26th March 2015: On Punctum and Studium and Round 3 of the ROC

Matthew Lord adjudicated round 3 of the 2014-2015, and the number of entries this year are well up on last in both print and digital categories. Quality is at the very least as good and I think this shows growing confidence within the club which itself is growing at a steady rate. If you haven’t put anything in yet, give it a go, you have nothing to lose and some feedback to gain to give you a start to think differently about your images. A club thanks to Matthew for his lively feedback and congratulations to those commended and placed.

 

Matthew talked about the way we look at a picture instinctively, though I would say culturally instinctively, because not all cultures have the same relation to space and the expectations of the artistic placement of objects within it, though most human’s seem to start top right when looking at an image. The brain discriminates (and tells you blatant lies, but that’s for another day), the camera cannot. The human eye/brain is not the same as the lens/sensor combination. Henri Poincare pointed out that the notion of space must be understood as a function of objects and all their relations, in photographic terms you can’t have an image without objects set in relation to each other.  It’s often been reported here that our judges and speakers say that the photograph should have only one story to tell. The simpler the shot the more impact it is likely to have.

 

Yes there are composition rules, we have frequently referred to the  thirdsfifthssevenths and the  “Golden ratio”, but composition (long video but very good and well worth putting time aside to watch), the punctum and the studium, isn’t restricted to this. Nor do they rule out simplicity. Simplicity comes with the fewest elements required to tell the story. Backgrounds can be problematic. They can give context, depth, even a certain tone. They can also provide too much information, confusing the subject with what it is set in, providing unfortunate growths like telegraph poles or trees.  It isn’t always possible to pull the subject from the background, for example when using a long telephoto focused at infinity at a foreground subject which is far enough away to register the rest of the foreground sharp. Nonetheless, as a general guide and something Matthew picked up on more than once, your image rarely suffers from it and the tighter you crop the more impact your main subject will have.

 

Colour blocks can also make effective compositional statements.  True individual tastes, perceptions and experiences affect the particular effect any given hue has on a person, but large blocks of solid colour in an image will almost certainly have an impact on the viewer. Blocks of complimentary colours can also have a powerful effect, think of the colour wheel and how colours interact. Again framing is an important factor in boosting impact.

 

Even if cropping the final image square, a personal favourite, the middle should be avoided, usually. This is because it is easy to unbalance a picture by making it static for the eye. The eye needs to move around the image for the brain to engage. By creating an off centre interest the eye will be drawn into space as a secondary motion. A fore middle and background is much stronger than a one or two element image. The eye looks for sign posts for direction and interest and will move long the former to stop at the latter before moving on. Lead lines are thus a very powerful element in composition. To work, however, they must all be a part of the story, or the eye will wander and the brain become confused as to what the story is (part of the reason is because the brain has an operational  necessity for lower power consumption and so pre-programming certain reactions saves time energy and processing power, a little off topic but if you’re interested see Daniel Khaneman). Of course this can be played around with.  Parallel lines can be a very bold statement, especially if shooting with a wide angle lens, even more so with a bit of Dutching

 

All in all  a fascinating evening and again, thanks to our judge Matthew Lord and to Mark O for his efforts and everyone else involved. A gallery of winners will be posted when available which we are unable to post for technical reasons.

 

 

A N N O U N C E M E N T S

Next week – Medieval Combat! http://www.medievalmartialarts.co.uk  Club members Ian Coombs, Danny Thomas, and Antony Bezer are bringing their mediaeval martial arts group to the club tonight for our latest practical session.

** Bring your camera & equipment ** **IMPORTANT** If you are attending this meeting you need to be aware that there will be rules set in place for your safety. ANYONE breaking those rules will be asked to leave the meeting immediately.

When: 19:30-22:00, Thu, 2nd April.

 

9th April: WCPF travelling critique. A show of the entrants to the WCPF salon.

 

16th April: Club Battle with Backwell.  This year at Backwell. See here for further details from Gerry: Backwell Battle.