Guest Speaker Apr 12, 2016

Photographing the Night Sky in Nova Scotia

Tuesday, April 12, 2016: The Bridgewater Photographic Society welcomed Barry Burgess to show some of his images and speak about photographing the night sky – including the Northern Lights – from Nova Scotia.

Barry has been photographing the night sky for many years – with film, and now with his digital cameras. Digital technology has been a boon to his hobby, making certain operations easier, and opening up new areas of exploration. Barry showed some lovely time-lapse series of the Northern Lights and the night sky that he captured using an intervalometer with his digital camera. For night-sky photography, he recommends using a wide to ultra-wide angle lens with an aperture of f/2.8 for best results. He gave a rule of thumb for choosing a shutter speed that won’t result in “star-trails”, and told us how he manually focuses his lens by doing test shots of the brightest star he can find, taken at the camera’s highest ISO. He also told us about an important accessory that astro-photographers should consider if they want to photograph over extended periods of the night – the electric dew heater, which keeps dew from forming on the lens. “Without one,” he says, “you’re done for the night as soon as the dew forms. You can’t just wipe it off, because it will be back in no time”.

© Barry Burgess
© Barry Burgess

Barry uses “apps” for getting predictions on the best nights and locations for shooting the Northern Lights, meteor showers, and other night-sky attractions. And he uses some post-shot digital processing to bring out the colour, brightness and contrast of his shots. Yet, his best known photograph was taken on film. His 2001 shot of a Leonid fireball was used on the cover of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada’s publication of its Observer’s Guide (2003).

Members also got to see photos from a recent field trip to Cosby’s Garden Centre in Liverpool, and the Western Head lighthouse. The garden centre features the “concrete creations” of Nova Scotia artist and sculptor, Ivan Higgins. After touring through the sculpture garden, club members got to meet and chat with Ivan about his art, and watch him work on his latest creation.

Members Potpourri Mar 22, 2016

Members’ Potpourri at the Bridgewater Photo Club

Tuesday, March 22, 2016 – The Bridgewater Photographic Society held their second Members’ Potpourri night at the M.A.R.C last Tuesday. There were two competitions and three shows of images from club members.

The evening began with the club’s Silent Essay competition; entries are comprised of 12 theme-related images. This year’s winner was Sara Harley, whose whimsical essay depicted the courtship, marriage, child and family life of a couple of gourds. In second place was Darlene Awalt with her essay on “The Making of a Yellow Birch Hat”. Richard Novossiltzeff placed third with “Mystras”.

Copyright Charlene Morton Treasure Hunt 2016-1
© Charlene Morton
Copyright Charlene Morton Treasure Hunt 2016-2
© Charlene Morton

The second competition was the club’s Treasure Hunt. Competitors entered 6 images, chosen from a dozen categories that demonstrate a photographic technique or style. Charlene Morton was our winner, followed by Dave Collins and Elizabeth Klaas. Winners from the Silent Essay and Treasure Hunt will be presented with trophies at the club’s Year-end Awards Dinner in May.

After a short break, James Campbell showed pictures from a trip to Alberta last summer to attend his son’s wedding, and to see the local sights. His presentation featured a few wedding pics (including the Campbell boys in kilts), scenes from Calgary and Banff, and the majestic Rocky Mountains. James spoke about the things that caught his eye, and (of course) where he and his family had been served a good meal.

Club VP Gary Smith then took us to Alabama with a presentation based on his six-week winter vacation there. He managed to be up for sunrise every day, and showed a collection of images featuring beautiful skies, waves, and the beach in the early morning light. The beach and trails also provided him with opportunities to capture local birds, and interesting “contemplative” scenes with his camera. Gary’s visit to an alligator farm and the local Mardi-Gras gave us a glimpse of regional wildlife and some local colour.

Kas Stone ended the evening with a fascinating presentation on Lake Superior, from an unusual perspective – geology. When living in Ontario, Kas “vacationed” in the region most years for more than a decade; vacations typically meant hiking or canoeing in remote areas, often accompanied only by her dog and her camera. Kas gave us some background on the geological history of the area and explained some of the similarities between the Lake Superior region and Nova Scotia. Her “sight and sound” show featured the geology through sweeping landscape photographs, and more detailed pictures of geological formations.

Guest Speaker Mar 8, 2016

Cheryl Hassen at the Bridgewater Photographic Society

Tuesday, March 8, 2016 – The Bridgewater Photographic Society welcomed local photographer Cheryl Hassen to the club, to talk about Sensibility, Series and Signature in photographic art. Cheryl, an award-winning, independent documentary producer and director, has more recently taken to still photography after many years in the Canadian television and film industries. Though her background provided helpful experience, her journey to ‘art through a still camera’ prompted new revelations about art and photography, and about herself. And Cheryl shared some of her insights with the group.

