I could immediately switch to aperture priority or other mode and “work” a photograph, 1647while the rest of the tour listened to the tour guide explain why Monet moved from Paris to Giverney without telling his best friend. (By the way, we did get on the grounds first, before all the Asian five decker busses arrived). And was able to shoot many photos in RAW.

I did get some great pictures. The best were when I lagged behind and turned around! We had those little gadgets that the guide used to tell us all the history (I am glad we only had two 0750hundred years to learn here in America) so when I started hearing static (out of range) I could know to catch up. We had a number of other folks who were good photographers on the trip. I would look at where they were shooting and generally look the other way. Between all of us, we did use up a lot of pixels.

A tripod was not necessary, but took along a little bean bag that came in handy for night shots (the G16 takes great night shots). And at the last minute I threw in my remote shutter release. Also, I carried two extra batteries. And needed them, even though I charged them each night. Number them, so you know where you are. Une, deux, trois!

Upon arriving home, I loaded the best of the best onto iBooks and created a nice table top book to remember the trip by and share them with others. photo-books-pixThere may be others that will show up in the competitions and still others from which I will do a painting.

Another handy thing I picked up over there was a man-purse. All the natives had them, so not to look too out of place with my argyle socks, golf hat and white belt, I bought one. Worked great to carry water, maps and camera and saved my camera when I fell flat in an intersection the last day. Tripped. Remember the pickpockets? They were quick to help you up. I held on to my man-purse like a football. They got nothing!  I got a hip pointer.

How does Frank Lahman prepare for his trips?

So, what considerations do I have about photo ops on these trips?  

Let me digress for a moment and state that this summer involved many outings with our grandkids. I relied almost exclusively on a compact camera, the Canon G-15, for these experiences. Young and active grandkids combined with an aging grandpa=light gear! This little camera has been great. It shoots Raw, has an optical viewfinder, is ruggedly constructed with an f/1.8 lens and many controls externally operable as on an SLR. Attached to my belt, It got used a lot more than if I had my gear described below. I’ll also be using the G-15 on the kayak.

I can take as much gear as I want for my driving trips but have to scale down size and weight for airplane travel and moving every several days to new locations. To help maximize my “luck” at being at the right place at the right time, I’ve obtained several photo-oriented guide books for Arkansas and Missouri and have done online research. As much as is possible when travelling with 1-3 additional people—who aren’t as serious as I am about photography—I’ll be getting up early and staying up late to capture the good light. But,  I find they generally expect me to have dinner with them and keep up with them on walks! As with most travel, some photos have to be taken when I happen to be there as part of an overall itinerary.

My camera and tripod bags are always ready to go, with a charged  battery in the camera and empty memory card, camera settings pre-set for the expected use, and the essential lense(s), filters(circular polarizer & neutral density graduated filter), shower cap (great temporary rain cover for the camera), tripod, lens cleaning spray, microfiber cloth, dust blower, Lens Pen, bubble level, intervalometer, two extra batteries + charger (some of these items go in my tripod bag), speedlight, set of Allen wrenches, headlamp, small pinch-light with a red lens, regular flashlight, extra memory cards (8-16GB each), compass, and a 3”x5” spiral notebook with tips for different photo settings. I have a Jobu wrist strap always on the camera and it’s on my wrist when taking the camera from the bag to the tripod. I don’t use a traditional neck strap. The latter takes up a lot of room in the bag, is uncomfortable on long hikes, and often gets in the way. If hiking, I’ll use a shoulder strap that attaches to the base of my camera body and lets the camera hang at my hip—easily accessible for a “grab and shoot” opportunity and no strain on my neck.

I like to refresh my memory on settings for anticipated opportunities, so that I avoid getting to a spot and not remembering, for example, how to program the intervalometer (Yep, it was frustrating to be standing on a bridge over a cold river at midnight and having the camera take only 1 instead of 11 sequenced images and not remembering why that was happening. When I only have time to take two long-exposure images per night, it really hurts my pride to blow 1/2 my night because of something like this.

I have a collection of “How To” articles for various scenes, be it flying birds, lightning, rainbows, etc., that I’ll review. If planning a night shoot, I make a great effort to arrive in plenty of time—maybe even a day early–to determine exactly where I’ll stand. I take some test shots for composition and then switch off all auto settings and go manual. It’s critical to know, for example, where to set the focus ring when taking star trails….and it’s not all the way out! After all the settings are (hopefully) in place, I try them out while there’s still enough time and ambient light to easily make changes.

Written by: Frank Lahman


September 11, 2014 meeting

Great to see everyone at the meeting tonight. Not a bad turnout for the first meeting of the year. Our new President (Jeannette Knower) handled her new position like a Pro.

