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Google+ has attracted a large community of photographers. I have participated in many Google+ “hangouts” which allow you to chat with people in real time with audio and video.  Hangouts typically have a theme and photographers are welcome to join into the discussions and post links to samples of their work regarding the topic at hand.

I haven’t been terribly active on Google+ of late, but a new group has formed on Google+ called “Drink And Click™.” The concept is that a group of photographers get together at a bar and discuss photography and social media. There is usually a theme for the get-together so techniques are discussed before we hit the street and begin our photography. After a period of time the group gathers at another bar to discuss and show each other what we have photographed and enjoy a beverage.

Chapters of Drink And Click have formed in the following cities: Austin, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Columbus, New York and many other American cities. In Canada we have chapters in Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto. There are also international chapters in Australia, Japan, UK and Germany:

http://drinkandclick.com/blog/

The Toronto chapter is led by photographers Sara Collaton and Vincent McMillen. Sara is a successful Toronto photographer and she and I worked together at Henry’s. Sara is extremely well connected on all of the social media channels and is looking after the social media channels for 500px.com. In case you haven’t heard about 500px.com, it is a photo-sharing site for photographers to showcase their absolute best work. You won’t find photographs of cats with hats and sunglasses here (Flickr), but instead, some incredible photography. If you ever seek photographic inspiration, visit 500px.com and be prepared to be humbled by the incredible amount of phenomenal photography.

My humble portfolio can be seen at this link:

http://500px.com/PeterVisima

There are many world-famous photographers who have shared their work on 500px.com. Some of my favourites are Thomas Leuthard, a street photographer who lives in Switzerland: http://500px.com/85mm, Mikhail Malyugin: http://500px.com/Malyugin, Giuseppe Peppoloni: http://500px.com/giuseppepeppoloni, and local Toronto photographer Tom Ryaboi, a.k.a. The Roof Topper: http://500px.com/tom.

The tie-in of Google+, 500px.com and Drink And Click provides for a great community of photographers interacting with each other. Yesterday a group of 10 of us met at the Firkin on Yonge just south of the Yonge and Dundas Square. Our table was covered in photographic gear including some adult beverages. Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fuji and even a film-based Minolta were the brands on hand.

Our photographic theme for the evening was “panning.” This is a technique whereby you track an object and while you release the shutter, you pan along with your subject. For the best effect a slow shutter speed is recommended, somewhere around 1/20 or 1/15 of a second. Your aperture would depend on the ambient light plus your selected ISO.

Shooting at a low shutter speed of 1/20 or 1/15 of a second is not without its challenges. You can expect to have many failed attempts due to camera movement, lack of focus, and a failure to achieve the proper “smear” of the pan effect.

I was using my long-in-the-tooth but trustworthy Nikon D90. While not particularly great in low-light situations (noise at higher ISO’s), I had no fear in cranking up my ISO to 1250 because any noise would not be terribly evident in my night-time panned images. My lens of choice was the Tokina 11-16mm f2.8. Very wide, very sharp and very fast—perfect for capturing wide areas of traffic, people and streetcars.

Before we hit the street, Sara and 500px.com had a draw for a LowePro camera bag. We tossed our I.D.s into a hat and asked “Santa” to make the draw. Yesterday was the eve of the Grey Cup in Toronto and there were numerous football fans in town. “Santa” had his name on his football jersey and was wearing an antique leather football helmet from 1948. Here he is along with a rather blurry Vincent McMillen making the draw:

We then bundled up and hit Yonge Street. As I mentioned, the failure rate for this type of shooting is quite high. I took 257 images and have 13 that I feel are worthwhile. Here is an image of a car travelling south on Yonge Street. If you are lucky, you should have some area of your subject in focus while everything else is blurred. Click on any image to see a larger version.

ISO 1250, f4, 1/20, 16mm focal length

The corner of Yonge and Dundas including Dundas Square, provided for some great photo opportunities with lots of traffic, tour buses, streetcars and people in the “scramble” intersection.

ISO 1250, f5.6, 1/15, 11mm focal length

I love this photo since everything except for the man’s face is blurred:

ISO 1250, f5, 1/15, 13mm focal length

ISO 1250, f4.5, 1/15, 16mm focal length

I love the texture and lines from this woman’s fur coat:

ISO 1250, f5.6, 1/15, 16mm focal length

Here is a gentleman who was in a hurry to deliver coffee to somewhere:

ISO 1250, f5.6, 1/15, 11mm focal length

Here is one of our Drink And Click members grabbing a photo. I panned this photo from right to left which kept the streetcar sharp while everything else was blurred:

ISO 1250, f5.6, 1/15, 16mm focal length

ISO 1250, f6.3, 1/15, 16mm focal length

Vincent McMillen and Jason Cook in the middle of Yonge and Dundas! Note that the traffic lights are red in all directions. This gives pedestrians a chance to cross this intersection in “scramble” style meaning you can cross in any direction including diagonally:

ISO 1250, f5.6, 1/15, 16mm focal length

One of my favourite images from yesterday is this woman on a bicycle. She is in the process of putting her foot to the ground since she stopped rather abruptly a millisecond after I captured this image:

ISO 1250, f5.6, 1/15, 16mm focal length

Another cyclist:

ISO 1250, f4.5, 1/15, 16mm focal length

ISO 1250, f5.6, 1/15, 13mm focal length

After shooting for half an hour in the howling wind and near zero degree Celsius temperature, my hands were frozen. I had another engagement that I had to get to so I said my goodbyes to the gang and hit the subway to warm up. Here’s my last image of the day. For this photo I held the camera steady and the pan effect was caused by the movement of the subway train and my slow shutter speed:

ISO 1250, f8, 1/15, 11mm focal length

I always photograph in the RAW file format and then process my images using Apple Aperture. I do very little to my images other than a colour balance and exposure tweak. No special filters or effects are used.

I loved attending my first Drink And Click and can’t wait for the next one. Many thanks to Sara Collaton and Vincent McMillen for leading this event.

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