Reflex Open Competition Digital Image Round 1 Winners
Thursday saw us eagerly anticipating the results of the first round of the Reflex Open Competition (from now on just called the ROC as I’m too lazy to type all that out every time). What most members didn’t know is that the day before the Judge we had booked backed out due to illness! It has to be one of the things most Club Competition Secretaries dread. Unfortunately we couldn’t find a replacement before the meeting so we were going to go with giving everyone a piece of paper and getting them to mark each image. Then luckily for us, not for him, Simon Caplan walked through the door. Under no pressure whatsoever, honest, he volunteered to judge the images for us. Maybe he should of asked how many had been submitted before he agreed as he soon discovered cold judging 77 images isn’t the easiest thing in the world. So I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Simon on behalf of everyone for stepping up and putting himself in the firing line.
A small reminder of some of the rules
Before I give you the results I’d just like to remind you all of some of the rules for entering the ROC. The website has a dedicated page just for the ROC which you can find here.
- Your digital files MUST be named correctly or they will not be entered.
- They must begin with a number sequence of 01, 02 or 03.
- Then you MUST use a SINGLE underscore _ . The underscore is normally found by using shift on the minus key of your keyboard.
- Then you type the title of your image followed by a SINGLE underscore.
- Finally enter your Membership Number. If you don’t know your membership number you can ask the Membership Secretary or the Club Treasurer
- All files must be in JPG format and should be saved in the sRGB Colour Space
- Maximum image size is 1400 pixels wide and 1050 pixels in height
- If you submit PRINTS you MUST submit a digital copy of that print
Here are a few examples of correctly named image files:
01_My Wonderful Image_251.jpg
02_My Wonderful Image_251.jpg
03_My Wonderful Image_251.jpg
PRINT_My Wonderful Image_251.jpg
And Now For the Winners
Showing Off Again
Reflex Camera Club Exhibition at Southmead Hospital
No the title isn’t about Myk. It’s the title of our brand new exhibition at Southmead Hospital, Bristol.
On Wednesday myself and Myk drove out to Southmead to deliver the clubs framed prints. We were told to head to the delivery bay which nearly resulted in us paying an impromptu visit to the Maternity Unit but just in time we realised that Delivery Suite means a totally different thing at a Hospital! However we did manage to find the right spot and amazingly even managed to get a parking space right outside. If you’ve been to Southmead Hospital recently you’ll know exactly how difficult that is as their new car park isn’t open yet.
Up they go
Once we had the images inside we unwrapped them and the team from the Hospital laid them out and hung them up on the wall. Below you can see some images we took of them being hung and the finished look. The new location is in the main atrium and is very prominent. Anyone walking through that part of the Hospital has to go right past them. So they should be looked at by Hundreds if not Thousands of people each week.
If you want to go take a look then just head on over and walk in. Richard Price’s Poppy Image was chosen to star on the leaflets they are printing to advertise the Exhibition and its going to run until sometime in January (we haven’t been given an exact end date yet).
So head on over and take a look at our members wonderful images!
We are coming to the end of another amazing year in the life of Reflex Camera club. Sadly we have lost a few members but have gladly welcomed many more. I would ask you all to look back on this season and ask 2 questions
- What have I got out of the club ?
- What have I put into the club ?
Membership is about ‘BEING A PART OF “and I would like all members to ensure they are a part of the club next season.
How can you do this ????
ATTENDANCE – every £1.00 helps – PARTICIPATION – in events and competitions – SHARING – your skills and expertise
The more we all put into the club – the more we can all get out of it .
See you all in our New Venue for another fantastic season.
Below is a letter from Maurice explaining to you what will be happening to us when the school moves to its new building.
To keep you in the picture (pun not intended).
Last week I had a meeting at St Anne’s school to discuss how our future Reflex meetings will continue after the school moves. As a committee we would have preferred to stay at the same school when the infants take it over. Having discussed this at length with the school it will not be possible to stay at the old school, this is because the car park that we use now is going to be redeveloped into a soft play area. This means that we will not be able to drive over it, and there is also a possibility of oil drips.
