Member Adrian Cooke took us through some of his favourite landscape pictures last meeting and his presentation was well received by the members. We are now regularly fielding 40+ at each meeting and that has something, a lot, actually, to do with the programme. In the words of Butler and Yeats, “A good thing”. Active members mean a healthy club.
Adrian shoots a lot of landscape photography, he has a lot of it on his door step, nonetheless the fact that he showed us a wide variation of images of the same landscapes just goes to prove that no two images are ever the same, even when the subject is identical (Maybe). Adrian showed some scanned slide film images among the purely digital images and the colours were quite different in comparison. Now there are a whole lot of technical issues in scanning slides to digital, and the image sensor may not have the same dynamic range as the (negative) film, and just how much information you can get on film as opposed to a modern sensor, the way that each respective medium records light, standardisation of results, and a swathe of other pros and cons constantly rumble around like a number of other technical questions that seem to get in the way of people making pictures. None of those, and all of them, are my point. It is refreshing to sit back and rediscover some of the features that many people now can’t appreciate because they have never been exposed to the processes nor the outcomes. Sometimes I suspect that the memory of those images is superior to their physical reality. One day I will go for a rummage in the attic to find out. These technicalities were hurdles and barriers to entry, the number of photographs taken was exponentially smaller, but the role of mastery has not changed. Just the size, number and relative cost of the spanners it takes to make even a poor image.
Not that Adrian’s images suffered in the quality category, familiarity and technique were in evidence aplenty. Perhaps the most consistent point to come across was the importance of the focal point. There are a number of ways to promote the (usually single) focal point. With landscapes it is generally held that greater depth of field is desirable but, nonetheless the question still remains what is the focal point and where in the frame am I going to put it. Yep we are back to the thirds, fifths, sevenths and “Golden ratio” , so I will move on. The f-stop isn’t the only way of highlighting the focal point. Careful use of, or observation of, contrast and shapes will also do it, as, of course making it the largest thing in the picture (OK, obvious, but worth mentioning). It also helps with not providing too many points for the eye to rest on, and thereby confusing things, and that is less likely to happen if there are fewer places to fill them with.
The eyes journey around the image is important. The photographer creates that journey and the elements within it make up the story. As was stated at the judging of the last round of the ROC, for a photograph to really make an impact it really should be telling one story and one story only. As Adrian implied, these images don’t just happen they are created. Another feature of Adrian’s photographs were the role that lines play in the journey we make around each image through the use of horizontal, vertical, diagonal and converging lines in making patterns to give impressions of depth and scale or leading to the focal point.
Timing is also important. Adrian related how he tended to shoot towards sunset, though there were a good few early mornings represented in his presentation. This is the period of the “Golden Hour“, where the light has a different quality to that of the rest of the day and for which The Photographers Ephemaris is a great tool. Almost by implication this brings in the idea of longer exposures, which have effects of their own, pretty much demand the use of a tripod, for lower ISO settings tend to give better results with less noise but increase the problems surrounding camera shake. Almost counter intuitively this allows for the capture in motion, especially of water and clouds. Adrian discussed using ND filters to cut down the light and ND grads to help even out the exposure (back to dynamic range again – the range of lighting that a sensor or film can represent. Of course it helps when you don’t confuse your Infra Red Filter for your big stopper ND filter as I did on Sunday (apologies to Dan Ellis who I leant it to) but then there is something there about labelling things. Or in this case not loosing your filters. Maybe I should take note. Also Dan discussed the use of a polarising filter (and when to use one) and certainly this can have a quite dramatic effect on skies and cut down on reflections when the light comes in from the side. And of course not just limited to landscape.
Adrian’s presentation provided a thoughtful and thought provoking refresher on landscape photography, and the club thanks him for his time and effort. Next meeting we have a speaker, who will talk about editing and take us through the process using some pictures from the club. Marko Nurminem has worked at the “Very high end” in editing images, including for previous speaker Damien Lovegrove. See the link RCC EVENTS Feb_05_15 Marko Nurminen_No_Images for more information.
A N N O U N C E M E N T S
A reminder from Dan Ellis about the Ask The Club session. Get your questions in by 12th February, either via FB or the forms you can get from the table where the register is kept on club nights.
Busy week with the Club battle versus Bristol Photographic Society on Wednesday and an interesting and well explained substitute evening from Adrian Herring ARPS DPAGB and Vanessa Herring LRPS from the Kingswood Club and their month long trip to Uganda standing in for our own Simon Caplin who was ill. Get well soon Simon.
BPS first. The camera battle was the third battle of the evening for those who attended. First there was the weather, which was atrocious, then there was the perennial how-do-you-park-in-Clifton Village? followed by the club evening camera battle judged by Sandie Cox ARPS, CPAGB and WCPF Members Exhibition Secretary. May I extend a club thanks to all those involved, to our hosts who were most gracious (and victorious) to Sandie for her detailed feedback and obvious, detailed, preparation and to the committees of both clubs for making it happen. RCC extend our best wishes for their upcoming move to Montpelier, where the premises are more capacious and the access easier (you can even get there on the train!).
