Saturday, July 25, 2015

"The Art of Seeing and Capturing the Beauty of Flowers" By Anne Belmont

       As a nature photographer, Anne Belmont's greatest passion is photographing the beauty of the Chicago Botanic Garden. On any given day you will find her there capturing the garden scenes, the flowers, plants and butterflies that comprise the Chicago Botanic Garden's 385 acres. Anne's greatest interest lies in seeing and photographing the world up-close, appreciating the beauty in the small, often unnoticed details. Flowers are her favorite macro subject.  Her commitment lies in sharing the beauty of nature with others in hopes of fostering a deeper appreciation of nature and a desire to protect the natural world.

Who doesn't love flowers?  They are beautiful subjects for everyone from the amateur to the professional photographer, full of color, texture, patterns and personality, and they are readily available year-round.  During my presentation for the CAPS Conference, “Macro Flower Photography: The Art of Seeing and Capturing the Beauty of Flowers,” I will cover everything you need to know to create beautiful flower portraits, from what equipment is necessary, light, composition, depth of field, the importance of background and even share a few tips for post processing flowers. One of the subjects I am passionate about sharing with others is developing the “art of seeing.”        

One of the most important factors in finding interesting subjects with emotional impact is learning to see. Sounds simple, right? Actually, no. I believe it is something that takes time and patience to develop. Learning to see means slowing down, taking your time to stop and deliberately look at your subjects, whether they are flowers, plant life, architecture or landscapes. Some photographers have coined it Contemplative Photography. It describes an approach to photography in which you combine the practice of seeing with mindfulness. It is about being in the here and now, being present in the moment. A little too “new age” for you?  Think of it as “being in the zone.” It requires one to slow down. Don’t just glance at surroundings but, rather, closely observe, pay attention to details. I find that just being in nature puts me in this “zone.” Immediately when I step in a natural place, I can feel the distractions of the day exit; my mind clears, I breathe deeply and I immerse myself in my surroundings. It is a feeling I could identify in my childhood. I know this approach helps me to “see” better and, thus, get better photographs. This mindfulness in photography can be applied to any genre of photography, but I know that my fondness for macro photography grows out of a life-long love of seeing the details in nature, looking at the world up close.  I always spend a good deal of time looking and studying flowers before deciding a subject to photograph. Train your eye to notice details, look for interesting lines, sensuous curves. I often say to others that I am looking for flowers with personality. They have a certain attitude, a curl to the petal, stem or leaf, a beautiful pattern. Something catches my eye that I know will translate into an interesting photograph with a story. Learn to see abstractly, as well. Look beyond the literal qualities of your subject to the more abstract qualities of line, form, mood, shape, color, patterns and texture. Studying my subject in such a way helps me know how I want to shoot it, what aperture I want to use and what part of the flower I want to emphasize. Most importantly, look for the beautiful light, a subject I will go into great depth in my presentation.  We all know that light is one of the most essential elements to creating impactful photographs in all types of photography, and flower photography is no different. Good flower portraits require a good understanding of light, an ability to recognize it and how to manipulate it.

I started my love of photography in the film era. Although I would never turn back I think one thing that is important to bring with us to the digital age from this era is that purposefulness, that slowing down to compose correctly. Back in the film days, out of a need to get the most out of a roll of film, we had to think more carefully about what we were shooting. We had no post processing, so we had to get it right in camera. In the digital age, we can fire away, 100’s if not 1000's of images in a shoot. Digital is seductive in that way. I find, however, when I slow down and more purposefully look and compose I may go home with fewer images but I am happier with my results and have more keepers. It doesn’t mean that I don’t still go home with 100’s of images. It doesn’t hurt that my playground, The Chicago Botanic Garden, has endless subjects to shoot. I look forward to sharing my work and passion for flowers and macro photography with you in November at CAPS-Chicago Area Photographic School.

Website and blog:
link= Nature Photography

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Storm Chasing Presented by Lorraine Mahoney

Tonight North Shore Camera Club is going to have a preview of one of our speakers for CAPS-Chicago Area Photographic School. Lorraine has been storm chasing since 2011.  She has had her work featured on TV and the National Weather Service.  She most recently had one of her photos selected by National Geographic. Lake Forest Place is located at 1100 Pembridge Drive in Lake Forest, IL.  Come and check it out.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Layers and Beyond by Margie Hurwich

Margie Hurwich will be presenting a program at CAPS-Chicago Area Photographic School called "Layers and Beyond."  Margie can help you take the mystery out of using layers in Photoshop.

