I have spent some of your generously donated time over the last several posts talking about the appreciation of an image and in trying to encourage wider participation in competitions. Talking to other people in some other photographic clubs and indeed, some remarks Peter Wheeler made in one of his visits to us this season, there broadly seem to be two focuses: the competition focused clubs and the participation focussed clubs. These are not two mutually exclusive categories, sensibly there cannot be one without the other, but it is the way that the mix of the two is dealt with that determines the nature of the club. BPS, for instance, appear have a set of images that they use for the many competitions that they enter and they are a very successful club. Dorchester appear similarly disposed, and these were the top 2 clubs in the WCPF 2013 competition. We are more participation focussed and either way there would be no club if it were not for its committee. From and on behalf of the floor, thank you. Last Thursday we had our AGM, which had a reasonable turnout by any club standards that I have been to on whatever topic (not a huge number I will admit). There was: discussion of important topics to the club; consumption of tea, coffee and biscuits; reportage on the path of the club; efforts were lauded and decisions arrived at democratically. Overall, I would judge it as a success because people got involved.
Ruth, Mark O and Dan E were voted onto the committee in the posts of Club, Competitions and Events Secretary’s replacing Julie, Ian and Hanneke at the end of the season. A great deal of thanks is owed to the outgoing members for their considerable parts in making this a successful club and thanks due to those incoming for the prospect of its continuation.
The topic on which we were most exercised was that of the competitions, specifically the format and most particularly the lack of and diminishing numbers of prints being entered. Firstly I will hold my hand up and, as a distinctly novice member, admit I have not entered any physical prints in any of the competition rounds this year. Indeed John P. has been the only consistent entrant in this category and thanks to you John, because the novice print category is an issue not a dead letter. There is a decision for the committee to make about whether the novice category continues into next season for reasons I have blogged about previously, but, in essence, boils down to the fact that the border between the two has become increasingly blurred. There is a but and a very important but so worth flagging: this may become a self-fulfilling prophecy i.e. those who enter are benefitting from the feedback and those who are discouraged by the perceived gap between their own and others efforts remain so and do not enter. The reasons were discussed why this is so, the general lack of prints, and reasons included “Faff” (a general term for producing something the individual thinks not worth the effort as measured by the return), time, space, and additional cost – travel (time cost) being the chief issue when using Keynsham Photographic (KPC). As Mark S. pointed out, as part of a different point but one that applies in general, you can’t eliminate the category and still compete – i.e. digital projection only. Yes I know Zen Photo is web based, but they meet physically four times a year and they compete as a club.
Competing is a core value of our club, but it is not the reason for it, in my far from humble opinion, participation is its life-blood but we have an imbalance at the moment that needs to be addressed and that is getting more people involved in competitions in general and in prints in particular. It is getting you involved in competitions in general and in prints in particular. Yes, next season I will be entering the print competition regularly, a little late for New Year resolutions I will admit, but then they are hardly worth making the effort over if you have no intention of keeping them. I have every intention of keeping this one (and only). The ease and relative speed of entering the projected is not in dispute, but the experience of producing and mounting a print is far more tactile and gives a different perspective as Mark O. attested.
So, 10 questions to ask and my own answers (in brackets). The only permissible answers are Yes or No because anything else is a No, all dressed up with nowhere to go:
- Did I join Reflex CC to become a better photographer? (Yes).
- Is entering the club competitions a positive part of this? (Yes).
- Have I learned anything by looking at the entries and listening to the feedback? (Yes).
- Am I looking at photographing subjects differently than before I did this? (Yes).
- Does that effect the way I take photographs? (Yes).
- Has the overall effect of the feedback been positive? (Yes).
- Is there room for improvement? (Yes!).
- Would entering my own efforts personalise the feedback? (Yes).
- Have I made the best of the opportunities the competitions have presented? (No).
- Does a lack of trophies mean I am no better for the competition process? (No).
If anyone of the first 8 is a yes, then there is a personal gain to be had from you entering the competitions. Logically, enter. Logically enter both projected and print. As for the self imposed quality issue then I would point you to the observation that, even in the Olympic 100 meter sprint final, every athlete is not running against the other athletes because they cannot maximise their own performance against them and run their own race. The things that they can control are the things that are in their own race i.e. they are all running against themselves and their own limitations. Same for us in club competitions. And you don’t have to be a “photographer” to contribute to photography, anymore than you need to be a writer to contribute to the essay form. You just need to plan, do and review to get better.
There are a number of questions that might arise surrounding prints, and the first one is, “What size file does it take to make a good photographic print?”. For Reflex CC competitions the mounting card dimensions are exactly 50 x 40 centimetres (roughly 20″ x 16″) and the image can be any size up to that. The decision is yours. The competition form has to be filled in as with a projected image + a digital copy of the image also has to be submitted. This latter part helps with the blog when publishing results and the catalogue I have done with the last couple of rounds and will continue to do as long as its viable. Rather pointless having an empty space where a winning entry should be. So back to the size of the file. If you have bought a digital camera in, roughly, the last 10 years, you should be OK. KPC say that the jpegs they use are to be 305 PPI (pixels per inch) and you can do this through image scaling software (Photoshop will do it, ditto Paint.Net so will GIMP)
Part of the problem I have with the print section of the competition, I admit, is that it is more difficult to see and remember what is which when it comes to the feedback. The big, vibrant projected image is a different experience to the more tactile, focussed print. I sit at the back of the room, I know, but that is so I can use the light to write my notes. This rather puts me at a disadvantage as compared to the projected images, given that the optimum viewing distance is usually given as a 1.5 or 2 x multiple of the diagonal of an image – making a 16 x 12’s prints optimum between 30 and 40 inches (76 to 101 centimetres), though time can be spent walking around, looking at the prints close up. Therein lies a very important point. The relationship between the viewer and the image is different in a print than it is in a projected image, we react differently to it. It isn’t just a question about which is better, because the answer depends upon the context you are viewing it in. The photo-marathon was as much about moving around for the viewing as it was in the taking. The Interaction was different. Broaden your experience and double your chances of constructive feedback by entering both parts of the competition next season and keep practicing by entering the Flickr competition until then. Maybe we need a Flickr evening?
