BAYFIELD – Nature photography is one of my passions, particularly using macro shots. This past weekend I was able to learn some new skills in the area of macro photography and digital video at the Bayfield Fall Foto Fest.
The Foto Fest, organized by the Photography Club of Bayfield (PCoB) and Photo TourTrekkers offered a variety of workshops over the weekend. I chose to attend two workshops on Saturday. Pre-registration was required and I did mine online.
Participants were invited to wander around the temporary photo gallery in the town hall and view the photos entered in the photo contest. There were photographs to suit almost every subject taste from nature, people, domestic and exotic scenes, reality, digitally enhanced artistic impressions, stark black and white to vivid colour.
I had a quick chat with Jack Pal, president of the PCoB. We both agreed that photography is very subjective. One viewer may see or feel something different compared to another viewer looking at the same photo. While it was evident that talent was present in the creating of all the photos, I can’t say that I liked all of them. There were definitely a few that spoke to me more so than others. I like photos that make me smile or say “oooooh” automatically without thinking about it.
My first workshop was macro photography, which is close-up photography, usually of very small objects, in which the size of the subject in the photo is larger than actual size. The instructor was Nancy McRae from Sarnia, who is not only an avid photographer but also a potter, gardener, world traveller and nursing educator.
Nancy gave us a short but interesting and informative blurb about herself and some tips on macro photography. She shared some of her “tricks of the trade” such has carrying around a small spray bottle of water to spritz on flowers and spider webs for a dewy look or applying a drop of thick glycerin in place of a runny water droplet. Dark coloured backgrounds, especially black, make colours and shapes pop. Small
mirrors can be used for lovely reflections. Interesting “modern art” can be created by
shooting multi-coloured paper through a glass plate of vegetable oil and water. She also gave us some great tips on how to avoid spending money on expensive photography equipment. Tricks like using large embroidery hoops with white, silver or gold fabric to make light reflectors or using a Pringles chip tube with one end cut out to fit over a flash and the other end covered in wax paper as a flash diffuser.
Nancy had several work stations arranged around the room and she bade us to jump right in and have fun experimenting. There were several “water droplet” stations where you could try to catch an image of the droplet splashing as it hit the water. Some of the water was coloured and one was made using cream. A couple of stations had small mirrors that we used to get shots of reflections of butterflies, flowers and jewellery. There were a couple of stations set up with black backgrounds and one with a royal blue background inside a small, white fabric “tent” lit from the outside. I found the most amusing station was the one with the coloured paper, oil and water. The resulting shots made me think of planets in another galaxy.
This workshop was a little challenging for me as my camera does not take different types of lenses. I could only use the macro function on my camera, which does not work as well as an actual macro lens.
Nevertheless I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
My afternoon workshop was digital video taught by Tony Shantz, a freelance cinematographer from Sarnia. We started with a discussion about some of the differences and similarities between photos and video. Tony told us that video is made up of a rapid series of still images, 24-30 per second, which gives us the illusion of movement.
Tony showed us a still image of a blacksmith working in his shop. He then gave us the task of thinking about how we would tell the story using various video images. An important step in preparing to shoot a video is to build a “shot list” which is the sequence of scenes being shot to tell that story. He also told us to think about the composition of the shots such as wide angle or close-up and how to use tilt or pan to show movement.
Tony then taught us how to set up our digital cameras so that they could be used to record video images. We were told that it is important to remember WISA – White balance, ISO, Shutter speed, and Aperture.
The workshop ended with a discussion about some of the online and computer programs available for editing and sharing videos.
The cost of attending the workshops was $50 for one day and $70 for two days and included two workshops each day, keynote presentation and wine and cheese reception.
Next year’s Foto Fest will take place Oct. 1 and 2, 2016.