Most people show off the best pictures that they’ve taken, but Allan and Heather Turnbull want to see what turned out bad. The husband-and-wife team run one of two monthly drop-in digital photography workshops from local computer club Westchester PC Users Group (WPCUG).
“For the pictures that come out great, you don’t need our help,” Allan Trumbull quipped.
The Turnbulls are WPCUG’s resident experts on cameras and connected peripheral devices with their “Digital Cameras” workshops held the fourth Thursday of each month at Stepinac High School in White Plains. Club colleague Jim Iscaro conducts a separate workshop “Photo Editing” on the third Tuesday of each month at the White Plains Highlands Middle School (both skip summer months but then resume in September). With the coronavirus lockdown, WPCUG is moving workshops and meetings to videoconferencing.
The workshops’ sponsor WPCUG, which was founded in 1981, has members across Westchester, the Bronx, Fairfield and Putnam counties. Information on its 15 workshops, events and general meeting each month is available at www.wpcug.org. The club is a registered non-profit that serves as a sounding board for practical knowledge about personal technology hardware and software.
In his Photo Editing workshop, Iscaro often discusses the latest editing software, providing a personal critique of strengths, weaknesses and usefulness. One of his new finds is a software called Luminar for its sky replacement capability that can easily substitute a blue sky or a brilliant
a sunset in place of gray clouds in a landscape shot.
“On top of that, it re-lights the whole scene to match the new sky automatically,” Iscaro observed. He adds that touchup software for mobile phone photos is often free, while editing computer software needs to be purchased, though typically is inexpensive.
“Photo Editing” delves into organizing/navigation, correcting colors, sharpening images, editing/cropping, fixing overexposed or underexposed images and even altering original image shapes. Further, Iscaro gives a lot of attention to touching up human faces such as fixing blemishes, whitening teeth, and softening harsh shadows and unsightly crow’s feet at the corner of eyes. For that, Iscaro says Luminar has AI (artificial intelligence)-driven software that eliminates skin blemishes automatically. Another favorite tool is an AI-driven patch tool.
“As the cursor passes over an area with a shadow line, it samples colors on both sides of the line and smooths out the dark areas and creases,” Iscaro said. “The same thing applies to blemishes. I present basic techniques that are simple to understand.”
A White Plains resident, Iscaro is retired from a 30-year career at a South Bronx high school where he taught photography, printing and other industrial arts. His interest in photos goes back more than half a century as a teenager personally developing black-and-white film—which then was the photo standard—and also making prints at a homemade darkroom.
The Turnbull’s workshop is more focused on picture taking and also problem-solving for attendees who bring in cameras, computers with photos and peripheral devices. Popular topics are understanding menu controls on cameras; organizing photos; implementing photo labeling systems; copying photos/albums to other devices such as laptops and thumb drives; and printing photos. A perennial piece of advice is “always read the owners’ manual,” says Allan Turnbull, speaking with a slight twang from his native Jamaica, as does his wife. “You might not understand it all, but you’ll pick up knowledge.”
Allan Turnbull took up photography in the 1970s and today works as part-time as self-employed professional photographer. He’s a retired New York City civil servant. Heather Turnbull is also retired, after working as a graphic artist at MetLife, running a day care business and teaching computers part-time at a grade school. They reside in Greenburgh along the Bronx River Parkway in Westchester County.
Heather Turnbull typically ends each workshop asking, “So did you learn anything new today?” She says that the positive responses from resolving many problems and questions brought by participants provides satisfaction for the volunteer work of running a WPCUG workshop.