Create your own seminar

It is often difficult to know what topics interest people at any point in time. At the same time I am often asked when my next seminar will be. Seminars take effort to create, often considerably more time than the seminar itself. Specialty seminars can be especially time consuming making sure that appropriate sample material is produced.

I have created an alternative concept. I will let you create the seminar. I have an entry on my website learning page that will allow you and your friends to decide what seminar I teach. Some suggestions are listed, but topics related to photography and Photoshop/Elements are all options.

In Lightroom, Photoshop and Elements I can work with your images rather than my own, bringing the learning closer to your needs. Most students are amazed at how some basic and pretty simple techniques can substantially improve their output.

Some people can learn on-line from tutorials about certain techniques, but I have found that most people do not know what processes, tools and techniques they can use to begin with. This is where I can be particularly helpful.

Individual and group seminars can be created and made to suit your schedule. As an example I am offering any local camera club a seminar in Lightroom basic raw image processing and integrating Lightroom with Photoshop or Elements using club member images at no charge. Clubs outside of the Harrisburg/Hershey area are welcome to take advantage of the offer as well. Please contact me to make arrangements.

Cameras only produce source material; the image maker is responsible for creating the final result. There are many photographers out there who see interesting images but don’t know how to take their captures to the next step. Plugins and actions are not how you get where you want to be.

PPA of PA 2016 Convention

The Professional Photographers Association of PA will hold their annual convention April 10-12, 2016 at the Comfort Suites in Carlisle, PA

The speakers program for this year include:

Steve Kozak — The Road to Success is a 4-Wheel Drive!
Alan Berg — Social Media Marketing Methods
Jamie and Jason Turner — Techniques for Amazing On-Location and In-Studio Lighting

Detailed information on each speaker is at the convention web link.

In addition to the regular member competition, PPA of PA has a non-member competition category. Information on competition rules and an entry form are at the top of the convention page. PPA competition judging puts each image against a standard of excellence rather than competing against other entries for the highest score. This means that each image must achieve a benchmark and is scored accordingly. This is a great opportunity for non-members who may be interested in comparing their work to professional photographers and being judged by certified PPA judges. Entries must be in by Friday, April 8th. They can be shipped or delivered to Ron Bookwalter at:

Bookwalter Photographics
3280 Spring Road
Carlisle, PA 17013

The Subject Doesn’t Win the Award!

You are walking into a photography exhibit and a friend who is leaving tells you to check out the great photograph of the red flower. You find it and agree, but is it a great photograph of a red flower, or a great photograph because it is a red flower? Is it simply an accurate representation of the flower or an image that is compelling in spite of the subject matter?

Good images are good because of many things such as mood, color, composition, balance, leading lines, visual impact, and a host of other variables. Subject matter is often the least of the determining factors. Documentation and photojournalism may make the time, place and content of an image rise to a higher level of importance, but most photography has little to do with the subject matter beyond our initial reaction.

We begin to see images using the left side of our brain, the side that recognizes content. The right side of our brain is analyzing the light, the tone, the color, and most importantly, the structure. Essentially, the right side of your brain is making the image an abstraction and checking it for balance and composition. It is deciding whether or not the image “feels” right with respect to what we understand from our experience and study of other art and photography.

That means we can train ourselves to be better. The more experience we have with good images, the more our brain can help us decide whether we really like what we are looking at. It can help us be better photographers. The more you challenge the right side of your brain with good images the greater the database it creates to use to determine the quality of your own work. This is how you can teach yourself to be a better image maker.

Another way to look at it might be this. If all you see, all you investigate are average photographs your own image making will not likely exceed that benchmark. You can actually create a roadblock to your own creativity if you do not look at better images. Stretching the limits of what you see as possible can help you recognize what is simply ordinary.

I will be speaking this coming Monday, April 4th, 2016 at the meeting of the West Shore Photography Club. The meeting is at the Bethany Towers Community Room on Wesley Drive in Mechanicsburg, PA at 7 p.m. My topic for discussion is post processing, including tips on setting up Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw for efficiency. I will illustrate my post processing workflow with an emphasis on what can be done in Photoshop or Elements to move beyond initial raw processing for greater impact.

