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photo by Ellen Scherwin

May Photo Newsletter

Dear Photographers,

   One of photography's greatest contributions:  the means to capture a person in ways that may be flattering or brutally honest, revealing or touching, ennobling or humorous, dramatic or subtle.  The technical tools might be finite (posing, framing, props, color, background, and of course, lighting) but the possibilities to express the essence of the person are limitless.  This month we consider portraiture both indoors and outdoors.


May Two-Part Photo Workshop:


   It is the perfect alignment of all the factors to capture that portrait you've long desired:  a favorite person in a great mood, willing to pose with a lovely smile,  color-filled spring garden, ideal light:  Click!  Should be perfect!  But no, in spite of the stars lining up, the picture is a bit of a mess.  Why?  All those flowers are sharply in focus and completely compete with and distract from your willing subject.  What's missing?  The ability to blur out the background using depth-of-field control.   Learning to manage depth-of-field makes available an immense range of expressive possibilities that are a special part of photography. From infinite to extremely shallow this control can let you soften a harsh background or even blur a feature of the foreground to create an interesting sense of space.  It can allow for bokeh, those enchanting circles of light in the background which  convert the wildest background distractions into a part of your composition.  In this workshop we will learn to use f-stops in conjunction with lenses, and distance to subject to achieve just the depth-of-field needed.

First session to discuss principles, equipment and technique:

Friday, 5/19  7:00 - 8:30

Second session to share your work from the intervening week:

Friday, 5/26  7:00 - 8:30








Photo Field Trips














Portraits at Appleford Estate

Are you looking for a special place to take portraits of a special person? Bring along your sweetie and go home with some memorable portraits. Appleford is an estate open to the public that is an outstanding environment for outdoor portraits. Work with expressive and challenging light against a setting of fields, woods, a pond, even a waterfall. Issues of exposure and white balance will be explored.  Lighting using reflectors and off camera flash will be used to enhance your photographs.

Location:  Villa Nova, PA

Saturday,  5/27  2:00 - 4:00 



Pennock Woods

This is a small nature sanctuary in Lansdowne, PA  that offers a surprising variety of photographic subjects. The spring green foliage against the textures of old logs, rocks, moving water and a sandy bank provide a great chance to celebrate the season in this little-known gem.  

Tuesday,  5/23  10:00 - 12:00


photo by Owen Biddle

photo by Owen Biddle

photo by Owen Biddle



Not a photo but.....

admittedly, as a role model, this work by Pablo Picasso (1881 - 1973) poses serious challenges for the more literal art of photography, but it still reminds us to keep in mind the two -dimensional design elements of the portrait.  







"Lansdowne in the Abstract"

A showing of Owen Biddle's Photography

at Camellia's Cafe!!

20 N. Lansdowne Ave, Lansdowne

May 12 - August 11

Come celebrate the opening Friday May 12.  Sample Camellia's fantastic assortment of beverages and light refreshments.

I love this photo...

photo by Joshua Pewee

DSLR and Mirrorless Fundamentals Tutorials

Below are descriptions of the basic units of our curriculum available to students ranging from beginner to advanced.  Most units are five lessons and include a set of assignments designed to give practice in targeted skills with opportunities to get feedback from the instructor so that you learn from your experiences.

Just give a call and  we can set up individual sessions to keep you moving forward with your photography.

 Call (610)-626-7854 for details.


​(click on links for more information)


Fundamentals 1:  Camera Operations   is for students who are just starting out, or want a good review of the basic camera functions. 

Fundamentals 2:  Applications  is for students who have some comfort with the camera and want to start applying their skills to expand their photographic range.

Fundamentals 3:  Composition  takes photography beyond the subject, and encourages you to see the artistic and compositional opportunities in everyday life. Here is a chance for your right brain to come out and play!


Fundamentals 4:  Lighting Across the Genres is for students who are  ready for the next critical step: lighting.  Explore sophisticated means of controlling both natural and artificial light for portraits, landscape and still life to get just the mood and effects you want.


Advanced Photography - Using self-generated assignments and in-depth critiques we will help you move forward in your work.

a paragraph. Click here to add your own text and edit me. It's easy.


Return of the

In-Person Photo Salon

Sunday,  May 14  2:00 - 4:00

These are very friendly, relaxed get-togethers at my apartment in Lansdowne. Photographers of all levels are welcome to share pictures, get photography tips, and discuss camera equipment. You can also get ideas for entering photography contests, submitting to photography magazines and having photo shows. Feedback from the group provides encouragement and inspiration to go out and take more pictures. These informal photography critiques offer an excellent opportunity to start identifying themes in your work and to get ideas for new directions. Group size is limited, so if you can come an RSVP is required by email or call (610) 626-7854. Cost is $10.  These Salons often fill-up, so it's best to get your spot early



Photographer of the Month

Ellen Scherwin








Here is what Ellen has to say: "I have been taking pictures all my life. My father gave me my first Brownie, then a Polaroid, then two SLR’S – a Nikon and a Pentax. I have loved photography as an art form as long as I can remember. While growing up, I savored and saved photos from LOOK Magazine – the work of Georgia O’Keefe, photos of Marilyn Monroe, and the work of Margaret Bourke-White.
Mary Ellen Mark is my shero. For me, the magic of capturing a moment, an emotion, an energy,
a spirit is a miracle to treasure forever."

Did you notice Ellen is a true "people person"?  Her skillfully  and thoughtfully made pictures reveal her affection for all her subjects.  Thank you Ellen, for introducing us this group of people, with your unmistakable warmth and, often, a touch of humor.

Click on thumbnails to see full images.



Photo Tips of the Month: Getting that Portrait

"A background should be a little bit of something, but almost nothing." 

Lord Snowdon

 The three indispensables:  subject, background, light.

Is the background muted (a la Snowdon) or actively part of the story?

For environmental portraits, the setting can speak about the person too, adding interesting facts and details.  But choose wisely and watch out for distracting clutter (see Arnold Newman)

For a more classic portrait, the figure is it. Considerations of negative/positive space and shapes create the interest.  (see Richard Avedon)

Think about available light near a door or window to create a natural look.  Be aware of the direction of the light.  Is it back, side or front?

Consider black and white.


black & white flowers by Carol Helduser

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