The Barefoot Photographer®

a photography blog

Thursday, January 31, 2008

If You Build It, They Will Come

In February 2006, the director of the local art center asked if I would like to teach photography.  March 2006, I began teaching photography classes at the Fayette Art Center.  It was fun to do and it seemed like the people in the classes enjoyed themselves.  I have had students to go on to begin (and grow) their own photography businesses, enter and place in contests, and just enjoy their hobby more.  Taking a class can build a little confidence in what you do.  It gives you the freedom to try things – to succeed with it or even the freedom to fail.  Many times I tell people you learn much more from how you fail with than what succeeds.


Soon after I began the classes, the director of the Fayette Art Center asked me to start a photography club.  As far as I knew, there was not one in the Fayette County area.  So I said that I would do it.  Our little group is growing every month.  We get together twice a month.  On the first Monday we have a critique session.  This is a meeting where members are encoura ged to bring photos with them that they want serious feedback on.  The other meeting is the third Saturday of the month.  This is a themed meeting.  As a group, we decided on themes for the months.  Members bring photos around that theme for sharing and discussion.  Our meetings are informal.  We spend a lot of the time chatting about gear or technique.  If a member is in the market for a new piece of equipment, she knows that the group is a good source of information and advice.


Last year we had a few field shoots.  We visited Line Creek Nature Area a couple times, once in the winter and once in spring/summer.  We traveled to Atlanta (not like it is really far or anything) one Sunday morning to Oakland Cemetery.  We also had two dates for the club to spend a late afternoon in Griffin at Fowler's Auto Parts.  There are a couple shoots in the works for the next couple months.  After that – it will be up to the group to think up anything else to do a nd to brainstorm the themes for another year of Saturday meetings.


If you are reading this and local to Fayette County – I invite you to come to a photo club meeting.  You can contact me through email at my website – my website can be found on this page.  Our February theme is "Abstract/Open."  If you are not local, I encourage you to find a club near you.  If you cannot find one – start your own!  It is not hard to do.  Visit a local art center or gallery to see if they have groups and to see if there is a photo group already using the space.   If there is – join them!  If not – look into meeting there.  Many art centers encourage groups to use the space.  In the future you can also see about a photo exhibit or contest at the center.  If there are not local centers – check with a library for meeting space and requirements.  A local camera shop is another good place to seek out a group or form one.  We have a Starbuck's nearby that has a meeting room available (not very large – but big enough for a small group) – a new and forming group could meet in a place like that.  Every now and then – especially when we have field shoots, and I have a good shot to send in – I send in the shot with a little blurb to the local papers about the club. 


There are clubs out there that are more formal than ours.  Many have officers, dues, etc.  We don't.  I have accepted the task of main contact person – sending emails to remind everyone about meetings and outings.  We have no dues – except since we do meet at the art center – we ask all members to join the art center.  Sometimes I think we are more of a photo chat group than a regimented "club."


So back to the title – "If you build it, they will come."  I love that movie – but anyway – if you start a group – it will grow – especially once the word gets out. 


P.S.  In my mailbox today were three books.  I ordered the "three-book set" from the Lenswork site when I was renewing the other day.  I plan to read through these and post a review as soon as possible.


Sunday, January 27, 2008


If you like black and white photography, you have to check out Lenswork. I know I have mentioned this little gem of a magazine in the blog before, but it calls for more than one, two, or just a few mentions.

Lenswork is a beautiful, small magazine dedicated to black and white photography. (The podcast on just how the magazine got to be this size is very interesting.) Each issue features photographers and their work. You can also read articles and interviews.

The backbone of Lenswork is not the technical aspect of photography - but the artistic way of taking photos. For subscribers there is a chance to get along with the magazine, a CD with more interviews, portfolios, and even printable versions of fine art images. Brooks Jensen, the publisher, also puts out interesting podcasts. His podcasts are short - usually 3 to 5 minutes - and they are filled with great, inspiring information. One of my favorites was on his 10 favorite non-photographic tools. The magazine, podcasts and extended version of the subscription all push you to think more, be more creative, and develop a body of work that is truly your own.

As much as I like to look at ads in magazines, I like Lenswork because it does not have any outside advertising. It is a very refreshing photography magazine. I just renewed my enhanced subscription (and purchased a couple books by Brooks) at

Oh, by the way, the hurricane hood arrived in the middle of the flooring-replacement stage of the remodel so as of yet, I have not had time to play with it.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Protect Your Camera

Yesterday was a great day to get outside with your camera and document an uncommon occurrence in Georgia – snow! Not to mention the second time that we have seen snow during the same week.

Cold weather and moisture can cause a little apprehension with photographic equipment. At least it does for me. My first little point and shoot digital camera was sent to an early grave due to spilling (or slightly splashing) a Coke onto the camera body. Anytime I see a spec of rain or any moisture on my digital SLR I think about that old, little Canon Powershot and kind of freak out for a minute.

