Club helps photographers hone their craft

By REBECCA WEBSTER

Recorder News Staff

"The colors are so soothing."

"How did you get the color like that?"

"Where was this taken?"

"What shutter speed and aperture did you use?"

A year and a half after its grassroots creation, the Amsterdam Photography Club still thrives with about 10 dedicated community members interested in sharing and learning about photography.

Started by local anesthesiologist Albert Fraser, the club brings together both professional and amateur photographers to share something they are passionate about.

"I wanted to get a bunch of people together who were interested in exploring the new technologies in photography and also to share knowledge," Fraser said. "If you have a club, it's much easier to learn."

The cameras range from point-and-shoot models to the more complex versions that require their own plastic indestructible carry cases, but each photo is treated as an equal.

"It's for people who are passionate and willing to learn," he said.

The club meets the first Thursday of each month at the Coffee Beanery in the town of Amsterdam.

Huddled around pushed-together tables in a dimly-lit coffee house, the group begins each meeting with a discussion of the photos they've taken in the past month.

Fraser brings a screen, laptop, and projector for the occasion, and one by one displays the photos that he was sent by the club members.

Each month there is a theme assignment for the photos taken, anything from water to movement, and this month it was autumn.

Together they go through the photos and offer positive feedback, a few critiques, and plenty of questions for the photographer.

Questions arise about aperture and shutter speed, topics that some may not initially know about, but that's the purpose of the club, to learn and grow in the skill.

Linda Buckman, a retiree from Glen who has been in the club for a little more than a year, said she enjoys the topics and sometimes pushes her to think outside of the box for what she captures.

This month, though she did take a few photos of the typical gourds that the autumn may bring, she also submitted one of a series of political signs on a bright leaf-covered ground.

"That's a real indication that autumn is coming," she said with a laugh.

All in all, what Buckman loves most is the locality of the group.

"It's a unique thing for this area," she said, as there aren't many photography clubs out there, the closest being Schenectady.

"There's so much to learn. It's not just taking the pictures on the camera, it's what you do with them afterwards."

This is exactly what the second hour of the club's meeting is spent doing: sharing expertise from its own members.

Fraser said those in the group have varied areas of expertise and each meeting they will share what they know with the member who will then attempt to use that new-found knowledge in the coming month's assignment.

One week the group dove into food photography.

Another week they looked at movement, as one of the regulars has experience in motocross photography.

And this week, the topic was about raw images.

Club member and local photographer Gerald Skrocki not only showed some of the images that he shot raw to the group, but also explained the technology behind it and how to process raw photography.

And before the two-hour meeting ends, together they develop their theme for the coming month.

Marjorie Hanna, a member of the club for a year, said she uses a point-and-shoot camera and uses her photos as subject matters for her paintings.

"I enjoy it," she said of the group. "I think anything that celebrates the arts is a good thing."

Most important, Buckman noted, was that the group is not about whose photos were best or who knows more, it's purely about sharing the art.

"It's really low key," Buckman said. "There's no pressure, there's no real competition. It's just sharing, and hopefully learning, and getting to know other photographers that are local."