Harrisburg Camera Club Spring Events

Harrisburg Camera Club president Andy Hoff has announced two events for the near future. Photographers should find both of interest.
“Meet the Photographers” – HCC Exhibition Reception
Saturday Night March 19th from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Central Penn College – ATEC Building

The Harrisburg Camera Club will be holding a “Meet the Photographers” reception to celebrate their current exhibition at the ATEC Building on the Central Penn College Campus.  The exhibition of 22 photographs fills the atrium of the ATEC building located at Valley Rd. and “B” St. in Summerdale.  The reception will be held Saturday evening March 19th from 6PM to 8PM.  Everyone with an interest in photography or in the Harrisburg Camera Club is welcome to come.  There is free parking at the building and light refreshments will be served.  The end date for the exhibition is March 26th.

Light and Creativity Workshop
The Harrisburg Camera Club will be holding its 6th annual “Light and Creativity” workshop for photographers on Saturday April 9, 2016. The workshop venue at Central Penn College, just outside the city of Harrisburg, is easily reached from I-81, I-83, the PA Turnpike, Routes 322 and Routes 283 and other major arteries. The conference center features free parking in adjoining lots, tables for ease of note taking, and is handicapped accessible.

The keynote guest speaker is nationally known photographer and “Canon Explorer of Light” Parish Kohanim. Parish, who is based in Atlanta is a photographer who specializes in people, portrait, commercial and fine art photography.

Our second speaker is photographer Denise Silva from Maryland. Denise has spoken to many camera clubs and teaches photography through her photographic tours at Road Runner Tours.

Our third speaker is Ivan Rothman. Ivan is a wildlife photographer with 40 years experience from around the world and has presented educational programs up and down the east coast.

All three speakers are highly qualified photographers and will speak on different subjects. Speakers will be available for questions by attendees after their presentation. For complete details on the workshop including speaker’s bios, presentation topics, workshop schedule and the online registration, go to

 HCC Members—$60.00
 Non-members—$70.00
 Students (21 & under-with ID)—$45.00

Mail registrations to:
Harrisburg Camera Club
c/o R. Andrew Hoff—President—HCC
110 Oak Drive
Camp Hill, PA 17011

Included in the cost of your registration is a full continental breakfast with seating and a hot lunch catered by the Harrisburg Hilton. We will have camera store vendors and product representatives on-site: We are pleased to offer in door prizes for registered attendees. Dollar for dollar this educational workshop is hard to beat. If any of your members have attended, just ask them! Post workshop surveys give us a 98% approval rating.

Registration Deadlines: April 7th, 2014 Last day for discounted registration
•    Check must be received by the Harrisburg Camera Club (Andrew Hoff) by Wednesday, April 6th.
•    Online registration via the Midnight April 9th.
•    Seating is limited to first 200 registered attendees.
***Note: Registration at the door in the amount of $75.00 (no discount).***

Resolve to make better images in 2016

You are the first obstacle to better image making.

All of us make New Year’s resolutions, and they usually involve something like “make better images”, lose weight, stop smoking, etc. I will give you better odds on the images if you approach the issue as a problem to be solved and work methodically toward a goal. There are several steps to image making and you have to break your photography into those steps to find the weak links and repair them.

The Photographer: Yep, you are the first obstacle to better image making. You need to analyze the images you are making and attempt to understand the weaknesses. This can be difficult depending on the amount of experience you have and how much time you invest in the process of looking at images, shooting, and processing. One aspect of this we can analyze is the mechanical process of capture.

Not everyone’s photography is suited to a tripod, but no matter how you shoot you need to fully understand certain physical limitations that might influence your image making. Images that are unsharp from camera movement are common with hand held shooting. Often there are mistakes made in decisions of shutter speed, choice of ISO, aperture and the physical way you hold and fire your camera.

The Hardware: The camera you own, the lenses you use, the flash, even the tripod you thought would solve the problems can all be a plus or minus in the capture. You don’t want the equipment to be in the way of a good outcome. If the camera can’t make a good image, you will not overcome that primary step in the image making. This doesn’t mean you need to own the newest, best, most expensive equipment. You do need to be aware of the ability of the camera system to make a good capture. Yes, good images can be made with small point and shoot cameras and mid-level equipment if properly used. But there is a lot of “junk” on the market and careful attention to competent reviews can mean a lot.

