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January 2011 Newsletter

Welcome to a new year!  2011 promises to be a busy year for me, with new workshops, art shows, and various other events in the works.  January & February are also peak times for wedding bookings - I'm including some advice on choosing a photographer for those of you who are making wedding plans.  January is also the time for commercial photography, as many of my clients participate in trade shows that take place in the first few months of the year.  If this is your company "down time", here's your chance to review your websites and print advertising, and look at the effectiveness of the photographs you are using.  I can help with updated photographs, as well as web layout and design for your print materials.

Enjoy the tips and information in this newsletter, and as always, if you wish to unsubscribe, just use the link at the bottom of the page.  

Upcoming January & February workshops

January & February are packed with workshops.  Many of you now have a new camera, thanks Santa! and have had a chance to read the manual.  And now you're even more confused, aren't you?  Help is near... I offer a four week Basic Photography class in Elora and Orangeville.  Classes start at the Elora Centre for the Arts on Wed. Jan. 19 from 7 - 9:30 p.m.  In Orangeville,  I am running a morning session starting on Mon. Feb. 7 from 10:00 - 12:00, and an evening session on Tues. Mar. 1 from 7 -  9 p.m.  Also new this year, I will be teaching a full day Basic SLR Photography Workshop at the Arboretum in Guelph on Sat. Feb. 19, from 9 a.m. -  4 p.m.  All of these classes are designed to help the beginning photographer with camera settings, composition, lighting, and include both practical and creative photography tips.  Check the workshop schedule on my website for registration details.

For those of you interested in the computer editing side of digital photography, I'm offering my Introduction to Photoshop class in Elora on Sat. Jan. 22. from 9:30 - 4 p.m.  I only have one or two spaces left for this one...contact me directly, and soon,  if you are interested.  I can also add you to my list for the next one...this is a class I schedule regularly once I have a minimum of five people. 

Winter scenes...who doesn't want to take photographs of this most beautiful time of year? Fresh snow, sparkling ice, bare trees showing their textures and branch forms.....  I have scheduled my Winter Landscapes Workshops in two locations - Orangeville on Fri. Jan. 14, 7 -9 p.m., and at the Arboretum in Guelph on two dates - Sat. Jan. 29, and Sat. Feb. 5, both from 1 - 4 p.m.  The Guelph classes also include outdoor shooting in the woods & meadows of the Arboretum, so dress for the weather.

Some of the other topics will include From Camera to Computers, Black & White Photography, and Wedding Photography.  I am also looking forward to teaching a new class in Elora - Artistic Composition & Personal Style.  In this class we'll study creative composition & lighting, and determine what makes a stunning photograph.  We'll also look at the work of some leading photographers to determine what makes their photographs stand out. You will learn to assess your own images in a constructive way, and develop your own personal style of capturing photographs.  This class in scheduled for Mon. Feb. 28, from 7-9:30 p.m.

You can contact me for more information on any of these classes.   I have the complete schedule with sign-up information on my website.  The classes are held at the Elora Centre for the Arts, F-Stop Cameras in Orangeville, and at the Arboretum in Guelph.  In most cases you would contact each of these venues to register.  I have in included their contact information on my website.

All my classes consist of small groups for individual attention, and are a lot of fun.  You will enjoy them! I really hope some of you can make it to a few.

Featured Photograph

I have been working on a project that involves documenting the changing face of rural Ontario as modern technologies and demands encroach. In particular, this landscape is undergoing a dramatic shift – formerly a scene of quietude - to an industrial setting, with remnants of its agricultural past interspersed amongst objects such as natural gas plants and massive wind turbines. This image is a recent photograph, one from my series called "Home".  I have photographed this house on many occasions, and watched its slow demise as the elements take their toll.  In looking at earlier photos, I was struck by the rapid progression of wind turbines in the background - a landscape transformed by them.  One wonders if the rural scenes we are familiar with will be forever changed by "progress".

So you're looking for a wedding photographer......

Weddings involve a lot of planning, and often a lot of expense. There are ways to reduce the costs, but in some cases you are best to pay for someone with experience and knowledge to provide the services you need. This is especially true of your wedding photographer.

In this day of easy access to decent digital cameras and editing software, everyone seems to have jumped on the wedding photography bandwagon. They see the business as a way to make quick money, and often don’t have the equipment or skills to provide exceptional photographs. I see everyone from bank tellers, to civil servants or factory workers, all eager to shoot your wedding “to make money on the side”. Sounds like a great idea, but what does this mean for you as their client? You have a slim chance of ending up with high quality photos that reflect the emotion and magic of the day. The weekend shooter lacks many things… experience in planning hundreds of photos, knowing what types of shots are required, the ability to deal with family and friends who would rather be having fun than posing for photos, and the technical skill required to create beautiful photos, both traditional and candid, with split-second timing.

But it’s digital, right? They can take hundreds of extra photos – a technique called “spray & pray” - to make sure some of them “turn out”. And there’s always Photoshop to fix them. Not so…a bad photo will still be a bad photo, even after being edited to death. And finally, most amateurs don’t really care about your wedding… they have a “day job” and lack the commitment of someone who depends on the business for their living. You may save a few hundred dollars, but surely your wedding is more important than allowing amateurs to create what is the only lasting memento you will have.

