Camas Camera Club promotes creative photography projects

Shooting stars

Kirsten Muskat, founder and president of the Camas Camera Club, took this "Family Moment" photo of her husband Richard Kurczak and their border collie Elmo, on Strawberry Island in the Columbia River Gorge, in May 2011. They moved from Tanzania to Camas in 2007. "I looked at this scene before me, and everything had just come together," Muskat said. "I could feel this image before I took it. It gave me the feeling of our little tribe having arrived, of being at home now in a new place that we love."

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Two crocus blooms are featured in a photo taken by Kirsten Muskat, founder and president of the Camas Camera Club. The "Spring Reflections" photo was part of the club's monthly assignment. "The assignments are cast rather wide, so that every photographer can find his or her own way into it," Muskat said. "It is always exciting to see the different interpretations our members have on an assignment."

Individuals interested in improving their photography skills are invited to participate in Camas Camera Club meetings and assignments.

The meetings are open to photographers of all skill levels, ages 16 and older. Individuals are invited to bring a couple of recent images to the meetings.

The club was officially founded by Kirsten Muskat in June 2011, after she and a few photographer friends had met sporadically along trails, workshops and in local homes.

Muskat, who now serves as club president, said the meetings are enjoyable and informative.

“It’s fun to see everyone’s images, watching people’s skills grow, seeing some really creative and brilliant work, and we have some great banter,” she said. “We have short, informative photo talks every month, and I got some great pointers and ideas on how to present slide shows, new photo editing software and High Dynamic Range photography.”

The group of photo enthusiasts range in age from 30 to the upper 60s, and they include beginners and professional photographers. They all use digital cameras, but many of them have film backgrounds.

Muskat’s goals for the club include providing a supportive and encouraging local forum for photographers of all skill levels to meet and exchange ideas.

“I think it is really valuable to have a community of photo enthusiasts and for us to share inspiration and know-how,” she said.

Field trips are in the planning stages, and photographs taken by club members will be featured in a Second Story Gallery exhibit, in the Camas Public Library, in July.

David Shibata said he has always had an interest in photography, but it was usually limited to taking a few photos of his family and places they visited.

After learning more about his camera, Shibata was encouraged by a photographer friend to attend one of the camera club meetings.

He enjoys the monthly assignments on specific topics.

“Each member, left to their imagination, is turned loose to experiment and to produce a photo or group of photos that are representative of the assigned topic,” Shibata said. “As each member presents their photos, other members are free to make suggestions and comments.

“Part of the fun is seeing the different interpretations, techniques and tricks of creating a great photograph,” he added. “I have learned a great deal since joining the camera club, as there are old pros that have a wealth of knowledge and younger geek types who are tech savvy.”

Shibata said the local club is unique because it is centered on building camera and photography skills by example, and members are able to share their knowledge about taking great photographs.

Lou Steffey and his wife Karen Elliott, of Washougal, have attended three camera club meetings so far, and they have already learned about new computer programs that are available as well as photography locations suggested by other members.

He enjoys the photography assignments.

“They get me into different modes of thinking about subjects and interesting ways of presenting them,” Steffey said. “The monthly projects encourage me to get off my rear end and actually to do some photography.”

Elliot said the people in the camera club are fun, and she has learned about photo software and the variety of ways that other members work with and display their photos — from gallery showings to note cards.

She is excited about the possibility of club field trips.

“The field trips that are being considered would be great, partially because my husband and I are new to the area and haven’t seen some of those places yet,” Elliot said.

The Camas Camera Club will meet Thursday, at 7 p.m., in the atrium of the Camas Public Library, 625 N.E. Fourth Ave. First-time visitors are asked to contact Muskat at (503) 880-8775 or kirstenmuskat@mac.com. For more information, visit www.CamasCameraClub.org.