The Software: This should not be a problem as the processing software that came with your camera or a move into good quality software like Lightroom should mean that processing the image has the potential to produce a quality image. Secondary finishing in Elements or Photoshop is another level of control and refinement. The software available today is way more powerful than anything in the past and the biggest obstacle here will be the learning curve. There is more to processing than most people realize. Here again, you become a limiting factor and better processing means better images.

The Print: Print quality is essential to a good final image. Making the prints yourself sounds like a good idea until you realize that the printing process is anything but a button push away and you are back to a steep learning curve and the possibility of a lot of questionable decisions. Good printing is an art form.

Whether seen on a screen or printed the final representation of your vision very much depends on you. The processing step in digital image making is both a difficult task and a very important part of the process. It is a challenging part of better image making. If you have ever heard a piece of classical music performed by a junior high school orchestra you know that the performance is the issue, not the composer. If your captures are good and you see well, your images deserve the best possible performance. Training yourself to perform well is the hard part.

I will be speaking on these issues and detailing many of the aspects of shooting and processing at a meeting of the Hershey Camera Club this coming Thursday night, January 7th, 2016. The meeting is at the Country Meadows Retirement Community room on the second floor. The doors open at 6:00. All are welcome.

New image galleries are almost ready. I hope to have them on line in the next day or two.

Lenses and Perspective

Photography and Perspective

As a photographer you should realize that perspective is not a function of lenses. The “wide angle perspective” we talk about as photographers is an effect that is simply an exaggeration of the relationship of a foreground object to the background or other parts of the image.

Perspective is simple. It is the relationship of foreground to background objects based on the position of the photographer relative to the scene. If you want to change the perspective, you have to physically move in relation to the subject.

Lenses simply allow us to include (wide angle) or exclude (telephoto) parts of the scene in front of us. The misconceptions of distortion come from the peculiar “effect” that we see in the two dimensional representation of the subject if it is different than what we normally perceive. Our eyes are essentially fixed focal length lenses. What we consider “normal” is simply based on the way we perceive reality. Get close to a subject with a wide angle lens and you create a distorted visual relationship, but not a change in perspective.

Architectural photographers do this with buildings as the spacial relationship creates dramatic receding lines. If the subject is far from the camera as in a landscape, the effect may not be noticed. Using an object close to the lens in a landscape image can be used to dramatic effect as the near to far relationship helps the three dimensional feeling.

Ansel Adams illustrated this in “The Camera” (Previously “Camera and Lens”) photographing a fountain with a building in the distance. The relationship between the two is not changed with a change in focal length which is essentially cropping the image at the capture stage. To change the perspective you need to physically change your position in space relative to the closer object. The difference in perspective then appears as a change in the relationship to the background regardless of the focal length used.

This is pretty easy to learn. Choose two objects with a distance between them and make some photographs with different lenses or both ends of a zoom. Do the same at a closer distance to the foreground subject. With changes in focal length the relationship of the foreground subject and the background will remain the same. When you change your position in space relative to the foreground the perspective of the images will change compared to the first position. The foreground to background relationship in each set of images will remain the same regardless of the focal length.

To further illustrate the point, crop your wide angle lens image to match the amount of the scene captured with the longer focal length from the same position and you will see that the final image is identical. The lens focal length is simply including or excluding a portion of the scene. It does nothing to change the perspective.

In practice this becomes important as the first thing you should do when deciding how to photograph a subject is to determine the perspective or “point of view” you want or need based on the foreground to background relationship of the subjects in the image. Then the focal length of the lens is simply how much of the scene to include in the capture.

Hbg Camera Club Digital Education Program

Hi, all;

I will be at the Harrisburg Camera Club this Tuesday evening to present an education program on Photoshop. Among the requested topics are image resolution, preparing for competition, chromatic aberration, layers and the histogram.

I will also touch on choice of apertures and diffraction as I see a lot of issues there that are not well understood. I will be happy to discuss any other topics that come up in the conversation. I just got back from a photo adventure out west and will have a few new images to show.

A reminder that the second SCCA Landscape Show reception will be next Friday, October 23rd from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Gallery in Columbia. The gallery is located at 224 Locust Street In Columbia, PA. More information here.

Hope to see you somewhere.