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Monthly Photo Themes for 2016

Monthly Photo Themes for 2016

Photography is an art form reflecting your creative interpretation of a selected subject. Reproductions of paintings, other's artwork or photographs and mere record photos (snapshots!) of monuments, sculptures, and buildings are discouraged for presentation at the Gainesville Photography Club. Keep them for your personal files and show us your very best.

January Anything Vintage July Working the Subject
February Food and/or Drink August Create Your Own Theme
March Shoot From One Spot September Windows and Doors
April Street Photography October Motion
May Macro November Astophotography
June Abstract Autos December End-of-Year Slide show

General Guidelines:Images that have been shown previously are no longer eligible for submission.

  • Images that have been shown previously are no longer eligible for submission.
  • All theme images should be recent, taken within the past year.
  • Photographs of People, Places and Nature must depict subjects with good fidelity to reality.
  • Post-camera changes may subtly enhance a photograph optimizing fidelity but not add to it.
  • Cropping, removal of minor unwanted elements, removal of color cast, highlight and contrast control and subtle use of digital effects (like sharpening, gradients, contrast masks, black & white filtering, etc.) are acceptable enhancements.

Theme Descriptions:

Theme assignments are designed to move you out of your comfort zone to try something new.  Some themes are selected to be relatively easy while others are more challenging and may require special equipment or computer software. Professional photographers face challenges almost daily so it is not unreasonable for advanced amateurs to be challenged only once a month. Ideally, members should bring contest quality theme photos to club meetings, but quality is less important than demonstrating you have made the effort to take on the challenge of the monthly themes. Theme images should be recent, taken within the past year.

  • Landscapes – blur the moving clouds, waving grass, or moving water
  • Seascapes  – soften the water and making it smooth
  • Architecture – to blur skies with soft streaks of clouds and to make crowds on the street disappear
  • People – to make ghostlike appearances of crowds with people

There will be a demonstration on taking long exposures at a club meeting prior the assigned date for this theme.


Street photography:

Street photography features chance encounters and random events occurring within public places and at its very essence it is witnessing and capturing an once-in-a-lifetime moment as it unfolds in front of you. Though people usually feature directly, street photography might be absent of people when depicting an object or environment that projects a decidedly human character. 

Technique -- A commonly used focusing technique in street photography is zone focusing -- setting a fixed focal distance and shooting from that distance.  The traditional (but not exclusive) focal lengths of 28 mm to 50 mm are used particularly for their angle of view and increased depth of field, but there are no exclusions to what might be used.  Zone focusing also facilitates shooting "from the hip" i.e. without bringing the camera up to the eye.  Alternatively waste-level finders and the articulated LCD screens of digital cameras allow for composing or adjusting focus without bringing unwanted attention to the photographer.

Street photography can be terrifying to most photographers. Push yourself outside the boundaries of comfort. Don't listen to that inner voice that says stop. Go beyond it by controlling your fear.  Consider converting you images to black and white for that classic street photography look. 
Note: In the United States photography is protected as free speech and artistic expression by the First Amendment.  Therefore, taking, publishing and selling street photography (including street portraits) is legal without any need for the consent of those whose image appears in the photos.

Working the Subject:

Some subjects are fairly straight forward to photograph and don’t challenge you to look beyond your initial approaches to composition.  With others, however, a single composition never seems satisfying.  For this theme, find an interesting subject that allows you to experiment and discover multiple compositions or interpretations that work. Start out shooting simple, perhaps mundane, compositions working your subject until your creative juices start to flow; then start creating different compositions by changing viewpoints, lenses or focal lengths, backdrops or props, or lighting.    


Motion may be captured by blurring or freezing images to show speed or the subject’s movement through space. Motion can also be used to communicate mood and to focus the viewer’s attention.  Capturing motion or the illusion of motion might be done in several ways:

Panning -- While panning, a photographer sets the shutter to a slow speed — anywhere between 1/15thto 1/30th of a second — and moves the camera at the same speed as the subject. By doing this, the subject will appear more in focus and the background will be blurred;

Freezing Motion – To capture a jump in midair, a spray of water, a bird in mid-flight, a drop of water hitting a puddle, etc. set the shutter speed of the camera as high as possible. Setting high shutter speed (over 1/1000 is ideal) means that the camera is letting in light for a very small fraction of a second. That minuscule slice of time is the only thing recorded.  This will be substantially easier in bright natural light;
Long Exposures -- To show movement with a long shutter speed is to use a tripod and set your camera’s shutter speed to something closer to 20 to 30 seconds or longer. If you are in a crowded location, some people will inevitably remain stationary while others move. Anything motionless, like a building, a street sign, and markings on the street or certain people will be in focus while life seems to be passing them by.  It may be necessary to use a neutral density filter of 3 or more stops to achieve the desired shutter speed.

Windows and Doors:

Doors and windows call us to be photographed.  They tell us so much about a building’s history and culture, and they are everywhere. Doors and windows are big, small, plain, colorful, old, new, modern, and antique; they come in all shapes and forms. Sometimes you will find open doors and windows, sometimes closed, with or without people, and even some times the door or the window are gone, but you know where they were supposed to be.

Doors and Windows are full of patterns, textures and designs. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials. Some are huge and some are intimidating, some are small and just there. Some doors and windows are famous and some are also art forms.

Macro Photography:

Challenge yourself to take close-up or near photography with this month’s theme. Macro photography has become a very popular area of photography. Generally speaking, taking close-up photographs of small things or areas is call “macro photography” and is basically photography magnified. It is generally recognized as “macro” when you are increasing the size of an object in your photograph from about half life-size, as represented on the image sensor, to five times life-size. In other words, we are showing a subject in an unnatural perspective, since we would never really be that close when observing the subject ourselves.

