Personal Project; California’s Photo Arts Group; An Informal Group Creates Extraordinary Imagery

Photo Arts group members live in the Palm Springs, Redlands, and Joshua Tree areas of California, and we are very informal with no officers or rules at monthly meetings. We exchange critiques and chat about photography in many of its myriad forms. We also eat well.

Some members are experts in Photoshop and related programs, some are infrared fans, a few favor black and white, and most have in-depth expertise in digital printing. All are eager to share their knowledge, so brief “seminars” evolve during meetings. Most members are shooting with D-SLRs and a few use medium format film equipment.

Our 25 members come from a variety of backgrounds, including a former 30-year Navy photographer, a couple of former law enforcement officers, a former oil field worker, and several company executives. Their photographic educations vary from self-taught to formally educated, and many are workshop lovers. Some travel widely to attend photo trade shows, and some wouldn’t miss a good photography exhibition at the Palm Springs Art Museum or at other venues.

We are a friendly smorgasbord, eager to explain techniques and show our work at meetings. We never know which members will bring color or black-and-white prints, or if they may project slide shows on laptops or handy screens. We are supportive of members when we critique their images, hoping to help them improve their seeing and techniques.

Since Joshua Tree National Park is very close to the homes of some members and within 40-70 miles of others, it is a favorite place to shoot except in summer heat. A few guys are inveterate hikers and know the park well. We all find new vistas on every visit. We have been meeting for about 20 years. New members join frequently and we often speak of those who have died and left us prints and memories of their personal work.

Steve Felber
While employed by a corporation Steve indulged his passion by taking many photography classes at a junior college. He also created a camera club at work, and shot weddings on weekends, which helped pay for his “never-ending list” of equipment. After retirement he began shooting landscapes and joined four photo groups, becoming the newsletter editor of the 150-member Redlands (CA) Camera Club. For the past five years he has been selling landscape images on his website ( and has joined forces with another member, George Johnson, to sell at fine art festivals.

Steve uses Nikon’s D300 and D200 bodies, and follows through with Nikon’s Capture NX 2 software to make exposure and color corrections, then segues to Photoshop CS3. Steve and his wife, Nancy, are RVers, and capturing the beauty of the U.S.A. is their motivator for travel.

Walk in the Woods: Taken on a short trail along the estuary in Morro Bay, California. Shot with a Hasselblad and a 60mm lens on Fuji Velvia 100. Exposure at f/16 was 1⁄60 sec. The image was scanned at 4000dpi with a Nikon COOLSCAN 9000.

© 2010, Steve Felber, All Rights Reserved

George Johnson
“In my youth I wanted to paint watercolors, but I can’t draw so I drifted to photography. I always liked black and white and did all my own developing and printing until I moved and lost my darkroom. I learned the art of platinum/palladium prints as well as intaglio. When I retired after 26 years in law enforcement, I moved again, physically and into digital. Now I shoot infrared using a converted Canon Rebel XT, and print on an Epson 7800, and do all my own framing and matte cutting.

“The sand dunes are at Death Valley at sunrise. After a pretty fierce windstorm the night before, the dunes were pristine and the wind had created the scallop shapes around the small plants. This is a three-shot panorama, at f/8, ISO 200, and 1⁄250 sec, using the Canon Rebel XT with the 18-55mm Canon lens. I use that lens for almost everything, and it handles close-ups very well. I use Photoshop CS3 along with PTGui and Photomatix Pro. My motto is: Keep It Simple.”

© 2010, George Johnson, All Rights Reserved

Paul Martini
“I started in photography in 1975 with the purchase of a Leica M3, and took extensive college classes. At about the same time I began shooting at Joshua Tree National Park. Good roads make many areas accessible, though I’ve been hiking for years to shoot arrangements of rocks and landscapes that visitors never see.

“This shot was taken with a Leica M8 and a 28mm f/2 Summicron aspherical lens. The exposure at f/16 was 1⁄125 sec at ISO 160.”

© 2010, Paul Martini, All Rights Reserved

Lou Jacobs Jr.
“I’m an industrial designer who became a photographer who became a writer. I spent years in magazine photojournalism and also wrote articles for various photographic magazines. For two years in the 1980s I lived and traveled in a motor home. I enjoy shooting scenic pictures in national parks and other photogenic spots.

“I live about 50 miles from the entrance to Joshua Tree National Park which I call a wonderland of rocks. The variety is endless and one can climb many of them. I look for formations with strong geometric patterns that show in this photo, which is improved by the two climbers. People in scenics or street scenes add interest that enlivens them. It was taken with the Canon Rebel XTi and the 28-135mm IS lens at ISO 200. Handheld exposure at f/11 was 1⁄200 sec.”

© 2010, Lou Jacobs Jr., All Rights Reserved

Rick Strobaugh
“I got my first real photography training as a detective in charge of the Redlands (CA) police department’s forensics investigations unit. I took photos of crime scenes, injuries, dead bodies, and autopsies. I was able to transfer this knowledge to more enjoyable subjects such as landscapes, wildlife, and macro images. I attended several photo seminars, took a few college classes, and read a lot about photography. Joining a camera club and visiting art galleries also helped in seeing subjects from other viewpoints.

“I shot the Yosemite Valley picture with my Canon 5D and a 20mm lens. Exposure was f/11 at 1⁄30 sec at ISO 100. I always use a Bogen tripod, and Photoshop CS3 helps me tap into my creative side.”

© 2010, Rick Strobaugh, All Rights Reserved