Participation in These Shoots are limited to LCC Members
Composition and Visual Design Working Session with Boomer Jerritt – December 5th, 2015
Eleven enthusiastic club members participated in this hands-on working session. Boomer was truly inspirational with a well-organized program focusing on four objectives:
- Slowing down and organizing our picture space using elements and principles of visual design
- Exploring the concept and principles of dynamic simplicity in our images
- Developing improved awareness of our pre-conceptions
- Having fun in our image making.
We started our session with an overview of visual design principles. Boomer then assigned the task of taking four photographs (with no post-processing) that clearly demonstrate one or more of:
- Dynamic simplicity
- Implied line or direction of sight
- Close-up with no contextual information
- Creation of a photograph contrary to our present way of composition design
Our original plan was to go to Transfer Beach for the outdoor shooting portion of the workshop. Recognizing the heavy rain and strong winds, we were welcomed by Shirley and Harry Blackstaff and moved inside to their Roundhouse and Machine Shop. This is truly a playground for the study of visual design. Shirley and Harry then welcomed us into their home for some splendid Christmas-season hospitality. We then returned to the LMS offices for a detailed discussion of a selection of our images.
Boomer assisted everyone one-on-one with their challenges; he was tireless in his energy and humour going 1.5 hours over our planned time to encourage and stimulate our learning. He provided positive feedback on our photos and kind suggestions on ways to improve. Some said his design approach had “heart”, and a sense of “spirituality”, as he taught us how to “slow down and see”. Participants produced exquisite photos! A Sample of images are presented here and find a Gallery of the Workshop Images under “Club Projects”
Ladysmith Festival of Lights ~ Thursday November 26th
2015 was the 28th year of the Christmas Lights Festival in Ladysmith, a perfect opportunity for our club members to join their families and friends plus record the festivities which included a parade, the Christmas lights and fireworks plus the thousands of people who participate.
Monday September 21st ~ Photographing Bird Migration at East Sooke Park
After a weather postponement on Sept. 19th, conditions were near-perfect for migrating raptors on the 21st. The cool damp weather of the preceding week resulted in southbound birds staging over East Sooke Regional Park while waiting for better conditions. With the return of the sun came the rising thermals of warm air that allow these birds to gain enough height to start their crossing of Juan de Fuca Strait. Turkey Vultures are excellent at soaring and gliding, but not very strong in powered flight, so they gather in numbers to take advantage of the good weather. Three members saw several “kettles” of birds soaring to great height, estimating a total of 400 vultures. A few birds strayed from the main group to give us closer looks, while they in turn gave us a closer look. There were smaller numbers of other birds including Peregrine Falcon, Merlin, Sharp-shinned, Cooper’s and Red-tailed Hawks, Vaux’s and Black Swifts, Band-tailed Pigeons and a bonus encounter with five Sandhill Cranes overhead, all on their way south. Cap it all off with half a day in the sun on a rocky knoll, watching a pod of orcas entertaining the whale watchers offshore, and it was a very civilized photo shoot.
Sunday September 20th ~ Blackstaff’s “Wheels of the Past”
The Club was fortunate to receive an invitation to Blackstaff’s Open House. For the members who attended it was perhaps tricky to photograph in amongst the 250 plus attendees but that just adds to the challenge and hones the skills we all need…See it and Grab it quickly or Loose it. Alternatively, Patience Training waiting for the right moment to click the shutter. The lighting conditions provided excellent practice also: overcast, rain, bright sun in a random revolving sequence. Most of all it was a photographic candy store: old cars, steam traction engines, heritage displays, buggies, old machinery both restored and un-restored, vehicles peaking out of foliage and old buildings containing a wealth of objects. What was there not to like and the problem became where to point the camera first. A perfect outing.
Thursday September 10th ~ Photographing the Milky Way
It was a night to remember: a perfect evening, no wind, clear sky, no moon and warm weather. Six members gathered in the dark at Elliott’s Beach Park to learn the mysteries of photographing the Milky Way. We were fortunate to have Brad with us. He spoke about the night sky, constellations, and the Milky Way then provided guidance for camera setting and technique. Waiting for the first image to reveal itself was akin to expecting what is in that first present at Christmas. The first image was magic. A whole new aspect of photography was being revealed. Brad, I think, even managed to grab a couple of images while checking on the six neophytes under his care. At the end of the evening we added light painting as well to our efforts. The dew descended about 11 pm but we all hung out until midnight going home happy.