Unfortunately I hear the horror stories on a regular basis…about the bride who was in tears at her wedding because the so-called photographer had no clue about what they were doing, or the photographer who rushed to Future Shop during the wedding because their one and only camera broke, or the panicking bride who called me the day before her wedding because her “friend the photographer” decided to go to the cottage for the weekend instead. I already had a booking…I only hope she found someone to help her. The sad part is that by the time you find out you’ve made a huge mistake in your choice, it’s too late. The wedding’s over. The dress is packed away. The flowers have wilted, and the relatives from overseas have gone home. And the photos are ruined or don’t exist.

So just what DO you get when you hire a professional? I have photographed over 300 weddings during the past 25 years. All of them have been unique, and at each wedding I spend time creating original images that are one of a kind. I meet with the couple beforehand and we formulate a plan to make the photo session run smoothly. We look at timing from before the wedding to the very end, to make sure we have ample opportunity for photos. We discuss the family shots… who should be included, or how to deal with divorced parents. I often visit the locations beforehand to get a feel for the lighting and backgrounds I will use. I use high-end equipment, and have 3 cameras with me when I photograph a wedding. I have extra batteries and flash units. I don’t book anything else for that day. I arrive early, and help keep things flowing smoothly. I have provided a shoulder for a mom to cry on, and eased the tension of family conflicts by being that impartial third party. After the wedding, I help you choose the photos for your album and have them printed by a professional lab. I take care of any retouching needed and include high quality albums in my packages. I treat your wedding photos as if they were my own, and because this is my full time profession, you will be sure of receiving photographs that you are proud to show to friends and family, not just now, but for years to come.

Take some time to visit the "Weddings" section on my website for more information on my packages, or to view my portfolio. I also customize packages to suit you, and can offer payment terms. Feel free to call or e-mail…

Basic & Advanced Equine Photography Workshops - Spring 2011

Yes, I know you're not thinking about spring yet (or ARE you?) but these classes fill up quickly. Join me for one or both of these exciting workshops…

Basic Equine Photography on Sunday, May 1 or Advanced Equine Photography on Sunday, May 29, 2011. Each course is a full day, and runs from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00. Both are held at Travis Hall Equestrian Centre near Fergus.  These are perfect for horse owners and breeders, as well as those who just love horses and appreciate their beauty.

The Basic course will include a discussion & slide presentation on equipment, posing horses, looking at conformation photos, lighting, and more. We’ll head outside after lunch to practice on a variety of horses, starting with conformation photos, then photographing jumping & flatwork.  We'll finish off the afternoon by photographing horses at liberty - we can turn out a few wild Newfoundland ponies, or a few of the Warmblood babies for some fast action shots.

The Advanced course will involve a lot more action photography of many disciplines - jumping, dressage, mounted games and western events. I will have riders from these areas for you to practice on through the day. You will learn different ways to show movement and work on your timing for fast shooting.  I highly recommend that you take the Basic Equine workshop first, and you must have an SLR style camera for this class. 

The fees are: Basic $110 + HST , Advanced $150 + HST. Lunch is included.

You can sign up for both for $235 + HST & save $$$, or just one workshop. Pre-registration & payment is required as class sizes are small. Contact me directly to register.

Photography Tips - Shooting Winter Landscapes

Now that the snow seems to be here to stay, how about heading outside for some winter landscapes. Try these tips:

Tips for you…

  • Some of the best photos are made during extreme weather, so get out on those frosty days.
  • Wear gloves with liners, so you can take the outer layer off to adjust your camera
  • Use hand warmers in your gloves
  • Wear waterproof pants for kneeling down
  • Don’t forget a hat, warm coat, and especially boots - you will be standing in one place for periods of time

Tips for your camera…..

  • Batteries die a lot faster in the cold- keep an extra set in an inner pocket, use hand warmers to keep them toasty.
  • Try to keep your camera tucked inside your coat.
  • Lenses can become stiff and auto-focus can freeze- you may need to focus manually..
  • Don’t breathe on the lens, LCD or viewfinder-condensation can form and freeze.
  • Use a plastic bag or cover in rainy or snowy weather to protect the camera-cut a hole in the bag for the lens to poke out.
  • Memory cards can freeze or not record properly- use “extreme” rated cards in very cold weather.
  • Always keep a UV filter on your lens- better to get snow on it than on the lens.
  • Don’t transfer snow from your gloves to the camera- if you drop a filter or lens cap, don’t put it back on until you have cleaned it.
  • Put gear inside a zipped camera bag, or a sealed plastic bag before bringing it back into the heat- let it warm up slowly to prevent condensation from forming when you bring it in.

Lighting…sunny days.

  • The sun is always low in the sky, allowing you to work with long shadows.
  • If you include the sun in your photos, watch out for lens flare.
  • Make sure your shadow doesn’t show in your photo, unless you intend it to.
  • Contrast is very high on sunny days, so take care when composing and metering for the scene.

Lighting…cloudy days

  • On cloudy days the lighting is very flat and it can be difficult to show definition in the snow.
  •  The colours can look dull and grey- try using a warming filter, or adjust the colour when editing your photo.
  • Try black & white to emphasize the texture and shapes instead.
  • Add colour- photograph moss on trees, old leaves, colourful barns or people in bright clothing.
  • Look for reflections in still water, or ice patterns along riverbanks.
  • Avoid large expanses of snow- use foreground detail, or other elements to break up the empty spaces.

Sylvia Galbraith
519-787-7040 or toll-free 1-866-787-7040
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