Author Archives: jrsphotos

Fourth Friday meeting is a field trip

Our meeting for Friday, the 25th, 2019 will be held in downtown Tampa rather than at tRG studios. We will meet at the tables by the fountains nearest to Ashley Dr. We will have an urban photo scavenger hunt that evening. Jim will lay out the rules and the boundaries at the start of the meeting. There will be a list of items provided to you to try and locate within the designated boundaries to photograph. As always, there will also be a mystery list so make sure to photograph anything that you may think is interesting that does not appear on the list. It will be lots of fun as always and there will be prizes!

Jenesis 2019 image files due.

Please have your image files from 2019 jenesis to be published ready to turn in at the Friday, October 18th meeting. If you have image files for publishing and can’t attend the meeting please get them to Robert before then or send them one at a time via email to

Fourth Friday Meeting for September is a field trip

Do not come to tRG studio for our meeting on Friday, September 27. We are meeting instead at Julian B Lane Riverfront Park, 1001 N Blvd, Tampa, FL 33606 at 7:00 pm. We will be making twilight and night photos and practicing panorama and vertorama techniques. Tripods are highly recommended. Meet beneath the Tampa River Center Illuminated sign prior to 7:00 pm and we will start our meeting at that time.

Resources from Helga’s Water/Ink/Oil presentation

Equipment List:
Macro lens (100mm)
Drinking glass/piece of glass
Tissue paper
Olive oil
Trigger/Receiver for flash
Remote control for camera
Pluto trigger?

Ink in motion

Water drop photography – start to finish

Pluto trigger
Part 1

Part 2

Facebook Macro Photography group

Adatalux Lighting for Macro

Adaptalux Lighting Studio – Adaptable Macro Photography Lighting

Water Drop Kit
Settings M (manual focus) image stabilizer off
ISO 100 or 200 (100 or 200 depending on the liquid and background used.
1/250 (max sync speed when using flash) (usually I have it slower)
The flash is 45 degrees off to the left or right, set to manual and 1/64 power (sometimes 1/32)
I usually use wireless transmitters.
With water I point the flash to the background image and bounce the light back through the water drops.
With Milk you have to point the flash to the drop/sculpture itself since it is not transparent.
When using water I usually have some food dye in it and about 1/4 tea spoon of “guar gum” mixed with two cups of warm water that is going to be the actual droplets… (then let the water cool)
Drop Kit – Pluto Triggers and Valve (

Liquid Flow

  • Cream mixed with food coloring and then squeezed into a plastic container of water with a black background behind it. A flash on either side. Then flip them and select half of the image copy it, flip it and merge to make to look symmetrical.