Tuesday August 18th ~ Light Painting at Blackstaff’s “Wheels of the Past”
It was “A Night to Remember” for ten members. Flowers, birds, animals and the Milky Way were not the focus for this outing. Here there were old cars to dream about, gas pumps and a wealth of small memorabilia at our first stop. The round house was perfect for the exercise…lights out and it was pitch black. Our organizer and tutor for the evening, Doug helped all eight find settings and get a feel for this technique. Kept busy all evening, Doug and Shirley had no time to take even one photograph. Harry led the crew to the next stop; an old machine shop moved from Ladysmith which contained many interesting pieces of the old belt driven lathes. A couple of trucks outside provided extra practice opportunities for some. At the end of a very successful photo shoot we kicked back enjoying one of Shirley’s sundaes outside her ice cream parlour. Harry and Shirley’s hospitality always is in a class by itself.
Wednesday July 29th ~ Light Painting Parksville Sand Castles
Six members ventured to Parksville on a warm summer evening to explore light painting the sand sculptures in the Quality Foods Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition and Exhibition. This year’s theme Heroes and Villains yielded some very unique entries.
Arriving before sunset, the park was abuzz with Beach Festival activities, sand volleyball, swimmers, strollers, dog walkers and people just sitting enjoying the ambience and evening sky. The light was perfect, at 90 degrees, for macro photography of seaweeds, beach pebbles and wood textures. Then there was the sunset, some jets to watch and a chance to catch a few silhouettes in beautiful light. As night descended we were warmly welcomed by Trish the event organizer and Frank on security.
Now the challenge, we had a selection of flashlights with homemade snoots which had not been vetted, four newbies to the whole process and two more with very limited expertise, so we experimented. It is called hands on learning and by 11 pm managed to obtain at least one decent image each. But it was fun and that is the most important thing in life.
Saturday July 18th ~ Morning Star Bison Ranch
A good portion of the 9 members were at the gate waiting for opening. We all had different visual expectations running through our minds. Imagine photographing bison right here on Vancouver Island! Greeted by Bison Bob, our congenial guide and ranch owner, we selected our seats for the ride out to the herd. There were 85 animals; six week old reds, juveniles, mothers, large males and a spectacular alpha male of huge dimensions.
When the tractor was approaching they start to move towards us, alfalfa treats are coming. Given a bucket full of treats to toss becomes a dilemma…to toss treats or to click that camera shutter. Bison Bob is a walking encyclopedia, answering questions fired at him as we are hanging out everywhere on the cart. Trying for the best angle is not easy…composition is very tricky…they will not stand still and pose, hay…but that is the part of the game which keeps us all searching, seeking the perfect image…reason d’etre for us photographers.
Monday June 8th ~ Ladysmith Maritime Society Harbour Cruise
A perfect morning for a Harbour cruise, mirror calm water and brilliant light. Four members were welcomed aboard at 7 am by Dave, our tour boat operator. The vessel, Mariner, is a retired BC Ferries lifeboat which has been restore and maintained by LMS volunteers. She is a beautiful craft with the thoughtful addition of a sun canopy. A blue heron was spotted as soon as we left the dock to cruise past the mills, a tug and boom to head for Shell Beach, along the shore of Dunsmuir Island looking for signs of star fish recovery. The water was very clear but we only spotted Dungeness crabs scurrying around. Past Bute Island skirting the log booms, the boom boats provided shutter entertainment before several bald eagles were sighted. Down at Page Pint Marina a bald eagle and a blue heron posed for photos. Near the Ladysmith Yacht Club several blue herons became excited on our approach and kept repositioning which became a decision to photograph or just to watch their antics. This tour was a wonderful but early start to a hot sunny day.
Saturday June 6th ~ Botanical Beach near Port Renfrew
Ten members had a 7 am start for Botanical Beach to catch low tide. A gorgeous hot June day lay ahead which sent images of perfect but challenging light for photographing tide pools through our minds but there was a bonus when we arrived…fog. The fog led to some interesting beach and sea shots with the opportunity to use ND filters and long exposures.
The return journey included a trek to the world’s gnarliest tree at Upper Avatar Grove and the largest Sitka Spruce…the Harris Creek Spruce. It was a full day with photographic challenges plus variety.