Margie sells her images at a Rights Managed stock site which caters to book publishers.  She is published internationally in 18 countries with hundreds of book covers throughout.
Shooting exclusively for book covers has trained Margie's eye to look for images that immediately convey a concept, feeling or story.  She teaches those same ideas at the Bryan Peterson School of Photography,  BPSOP - Bryan Peterson School of Photography -
You can see Margie's portfolio at

Original                                Final
I would have to say that 99% of the time I never crop an image in post processing.  That doesn't mean I don't skew it a bit to make a horizon straight or to change the perspective of a tall building.  But for the most part, my photos come out of my camera cropped into the composition that I would like.  But do I post process my images?  You bet!!!  And pretty heavily too!

There are two kinds of post processing.  One is image enhancement.  Generally most digital cameras do some digital enhancement in camera and if you shoot RAW, you will also have to do some minor adjustments during your RAW conversion.  Image enhancement simply makes a better version of your photo by using sharpening, contrast, saturation, etc.  But the second type of post processing is image manipulation.  This is the category in which my photos fall into.

Through the use of layers and their capabilities, I am not only able to direct the viewer’s eye, but also combine images to create the concept, feeling or story I wish, and even create my own reality.

                                 Original                               Mushroom                           Final

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Geek and the Artist by Steve Gettle

For our first article by our CAPS (Chicago Area Photographic School) presenters, I would like to introduce Steve Gettle.

Steve's photography has taken him throughout North America and South America from the woods of northern Canada to the Cloud forest of Ecuador, from the coast of Maine to the high plateau of the desert southwest.  Although he travels extensively, he finds much of his inspiration in the natural areas surrounding his home, in Brighton, Michigan.  Steve leads photo workshops and tours all over the world.  As an instructor, he has taught for such organizations as:  The North American Nature Photography Association, The Rocky Mountain School of Photography, The Adirondack Photography Institute and many more.  He is a great nature photographer and will be teaching a half day class about photographing our natural world.

The Geek and the Artist

One of the things I love about photography is it appeals to both the geek and the artist in all of us. On the geek side you have the technical considerations of making an image; the f-stops, shutter speeds, depth of field, histograms, dynamic range, all the stuff we must all master in order to communicate our vision. Of course we can’t forget about all the ‘geeky’ gear, super telephotos, focusing rails, tele-converters, extension tubes, fill flash, and such. On the artistry side things are a little tougher to define, shape, color, composition, mood, balance, and that fickle mistress light, to mention just a few.

To make a great photograph we have to find the balance between the geek and the artist. If we lean too much toward the geek our pictures, while technically perfect, can lack emotion. They may not reach out and touch the viewer. They can be missing a mood or feeling. Conversely, too much focus on the artistry at the expense of the technical may often leave the work riddled with technical flaws distracting the viewer from the message. Most photographers tend to lean in one direction or the other, some are master technicians crossing every T and dotting every I in their images. While others have a flair for the artistic not having the time or desire to bother with all of that technical stuff. A truly great photographer finds the balance and has a mastery of both of these two seemingly opposing disciplines.

At its very best photography communicates something with the viewer. The message can be anything like an idea, a concept, a mood, or a feeling, even something as simple as, “Look how pretty this is”. But the goal is to reach out and touch our audience in some way. The most effective way to communicate with the viewer is without technical flaws that could distract from the message. The most powerful way to reach someone is by touching their soul with your artistry.

Good Luck and Good Light

Image: Spider Web and Dewdrops South Lyon, MI

Wilderness Images
The Nature Photography of Steve Gettle
8877 River Valley Ct.
Brighton, MI 48116
Studio 810-231-8118
Fax 810-231-8119

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

CAPS- Chicago Area Photographic School

To start our blog, we would like to announce that the Chicago Area Photographic School is back this November.  We have been doing this for over 30 years and this year it is going to be a two day event on Saturday, November 21st and Sunday, November 22nd.  We have two great main speakers, Tim Grey, one of the top educators in digital photography; and Jennifer Wu, a Canon Explorer of Light and excellent nature photographer.  We have many other classes to offer as usual.   We will be using this blog to share with you some articles by our speakers.  We hope you enjoy and will come to the main event.  As soon as the registration site is open, we will let you know.