The existing school want us to move with them, they have no problem with us, and compliment us on our tidiness and the way that we exit the building. I have seen the plans of the new school, the facilities are superb. Although we may not use it, there is a projector with surround sound in the main hall. There would be a choice of two halls, a kitchen, obviously toilets, but also a storage facility (so Roy & Alex won’t need to climb anymore).
Hire rates would remain the same because we are existing tenants. The school is due to become an Academy at the end of the year, this will require a meeting with the governing body in order to renegotiate.
The only issue as we already know is the parking. There will be between 22 to 26 parking places, a few more if we double up. The overflow would be on the road, or I will go to the building to the left of the school to ask if we can use their parking places out of hours.
There is an open day coming up in July, and I will be notified of the date. I will inform the Committee when this is due to in order to attend.
I hope this gives you some information regarding the move, and I will give you more when the committee have met after seeing the new school.
Chairman, Reflex Camera Club
So there you have it. We will be moving once again although this time to a brand new building with excellent facilities and as soon as we know the date of the move or get any more information we will let you know.
The new school is located on Wick Road where the old Community Centre used to be. Here’s a Google Map with the new location marked.
So second entry on our brand new website’s blog – Mark Stone a huge club thank you for all the work you have put into this – and it’s Dan Thomas (dannyt.co.uk) on the profession of wedding photographer. If I were to sum up Dan’s advice on the subject then I would use Winston Churchill’s maxim, “He who fails to plan, plans to fail”. Well that and the observation that your wedding video should always be played backwards so as to guarantee a happy ending.
In essence Dan made the point that there are a number of moments of truth that can be prepared for in the day because they are in the programme and as a supplier to the event it is your job to find out the who, the what, the why, the where, the when and the how it feels and record those memories – and when he says day he means a 12-14 hour shift shooting, three times that in post processing plus time consulting with the bride and groom, and the venues. That doesn’t include time spent in sales and marketing in what is a very competitive market. Yell has 141 listings of wedding photographers within a ten mile radius of Bristol. Even allowing for some multiple listings that is still a lot of competition.
It is the Bride and Grooms day, well, culturally it is the Bride’s day and the Groom does well to turn up at the right venue and look suitably grateful a lot of the time. Surprise weddings are not a large feature of the UK market, those that occur are usually small, attended by the father of the bride and his trusty 12 bore as best man. A lot of, sometimes a life time’s, planning goes into this event. On that basis the wedding photographer does not just turn up at the church take a few snaps and wonder off to the next event as already outlined. This planning forms the key points of the photographer’s and increasingly the videographer’s schedule. Dan stressed that these are unique moments that need careful planning and deft handling. Primarily this is about people, two in particular for sure, but also about everyone else. There will be a certain cohort of the families, possibly once close, who only get to meet at weddings and funerals. The day is important for them too for different reasons and sometimes with grandparents it might be the last time the whole family is together. It is not just a record of bits and pieces but a significant life event. For most people it involves being the centre of attention with an intensity that is not experienced elsewhere. Unless that 12 bore “accidently” discharges. Then there will be lots of photographers and lots of flash photography outside the Crown Court.
The basis of execution, then, is in its preparation. The wedding photographer is a supplier not an organiser, s/he does not run the day as a photo-shoot of wedding dresses might be run, s/he is not the point of the day but they are the key to unlocking the memories of it. It is a story and the photographer is the story teller. It is NOT a small job. A wedding, even a relatively simple one, has a timetable for everything. The photographer knows that timetable and those venues inside out because they dictate what s/he is going to be doing the whole day.
The question of gear was addressed. Dan expressed the reasons behind his kit list: D800; back up body; 24-70 f2.8; 70-210 f2.8; 85mm f1.8; 2 x SB 900 TTL flashguns; Coolpix compact; USB lead; Lap Top; external drive; i-Pad; batteries; battery charger; light meter; flash filters; lots and lots of 16gb flash drives; all kept in a photo-rucksack and shoots in RAW. That is RAW, not JPEG. RAW. The camera backs up to JPEG simultaneously on a separate card but Dan shoots in RAW. This gives the maximum image rescue capacity in case of the unexpected. For one offs such as these where there is not time to go back and shoot again getting the maximum amount of information recorded by the sensor onto the card makes sense. That is shoot in RAW, in case you missed the point. The rest of the kit list is optional and set by individual preferences and experience. The kit is not cheap because it has to work and still carry a back up where ever opportune. Dan shoots all his wedding events in RAW. Dan doesn’t feel the need for anything below a 24mm (16mm equivalent on a 1.5x crop), it is superfluous to the way he shoots and details are only really isolated at wider angles by getting really close – too close for the comfort of the subjects which is the point and beyond that is really very specialist and quite divides opinion. You want results you have to engage with your clients and right in their faces is not going to be very productive.
