Bayou Bend

I went out with my Photo club to Bayou Bend in Houston,  I am lucky enough to travel a lot, but one disadvantage to all that travel is that I find taking pictures close to home difficult, and frankly uninteresting.   One of the main reasons I joined the Photoclub (kwphotoclub.com) is to get me out the door taking pictures.  I works.  Great people in the club, and it does exercise my photography muscles.

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The looks on their faces…

shipchannelbridge I loved it.  The other night when I announced our next monthly assignment at the Photoclub, the look on everyone’s faces was “Whaaaa???  Our next assignment is to go on a Scavenger Hunt.  Seems quite simple no?  Everyone is to go out and take a picture of (one each), a Bridge, at Tree, Railroad tracks, and an animal.  Most photographers might just take normal pictures of these things…may even do it during the golden hour for great lighting.  What we are asking everyone to do is to get creative with normal, things we see all the time; take a different “point of view”.  I’m looking forward to our sharing session next month.  We’ve got an amazing group of photogs in the club, and I’m sure there will be some real creative efforts.  I posted more of an explanation with links to some web resources on the club website.

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Gratitude

This month’s photo assignment for our local Photoclub is “Gratitude” in recognition of November being the month of Thanksgiving. That’s an admittedly difficult assignment, but worthwhile on many levels.

It’s been said, ” The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.” If that is true we as artists ought to be able to reflect our own personal gratitude in our images.

Kennebunkport Sunset
Glad to be alive

Attempting to portray gratitude this month has an important effect on our members beyond merely the pictures we will take or select. Attempting to portray gratitude makes us think more deeply about why we take photographs and by doing that explains us more clearly to our fellow photographers.

I personally believe the best photography comes from a deep sense of awe within. That sense is simply our inner gratitude for what we see. We may not call it gratitude, but what else is it? If we recognize it as gratitude, we’re richer for it because gratitude recognizes something greater and more important than ourselves. Our images attempt to show or connect with greatness, hence the awe.

It starts with pre-visualizing the shot. We imagine or see something that touches us. We frame and compose the shot to capture what caught our eye and imagination. As a rule the best images focus on what it was that mattered, and eliminate the superfluous.

More often than not, at least for me, I don’t succeed in fully capturing what I saw in my head, hence the power and reason for re-visualizing in post processing. Even then the final result rarely reaches the heights we’d like to achieve.

The power of Gratitude as a photo challenge is that it makes us strive; to think. Not a bad thing when trying to create art, and even a better thing in light of the Thanksgiving holiday. My hope is that this assignment will cause some of us (including myself) to attempt a deeper connection with our art.

Photoclub Week

As President of our local Kingwood Photoclub the week of our monthly meetings is a busy one.  I love the job, don’t get me wrong, but for an “old” retired guy, this is work!

As an aside, before I get into my week, I read a recent article extolling the virtues of a “large” club in New York.  There were two things that struck me about this article.  First and foremost was a paragraph describing the club’s success, “It’s likely that the Huntington Camera Club exemplifies the best that camera clubs can achieve: active and vital participation by members; an eye on the next generation of image makers; and visibility and service within the community.”  That statement exemplifies what I’d like our club to become.  The second thing that struck me about the article was the size of that “large” club. “The Huntington Camera Club is the largest on Long Island, with 120 members“.  Our little local club has over 90 members and over 140 on our mailing list.  The point is we are “large enough” to also be a factor in the community, just like the club in the article.

Enough of that, now you know what motivates me.

My week starts a week before the meeting with reminders and notices going out to the members about the meeting.  As it seems we always have last minute issues with speakers and programs.  Members submit their images monthly along the lines of the themes for that month.  This last month was a double theme of either/or Macro photography or Roadways and Byways.  I am always quite pleased to see the images roll in for this Share and Learn activity.  Our members are creative and many, quite good.  Its always somewhat humbling to see their material, when I think in my own head (I’m sure we all do this, no?)…this month my stuff is really good, its going to blow the socks off everyone.  Then I see their stuff…darn.  Oh well, that’s why I joined this club, to learn and not become to enamored with my own stuff.

As the weekend rolls around before the meeting on Tuesday I’m receiving member images, and organizing them.  I’m also going through notes I keep all month on potential items I want to bring up at the meeting.  I also keep a list of potential Share and Learn challenges (assignments) for the next month.  I get my ideas from other members as well as just browsing the internet.  With these notes and ideas I begin building my “agenda” for the meeting.

I actually write out an agenda and prepare a slide, or set of slides.  It keeps me organized.  That agenda is finalized on Monday before the meeting, as is all the organization of images.  Tuesday during the day is sacrosanct for for me.  Its the day I spend playing golf with my men’s golf group.  After the golf, I typically get back and make sure I’m ready for the meeting, and if I have time, go to the gym to blow off any steam…I tend to get wound up.

The meetings are always fun for me.  My personality type (Myers Briggs) is a strong “Introvert”, so it is a lot of work.  I don’t take to large groups of people easily, but its also a therapeutic challenge.  It forces me out of myself, and I love the group.

After the meeting I try to unwind, since, if I don’t, I won’t sleep that night.  Unfortunately I’m not always successful.  I usually come home and immediately begin working on putting out that month’s “newsletter”.  Putting out that newsletter is not really a simple matter as there are several things that have to happen concurrently for it to work successfully.  Our web site (kwphotoclub.com), needs to be fully updated.  Our images need to be uploaded and linked back to the website.  The next month’s scheduled events, as far as they’ve been confirmed, need to be set up in Eventbrite, and linked back to the site. Then, finally the newsletter is written…linked with the site, images, and events, and sent out.

After all that, its not time to relax, as we scheduled our monthly Post Processing Special Interest group on the same week as the monthly meeting, for the convenience of members attending, but not for the convenience of the person leading that group, me.  Another prep cycle then starts for the SIG meeting, but that’s another story.