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Peer Mentor Group – 4th Wed Pre/Post Meeting Reports

As the “leader” of our 4th Wed Peer Mentor Group, I will try to share what is coming up for the month before the meeting, and what happened after each monthly meeting.  This will take the place of those long e-mail that some of you didn’t like  🙂  but I will share how I view what is happening in OUR peer mentor group.  I’ll try to post pre- and post- meeting information each month.


Post-Meeting Information about our February Meeting

Our February Wed peer mentor meeting had a dozen members join in some very interesting discussion.  The meeting started with a discussion of how we can begin our meetings with short “Photography Challenges.”  The group agreed that the theme winner should be the one that chooses the challenge which resulted in two challenges for March: How to set-up the Back-Button Focus on Nikon and Canon cameras and how that button can be used in other ways; and second How are Lightroom Classic and Lightroom Mobile “related”.

The theme for February was Panoramas (and Vertoramas) with an introductory discussion about the potential problems of shooting panoramas and how to solve the problems in Lightroom.  This discussion was followed by our theme vote with Rachael Dunlap taking first place, Tim Cully earning second place, and David Navratil and Lou Hochheiser sharing third place.  You can see their photos in the PMP Theme Gallery .  The theme and pair-critique went very well with supportive and detailed feedback that I believe was helpful to the photographers who shot the images and also to the folks who were involved in the discussion.  We all Advance Together in these critique because our peers are thoughtful, detailed, and supportive in the feedback.

Last month I  talked about how the peer mentor survey showed me that there were many aspect of the peer mentor program that were helpful to the members.  And this led me to take a step farther: What about your photography has improved?  What has the peer mentor group done to help your photography AND what about your photographs is better now than it was 1, 2, 3, or more years ago.  So I went back into my own photos from more than 4 years ago, picked out a photo that I thought was pretty good (from Blacktail Pond in April 2015) and then compared it to a recent photo from the same place in the same month.  And this month I shared the two photos with both the 2nd Wed group and our 4th Wed group.  It was VERY helpful for me and I hope that some of you will think about “Where I’ve Improve” and get involved in this homework.  Comparing the 2015 image with the 2019 image AND getting feedback from all of you help me understand how my eye for photography has improved AND what else I can think of improving in the near future.  I’ll be going to Blacktail Pond this April to take another step.  Thank you !


Post-Meeting Information about our January Meeting

Our January 4th Wed Peer Mentor Group Meeting started the new year with the Smoke, Steam, and Fog Theme which we had never used before and some very interesting discussions.  In our previous meeting (the late November meeting) we had discussed Negative Space BUT we had the discussion AFTER we had voted on the images.  In our meeting this month we agreed to have the discussion BEFORE we voted to help us vote on which photos bet me the Theme we had learned about from our Theme Articles.  This was a good discussion that really helped us in our theme critique and we will certainly continue this in the future.

Due to some health issues and getting ready for the Annual Yellowstone Trip we only had 6 peer mentor at the meeting which minimized the number of voters.  Tim Cully and Terry Jensen tied for 2nd place.  Terry’s photo was a winter shot of a fence along a stream with lots of fog and the Big Hole Mountains in the background.  Tim’s photo was a very unique image of smoke setting-off light in the ceiling of a building – VERY unique.  And the winner was Chris Paige, who was not able to attend, with a photo of swans  in a very dense fog that created a very moody feeling.  Tim and Terry chose Panoramas as the February Theme.  Take a look at the three smoke/fog photos by clicking on the Monthly Theme Gallery. 

