Art of Black & White Photography

Dennis Rainville gave a great presentation (as usual) to a packed house at the November 28 Technical Series meeting. His subject was 'The Art of Black & White Photography'. He opened with some general comments about B&W work and why one might choose that vs. color. Dennis then showed three images that he had been close to discarding (they just didn't work in color) but then turned into very successful B&W shots. He talked about some of the processing techniques he uses and then opened Lightroom and Photoshop and went through his workflow on several of his shots. This involved extensive use of adjustment layers and layer masks. It was a powerful demonstration of processing techniques that showed why Dennis stands by Ansel Adams' statement - 'I don't take a photograph, I make it.' Even if you don't plan to use these kinds of techniques yourself, there was a lot to learn about what makes an image come together. Dennis also also talked about some of the people whose B&W processing work has influenced him - links below.

Useful links:

Compositing - Expand Your Creative Space

The talented Jim Christensen gave an excellent presentation on compositing to an audience of nearly 40 attendees at the October 24 Technical Series meeting. Compositing is the art of combining elements from more than one image into a unified whole. Jim gave an introduction to the long history of compositing in photography, going back to the 1800's. He then showed a number of striking examples from his own body of work and then he demonstrated his process step by step for several images, using Photoshop tools to select, layer, mask and adjust the images to achieve the desired effect. The information on how to make these changes non-destructively could be applied even to single images, so it was valuable even if you don't plan to do compositing yourself.

Jim had a two-part course on how to use layers and how to fix common problems in Photoshop available for sale at the end of the presentation, and they proved to be quite popular.

You can download the pdf of Jim's meeting handout at this link.

To see Jim's work visit his web site.

Concert Photography

Marv Goldschmitt, one of our BCA Photo Group founding members, gave a terrific talk on Concert Photography for the first Technical Series presentation of the season (September 24). Marv is an accomplished concert photographer, having shot live performances by living legends such as James Cotton, Buddy Guy, J. Geils, Judy Collins, and many others.

Besides showing lots of impressive photos, Marv gave us an A to Z rundown on everything you’d need to know, but didn’t even know you’d need to know, about shooting musical performances.  He started out by relating how he got started doing concert photography in the first place, and what it takes to move up the photographic ‘food chain’ as one’s work gets better known among performers, venue staff, and promoters. His presentation was then divided into what you do ‘Before’, ‘During’, and ‘After’ the shoot, covering permissions, security, scouting the locations, studying acts in advance (YouTube!), working with and around performers and audiences, his post-processing workflow, and much more. He also went over recommended equipment, lenses and exposure settings.

Here are some resources that Marv recommended, and a link to the source of the convenient dual camera strap that he uses:

Monte Yoho - The Outlaws (c) Marv Goldschmitt

Monte Yoho - The Outlaws (c) Marv Goldschmitt

The Art of Digital Photography

The May 23 Technical Series meeting reinforced how fortunate we are to have Dennis Rainville as a member of the BCA Photo Group, and also as the leader of the Tech Series and a veteran presenter. His topic for the evening was ‘The Art of Digital Photography’. 

Dennis set the stage for the talk by telling us about his own history – an early predilection toward art combined with a career in technology. His photography enables him to combine these to good effect. Knowing that many people are resistant to post-processing of almost any kind, Dennis pointed to a well-known quote from Ansel Adams – ‘You don’t take a photograph, you make it.’ The camera and the brain are two different things and the camera can rarely record what the eye/brain can perceive. Processing can bridge the gap.

