Kansas City Zoo Photo Club Meeting Minutes

January 17, 2005


Bill Pasek called the meeting to order around 7 p.m.

Tech Talk was the first item on the agenda. Tom Goodner passed out a quote and talked about metering. He discussed 18% gray and explained that it was an arbitrary standard used for metering. He usually uses manual metering.

He explained that a good photograph is whatever you like. The more involved you get with photography, the more you will simplify your shooting by not using all the automatic settings on your camera.

A 645 medium-format camera has a negative that is about three times the size of a 35mm negative. A lot of these cameras didnít have meters in them. He learned through experience to use 400 speed film with them. You could use 100 speed, but you have to expose longer and they are harder to hand-hold.

Tom said he couldnít stress enough that the mechanics of photography are simple. What makes it interesting and good is what you see. If you take enough pictures, you know what works with your camera.

Does everyone know what aperture priority and shutter priority are?

Most modern cameras can function in at least four modes:

  1. All automatic.
  2. All manual Ė you set both the f-stop and the shutter speed.
  3. Shutter priority Ė you set the shutter speed and it automatically sets the appropriate f-stop.
  4. Aperture priority Ė you set the f-stop and it automatically sets the shutter speed.

The smaller the f-stop, the larger the opening of the lens and the shallower the depth of field. (Depth of field refers to the area of the picture that is in focus.) Typically one-third of the area in front and two-thirds in back of the subject are in focus.

You should stop down from f8, to f11, to f16, and so on if you want more in focus.

Tom said he got started on Minolta equipment because his uncle worked for the Associated Press and thatís what they used. His first pictures did not look that good, so he took a pencil and pad of paper and wrote down the settings he used in the field.

He discovered that the meter on his Minolta SRT 202 wasnít that good, so he learned to bracket, which means to take the shot at one stop under and one stop over the right f-stop setting. It can be kind of expensive to shoot that way, though. It is better to have the print underexposed than overexposed Ė you can sometimes pull out a good picture if it is underexposed.

Images are created by light hitting silver halide particles. Film speeds can range from 25 to 1,000. The smaller the number, the smaller the grain and in theory the bigger the enlargement you can make. The natural enlargement for 35mm film is 5x7. That uses the full frame of the negative. For a medium-format camera, the natural enlargement is 8x10.

He has made a 16x20 enlargement on 400-speed film with a 35mm camera and it looked pretty good to him. He shoots slide film. If shooting to sell, that is still what you want to use. Some stock companies are going digital, but they want medium-format, to get a large number of pixels so they can use the images for advertisements and such.

You can take a medium-format camera and put a digital back on it Ė originally this cost about $35,000 but now it is down to around $22,000.

Tom discussed pushing and pulling film. This is when you take a 100-speed film, for example, and push it two or three stops, to, say, 400. You have to use special processing when getting it developed. You lose detail in the film, but you do it to use as small a grain of film as possible but when you need a faster shutter speed. A few labs in town will push film.

Bill asked what film speed you ought to use. Tom said it depends on how big you want to enlarge the image. Theyíve made great strides in film lately. There used to be only Kodak; then Fuji came along. Kodak is a warmer film. Itís like putting an 81B warming filter on. Fuji tends to be brighter. On cloudy days, Tom will add an 81B filter to give the skin a "tan".

If itís worth taking the picture, then put the camera on a tripod. If you are shooting for competition or submitting your work, they will put it under a loupe and check details such as eyelashes. You want your images to be tack-sharp.

Tom pointed out the images hanging on the walls. Up close, you can see they are a bit grainy, but from across the room, they look great. Ask yourself, what are you going to use the image for?

Tom was asked if the point-and-shoot digital cameras have ASA settings. Some do and some donít. Keep in mind you canít take as many pictures at 100 speed as at a faster speed. Some cameras will auto-adjust the speed to the conditions, such as indoor versus outdoor.

Professional labs can dodge and burn your images for you. Burning is used if you didnít expose your image enough. Dodging is where you protect part of the images from the light, by covering the area from the light of the enlarger. Tom uses Wal-Mart for processing; they use Fuji paper.

Wayne Hickox said that he uses a lot of Provia 400F. He has tried Sensia 400 because he read that it is similar but considered "consumer" film, so itís cheaper. However, it was originally about $5 a roll, and now is over $8. Is this trend going to continue? Yes, Tom said that film is becoming a specialty market. Artsy people are still using film. You will see companies charging more for film because there is less of a market for it.