My setup and process for making cream drop photos.
Jeff Campbell
I’ve got to say I’m both surprised and thrilled with how these turned out and the positive
reactions from the group. I’ve had a number of requests from folks asking “How….”, so here is
a short overview my setup and technique. I first saw this described in Corrie White’s ebook
“The Ultimate Guide to Water Drop Photographs”, available on her website
Stuff you’ll need
• A clear straight sided plastic container at least 6” x 6” x 6”. Bigger would be better for
keeping flash glare off the back, but bear in mind you only get a few shots before it
clouds up and you have to change the water. I’m using a bagel storage container from
Walmart, but a small fish aquarium is more commonly used.
• Off-camera flash(s). A flash mounted on the camera would have too much reflection off
both the front and back of the container. I tend to use contrasting color gels on the
flashes (orange on one, blue on the other).
• Black plastic taped inside the back of the container. I used a “For Sale” sign, painted flat
black, and cut to fit.
• String stretched across the top to act as a placement guide for the cream dropper.
• A camera and lens capable of close-up photos with about a 4” field of view. I’m using a
Fuji X-T2 with Tamron 90mm 1:1 macro, but 1:6 to 1:4 magnification is all you’ll want.
• A tripod to keep your hands free.
• Cream and a coloring agent, preferably washable as there will be stray drips. I used Half
& Half (a.k.a. table cream), but I’m curious how heavy whipping cream would work. I
also use liquid food coloring. It’s getting hard to find these days, but it’s easier to mix in
the cream than the gel type dyes.
Setting it up
• My “studio” is in my basement where I can dim the lights to keep ambient reflections
and glare to a minimum. This helps to achieve that invisible black background.
• I fill the tank with as much water as I’m comfortable carrying/moving without sloshing it
on the camera or flashes. You’ll want it at least 4” deep.
• Prop a ruler against the fish line to use as a focus aid and for framing the image.
• Turn down the room lights and take a test photo to check for flash glare. I use one flash
at a time so I can tell which one may be causing the glare. Once all the flashes are
positioned, take a final test shot of the ruler to check exposure and focus. Zoom in to
look for any water spots or bubbles on the container. Ideally, you’ll see nothing but the
ruler and a pure black background.
The shoot
• You are only going to need a few drops of each color of cream so pre-fill the droppers
with just enough for a single image. Any extra is likely to end up in the tank as a big
Fish line acts as a
guide to quickly
place the dropper
into the focus zone.
Black paper
“snoot” to keep
stray light off the
black back ground
Optional flash
above the water to
show items above
the surface
Primary flashes to
light the plume,
placed to minimize
glare on the
container front and
cloud. Place the droppers where you can easily and quickly grab them after triggering
the camera.
• This is going to happen fast. Corrie White used a remote trigger with her foot so that
both hands were free for dripping. I programmed the camera to shoot at 1 second
intervals for 10 seconds. The first frame or two will be empty, the middle few will be
the good stuff, and the last few will likely be a cloudy mess.
• Turn down the lights, put the first dropper into position with one hand and trigger the
camera with the other. Start dripping, you’ve got maybe 5 or 6 seconds before the first
drops sink out of frame and/or get too cloudy.
• Take a few minutes to check your photos and allow the cream to settle to the bottom of
the tank. I can do two to three shoots before the stray cream becomes objectionable
and I have to change the water.
The 4 smaller images on the left are from the same shoot and show how the cream expands.
The larger image was made by mirroring the last small image.
Post Processing
Global Adjustments. I use Adobe Light Room for global adjustments. I
prefer to use Raw files, but jpegs work if you can get the exposure close
in the camera.
• In the Basic Panel, I use the color picker and click on a white
cream spot to set white balance.
• Use Auto for the Tone adjustment then pull down the blacks to
help hide any glare and stray cream clouds. I also pull down the
highlights, push up the whites, and bump up both clarity and
dehaze to get a translucent look with bright highlights.
• I try different tone curves, but generally end up using the “Strong
Contrast” setting.
• You can use the spot healing brush for minor cleanup, but if I’m
mirroring I prefer to wait and use the clone stamp tool in
• Right click on the image and select Edit in Photoshop.
• Copy the layer.
• From the top menu, click Image – Canvas Size and change the
width to 200%.
• Use the move tool to drag the base image to one side of the
canvas and then move the copied image to the opposite side.
• Select the copied image and from the top menu click Edit –
Transform – Flip Horizontally
• Use the rectangular marquee tool to select an area the full height
of the canvas and about half its width.
• Click the Add Layer Mask icon to convert the selection into a layer mask. Click on the
link icon between the layer and mask icons to unlink them. This allows you to move the
mask without moving the image.
• Select the move tool. Hold the shift key while dragging anything to ensure they only
move horizontally and the right and left images stay aligned.
• Select the copied image and slide it towards the center of the canvas. This will start to
cover the base image, but don’t worry. Select the mask and drag it towards the center,
revealing part of copied image and hiding part of the base image. Position the mask
edge so its centered between the right and left images. You’ll know it’s right when the
edges on both sides of the mirror line are perfectly aligned.
• Keep moving the copied image and re-centering the mask until you are happy with the
• When you see something you like, go to the history panel and click the snapshot icon to
temporarily save the image. Then keep adjusting to see what else is hiding in the image.
When you are done, or if you just want to revert to a previous snapshot, go to the top of
the history panel and click on the various snapshots to see which you like best. Note,
these snapshots are not saved when you save the file – they will be lost when you close
• Crop the canvas to fit your new image, Save and Export.