Details, details, details. Everything is in the detail. It is the small things that matter, because everything is designed around the small details and when the couple view these pictures over time those details enrich the memory and value of the day. Details can be where the cost of a wedding really begins to ramp up. Pay them the respect of an individual frame or two each because they all add up to something much bigger. As Napoleon Bonaparte, who built and lost and Empire on details and detailed planning, said, “Time spent in reconnaissance is never wasted” (only he said it in French). Reconnoitre the venues, get to know the key people, find out what is and what is not permissible BEFORE it gets to be a problem. Dan pointed out that trading and collaborating with the other suppliers can lead to other business. You really want to avoid extreme angles where you can unless a particular shot calls for it, but that needs to be a pre-planned event. Context is the key to all these details. The context will tell their part in the story so keep the context in mind.
The day usually starts with the bride getting ready. This is going to take some time and she is going to look the best she ever will hereafter. As Dan pointed out, if a male you are likely the only male in the room and have been privileged specifically for the end of making everything exciting and memorable. Take some time and make time to take the moment seriously – gravitas! The people around and her own reactions are the key things to capture, the context of the details you are framing and shooting. It is important to be relaxed, to interact and not to overshoot. Get the angles and vary your lenses and do not be afraid to wait for the moment – it will take longer to arrive than you think! And of course do not forget the dress. This should be done as an item by itself in as sympathetic a background as you can make and make sure you do not clutter your background with irrelevant detail. You may be fond of the colour yellow but a finely and painstakingly wrought garment like a wedding dress is not enhanced against the background of a skip. Pay great attention to the background and de-clutter! Dan’s pithy advice is to treat the details as exercises in real life. These can be and should be practiced because when you are being paid for it you are being paid to have it sorted before you turn up. The same logic applies to us amateurs. Why waste time missing shots when you can practise using your equipment to get it right when you want it?
On the grooms side the grooms men and the best man in particular – DO get the picture of the ring before it is on the brides finger – generally have a lot less pressure and detail to attend to. I am told, with authority, that this is because they are male and the day itself does not need to be complicated by such things for us as thinking. That is why there is so much planning to do to minimise the amount of thinking the groom has to do and the reason there is a best man is that between them they are likely to turn up at the right place at the more or less appointed time (which is way before the bride appears – a wide safety margin is the norm). Make sure you are there to be able to document that side too. The path of two committed individuals coming together to make one path ahead. In order for that story to be told the story lines have to converge at the ceremony, the place where two paths become one.
At the ceremony itself, which of course holds no surprises because you have seen the schedule, visited the venues and interviewed the participants like the person conducting the service, you should arrive at least 30 minutes before its commencement. Flash photography is likely banned, you are not going to be given access to places where you are going to get in the way – determine, and if necessary negotiate these in advance – and that can be as much a perception as anything else. This is the point where you are likely to get the closest friends and relatives and a good time for group shots. These are the people that are going to be obvious by their absence from the album so take some extra effort. Groups should be ranked from shortest to the tallest and everyone should be visible (as per the group shot at the end of the session!).
After the ceremony, the traditional confetti shots, get guests to throw the confetti upwards so that it falls from the top of the frame. Dan also mentioned that this is a good time to use manual focus as autofocus can get confused by the paper in the air. The reception can be some distance from the ceremony and this is where timings are important. It is a good time to get the couple on their own for intimate shots whilst the guests make their way to the reception, so a small detour, to a local landmark for instance, might be in order. At the reception Dan follows the bride as a back up to any other plans having been made. It is always prudent, he reckons, to make sure that the elder generation are well represented as there is a chance that this might be their last big family occasion and of course do not forget the cake.