Saturday May 9th ~ George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary, Westham Island
A crew of 5 eager photographers boarded an early ferry anticipating a full day scouting the trails at Reifel. On this trip we were very lucky to have our own Naturalist with us, to explain behaviour, identify birds by sight and by vocalizations as well as knowing which trails were the most promising to find various species. Immediately, after the entrance both tree swallows and barn swallows were spotted in perfect light busy with nest building. These birds are difficult to get good images of let alone video…yes, within 15 minutes the trip was already successful. At the Fuller Slough lookout we were treated to a male wood duck willingly posing for our lenses. We all obtained great portrait shots. Off down the trail, squirrels, common yellow throats, a sole pintail duck, cinnamon teal, red-winged blackbirds, song sparrows, spotted towhees, marsh wrens and black-capped chickadees proved challenging. Of course the Canada Geese and Mallards were everywhere but we were hoping for images of their young offspring of which eventually we were all successful. Next on our list was, find the Sandhill cranes and with them came a bonus…a pair of wood ducks with four young. Dilemma, which way to turn…which to concentrate on…eye candy everywhere. After lunch, we split up, some finding a flock of Long-billed Dowitchers and others concentrating on trying to capture barn swallows in flight. By 4pm we were all happy with the excursion and ready to head for the ferry but we had one more surprise enroute…an eagles’ nest with the male watching on a branch and the female sitting. Out came the cameras again for one last time. Perfect Day.
Saturday May 2nd ~ Dog Agility Training, Cedar
Fifteen dogs were out to show seven photographers their best moves and form over a number of jumps, through tubes and rings, over raised walkways and teeter-totters followed finally by stylish foot work through weave poles. The dogs full of joy move lightning fast which was a test for eye – shutter finger co-ordination to capture the best moment showing the skills of the dog following their handler’s directions. A few even enjoyed an extra swim in the pond to cool down.
Wednesday April 29th ~ RCMP Dog Unit Training
Not knowing what to expect three LCC members met with the RCMP dog handlers and their dogs at one of their training fields. To put it succinctly, the connection between the dog and his trainer is absolute even if it is a young dog being trained. Other things we learned are, these dogs are in top shape and run like lightning therefore the conclusion is “Don’t be a Bad Guy”, you have not a chance. It was a fantastic opportunity to practice capturing a rapidly moving subject while keeping another stationary subject in focus.
Sunday March 29th ~ Shupe Farm, Cedar
Five brave souls arrived in the rain at 9:30 am, had so much fun and were given such a welcome we were reluctant to leave until our fearless leader decided it was time to go 3.5 hours later. Now this was a very wet dreary west coast gumboot day, so what were we doing? Lots. Jody and Harry guided us around the various areas of their working farm…horses, sheep with lambs were let out then herded by Pepper, a Blue Heeler, next the cattle with calves then were released to the lower field. Onwards, we joined all the goats and kids inside their pens but stayed on the outside the pen of a mother cow with a 2 day old calf. Back outside there were free running Muscovy and Runner ducks. roosters, hens, and a raven or two. Traipsing through the mud we headed for the lower field where Jody put Flair, a Border Collie and Drover, a Blue Heeler through their paces. Topping it off we were welcomed into the farmhouse by Beryl with coffee and goodies. A bonus of several Rufus hummingbirds jostled each other just outside the window. Now how can you beat that for entertainment on a very wet dreary Sunday in March?
Saturday March 28th ~ Imperial Pacific Greenhouses, Cedar
Eight members met in the greenhouse parking lot anxious to check everything out because we have all been several days without an opportunity to exercise our shutter finger. It was supposed to be a rainy day but we had beautiful sun. Shooting in a Greenhouse was a great opportunity and a new experience for all of us. We did not know what to expect so no preconceived ideas. It was fun, we all had to think out of the box, of course there were rows and rows of flowers to challenge perspective but also there were structural features, patterns, lines, colour, textures and even some lovely old rust. It was deemed a very successful trip by all. We are grateful to Bert and Christine for this unique opportunity.