We also agreed to adopt a new “potential critique” to encourage the peer mentors to take a look at how they have improved over the last few years.  It is easy to forget what your photos looked like in the past so this “homework” assignment (we will call it your “Where I’ve Improved” critique) should help you see what you have improved in your photography.  You don’t have to participate, and it isn’t intended as a homework assignment for everyone or for every week, but give this some thought and bring your Improved-Pair for the group to critique.  So here is the assignment:

Take some time to look at photos you took a 1 or 2 or 3 years ago and find one that you thought was pretty good (e.g., a 3 or 4 star image) that you could take in a similar place now.  For example, maybe 2 or 3 years ago you took a good sunrise shot at Schwabacher’s or a sunset shot at Oxbow Bend or a fall shot of a moose .  Now take some time to take a similar photo (e.g., a different sunrise at Schwabacher’s) that demonstrates your new camera or your new skills or post-processing, or just a better photo-eye.  Bring your Improved-Pair to the next Peer Mentor Group but do NOT tell us which photo is the new one; the peer mentors will compare them and share what they think has changed.  I think this is a very important activity to explore.  It is easy to feel that we have NOT improved when actually our photos are much better today than they were a couple years ago.  Take some time to go back and check this out.


Post-Meeting Information about our “November Meeting”

Our 4th Wed Group meeting was actually held in December.  There were only 9 peer mentors who could fit the meeting into a busy December; we learned from this that we will avoid this complication by having both peer mentor groups meet together in early November (more on that later.)

The Theme for November/December was Negative Space and from our discussions it was clear that having this type of topic was a great learning experience.  There were only 6 submissions of Negative Space images but their unique approach brought about discussion and learning.  Tim Cully submitted an air-photo of Jackson Lake with a boat and a reflection of the mountains.  Tim’s photo won and led to a discussion of what constitutes a Negative Space image – very interesting and educational.  David Navratil’s image of elks marching in front of sand dunes was tied for second with Penny Black’s image of cherries in the snow.  Tim chose the Fog, Steam, and Smoke as the January Theme.   For articles that could help your search for great images for January, check out the PMP – Monthly Theme Articles –  thanks for an article Tim. 

We also had some good discussion of potential changes in the Peer Mentor Program webpages that were very helpful as Randy upgrades the pages.  It was decided that the PMG 2nd Wed and PMP 4th Wed pages should NOT have a password since peer mentors in each group may want to learn from the other group.  It was also decided that the PMP – Becoming a Monthly Peer Mentor needed to be more friendly and inviting for newcomers; Randy will work on this.  And after a review of the PMP-Monthly Theme Gallery it was decided that Randy and Loren need to try to find a way to avoid the content from jumping around.”  This annoying issue may not be an easy problem to solve but we will work at it.

To avoid the Thanksgiving to New Years complication (i.e., everyone is busy) we decided to join the 4th Wed PMG with the 2nd Wed PMP in November IF David Mosher will allow us to join him in Meridian Trust.  We agreed it would be fun to have a meeting with the 2nd Wed PMG once a year – maybe even some type of party as our get together.

Pre-Meeting Information for “November Meeting”

Our “November” PMG 4th Wed meeting is actually held on the first Wednesday in December due to the probable conflict with Thanksgiving.  So I hope all of you had a happy Thanksgiving and that you have gone on a diet to get back in shape.  I also hope that you have gotten a great Negative Space image that you are going to send to Randy BEFORE Wednesday.

Our Meeting will be at The Beast on Wednesday December 4th at 6:00 pm.  If you attended the October meeting you know exactly where The Beast is,  but if you were not at the October meeting you may want to try to arrive early since it isn’t easy to find.   We will start the meeting with time for peer members to ask photo questions and have a discussion about Negative Space.    That will be followed by our usual “Competition” on our monthly theme.  Then we will critique the other images that you send to me.  At the last meeting we discussed what types of “other” images we would critique and didn’t really come up with a one “guideline”; so here is the guideline for the meeting.  In addition to your Negative Space image, you can send me 1 or 2 PAIRS of images (the same pair-guidelines we have used in the past) or you could send 1 PAIR and a third image for which you would like to receive feedback.

We will conclude our meeting with a discussion of the January Theme that the winner of the Negative Space Competition chooses.   If you feel like you have a good shot a winning the Negative Space Competition (if you send Randy an image you WILL have a good shot) , you should take a look at this PMP – Monthly Theme Selection page.  See you Wednesday.


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The Peer Mentor Program is open to TPC registered Full Members at no cost. Entry into the program requires a commitment to advancing your personal photography skills and permission of the Program Director.