Another difference between film and digital cameras Ė pixels. On the 35mm camera, if you take the lens off, you can see the mirror. That is the film size. On a digital camera, the sensor is smaller than the shutter. It makes your lens 50% more powerful than a normal lens on a 35mm camera.

Tom said that he and Wayne both just ordered the Minolta 7D. The body is cheap, but the lens is expensive. With the Nikon or Canon, you can use regular lenses on the upper-end digital cameras. They will try to sell you digital lenses.

You can buy system lenses or after-market lenses. Tokina is considered a pretty good lens, but several factories make it, and it depends on which factory. Sigma and Tamron make really good lenses.

Wayne said his regular lenses look good on the 7D. He has four, and they all work well for him. But the 7D does require a new flash.

Tom said that everything is a tool. The more pictures you take and the wider variety, the more you may want a particular lens. He uses his 70-210mm a lot. He has a newer one that is a 100-300mm polycarbonate lens, also. The newer one is not as good as the older one, material-wise. If you take care of them, they will last forever. If you leave your lenses in the car in summer or winter, that is bad for them. When you bring them in, you should cover them with a trash bag and let the condensation form on the outside, rather than on the lens.

Tom briefly discussed macro lenses. You can get 50mm and 100mm macro lenses, which let you do close-up photography. The farther you are from the film plane, the closer you can focus. The 100mm lets you get back further from the subject and get more light. He recently got a 50mm macro lens, which gives him a 1:1 ratio. He would have purchased a 100mm, but the police department requires 50mm.

If you want to get closer, you can use extension tubes. These rings come in sets of three and cost about $100-some. They move the lens further from the plane of the film, so you can get closer. If you stay around f5.6, you wonít lose light, but you can if you go higher.

A cheaper way to do close-ups is to use close-up lenses or diopters. They screw to the front of the lens and act as magnifiers. They come in sets of three or four.

If you have, say, a 70-210mm lens and would like more lens, you can use teleconverters. These come in different powers, such as 1:1.4. The ratio reflects the magnification provided. It gives, for example, 1.4 times more lens power. You lose one to two stops of light, depending on which magnification you use. A lot of people use them, and they are good. You will get more grain if you use the 1:2. They are good for shooting wildlife and birds.

Jim Rendina said that he has found that using a 1:1.4 only costs one stop of light and almost no degradation of the image. He wonít use the 1:2.

You can enlarge from 5x7 to 11x14 with any film without any problem, as long as you use a tripod and are rock-solid.

Back to the subject of metering Ė you can meter on a neutral color outside if you donít have an 18% gray card, such as a tree trunk or your hand (if youíre not too pale). If you donít want to spend $200-400 for a meter, you can buy a gray card.

Meters in modern cameras are pretty good, but the more you shoot, the more you learn.

There are two kinds of meter readings Ė reflective light versus incident light. Reflective light is measured in the camera, the light that bounces back. Incident light is the light that is coming on to the subject.

Chris Nederman asked which kind Tom preferred. He says he uses both, depending on the circumstances. He uses a handheld meter for portraits and flash. Outside he uses a handheld spot meter that is pretty close to the spot meter on his camera, but it measures a wider area.

Every light has a different color temperature. The sun is 1,500 Kelvin. Inside without flash, your pictures will look yellow, because they are shot at a different color temperature. Flash approximates the color of the sun.

You can calibrate a handheld meter. You cannot change the calibration in an in-camera meter.

Most pros say to pick a film and stick with it. Most everything he shoots is with 100 ASA film, except weddings. Those he shoots at f5.6 for 1/30th of a second with 400 speed film, or f5.6 for 1/60th with 800 speed film.

Tom ended his presentation at 8 p.m., and the group took a break. Bill provided treats.

Max Evans is the zoo liaison now. Sarah OíBryanís position changed; she is now the liaison for the zoo board.

Bill said we would have no show and tell tonight, because we donít have a projector. We also donít have a speaker scheduled for tonight. Next month, George Denniston from the Missouri Conservation Department will be our speaker.

Peggy shared with the group about some calendars she had made for Christmas gifts, using her photos and Ilford paper. They cost only about $1 to print. She said there are lots of calendar programs available, though she couldnít remember the name of the program she used. You can use lots of different images, change colors, and so on. She bought envelopes at Office Max.

She also shared pictures of her dog Dusty catching popcorn. These were taken at f5.6 at 1/60th with her new camera, a Canon 20D.

In other business, Carla Ferris said she needs pictures for the Web site. Send them to Carla.

Bill, Peggy Lawrey, and Carla still need pictures for the kiosk.

