Tony Byram was our most welcome returning judge for Round 4, the final round of this season, of the Reflex Open Competition. We had a very strong showing, over 100 images in the combined sections I believe and so it was a very busy night and a marathon preparative task for Tony. Thank you Tony for your succinct feedback.
Before we get on to the results there has been some confusion over the rules, especially for prints. You are still required to enter a DIGITAL COPY OF THE IMAGE YOU PRINT through Dropbox. THIS SHOULD ADHERE TO THE SAME SPECIFICATION AS A DIGITAL ENTRY i.e. no bigger than 1400 x 1050 pixels and sRGB colourspace. SEE LINKS BELOW FOR LABELLING REQUIREMENTS. If you don’t your entry will be disqualified. Also make sure that your frames are standardised at 40 x 50 cms, no bigger, no smaller. The size of the image within that is a matter for your own discretion, but it must fit within the overall dimensions or it will be disqualified.
Competition Rules can be found on the club website:
http://www.reflexcameraclub.co.uk/ under ROC on the banner or by typing http://www.reflexcameraclub.co.uk/#!reflex-open-competition/cm27 into your browser.
And so to the bit you’ve all been waiting for ………
RESULTS DIGITAL PRINT
“Porth Beach At Dawn” – Simon Caplan
“Severn Sun” – Julie Kay
“Not Quite A Pair” – Simon Caplan
“Going Fishing” – Eddie House
“I’m Vegetarian” – Julia Simone
“Weighted Down” – Julia Simone
Digital Projected Images
“Looking” – David McInich
“Nunney Castle” – Richard Price
“Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” – Eddie Deponeo
“In the Spotlight” – Chris Harvey
“Foggy Morning” – Eddie Deponeo
“Prague Castle” – Julie Kay
“Yet To Bloom” – Roy Williams
“Pokhara” – Julia Simone
“Victorian Tea Break” – Ian Coombs
A N N O U N C E M E N T S
Sunday – The Reflex Annual Photo Marathon. 10 images in order, on 10 topics, 4 hours!
23rd May 5pm at the M Shed – Simon Caplin is giving a talk on the crafts based photo-project he has been involved in. Be there to give him some support. Tour the rather good Industrial exhibition before hand, you know it makes sense!
Next Meeting – Ann Cook FRPS: “Granny Goes to Glastonbury” a two decade evolving project.
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.
In the week where the Guardian carries an article on the, probable, opening of the, possibly, world’s largest photo-gallery in Marrakesh, and the unexpected but entirely predictable problems that this has generated (avoidable if someone had bothered to do their homework, or paid someone else to, or maybe it was deliberate) we at Reflex Camera Club stayed a little closer to home and set ourselves up in true Santa-at-the-Mall-in-May spirit for a little Winter Festival commonly known as Christmas (which I understand is in December). Specifically, members were tasked with producing a club Christmas card in an evening. There was, dear reader, some controversy, about which, more later.
The original Christmas card, at least as far as the UK (and the world) is concerned, was introduced in 1843 at the cost of 1 shilling (5p to you non duo-decimalists), which was rather pricey at £4.28 in today’s coin (that might make me look like a cheapskate, but then I am). The average retail cost of a card in 2013 was £1.44 (4d in 1843 money) according to the Greetings Card Association (Yes, there is one). The original run of 1,000 cards was followed by another of 1,050 and the ones he didn’t use Henry Cole sold at a profit. He sold them all. Today Christmas is worth £130 million in card sales, according to the GCA. The original card was also controversial, for its depiction of alcohol, but it was a sell out. One of the 18 or so thought to remain in existence was sold in 2010 for $7,500. One of our cards (which went to a tie break on a show of hands) was controversial for its more, to use a period allusion, Scrooge-like qualities (which was also alluded to in another entry with the greeting, “Bah Humbug”, I’m beginning to think that the Xmas spirit maybe a little thin this year – we will find out on the 18th December which is our Club Christmas night). In the end we decided on a more traditional offering from Roy Williams (Photography), Myk Garton (Editing) and Alec Williams (Executive Producer).
Henry Cole, the man in too much of a hurry to write to all his friends and relatives in the first place, engaged the artist JC Horsley to illustrate his innovation. That, and a DPS article this week, set me to thinking about the relationship between art and photography (writing a blog will do that to you). There does seem to be a tension between the states of “Photographer” and “Artist”. As touched on in last week’s blog, the same rules and guides apply to painters creating an image as photographers. The term “Creative” as a profession is somewhere in the middle of this. Creative, as a description of an economic sector is worth, according to the UK Treasury, £8,000,000 per hour to the UK economy. Artists, the people who create the work, form a substantial part of this but not the only part. There is a further tension between the art itself and the industry around it that makes for its consumption.
Yet there is still a cachet around the status of artist – I bet your unmade bed made less at auction than Tracy Emin’s depiction of depression – that is part of the process of selling it, regardless of the message that you were trying to get across. Exclusivity, being the owner of that Van Gogh or that Rubens or anything else creatively produced, is also a driver, not least of market value – but once a photograph is published on line anyone can consume it (as opposed to own. Or steal). Possibly this makes photographers artisans, but in a week where “snobbery” undid three establishment figures (I am thinking Andrew Mitchell, Emily Thornberry, and David Mellor) one needs to be mindful of being “All the gear and no idea”. Maybe, after all, it isn’t anything but a sterile argument, as entertainingly exposed by Richard Thripp (do take some time to read the comments under his post, they do rather prove his point).
