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.


April 10th Meeting

Loved the Sun more then the chilly days and clouds…. just say’n!

Our meeting began with several potential New Members introducing themselves.  I didn’t count, but I would say about 4 or 5 at least. All of them said they found us Via our Website 🙂 That excites me as the Webmaster because that means all the work I have been doing on this site this season is paying off. Let’s keep our fingers crossed it keeps working.  I (Helen) also briefly went over our Website Analytics or approximately how many visitors we have to our Website on a monthly basis. Originally we started out with 321 overall visitors, but after I narrowed it down to just the city’s surrounding Albany, we have 218 visitor’s, visiting our website every month. And the good news is, over half of them are returning for more information. Awesome!

We went right into Evelyn and Jerry Smith’s presentation. It was listed on our schedule as Wildlife Photography, but Evelyn changed it up a bit and included some breathtaking images of Silver Falls from earlier this year during our freeze. She began by telling us that to achieve the type of images we were about to see of the waterfalls, you really need to have 2 or more consecutive days of temps of 20 degrees or lower.  She had 4 or 5 images of beautiful cascading falls with walls of ice and icicle. By accident, Evelyn had bumped into some that were behind the falls and hanging from the ceiling. She said that sound was just beautiful as they shattered to pieces on the trail floor. They also recommended that if you are venturing out into areas like this, where you know that the trail will be slick, it’s best to wear Snow Tracks that easily slip over your hiking boots and have spikes on them to help your legs stay under you when traversing these frozen trails.  They also wore their bike helmets just in case some of the ice decided to give way. The images were so breathtaking that you really had to be there to see them.

The second part of their presentation was a slideshow she had put together for a friend that was not in good health and she knew she better get it done ASAP, because he wasn’t going to be with us much longer. He was a long time member of the ICL – Institute for Continued Learning and her presentation was on Preservation Of Water Conservation and how it effects everything we do. Unfortunately, her friend passed away the next day having never laid eyes upon her slideshow, but I can tell you after seeing it myself, he would have been very impressed and happy to have her keeping him up to date.  Thanks for the presentation Evelyn.   To see more of their Wildlife Photography see EJ Photo Adventures.

Guess what time it is?? It’s Scavenger Hunt Time! You do need to be a Paid Member to participate. You can see all the details HERE.

Allen Brooks reminded us that when submitting images in the print competitions they need to meet certain criteria. The smallest images cannot be less than 80 square inches (this is for the image alone and doesn’t include the matting), and the entire set up cannot be any larger than 96 square inches. For more information See The Gold Book.

If you have anything Photography Equipment you would like to sell, List it in our Club Classifieds.

If anyone has any idea if there is an App out there for Android phones that will allow someone to watermark images before uploading them to Social Media sites, let us know. We have some members that would be very interested in it.

Our next Meeting on April 24th is a must see. Chris Germano is going to show us some more of his layering and compositing techniques. He does some amazing work. Please give him a warm welcome. He is a friend of mine and I invited him to speak, but unfortunately I cannot make it to this meeting.

Anyone who is a Paid Member and would like to participate in our Private Community on Google+ for Image Critique, shoot me (Helen) and Email.

Dont forget that EID images are due by April 19th. See you all next time.

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 🙂