Cold weather can zap the life of a battery. When you are out and about shooting in cold weather try to keep the batteries warm to extend their use. When in the camera, you can keep the camera close to your body or under a coat except for when you are taking a shot to help keep it and the batteries warm. Any extra batteries that you have on you – keep them “on you” and not in a bag sitting in the cold. Placing them in a pocket (especially if it is an interior pocket) of your coat is a great way to keep them warm.

Even if it is not snowing or raining, moisture can be an issue. If you are out in the cold and then come in to a warm house or car – if the warm place is humid (or moister than the cold place) moisture can condense on the camera and the workings.

I admit that I have not thought much about this and never really taken the precaution that is advised. What you are told to do is to place the very cold camera into a plastic bag prior to entering the warm place. Leave the camera sealed in the plastic until it has warmed to the room (or car) temperature. Any condensation from moisture in the heated space will collect onto the bag, rather than the camera.

Frankly, if I was out in the car – I would just keep it wrapped (and a zip bag is a great idea for this) in the bag until I got home and brought it in to warm in the house.

This whole scenario reminds me of being at the coast and in Florida in the summer time. How many times have you stepped from that wonderfully air-conditioned car or condo only to have your camera fog up for a few minutes – until it is acclimated to the surroundings? Should I “bag” the camera in the summer for opposite temperatures as in winter?

Here is the answer – think about your investment in that camera – are you a gambler? I am not. A zip bag is going into my camera bag today!

For a long time I have kept all of the little silica gel packs that come in shoe boxes (yes I buy a lot of shoes). I place these in various locations where I think moisture could be an issue – like in my camera bag – and keep them there.

Last summer when I was out shooting (in the humid air) and placed my camera into the bag to go into the air-conditioned car – I felt that it was sufficiently protected. Near to home I have not had the camera fog up so as it had in Florida or the Georgia islands in summer.

When I do go out I usually keep a plastic, kitchen-size garbage bag in the camera bag to quickly cover anything exposed in case of a quick shower. Think about it, if your camera is on the tripod and there is a sudden shower, it is easy to slip the bag over everything and carry it to the car. This way I don’t even have to open the camera bag in the rain – I can get to my car, lift the back and have it shield me and the equipment from the rain while I pack everything away and head home.

After yesterday and the amount of moisture I saw collecting on my camera, I am thinking of investing in a rain cape for the camera. I have been looking at them on the B&H Photo website today – they are available at a variety of prices. It makes me wonder is this one of those things that you ‘get what you pay for.’

Right now the top of my list is the Ewa-Marine C-AF100 Hurricane Hood Photo Rain Cape. Something in the product description really got me – the protection against sand – sand is the biggest enemy any camera will face because everyone loves to take their camera to the beach! If you ever see me out – get me to twist one of my circular polarizers for you – that little grinding sound is sand! I think I will order this from B&H to see if it is what I think I need for good, all-round camera protection.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Southeastern Flower Show

The Southeaster Flower show is coming! 


January 30 through February 3, the show will be at the Georgia World Congress Center, Building A.  The show is a great place to go to get ideas for your yard.    There are many great speakers on the schedule and topics ranging from container gardening, garden gadgets, aquascaping, flower arranging, landscape design – and of course, photography!  Anyone familiar with Saturday morning radio will recognize the voice of Walter Reeves.  Walter will be speaking at 10:30 on February 2 and signing his book.  The website gives times for all the book signings during the show.


Not only are the speakers worth the trip – the life-sized demo gardens on display will make you want to take them home with you.  They will most certainly make you forget that it is the middle of winter.  But it is the perfect time to plan that spring garden – and your water saving ideas.


The show has a variety of competitions on display.  OK – I will mention the photography contest first – and yes I have an entry.  If you go to my website – it is the blue flower photo on the home page.  Besides photography, there are competitions in landscape gardens, garden design, artistic floral design, discovery and horticulture.


The list of vendors is intriguing as well – statuary, pottery and gifts; jewelry; art and antiques; outdoor living; plants and accessories; tools and supplies;


Saturday and Sunday list a variety of activities for the whole family.  There are make and takes, celebrity story time, "The Beeman," and more.


For more information check out the website



Monday, January 14, 2008


It is the middle of January – what is there to photograph?  No flowers, no bugs, so blah!


OK – so the birdfeeders, birds and squirrels are getting old – how about trees?  As I was out this morning I could not help but notice the beautiful bare trees against the clear blue sky.  Bare trees make an interesting study – you can experiment with black and white or silhouettes.  This is the only time of the year to get to see what is under all those leaves.  One the way home, I noticed how some trees were so full of mistletoe that they appeared to be full of leaves.  Well, actually I guess they are full of leaves – from the mistletoe!  Mistletoe is hemi parasitic meaning it can photosynthesize for itself but will also obtain some nourishment from its host. 


