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April 2014
Among the Columns by Marc McElhaney
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Flying High by Chris Handley
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Field trip to Smith-Gilbert Gardens

Our field trip to the Smith-Gilbert Gardens in Kennesaw, GA was on a cool but sunny day. It seemed that Jim knew it was going to be a good day when he proposed that date and location several months ago. The days before and after would not have been to our liking.
Jim, Chris and I met on the parking lot, paid the entry fee and started shooting. Later on, Don and his wife Vivian met up with us and we all did our thing. The Gardens are nice and well kept with many of the early flowers blooming giving the Garden lots of colors enticing us to get closer to the blooms.
It was not before I collected the images for the slide show above that I realized how different we all are when it comes to photography. I am still waiting for 3 images from Jim but here is a breakdown so far:
Chris Handley submitted 3 landscape images
Don Stephens contributed 3 Flower close ups
and I, BG, had more fun with 3 close-up scenes.
Around noon we gathered our gear and went to Chili’s Grill to replenish the calories that we burned up that morning. It was a very nice field trip and we now got to think about the next one coming up, which is going to be much different. 

Al has invited us for 3 days to the GHSA Boys State Track Meet. The dates are May 8 to 10 in Jefferson, GA. This is a sports event and Al can get us very close to the individual happenings. If you are interested, give Al a call to get his time schedule and instructions (you find his phone number under field trips #3 on this web site). More track info and details on

PS: Jim's images have been added to the above slide show

Sharing knowledge of a big winner

Mike Shaefer shared his big event with me and I would like to share it with all of our members and viewers.

Mike send me an e-mail a few days ago and said:  I placed first in Digital Photography Magazine's annual photo contest. The number of entries was in the thousands, and I feel real lucky to get 1st Place in a large competition. The photo will appear in the March/April issue. This is clearly a minimalist photograph; the kind you enjoy. The winning shot can be found online at
Congratulations Mike, we had the pleasure to see several of your images from that series and they all did well in our much smaller club competition.

Street Art = Street Photography

We spend Christmas in Texas this year and I was looking for some photographic excitement to get a break from too much family gathering. Reacting on a tip by my son, I got into the car and drove to an area of vacant, dilapidated buildings with lots of Street Art. The large area, vacated by a big Texas company, was all fenced in with signs about what was going to happen to me if I entered the secret grounds. Well, my age gives me problems while scaling 8ft fences but a big gate, wide open, was just too much to resist especially since I could see some Street Art in the distance.
I am not for vandalism at all, especially with paint spray cans, because it is ugly and causes building owners lots of grief. However, I realize that every artistic person needs training and those old buildings were ideal for “Street Art” training. While I was only in 2 of the many buildings, I really got impressed by the efforts of the younger folks that practice their art without any acknowledgement or praise by the general public or even their closest families. I met some of them in the 2nd building when they prepared a wall for the next masterpiece.
Those Street Art artists give photographers like me lots of subjects to photograph and I really don’t mind photographing someone else’s art even if our judges frown on such a practice. 
At the last judging the judge gave an “out” to an image of a statue of 2 boys while giving a 3rd place to 2 stone birds. Go figure.
I prepared a 10 image slide show above for you to follow me on my photographic field trip onto forbidden grounds.

APS Minimalist Theme Competition updates.

I just received 2 more website addresses from our Competition Chairman Al and I wanted to pass the info on to our membership asap. As most members know, we are having a big “Minimalist” theme competition in April 2014. Those 2 web sites are describing the minimalistic theory very well and show many sample images. Some of our members may have the time to do some shooting during the holidays and the info is just what is needed to get it started

Assignment Zone Field Trips

The 2013 Assignment Zone Field Trips did not get much participation this year except for the Waynesville Dance Festival. As a result the participation in the A to Z competition was low as well. Thanks to the efforts of Marc McElhaney the competition  took place anyway and you can see the winners above in the upcoming slide show.

