Category Archives: Member Posts

This category is for submissions from club members about their experiences at a club event.


Composition- Turning Great Expectations Into Great Photographs

By Doug Petry

I enjoyed the chance to prepare over the past few months for a presentation on the subject of Photographic Composition at the Photo Club, and Wednesday evening before a pretty good sized crowd I finally got it done! Phew…..

While doing research for the workshop on Composition I re-discovered a textbook that has been gathering dust on my shelf for years and I’ve mined a few choice nuggets from the book titled “Photographic Composition” by Grill & Scanlon and published by Amphoto.

Basically it boils down to this, Composition is control. The Composition of the photograph is how the photographer directs the viewer toward or through the idea that was the inspiration of the photograph. It gives the photographer influence over the viewer physically, emotionally and intellectually. Composition is control!

One more bit of information from the book that I found enlightening was that the rules of composition were developed after the fact. Basically, art critics analyzed well composed works and came up with the “rules” that we’re familiar with.

They did the work for us in a sense.

But we have to remember that a Compositional rule is useful only if it enhances the idea behind the photograph. If it doesn’t, then the rule not only can be, but MUST be broken!

When I started thinking about Composition my mind went first to the importance of answering the question “what is our Inspiration for taking a particular photograph?” because I think that before you know why you’re taking a photograph, the process of composing it is likely going to be either a) haphazard or b) kind of by rote.

As artists, is that how we want to be making our art? Is it enough to be shooting in a sort of automatic mode (in our brains) even as we pride ourselves in never shooting in the automatic mode on our cameras? Probably not!

Perhaps we’ve figured out how to produce technically excellent work, but we’re so focussed on that side of things that we aren’t as creative as we could be, we’re lacking inspiration. That’s one possible outcome.

Or the other side of the coin is that we may have an amazing artist’s eye and we can visualize great photographs but we too often miss out on seeing them through to their potential because we’re in too big of a hurry or we aren’t properly prepared and that limits our creative options.

So to me, the first step in a good composition is to ask the question, “What am I trying to accomplish with this photograph?” If we can pause and think for a second and visualize what it is we’re trying to say through the photograph we’re on the way to turning our inspiration into a photograph that we can be proud of.

Doug Petry- I think youre going to like it here
But once that is accomplished, how do you go from inspiration to composition to the finished masterpiece.

Well the secret is apparently…..your diet.

Recently there was a post on called “Key elements of a great photograph: the Photographer’s Diet”. I found it interesting and I believe that using this process can help us to make better photographs and to evaluate our work to see how it can be improved. I’m going to quote a bit here from the article.

“Each photograph we take–whether carefully composed or just a quick snap–has elements within it that determine whether it provides a strong visual impact on the viewer:”

Design, Information, Emotion, Timing.

Below is a link to a YouTube video explaining the concept and below that is a link to the post where I first came across the concept.

In the post, the author states, If we can dial in even two of these elements in a single photograph, we’re likely to have an image that works. Add in one to two more, and we’re likely to get a memorable image–one that’s likely to be a portfolio shot.”

Diet slide

So what do these terms mean?

Design is probably best thought of as the traditional elements of Photographic Composition. Check out the link below to learn more.

Information  refers to some kind of context, the story or idea behind the photograph, you want to make your viewers think, you may just give a hint and let the viewer complete the narrative for themselves.

Emotion – a photograph should cause an emotional reaction in the viewer, you want the viewer to feel something!

Timing  refers to that decisive moment when a photograph looks as though it couldn’t have been taken even a moment sooner or later. It captures that particular moment perfectly.

Try evaluating your work using these four criterion, I think you will find it useful.

These are some of the elements of Composition that are part of that “Design” element that we mentioned earlier and the first one is space

  • Space – the area in which the design takes place, also active & dead space. Subjects and objects are generally given somewhere to look or move into within the image. Active space is the space in front of the subject.
  • Vertical or Horizontal, Panoramic, Cropping the image
  • Decide how much or how little to show
  • Where to place objects within the frame
  • Rule of Thirds


Some cameras have a rule of thirds grid built into the viewfinder and LCD screen that you can turn to help you with composition.

Negative Space

  • Negative space is the area between and around objects in a photo. Use it to see shapes and sizes more effectively, and produce better composed images.
  • The area occupied by the main subject is known as Positive space
  • Try to ignore the objects in the scene altogether and instead concentrate on the gaps between and around them. This forces you to pay more attention to your composition, and helps you see shapes and sizes more accurately.