With that introduction, Dennis touched on a series of techniques that he has employed, sometimes singly and sometimes in combination. This was not a thorough how-to, but rather a richly illustrated demonstration of the art of the possible, and from that the possibility of art. His before and after slides showed how the application of each technique changed an image for the better. Below is a list of the techniques he discussed, along with the main tools he uses for each:

  • HDR - Lightroom
  • Focus Stacking - Helicon Focus
  • Panoramas - Lightroom and Photoshop
  • Black & White Conversion - Nik Silver Efex Pro
  • Textured Florals -
  • Long Exposure - Lightroom
  • Architectural Photography - Lightroom and Photoshop
  • Timelapse - Lightroom and LRTimelapse
  • LEBWFAAP - Lightroom and Photoshop

Dennis told us that he has generally set a yearly goal for himself to learn and master a new technique, methodically adding to his artistic toolkit. The last item in the list above is a combination of several of the techniques that went before – Long Exposure Black & White Fine Art Architectural Photography.

Dennis’s work is varied and beautiful and you can see a selection on his web site,


Bird Photography: Insights and Inspiration

Mike Milicia gave a great presentation on bird photography (about which he knows more than a little) at our April 25 meeting. He was not scheduled to present but very graciously stepped in when the original presenter was forced to cancel with just a few days notice. We are grateful both for his dedication and his expertise.

Mike addressed a question that he often gets when he is out running bird photography workshops - "Why doesn't MY shot look like that?" (in comparison of course to Mike's own shots). He went through a lot of the things he has learned in his many years of bird photography - knowing where to be to find subjects; getting out at the right time of day and paying attention to sun altitude and azimuth; shooting angle (especially getting down to eye level); burst mode to capture small changes in position; camera settings; use of longer lenses; focus techniques; and more. Mike talked about features that differentiate a great shot from a good shot. Things like small differences in the way the bird's head is turned; capturing behavior; catch light in the eyes ... . All of these were illustrated with photographs that really showed how each little thing made a big difference. 

The meeting was well attended by members of the Photo Group, and there were several non-members who came because they knew Mike would be presenting. If you want to see more of Mike's work (and you should), check out his web siteFacebook, and Instagram

Demystifying Flash: The Basics

Contributed by Marv Goldschmitt

At our March 28 meeting Mike Milicia, a nationally known bird photographer, teacher and founding member of the BCA Photo Group, gave a presentation to the group on the fundamentals of speedlight flash photography.

Artificial lighting is a huge topic that can take years to master. And as Mike pointed out, even with all the information that is available, there is very little that explains the basics of speedlights in a straightforward way. For many advanced photographers the vagaries of the details for optimizing their use of even a single speedlight can be daunting. As usual, Mike stepped into the breach with his clear explanations of how, when and, maybe most importantly, why to use speedlights.

Mike began by demonstrating the value of flash in a situation where most of us wouldn’t naturally think to use it: outdoor nature photography. One look at the difference between a native light shot of a bird in flight or nesting and the same shot appropriately lit with a flash, made the benefits obvious. Everyone was thinking “I want to do that” and Mike then showed us how.

Mike covered a range of topics including how the lights actually work (e.g. how different levels of light are created by a speedlight), how to use a speedlight in both manual and automatic modes, the differences between various options for syncing cameras and speedlights (e.g. front and rear curtain exposure, high speed sync, etc.), the optimal distance from a subject, how to think about the balance between ambient and flash light, and much more.

From the high level of attendance and the volume of questions, it is clear that this was a topic of great interest to many members of the group. We all left with a much better understanding of a tool that we rarely use to its potential.

Mike prepared a great list of useful resources - YouTube videos and books - in a pdf document that you can access at the link below. If clicking this doesn't open on your browser, try right-clicking and do a 'save as' to download the file.


Photoshop Processing / Techniques

Posted by Charlie Mazel

BCA Photo Group member Mark Levinson gave a well-attended and well-received presentation on Photoshop techniques at the February 28 Technical Series meeting. While Mark works with Photoshop Elements himself and used that for the demonstration, everything he demonstrated is available in the full Photoshop program. This was not a 'Photoshop overview', but rather a focused demonstration of some of the most useful core tools:

  • Levels adjustment (both RGB and by individual color)
  • Hue/Saturation adjustment
  • Adjustment layers and layer masks (great for non-destructive work!)
  • Black and White conversion
  • Sharpening
  • Cloning

Mark worked with an image in real time, showing how he could make selective adjustments to achieve desired effects. Attendees could either just follow the presentation or try things for themselves - instead of the usual setup with just rows of chairs, several long tables were set up on one side of the room for people who brought their own laptops.

