A Fall Photo Trek with the BPG
By Dennis Greene
Last summer, I purchased a sophisticated single lens reflex camera with a zoom lens and more buttons and dials than the control panel of a 747. When I opened the operating manual and read about apertures, shutter speed, light balance, ISO rating, and depth of field, my eyes glazed over. For over sixty years, I had simply set my camera to automatic, pointed, and shot. This resulted in my taking over 15,000 photos, only a small fraction of which are worth showing. I decided it was time I learned something about operating my camera and composing pictures. That’s why a notice in the Bulletin about a fall “photo” outing caught my eye. On October 21, the BOLLI Photo Group was going to stroll across the Wellesley College campus photographing the impressive architecture, picturesque Lake Waban, and most importantly, the peak fall foliage. This sounded like a group from whom I might learn something. I called Steve Schwartz, the organizer of this event, to ask if I could tag along and see real photographers at work. He graciously invited me to join them.
The day of the outing turned out to be ideal. The sky was clear and blue, the temperature was mild, and the foliage was magnificent. About a dozen people gathered at the meeting spot, and Steve made introductions and explained our agenda. Everyone was friendly and welcoming, but nonetheless, I found myself slightly intimidated. The group all knew one another, many had tripods and sophisticated lenses, and they all sounded like real photographers, discussing “framing” and “depth of field” and the use of filters. Everyone had brought a polarizing filter, and Steve gave a short talk about its use and desirability. I had never heard of a polarizing filter and, of course, didn’t have one. I felt like I was in a little over my head, but I was already learning new stuff.
The group’s first endeavor was to pick out a good vantage point to photograph the colorful foliage that was visible from our meeting place. As everyone disbursed and began to set up their equipment for the “shoot,” it occurred to me that these photographers at work made, for me, a more interesting subject than the scenery. I quietly drifted away from the group. From about 75 yards away, using my 300mm telephoto lens I was able to take candid pictures of the BOLLI group in action without intruding or making anyone self-conscious.
After the foliage shoot, we strolled through the campus to the shore of the lake. Here, everyone got to work setting up tripods, adjusting polarizing filters, and strolling to find just the right spot to frame each water bird or lake view that caught his or her interest. Everyone was friendly and patient as I peppered them with questions about what they were doing and why. I only took a few pictures myself, but watching these more experienced and knowledgeable artists at work was an invaluable learning experience.
I’m glad I intruded and got to see the BOLLI Photo Group in action. In early December, I attended the Photo Group meeting where pictures from the outing were shown. Many of the pictures were wonderful examples of how a good “eye,” when combined with technical skill and creative composition, can produce compelling art. My experience with the BOLLI Photo Group inspired me to enroll in a basic photography course where I am learning how to work my camera and compose and edit pictures. After I reach some minimum level of competence, I intend to become a Photo Group member.
BOLLI’s Photo Group meets in the Green Room on the 3rd Friday of each month. Watch for meeting announcements in the Bulletin. All interested BOLLI members are welcome to attend, regardless of the nature of their experience!