Private moments are important, there will be intimate moments of connection and they will yield excellent photo opportunities. If there is a receiving line then allow 30 seconds per guest – make time! It is also prudent to have wet and dry weather scenarios. The wedding breakfast is the ideal time to get your shots backed up. A laptop/external drive or other device should always be on hand. Dan also uses an i-Pad to upload several of the best shots of the ceremony as a taster and places it where it will be seen by circulating guests – the bar is a good place!
The practical thing about the first dance is that it is going to be darker than a lot of the other parts of the ceremony. Push the ISO (noise reduction is available through Photoshop or programmes like Neat Image which has a very effective demo version), use flash as necessary – reflected not direct. Direct flash is harsh and unflattering. Think wide medium and close shots. The devil, as they say, is in the detail. The details let you control as much as you can without getting in the way by using your knowledge to anticipate and prepare. If you fail to prepare then you are preparing to fail and that has large implications and not just for the photographer. The other key is to be able to relate to your subjects, to engage with them in such a way that they respond to what needs to be done to get the shot. In return you should make it a chore for them, but, either way, every wedding is a one off event – there are no second chances!
Our thanks to Dan for a very interesting and informative evening and to Mark O’Grady for the video which Dan will make available to club members through his website.
We’ve switched the old Blog off and are now no longer connected at all with the old hosting which means we should no longer have such slow load times. The old url (www.reflexcc.org.uk) is still active, and will remain so until sometime in 2016! But it will take people to our new site at www.reflexcameraclub.co.uk. The new Blog, your reading it now, can be found at www.blog.reflexcameraclub.co.uk.
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Signing up for the Blog is easy
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This week I am going to stick my neck out a long way. It is always interesting to see what other photographers have put their effort into if only to sort what you like and dislike. The trick is to sort out what exactly you see in the image that you like or dislike and then to decide how you would use it. This last bit is the most important for us as developing photographers. The WCPF Travelling Critique is an excellent resource and it was good to get fellow members views on some of those prints. These are the ones that were accepted but didn’t make it into the top 100, so why do you think? I am going to use the blog this week to try and build something you might want to consider when looking critically at a photograph (or a number of other things). There is more than one way, and this is not (emphasis on not) about how to become a judge, see the WCPF for those details. Feel free to disagree and use the discussion options on the blog to tell me how wrong I am and where and why.
Susan Sontag (1933-2004), critic and one of the foremost on photography wrote: “Mallarme said that everything in the world exists in order to end in a book. Today everything exists to end in a photograph” and there were a wide variety of topics covered by the photographers who entered the WCPF Open, but to take the book metaphor a little further, not all of them told a story. Story is an important part of photography, it is rarely, if ever, just about the content of the photograph as you could write in a shopping list. It is the interconnectedness of the whole thing, its construction. So 100 photographs, 100 stories? Well I have already stated that to be not quite the effect, but there are two sides to each story/image, the teller and the viewer. “To photograph is to confer importance” – Sontag again, but that importance isn’t always shared by the viewer.
To illustrate from my own and some shared observations from other members as we went around. There was one print that I just failed to get the point of – as did several other members from the discussion around me. There were a couple of other prints that close up didn’t have the impact they promised at a distance. One I glanced at on a side table when the main lights were out and it was being lit from an acute angle by the light on the picture stand several feet away and it worked really well, as if there were multiple faces staring out. In an even light it was flat. One of a black and white subject would have been better (if a little ironically) rendered in colour because it’s focal point was an eye which would be big and brown and contrast to the monochrome represented in the rest of the frame. The blacks weren’t black enough and the whites a shade of grey to my eyes. The eye, the focal point from the title of the work, instead of being deep and vibrant, was soulless.
On the other hand: John Long ARPS DPAGB image “Dennis And His Bowl” had more depth to its tones the more you looked; Gill Cardy ARPS DPAGB AFIAP “Japanese Crane Dance” was the best of the wild life photography for me and Hanneke at least agreed with me on that one; Sheila Haycox ARPS DPAGB AFIAP ” Despair” I thought very atmospheric and I was struck by the shapes mirrored in window and figure; the composition, strong and simple and colour contrast shown by Martin Horton in “Passing The Pieta” I thought arresting and Mike Martin’s “Stair Light” I would happily hang on my wall. If you are now convinced that I shouldn’t be allowed near a keyboard unless heavily medicated, great! What is it about those images that makes you disagree?
