Meetup Photo Groups

One thing in photography is absolutely true – to improve as a photographer, you have to get out and shoot. If you don’t do it for a living, though, finding things to shoot, and getting out regularly, can be a real challenge. I always recommend finding a friend who shares your passion, getting involved in a local photo club or taking a hands-on workshop. Recently I had the chance to experience another way to get out to shoot pictures.

I’d heard about Meetup groups in the past, and a few weeks ago was able to see a photography one in action. I liked what I saw. These groups began years ago thanks to the ease of promoting activities via the web. People who shared a common interest could announce a place and time to get together to do something. Not surprisingly, as they became more popular, photo groups formed. A good friend of mine has been active in one in Dallas that has nearly 1200 members, and they organize weekly photo opportunities of all types. When I was there recently teaching Nikon School, he invited me to join them for a couple of shoots they had planned.

Dallas skyline from the 40th floor. Nikon D5200 set to white balance of SHADE and ISO of 200, shutter speed of 1.0 at f/5.6, with exposure compensation at  -3.7, 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 lens. Photo copyright Reed Hoffmann.

Dallas skyline from the 40th floor.
Nikon D5200 set to white balance of SHADE and ISO of 200, shutter speed of 1 second at f/5.6, with exposure compensation at -3.7, 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 lens. Photo copyright Reed Hoffmann.

Using a long exposure to create light trails from cars on an interstate nearby. Nikon D7000 set to white balance of SUNNY and ISO of 100, shutter speed of 20 seconds at f/18, with exposure compensation at  -1.3, 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 lens. Photo copyright Reed Hoffmann.

Using a long exposure to create light trails from cars on an interstate nearby. Nikon D7000 set to white balance of SUNNY and ISO of 100, shutter speed of 20 seconds at f/18, with exposure compensation at -1.3, 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 lens. Photo copyright Reed Hoffmann.

First, it was a lot of fun. I’ve always loved shooting pictures, so for me almost any excuse to do that is a good one. But even better, groups like this leverage knowledge and contacts. On Saturday night I joined Mike and the group on a shoot that had been arranged from the 40th floor of a building in downtown Dallas. One of the members has been able to get access to this, so they do it on a regular basis. Because of the popularity of the spot, they limit attendance to 20 people (depending on the event, there might be a fee, but most are free).  The group ranged from beginners with entry-level cameras to pros, including one person with an 8 X 10 view camera. Knowing they’d be shooting through glass, most had also brought a way to minimize reflections, from a piece of black cloth to a black hat with a hole cut in it to put the lens through – ingenious! We watched the sun set as lights came on in the city, and shot pictures. Everyone was friendly, and of course there were plenty of photo oriented conversations.

Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge with the Dallas skyline behind, and the moon rising. Nikon D5200 set to white balance of COOL WHT FL and ISO of 200, shutter speed of 1/320 at f/6.3, with exposure compensation at  0.0, 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 lens. Photo copyright Reed Hoffmann.

Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge with the Dallas skyline behind, and the moon rising. Nikon D5200 set to white balance of COOL WHT FL and ISO of 200, shutter speed of 1/320 at f/6.3, with exposure compensation at 0.0, 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 lens. Photo copyright Reed Hoffmann.

A tighter shot of the moon and skyline, with the setting sun reflecting off some windows. Nikon D5200 set to white balance of COOL WHT FL and ISO of 200, shutter speed of 1/400 at f/6.3, with exposure compensation at  0.0, 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 lens. Photo copyright Reed Hoffmann.

A tighter shot of the moon and skyline, with the setting sun reflecting off some windows. Nikon D5200 set to white balance of COOL WHT FL and ISO of 200, shutter speed of 1/400 at f/6.3, with exposure compensation at 0.0, 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 lens. Photo copyright Reed Hoffmann.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, after finishing that day’s Nikon School, I joined Mike for another shoot. This one was open to anyone who wanted to attend, because there weren’t space limitations. We were meeting at the Margaret Hunt Hill bridge, a unique design with the skyline of Dallas behind it. And the “photo walk” had been scheduled for a time when the moon would be rising behind downtown around sunset. There were good shots to be made, and it was fun to see how many people showed up and the many different places and angles they chose to shoot from.

The fading sunset lights up the buildings, longer exposure blurs headlights crossing the bridge. Nikon D5200 set to white balance of SUNNY and ISO of 100, shutter speed of 3 seconds at f/18, with exposure compensation at  0.0, 17-55mm f/2.8 lens. Photo copyright Reed Hoffmann.

The fading sunset lights up the buildings, longer exposure blurs headlights crossing the bridge.
Nikon D5200 set to white balance of SUNNY and ISO of 100, shutter speed of 3 seconds at f/18, with exposure compensation at 0.0, 17-55mm f/2.8 lens. Photo copyright Reed Hoffmann.

I framed this to balance the vertical shape of the bridge, the building and the rising moon. Nikon D5200 set to white balance of SUNNY and ISO of 100, shutter speed of 8 seconds at f/16, with exposure compensation at  0.0, 17-55mm f/2.8 lens. Photo copyright Reed Hoffmann.

Framing to balance the vertical nature of the bridge, the building and the rising moon. Nikon D5200 set to white balance of SUNNY and ISO of 100, shutter speed of 8 seconds at f/16, with exposure compensation at 0.0, 17-55mm f/2.8 lens. Photo copyright Reed Hoffmann.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Returning home to Kansas City, I’ve now joined one of the photo Meetup groups in my area, and look forward to taking part in the shoots they schedule. In time I hope to contribute ideas and make suggestions too, because the whole point of these events is to share both passion and knowledge. To see if there’s a photo Meetup group near you, go to www.Meetup.com. You can then do a search for groups near you and read the positive feedback messages they’ve got, to see if the group might be right for you. If there aren’t any groups, start one. We all benefit from chances to get out and take pictures, and this looks like another great opportunity.