Robert Harvey BA (Hons) ARPS EFIAP treated us to Landscapes for all Seasons on the Feast of St Patrick. Starting with a straw poll as to which was the clubs favourite season for landscapes, apparently it is always Autumn, Robert took us through a wide variety of seasonal landscapes, features and how he captured them in a richly illustrated, wide ranging evening.
Although the camera basics are fairly well established, let’s call this the science, for taking landscapes, as ever the art has more to it than just pointing and shooting (for which f11 and focus two steps – 5 feet – in front of your 18-50mm kit lens set at 18mm. Gets everything in focus from 2’6″ (0.75m) up to infinity; works from 6 feet (well 5′ 9″) with a 24mm lens on a full frame. See the 30 July 15 blog post for an explanation of hyperfocal distance) of knowing your subject, knowing the conventions, knowing the sort of things that only practice really ever teaches. The art of knowing lies in critical observation and informed practice, often known as reflective practice, and Robert has 25 years photographic experience as well as a background as a natural scientist to draw on.
That doesn’t mean the rest of us should pack up and go home, but it does contain a general principle we can all adhere to. When we take the camera out we do so with a purpose. That isn’t to say we should squeeze all the fun out of it, that we can only take the camera out of the bag to conduct our photography with serious academic intent. We need to recognise that any photograph is the sum of the decisions the photographer has made about his/her relative position to a subject in a given environment. More of this in a minute.
Landscape photographs do have their own conventions and competitions have their own conventions and rules. Certainly the do no harm principle we talked about in the last post on natural photography, is an ethical place to start. Though as with nature photographs this idea can be both selectively and subjectively applied. But it does go deeper than that to the core idea of what a photograph actually is for, what it represents. We’ve touched on this recently with David Jones’ evening and the notions of authenticity. It is a question of what we are claiming to represent. If it is within a genre where the integrity of the image as a documentary record is sacrosanct, say photojournalism, then it is pretty straight forward. If it is more representative then it matters less. If it’s Snapchat then an altogether different, informal set of rules apply.
That may be the underlying code that dictates the what, the why, the where, the then of what gets captured but the how is, as we have touched on above, a process guided by the decisions we make. So, we’ve set the camera to manual or aperture priority and we have raised to the camera to the eye because something has captured our attention. Broad vista? Enter the rule of thirds. Most cameras, including compacts, have an optional thirds grid you can put on live view or through the (E)VF. Even if yours hasn’t it’s not too difficult to imagine one over the scene. The trick is then to align a feature on one of the lines, or at the junctions of the lines. If it’s patterns that have caught your eye then it will be a question of cropping in as tight as you can so the detail is very clear and a lot of the context available in a wider view will not be available.
You can still use the rule of thirds in a detail crop, indeed it can be very advantageous to the overall effect as there is less relative information to go by (not a bad thing). In the broader landscape you are looking to put the sky one third or two thirds of the way down in the picture. In the detail shot it will be the main feature (focus point). In both cases you really need to make the point of focus obvious using natural or man-made features, lead lines and so on. The broad tendency is for detail shots to be more abstract, the key to both is to be as close to the subject, as cropped in, as is possible and necessary to give the image punch. If you can’t frame it change position, shapes and features make the photograph, there absence just makes for an empty space that just happens to have something in it.
In essence that is it, seems simple, doesn’t it? Well it is and it isn’t. It is because that is what you do with the Bakelite lump you attach the expensive glass to. Three useful things to add: learn to use the histogram if your camera has one (or use your eyes, they tell you the same thing but the histogram measures the fall of light on the sensor and makes it obvious about spikes on the extreme left -shadows- and right – highlights); Expose for the sky/highlights (details in shadow are easier to recover in post production than highlights); Shoot in RAW (linked to the previous point). That doesn’t mean that JPEG is evil or wrong but where there is a high dynamic range in your image RAW will leave you with more information to manipulate. JPEG makes certain decisions about what data is used as a baseline and preserves/eliminates it on that basis. What is left is less data to manipulate.