Camera Gear Swap Meet July 13th at 10:00

Film Noir Photo Night

Behind the scenes at our May 2019 technical meeting:

February Field Trip

Please remember that there will be no regular club meeting on Friday night 02-22-2019. Instead we are having a photo scavenger hunt field trip the following morning, 02-23-2019 at Hillsborough River State Park (HRSP). 15402 U.S. 301 North Thonotosassa, FL 33592. Plan to meet in parking lot 3 between 9:30 and 10:00 am. This is the largest parking lot in the park. It is not the parking lot by the pool, that is lot number 4. If you pass parking lot 3 by mistake then you may park elsewhere and walk back to lot number 3. Allow time to get through the line at the entrance as the park is popular and busy on Saturday mornings. Carpooling is encouraged as this will minimize the number of vehicles that we will have in the entrance line and it may lower your cost. Admission is $6 per vehicle. We will review the rules and start the event at 10:00 am. We will reconvene at noon to score the event. It is suggested that you bring a lunch to eat at this time. There is a food concession in the park as well. Bringing some water to drink and a snack to eat while out photographing in the park is also recommended.

Scavenger Hunt Rules:
All photos must be taken inside the boundaries of HRSP on 02-23-19 between the times of 10:00 am and noon. Only one photo of each list item will count for points. (Example 1: If you take 3 different photos of various types of yellow flowers, only one photo may be counted. Example 2: If you have a single photo that contains multiples of any item other than an animal being counted for points it still only counts for once. A single photo of 3 yellow flowers scores the same as a photo of a single yellow flower. Example 3: Multiple points for multiple items in a photo will be awarded on photos of animals. A single photo showing 3 turtles counts triple what a photo of a single turtle is worth.) There are mystery items as well. Be aware of interesting or unusual items that you encounter and photograph them even if they aren’t on your list because they might be a mystery item. The list of mystery items will be will not be revealed in advance. The regular list is below. The amount of points that each item is worth will be revealed during the scoring process. Please print the list below and bring a copy with you to the event or keep a digital copy on your mobile device for reference.

Great Blue Heron
Pine cone
Yellow flower
White flower
Poison Ivy
Bird nest
Cypress Knee
Park Ranger

Photo Competition Assignments 2019

Jan – Unusual Angle of View
Create interesting images of any subjects from an unusual camera. Low angle, high angle, tilted camera angle, etc.

Feb – Patterns
Create interesting images that are based on visual repetition of subject elements.

Mar – Backlighting
Create images with strong visual impact where the subjects are very obviously illuminated from behind by a strong light source

Apr – Night Sky
Create compelling images using the night sky as the primary subject element. The night sky should not be secondary or incidental to the images.

May – Simplify/Minimalism
Create impactful images utilizing a single element as the subject while eliminating or minimizing other visual elements within the scene.

Jun – Bridges
Create well-composed images using either entire bridges or visually interesting portions of their structure.

Jul – Dance
Create artistic images that represent the beauty and motion of the art of dance.

Aug – Lens Flare
Create well-composed images of any subject that is visually enhanced by any of the many forms of lens flare that can occur when light from a strong source strikes the front element of a camera lens.

Sep – Bokeh
Create interesting images of any subject that is visually enhanced by having an obviously very out-of-focus background.

Oct – Reflections
Create compelling images where the primary subject is reflected on any surface or is strongly visually supported by reflections.

Nov – Moving Water/Liquid
Create interesting images where the primary subject is any form of moving liquid with the artistic goal being to specifically show the motion of the liquid in an interesting way.