Anything for Buy-Sell-Trade? Bill said every time he orders from Light Impressions, they send him something he didnít order. This time he has some acid-free flip-top boxes for storing photos, if anyone wants them. Chris said she has some frames to sell Ė 11x14s and 8x10s. She is trying to downsize her booth. She also has a Celestron C90 telescope with a Canon 1000mm lens. The telescope fits any standard tripod and is for celestial and wildlife viewing. She got it at C&J Photo for $400 but will take $250 for it. She has technical information on it.

Treasurerís report Ė we have $1,795.28 in the treasury. Dan Paulsen asked if we would consider donating some money, say, $800, to the zoo. Is there any fundraising going on? Max said he would ask around and let us know next month. Sarah may know of something.

It was noted that the zoo newsletter usually has wish lists of items that are needed in different areas of the zoo.

Wayne said this was a good idea, or we could buy a projector with the treasury funds, if that is enough. Carla said she thought we could get one at Samís for about that much.

Jim suggested that we research this and give an update next month. Wayne said he would not be here next month, but he would be in favor of doing something with the money for the zoo.

Max gave an update on the zoo. Sarah always has lists of pictures needed for the Zoo Web site and Adopt a Wild Child. Max is putting together an image library for the press room, so that when special needs arise, the zoo has a number of images from which to choose. For example, when Casey died, we needed good pictures of him.

He said that the zoo would have a white Bengal tiger for the summer exhibit from Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha. Itís a girl, 250-325 pounds. We also have some Francois Langur monkeys in quarantine, and a white wreathed hornbill. These will be on exhibit along the catwalk with an Asian theme.

Max passed out a 2005 events sheet for the zoo and discussed a few of the events. Don Lynch, who wrote a book on the Titanic, will be here. Also, a Nascar IMAX movie is opening February 19.

The new Masai giraffe, a young male we acquired last year, will be on exhibit starting in March. We want to breed him someday.

We will have several gazelles born soon. This is good, since dogs killed several last fall.

Max said the zoo-sponsored trip to Botswana had 20 slots available but is filled up. They may try to do another one sometime soon, because there is a lot of interest.

Max was asked what kind of images the zoo would like. He said tight shots are good, and anything unusual or cute is great. He needs them to be 300 dpi for the image library, so they can be downloaded and printed, but 72 dpi for thumbnails. Most images on the Web can be 72 dpi, but since these are for printing, we need higher resolution. As for size, no bigger than 4x6, vertical or horizontal, is good. They want to start with 30 images but continue to grow the library. They donít expect to have an image of every animal, but at least a representative of every animal would be nice.

Linda Hanley pointed out that he could go to the clubís Web site and find a number of animal images. Any you want can be obtained in high resolution.

Max said the zoo will be posting the winners of the zoo photo contest on the Web site. There were some great photos submitted and it was difficult to pick the winners.

Max said he would bring business cards for everyone at a future meeting. You can e-mail him directly at the zoo.

Peggy said she took down our images at Deja Zoo, since that area of the gift shop is closed for the winter. So if you had images on display there, she has your images in her car; see her after the meeting.

Carla reminded everyone that if you get any pictures of events at the zoo, you can send them to her and she will get them up on the Web site as soon as possible.

Dan discussed possible club field trips. Several members met to discuss trips. They thought about three to four trips this year would be a good number. Most could be within one to two hours of Kansas City, with no overnight trips. We could leave about 7 or 8 a.m. and spend four to five hours at the site. Some ideas of places to go included Powell Gardens, Ernie Miller Nature Park, which has a lot of wildflowers, Prairie Center Park, or Little Bear Marsh in Platte County.

Dan said last year some of us went to the Tallgrass National Prairie and, although it was very windy, we got a few good shots and everyone enjoyed it. Itís on the other side of Emporia. We could do some trips like that again this year.

If anyone has suggestions, get with one of the members who discussed trips. Dan said he would bring proposed dates to the next meeting, so we can get them on our calendars.

Marie Bohndorf said she got lots of fall shots at Maple Woods Park last year.

Marie, Michelle Riley, and Bill discussed speakers for meetings this year. Marie needs suggestions. If you donít want travelogues by our speakers, you must tell her what you do want.

Wayne suggested that we not have speakers present several trays of slides without sharing any photographic knowledge.

Jim said that the National Zoo has a live Webcam of some cheetah cubs on the Internet. Itís a neat site; check it out!

The meeting adjourned at 8:55 p.m. The next meeting is February 21 at 7 p.m.

-- Tracy Goodrich