April 3, 2012–“Our Journey for Hope” Photography by children of South Africa

Twenty-one members of the group including guest Jason Musselman were welcomed by meeting chair Marv Goldschmitt at 7:05.

Marv reminded us of our upcoming show in October at the Cary Memorial Library in Lexington.  The theme is “water” in any of its forms.  We’ll spend some time at the next meeting discussing the show and members are encouraged to think about their plans for entries.
On a personal note, Marv indicated that due to constraints on his time, the group needs to consider some alternatives to how the meetings are run and how the presentations are set up and planned.  Bob Bass distributed a summary of the presentations that have been made over the past 15 months and pointed out that they have all been done by a small group of the more advanced photographers in the group.  He suggested that we need to develop a plan to more equitably distribute the planning and leadership among group members.  Julie Turner and Sing Hanson, Co-Directors of the BCA have agreed to facilitate a discussion of some alternatives for coordination at the May meeting.  It would be great if all members think about how we should function going forward:  how can we get more members involved in the program planning and presentations and distribute the responsibility more broadly.  The consensus seems to be that we have a great thing going in the BCA Photography Group, but that we need to make a few adjustments to keep it going.

The first part of the program was a presentation by Jason Musselman about the work that he and Becky Laders have done with orphan children with HIV+ in Khayelitsha, near Cape Town, South Africa.  These children generally live with several others with a single “mom” who takes care of them.  Jason and Becky worked through the schools to make contact with over 30 children ranging in ages 5 -18.  They provided the children with point and shoot cameras, many of which were donated by our group members.  Since most of these children had never even seen a camera before, the first thing required was teaching them to press the shutter halfway to focus before finishing the capture.  The results were impressive.  The children became very involved and brought back images of their environment and of the things in it that meant most to them.  Jason also showed some wonderful video footage of the children which showed how much they enjoyed their first experience of photography.  This work has been coordinated through the Concord-based Esperanza—Hope for the Children.  Jason and Becky are looking forward to extending their work in Honduras.  Group members are encouraged to bring in any point and shoot cameras they could contribute to this effort and to let their friends know about this opportunity to turn in their unused older point and shoot cameras.

The technical part of the program dealt with High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography presented by Marv, John Sullivan, and Carlton SooHoo.  Marv began by defining, characterizing, and providing some history of HDR.  Basically, it is a multi-shot technique (actually in use as early as 1850) that combines different exposure settings in a single image to “approach the perceptual ability of the human eye”.  The resulting images are usually more vivid, intense, and “contrasty” than those of traditional photography.  Often if these differences are accentuated, the images may appear artificial and have been likened to a comic book appearance.  On the positive side, using HDR allows us to capture images that would not be possible using with single shots because the wide tonal differences would result in some areas of the image being too dark and others too bright.  As in all other areas of photography, the secret to using HDR successfully is having the right combination of variables with the appropriate parameters.

The rest of the presentation discussed approaches that can be successful and showing us a variety of very interesting images that elicited interesting discussion.  These approaches involve proper bracketing of exposures (usually varying duration of capture), using cameras that have in-camera processing, or use of programs such as Photoshop’s HDR Pro, Photomatix, or Nik’s HDR Efex Pro.  John demonstrated use of Photomatix and showed us how adjusting the sliders can produce a variety of effects.  He also provided several nice examples of images he captured with in-camera HDR.  Marv demonstrated Nik’s software, and Carlton showed how to manually merge different exposures or to use Lightroom to make local variations to accomplish results similar to HDR using a traditionally captured image.  Bob Bass and Bianca Bauer also contributed images and explained the approaches they used.  As Marv pointed out, a few years ago, very few people knew what HDR was all about.  It’s now become quite popular and recent technical advances indicate that it may soon be very commonplace, another function available on most cameras.

Ben Thomas told the group about Really Right Stuff, a vendor located in San Luis Obispo, CA, that specializes in very nice tripods and accessories.  Ben had obtained a number of catalogs from the company and distributed several.  If you did not get one and would like to have or borrow one send a message to the Yahoo Group email address (BCAPhotographyGroup@yahoogroups.com).

The next meeting will be 7:00, May 1, at the Old Bedford Town Hall.  We hope that there will be a good turnout to discuss the upcoming show and to make some decisions about how we will move forward with planning our future meetings.

Submitted by Bob Bass (rwbass5@comcast.net)

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