Technical Meetings that are scheduled as of now are:

January 25thTechnical Meeting – How to make a Blurb book

February 23rd Technical Meeting – Saturday morning photo scavenger hunt at Hillsborough River State Park. Arrive by 9:45 am latest, event starts at 10:00 am. Additional details to be announced.

Meteors and More Outdoor Photography Event

Attention: It is very important if you wish to attend that you completely read and understand the details provided in the event description below.

12-11-2018 Event Schedule Update – This information supersedes all previously posted information below and there is a new sign-up form!

The weather looks pretty bad for the event. It is currently forecast to rain Thursday, Friday, and into Saturday and it will be very cold as well. This means that the site and the access road will be wet, muddy, and possibly not easily negotiated with 2-wheel drive vehicles. There is a possibility that SWFWMD will close the site and cancel the permits as they have done in the past when similar conditions have been forecast. They don’t want the site and the access road to get torn up by vehicles that get stuck in wet conditions. So far there hasn’t been an official announcement of site closure but it remains a possibility. I will make another announcement if that happens. In any case there will be no photo opportunities Friday afternoon/evening based on the current forecast. I’m officially canceling the planned activities for Friday under the circumstances. Saturday afternoon may hold some possibilities if the rain ends at a reasonable time. If the site does not close I will be there all day Saturday and will lead some late day photo activities and host a campfire meal in the evening as planned and hope for some night sky photo opportunities if the skies clear. If you wish to attend on Saturday please be aware that access road conditions may be bad and that you should bring rain gear and cold weather garb. I have removed the old sign-up form and have replaced it with a new one. Even if you signed up already please take a moment to fill out the revised form. Thanks for your understanding – Jim.

12-9-2018 Updated information:

If the road and/or field aren’t too muddy when you arrive feel free to drive your vehicles all the way into the field to unload your gear and then park on the edge of the field to keep them out of the way but close by. We want to keep the field as open as possible for campsites to be setup and to allow ample room for people and camera gear to be setup for night photography.
Remember – cell phone service is spotty to nonexistent in the preserve. Make sure you are familiar with driving directions and have your GPS running well in advance of arrival. If you are using cell phone GPS navigation consider downloading an offline map of the area in advance to use. It is not certain that you will be able to call me or anyone else that has already arrived for directions or help.
If there is anyone that is interested in attending overnight Saturday but doesn’t have a tent please contact me. I can arrange for a couple of extra tents and camping hammocks to be available. jim @ jrsphotos .com (spaces added to keep spam robots away – leave them out to get in touch with me).
Remember to bring your own food, snacks, and drinks for daytime Saturday. Jim will provide food and drink for Saturday dinner.
I’m looking forward to sharing a weekend of outdoor photography with everyone who can attend! – Jim

Jim Sykes is hosting a weekend of photography and fun at Pott’s Preserve on the Withlacoochee River. (2988 N Hooty Point, Inverness, FL 34453) It is scheduled to coincide with the Geminid meteor shower, often the best meteor shower of the year. Arrive late Friday afternoon or early Friday evening, December 14th and bring something to eat and drink. At approximately 8:00 pm Jim will give a primer on night sky/meteor photography in order to help everyone to be able to use their equipment to photograph the meteor shower as it reaches the peak Friday night through Saturday morning. There is also an option to arrive on Saturday if you are unable to attend the Friday night event. On Saturday morning, December 15th you are free to roam the many trails of the preserve and do landscape photography, flower photography, macro photography, etc. On Saturday afternoon Jim will be guiding a waterborne photo trip into the Gum Slough spring run. If you wish to take part in this portion of the event you are responsible for providing your own canoe or kayak and all legally required safety equipment. (Personal flotation device, audible signaling device, etc.) Saturday evening Jim will provide a campfire meal for attendees and Saturday night will provide another option for night sky/meteor photography. You may camp overnight on Friday night and/or Saturday night. Pott’s preserve is a primitive campsite. There are few amenities beyond a no-frills restroom. It is suggested that you bring your own toilet paper. If you are camping you are responsible for providing your own tent, or hammock for sleeping. Sites are first come, first served. There are fire rings and picnic tables located at various campsites as well as a few charcoal grills. Jim will provide the firewood for a community campfire on Friday and Saturday night and as mentioned above Jim will provide food and drinks for the Saturday evening meal.