Of course, there is a danger in teaching people how to do things. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. To illustrate this, I offer a picture of Mark mid-presentation titled 'Look Ma, no hands! (with a healthy glow to the face)', showing that even someone not well versed in the tools can (mis)use them with just a little effort.


At our January 24 Technical Series meeting we were once again treated to an extremely informative presentation by a BCA Photo Group member. Mike Milicia is an accomplished nature photographer, specializing in birds. He lectures and runs workshops quite frequently and we are fortunate to have him share his expertise with us.

It is easy to give some simple guidelines (see below) for taking images in such a way that you can get the most out of them in post-processing without sacrificing quality. But the guidelines are so much more powerful when you know WHY they exist. Mike gave an overview (abbreviated from his day-long seminars) of what is going on behind the scenes in digital image capture. He made clear through explanation, diagrams, and analogy how the physics, optics, and electronics of light capture all have implications for choices you can make to maximize usable information while minimizing noise. RAW capture mode preserves the data right out of the camera sensor, giving you freedom to make adjustments after the fact. In contrast, jpeg images have already had the manufacturer's image processing algorithms applied - and with no going back.

Here are some of those guidelines:

  • Shoot RAW
  • Expose to the right (ETTR) with lowest feasible ISO
  • RGB (rather than luminosity) histogram is the best way to evaluate exposure

You can always do something because you're told, but it's so much nicer to do something because you understand. Mike helped us understand.

And you should definitely check out Mike's web site to read more about him, see many of his incredible images, and keep tabs on his speaking engagements and workshops.


On Tuesday, 10/25/16, BCA Photo Group's own Edmund Prescottano gave an informative presentation on Blue Hour Architectural Photography to an interested crowd of about 25 members (and one guest). This was part of our regular Technical Series. He talked about choosing subjects, when and how to get the shot on site, and post-processing in Lightroom and Photoshop to arrive at the final image. Edmund had taken a course on this topic taught by Keitaro Yoshioka at NESOP (New England School of Photography). 

Edmund opened the talk with a slideshow of some of his work. Check it out here: (position your cursor within the window and scroll down to view the images)

He then gave his Powerpoint presentation:

And here are a couple of his before and after shots. The 'before' is what he captured in camera, and the 'after' is the result of his Lightroom and Photoshop processing. During the presentation Edmund demonstrated his process from beginning to end on several images.

Olin College Blue Hour

Olin College Blue Hour

Cambridge Public Library Blue Hour

Cambridge Public Library Blue Hour

Cambridge Public Library Blue Hour

Cambridge Public Library Blue Hour

Here are links to some additional resources on Blue Hour Photography (thanks to Google)


Blue Hour Site

Light Stalking

Digital Photography School


And additional relevant links

NESOP - New England School of Photography

Keitaro Yoshioka


BCA Technical Series - Capture Part 1 - 10/21/14

In this presentation, we walked through all of the planning and thought process that goes into a photo, before your press the shutter button.



BCA Technical Series - Capture Part 2 - 11/18/14

In the second half of the Capture Series, we covered what I consider to be one of the most important aspects of Photography, Composition.

We walked through the different ways to apply some of the composition rules, and take your photos to the net level.



09/23/14 - Equipemnt

BCA Technical Series - Equipment

We had a fun meeting with a good showing to discuss "Equipment" .

I've included my notes of the topics that we (Ben Thomas and myself) went over.


Read More

BCA Technical Series - 2014/2015

Welcome to the start of another BCA Photo Group Technical Series!

We have a lot to cover and you can see the plans in the attached Powerpoint Presentation. I hope you enjoy what we have in store for the year!

If you have any feedback, comments, questions, or suggestions, please do not hesitate to see me at one of the BCA Photo group Meetings, or email me at