2020 Peer Mentor Monthly Theme Gallery
Each month the TPC Peer Mentor groups have a meeting that begins with a Theme Challenge where the peer mentors vote and critique the photos submitted for the monthly theme. In “normal years” there are two groups and each group has its meeting in Jackson. Starting in 2020 there has only been one Zoom meeting each month. We are all hoping we can move to 2 meetings a month where we meet TOGETHER !
This 2020 Gallery will display the “winners” of each of the monthly challenges with a description of the theme and the submissions. I hope you will find the new galleries easier to review than the old galleries that jumped around :-). To view a large version of each photo, simply click on the photo and it will immediately enlarge with some information.
Another Virtual Peer Mentor Meeting with more than a dozen committed photographers spending valuable holiday time talking photography, discussing their New Year’s Resolution for Photography, and voting on 15 very diverse photos with a dozen of them based on the November Symmetry Theme Challenge. The group spend quite a bit of time talking about our “New Year’s Resolution” which essentially focused on what individuals believed they need to work on in the coming year to improve their photos and what the TPC and PMP could do to help them achieve their improvement. A key “resolution theme” for many peer mentors was to move outside their comfort zone, whether that was where they were taking photos, or how they were taking photos. There was also a discussion about how to get answers to questions that a peer mentor might have; we will have to look into a clear solution !
Here are the top FIVE photos of the 15 submitted. This month’s Symmetry Theme Challenge voting included 11 theme photos and 4 photos that were simply submitted as images to critique. The group had a discussion of the Symmetry Theme before the vote which allowed us to keep our vote focused on the theme. After the first round of voting we critiqued the 4 photos that were not submitted as symmetry, The vote resulted in 5 “finalists” for the second vote.
The two Honorable Mention Symmetry Photos were by Ben Nardi and Becky Hawkins: Ben’s photo was the ropes for the dock at Leaks Marina and Becky’s photo is of a light in her house. There was a tie for 2nd place between Arnie Brokling and Sue Lurie. Arnie’s shot was a beautiful red antique truck taken in Kanob Utah; the details are super sharp. Sue’s photo is a beautiful soft inviting bridge that looks B&W except for the lighted red bridge; don’t you feel like being the first to walk across the snow on that bridge? The winning symmetry photo by Louis Brad catches you by surprise and keeps you focused on those blue flames. Louis’ kept looking around for symmetry and found a great view of his stove to be at the top of his list – and the top of our vote.
Another Virtual Peer Mentor Meeting, but this one was different for a variety of reasons; we had LOTS of great photos (a record total of 18 photos) AND lots of peer mentor attending our meeting (about two dozen “viewers”) AND very good discussions to learn about our Telephoto Landscape Theme Challenge. Discussing and learning about how telephoto landscape photography can improve our photos was valuable: it helps our images be more personal and unique; with less distractions and more isolation for composition; and it invites an emphasis on unique lighting.
We started the meeting with a discussion of what we had learned about telephoto landscape photography (wow, “the class” had done their homework!) and came up with a number of important ideas about what to use and look for in photos. Then we looked at the 18 photos and everyone voted for their 5 favorite images with every image getting at least 2 votes (every photo was a “winner.”) Before we had the final vote we looked at the top 5 photos and discussed why each of these 5 photos “fit” the guidelines we had discussed about telephoto landscape photos. It was a good educational discussion and showed how these 5 photos met the challenge.Here are the top FIVE photos. They are all excellent images by peer mentors who are taking really good photographs. The 5th place image is by Erica Tremblay is a soft pinkish view of the Grand from her back yard; it seems so quiet and calm. The 4th place image is by a new peer mentor, Kit Huffman, who took her image on a hike in the Tetons; it looks like she is up in the clouds, which she was before hunkering down. The 3rd place photo is by Sue Lurie of the Teton Range at sunset with a great foreground framing and a different beautiful colored sunset. The 2nd place photo is a dramatic shot of a Teton sunset by Barney Koszalka with great detail and an interesting set of clouds blowing across the mountains. Have you noticed that all of the telephoto landscape shots are of the mountains? How about one that is not of the mountains? The 1st place photo is a winter scene from just outside of Yellowstone by Arnie Brokling. Arnie’s photo shows great leading lines with a fence and balance with the tree and the barn.