The number of photography books both about and using it (e.g. fashion) you will find in bookshop certainly underline the point that this is a visual medium that isn’t going to go away. The craft of art is there, but some think that because the process doesn’t involve fine motor-skills with a sharpened stick dipped in something then you’re not an artist. David Hockney is less of an artist for using a camera among his tools? Around about here we mostly get into a Vicky Pollard style argument. What seems to get neglected is the argument “Does it matter if it is/is not art”? Let me pose one half of an answer. No, because, if taken seriously, any artistic endeavour is about making it as best you can and next time better. The tools don’t make the art the artist does. Photography is a representative art. The camera is a tool, the image a story. A canvas, paint and brushes are tools, the image a story. The infamous bed and detritus so many berate Ms. Emin about are the tools for her to tell a (personally painful) story.
This brings me back to the news story I started with, the planned gallery in Marrakech. There are enough problems surrounding photography, even in the UK, especially street photography, however, one of the points made in the article is about the behaviour of so many people (tourists) towards the locals and a disregard of the traditions and culture they are snapping away at. Start from a point of respect and you learn a lot more. Both sides in the photography is/isn’t art take note.
Feel free to agree/disagree with me via the comments section on the club blog page.
WOODLAND PHOTOGRAPHY DAY
See Myk or contact him via the club Facebook Page.
UPCOMING AT THE CLUB
December 4th – Capturing Stunning B&W images plus Post Production Tips from basics to more advanced from Mr Mark Stone. Kindly take a few minutes to peruse https://www.flickr.com/photos/mark-stone/ and contact Mark via the club Facebook page with one you want to know more about.
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:
” 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.
It’s no good saying on here what you are planning on bringing you need to sign your name (in legible writing) next to the items on the list at the club meetings”. The List is via the link below. ‘Nuff said.
Apologies for the lateness of this post but I have had a very hectic weekend. If you are a club member and fancy having a go at the blog you are more than welcome. Have a chat with Mark Stone and he will bring you up to speed on the do’s and don’ts.
A 10 by 10 last Thursday, I always enjoy these as they are the personal choices of the photographers involved and we get a little insight into what makes their unique brand of photography. We are the sum of the choices we make in more ways than one. I also think that sharing things helps by showing different subjects, selections, interpretations, frames, focal lengths, angles, perspectives and everything else that goes to make up a photograph and provoke us to try something different next time. Well maybe. But, if we joined our club to improve then, logically, this is part of the process. So where do we get this sense of style from? One of the biggest boons of the digital age, I find, is the ease with which people can share their shots with the world. Flickr, 500px, Picasa/Google+, SmugMug, Phanfare, Instagram, Imgur, Deviant Art and alike, plus newspaper sites like the Telegraph, Guardian and Independent who pay attention to promoting photography, all have their pluses and minuses but all have an essential ingredient – the sharing of efforts to whoever puts the effort in to finding them. There is, I would say, a process of osmosis we get from deliberate exposure to the efforts of others, their stories and how they choose to tell them and how we choose to interpret them. How many of their users have this as core to their plan to share with the world I have no idea and for sure some will take it more seriously than others. But it is important, just as it’s the picture not the camera that is important.
Neither style, nor consistently good images, come from slavishly trying to copy the “Greats”. There has already been an Ansel Adams, a Diane Arbus, a Cecil Beaton, a Robert Capa, you are not going to be the next one because the world moves on and because they were/are unique coincidences of time, place and talent. Yet we can be inspired by them and by the efforts of other lesser mortals like ourselves. Style is a development, a series of halts on a branch line rather than a single big city destination of its own. Consistency plays a part, of course, but in the way the elements are handled, that is how a signature develops. Repetition, going out and doing the photography thing with a purpose, repeatedly, examining the results, determining improvements and going out and doing it again, better, plays a part too. That way sound results can be obtained. Take this as an invitation to look at your own back catalogue and see what themes, subjects, objects, views, treatments, come to mind. It’s a start. You might use one of the frameworks we’ve discussed for critiquing to really nail what makes these themes tick for you? Try Anthony Morganti as starter-how-to. When you have identified these streams then you have the basis to do some further research, maybe bring it to the next 10 by 10? Or with the club on Thursday when we meet off site at the Jolly Sailor, Saltford. Practical night (yeah right).
See you there.
Kev and Rich’s presentation on the planned approach to image capture was far ranging and very well received. Thank you gentleman for a very informative evening. I look forward to putting this into action at next week’s practical session, not least because I am far more comfortable with the suck-it-and-see approach.
Now the lucky accident (serendipity to give it its all-dressed-up-going-to-Sunday-Meeting name) plays its part in everyone’s lives, but it’s no way to run a business, even one called Serendipity. Well you’d think so but there is a business strategy based upon it and the idea that when taking over a business there are additional benefits to be found in its way of doing things either in physical or intellectual property beyond that which was originally planned for and made the acquisition attractive. So, as an adjunct rather than a strict contrast I want to use this week’s blog to square the circle a little and hopefully add to Kev’s and Rich’s interesting evening.
