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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.


March 27th Meeting

Can you believe it’s already April? Where has the time gone. I’m sure that I’m not alone when I say, “I am so ready for Summer”! I want to be able to get out and shoot and not have to lug my coat, my umbrella (for my camera of course), extra clothing and shoes, etc., Bring on the Warm Sunny Days!

First, I want to begin by saying Congratulations to three of our club members, Dina Ratzlaf, Stephanie Low and Nancy Hunt, who took part in the Albany’s Vistor’s Association Photo Contest and came out on the winning side. Take a look at some of the images Here. Great Job Ladies!

Next, John Merrell gave an wonderful presentation on Bird Photography. He gave us all some great advice….., or as he put it, “what works well for him in the field”. For those of you who were not able to make it to this meeting, or for those who just need a recap, here is John’s complete Bird Photography Presentation. John did answer a few questions, including mine. I asked him if he uses Flash, and if so, was it on or off camera. He said when he uses Flash, it’s mainly off camera. He also said that, depending on your subject, you may need to set up 2-3 off camera flashes. For example: when shooting hummingbirds.

Oh yes, FYI, there was one other tip that was shared which I never really thought about and that is that, Geese will tend to land into the wind. Good to know! Now maybe I can get the front end of the goose for a change 🙂

John, Thank you, You inspire many!

Our EID (Electronic Image Display) winners are now uploaded. Follow this Link: March EID 2014. Then once you have browsed the images, take a look at the Scoresheet right under the Album. This is the first time we have listed the results of the scoring and the comments from the Judges.

We finished out the evening with a Presentation on China from Steve O’Hare. He and his wife traveled around China for 29 days. Some would think that would be easy, right? Well, Steve put it in perspective for us. He said that China is roughly the size of the United States. The Population of China is about 1.3 Billion and the U.S. is a mere 311 Million. Can you imagine trying to tour the United States in only 29 days? Wow, I had no idea! Steve also added that all land in China is owned by the Government and that most of their energy is generated by coal.

This is another reason I love coming to these meetings, so much information I just never knew.

Great presentation Steve – Thank you 🙂

Oh yes, last but not least, we have set up a Private Community for VVCC Image Critique on Google+, for our club members only.  It’s by invitation ONLY. So if you are interested in participating in this feature you will need to set up a Google+ (gmail account). If you already have one, great, just shoot me (Helen), an Email saying you would like me to send you an invite and be sure to let me know the email address you wish to use. You will receive your invitation via email, of which you will need to choose to “Follow”. If you have any questions about this Private Community, also email me (Helen). Thank you 🙂

Our next meeting is on April 10th.  Our Print Competition Theme is (Long Exposure). Don’t miss the Presentation by Evelyn & Jerry Smith on Wildlife Photography.

See You All There 🙂



March 13th Meeting

Happy St. Patty’s Day 🙂

Gary opened the meeting right away asking the board members if they had anything to share before getting into Allen Norby’s presentation.

Helen (me, the webmaster), began by sharing new information about NEW content on our website. First, is that I have put together 3 Image Resizing – Video’s, meant to help our members prepare images for the EID, Email or web related transfer. Although we are most concerned about image size for our Photo Gallery, it’s equally important for EID and for emailing images to family or friends. Our image resizing requirements have changed for the last time: keeping our images to dimensions of 1024 pixels wide X 768 pixels tall, will give us nice large quality images when enlarged and viewed on screen. Take a look at our Side by Side Gallery to see how just keeping the pixels to these dimensions gives us the best viewable image. And second, we our putting together 2 areas that might interest you all. Upcoming Workshops and a Travel Planning Resource for Photographers. Check them out and if you have something to add, please send me the information via EMAIL.

Allen Brooks, our color print chair presented Harold Marx with a
4C’s Award Of Merit for his image Dark Shadows.
2nd Theme Small Dark Shadows by Harold Marx

Great Work Harold!

Frank reminded us that the NPPNW (Nature Photographers of the Pacific Northwest) will be holding their Spring Meeting April 5th and their featured speaker is Adam Jones: “Adam is a member of CANON’s “Explorers of Light,” specializing in nature photography.  He is highly published and known for his skills as a teacher.  Adam’s morning presentation is entitled “Nature Inspirations:  An inspirational nature and wildlife program” and his afternoon presentation is “Tips & Tech:  Basics of flash, HDR, image stacking, using textures, and fun with software”  All this for only $10 per person if preregistered. For folks within the same household, add $5 per person.  The location is Centralia College, Centralia WA. Doors open at 8:30 and the program begins at 10:00am. Sensor cleaning is available and vendors will be on site.

Art Burkhalter is looking for someone in our club to stand in and manage the third Thursday meeting in April. If you are interested, email Helen and she will contact Art.

If you feel that you need to know more about your DSLR and how it works, then Dileep’s class is for you. His class Enhance Your DSLR Skills (CRN# 47013) begins April 9th at Linn-Benton in the Mckenzie Hall, Cost is $59. Register online or in person.