I heard a tiny bit of weather news that perhaps we may have a touch of winter later this week.  I don't think I have taken any snow or ice photos for a couple of years!


This Friday I will be at the National Archives, Southeast (weather permitting!) for the workshop on preserving, restoring, and duplicating your old photos.


The Intro to Digital Photography classes at the Fayette Art Center have been a major hit – the classes are full for January.  I have added another couple Intro classes to the February schedule along with the classes on Photoshop Elements for Beginners.  Later in the spring I would like to plan an outing for present and former students – I will make an announcement here as well as in classes and encourage anyone interested to come out.


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Programs, Podcasts, and more...

The new year has started well for me.  On January 1, I received an email from the North American Nature Photography Association telling me that one of my photos I had submitted was being showcased on their website for the day.  This is the second time they have showcased one of my photos.  I have received
any emails from people interested in the classes and I hear that the workshop scheduled for the 18th at the National Archives has quite a few people registered.  The Fayette Photo Club had the first meeting of 2008 last night and many familiar faces were there – plus a newbie.  It was a great meeting!


Sunday I bought a new laptop.  The old laptop was making me a little nervous.  I need it for a presentation coming up and it has been going so slow, not shutting down properly, and well – I just was afraid I would show up to do the program and the computer would crash!  The new laptop has Vista.  So far, I have no problems with it.  Yesterday I used it to edit a photo – got what I wanted – saved it to my jump drive.  I then carried the jump drive to the office, plugged it in the desktop, and printed the photo.  I don't kn ow for sure – but I think since my printer is old – well – it may not be Vista friendly.  The new laptop has a good size hard drive, even though that was not as important to me since I have also purchased a new portable hard drive.  The feature I really wanted was the working memory – this one has 2GB.  My old laptop only has 512, which is the reason it chugs along so slowly these days. 


I have also added some new software.  I purchased Photoshop Elements 6 when it first came out.  Now I am learning it and liking it.  Inside the box were other offers (of course there were!).  One of the offers that caught my attention was for Essentials 2.  This add on (or plug in as they call it) for Photoshop Elements has four features.  One feature, "Make It Better" seems like an "auto fix" to me.  I looked at it yesterday and really did not care for the "better" version of my photo.  "Cut It Out" is one I have not used, along with "Frame It."  They do just what they sound like – "cut it out" gets rid of the back ground in your photo and "frame it" adds frames to the photo file.  The feature that caught my eye and really pushed me to order this program is "Enlarge It."  I used this feature yesterday and love it!  Last November, I sent photos in to the jury for the Southeastern Flower Show.  One of my photos was accepted in the contest.  They sent back to me specifics on matting and framing – which is why I was at the frame shop yesterday.  The proof I had submitted was 8x10 but I wanted to put a larger size of that photo in the show.  I did not know how large I could go with that photo without getting distortion in the print.  Up until yesterday, I had only printed this photo as 8x10 or smaller.  When I printed it at 11x14 it looked okay – but I could see some tiny places where it was starting to *pixel out on me (yes – this is my new phrase, I invented it – "pixel out" see below).  This was when I got out the laptop and loaded the photo on with the new programs.   Enlarge It allows you to increase the size of a photo up to 400%.  This does not mean every photo can be increased that much – but it will bump up the size to fit your needs.  My very slightly, pixely-looking 11x14 became a very sharp and great-looking 12x16 – I mean it looked GREAT!  This was as large as I wanted to go with it .  The specifications for framing said nothing over 30"x30" – and I was planning on putting a 4-inch mat around the photo, plus the frame – so I think I am just under the limit.  I am very pleased with this program if I only use this one feature.  This will come in very handy when I am working with old family photos and would like to make them much larger.  It is also a plus to have when you want to crop out just a part of a photo – this gives you a smaller file, of course, than the whole, original, large file.  You could then use this feature to bump up the crop to the same size as the original file – or even take it larger.  Here is a link to the website:  When you purchase Elements 6, there is a coupon for Essentials 2 in the box to save $20 off the price.  Since I love this Enlarge It so much – the Genuine Fractals 5 program is looking verrrrry interesting to me.  Hmmm, increasing the size of your original by 1000%!!!


OK – enough about the program……How about podcasts?  My favorite photography podcast of all time is Brooks Jensen's Lenswork - on photography and the creative process.  This is the same Brooks Jensen and Lenswork that is the wonderful magazine of black and white images.  The magazine is wonderful – each issue highlights three photographers and their work.  Here is the link to the Lenswork website:  Even if you don't have an iPod or other mp3 type of device, you can listen to  podcasts on your computer.  I download mine through iTunes and do put them on my iPod.  If you don't have an iPod – you can still have an iTunes account – for free!  The podcasts are free!  They are short – most not over 5 minutes and very enlightening.  Although the magazine is purely B&W – the podcasts cover many subjects and really make you think.