It isn’t quite so simple because you cannot compensate for a lack of knowledge about where to be and when on a consistent basis just with luck. Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Photography. Club members Kev Speirs and Rich Price gave us a good grounding in this a couple of years back based on their 2013 trip to Iceland – which is where they are as I write this having returned to further their experience, Iceland, that is, not 2013, no not the frozen food chain either). The performance booster we are looking for is a planned serendipity. We’ve been here before so I shan’t dwell. Robert is an environmental scientist as well as a photographer and photography for him is more than a hobby, it is a business in more than one sense.
So, our thanks to Robert Harvey for a an interesting and well rounded evening.
N E X T M E E T I N G.
Judging ROC Round 3.
Last meeting Mark Stone , in a well attended meeting, took us through some editing options he uses on Light Room and Photoshop. Mark is a big fan of black and white, not to the exclusion of colour, but he has a strong affinity to the ascetic and opportunities that black and white presents, so it is this that we will investigate a little further this week.
Black and white photography happened first of course. Joseph Nicéphore Niépce’s heliograph taken at his estate in 1826-27 gives a barely legible but still discernable image of a stand of trees, fixed in bitumen (Daguerre used copper plate, Fox-Talbot was the first to fix an image on paper), but since the invention of colour – which had a long gestation period – it has gradually receded to niche and specialist markets. To its fans and I am certainly one, it is too often overlooked (guilty), or most people who occasionally venture that way look upon as a fix for images that didn’t work but still have something but you are not sure what (“Taking the fifth” on that one, well shoot in colour and edit to black and white is my excuse). Incidentally that is a two way street. There is no doubt that there is a skill to looking at an image as a black and white one from the off.
Some people might think that there is a certain nostalgia attached to monochrome that is a bit off-putting and reeks of chemicals and cardigans and people (men mainly) sucking on their dentures and complaining that things aren’t like they used to be. Certainly they are not. It’s called progress. The darkroom and its arcane ways have fallen from popular use. Photography as a whole, with the digital revolution, has become far more democratic and personally I think that a good thing. This, however, is the science and we are talking here about the art. If, on the other hand, you have used a dark room over some time, then there is a pretty good chance that you keep a warm place in your heart for those processes, for the choices of paper and the effects they have on the final image (for the uninitiated it evolves mainly, but not entirely, around the question of how black is black) for the magic of the image appearing on the paper. Black and white was far cheaper and a lot less complex than colour. Not many people go back though, at least not exclusively. Digital can be just as good.
As I said, this about the art (you’ll remember that argument from last week), the perceptions, that the image creates in the viewer. In black and white contrast is king, but across a spectrum shaded in grey. Subtlety is the greater part of it. That is not to say that extremes don’t have a part to play, it is part of the process of selection that forms the backbone of the monochrome discipline – and yes that is something which can be about post production, but as with everything else, it can’t all be about post production; the initial pre-shutter decisions are still hugely important. Black and white is about texture, forms and contrast above all. When these are the most important things in an image then black and white is the medium of choice, but it remains a subjective choice. Primarily these elements become important because when you remove colour from a photograph these elements are what lead the eye.
Texture, the consistency of a surface in a photograph defined by its irregularities, provides us with basic information that we can use to comprehend what that object is or made of. It can be more important than what that actual object is especially in abstract. Form, the three dimensional representation of an object (shape is 2D), especially in the absence of colour, is probably the biggest clue we get to what we are looking at and contrast, of course, is important in all forms of photography. Black and white concentrates the eye on the intensity and differential qualities in light to a higher degree than in colour (colour, of course being the most striking and the most absent of the elements of design in monochrome).
