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Become the one with the 'eye'

Left, "In awe" was taken by Cindy Harris for the monochrome category. Center, Karen Duffy created this nature image titled "Looking Very Pretty." Right, Grosse Pointe Farms resident Pat Tapper created this image of Swan Lake dancers for the color creative category.

March 13, 2014
Aww, that's a Kodak moment.

This is a phrase incorporated into our everyday jargon meaning a one-time moment to be preserved.

Some of those precious scenes are taken well and others not so much. Help to have more photos in the keeper file than are deleted is just a click away through the Grosse Pointe Camera Club. Its members can help a novice develop into a seasoned photographer.

"Most members are amateurs," said Mike Florian, president of the organization with 27 active members. "However, we do have two professional members and others who do some freelance photography. The backgrounds are quite varied. We have a retired surgeon, a Ph.D. engineer, legal assistant, research chemist, retired risk manager, freelance writer, engineers. About a third of the members are retired; one third are women."

With a background in graphic design, Pat Tapper of Grosse Pointe Farms said she has absorbed so much from members since joining about five years ago.

"I've learned a tremendous amount on how to look at the photo, see if there is an artistic value or a mechanical value," she said.

A mechanical value, as Tapper explained, is the image's points of interest, its color and the sharpness of the image.

"I've learned so much from these guys and gals. It's been a godsend to me joining this club," she said, taking a moment from packing before heading out with other club members to visit caves in Ohio for a photo shoot.

"I don't know what we'll find," Tapper said.

That is one of the club's purposes, Florian pointed out: To provide educational opportunities for members of the community to develop photographic interests and skills. Other goals are to stimulate community interest in photography and to afford members educational and productive associations with people who have common interests in photography.

Since the club's inception in 1937 it has gone from making black and white prints in home darkrooms to slides and now all digital.

"Most members had their own darkroom and with the help of other members improved their photo techniques," Florian explained in an e-mail. "As time progressed, color slides became a more common way to produce and display photographs. As material and tools improved, club members were able to produce color prints in their own darkroom. The club went totally digital in 2006. We stopped using a slide projector and switched to a laptop and LCD projector. Soon after that, members began making prints using ink jet printers instead of chemicals. In 2004, we had our own web page. The last recent change is the use of an online competition manager. All of the submitted photos are handled by a website that also shows the results of the critiques of the club."

Six-year member John Forest of Warren, who began shooting photos in high school and using the darkroom for processing those photos, said it's amazing how fast novices learn and become better photographers through the club via feedback from club members' critiques, competitions and advice.

"It's a good place to learn. People are ready to be helpful," he said.

In-house competitions are held twice a month. On a larger scale, the best club photos are submitted to compete against nine other clubs in the Greater Detroit Camera Club Council.

Club members' efforts and improvements are recognized annually.

"GPCC has an honor banquet each year in June," Florian said. "The makers of the best photos are given recognition for their accomplishments. A similar awards banquet is given each year in January when the best images for greater Detroit are honored. The element of competition creates an incentive to improve your images so they will get recognition from your club members and other camera clubs in the Detroit area."

Members submit images in categories of general color, nature and monochrome to be evaluated by judges who are club members and volunteer on a rotating basis.

Members start out competing in the beginner class, earning points and moving through levels to attain the highest class, galaxy.

"I enjoyed the critiquing of the photos and felt it would be good for me to participate in this type of competition," Florian said. "The monthly competitions would keep me engaged in my photography and keep my creative juices flowing all year. Getting ideas and suggestions from other members would be a great bonus. The competitions force me to get better and improve my photography."

Change happens

The art of capturing the moment has definitely changed over the past 77 years since the club formed.

"Today more photos are taken with cell phones than any other type of equipment," Florian said. "The major reason for this is that the camera is always with you. However, most of these photos are grab and shots or snapshots. (These are) Often not considered important photos outside of sharing with family and friends. People are definitely taking a lot of photos, but very few are getting printed which may mean they may not be around in 25 or 50 years. No one knows if the computers of the future will be able to display today's photographs. We already know that many files that were created 20 years ago cannot be read by today's computers.

"The club has seen a few photos in competition that were created with a cell phone. However, cell phone photos are often not considered 'serious' photo tools by most serious photographers. However, when used with good technique and a good eye, great photos are possible."

Florian goes on, "In the early years of digital photography, film held the edge in quality, but certainly not with the speed of getting the photo out to the public. Photo journalists were the first to really use digital because of tight publishing deadlines. Serious art photographers needed much higher quality and stayed with film for a long time. As the digital world continued to improve, more and more art photographers and others who required very high quality slowly began to change to digital."

A digital single lens reflex camera, as most club members use, has become norm.

Snapping images rapidly with instant viewing and critiques is followed by the ability to immediately delete flawed images.

To develop the "eye" creating the "aww" response of images, the Grosse Pointe Camera Club, that meets from 7 to 9 p.m. two to three Tuesdays a month September through May at Brownell Middle School, offers an open invitation to the public. For more information, visit grossepointecamer

aclub.org or gpcc.photoclubservices.com.

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