Oh – and did I mention I have a Wacom Intuos3 on the way to my door?  More on this when I get it and figure out how to use it….



*pixel out – when you push a digital photo just a little too far and it look like it.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year!

I have been thinking it over for the past couple of days – trying to come up with a good "start of the new year" kind of topic.  Well, the best I have thought of is, "how to edit yourself."  Really no one can tell you how to edit yourself – I think the big thing is sometimes we need a push to force us to edit.  The beginning of the year is a good time for that push – also home remodeling pushes us to clean up, out and streamline things.


As I sit here and look around my desk (and the rest of the house) – editing is needed!  (and, in fairness, editing is happening)  The remodel is still in progress – meaning that things are still a mess.  The kitchen is almost complete.  Painting is about halfway finished.  New furniture arrives on Friday, old furniture has been moved to the basement, and some will be picked up for a donation the same day.  By the end of the month the flooring on the first and second floor will all be replaced.  When we first began this a couple months ago, I knew it was going to be a task.  Task sounds smal l, doesn't it – this is a large task.  What I really did not completely think about is that in order to replace the flooring EVERYTHING must come out of a room.  Everything!  It is like moving and not really moving out of the house.  I had the same epiphany about the kitchen cabinets.  I remember sitting in the living room one night and having mild panic set in when I realized new kitchen cabinets meant all the old cabinets had to be emptied!  I have never lived (as an adult) in a house as long as I have lived here.  Normally we would move – and I mean move – across the country (or at least a few states).  When we would move – we were f orced to clean out things that have been stored and saved for some reason that had become lost on us.  When we would move – we would move to a home with new things, carpet, appliances, the works – all new!  We needed to edit.  We did edit – the move forced us to do it.  I still need to edit – I have three weeks before the flooring guys arrive expecting me to be ready for them.  I need to be.  The kitchen cabinets are fine – they look great and all the kitchen stuff has been edited, and what was kept has been rearranged in the new places.  Now if I could only keep everyone else from moving things when they use them!


Next week I have the art center class beginning.  On Wednesdays I teach a beginning digital photography class at the Fayette Art Center.  I have most of my material prepared for this class already – so I am very ready for this.  Recently I removed the Microsoft Digital Image program and Photoshop Elements 3 from my desktop and replaced them with Photoshop Elements 6.  I have learned most of this new program and I am still getting up to speed with it.  On the 18th of Jan I will present a lecture/workshop at the National Archives in Morrow on restoring old photos using this program – I still need to work with it to learn more of the ins and outs of it.  Also, I plan to add a Photoshop class at the art center beginning in either February or March.  This morning I ordered a companion program for Elements – Essentials 2.  I am anxious to get this one and see how easily it works. 


But back to editing – my desk needs some editing – some cleaning – some filing away the papers and items from 2007 to make space for 2008.  I have a couple photo sessions on my memory card that I need to edit and look over, deciding on what to save, what to play with and what to delete.  Recently I went through all the photo files saved to my hard drive (sort of) – saving those to DVDs and clearing my hard drive space.  I even deleted some.  When I say "went through" that means the files of photos – not photo by photo – gosh I would still be doing it if I did each and every single photo.  I am really bad about downloading everything on the memory card and not culling enough to delete ALL of the photos that I know I will never want to look at a second time.  I am pretty good about deleting a stinker on the camera and sometimes one or two during download – but then there are many lurking, taking up space, that are really, really, really bad photos.  This is a good week (what is left of it) to get out the calendars, get set up, and plan the next few weeks (months?).  The photo club meetings are already set up – but I need to talk to a couple places about some field shoots coming up soon.  My filing system is not working – or at least it does not work if I don't file.  There are prints and copies of handouts I pass out at workshops in different places.  I need to get them in one spot.  My camera ge ar has gotten scattered around over the holidays and with the couple little trips I have been on.  I need to collect all the gear in one space so when I look for the monopod I can find it next time!  I would love to set aside specific office time and stick to it – give myself time to do all the little tasks I need to do plus spend some uninterrupted editing time on the computer.  Since this is "resolution time" and I don't usually make them – since I usually break them – maybe I will make just one – to set up a normal time a few days a week to spend "in the office."  When I say office time – well that needs control too – that does not mean time spent updating the iPod and creating playlists – although many of my podcasts have something to do with art or photography…so that is still "working" – right?


Oh and about the hawk spotting while traveling via the interstate – I was the passenger on the road trip from Atlanta to Charlotte – I spotted 24!  On the way home from the grocery store yesterday I spied one on the power lines on Redwine Road. 

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