We are still having Virtual Peer Mentor Meetings but September was a wee-bit different. In August Gigi had chose the Weather Theme Challenge. But the “weather” in the Teton area was hidden for most of the month by the smoke from California and Oregon and Washington State. So in the middle of September Randy added a second monthly theme: Smoke and Haze Theme Challenge. We had received 14 submissions for the Weather Theme and 10 submissions for the Smoke and Haze Theme, so we moved thru the usual discussion of the themes fairly quickly to ensure that we had enough time to vote and discuss the submissions of both the themes.
The 14 images with a number of storms, clouds, rain, five B&Ws, and even one photo of the snow. The 3rd place image was an image of an airplane flying over her home in North Carolina taken by Charlotte Kidd; the plane was tiny but the clouds were huge and beautiful. The 2nd place image emphasized the many layers across Flat Creek by Sue Lurie with the creek, cattails, clouds, and sky with a variety of contrasting colors that took viewers deep into the photo. The winning photo was by Beth Holmes that made you feel chilly. The photo was a very symmetrical image taken as if you were about to walk across a bridge between String Lake and Jenny Lake on a chilly wet day.
The 10 images for the Smoke/Haze Challenge were quite different with 2 photos that included a sun you could barely see, lot of images that included clouds, a number that included layers, and even a camping fire. Third place was a pano photo by Barney Koszalka with many beautiful layers; the blue haze from the smoke brought you into the image. The peer mentors thought the top two photos had a very similar theme: a focus on mountains with very little detail and an image within the photo that was almost a negative space. The 2nd place photo was by David Navratil looking up Cascade Canyon with the mountains have a wee-bit of details, a brownish sky, and a single tree in the foreground; it is a photo that keeps your attention. And 1st place is a photo by Ericka Tremblay taken on the western slope of the Tetons that has a similarity to David’s mountain shot; silhouette of the mountains, brownish grey sky and mountains, and one image that will really grab you attention – a hot-air balloon. Ericka’s image is very interesting and the slight sunlight on the top of the balloon makes it a very special image.
We are still having Virtual Peer Mentor Meetings and our August meeting was one of our best. There were 12 very diverse images submitted for our LensFlare-Sunburst-Starburst Theme Challenge. We started the meeting with a discussion of how the Theme Challenge was a challenge, especially when the smoke took over our skies. Good lesson for all of us to avoid waiting until the week (or day) before the meeting to take the PM theme images. In fact, this was such a good lesson for me to learn that I’m going to write a blog about the value of these challenges in my FirstAnAmateur.com website.
The 12 images were very diverse with three that seemed to catch the attention of the dozen peer mentors that attended. We had discussed that there are many kinds of LensFlare images but the vote made it clear that Sunburst images are the ones we really enjoy. David Navratil’s photo of a river with the sun shining through the trees took 3rd place. Sue Lurie’s image of a trip to the farm with the sunrise above the barn took a strong 2nd place with a LOT of discussion of what the peer mentors liked about her photo. And the winner was Gigi Halloran’s beautiful image of the meandering river leading to the setting sun. We had a lot of very interesting photos but I’d have to say that “beauty” won the competition.
