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General Meeting: Photography Techniques, Tips & Tricks

June 26, 2010, 9:30 a.m., George Mason University

Photos from the June General Meeting

By Lawrence I. Charters

Ken Goldman presented an outstanding introduction to photography at the June General Meeting. The presentation was designed to dovetail with the introduction of the Pi Photo Contest III, announced at the same meeting. Check out the rules and remember to submit your photos no later than August 31, 2010.

Ken started out by saying there was a great deal about photography that he would not cover. In 2010, for example, it is pointless to even discuss "digital versus film" as the marketplace has already decided that: Kodak and Fuji no longer make film. (Ironically, one of the few places film is still used is in the design of microprocessor circuits, such as those used in computers and digital cameras.) Instead, Ken talked about compact point-and-shoot cameras that can fit in your pocket and carry with you at all times, compared with Single Lens Reflex (SLR) cameras that offer far more flexibility, but cost far more and are far bulkier.

One clear point: the camera you have in hand is worth far more than the one you left at home, which is the clear advantage of compact point-and-shoot cameras. Combined with auto-focusing, auto exposure, "scene modes" for specialty photography (close up, backlighted, indoors, outdoors) and other computer-assisted aids, a compact point-and-shoot camera may be all that you need to take outstanding photos.

Single lens reflex cameras tend to cost far more, but also be more flexible. They have larger sensors, allowing for more accurate color and focus. Interchangeable lenses support a wide variety of different photographic challenges. They tend to have much shorter shutter lag, which can be a real boon in sports photography. But they are also far heavier than compact cameras, much bulkier, and high-end SLRs can cost as much as a new car.

Introductiion to photography

Slides for Ken Goldman's talk, in PDF format (2.3 MB).

While Ken tried to stay away from some of the more arcane bits of photography, he did address the new micro four thirds cameras. These cameras are a hybrid between the compact point-and-shoot cameras and the single lens reflex cameras. They have larger sensors than compacts, are smaller and lighter than SLRs, but offer interchangeable lenses. Because the field is so new, only a few micro four thirds cameras are on the market (from Olympus and Panasonic, the co-inventors of the technology), but more are on the way.

Ken also addressed the proper way to hold a camera, the benefits of a tripod, and the critical importance of a camera strap. He also addressed some simple guidelines for getting a good composition, and briefly covered the concepts of aperture, depth of field and f-stop.

All this and more was covered in a lively hour and a half. Download the slides for links to more detailed information.

Original announcement

Check back closer to the meeting date for any updates or changes to the meeting.

George Mason University Essential Information

The meeting will be held in Science and Technology I, Room 131.

Address: 4400 University Dr., Fairfax, VA (near Rte 123 and Braddock Road)
Directions and Map: http://www.gmu.edu/welcome/Directions-to-GMU.html

Interactive map of campus: http://eagle.gmu.edu/map/fairfax.php

Important Parking Information: Two Options, Paid and Free

The Sandy Creek Parking Garage is fee-based facility. It is more convenient and closer to the meeting location. The Pi will subsidize the facility's parking fee by providing vouchers for donation request of $3.00.

If using the parking garage, park in Visitor's area; i.e., the lowest level. Take the elevator to the third floor (Campus Level), and exit along the sky bridge.

After the meeting, exit the garage using the exits marked for Validated Tickets. Your parking ticket goes in first. Then the validation ticket goes in next. If you have any problems, there is a speaker box for calling the parking lot attendant at the checkout point.

Free parking in Lot A (see map below)

Park as close to Mattaponi River Lane as possible, then walk north along that road toward the main campus buildings. The sidewalk route takes you directly to the side of Enterprise Hall, on your left. The meeting room is located on the second floor, accessible via outside stairs or via an elevator on your right as soon as you enter the building through the doors behind the outside stairs. We will endeavor to have signs posted to help guide you to the right location. It is at least a five-minute walk from Lot A and up a slight incline.

Handicapped Parking: There are three handicap parking spaces next to Enterprise Hall that can be used by members, on a first come first served basis. Have your Handicap Sticker showing on the dashboard or on the rear-view mirror.

George Mason Map