Monday February 16th ~ George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary, Westham Island
Arriving early for the ferry we were witness to a beautiful sunrise… photographs! We have all had cabin fever and shutter finger withdrawal following about 10 days of truly uninteresting grey west coast weather…no fog, mist or interesting clouds. We are ready for some action. Well, the fog rolled in before we left the dock. This still did not dampen spirits. Next the clouds decided to move in…oh, but we still had hope. Little brighter when we docked. Two wonderful eagles were spotted and photographed on the back roads to Westham Island, now our spirits are lifted. At Westham Island it was overcast. We consoled ourselves with thoughts of perfect soft box lighting. The birds and photographers know where to hang out, Mallards, Pintails, Ring necks, Wood ducks, Goldeneyes, Wigeons, American Coots, Canada Geese, Shovelers, Blackbirds were everywhere. Two birders counted 56 and 57 Blue Herons from Fuller Slough Lookout. It was unbelievable just to see but impossible to properly record. We had a fly over of Sandhill Cranes then were able to see 3 Night Herons roosting in the trees nearby with some juveniles all within 10 minutes of arriving. Next on our list was find the cranes to get some good images…we easily found them and had a fabulous time. Happy now, we moved on to find the Wood ducks which were also very accommodating. Returning to the parking lot for lunch, the Night Herons decided to wake, rearrange their feathers and have a stretch at precisely the right time for some photos. Lunch over we went back to photograph and feed the cranes, record some of the overall colours of the marshes and efforts of the beaver population then were lucky to see flocks of Shovellers fly into Fuller’s Slough. Sated we decided to search out Boundary Bay before heading for the ferry but almost ended up in Point Roberts instead, after which, the decision was to leave that excursion for another day.
Saturday January 17th ~ Wildlife Photographer of the Year & Butterfly Gardens, Saanich
A group of seven met at the Royal BC Museum to view the Wildlife Photography Show which showcased thought provoking images especially in the last section. This section documented the effects our daily lives are having on planet Earth. The ingenuity of young photographers, 10 years and under to capture animals from new perspectives and with different techniques was amazing. We all came away with new ideas to try. One of the best aspects of being together was the ability to bounce thoughts regarding the images with cohorts. Six then had a lunch stop at Sassy’s before braving the tropical environment of the Butterfly Gardens. This was an instance of where it is a must to take your camera to lunch because those who did not found their lenses loaded with condensation. An overcast sky meant the 3500 butterflies were hiding but we had parrots, doves, flamingoes, rose ringed lorikeets, geckos, poisonous frogs, tortoises, turtles, fish and numerous flowers to challenge our abilities. A good time in spite of it being a cold rainy West Coast January day.
Saturday December 13th ~ Ladysmith Lights Cruise
Even though the weather net was promising rain for the evening, it surprised Gloria and Pat with a beautiful calm night. In a word it was glorious…the only drawback being 20 degrees cooler than the participants may have liked. We boarded the Saravan around 5 heading out to meet the convoy of other decorated boats. The Saravan, a 1938 coastal tug, was lovingly restored by volunteers of the Ladysmith Maritime Society. It was a real treat to be welcomed aboard this vessel by John and his daughter Karen. Also present was LMS director, Shirley Blackstaff. Off we purred down the harbour, third in line, cruising the Transfer Beach Bonfire and Fireworks, then floated on towards Chemainus viewing the Christmas lights in various neighbourhoods. Near Saltair, we were treated to a fireworks display that rivaled Ladysmith Days. Cool or ….maybe actually cold. It was an evening experience and photo opportunity not to be missed topped off by a land cruise through Ladysmith to see the Festival of Lights display. Our Thanks go to the Ladysmith Maritime Society for this unique opportunity to shoot at night on a moving vessel.
Sunday December 7th ~ Big Qualicum Estuary
No rain in Ladysmith but on the way to Staples in Nanaimo it was drizzly but the stalwarts pushed on in the comfort of a nice heated seat vehicle peering at the horizon where there was a bright strip of light. At Staples, Doug, our leader, and Pat met up with Brent who was still wondering why he was up and out. Car pooling we headed to the estuary. It was cool but dry. Out of the car we were greeted with a symphony of birds: eagles, trumpeters, geese and seagulls. Gear assembled we headed out to see what was around…we were rewarded with interesting light, eagles both young and adult, the adults bullying the young out of any food they managed to scavenge, trumpeters both young and adults cruising up and down plus bathing, common mergansers, numerous species of ducks and raucous seagulls. Mixed in with all the birds were many seals. In other words there was a lot of eye candy besides the interesting cloud formations and winter light. Leaving the estuary we moved on to Deep Bay in sun photographing beautiful reflections in the marina followed by a walk on the beach to the end of the isthmus which capped off a wonderful day where we all came home happy but with too many images.
Saturday December 6th ~ Pets with Santa
Saturday December 6th LCC members participated in a Pets with Santa at Bosley’s Pet Food Store. Photos were taken of pets and sometimes pet owners with Santa. Lots of happy owners and dogs attended, making it a fun day. The event was a fund raiser for Spirit Missions. They are a group that provide veterinarian service to First Nations communities. Taking portraits of pets is an opportunity to grow your photo skills in new ways, and have a fun day while you are at it. We encourage members to join in next year.