Cheryl’s presentation drew from some of the masters of photography who, in addition to creating important and celebrated photographs, have spoken and written eloquently on the topic of photography. She also drew from philosophers, filmmakers, authors and jazz musicians. She then tied these ideas together through her own experiences and personal growth.

Cheryl spoke about learning to see not with ‘eyes of the intellect’, but with the ‘eye of the heart’. While thought produces opinions, critical judgement and doubt, the eye of the heart – intuition, some would call it – leads to insight, which gives us a deeper perspective.

“So this is another key to your heart: intuitive response to the initial scene. How do you know that you are passionate about something? By your response, your gut, your excitement, adrenaline, feeling alive. By how it defies reason, goes beyond thought. You know how you are on a field trip, and you get there and your mind is busy looking for shots, and then you start shooting and you move to taking photos of things that drew you to them. You stop following anyone else. You start to move out of your head. It’s also how we begin to develop a sensibility.”

Sensibility is the ability to appreciate and respond to complex emotional or aesthetic influences. It’s our responsiveness – our sense of perception through which we gather knowledge about a scene, a subject, an object. Cheryl went on to explain how sensibility ties in to developing one’s own ‘voice’ – a unique style, a signature style.

“It’s fine to study, and we are inevitably influenced. In the end though, who are you, really? Where is your work coming from? What is your initial response to a scene? Sometimes what really interests us, declares itself for just a second. You have to pay attention and listen to your heart very carefully for it talks in a whisper. You can be a highly technical photographer and that’s terrific, but to rise above even this, you have to perceive and feel, to increase the quality of your shots. You have to give something of yourself.”

But it is a body of work – a series of photographs – that most clearly presents a way of seeing, and declares one’s voice. A body of work is a collection that looks like you, that is consistent and memorable and distinguishes you from other photographers. A body of work also tells a story – something that Cheryl is very familiar with from her TV and film days. She talked about how directors pore over every frame, multiple times, visualizing and condensing to make sure everything that remains supports the story. But she also spoke about the importance of leaving room for the audience to participate.

© Cheryl Hassen - Keep Going
© Cheryl Hassen – Keep Going

Cheryl showed the photo club some of her early images, including successes in international photographic competitions using a small point and shoot camera. She also showed some more recent photos from her body of work comprised of photographs of shale. Though she now uses a more sophisticated camera, she doesn’t concentrate on the technology. When asked for details about what lenses she used, she pointed at her camera and said “I have two lenses… this one, and… the other one. It’s in my bag.” Cheryl also does not ‘post process’. She takes what she has seen and captured directly from the camera.

Cheryl’s Presentation Notes in PDF, can be downloaded from the following link: Sensibility Series and Signature2 by Cheryl Hassen

You can learn more about Cheryl and see more of her work at http://www.thisisnovascotiatoo.com/.

Guest Speaker Feb 23, 2016

The Beauty of Nova Scotia

Tuesday, February 23, 2016 – The Bridgewater Photographic Society welcomed local photographer Paul Xavier Newton to the club, to display his work and talk about his pictures. A resident of the South Shore, Paul is passionate about capturing and sharing images that showcase the abundant beauty of this province. Paul’s presentation included photos taken right in his own back yard, local south shore scenes, and images captured during treks into the wilderness throughout the province. His collection includes wonderful landscape images of sea shores, forests, waterfalls, lakes and streams, and also images of the flowers and plants, insects, and wildlife that he finds along the way.

Paul is constantly searching for little-known or undiscovered locations of beauty, but he is also adept at finding remarkable images in plain view of the busy public eye. He almost always has his camera with him, and numerous pictures were taken, as he put it, “On my way home from…” or “On my way to…”

Paul is naturally attuned to finding beautiful light, and capturing the colours, textures and details that he sees. He prefers to shoot in the early morning light and the evening, through sunset and the twilight beyond. Originally a film photographer, he has learned how to master the capabilities of his digital camera, along with selective digital processing, to recreate the tonal range of the actual scene. Paul’s show concluded with images from a more recent exploration – a series of photos of waves, using a panning technique to capture both the power and movement of the water.

© Paul X Newton Photography
© Paul X Newton Photography

Paul’s fine-art photographic prints have been exhibited at the Shoreline Gallery at the South Shore Regional Hospital and they can often be seen in the summer at the Petite Rivière Winery. Most of his images can be seen on the website novascotiaart.gallery along with several other Nova Scotia artists. Paul and his partner Sherry Hudson have co-authored a book “Waterfalls of Nova Scotia – A Photographic Exploration of Light, Movement and Energy” which can be found at blurb.ca . If you see anything you like at any of these sites or venues please contact Paul directly at his email pnewton@eastlink.ca, and he can arrange a viewing of his gallery and/or a sale of his work. Paul also does commissioned work and welcomes inquires.

Watch the Margaret Hennigar Library calendar later this spring for a talk and exhibit By Paul Newton and Sherry Hudson on their recent photographic trip to Iceland.

