Kansas City Zoo Photo Club Meeting Minutes

June 17, 2002


Dan Paulsen called the meeting to order around 7:20 p.m.

Carol Mitchell asked if everyone got the newsletter by e-mail?  Most members responded that they did.  Carol explained that she will send the newsletter out the Tuesday before the Monday meeting, as a reminder to everyone.  If you haven’t received it by Thursday or Friday before the meeting, call or e-mail her.  Barbara Chase is on her way or in Alaska by now, so Carol will be doing the newsletter until Barbara returns in September.

Carol said she would mail Bill Pasek’s newsletter to him from her home, and she will send a bill for the postage at the end of the year.

Wayne Hickox passed out a new, up-to-date roster.  He said there is already a change to make to it, though!  Stuart Riley’s phone number has changed.  He read the change to those in attendance so that those rosters could be updated by hand.

In new business, Dan pointed out that it is almost time to re-elect officers.  Of course, we know what normally happens . . . but we still need a nominating committee to make a recommendation.  Dan asked for volunteers for the committee.  Crystal Nederman, Suzanne Busby, and Wayne Hickox volunteered to serve on the committee.  Dan said that next month, the committee needs to bring nominations so the members can vote, and “new” officers will take over in August.

Tonight, Jim Rendina is going to do a talk on black-and-white photography.  We also have member slides to show, and we will see those around 8:30 p.m.

Next month, Chris is going to do a workshop for us on mat cutting.  If you have a mat cutter, please bring it in.  Chris, Linda Hanley, and Terry Fretz said they would bring theirs.

Chris said we need pictures for Deja Zoo . . . if you have any, please call her.  We also need unframed, matted ones for the picture rack.  At the workshop next month, if you want to bring a picture to put in the rack at Deja Zoo, bring it and we will cut mats for it, bag it, and tag it, and she will take it to the gift shop for you.  We need 8 x 10, 11 x 12, or 16 x 20 prints.  If you want a special mat, bring your own; otherwise, she has generic mats we can use.  She gets hers from Light Impressions.

Dan asked about our guest tonight.  Suzanne brought Steven Brewer to the meeting.  The boy that Suzanne takes care of is a friend of Steven’s son.  Steven does some photography and was interested in our group.  Welcome!

We talked briefly about the walk-through that was held earlier in the month at the zoo.  It was explained that the pictures you took are yours unless you want to give a copy to the zoo.

Dan turned the meeting over to Jim for his black-and-white photography presentation.  Jim said that Marie Bohndorf had talked to him about doing a presentation on something technical.  Jim attended the art shows at Prairie Village and Brookside this year, and he was impressed to find that there were more and more large displays of photography instead of painting.  Probably half of these were black-and-white photography.  He will give a quick review of black-and-white photography and cover options and limitations.

Jim said he has played around with black-and-white photography for about 35 years.  It’s fun and exciting, but almost a thing of the past, especially with stores like C&J going out of business.  Home darkrooms are becoming a thing of the past.  Some folks are using commercial labs while others are still doing their own.  A couple of places in Kansas City still do quality black-and-white work.

Most of the black-and-white photos at art shows are taken with other than 35mm cameras.  Not to take away from 35mm – it is very good to use when you need fast shooting, such as a sporting event – but most are using other formats for one main reason:  the zone system.

The zone system is a two-fold process.  First, you evaluate the scene you are shooting and decide on the range of exposures that the scene might cover.  You number the areas in the scene.  Say you have an area labeled 2 in one corner, and another area is labeled 8.  Film is limited to a range of three to four f-stops, so you typically compromise and shoot the scene in the middle range.  This prevents you from burning out certain areas and allows you to still get some shadows.

Zone photography takes this a step further.  It is hard to do this with 35mm if you are getting the film processed.

Suppose you are taking a picture of a scene that’s flat, with very little contrast.  How do you get a decent print?  Ansel Adams’ approach would be to underexpose the film.  Then he would overdevelop the film, using hot chemicals to bring out the contrast.

If you have a wide exposure range in the scene, you can overexpose, say, half a stop and underdevelop by 25 percent, using a solution that is not as hot as normal.

How do you apply this to 35mm?  You can get film pushed or pulled – overdeveloped or underdeveloped by 20 or 25 percent.  This will give you a very different and better negative than you might get at, say, Wal-Mart.