The final score was BPS 335 v RCC 285, a wider margin than a year ago when the scores were BPS 366 v RCC 331. The two club sets were varied and natural history (Sandie’s RPS panel subject and one where she has particularly strong feelings, unsurprisingly), travel, street, and art all proved popular categories. Sandie’s other great love is for monochrome which wasn’t widely represented this year and as she said herself, for a particular sort of monochrome. BPS had 9 images scored at between 18 and 20, RCC 2 and the distribution of marks was between 13 and 20 for BPS and 11 and 18 RCC. Last year it was 15 and 3 respectively in the 18-20 marks and the range was between 16-20 (BPS) and 14-18 (RCC). Overall it was an enjoyable evening to brave the elements on and here’s looking forward to the 2016 battle!
|Pandoras Box||Barry Mead||18|
|In Step||Derwood Pamphilon||16|
|Common Darter||Rich Price||12|
|Waxwing on Berry||Mary Pears||16|
|Dancer in her Final Pose||Julia Simone||17|
|Forest Giants at Dawn||Steve Taylor||14|
|Vicars Close||Mark Stone||14|
|Red in the Pocket||Greg Duncan||13|
|Puffin and Catch||Geoff Morgan||16|
|Gull Feeding on Flies Mono Lake||Val Duncan||17|
|Red Nose Band||Barry Mead||18|
|British Summer||Eddie House||15|
|Riding High||Greg Duncan||18|
|Knock-out Punch||Julia Simone||14|
|That 80’s Feeling||EddieDeponeo||15|
|Pallas Bat||John Hudson||15|
|Going for the Basket||Val Duncan||18|
|Wish I was out there||Geoff Morgan||18|
|Namib Storm Approaching||John Chamberlin||20|
|Working Together||Greg Duncan||20|
|Judge Sandie Cox ARPS CPAG||335||285|
So, on to the Herring’s adventures in Uganda. A recent month-long trip to Uganda to see not only the country but also the work of the organisation run by Vanessa’s cousin, Soft Power, and operating in Jinja. Some miles were certainly put in and the huge variety that Uganda encompasses was on show in a vibrant projected and print presentation that filled the evening. Adrian and Vanessa’s skill and experience was obvious and whereas we would all do slightly different things with the same opportunity, something they showed with the occasional different view of the same subject, it is the individual interpretation of the rules of composition, storytelling and angle that make a different story for the viewer and the photographer as we have examined over the evenings, activities and posts of this season.
As with Kev and Rich’s presentation on Iceland last season, the key to the Herring’s successful trip was planning and deliberation. In order to make something worthwhile happen they had to be open to what was going on around them, but also needed a direction and purpose. We come across the idea of serendipity again.
The Adrian and Vanessa took a couple of telephoto zoom lenses with them amongst their kit and that introduces a fundamental question about what you need to take when you travel, and there appear to be two opposing schools of thought here. The debate about the merits of the Prime Lens v The Zoom Lens is as old as the zoom lens. Weight, size and maximum aperture definitely lie with the fixed lens. Speed in framing, where you would have to physically move or change lenses to better frame the shot and therefore general flexibility lie with the zoom. Prime lenses also tend to be sharper, especially at the wider apertures and cheaper because there are less moving parts and less glass in their construction.
Some of the advantages of primes over older zoom lenses, especially the early ones are beginning to be eroded. F5.6 seems to be increasingly a leveller when it comes to sharpness and image stabilisation, where fitted, certainly is found a lot lower in the price range of zoom lenses than primes (for a reason). That means you can be more flexible in the use of your ISO because good results are available with lower shutter speeds than without an IS or VR option (Image Stabilisation is the same as Vibration Reduction). You pays your money and you takes your choice, but one other factor to consider is the type of photography you are going to indulge in. Smaller, lighter, less intrusive will almost certainly win out in street photography, but with faster moving subjects, the ones where the relation to the photographer are constantly changing, especially from foreground to background, the zoom option will give the opportunity of more shots taken. That’s potentially more. No guarantees of quality in quantity. There’s just a bit more to making a keeper.
The upshot of these considerations is that you need to plan. The glass you have is the glass you take in most cases, not least because this can be an expensive hobby and laying out on new kit constantly isn’t either affordable nor particularly desirable – for most of us. Get to know the equipment you have well. Don’t, as I have written about before, itinerate to the minute, so much can be lost by trying to pack too much in. You want to avoid, I suggest, the feeling of being on a touristic production line. The Herrings mentioned several times the uses of local guides and local knowledge, especially if it can help with being navigating around and even avoiding the worst in popular areas (and sometimes not-so-populated) and they plainly took their time in engaging with local people and volunteers on the project they visited and helped with. This pays dividends when you are travelling – and even when you’re not, the same goes for street and environmental, studio, modelling, well you get the idea.
So our thanks to the Herrings for an interesting evening. Next meeting Rich is giving a talk on the use of colour space. Here is a little something on gamut and colour space by way of introduction, if that isn’t something familiar to you.
Don’t forget the club Flikr page competition. This month the topic is COLD.
Closing Date for next round of the ROC is Thursday 22nd.