Planned serendipity can be applied to photography, in fact I believe it is at the heart of the creative process. In order to support that rather bold statement it is going to be necessary to discuss a little by what I mean by it and see how it might be applied to our shared art. Going out (or staying in) and coming back (or tidying away) with an image to mark and to celebrate is as old as cave painting (where they had the bonus of something to eat too). It is something of a celebration each time we press the shutter release as we have found something in essence that we want to preserve and probably share. To that end we have control over the not just the triangle of exposure (ISO, aperture, and shutter speed) but, to some greater or lesser extent, the light. In a studio context this is obvious and, in theory at least, total. Outdoors is a different question, the weather is not under our control, but as we discussed last week, that is not necessarily a question as black and white as it seems. It depends on how you frame the question, making the weather the subject of your image as opposed to a reason for not going forth in the first place. You adapt to the condition to the point where the condition becomes the subject. You take the incidence of the weather and you turn it to your advantage. That is planned serendipity.
It is easy to extend this into a reason not to bother planning, because something will turn up. No way to shoot a wedding where getting the right shot is a result of anticipation and planning (see the blog entry on Dan T’s wedding photography session). The key is to know as much as you possibly can beforehand, get to know your subject and your location. No way to shoot landscape either (consistently), if you are after a particular effect. How can that apply to the outdoors? I touched a little on this last week when I talked about the Photographers Ephemeris (free for Mac or PC, paid for on i-Phone or Android) or using Google Maps and the relevant tables (though if doing this I would go to the Photographers Ephemeris as a default unless the detail and the working out is where the fun is for you). Control what you can control. You might have all the data you need to make that perfect sunset or moonrise in terms of time and geography, the weather forecast may be just so, but you can’t control the cloud that is in the wrong position at the wrong time, obscuring the object of focus (though you can borrow one from another image if you want to add). In that case come back another day. Whatever happens and to quote Napoleon Bonaparte (in translation of course) “Time spent in reconnaissance is never wasted”, and Kev and Rich’s trip to Iceland certainly proved that. They suggested that whereas the internet is a great resource you need to get your information from at least three different sites. There are smart phone apps that can help with that, on both Android and i-Phone. Know what you are looking for and where best to look for it.
There was the inevitable discussion about RAW v JPEG. This is one that will go on forever and a day. There is nothing wrong with either format. There is more processing latitude with RAW than there is with JPEG. If you are a Get-It-Right-In-The-Camera-ista (I bet you used to shoot transparencies, didn’t you?) then there is not a lot in it. If you can’t get to within + or – 1EV of the desired/ideal/correct exposure then shoot RAW. RAW has more latitude within it, + or – 3 EV. For EV read f-Stop. A change of + or – 1 EV is a change of + or – 1 f-Stop. The bottom line is, at least for me, show me a print and I can’t tell whether it’s a RAW or a JPEG. If you are doing it for love take your pick. If you are of the order of Ye-Acolytes-of-Photoshop, shooting one off photographs for money, determined that your camera is conspiring against you (turn off in camera adjustments), curious or just plain anti then use RAW. Or one of its many variants. Your camera manufacturer has their own version of it. Perhaps you should ignore that bit if you are paranoid about your camera conspiring against you.
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pre-process (if that is the right word) your image. ND (Neutral Density) filters and ND graduated filters and polarisers both circular and linear were also discussed as part of the process of manipulating light. A price range around examples of Lee, Hitek and Cokin were all mentioned and the relative merits boiled down to the old truism that you get what you pay for, with Mark S’s recommendation that people consider the Hitek IRND for its colour neutrality at half the price of the Lee. Thanks for the links Mark. What system you choose make sure that there is a match between the filters and the holders that go with them.
In the planned serendipity video above (link here) James Austin’s book Chase Chance and Creativity is referred to and in it he talks to four kinds of luck.
Firstly, that which is just, or seems to be, random “Sheer dumb luck”).
Secondly, chance from purposely acting towards a defined end (running out of “Unluck”, you know the sort of thing, entering photos into competitions, getting feedback, putting that into action – it’s a hint), where keeping doing things in search of something particular stirs up the creative pot.
Thirdly, chance favouring the prepared mind (“Sagacity“), that is thinking like and acting purposefully as a photographer as opposed to a person with a camera bumping into photo ops.
Fourthly the sort that comes from being us, our actions, likes and dislikes, or as the great Victorian politician Benjamin Disraeli put it ” We make our fortunes and we call them fate”.
So is it a case that P.P.P.P.P.P. (Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Photography)? That might make for a neat conclusion but I think that is to miss the point that Kev and Rich were making and certainly excellently illustrated in their previous talk on Iceland I referred to above. The point is, in this post at least, the more you make happen deliberately the more you have scope to take advantages of what chance presents you. You make your own luck. You plan to make your own luck. Taking your own luck is called Planned serendipity. Thursday, be there, try it out.
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.