Macro subjects can be found everywhere including flower gardens, parks, our own homes, our backyards, etc. All of these locations and more are full of macro subjects waiting to be discovered. For example, macro compositions can include close-ups of insects, leaves, flowers, household items, crystal glass, butterflies, feathers, sea shells, slab agates, jewelry, water drops, etc.

When composing a macro photo, use a tripod and try using manual focus in combination with Live View if your camera has this capability. In many cases, it is helpful to use an external light source, i.e., small LED light. You don’t have to have a macro lens, extension tubes, or magnifying filters. Manual focus your lens as close as possible, check your composition and focus, and crop your photo if necessary for the macro effect. Macro subjects are magical enough without using artistic filters and overly creative processing.

Anything Vintage:

There has been a growing popularity of photography invoking a celebration of vintage America and it so happens that the Gainesville area offers many opportunities for photographing subjects invoking vintage nostalgia.  For this theme, consider photographing people in period dress, small towns and cities, cabins, barns, old homes, lighthouses, diners, churches, service stations, cars/trucks, tractors, farm scenes, fairs, tools, parades, settings with old signs, etc. including small towns, abandoned locations, Dudley Farm, vintage cars and trucks, country stores, and many other settings.


For this theme, we are looking for photos of the night sky or night scenes that include stars and/or astronomical objects. Although astrophotography is a very easy hobby in which to get started, it can be difficult to master at its highest level. But, don't let this discourage you. Start out easy, shoot some star-trails with your camera on a tripod. Rick will present an introductory seminar at the February meeting on "How to Photograph the Night Sky".
There is a lot of information on the web, some of it very technical and advanced. This link is a good start as it shows landscapes with stunning night skies:

Food and/or Drink:

Your aim for this theme is to make our mouths water by showing photographs of food and/or beverages. As well as the finished product you can show all the starting ingredients, in-process shots as the food is prepared, and then the final dish. Or perhaps you will picture a meal from your favorite restaurant. Backlight is key to texture and making a dish look appetizing. Photos with the light skimming across the plate from behind makes the food look fresh and appetizing. There are numerous on-line resources, here's one of many that is a good start:

Abstract Autos:

Abstract photography isolates a portion of a natural scene and may remove its context from the viewer. It may involve the use of color, light, shadow, texture, shape and/or form to convey an impression. If you look at a photo and a voice inside you says “What is it?”….Well, there you go. It is an abstract photograph. This month, we will apply these elements of abstract photography to automobiles. They can be old, new, or used. The viewer is often unable to see the whole object. Be aware of reflections, backgrounds, and glare in the compositions. Use of tripods and exposure bracketing are helpful.

Shoot from Tripod in One Spot:

Where is the best place to take a photograph? The answer is “The spot where you are standing!”  Pick a location to plant your tripod.  It could be outside your front door, in a local garden, at a downtown street corner, anywhere. Once you plant your tripod, challenge yourself to look, shoot, and look ever more closely. You can change lenses, the height of your tripod, the orientation of your camera, etc. See what is out there when you really slow down and take time to look.

Create Your Own Theme:

This has got to be the easiest theme ever devised in the history of camera clubs.  Yes, that’s right; all you have to do is come up with your own theme.  I dare anyone to complain about this theme being too hard.  There are, however, two caveats (darn, there’s always a catch).  You may not use a theme already selected for this year, and your theme pictures must all relate to a specific idea or concept – no “open” category themes allowed.  If you haven’t figured it out, everyone creating their own theme is a way for the themes committee not to have to do any work next year.  So if you come up with a good theme, perhaps it will be honored by having it again next year.       

End-of-Year Slideshow:

Select your best pictures of 2016 or create a theme-based slideshow. If necessary, add others to your year's best photos. Include music background in your slideshow, music and narration, or just narration. You need not buy special software. Windows has Movie Maker 2 built in or download a free copy of Microsoft's Photo Story 3. Photo Story is easier to use but Movie Maker has 2 audio tracks and flexible timeline. Please respect others by limiting your slideshow to about 6 minutes or less. If you include music in your show, plan on 6 seconds per photo or no more than 60 photos. If you include narration in your show, plan on 12 seconds per photo or no more than 30 photos. Then, we can finish all slideshows in about a 90 minute time frame.


Photo Submission Guidelines:

Please help us by emailing your photos no later than the Friday before the meeting; it will save precious time at meetings. Photos should be emailed to:  You can showcase up to 8 photos a meeting (3 assigned for the theme, 3 general photos, and 2 Monochrome). Please note that if you send less than 3 assigned theme photos, please do not make up the difference by sending 4 general photos. The objective is for you to submit images in all three categories. However, general photos and monochrome photos may also cover the monthly assigned theme.  Images submitted previously are no longer eligible for submission.

Before submitting the photos, please perform the following:

1. Downsize the images - downsize your photos to medium quality JPG's, 1024 pixels X 768 pixels at 72 ppi, (Native resolution of our projector and your projected images will fill the screen. At this dimension, your image files will be quite small and all 8 photos probably will not exceed 1.5 MB.)

2. Rename your files using the following format:

Type Count-Name-MM-YYYY

Type will be A for Assigned Theme, G for General picture, and M for Monochrome photo.

Count will the the number of the photo. This will be used to set-up the order of display.

Name will be your last name

MM is the month in two-digit form

YYYY is the year

For example, if a person named Olivier were to show 5 photos, 3 theme, 1 general, and 1 monochrome, the file names would be:

A1-Olivier-122008, A2-Olivier-122008, A3-Olivier-122008, G1-Olivier-122008, M1-Olivier-122008

3. Archive the images - Zip all of the images into a single file for email attachment.

4. Subject line for the Email - Pease enter "(Your Name) Photos for (Month)" in the email subject line.

5. Email your photos to