If there was a message for the officers of the club, well, it was received.
We had several discussions about what to do in 2014 and there are now multiple locations proposed. In January the officers plan to get together and make the final decisions inclusive new suggestions from the members (if you have a new location idea, please email me).

There is one plan that schedules an overnight location that could end up to last a whole week at some of the GA or SC islands. We have never done this and I will discuss the subject during some of our upcoming meetings to find out who would be interested in participating. Hunting Island, SC comes to mind or the islands near Brunswick and we may find a Bed & Breakfast that is willing to give us shelter for a reasonable price.

Think about the possibilities and may be you find the idea appealing to do what you like best anyway and do it with like minded people and no stress: “Photography Unlimited”.

Will Smart Phone & Pad Cameras replace conventional cameras?

Declining sales of high-end cameras and lenses are raising an alarming question for companies like Canon Inc. and Nikon Corp.: Could the proliferation of camera-enabled, app-heavy smart phones be crushing not only the simple point-and-shoot but premium models as well? (Question from a 11/8 Wall Street Journal article)

The answer to this question could very well be YES. It seems that camera clubs are well advised to include those new photographers in their planning and develop new standards for those photographs. Measuring those images to the old club standards in competitions would be unjust. They are more like museum/gallery type photographs, “you get what the phone sees”. They are actually more to the truth than the current images that we show and enter in competitions. Take a look at , click on Vivian Maier and compare her images to images taken by a good phone camera photographer.
Anyway, I intend to convince our members and management to find ways to attract those new photographers and their work to our club. There is an unknown amount of great talents out there that we have not yet recognized. We should invite phone photographers that read this article, to send us samples of their work to help us learn what is needed to incorporate those “New Artists” into our group.

Communicate with us by sending comments and/or sample images by e-mail to  I will mention the best comments and post some images in my next Smart Phone Blog.

APS Salon Exhibition 2013

The Atlanta Photographic Society's members put together another great show for this year's 2013 Salon Exhibition. Producing and framing the five entries allowed per member surely takes a lot of work. The images chosen for entry were truly outstanding. In your President's humble opinion, the quality of this show was one of our best in many years. Plus, the Reception and Awards were very well attended, with upwards of 25 guests in addition to the usual crowd of members
Our judging team, consisting of Gary Gruby, Judy Kuniansky, and John Clemmer, did a superb job discerning the winners. Numerous images that did not end up receiving awards were either tied for an Honorable Mention, or only a very slim one point away from that distinction. The competition was definitely strong, with eight (8) members bestowed awards out of the fourteen (14) who entered a wealth of seventy (70) fine images.
Congratulations to Marc McElhaney who was awarded Best in Show (and 1st Place Monochrome) for his intense and moody "Jazz in the Shadows". And a hearty, well done to all the other winners, listed here along with their award winning images (the winners are also displayed in the slide show at the top of this page).

Ruth Gogel                 HM Color        Hop On
Kathryn Nee               HM Color        Nobody's Wife
Darryl Neill                 HM Color        White Pass and Yukon
Jim Harrison              HM Color        River Wave    
Al McLeod                 3rd Color        Booze and Blues
Marc McElhaney       2nd Color       El Campesino Viejo Y Sus Manos
Mike Shaefer             1st Color        The Colors of Jazz

Janerio Morgan         HM Mono       Solitary Sunrise
Jim Harrison              3rd Mono        Icicle Storm
Marc McElhaney       2nd Mono       After Work, A Cigar
Marc McElhaney       1st Mono        & Best in Show          Jazz in the Shadows

Thanks also to the many members who helped hang the show, provided delicious food and hearty beverages for the Reception and Awards, and assisted with the take down activities. Plus, a special thank you to Vinnie Metzger and Janerio Morgan who very ably accomplished several vital Salon tasks, publicity and entry management. We divided and conquered.

A reminder for next year's Salon Exhibition: Please give Mike Shaefer, our Salon Chair for 2014, your full measure of support and assistance. Many hands make light work.