The July Virtual Peer Mentor Meeting was our fourth virtual meeting and I wondered if we would have any entries. July is always a busy month for local photographers and with the NEOWISE Comet in the night sky it seemed that everyone was busy. But it turned out that many folks had taken Vanishing Point Theme Challenge photos and even more were out just about every night taking NEOWISE photos. We started the meeting with a discussion of Vanishing Points and voted on the 10 challenge entries. With more than a dozen peer mentor voting the final results were as close as your could get with two B&W images and one color shot, and a tie for second and a one vote winner. There were very different “views” of vanishing points and all three very interesting. There was a tie for second place with David Navratil’s photo of benches in Colter Bay and Randy Isaacson’s photo of a road less traveled. The winner was Barney Koszalka’s photo of O’Hare airport in Chicago. After our vanishing point discussion and voting we turned our attention to about a dozen great NEOWISE photos. The peer mentor photographers shared information about their night sky photos, the group had some very interesting discussion about exposure, focus, noise reduction, etc, and Aaron Linsdau ended the meeting sharing some good ideas about night photography,
Barney chose Lens Flare/Sunburst/Starburst as the Theme Challenge for August
The June Virtual Peer Mentor Meeting was our third virtual meeting and also the first peer mentor meeting the week after the TPC Photo Contest. We started the meeting with an interesting discussion of photo contests. The dozen attendees shared their reaction to the organization of the contest and Randy will be sending out a survey to all the peer mentors so that he can share the thoughts of the peer mentors to the Executive Committee. There were 12 submission of photos for the June Natural Frames Theme Challenge which began with a discussion of what we learned about Natural Frames. The top 3 photos very different examples of the theme. Third place was Pene Black’s photo of her Huckleberry Flower, but she wouldn’t tell us where the huckleberry bush was. Barney Koszalka’s image of the moon rising behind the mountains earned a second place honor. David Navratil’s bird image was the winner which received quite a few very positive comments. David chose Vanishing Point as the Theme Challenge for July.
The May Peer Mentor Meeting was a Virtual Meeting which brought together the 2nd Wed and 4th Wed Peer Mentor Group using Zoom. This was our second virtual meeting and once again we had a great submission of theme photos with 15 very diverse Shadow photos. We started the meeting with a discussion of what good shadow photos might have, which was educational and helpful in our voting. We are working as a group to use the Theme Challenge each month to improve our photo-eyes, and the May photos show that our themes are pushing us to see differently. Every one of the 15 photos received at least one vote and we were left with a top-4 that were very different in multiple ways. Becky Hawkins shadow photo of the wagon wheel and the bicycle earned 4th place with a discussion of how much better it would have been if the bike would have been a bit higher in the image. Doug and Ben tied for 2nd. Doug Ayers shadow photo of a tea pot brewing led to a discussion of the sharpness of light and how light impacts shadows. Ben Nardi mountain photo led to a discussion of how shadows can create emotion and drama in a photo. Tim Libassi’s chess shadow photo led to an interesting discussion of how color and light can impact a photo and how shadows do not only happen in the sunshine. Tim chose Natural Frames as the Theme Challenge for June.
The April Peer Mentor Meeting was a Virtual Meeting which brought together the 2nd Wed and 4th Wed Peer Mentor Group using Zoom. Considering it was our first Zoom meeting everyone thought it went quite well with 19 images and about as many peer mentors on-line. The theme was “In My House” which brought a variety of diverse images and a bit of confusion about the “theme.” An unclear theme description led to a very different interpretation of the “guidelines” of the theme which in the long run will help the peer mentor group define future themes. But we had an impressive variety of photos to discuss. The group also agreed that on-line meetings should last about 60-75 minutes. Since we had so many theme submissions (19 is by far the most theme submissions) the group decided to identify the top 5 photos. Barney was the winner and decided on the May theme as SHADOWS. Here they are:
The Theme for the 2nd Wed PMG was Foreground Interest
The 2nd Wed Group had another small attendance with only 7 members attending. That seems to indicate that the weather in Feb/March was inhibiting or the Covid-19 led many folks to be cautious. Given the recent concerns about the pandemic, saying home was a pretty good decision. But the 7 of us had some very good discussions about Foreground and also wildlife photography as we move into the spring season. Our discussion about Foreground Interest led to good discussion about the photos that were submitted going beyond the usual “leading lines” to discuss bottom bands, corner anchor, and how focus can be used in portraits. And the top 3 photos were great examples of our discussion. Sue Lurie’s photo of animal tracks into the B&W image were a great example of leading lines. Peter Marigolds photo of 3 otters scrambling along the snow led to a discussion of focus (foreground and background were out of focus but the 3 otters were sharp). Peter also shared a number of amazing shots of the winter life of otters which led to good discussions of wildlife photography from position (e.g., getting down low for otters) to focus. And the winning Foreground Photo was Beth Holmes B&W photo of the Tetons. Beth’s photo used a fence by Cunningham’s Cabin as the leading line and willows as the foreground anchor. Beth decided on the theme for the next meeting – Clouds and Sky.