Now Presenting Allen Norby’s Wildlife Photography. Allen has mastered his technique over the years and it shows in his wildlife photography. Here are 5 key elements to getting those once in a life time shots.

  • Know Your Gear
  • Know Your Subject
  • Lighting
  • Conceal Yourself
  • Patience

Allen uses a lightweight collapsible blind that he can pack easily or some type of concealment almost every time he is taking pictures of Wildlife. Most of his pictures were taken within about an 8 miles radius of his own backyard. And much of it at E. E. Wilson Wildlife Area just North of Corvallis off Hwy 99.  He is a believer in using a tripod or at the very least a monopod to get those images as sharp as possible, allowing for tighter cropping later. Another thing he mentioned was that his equipment is Insured. So in the event the unmentionable happens while he is out in the field, he can be rest assured that replacement will be much easier on the pocket book.

Great Presentation Allen, Thank You 🙂

At the meeting before this one, Stephanie handed out a very short questionaire regarding the future of our Club. Choose your version below if you are interested in the results.
PDF Word Doc icon copy




We are working on a way for our club to interact on images in more ways than at our monthly meetings. Be watching for an Email over the next few days labeled VVCC – Image Critique. Then you can decide if you want to be participate or not.

I hope you are finding this Newsletter / Blog informative and helps keep you up-to-date


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”

January 23rd 2014 Meeting

First, I want to apologize for being late on updating our January information. Unfortunately, I have been fighting the Flu / Cold which is now in it’s 3rd week. Most days I just have zero energy and find myself in bed before 7:00 pm. Today, I visited the doctor for the second time with the same anticipated response. Sorry, antibiotics will not help, but suggested I up my Vitamin C, drink lots of fluids and get lots of rest. Hope the Vitamin C works, because the other two haven’t. Okay, I’m done with the pitty party!

Onto our business at hand. We had a full house again which I am always ecstatic to see. We jumped right into Frank Lahman’s presentation of Making Silk From A Sow’s Ear. Below is Franks written presentation.

Three concepts were discussed at last night’s meeting: Picture Within a Picture, Making Silk from a Sow’s Ear, and Working the Scene. 

The overall scene depicting Opal Creek shows what you may have to start with and then sort out the key elements to include. In this instance, the dark shadow on the far bank caught my eye as an excellent backdrop for something (but what?) object in the sunlight. A little exploration resulted in a small tree being chosen as the main subject. Opal-Creek-Side-By-SideIt was then a matter of finding just the right location for placing the tripod/camera that allowed an optimal fore/mid/back-ground—all in front of the dark shadow. Shooting in portrait vs. landscape orientation resulted in the best composition. It was also necessary to shoot from a low angle—about 3 ft. above ground to get everything positioned properly. About 18 images were shot (landscape vs. portrait, high/low camera position, zoom in/out, move left/right), checking each one and making adjustments, in order to get the ideal composition.

The set of three images of the Cedar Creek Grist Mill shows another version of working the scene. In this instance each image was taken by a different photographer—two within a day of each other in October, with one taken while standing on a bridge and the other from below the bridge. The third image was taken about 10 years earlier during the winter—showing the challenges faced by varied seasons and weather. Cedar-Creek-Grist-Mill-3-Points-Of-ViewThe point to be learned is that you can learn a lot—on the spot—by taking a companion or two with you on your photo outings. I guarantee that no two photographers capture an identical image and you will be surprised at the number of varied compositions you will discover in the process of sharing results with each other.

Making Silk from a Sow’s Ear

These two pictures were taken at Silver Falls State Park about two weeks after peak fall color. Not much worthy of a photograph. But wait! Autumn-Reflection-EditThere is a bit of color on the water’s surface. Let’s move to the right in order to get clear of the foreground shrubbery and zoom in on the patch of color. That’s all it took to create a Monet-like impressionistic image.

Picture Within a Picture

I was shooting a documentary “This is what it looked like from the deck of the cabin” photograph  at Mercer Lake on a foggy September evening. That’s why the beach and marina were included. While browsing through my photos a year later the upper half of the image, with the fog and lighted homes, caught my interest. I decided to crop to a 1:3 ratio, which was essentially a matter of cutting off the bottom half of a 2:3 ratio image. Mercer-Lake-After-EditFortunately, with only a little bit of cropping at the right end, very little data was lost in creating the panorama. This is one of my all-time favorite photographs and was enlarged to 10” x 30”, double matted and framed.

Great Presentation Frank – thanks

Frank also mentioned that John & Barbara Gerlach (, 208-652-4444 are presenting a one-day seminar in Portland on Saturday April 12. It’s titled: How to Shoot Beautiful Nature Photographs. Cost is $100.

They have been featured speakers at NPPNW. Check out their Book, Digital Landscape Photography, which encompasses much of what they’ll present in the seminar. It is a good reference to go back and re-read on occasion to make sure you are getting things just right. 

Mary Collins presented our EID Winners for January. Once again, awesome photography. Keep Up The Good Work! She also mentioned our standings as far as points awarded by 4C’s, to the participating clubs. We are ranked 12th out of 19 clubs.

