Arts and Entertainment

f:67 Camera Club: A place where print and digital worlds can coexist

Longtime f:67 member and former club president Jim Haney presents one of Mary Westerback
Longtime f:67 member and former club president Jim Haney presents one of Mary Westerback's photos at a recent print evaluation night.
— image credit: Bill Mickelson/Staff Photo

The digital nights, f:67 Camera Club president Jerry Joaquin says, are usually better attended than print nights.

With the digital slides, there’s more action, he noted — more photos to be seen in a shorter amount of time. Images are projected on a big screen at the front of the room, as opposed to being manually displayed and laid out on desktops.

“(But) with digital images, they go by so quick,” said Bob Paul, acting commentator for the evening at a recent f:67 print evaluation night. “With prints, we’ve had a chance to look at the photos and actually evaluate them... It’s nice to have that time.”

Members of the f:67 club meet regularly on the first and second Mondays of each month at Olympic College Bremerton — alternating between digital projection and print evaluation nights — to share their photos, talk shop and offer comments and criticism on each other’s work.

The club was established more than 60 years ago by a group of photo enthusiasts hailing from shop 67 in the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. Its members have collectively participated in the continuous evolution of photography, from the early days of the twin-lens reflex camera and black and white film and on through the most recent explosion of digital photography and subsequent death of film and the wet darkroom, the club’s Web site recounts.

Still, every other f:67 meeting is devoted to prints. Many of the club’s members found their affection for photography either in the darkroom, or with a film camera in hand. For some, Joaquin noted, film is still their forte.

“So, we want to be inclusive of everyone,” he said.

Each print night is fashioned somewhat like an informal group salon, or competition. Prints are laid out by category, viewed and voted on. The photos also are displayed one at a time and commented on by commentators volunteered from the group.

“The commentary is so important, and so helpful,” longtime f:67 member and digital convert Mary Westerback said. “I don’t always like all of it, but, you know, that’s life.”

Thoughts and techniques are shared on everything from aperture and exposure levels to the craft of simply getting the shot. There’s talk of polarization to saturation, points of thirds, directions of light, titles, meanings and intentions all the way down to composition, cropping and presentation.

“We’ve got people who pick up ability and knowledge in certain areas,” f:67 member John Davis said. “Within a club, or within a council of clubs, or within PSA (the Photographic Society of America), there are experts in just about every photograph.”

Davis is one such expert. Later this fall, he’ll take up the post of executive vice president of the board of directors for PSA — which should bode well for competition-minded members of the club. In addition to meeting regularly to discuss their shared hobby, members of f:67 also compete in various contests sanctioned by PSA as well as the Northwest Council of Camera Clubs, which expands the f:67 network even further into the greater Pacific Northwest, throughout the country and even internationally.

“Imagine being a part of a group of people, and you’re looking at images from China and Vietnam and Egypt, from photographers just like you,” Davis said. “You get a beautiful cultural experience from it. A big part of it’s just that international understanding.”

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