The Lens Paper - January, 2004

President's Corner, by Mike McMahon

Happy New Year! On behalf of the Board, I would like to wish you the best for 2004.

Do you have room for one more resolution on your list? How about committing to get more involved with photography and the Club? Maybe it means taking a class, attending a workshop, attending some gallery openings, or joining MOPA. Plenty of opportunities are close at hand in the Club – volunteering to help with leading a shoot, helping with the Member Show, or volunteering to take a Board assignment if one comes available. And, let’s face it, any of these is easier and more fun than trying to lose weight!

We closed our Member's Exhibition on December 15th, after a very successful event. Our gratitude goes to all of those who helped, especially to our show leaders, Carrie Barton and Jeff Brosbe – well done! We also thank our sponsors and contributors who provided the financial support for the show. Please consider them for your photographic needs and let them know you’re a member of NCPS.

Thanks also goes to Carolyn and Bob Taylor who hosted our Holiday Party. For the second year running, they opened their beautiful home for a great party, complete with a tour of Carolyn’s darkroom.

As we begin the new year, please take a moment to consider any suggestions you’d like to make for the Club. We rely on your ideas for presentations, shoot locations, and special activities.

See you at the meeting on the 28th!

Member Profile - Mort Needle

Mort, our recently retired club President, and his wife, Sheila, live in Oceanside. After a 32-year career in the information technology industry with IBM, working in sales, marketing and planning, they retired to North County, where Sheila continues to pursue her career and is a nationally known antique doll dealer.

While in high school, Mort began his photographic pursuits with his first 35mm camera and eventually, a minimalistic darkroom, only usable at night, in a corner of their basement in Chicago. Several years later while he was in the Air Force, he added a medium format TLR to his expanded kit and learned much more with access to a real darkroom in the base hobby shop. With these tools and facilities, his primary medium was, and remains, black and white processes and images. While on duty in Japan he won several prizes in service- sponsored competitions.

Having lived on both the East and West coasts of the U. S., Mort has a preference for coastal scenes, but remains opportunistic when potential images are in range. Most recently he has explored the slot canyons near Page, Arizona and Monument Valley for their beauty.

With a darkroom in his garage, he continues to print his monochrome work. He is in the process of teaching himself to use his digital darkroom, but sees himself becoming a “silver halide dinosaur” in this accelerating digital age. However, he did acquire a “prosumer” level digital camera over yearend and plans to extend his skills with this new tool.

Mort has been a member of NCPS for over 7 years, and is most appreciable of the “sharing” philosophy of the group, for it has helped him expand his “seeing” of potential images, his admitted weak suit.

My Digital Experience, by Robert Harrington

Digital cameras are attracting a great number of people to “serious” photography who, with film, would never have given it a second thought. I’m one of those digital newbies; I never even owned a SLR before getting a Fuji S2 Pro.

I think the reason for the explosion in the number of digital photographers is that it is, or perhaps I should say seems, so easy. As a casual photographer like almost everyone, I always found handling film a great drudgery. A digital camera does away with that and allows you to spend more of your time with the fun part, namely taking pictures. The way Ken Rockwell put it, you should get a digital camera “if you want to have more fun that you ever thought possible in photography.”

The trade-off is that you spend a lot of time on the computer, or “digital darkroom” as it is called. For some, that’s a form of drudgery worse than handling film.

Shooting on the Beach   Photo by Carrie Barton

Simplifying the process and making good photographs are two different things, of course. I believe digital cameras do, however, allow you to accelerate the learning curve because of the instant feedback and the record of settings available with each frame. They also provide more direct control over the end result and relieve any inhibition in taking another frame because the marginal cost is zero.

I bought my first digital camera at Fry’s, going in without having done any homework. Getting no help at all, I went to the magazine rack, looked at a couple of photo magazines and picked a 1.3-megapixel Fuji 1400 as a good “starter” digital. It turned out to be an excellent choice, and my standard reply to the question about how I liked it soon became, “I never had so much fun with a camera.” Ken was right, although I’d never heard of him at the time.

Over the next couple of years I upgraded to successively more sophisticated digicams at intervals corresponding to the time it takes manufacturers to come up with a new model that is irresistible, winding up a year and a half ago with the S2. At that point I was getting into serious money, and I have around $5,000 sunk in the camera, Nikon lenses, and accessories.

I have no axe to grind in the argument of film versus digital. In my view photographs should be judged on their merit by whichever medium. As one commentator put it: Would you care whether Hemingway wrote his work in longhand or on a typewriter?

The intense competition and unlimited diversity of subject matter in photography dictate that one must specialize to gain a modicum of recognition. What I have chosen is birds, especially in flight. It is challenging enough to be interesting, and, I think, hard enough to narrow the field. A good telephoto lens is required, of course, and after a couple of false starts, I wound up with a Nikon AF-S 300mm f/4 prime and TC-14e 1.4x teleconverter. This gives me the 35mm equivalent of 630mm: 300 x 1.4 x 1.5, where the 1.5 results from the fact that the digital sensor is only about 24x16mm, or 2/3 the size of a 35mm frame.

My favorite subject is terns because of their beauty and grace in flight and their many fascinating aerial acrobatics, such as hovering, plunge diving, catching fish, and mating flights. Also, they often have to fight off gulls trying to steal their catch, sometimes making for interesting action shots.

Successes so far: five pieces accepted at Del Mar this year with three HM, an HM at the club’s 2003 show, and Photo of the Week at (Jan, 18-24, ’04). As a diversion, I volunteer as photographer for the Spreckels Organ Society and maintain a photo gallery for their website. I post photos on my personal website,, and my photos grace the opening pages of two other websites.

Photography is a great hobby, and sometimes I think it would be nice to make money from it. But then it might not be fun anymore.

New Members

NCPS welcomes the following new members: Deanna Moore and Patricia Stevens of Encinitas, James Hall of Carlsbad, and Peter Gorwin of Escondido.

Photo Shows

Congratulations to Jim Respess who had three pieces accepted to an international exhibition at the Cork Gallery, Lincoln Center in New York City. One of his images received an honorable mention.

Now at MOPA: Robert ParkeHarrison: The Architects Brother (1/11-4/4); Paris: A Century in the City of Light (1/18-5/23); and The Beauty of the Albumen Print (1/18-5/23).

Unless otherwise specified, all images and text in this site are © 2003-2004 North County Photographic Society.