Art Burkhalter, our 4C’s EID Rep., asked if we prefer to see the Titles of the images when judging the EID? Our club voted almost 2 to 1 against Titles being visible during judging. They feel it should be up to the viewers discretion as to what they take away from the image and not have the title influence the decision.

Don’t forget that the Quarterly EID images are due by January 31st, email your email images to:

And last but not least, The 4C’s Convention will be in Vancouver Washington the first weekend in October. Schedule and Itinerary to be determined.

January’s 3rd Thursday Meeting

Art has kindly contributed his information from his 3rd Thursday Meeting.

Beginning HDR

The January 3rd Thursday meeting took a dive into “high dynamic range” (hdr) photography.  Hdr methods are used when the scene being shot contains bright and dark extreme areas that are beyond the ability of our cameras to record.  The way to work around this limitation in cameras is through a combination of bracketing the image with multiple exposures and post-capture techniques done in software.

Newcomers to hdr image capture can use the histogram in their camera to recognize when the situation might call for hdr techniques.  Clipping, or saturation as it is sometimes called, in either the brights or the darks or both is an indicator of the scene being a candidate for hdr techniques.

Figure 1 shows a histogram with clipping in both the blacks and also the whites of the image, but clipping at only one end can also call for hdr.


Fig. 1  Histogram with clipping

On occasion, the use of hdr might assist in bringing more detail out of one extreme or the other even when clipping is not obviously present.

During the image capture portion of hdr, it is desirable to keep the focus point and also the depth of field constant in order to yield the best result.  Using a tripod and not changing the “zoom” on zoom lenses is certainly a good place to start, but the tripod is not always necessary.  Manual focusing will eliminate accidental shifts that might be cause by the camera’s auto-focus system.  Maintaining a constant depth of field is achieved by keeping the camera aperture at a single setting during the bracketing process.  This can be done with the camera set to ‘aperture priority’ or by using the manual mode of exposure control.  When bracketing the exposure, you should capture image files at steps of either 1 or 2 stops.  The number of exposures necessary is dependent upon the specific scene, but a minimum of three exposures (-1, 0, +1 or -2, 0, +2) should be taken.  It is not unusual for photographers to capture five or even seven exposures when they are doing hdr capturing.  (You can always toss out any unneeded exposes, but you can’t go back to get another.)

After the capture of the bracketed images, the files must be combined or ‘stacked.’  The easiest way to do this is to feed the files into software that does the work for you.  However, it is possible to accomplish a very acceptable result, by combining the bracketed exposes using layers that consist of the various exposures and judicious selections from those layers with masking techniques.

Today’s mainstream software tools for hdr processing are Photoshop and PS Elements (; the Google NIK Collection’s HDR Efex Pro (; and Photomatix (  Each of these software packages will produce slightly different results, but it is not always predictable which the photographer will find the most satisfying.

Recent versions of Photoshop (and Elements) have the advantage of being able to use built in automation to create hdr images.  They can also be used to “manually” create your own layered hdr image.  The PS Elements hdr tool is a little bit limited over the full version of PS, but the result is still very useable and its difficult to argue over the cost.

The NIK HDR Efex Pro is a part of an entire collection and does not seem to be available as a standalone any more.  The entire collection is $149.  HDR Efex Pro is strictly a plug-in, but it is compatible with most recent versions of Photoshop, PS Elements, Lightroom and Aperture.  After the HDR Efex software has done the mathematics (the heavy lifting) it will produce an image file upon which the photographer can further adjust the image with numerous presents, as well as local adjustment tools.  The local adjustment tools are very highly regarded by most who have experienced them.

The other mainstream software tool is Photomatix and it was the first significant post-processing hdr software tool.  Cost of Photomatix varies from $29-$99 depending upon your needs such as plug-in, stand-alone or both.  It too is available for most recent versions of Photoshop, PS Elements, Lightroom and Aperture.  Besides doing the math, Photomatix also has a proprietary set of adjustment tools.

Hdr images produce desirable results in night and low light situations, but they also can be handy in broad daylight settings.  In addition, hdr images can be converted to excellent monochrome images.  The following figures provide a daylight example.


Fig. 2   The bracketed exposures of a daylight scene


Fig. 3   A daylight hdr image derived from the exposures above

The VVCC 3rd Thursday group will meet again February 20th, and Harold Marx will be going over the capabilities and uses of the OnOne Perfect Photo Suite package.  (

Click Here if you want a Printable PDF of this exact information.

Sorry For Duplicate

Hey Subscribers, I’m sorry for the 2 different versions of the Newsletter. I decided not to use New Version since we can’t seem to afford both Constant Contact and The $8 a month for the New Plugin. They were to be used as two totally separate structures. So after talking with Gary, I will just stick with the plain version for all.

But the reason for this little note was to say I am sorry for forgetting to disable it before sending out the regular Newsletter / Blog notes.

Thanks Mary for getting that all prepared for me. There was a bad link in there which is now fixed.