The Theme for the 2nd Wed PMG was Black & White
As has been the case at winter peer mentor group meetings there was a fairly small attendance at the 2nd Wed Group meeting in February. But since we had some extra time we did a critique of all 7 of the photos submitted for the Black & White Theme. We started the discussion and critique with with a discussion of what we learned from the articles on Black and White. This discussion helped us vote on the the 7 images, including how they fit the criteria of Shadows & Shapes, Contrast & Tones, and Simplicity. Sue Lurie’s photo of the road to Kelly earned 3rd place which goes to show that going to the monthly photo shoot can really payoff. Barney Koszalka’s photo of three Bison in the snow at Yellowstone earned 2nd place and a good discussion of monochrome as part of B&W photography. And Randy won with a semi- abstract view of the morning shadows in his backyard; the only sunny morning in months :-). Randy decided on a theme at the meeting but then changed his mind and decided the Foreground Interest would be a better winter theme.
The Theme for the 4th Wed PMG was Panoramas
The meeting of the 4th Wed peer mentors included good photos, good critiques, and quite a bit of very good discussion about Panoramas, topics for questions, and our first “Where I’ve Improved” critique. It was a meeting you didn’t want to miss and we had a dozen peer mentors and a few others to encourage all of us to Advance Together in our photography.
The Panoramas (and Vertoramas) Theme led to an interesting discussion of how to take good panoramas including actually taking the photos in the field and how to stitch them together. Mike Jackson gave us very good advice about overlap and the importance of lens correction. The seven entries for the Panorama Theme all received votes in the first round and 4 images voted upon in the second round. The winning image was a beautiful clear night sky image of the Teton range by Rachael Dunlap; the stars were sharp and the foreground added to the beauty of the chilly night. Tim Cully’s photo from Yellowstone was a very interesting and different pano. You may think of a pano as a wide view of a huge landscape but Tim’s intriguing shot was taken of a winter pond that was probably less that 100 yards long. His image also led to a discussion of how moving a couple feet can impact the composition of a photo. There was a tie for third place with two more “common” panos; David Navratil presented another night photography image and Lou Hochheiser’s wide daytime pano of the Tetons.
The Theme for the 2nd Wed PMG was be Food.
We had a variety of Food images with 3 that really stood out. We had an interesting discussion of what created a good image of food and it was clear that lighting, a clear identity and attention to the food, and avoidance of distractions; sounds consistent with other photo topics. Third place was a photo by our friend Mike Jackson whose photo was of pizza ingredients with shadows and interesting background. Second place was a photo of a cup of coffee and a donut; a simplistic image that gets your attention – time for breakfast. And the winner is a well structured image by Barney Koszelka of some wine and cheese. Barney’s photo was the clear-cut winner with balance, delicate lighting, and a beautiful reflection – ready for some wine and cheese?
The Theme for the 4th Wed PMG was Fog, Smoke, Steam
We had a small attendance at the 4th Wed Peer Mentor Group due to health reasons for some members and other members were getting ready for the Annual TPC Trip to Yellowstone. But we had an interesting discussion and photo critique. We started the meeting with a discussion of what we learned from the Fog, Smoke, and Steam articles which helped us to vote for photos that met the “criteria” from the articles. We agreed that good foggy/smokey/steamy photos are moody with a simple composition that typically has a focused foreground with background less sharp. With only 4 voting peer mentors there was a close vote. 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 Theme for February.