  • Form refers to when shape takes on three dimensions. Form is created by shadows and highlights on an object in the photograph.
  • When the light is behind your subject, that creates backlight, and backlight creates silhouettes. Silhouettes are two-dimensional and they are shapes.
  • When the light moves to the side or front of your subject, that creates shadows and highlights, giving the subject form.
  • Shapes can be geometrical and/or abstract. 
  • Square & Rectangles represent strength, human-made things, they imply stability & trust
  • Triangles are dynamic and imply movement
  • Circles & Ovals represents unity, wholeness and perfection
  • The way subjects connect to each other in a photo will often form shapes that draw the eye from subject to subject.
  • If a photograph’s composition lacks shape, the photo becomes too busy or awkward to fully appreciate.


  • Texture can be used to convey information about a subject, rather than just making for a visually appealing image.
  • Texture fills in empty spaces
  • Texture can be the subject of the photograph
  • TextureBalance
    • When different parts of a photo command your attention equally, perfect balance is achieved.
    • Informal balance occurs when dissimilar elements balance each other out on each side of the frame.
    • Morraine-Lake-008Watermarked_edited-1
    • Light against dark – A small area of white in a photo can be balanced by a larger area of black, and vice versus. Each one does not have to have the same intensity.
    • Colors – A small area of vibrant color can be balanced by a larger area of neutral color. Vibrant colors provide more intensity and therefore large neutral areas can be used to compensate for it.
    • Texture – Small areas with interesting textures in a photo can be balanced by larger areas of smooth, un-textured elements.

    Homework this month is to try out the Photographers DIET by evaluating some of your current work and by using this technique when shooting new images.




Western Canada Fashion Week – Spring Show March 27 to April 4, 2015

-article submitted by Don Durand

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Western Canada Fashion Week (WCFW), which was established in 2005, has developed into a nationally-recognized fashion and design event and the second-largest Fashion Week in Canada. What sets us apart is our mission to create a community of all involved in the fashion and beauty industries, including media and production staff. WCFW demonstrates a commitment to the development of the fashion, art and design community through subsidizing all designers who showcase at our events, creating competitions that generate recognition and financial support for entrants, and providing year-round opportunities for designers to market collections and gain publicity. We are unique among fashion weeks around the world because we are a platform for established designers as well as an in-house incubator that discovers new talent and launches the careers of young designers. WCFW is a local event with a global vision, enabling our designers to work locally while reaching larger markets.

DianaGAbove, photos by Don Durand

Photo is of Diana G, at the end of the runway, taking some photos during rehearsal at the WCFW (Western Canadian Fashion Week). Diana was told to get down low and even lower than this photo. On her final photos, Diana’s camera was about one inch off of the runway.

Monday night was an exciting night with Burlesque and Freak Show.  I photographed a low of 500-1000 photos an evening. Monday night was an exception 1600 photos. Also in attendance on Monday, Wednesday and Friday night was Kevin Fuhr from the SAPC.

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Above, photos by Kevin Fuhr

Our camera settings were 1/160 or 1/180 sec, f/5.6 to 6.7 and ISO of 1000 to 1250 or 1600 at the most. White Balance was at Tungsten. The runway is well lit except the last five feet where the models have a tendency of getting raccoon eyes. We could use an on camera, manual flash, with mandatory CTO (color temperature orange) gel, with a flash setting of 1/64 or 1/128.

Best lens is a 70-200 mm on a full frame. Diana was shooting with a 70-300 mm on a 1.6 crop sensor and couldn’t photograph full models, head to toes, at the end of the runway.


The “Photographers’ Pit” consists of fifteen to over twenty photographers. Doors for photographers opened at 6 pm. We could photograph rehearsal. Audience doors are open at 7:50 pm. While the show is on, we as photographers are expected to be quiet in our seats, as video with sound was being recorded; organized with our equipment with the least amount of movement (distraction) as possible. There is one intermission and show is well organized with a constant flow of action.

7189-XLPhoto by Kevin Fuhr

9542Photo by Diana Gorski

341rev1Photo by Diana Gorski

Ernest Augustus, our February Guest Speaker, treated us as honoured guests. He and his group of photographers always made sure we were photographing with proper camera settings and proper positioning of models on runway. This included placement of their feet and good background. Diana was privileged to go backstage and photograph some of the models while they were getting ready for the show. I was “jealous”, they wouldn’t allow me backstage, I can’t figure why?

IMG_9660What Diana and I expected to be a one or two day photography event was a five day event. Andrew’s February Workshop model, Roxy, was at Tuesday night show. She was scheduled to walk the runway on Thursday night but none of us were in attendance. Ernest also gave Diana and I a special treat Tuesday night. After the intermission, being away busy from The Pit, he gave both Diana and I the opportunity to share his lights. There were two lights that fired off behind the Photographers’ Pit as well as a light from twenty feet above the runway. This highlighted the hair and back lit the models. I didn’t realize how effective the upper lights were until after I got home and examined my photos.