Jim Harrison

Minimalist photography at the Atlanta Photographic Society

As a follow up to my “Minimalist” presentation last Thursday, I present a selection of 2012-2013 competition winners by our members that would fit the minimalist category very well. The minimalist slide show above may run for the entire month of October until replaced by the Salon winners in November.
As a reminder to the members in attendance at my presentation, Google “Sami-e pictures” and “wabi sabi pictures” to learn more about future programs and future themes (wabi sabi in October 2014)

In Search of a Different Photographic Vision.

As many of our members know, I am in search for a different way to photograph. My present selection is minimalist photography because it gets me off the point and shoot habit that I somehow developed over the years. I find great pleasure in shooting many pictures, but finding that most of what I shoot will never get out of my computer is discouraging.
The minimalist approach is now forcing me to use a tripod and to take a lot more time composing each image. The result is very satisfying. I still take a good amount of images, but it is because of my search of the best angle/exposure of the minimalist subject. 
Note: The theme for the April 2014 theme competition is “Minimalist Images”.

Minimalist photography sure provides a lot of discussion points and it helps a lot in getting to know other photographers viewpoints. I found that one of our members was taking excellent minimalist images without fully knowing that he was doing it.  We had several e-mail discussions about it and he told me that he was actually very interested in sumi-e. I had no idea what it was and Google had to help out:
(Sumi-e photography is photography in the style of the Japanese ink brush painters - not only in the colors and textures, but in the subject matter as well)
I took a very close look at all the articles and images on the internet and realized that sumi-e uses most of the same principles of minimalist photography but limits the subject and how it is presented. That is a new challenge for me now, to combine minimalist with sumi-e.

In finalizing our competition themes for 2014 our president Jim introduced a 3rd possible way to photograph: “Wabi Sabi”. It also comes from Japan and is based on a feeling, which is difficult for us westerners to understand. Google to help again:
(Wabi-Sabi is an old aesthetic ideal, originating from Japanese Zen, sometimes described as ‘the beauty of decay’. It has also been referred to as ’imperfect, impermanent and incomplete’. Although its definition has often been eloquently put in to words, there is no such thing as objectiveness when it comes to Wabi-Sabi)
Now this becomes an issue for our members. The theme is scheduled for our October 2014 theme competition and I suggest that you inform yourself of what is considered a wabi sabi photograph. Jim’s explanation on our web site may not help very much. The theme is a challenge, but also exiting and I can’t wait to see the individual interpretations.

Expanded Atlanta Photographic Society Photo Competitions

At our APS board meeting, several suggestions for improving our club operations were discussed and some got approved. One of the suggestions was that we find ways to increase the use of our top notch competition winners. Usually, once our winners have received a ribbon and can no longer be entered, most are probably condemned to a life in our computers, never to see daylight again.
We want to change that for the very best shots by entering those images in world wide competitions. We do not know yet how to do that, but they definitely will be entered under your name, you will get all the awards in your name (if any) and APS will get the bragging rights. In the next few weeks we plan to establish an action group of 3 or 4 officers to gain experience and to set up for year 2013/14. After we know how to do it, we plan to transfer the operation to a members group. Needless to say, before we use any of your images you will have to approve of it. We keep you posted.
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Minimalist Guidelines for our April 2014 Theme Competition.


I have searched the web for minimalist rules, but every photographer has his/her own idea of what they consider a real Minimalist Photograph. However, most all agree on a few guidelines that you can use to test the image that you have taken (or even better, before you take the image). The single theme seems to be the most often mentioned (some use other titles but mean the same).


Minimalist photography is the intentional showing of one theme only.


All distracting elements that may lead to another theme are removed or avoided.


When viewing a minimalist photograph only one theme should occupy our mind.


A good minimalist image should not contain a reason to ask questions.



If those guidelines are followed we will avoid certain comments that our judges frequently make by pointing to an area or subject saying; “That’s where the picture is, all the other stuff is not needed”.

Minimalist photography is also about using the so called “dead space” to the advantage of the image, preventing the judge from declaring “wasted space”. Yes, that can be done by making the space an important part of the entire image.

Nobody said it was easy.


Last site update - 4/21/14