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Monthly Photo Themes for 2015

Monthly Photo Themes for 2015

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 Patterns July Creative Lighting
February Creative Self Portrait August Trash
March Eight In A Day September Panoramas
April Long Exposure Photography October White on White
May Water November Connect/Connections
June Painterly 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.


Patterns appear whenever strong graphic elements—lines, colors, shapes, or forms—repeat themselves.  The secret to finding patterns is to explore potential subjects from a variety of angles.  While you might not notice the colorful design of umbrellas as you maneuver a crowded sidewalk, they become blatantly clear from an upper-floor window or balcony.  Lighting is another potent painter of pattern.  Fresh-plowed furrows in a cornfield, all but invisible on a dull, overcast day, rise into waves of highlight and shadow when lit by a bright, low-angle sun. Close-ups are also filled with pattern—consider the swirl of seeds in a sunflower or the intricate tracings of color in a butterfly's wings.  Once you do become aware of the power of patterns, you will discover them almost everywhere.

The key to emphasizing patterns is to isolate them from their surroundings. By excluding everything but the design, you create the illusion that the repetition is infinite, extending beyond the frame.  If everything going across the frame is the same, there may not be much for the viewer to latch on to.  Look for something that has a distinct contrast to the overall pattern to visually break it up.  However, do not  throw in some huge pictorial element to tear the pattern apart so that it is no longer the major part of your composition.  Longer lenses are excellent tools for isolating and extracting patterns by enabling you to exclude extraneous items.  Pattern compositions typically are most pleasing when uniformly sharp from edge to edge.

Long Exposure Photography:

Very long exposure photography using five and ten stop neutral density filters has recently become very popular.  The aim of long exposure photography is to capture moving objects with longer exposure times than is otherwise necessary for a good exposure.  Often the exposure times range from a few seconds to bulb exposures of several minutes.  Long exposures create a mysterious, surreal atmosphere revealing to the eye what only was visible in your mind.  Taken either during daylight, with the use of filters, or at night, with or without the use of filters, effects like blurred skies with streaking clouds, smoothed out water like as if it was frozen, blurred ghostlike people, star and moon trails, and light trails are typically seen using in long exposures.  Normally, long exposure photographs are most effective when there are prominent stationary objects in the composition that stand out in sharp focus against moving highly blurred compositional elements.  Typical genres for long exposure photography are:

  • 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.

White on White:

Photographing white objects on a white background, or photographing an all-white object provides an opportunity to create images with attention to texture and lighting. There is a delicacy and nuance to white-on-white images that is more subtle than images that emphasize color as a key element. Common household objects (white dishes/vases, curtains, tiles, jewelry), architectural objects (stairwells, marble carvings, buildings), and nature (blooms, seed pods) are all potential candidates as subjects. Lighting for indoor objects can be controlled with a single clip-light and pieces of foam core to bounce light. Natural light may also be used as the sole source of illumination for these light colored objects. For further inspiration, search white-on-white photography on the internet.


There is no shortage of subject matter for photographing water in Florida.  Raindrops, streams, beaches, waterfalls, fog, condensation, and fountains are only the beginning.  The various properties of water – splash patterns, reflections, inverted images – make it an interesting subject in any form.

Creative self-portrait:

Selfies are the rage these days so why not take selfies to a whole new level with this month’s theme. Capture your mug shot using a tripod and remote shutter release, take a photo of your shadow, try a new perspective, or use interesting reflections or mirrors. The internet is an interesting place to start to get those creative ideas flowing…type in self portrait photography.

 Connect (Connection, Connecting, Connected):

To join two or more things together; to transfer (as from one plane to another) as a step in traveling to a final destination; to think of (something or someone) as being related to or involved with another person, thing, event or idea; to have or establish a rapport; or to establish a communications connection.

This theme has broad possibilities. In our daily lives we experience many types of    connections. They might be on the Human level, or with other living beings. Sometimes we connect with perfect strangers. Inanimate objects are often connected as are thoughts and ideas.


Challenge yourself to find art in unexpected places.  The theme for this month is Trash.  This can be interpreted literally, as in objects discarded at the curb or seen in the gutter.  Or there can be a broader interpretation, such as stacks of old lumber, rusted metal, a pile of old nails in the dust bin.  Look for an arresting color of object, a swirl of flotsam or jet sum, the glint of light off a bent tin can, an interesting pile of pine needles accumulated near a drain.  As your eye searches out the artistry in novel subject matter, keep the elements of an effective image in mind - texture, color, leading lines, light, etc.


Photographs are said to be “painterly” when they are made in a way that reminds you of a painting, or are suggestive or characteristic of a painting or of the art of painting.  Painterly images are marked by an openness of form which is not linear and in which sharp outlines are lacking.  "Painterly" photographs can be achieved in-camera by doing long-exposures, shooting in fog or rain or multiple exposures.  They also can be made into "painterly" images in post-processing.  Several good plugins can be used and can be downloaded for a 30 day free trial.  Popular plugins include Topaz Adjust, Topaz Simplify, Dynamic Auto Painter, Fotosketcher and Alien Skin.

Creative Lighting:

Seek out lighting that is out of the norm - chiaroscuro lighting (the use of strong contrasts between light and dark shadows), storm lightning, night sky photography (there are many excellent tutorials online), painting with light (shoot at night and use a flashlight to illuminate a subject - you can even create the subject by painting with your flashlight), sunbeams through the fog, etc. Just as finding and seeing a subject is challenging, so too is finding lighting conducive to taking dramatic photographs.  The Golden Hour is always referenced as a great time to take photos, but it’s not the only time to take photos with dramatic lighting. Training your eye to see dramatic light and the different variations of it takes some self-training.

Eight in a Day:

This month’s theme is a bit more of a challenge.  We want to see eight pictures taken in a single day at same general location.  A series of pictures only related in time could be an opportunity to show your diversity as a photographer by having 8 photos of completely different subjects using a variety of photographic techniques.  Another interesting approach would be to take 8 photos of the same subject from different points of view.  This month you have free reign and the subject(s) are up to you; perhaps you will choose eight shots of similar objects, or situations - variations on a theme.  Perhaps you will document an event, paint a picture of a place, or tell some a story with a sequence of photos.  At least two of your images must be monochrome.

Panoramic Photography: 

This month’s theme involves a technique rather than a subject; we want to see creative panoramic photos of two or more frames stitched together. The classic idea of a panoramic photo is one of overlapping horizontal pictures resulting in a canvas that is wider than the normal 3:2 ratio. However, digital technology has made it easy to stitch together photos both horizontally, vertically, or both as a grid; indeed some cameras can create panoramas on the fly. There will be a presentation at the (month) GPC meeting to introduce the simple techniques for creating a panoramic landscape shot and on to more complex issues of avoiding parallax problems. The technique consists of two parts – photographing a scene using a camera and then using special software to align and stitch those images together to form a single panoramic image. We will go over both and will show you how to create stunning panoramic images.

End-of-Year Slideshow:

Select your best pictures of 2015 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