There are 2 permits in place to accommodate a grand total 25 people for the event. The event will be strictly limited to the first 25 people who sign up using the form provided below. Do not reserve a spot unless you are very sure you will be attending. There is a $10 suggested donation per attendee per night to cover the cost of firewood, food, drinks, ice, etc. You have an option to attend Friday only, Saturday only, or both. Campsites must be vacated by 11:00 am Sunday morning. If possible please arrange to carpool with other attendees to limit the number of vehicles and cut down on traffic within the campsite area. It is suggested that you consider parking your vehicle in the open area at the kiosk that is inside the gated area halfway to the riverside campground (not the one located at the entrance outside of the gate) rather than driving all the way in to the riverside campsite field if you do not have a 4 wheel drive vehicle. Vehicles can get stuck on the last section of dirt road or in the field if there has been rain. You will be emailed a copy of the campsite reservation and it must be printed and displayed on your dashboard. We do not have exclusive use of the venue so be aware that there will probably be other campers there during the course of the weekend. Be respectful of other campers especially with consideration to noise, lights, etc after 10:00 pm.

Other important information:

If you plan on doing any night photography Jim will be enforcing a rule that you must only use a flashlight or headlamp with a red light and never point it in any direction other than downward to your camera. This is to prevent ruining other peoples photos. Cell phone service is spotty/unavailable in the preserve depending on your carrier. Familiarize yourself with the location using online maps and if possible print a map and directions for yourself. You will not be able to reach Jim for directions or help once he has arrived on site. There is no electricity and there is no potable water. The entrance gate remains locked at all times. You will receive a gate code if you are attending. It will be on the reservation that you must print and display on your dashboard. You must lock the gate behind you when entering or leaving. There are multiple combination padlocks on the gate, your code will open the lock that has the letters “REC” engraved on it. You must read and abide by the following SWFWMD rules:

Camping Rules

(other site-specific rules may apply)

  • Camping is allowed in designated campsites only and requires a free reservation.
  • Campfires are permitted only in fire rings.
  • Firewood should be collected from the ground; DO NOT cut any standing trees, dead or alive.
  • Campfires must be put out completely.
  • To protect the natural experience for all campers, no loud music is allowed at any time.
  • Built-in generators are allowed at equestrian campsites only.
  • Horses are only permitted in camp areas designated for equestrian use. Horses are not allowed in primitive campsites.
  • Where permitted, dogs must be on a six-foot leash and be well-mannered at all times.
  • Dog owners are required to pick up after their dogs; do not allow your dog to wander outside your campsite. No other pets are permitted on District lands.
  • Quiet time is from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m.
  • Any additional rules and regulations will be provided on the reservation or posted at the campground kiosk.

Please visit the official SWFWMD Pott’s Preserve website to familiarize yourself with the venue in advance:

Suggested items to bring:

Camera and lenses of your choice
Sturdy tripod
Spare charged batteries
Headlamp or flashlight with red light capability
Insect repellent
Water, snacks, food for Friday night dinner and/or Saturday lunch (Jim is providing the Saturday night meal)
Camping gear
Canoe or kayak and legally required safety equipment.
Fishing tackle

2018 TBCC Holiday Party

Please join us at tRG studio on December 13th at 7:00 pm for our annual Holiday party and awards presentation. As always, we will have a pushpin print presentation. Bring a print at least 8×10 inches in size to hang for display and tell us about it. (No pins will be pushed through your print by the way.) We will present the awards for the 2018 club photo competition and of course, we will have our famous pot luck dinner as always. Please use the sign-up form below to let us know what you will be bringing. Check the prior submissions to make sure you don’t duplicate something that someone else is already signed up to bring. The club will provide plates, cups, utensils, soft drinks, and ice.