Another thing you can do when using 35mm film and enlarging prints is to transform a 35mm negative to a 4x5 negative.  There are

two schools of thought on this, but Jim has had very good luck with it.  If you want a 16 x 20 print from a 35mm negative, you will get considerably better results by taking it to a 4x5 internegative first.  This is expensive, however, so you don’t want to take a whole roll of 35mm film to Custom Color and get all of the negatives made into 4x5s.  But for the occasional good print that you want to make into an 8x10 or 16x20, think about getting a 4x5 internegative made, if you want to stick with 35mm.  It cost about $15 a negative to get one made.

If you want to stay with the 35mm format, there is a lot of film out there that is awful.  Jim is an Ilford fan; their fine-grain film is good.  Also, Ilford SFX (pseudoinfrared), without a filter, is as good as any fine-grain film out there.  You can load this film under normal light.  If you put a red filter on it, you will get a slight infrared effect.  If you add a polarizer, you will get some very interesting shots.

Another option is to go with a medium-format camera.  This is a good idea if you are serious about black-and-white photography.  The bigger negative allows you to make larger, good-quality prints.  A relatively inexpensive way to get into a medium-format camera is to buy a used one on eBay or from C&J (while it is going out of business) – you should be able to pick one up for $75 or less!

These cameras can be slow and awkward to use, but they take excellent black-and-white pictures.  Even the older ones did a better job with contrast than some of the new ones.

Jim mentioned brands such as Mamiya 220 or 330, Graflex XL, and Horseman 6x7 or 6x9cm film holders.  You might pay $200 for a Graflex XL, but you can’t wear it out.

He recommends medium-format instead of going with legitimate large-format cameras.

These cameras are completely manual, with no built-in light meter.  That means you start remembering and using all those aspects of photography that you've forgotten!

Gary Gingrich said he picked up a Twinlens Reflex camera in a garage sale for very cheap.  You need to get a handheld light meter to use.

Another advantage of medium-format cameras is you can use 12-shot film instead of 24- or 36-shot.  This is more practical when having all shots pushed or pulled in developing.

As for film, basic 120 or 220 medium-format film costs $3-4 or $7, respectively.

T-Max 100 and 400 are both pretty good in terms of grain.  Tri-X has more grain, but some people like it that way.

Black-and-white infrared film at Crick’s costs about $17.

Dan said you also could buy bulk film and roll your own in 6- or 12-shot canisters.

How much is a decent used light meter?  Jim said he couldn’t get $30 on eBay for his Sekonic 398.  If you are really serious, you will need a spot meter – these cost about $150.  Or you could use your 35mm camera’s meter to measure the light and go from there.

Steven, our guest, said he looked at exposure charts from high school in the ‘60s/70s and got pretty close on exposure without a light meter.

A condensed, humorous version of the Zone System is as follows:

·         Good:  Early morning, overcast

·         Bad:  Really overcast with no shadow – underexpose one stop with ASA 400-800 and overdevelop 20 to 25 percent

·         Ugly:  Blatant shadows at 12 noon – overexpose and underdevelop 25 percent

·         Ugly:  Go back to bed!

When the Plaza Art Fair is here, notice the resurgence in nice black-and-white photography.

Jim concluded his informative presentation at about 8:05 p.m.

We took a break and had snacks brought by Chris.

The slide show started around 8:45 p.m.  Carol brought some of Barbara’s slides from the zoo walk-through.  Linda Hanley also had some of the storks, elephant, rhino, lion cubs, and giraffes.  There were also slides of the chimps, crowned crane, flamingos, and elephants in the water (this last one took first place at the Kansas City Color Slide Show!).

Terry had slides of the orangutan, kangaroo with joey, and chimps, including some of them laying down and nursing.

Wayne shared images from Powell Gardens, including a cactus flower and some iris.

Dan asked if there was any other business.  Gary inquired about the status of the Web site.  Jim said that Malinda Welte's computer was down for a couple of months.  She got a new motherboard and all is okay now, so we should have everything up-to-date soon.  Some updates were made in April as well.

Jim also said he has a nephew in the Web page business who is here in town, so he may be an alternative to the Web hosting company we are using in Florida.  It costs under $100 to host a site, and we own what we have, so we’d just have to transfer it from Florida.  Jim is going to do some investigation on this first and view some of his nephew’s Web sites.

Dan said that Doc Briscoe also has a scanner, so if you need any images scanned for the Web site, he has offered to help.

Tracy Goodrich moved and Stuart Riley seconded that the meeting be adjourned.  The meeting ended at 8:50 p.m.  The next meeting is on July 15 at 7 p.m.

                            -- Tracy Goodrich