So it helps to concentrate on lines, shadows and shapes, not ignore the basic rules of composition (master them before you break them), plan ahead and practice, practice practice! There are advantages to shooting in colour (you can always revert to it) and there are advantages in using a RAW format – as per the above plus there is more scope for capturing tones across a range of light and dark in the same frame. There is no particular reason why you shouldn’t use JPEG should you so wish, but, as always, you have lesser latitude to edit with. It also helps to know the effects of colour filters on the image, which can easily be applied post production, or by simply fixing one to the front of your lens.
We have another round of the ROC in the new year, so why not use that as a chance to get some feedback on your black and white photography? Better yet, black and white is December’s Flickr competition topic.
CONGRATULATIONS to our esteemed chair on his MBE collected Thursday last awarded for his work with youth via the Air Training Corps. Well done and well earned Maurice.
Time is running out but there are still places on the WOODLAND shoot. See Myk.
December 11th – The second round of this year’s Reflex Open Competition (ROC) will be judged tonight.
December 18th – Christmas social evening. To quote Mark S (again):
” Thursday 18th December is our Christmas Social. We’re planning on doing an American Supper style evening which means we’d like you to bring some food & drink. So that you don’t all bring in a pack of Scotch Eggs we’ve created a list that will be on the sign in desk each week up until the 18th. If you’d like to take a look at what is on the list just peek at the PDF attached to this post.
8TH January 2015“What Christmas Means to me” & Mounting Prints
See everyone’s images from our Christmas Challenge of “What Christmas Means to me” followed by a demonstration on how to mount your photographs.
I bet your wondering what this “What Christmas means to me” thing is as you’ve possibly never even heard it mentioned at the club before. Well now I’ve had it explained to me with a handy infographic I can explain it all to you. Well actually no I’m not instead you can follow this link and read all about it as that’s exactly the same way I found out what it was!
15th January 2015: Club Battle, Bristol Photographic Society (Away).
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!
Greetings. Overseas branch here, with a short(for me) post on the joys of photography in an ultra-conservative society. I brought the camera with me to Saudi Arabia, but knowing that the opportunities are going to be Spartan to use it. I will have some photography, mainly videography, at work to do and we are going to buy a camera and tripod for that. You do not see these things on open display and I mainly carry a compact on my belt, rather than the body and lenses though a couple of days ago I took it to take some departmental photographs. Not very exciting ones, but hey take what opportunities you can.
The list of things off the menu is long. There are obvious ones like Police and Security buildings, (which doesn’t help as myapartment overlooks the Jeddah Police depot which is huge and takes up most of the foreground from the 9th floor window) not so obvious ones such as pretty much all street photography, especially if that includes members of the above. Property in general appears a bit of a grey area, but people without their consent, doubly so for women and children, is generally considered a rights violation. There are hints of new laws to curb the growing use of mobile phones being used to film things on the street because they find their way on to social media and not in a good way. Camera phones were temporarily banned in 2004 because of the fear that men would take pictures of women and post them to the internet. Surely not?
Aside from the police there are the members of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice who are street level arbiters of public behaviour and its compliance to the interpretation of Islam whose powers extend to shops, restaurants and hotels and even private homes in certain cases. They could formerly seize and search a camera for unIslamic images, and as the presumption in the law appears to be in their favour, they probably still could. I for one don’t want to put it to the test. They are not noted for their sense of humour. Jeddah, where I am based is relatively liberal but all of the above apply all of the time. Makkah, where I work (and that bingo joke you thought so original really isn’t, hence the change in spelling, which isn’t mine), actually outside the city as non-Muslims are not allowed in it (hence we have to take the bypass in the morning to get to work, though local traffic is reported to be very dense and it is probably just as quick) is more conservative. Ryadh, the capital, is reported very conservative. Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, is very tolerant ( I was there a couple of weekends ago), even though the local laws and traditions are similar.