Guest Speaker Feb 9, 2016

Winter Photography

Tuesday, February 9, 2016 – The Bridgewater Photographic Society focused on Winter Photography for its last meeting, welcoming Ron Smith from New Germany to speak to the group. Ron, a former BPS President, enjoys a variety of photographic pursuits, but winter photography is one of his favourites.

Ron spoke about his background with film photography and how many of the technical aspects of the craft have not changed in the world of digital cameras. Getting an optimal exposure is still very important, and Ron talked about learning when and why you might not want to trust your internal light meter. Ron has enough experience to judge exposure by eye in many situations, but he also uses the camera meter or a separate incident light meter at times.

As with winter sports, winter photography requires the correct clothing, equipment, and preparation. Ron showed us his winter gloves, which still allow him to operate the camera controls. And he offered tips about batteries (keep spares in a warm pocket), changing lenses in snowy conditions, the best times to go (morning while the snow is still in the trees), and more.

Ron also showed pictures and told us about some of his favorite locations on the South Shore for winter photography. At the conclusion of his presentation, he showed photos he had taken during the winter storm the night before our meeting.

Guest Speaker Jan 26, 2016

Bridgewater Photo Club – Photographer of the Year

Tuesday, January 26, 2016 – Each year, the Bridgewater Photographic Society holds a series of competitions in a variety of photographic genres, and the photographer who scores highest across all competitions is awarded the trophy for Photographer of the Year. Last Tuesday, the club was treated to a wonderful presentation by the 2014-15 Photographer of the Year, Karen Parnell-Herrick.

Karen is a relatively new member to the club, and to digital photography. She told us about her early disappointments with photos from a trip to the Grand Canyon, and her struggles to learn the technical aspects of her camera and the computer side of digital photography. But, she decided either to improve to a point that she was happy with her efforts, or to give up the hobby altogether. Karen’s determination and hard work paid off; last season was a banner year for her growth as a photographer, culminating in her win of the club’s Photographer of the Year award.

Karen’s presentation spanned the breadth of her picture-taking last year, from trips to Montana and the Carolinas to her award-winning entries in the club’s competitions. She combined explanations of a few images with automated sight and sound essays displaying a range of images from her trips and her photographic exploits. We learned the stories behind some of her portraits (rubbing plant soil on her husband’s face to “grunge him up”), photos in other genres, and photographic essays. And she talked about her favourite lens – a 50mm ‘prime’, which she used for a great many of her entries.

© Karen Parnell Herrick
© Karen Parnell Herrick

One of Karen’s most popular entries from last year was her sight and sound essay entitled “Madam, Your Hat”. The idea began with four vintage hats and some jewelry and accessories that were her mother’s. She put the word out, and by the end of the project she had 61 hats along with dresses, furs, gloves and other vintage accessories. She spent hours taking pictures with a number of different volunteer models, then many more hours editing the pictures and assembling the sight and sound essay. Karen brought one of the more fantastic vintage hats to the club for people to see.

Karen’s presentation concluded with an explanation of her award-winning image “Oh, Those Eggheads”. It started with an Internet inspiration, and took her into uncharted territory in digital post-shot processing. While she admits that she may “never want to do that again”, the resulting image is emblematic of her desire to learn, and her determination to hone her craft.

Guest Speaker Jan 12, 2016

Viki Gaul at the Bridgewater Photo Club

Tuesday, January 12, 2016 – The Bridgewater Photographic Society welcomed the new year with a presentation by Nova Scotia photographer Viki Gaul. Viki has the distinction of having won Photographer of the Year at the Photographic Guild of Nova Scotia (PGNS) for the last four consecutive years! She is also very active in the Photographic Society of America (PSA). She is the PSA club rep for the Photo Guild, and Membership Director for the Maritimes and Quebec. She has received the PSA’s APSA honour award for her contributions to that organization, as well as the PPSA proficiency distinction for her exhibition acceptances.

Despite her many accomplishments, Viki continues to be a warm and down-to-earth personality. She began by showing us a picture of her very first camera (a Kodak film camera, which she still owns) and some of the first pictures that she took with it. She learned “the technical craft” of photography with a manual film SLR, and finally turned to digital. While the digital world opened up new opportunities, she quickly discovered how valuable her experience with the film camera continued to be.

Viki’s presentation featured many of her award-winning photographs and other competition entries from the 2014-15 season. Her images span the gamut of competition categories including Nature, Pictorial, Portrait, Travel, Photojournalism and “Creative”. She also showed us her entries in the Silent Photo Essay competition – The Lawrencetown Wild ‘n’ Woolie Sheep Rodeo – and her Sight & Sound Essay on the Wharf Rat Rally in Digby.

Along the way, Viki gave our members a glimpse at some the post-shot processing that she used, as well as some practical advice on how to practice photographing birds in flight, or approach gnarly (or not-so-gnarly) “bikers” with a camera. She completed her presentation with a tutorial on how to produce fascinating pictorial “orbs” using Photoshop.