As we approach carnival season, Somerset style (see below) and the photo opportunities that creates, we spent last meeting huddled around various laptops editing in a handful of different editing programmes following on from Marko Nurinem’s virtuoso display last week. So there was Lightroom (of course) but also GIMP, Smart Photo Editor, Picasa, and Photoscape with CS2 (free from Adobe and all quite legal here is how to get it) ACDSee getting honourable mentions from new member Gary.
Now, you long term readers of this blog will know that the world divides into two camps, the Get-it-right-in-the-cameraista’s and Ye-Accolytes-of-Photoshop. As an avowed Get-it-right-in-the-cameraista I sure do a lot of editing. The argument is that the more you get it right for you in the camera the less fiddling around you have to do in post-production. In my case it comes from a youth spent shooting expensive slide film on a shoestring budget. In these digital days, when the hardware is still expensive but the marginal cost of the next image is a fraction of a penny, what that is really about is expanding the chances of achieving the image you want to capture. The principle categories in photo editing programmes are those that alter the fundamentals of the image and those that layer effects on. Of course the real world contains a bit of both usually, but the fundamental approach will be one or the other.
If you are shooting in RAW the images can seem a little flat and dull – remember that what you see in the viewfinder is either a reflected image of the actual light falling on your subject or, in CSC’s and compacts, effectively a jpeg. Sometimes a little cropping or erasing extraneous details make for a more satisfying final product. Maybe a shadow could do with lightening or a sky darkening to get back some detail, or a blemish on the skin would be more flatteringly removed from the portrait. Smart Photo Editor is the proprietary, paid for (£19.95 ‘on sale’ and a bargain stand alone and £34.95 as a Photoshop Plug in) programme I use and also Gimp and Picasa, both free. Others use other combinations, some paid for some free.
Your ambition may not quite extend to the do everything Photoshop (yet at least) and I will venture two reasons pecuniary why you may not, one more obvious than the other, viz: (A) you don’t have the set up or space or need for it to make the most of it and (B) Zombies. The former is more obviously expensive than the latter, and I don’t want to get into an endless and ultimately fruitless kit pornography rant, so ’nuff said, but the latter can have quite an impact on the pocket. Let me explain.
Fortunate as most club members are to be living in a city that has an “Official” policy for handling of a Zombie outbreak, that isn’t quite what I mean – though there are worrying sightings. Zombies are those little items, small denominations, that walk out of your bank account every month without much thought. In isolation they are not a lot. Their attraction is their affordability, the trade is made worth it by the perceived quality/quantity you get in return – at the point of purchase. You get a lot of things with Adobe’s Creative Cloud for photography for £8.57 a month, no doubt. A more detailed and flexible programme there is yet to be brought to market, though the gap may be closing. It is, I suspect, a lot more than most amateur photographers need, but it’s always nice to have some extra wumph under the bonnet. If it wasn’t no sports cars or sports bikes would ever get sold. For a vocal minority bragging rights are always the primary concern.
That, though isn’t quite the point. Are you going to pay (and keep on paying) £102.84 straight out on something you might need? No? But might pay £8.57 a month on something that is more than you need, something you can expand in to. It’s there and it ticks over and you get used to it. But, when is it just one item? When it’s a couple, or three, it grows. £20.00 a month isn’t a lot to spend on a hobby, say on editing and storage. £240 a year is not an inconsiderable amount to waste. Certainly less than a divorce lawyer when the other half finds out how much you really spent on that camera body. That’s halfway to a very decent new lens or a goodly second hand one even on £20.00 a month. The zombies keep on walking and are easy to add to, easy to forget. The costs add up. On the other hand it keeps you up to date and Adobe get a steady revenue stream, pirate copies are fewer and far between. Easier if you are self employed and you can claim it against tax, of course.
Not that I am seeking to dissuade you. The reality is Adobe first, the others a long way behind when it comes to sales and it is a de facto industry standard, which in itself generates market share for Adobe. Our focus, though, was on a broader range of editing opportunities as well as Photoshop. We looked a little at the alternatives to Photoshop on the Ask Reflex evening, this evening was a chance to get closer to the subject. From a little tour round I would say that there is a great deal that you can do with a little practice, patience and occasional lateral thinking as members showed how they adapt what they have to get what they want.