But things are not nearly so simple. You will always get a passing streetlawyer shout “No photo”, but, generally, as long as the above are considered, hereabouts you are generally OK. This is relative. Last night I was the subject of debate surrounding my shorts and entry to a shopping mall. Normally not a problem as long as the knees (considered locally as part of the genitalia) are covered, which mine were. Yes gentlemen it does mean you can now legitimately boast, which is what you were thinking. I must have been in half a dozen shopping malls for various reasons as well as the local souks (markets) and never once previously been challenged. I only had the compact on my belt at the time which went unnoticed and I wouldn’t be using it on private property open to families for the reasons outlined above. The way to deal with this is to be patient, engaging, compliant, smile and play on being a foreigner. As one local said to me, you get more leeway (locally) for being a foreigner. A local brandishing a camera would be in serious trouble, but that might be as much a function of who take photos of whom as of any long standard of polite behaviour. We are approaching Hadj, where 2 to 3 million Muslims will enter the country, mainly through Jeddah airport to fulfil their religious duty to undertake the pilgrimage to Makkah at least once in a lifetime. This necessitates the mobilisation of, according to the Arab News newspaper, the deployment of 117,000 troops. You will understand from the news why this year the general security situation is heightened and there is to be zero tolerance of dissent. Then there is always zero tolerance of dissent here. Insisting on rights that don’t exist is only going to be futile and exacerbating - it is not going to end happily.
That said there are possible trips to Ta’if (pronounce Tayfff) and possibly (and I very much hope so) Mada’in Saleh a.k.a. The Saudi Petra being talked about, but in the ways of these things it’s all just talk at the moment (just need to give it all a little impetus).
The important thing to remember when you go anywhere abroad is that which is permissible at home - and often under challenge even there- is no guide. Forewarned is forearmed and clues to what is and what isn’t “The done thing” can be picked up from looking at what travellers put up on sites like 500px and Flickr, more informatively what local people post. Do your homework, and be discrete. It is you who has to make the adjustment.
Stay happy and hope to see you all soon in the new premises.
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.
The competition season reached the trophy round last meeting with the awarding of the John Hankin (print) and the Stan Scantlebury (projected image) Shields. It was an interesting evening with the chance of looking back at some of the more favoured images over the season and see them in light of a fresh competition and a fresh judge, John Bjergfelt and our thanks to him. Rules for this round are as per the open competition but with the exception that this is restricted to entries that have already been submitted for the open and no points are awarded. All images are accompanied by a short summary of the judge’s comments in the catalogue only, see the link below.R E S U L T S
2nd – The rat catcher – Ian Coombs
3rd – New dog old trick – Ian Coombs
Highly Commended List –
Proud to be Russian – Eddie Deponeo
and Lady of the lake – Mark O’Grady.
Commended List –
A road well travelled – Julie Coombs,
Unearthed beauty – Mark O’Grady
and Tintern sunrise – Eddie House.
Digital 1st –
2nd – Must get ball must get ball! – Eddie House
3rd – Sailing – Roy Williams
Highly Commended List –
Plitvice Waterfall – Annamarie Miles,
Happy Meal – Alison Davies,
Ivy Leaf – Wendy Goodchild
and Against the night – Mark Stone.
Commended List –
Bathtime – Pauline Ewins,
Desolate Industry – Mark Stone,
Masquerade – Ian Coombs,
Summer Bloom – Pauline Ewins,
Simple Crocus – Debbie Griffin,
Hidden in your shell – Mark O’Grady
and Fairy wand – Alison Davies.
The Full Catalogue with summaries of the Judges remarks (at least as fast as my thumbs would type on my phone) is available here:
A very big thank you to everyone who made this happen, an enjoyable evening and a chance to get another judges comments on work we have already seen judged.
– that the Flickr competition this month is about Food & Drink.
– that Rich Price is running a trip to Exmoor to photograph the Milky Way. Details re on the club Flickr site, dates are . Looking forward to that one (all weather dependent of course).
The new Brunel wing is now open and we will have a chance to exhibit. Details to follow.
THURSDAY 22nd May is European/Local elections: NO Meeting at the School this week due to it being used as a polling station. Instead meet at the Dovecote pub next to Ashton Court @ 19:30.