I've thought off and on over the years about joining a camera club, but backed off for several different reasons -- 1. Meetings were always in another city and required driving thru traffic at night to attend. 2. I'd heard from members of some groups that clubs could be very formal and strict -- Robert's Rules of Order for meetings and strict guidelines for photo submissions -- didn't sound like me. 3. Some initial shyness.

Last week I decided to use the internet search engine (not supposed to say I "googled") to again look for camera clubs and I found a website called Meetup.com that lets people with all types of interests meet-up with other people of similar interests - for free. (!) I quickly found a camera club in my area that had been active for about a year. They had an online forum for messages about interesting places and events that folks might like to photograph and a calendar to give the date/time/location details. As I looked through the group description and the calendar of upcoming events, I found that members ranged from folks who recently got a new camera as well as pros who wanted to relax doing some shooting of subjects outside their usual field. No mention of Robert's Rules.

I sent in my request to join and received a friendly invite to join the next morning. Yesterday they had set up a meeting at a local historic site - a "Mystery Castle" built in the 1930's - 40's out of stone and spare parts by a man who came to Arizona when he found he was dying of T.B. (tuberculosis). His daughter still lives there and sells tours; we met in the parking lot, and we all talked while waiting for the gate to open. Everyone wandered about the site during and after the tour and chose what shots they wanted while conversing with the owner, tour guides and each other. When we were done, there was discussion about lunch and about half decided to go eat nearby. Casual conversation over Mexican food with topics ranging from spicy foods from other countries to the Nikon D3 that one of the guys just bought. Again - no Robert's Rules.

When I got home, I downloaded my card to Bridge, and did some post-processing, then uploaded some to the club's area on Meetup. A couple of other members had already uploaded about 18 images, and by tonight, there are about 75 images for everyone to enjoy. A couple of members uploaded some shots of other members, so I even have some help in learning their names.