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Field trips, cameraderie highlight camera club offerings

By Eryn Worthington

A long time ago — in 2004 — two men purchased new digital cameras. As they played with their cameras, they thought: This is kind of cool. I wonder who else just got a new camera?

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Ed Katterson and Vito DePinto decided to take that thought further and placed an advertisement in the Chronicle to inquire if anyone had a similar interest. On June 7, 2004, 25 responders with cameras confirmed their suspicions, leading to the establishment of the Art Center Camera Club of Citrus County.

“They thought it was such a great experience and decided to get together once a month,” said Jim Houle, vice president of visual arts and camera club president. “They chose Monday night. Every first Monday night of the month we get together to talk photography.”

Quickly, they began hearing from people who were not photographers and were clueless about photography. However, these individuals wanted to buy cameras and wanted help utilizing them.

That was the steering principle behind the Art Center Camera Club of Citrus County.

“There are always people saying they don’t know how to work their cameras and asking for advice,” Houle said. “There are people with fancy cameras that don’t even know how to work their cameras.”

The members became organized and formed a steering committee. Each steering committee member has a different role such as: Field trip coordinator, program coordinator and competition coordinator.

Currently, there are 140 members, which is the largest group at the Art Center.

“We have people who don’t own a camera,” Houle said. “We have people who have the point-and-shoot cameras. We have college professors who teach photography. We run the whole gamut of professional photographers, down to people who don’t have a camera.”

The camera club offers photographers many choices. On the fourth Monday of the month, special interest groups meet to discuss lighting, composition, exposure and other facets of photography. After an hour, they break into groups to discuss camera brands and what their camera controls do.

“It is for groups of photographers who want to be together with their type of camera,” Houle said. “Nikon people will be together, the Canon people together, etc …   Even a point-and-shoot group.” 

In addition, Doug Bauer and Bud Smart plan field trips around Citrus County with a photographic theme. Recently, they received permission to visit Three Sisters Springs at 6:30 a.m. They caught morning rays of light hitting the mist rising off the water. They were aiming to get the first shots of the wintering manatees in the springs.

“We showed up there in the dark,” Houle said in excitement. “There were people already lined up to get in and it was dark out.”

Through a relationship with Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, they are arranging for photographers to donate pictures to the refuge in trade for photographer and camera club recognition. Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge in return will be able to use these images for advertising purposes through postcards, notepads and various other forms.

“In other states that have this program, they are able to sell the advertising items for profit,” Houle said. “However, here it is a new organization. They are still low on funds and do not have that type of money to put out. We are looking to do things on consignment. One of the things that we are looking at is the photographer to mount or frame their work and then selling it on consignment. So that way the wildlife and photographer would make a profit on it.”

In addition, the camera club has several classes each year. Houle said the best piece of advice he has to offer is to learn about your camera.

“Read the manual,” Houle said. “I don’t think you can hurt the camera. Take the camera and take pictures. They are digital now days. It’s instant gratification. If it doesn’t look right, well, delete it and take another.”

“Also, always use the flash,” Houle added. “Anytime you turn that camera on, turn the flash on. Fill in the shadows.”

For more information, visit artcenter.cc or accc.digiact.org.