As an evening a very successful AGM. This is a vibrant and happy club to belong to, made so by its members. Yes we need to expand our competition base but that is something we can all contribute to. I look forward to the rest of the year.
NEXT MEETING – Practical, bring your camera and as it is product shot time, feel free to bring a tripod if you have one and anything interesting you want to photograph. Very successful last time, you will probably have some competition entries among these!
I have found a temporary (I hope) work around to the image problem and here, as promised are the winning entries:
This week’s creative round of the competition – entries for the fourth and final open round due by next Thursday – provoked a conversation around the issue of whether we need a judge. We thought we did, the judge differed, reportedly, though he was out running, which is a fine zero carbon option for transportation, unfortunately, it didn’t get him to St Anne’s on time. Indeed at all. Our thanks to Ian and Julie for their hours of organising and commiserations that it was nearly all for nought. Not quite though, for it was decided that we would go to that worst of all systems (apart from every other one that has been tried – at least according to Mr W.S. Churchill) and hold a democratic vote to decide. So judging without the feedback. There are arguments around bringing in outside judges into club competitions for sure and I wonder whether the results were any different as the images submitted were strong as ever but, again few in number. The more you enter the more you are going to get feedback on. The more you act on that feedback the more you will improve – OK this was a bad week to make a good point. Results will be posted when available.
It, has, though, been a busy week. The Photo Marathon practical, yet again thanks to Ian and Julie, was held last Sunday based at the Severn Stars. It was well attended and proved a fascinating challenge. The ten categories, or for you 90’s aficionados, “Things that make you go Hmmm” were:
Entry number; parallel; full circle; exit; black and white; old school; drama; secret; lost and Superpower.
It was a reasonable start and a baffling end for me, but then I’d only had four hours sleep before I had to be up and out (well that’s my excuse), but I finished and so I think did everyone else. The results, again by popular acclamation, will be judged on March 20th. Must say I enjoyed the challenge, as did everyone else I spoke to.
Further to the week before last Four on getting Published, Getty Images, in an effort to combat, or at least ameliorate, the effects of image piracy (as they would have it, the more cynical would say monetise at the expense of the less favoured but greatest number of contributors) announced a not so small change with a BIG BIG potential impact for freelancers and contributors, discussed here in last Friday’s Guardian. Basically they are making 35 million images royalty free in turn for the embed code in your website that links to their image bank. Well they say to their image bank but once it is there it will be to anything they choose, like adverts, videos or other images, it is speculated in Andrew Hern’s article, and certainly you agree to the trawling of your visitor’s information by Getty and/or it’s licensed third parties by using it.
This matters because Getty is the largest provider of images to the market and where they lead others will likely follow. Interviewed in Forbes Magazine, Shutterstock CEO Jon Oringer strongly disagrees with this viewpoint, saying that the images are only for not-for-profit and Getty reserve the right to run their own advertisements – though one wonders what that might involve for when Getty choose something that goes against the NFP’s stance on a matter. In more depth the British Journal of Photography are running series of articles on this, the first of which was published on March 5th.
This coming Thursday a PRACTICAL! Bring your camera, tripod, flashes, crash helmets as necessary for an evening on trick photography.
Thursday 21st March, was the voting night for the Photo Marathon. All of the images from the Photo Marathon were printed & mounted onto large sheets of card. They were placed around the meeting room and club members had the opportunity to walk around looking at the images and then chose their top 3 images from each category… Sounds simple doesn’t it?
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The themes were; Your Name, Tower, Water, Colour, Animal, History, Street Life, Number, Abstract and Another Club Member…
A huge Thank You to Ian and Julie for organising the event and we will be doing something like this again!
Over all the Photo’s were outstanding, amusing and ‘It’s all Ian’s fault!’
This Thursday is going to be great! Why? You mean you don’t know! You’ve forgotten about the Photo Marathon!!
A cold Sunday Morning
OK let me take you back a few weeks to a very cold Sunday morning at the Bandstand in Castle Park. Where quite a few club members met up to complete a Photo Marathon. Ian & Julie spent quite a while organising it and we had a good turn out. They set 10 categories for us to create images for and we had to get them in the correct order. So off we set at 10am in the bitter cold to take the picture for the very first subject, our name. We had up until 3pm to capture the 10 images. Seems like a long time but when your wandering around scrabbling for idea’s the time flies by.
Pick the winners from the Photo Marathon
But I digress, I’m supposed to be telling you why you should come along to this weeks meeting. Well that’s simple. All of the images from the Photo Marathon have been printed & mounted onto large sheets of card. They will be put out around the meeting room and you will have the opportunity to walk around looking at them and choosing your top 3 images from each category. The totals will be added up and winners announced.
So make sure you come along as its going to be a good night. Oh I nearly forgot. There will be prizes for the winners. But I do have to warn you that Ian chose them!