There is another benefit to using editing software that may not be immediately apparent, at least at the time of shutter release and really is about getting your money’s worth. Through cropping your original image you can often find more than one image possibility from a given frame. (Don’t confuse image crop, cutting out bits of a bigger picture with sensor crop the physics of collecting the same amount of light on different sized sensors). You effectively recompose the photograph, albeit with less data in it. It might be that the light and shadow falling across a landscape actually yield two very different moods when you isolate each area and you now have three opportunities from one frame. I would say that, in work flow terms, cropping is the first thing that you do, because you have the essential character in view that you want to work with. The crop is basically a magnification of the connection that drew you to take that frame in the first place. There are frequent chances to re-crop a frame rarely do we crop so tight that there isn’t any wriggle room and even then, sometimes, going more extreme tells a different story. Of all the editing you can do this is perhaps the simplest and the one with the biggest potential, which is why I would suggest it’s the best place to start the editing.
follow the link as it will show you the dates and also has descriptions of themes. Click on the individual carnival websites for start times etc. Below is a copy of Myk’s post on the club Facebook page:
“This year’s Someset Carnival season is almost here. If anyone would like to attend one of these events as a group, please see the dates and locations below.
We’ll be making announcements on club meetings so everyone will get to hear about it.
Monday 09/11/15 – Burnham on Sea
Friday 13/11/15 – Weston Super Mare
Monday 16/11/15 – Midsomer Norton
Wednesday 18/11/15 – Shepton Mallet
Friday 20/11/15 – Wells
Saturday 21/11/15 – Glastonbury
The preferred date/venue is Wells on 20/11 as they have market stalls, hot food/drinks and a fairground in the market square”.
Reflex Open Competition Round 1.
New feature to the club evenings, last Thursday saw the introduction of Your Picture Your Way where club members brought in pictures they may not otherwise have shared with the club and explained their connections to it. The themes were landscape and street and though the interpretations were broad the insights were interesting.
Landscape photography goes back to the very first photograph, taken by Nicéphore Niépce, and has its roots in classical art whereas Street photography, rather than Street Portraiture which is posed from people in the street, is in the moment and distinctly the product of a photographic process. Only a camera can capture the complex juxtapositions, expressions and emotional connection in a fraction of a second. It is unique, at the moment anyway, to photography and because it is a single slice of time, specifically stills photography. Of course there is the view that street photography was invented by people who couldn’t get up early enough to shoot a sunrise, but we will let that lie.
There are two sides to any photograph, regardless of the genre, namely the artistic and the technical. Landscape can be as much about pre-visualisation as it is about the composition when you get there. It is about nature and the way the elements combine to affect the Earth’s landmass. The way the seasons present and the light falls means that a single view can provide an infinite number of subtleties for the photographer to chose from – or ignore. The elements for the street photographer can be, or at least seem to be, chaotic in the sense that physicists refer to chaos, a complex system of so many parts acting in unpredictable ways that any outcome is as likely as another. Those parts are people acting out their internal and external lives in a common space. The chaos comes from our not knowing how those internal and external lives interact on an individual by individual basis – we may not even be aware of our own balances and motivations – and how they effect those around them emotionally and environmentally. In that sea of uncertainty where we all swim moments of connection arise and those are the moments that the Street Photographer seeks to capture.
No matter how good your grasp of the technical is, if you can’t actually see the picture, frame the picture, compose the picture you can never take the picture. This is simply why a good photographer with a cheap camera gets consistently better results than a mediocre one with the top of the range. There are no qualification barriers to buying expensive kit, of course, nor would I advocate one, but there is no substitute for technique. “Luck” won’t cut it, especially as you tend to make your own as was discussed on an earlier blog on serendipity. Even chaos theory allows that the biggest factor in determining what will happen (an outcome) is the initial set of circumstances from which it springs. Control what you can to discover the art in the rest goes for both Landscape and Street photography.
But not every subject wants their photograph taken and not every landowner wants your feet trampling their daises and not every property owner is delighted to have you take photographs of their property. There are buildings and areas that are off limits to the public and there is a lot of confusion over what you can and cannot take photographs of. Common sense plays a part here but once an image is taken in a public space the only power to legally remove it is via a court order. This is a matter for individual conscience. You should note that laws covering criminal damage, nuisance and anti social behaviour still apply, that access to mountain, moor, heath, down and common land in England and Wales (different laws in Scotland and Northern Ireland) is permitted but the above laws govern those activities. Trespass is still an offence. The Official Secrets Act and the Prevention of Terrorism Act (especially Sections 43 and 58A) are, with a little forethought, quite easily avoided, though it is surprising and not a little depressing the number of times that the Association of Chief Police Officers have had to reissue there guidance over the last decade or so. Censorship is a fact of life, it is a fluid situation, but it need not be onerous, at least in the UK. If abroad, then it is a whole different ball game. Find out and stick to their rules.
