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BCA News: Summer 2016

BIOCOMM 2016 – For the Records

by Susanne Loomis, MS, FBCA
Vice President, BioCommunications Association

BIOCOMM 2016 is now in the records and as far as I'm concerned it was one of the best we've had. From the amazing photos of BioImages 2016 to the breathtaking imaging of Louie Schwartzberg, from Al Bello's setups for capturing a moment in time, to Betsy Skrip's breakdown of online course creation, we assimilated an abundant amount of information.

Congratulations to all the entries that were judged and accepted into BioImages. As always they show how remarkable our profession is.

Al BelloThe variety of speakers was impressive. Al Bello started Tuesday off by reminding me that every photographer could learn from every other photographer no matter what the subject. His lighting techniques and stop action photography was outstanding. His thought process and ideas on how to get the best image for that moment was inspiring. The next time you have a shoot, step back and think outside the box, it works.

Matthew Breitbart, a first time speaker and attendee, let us see some of the scientific forensic identification techniques that the National Museum of Health and Medicine uses in documenting its vast collection.

Katharine Hanlon, another first time speaker and attendee, started off a great session on 3D image acquisition and 3D printing by showing us how her group makes silicone skin overlays to help the surgeon decide the best surgical procedure of tissue expansions for each child.

Derek Mathers continued the theme of 3D imaging by leading a mini symposium on 3D Medicine. Derek gave us the basics of how a 3D printer works and the different types of materials used as well as discussing how we can use them. Jesse Knowles discussed the new improvements to 3D body surface image capture software and cameras, and how they can be used to create a 3D model. Leslie Karpas continued the symposium with a view of what is possible and what is happening now in the world of 3D printing. Severine Valdant-Zygmont showed us some fascinating ways that her company is helping patients with implants made with materials that the body doesn't reject. Amazing things are happening in 3D imaging!

Matt KloskowskiWednesday morning was great with Matt Kloskowski leading the way. He discussed important aspects and lessons learned that help us reach not only the level of enjoyment and success in our photography, but in life too. After lunch Matt went on to discuss the use of Lightroom as the major tool to prep images. It was good to see what we can and cannot do in the program. We then gave him some images to "tweak". It was nice to see how far we can push our digital darkroom.

Wednesday night some of us braved the wilds of New Orleans and went bug hunting with Zach Lemann at the Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center. Zach is a very energetic and knowledgeable entomologist. He was hopping all over the woods finding us spiders and other insects of the night. We had a great time photographing the insects and listening to the parliament of owls welcoming us to their neighborhood.

Thursday morning started with a great talk from Paul Compton on how the Phoenix Project uses digital storytelling in describing the work that is done by the organization and how it has helped the people of Namibia in "Reducing poverty: Promoting health." We then walked down to the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium. It was a fascinating tour from eating chocolate chip bug cookies, having butterflies landing on shoulders and heads, to viewing beautifully colored insects from all over the world. The short film in the theater was quite fun too.

In the afternoon Kathleen Velo and Chip Hedgcock took us up and down the Colorado River via underwater photograms and lumen prints. The haunting underwater photograms made me wonder about the health of the Colorado River and the flora and fauna it feeds. Next Jim Wetzel took us back to college. Jim had us extracting gametes from sea urchins then watched them grow from egg and sperm to a multiple-celled embryo. It was an interesting look at basic in vitro fertilization.

After dinner we gathered for a treat of ice cream sundaes to watch an amazing movie by Louie Schwartzberg and narrated by Meryl Streep. The movie called Wings of Life shows how humans depend on a love affair between flowers and bees, butterflies, birds and bats. The beauty of the animals and flowers along with the amazing cinematography made for great experience and reminded us of how fragile our world really is and how balance is a delicate dance.

Friday was the last day but it was packed with great information and fun. Cliff Brewer, John Lemanski and David Coleman discussed the usefulness of DSLR video in a medical setting. It allows for a still photographer to cover areas of video production with a fairly simple setup. John also showed us how they designed an apparatus that can be used in the surgical suite and Dave walked one of us through a mock video production. Keven Siegart took us all to Ireland and discussed how he produced the documentary "A Proper Pint." Keven talked about equipment used, setups, shooting strategies and marketing. He had some great ideas that could be used by any media group in producing a sellable product.

Connie Johansen's talk was about mobile development and what needs to be considered when designing user interfaces. Responsive web design, the page look, type of images, colors and fonts are just a few of the considerations to think about.Betsy Skrip discussed the development of online courses for scientific/medical visualization. Betsy led us through the creation from videos, illustrations, and animations to interviews and fieldtrips. In the end they produced a 6-week course on making biologics for patients. It is an amazing insight into the future of on-line learning and college curriculums.

Louie Schwartzberg ended this great meeting with the Anne Shiras Pioneer Lecture. Louie has had and is having an unbelievable journey into the beautiful world of nature through cinematography. He believes that through discovery we humans see nature's beauty and fall in love with it and we inherently protect what we love. Life is a wonder of color, simplicity and beauty when we open our eyes to it.

We began the meeting with an array of new and exciting topics and techniques to explore. We concluded the meeting with the traditional Honors Banquet. It was time to engage with new and old friends, honor Chip Hedgcock, RBP, FBCA, Jim Koepfler, FBCA, Jeb Zirato, FBCA, Alan Goldstein, FBPA, Karen Hensley, FBCA, and Nancy Hurtgen and enjoy a fine dinner. The meeting was the best of both worlds!

Providing educational resources to the biological communication community is part of BCA's mission and another long time tradition. With that in mind, we invited Ken Meats to videotape all of the presentations. Ken will be editing those videos and posting several on BCA's YouTube channel over the next few months. Stay tuned!

On to next year and the hope for everyone - a great end of summer.

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