We discussed changing the Blog/Newsletter “What’s Going On At VVCC” Blog to more of a Travel Blog. When I first set up the Blog, I thought it would be easy to maintain, but it quickly became very time consuming. I only had 2 people help take notes when I couldn’t be at the meetings.

During a board meeting earlier this Summer, it was mentioned that having all the information we discuss at our meetings, available on the Blog for the public to view, might not be the best idea. It isn’t fair to our Paid Members who actually come to the meetings to get the information first hand.

So, we are going to try something different. We are changing the Blog/Newsletter to a Photography Travel Blog called “Who’s Traveling This Week?”. In particular we are looking for stories related to Travel Photography. Tell us where you traveled – How you planned your travels to include photography – What gear you planned to take – Include pictures if you can – try to paint a picture for us (not literally), about your entire experience.  Send me an Email with your story and any pictures you would like to share. Give me a Title for the Story and I will add it to our Travelers Blog.

For those who have already subscribed to the Blog/Newsletter that do not want to receive Travel Blog information, you may Unsubscribe by clicking on the Unsubscribe link at the bottom of the Newsletter if you wish. We hope that you continue to read the Blog and even contribute your story.

See You All September 25th.


February 13th, 2014 Meeting

It was nice to see everyone at the First February meeting. Glad to know that snow or rain won’t keep you away.

Mike Lowery from Focal Point in  Dallas, OR was our guest speaker. If you haven’t already, take a little drive and stop in to visit. Mike loves to answer questions so come with a list 😉 Mike’s motto is “Promoting The Art Of Photography”. His topic this evening was on Depth Of Field. Which will be written from here on out in this post as DOF.

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What Is Depth Of Field?

 It’s the amount of distance between the nearest and farthest objects that appear to be in focus in a photograph. Depending on what you are trying to draw attention to in an image DOF can vary. It’s basically the amount of or part of your image that is not in focus or is blurred out to draw your attention to specific subject. Mike has been working with a medium DOF where you have 2/3 of the scene behind your subject and 1/3 in front of your subject. Point and shoot cameras are limited and don’t work as well as DSLR’s when you need a shallow DOF.

There is so much to learn when we speak of DOF, from changing your aperture and using a wider angle to using longer (zoom) lens to to make people appear closer in a room when they are literally 20 rows apart.

Bokeh is part of DOF and Mike explained it like this. Bokeh is the quality of the out of focus areas in your image. The out of focus areas should blend smoothly so that it does not draw the eye away from your subject and not be distracting in anyway. He also said that you should test all your lens’s for their ability to produce Quality Bokeh behind, as well as in front of subject. This is critical, especially if you are shooting something like a wedding.

For portrait work, don’t have your subject stand right up against the wall. By moving them off the background 6-10 feet, will give you that separation and smooth bokeh you are looking for.

There are times when we want the entire image to be in focus. To accomplish this you really need to take multiple photographs and do what is called Focus Stacking. Over lapping your images as you focus on different areas in the scene. Then blend them together in an image editor like photoshop. Or another program Mike mentioned was Zerene Staker.

Mike is working on a future presentation on “What’s Important In Photography”, so stay tuned for this one, he is always a wealth of information. Mike also offers Members Discounts at his store so stop in and see him in Dallas. Tell him Valley  Viewfinders Camera Club sent you, well worth the drive.

Thanks Mike – great presentation 🙂


Art will be showing us how to “Develop” Snow pictures for the Third Thursday Meeting. So bring your Pictures, Laptop and Lightroom if you have it loaded.

Frank brought up a good point about our Black and White competition. We have adopted 4C’s Rules as where as long as there is only one color in your image it is considered Monochrome and is acceptable to enter. For instance Sepia Photographs are one color. You can’t have an image that is black and white then have the flower be yellow. The image has to be the same across the entire photograph.

Soon our winners of our Color Print and B&W Print competition will be ready to view. Thanks for your participation.

Collecting Travel Planning Information for Photographers
Recently we added a Travel Planning Section for photographers on our website. If you have or would like to share books, publications, or websites you use when planning your trips or vacations, please shoot me an EMAIL with information and I would gladly add it to our page.
Looking For Photography Events, Workshops, Classes, ETC. around the area
As photographers, we are always interested in Photography Events, classes, workshops, etc.,  around the area or at least within the Untied States. If you have some information on such events, again shoot me an EMAIL and I will include on our Events Page.

And to wrap up the meeting I’m going to quote Nelson Mills: “The best camera in the world is the one you have with you”