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September 2011 Newsletter

Well, I hate to say it, but in case you hadn't noticed, fall's almost here.  We're coming into my favourite time of year for photography.  The air is crisp and clear, with blazing blue skies and brilliant autumn colours appearing everywhere you look.  Morning mist hangs along the river valleys, and with daylight appearing a bit later every morning, it's not necessary to get up at 5:00 a.m. to capture the sunrise.  Nature begins to wind down and prepare for winter - look for details to photograph, like milkweed fluff, seeds, patterns  on a maple leaf, or blackbirds gathering on a hydro wire.  As the leaves come down, the trees become more interesting - bare branches show their shapes and textures, and shadow patterns dance on the ground.  I think we are fortunate to live in an area with such dramatic seasonal changes - I find that every day there are new images to be made. Take a bit of time this fall to walk along some of the trails and capture a bit of the season for yourself.

Upcoming workshops

Workshops will be starting soon, with several new topics coming this fall and winter, including " The RAW File" for those who want to begin using this advanced format, and a workshop on "Photojournalism", the art of creating a story in photographs.

In Orangeville, I begin the season with Photographing Kids & Pets on Wednesday, Sept. 14, and a 4 week Basic Photography class starting on Thursday, Oct. 13. Other classes scheduled include Camera to Computers on Wed. Nov. 9, and The RAW File on Mon. Nov. 28. Contact F-Stop Cameras to register.

In Elora, I will be running the Basic Levels of Photography class on Wednesday nights, starting on Sept. 26.  This class already has several  registered, so don't delay if you'd like to attend.  Call the Elora Centre for the Arts at 519-846-9698 to register, and check their website at the Elora Centre for the Arts for more details.  

I have also scheduled Basic Photography at the Arboretum in Guelph, to run on 4 Monday nights, starting Sept. 24.  As well, look for Fall Landscapes on Sat. Oct. 1, and Black & White Photography on Sat. Nov.19.  These two classes include a field trip component, using the woods and meadows of the Arboretum.  Registration info can be found on The Arboretum website.

Finally, I am also running my full-day Introduction to Photoshop workshop with a choice of two dates, Sunday, Sept. 25 in Elora, and Saturday, Oct. 22 at the Orangeville Public library.  This class runs from 10 until 4:30, and will give you a good start in using Photoshop Elements or a higher version.  If possible, bring your own laptop, but I do have a few extras which are available for loan that day.  Contact me directly to register for this one.....the fee is $110 + HST for the day, and includes detailed step-by-step notes which you can use later.

Several of you have mentioned having private lessons to help you get started with your own camera.  This is always an option,  and I can schedule either a single lesson, or a series as needed.  Contact me for more details.

My complete workshop schedule is posted on my website, regardless of location.  Be sure to check this regularly, as I add more classes to the list. 

Shooting Skills: Capturing Brilliant Fall Colours

Take a look at the two photos above...see any difference?

Those of you who know me well  know that I don't believe in using a lot of extra equipment to create a photograph.  I feel that the image should be captured as I see it, with no manipulation of the scene either before or afterwards.  Call me old-fashioned, but there you have it.

Having said this, there is one item that I would never be without.  Many of you may be familiar with the polarizing filter, most often used to deepen the blue of a clear sky. But its usefulness goes beyond just that.  Have you ever taken a photograph of a sunset, or brilliant fall trees, only to be disappointed with how the camera records the colours?   That's because the camera uses reflected light to create the photograph, and often this light includes glare from windows, water, skies, and foliage.  Our eyes compensate for this - that's why the colours appear bright when we see them. The camera, however, simply records light as it sees it, and includes any glare present, with a resulting loss of saturation in deep colours.  Water appears a duller blue, and fall trees seem paler than they really are.

This is where the polarizing filter comes in.  It's a dark grey, two-part filter, When it's threaded on the front of the lens, you can still rotate it.  If you turn it while looking through the viewfinder, you will see colours become deeper, and skies turn a rich blue. Reflections on water or glass disappear.  Simply stop rotating the filter when you like what you see.  When used on a rainy day, glare on wet foliage is reduced or eliminated, again showing true colours, especially of fall foliage.  This is also one effect that cannot be replicated in Photoshop - because the filter plays with how the rays of light are actually recorded in the camera, simply boosting the colours afterwards will not create the same result.  

Now, back to the two photographs above.  The one on the left was taken with the filter in a position where there was no effect...notice the harsh lighting, and glare off the water and rocks.  In the second photo, the foliage is a brilliant gold, the rocks are a darker grey, and the water shows as a deep blue in the background.  All done with a simple twist of a filter. I have one on my camera most of the time, and would not do any outdoor photography without one, rain or shine.


Featured Photograph

Every year for the past ten years, I have spent a few days in September at a cottage by the French River in Northern Ontario.  My sister, and up until he passed away last year, my dad, would accompany me on this trip.  I think we all have a special place in our lives, somewhere we go to recharge, and this area has always been ours.  We spend the days on the river until dark.  

The river is always changing, and even though I go back every year, I never seem to run out of possibilities for special images.  This photograph was taken on the last trip my dad made with us.  We had stopped for an early lunch by a set of rapids, with a quiet pool of water just a short hike along the river's edge. The trees had just started to change colour, and the still water reflected a mosaic of golds, greys and greens, with ripples blending the tones together.  I deliberately left most of the shoreline out of the frame, concentrating on the shifting patterns and textures in the water. I love this photograph. Every time I look at it, I am transported back to that day, with the sun warm on my back, the stillness broken only by the call of a bird and the sound of the water flowing over the rocks, with my dad waiting patiently for me to show him what I'd found. 

Art shows & other news

Earlier this summer I mentioned that I had been selected to  take part in the Headwaters Arts Festival, which runs in Dufferin County from September 22 until October 3.  There are many events scheduled, but the main attraction is the Festival Show & Sale, held at the SGI Canada Centre near Alton.  Here you will find the work of many outstanding local artists who work in sculpture, painting, photography, fibre arts and more.  I will have several of my photographs in the show, and will be there at times during the Festival.  Be sure to stop in if you can.  I would also like to invite you to the Opening Night Gala on Thurs. Sept. 22.  Meet the artists, and get a first hand look at the show.  More information can be found at the Festival website....the invitation above will link you to it.

My August solo show at the Whitestone Gallery in Guelph was fabulous.  The images I had selected all went well together, the opening night was packed and sales were exceptional.  I would like to thank everyone who stopped in for their positive comments and encouragement....often I find showing my "personal" photographs can be a little nerve-wracking, but I was quite pleased with your response, and feel freshly inspired.  The ideas are flowing, and hopefully I will have some time this fall and winter to explore new locations for my images. 

I am in the process of creating an additional website which will showcase my art photographs only, rather than my commercial photography work.  The address for the new site is www.sylviagalbraith.ca.  I have made it live, and will be adding galleries in the near future. From this site, you can order prints, either framed or unframed, on various types of fine art paper.  This is also where you will be able to see what I've been up to on my photographic jaunts.  Check it out when you have a chance.

Until next time.... 


Sensational Elora Photography Contest

Have you been taking photographs in Elora this summer?  Then check out the Sensational Elora Photography Contest.  Contest rules can be found here. There are several categories for adults and youth, with great prizes.  And have a look at the other events in Elora during September & October.....the Sensational Elora website has all the information you need for a great time.

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