With great appreciation and enthusiasm we would like to thanks Ernest for an educational photo shoot.                  Photo by Diana Gorski

The benefits of submitting photos to be critiqued

Club member Doug Petry wrote a post for his own blog where he mentions his experiences with the St. Albert Photography Club. He nicely captures the benefits and challenges of the process of submitting photos on Submissions Night. You can see his winning submissions sprinkled throughout our galleries.

I called this post “In Pursuit of Excellence” because I wanted to make a point about how this kind of a challenge can be such a motivator to up your game, to push you and motivate you to spend more time thinking and creating something beautiful or meaningful that is well beyond what we might create on our own, without outside influence and a challenging environment.

You can find his complete post here:

Our Very Own at Kites Over Callingwood (by Don Durand)

Doug Poon showed some of us what kite flying was all about. The names under the photos are all in sequence and depict Doug at his best. At the end of the day, we all knew that Doug had enjoyed himself tremendously. Richard Gagne, Allan Gosling and Don Durand were also in attendance at the event.

Royal Greeting

Royal Greeting

Hard at Work

Hard at Work

Contemplating Turns

Contemplating Turns

Alls Under Control

Alls Under Control

Do I Hear Cheers

Do I Hear Cheers

A Successful Day

A Successful Day

Photo Club Summer Camping Trip

By Mufty Mathewson

Barry Ryziuk, Gordon Michon and Don Durand met in Rocky Mountain House Tuesday, August 12, 2014, two days before our trip to scout out the best locations for us to shoot. By Thursday when the rest of us arrived at Chambers Creek Group Campground west of Rocky, a great photo agenda was in place. The rest of us meant David Oman, his wife Janie and their daughter (who arrived later,) Ralph Fuchs, Jason Schade with wife and parents, Al Popil and myself with my husband Bill.

Thursday night we gathered on the Saskatchewan Rough Riders Sale Rug outside Ralph’s Fifth Wheel under the awning and cracked the first beer. We got to know one another a bit that evening and enjoyed making the first of the meals that Ralph had purchased on our behalf. Had a good bonfire that evening and went to bed in our various accommodations; everything from Gordon sleeping in his tidy pup tent to Barry on the roof of his car to Dave in his elegant motorhome, Don in his special hunting outfit, Al in his vehicle and Mufty and Bill in their ancient, old, squeaky ’83 motor home.

We gathered at crack of 9.30 the next morning, did some carpooling and drove to Crescent Falls. Great shooting whether it was only from above for thems that aren’t part mountain goat and a great climb down for those who could. That afternoon we were shown a special Native People’s Sacred Place where in a lovely aspen grove we found about 80 trees with yards of different coloured fabric tied carefully around many like prayer flags in Tibet. Apparently a forest fire stopped right at that point some years ago so the place is thought to be of special significance. The whole grove of trees with different shades of fabrics tied in different patterns on upright as well as fallen trees were curious. Somehow the place felt quite sacred.

That evening we dealt with some rain by having our meal in the shelter with a roaring bonfire and lots of tall tales. There is always lens-bragging, camera catastrophes and weather stories to hear to say nothing of listening in to a retired tour bus driver (Dave’s father Bev), sharing stories with a retired truck driver (Don) on into the night. I think that’s the evening that we were joined by Jeff Wallace and his lively daughter Kiera who became a great addition to our group as a model and vivacious participant.

mine team photo
Next morning we gathered together again and set off to Nordegg where we registered at the museum for a tour of the Brazeau Colliers #2 Mines. The abandoned coal mine presented rusted old equipment, empty railway cars, deserted buildings that had housed a flourishing business from 1918 to 1955. After that we went our own ways, some to an old cemetery, some to empty buildings in Nordegg, and others back to the beautiful turquoise blue Abraham Lake that we had passed the day before. Plenty of material for great images!

That evening we had another meal in the shelter with roaring fire, more lies about the great shots we got and Al Popil’s toys. He brought a dollar store bunch of glow sticks to the gathering and the evening ended with grown photographer adults trying to capture light with all of us playing with these silly little lights making circles in the firelight round each other’s heads or playing pendulum back and forth.

photo club team photo
Camping trips are fun. There was great camaraderie and good photo ops as well. We were photographers of varying experience and ages, with and without spouses and children. I can’t think of anyone who didn’t learn something; whether it was photographic knowledge, (I hear that Al gave a great how to read your histogram with breakfast one morning.) or just practical things like an adaptor for my cigarette lighter in my old vehicle that would charge my iPhone. How neat is that! Great time had by all. Thanks Barry for organizing it and for everyone who each brought their own special talents. I can’t wait till next year. Sign up everyone. It’s a blast.