I am not going to look at the technical aspects, that can be done better by others and is covered by the events we do over the year, thanks to the committee. The rules are not hard and fast but they should be mastered before we start to break them. So I am going to take for granted that the image: Is in focus and on the most appropriate part of the picture; that dust and marks have been cloned out (clean the lens and sensor regularly, even better!) and exposure is appropriate.
So, as someone who likes photography and who wants to understand more of it by making my own, it’s necessary that I don’t just suspend my judgement at the point of my initial reaction (though usually the strongest). The most powerful word in the whole of education is because (I don’t do humble opinions in case you hadn’t guessed). That is how we make the links between things, by applying our inner critic, by stating because …. There is a Japanese proverb that goes something along the lines of “If you want to know the answer ask, five times, why?” which is a very good place to start – five is an approximate number but in practise never less than three. That is the route to take after you have your initial reaction.
If you are in want of a metaphor for this whole process, think of a funnel. A funnel restricts the path of whatever passes through it to a defined point. Criticism of a piece of work should do the same. If it doesn’t it’s not the work but the criticism that is incomplete. Sort out what it is you like and what it is you dislike about the image. Make notes, mental or otherwise. These are great places to make the next steps on the journey and they can be used to improve your own images too. What we are sorting out is what we feel about an image and why. Yes it is subjective and certain (breakable) technical rules about framing, exposure and focussing aside, this is a subjective exercise. Very small things can take an OK photograph to a good one when executed well. This photograph makes me feel ….. because …..
Then is the time to look at how you react to those technical subjects, the ones I have listed above plus things like the use of colour (or not) and the thing that is so important to photography that it is named after it, the light (strength, direction, balance, colour). Ask yourself, “So what”?
There has been a lot of hot air generated over whether photography is an art or a craft, I would argue both. For me there is an art in all crafts and all art is manufactured. There is a connection between the nine linen panels of the Bayeux Tapestry (actually it’s an embroidery) and Robert Capa’s eleven surviving images from Omaha Beach (10 were published) but it isn’t in materials, scale, production time or production values and the big story, Norman Conquest, D-Day Landings respectively, wasn’t the artists to own but was there’s to tell. The way they tell it (please, no Frank Carson jokes at the back) is the art. Its balancing of the elements the craft. How does this photographer choose to represent this subject? Does it come across as a considered, thoughtful treatment or is it casually selected? That matters because …? It focuses the attention on ….? which is important because …? Would this image work better in black and white/colour? Why …? because …? Why do you think the photographer made the choice to use/not use colour/black and white? What do you feel about that? How is it cropped? Is the composition classical? Does it follow the rule of thirds? or the rule of fifths? (basically for landscapes, but works on the face too, I am told) or did they/you go to art school/ good at maths/have watched every episode of QI and cunningly employ the Golden Ratio? What effect does it have …? Because…? How does the arrangement of objects in the frame give energy to the story? Because…?
Now you have enough material to make your decision about the photograph and importantly, you can say with some confidence why it works or doesn’t work for you. This is important for us as developing photographers. Other people’s work is as important as our own at the very least (no, make that more important if we want to develop our own) if we want to get past the click-go-happy accident form of photography we probably joined a photographic club to get away from. The next step is to take all this and decide what you would do to improve it by way of everything else you have looked at. This would work because …?
Now in a more formal setting, one where you report back to an audience either directly or in writing (this goes for any topic, not just photography) you would need to feed all this information back. If you find yourself in this situation don’t just repeat what you have already said, summarise it and use the things you have discovered because you have asked yourself because (or so what) as the conclusive points. Take it from someone who has sat through thousands (maybe tens of thousands) of presentations, it makes a big difference.
A really big thanks to Julie and Ian for their efforts last night, much appreciated.
Here endeth the lesson. Over to you ….
Next week … Wedding photography … you only get one chance to get it right!
This Blog was written by Ian G.
We’ve just posted it a little differently due to some upcoming changes to our website (more details on that soon!)