So what did we learn from our fellow members photographs? Well I doubt there was a consensus as each of us will have seen slightly different things and taken different things from each image – and thank you for sharing those that did. So a brief list from me from a couple of discussions I had at tea break and at the end of the evening.
From the technique side, don’t be afraid to use the camera on auto for Street if the situation demands it. It is pointless in not getting the shot because you are fiddling with the settings because you always shoot manual (really? In this day and age?) when aperture and shutter priority modes give you almost the same degree of control, more quickly and auto will give you a more than half way decent approximation in most situations, though sticking to just one as opposed to having a range of options does suggest that you have some exploration of your camera to complete (Guilty. My camera sends nearly all its time in aperture priority because the ISO button is handy and the exposure compensation is the next button to it).
Don’t be afraid to try it, either landscape or street. A little planning goes a long way. If you don’t practice it then it won’t get better. Take one aspect at a time and practice it, be that a single focal length, shallow depth of field, high depth of field, low angle, there are many different things to try.
Look around the view finder before you push the shutter, should you reframe? Move your position? Something else?
All round an enjoyable evening. See you Thursday.
A N N O U N C E M E N T S
NEXT MEETING: Kingswood Salver table top night – Collectables. Bring your collectables and CAMERAS as we launch our campaign for this years Kingswood Salver.
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.
I have found a temporary (I hope) work around to the image problem and here, as promised are the winning entries:
Ding, ding, round three (of the Open Competition). Me? I am more of a crossword boxer – enter the ring vertical and leave horizontal. I enter the open competition rounds on the same basis and there were some great images on show, again, in this round. To everyone who made it happen, entrants, committee and judge thank you, it was an enjoyable evening. The rest of us? Well the more images the better, so why not give it a go? We lose nothing and gain insight from others with considerable experience. Novice? So am I. True it might not go as well as we hoped but then it might go better. Given a half way decent judge we get some valuable feedback. Go and try what they say, see if improves it for you. In the words of Mrs Doyle, “Ah, go on. Go on. Go on, go on, go on”.
Going on, a fine evening we had of it. The numbers of prints was quite low this time round, indeed if the club were looking for a motto it could do worse than the words of the Cilla “Norra Lorra Prints” – from the ancient Liverpudlian, well Cilla’s way older than me and I am no spring chicken. What there were showed sound photographic skills, were varied, well executed and interesting. Judge Peter Kessler pronounced himself quite a fan of black and white and they showed better this time round than last, or indeed in the battle with BPS, in both print and projected categories I have summarised the judges comments with the images in a separate pdf file – I have had a few problems with Word Press and pictures . The file can be found here > 140206 Open Competition Round 3 edit.
We were also treated to a short presentation by Paul Kessler from his four trips to Thailand, and we thank him for that. Very informative and a whole extra biscuit at break next week for anyone who can give the full name, in Thai, of the city we call Bangkok!
Congratulations to the winners and well done everyone for another interesting evening. Once again thanks to all who made this happen.
There will be a change to the running order from 20th February (Published Work) , please see separate post for details.
There will be a photomarathon on 2nd March 2014 – Ian C has details.
FLIKR (http://www.flickr.com/groups/reflexcc/) competition for February is up and running the theme is Transport and is for uploaded images taken in the month of February on the theme.
You may have noticed lately that the slideshow that was on the front page of the website is no more. It’s been driving me crazy and throwing up problems for a while now and I finally had enough of trying to sort it out. So I have come up with a simple solution!
Now you have the chance!
The solution is really quite simple. The site can generate a simple Slideshow itself instead of relying on plug ins that cause problems. So all I need is the images to create that slideshow. That’s where you come in! Rather than me picking an image to go into it I want YOU to go through your photographs and pick out 1 image that says this is my style, this is an image I’m proud of. Pick one that screams out how you want to be seen as a photographer. Be it a landscape, portrait or still life. Grab it and email it into me at the usual club address.
The boring bit
If you would like to be a part of this then you need to pick 1 of your images (yes just 1 for now) and either email (Please put “Slideshow” as the subject of the email) or Dropbox it to me. There are a couple of conditions for this though.
- I will have the final decision as to the suitability of an image. No discussion will be entered into. If I think it’s not suitable I won’t use it.
- They have to be Family Friendly. Artistic or implied nudity may be considered but it will depend on the image.
- No offensive content. Use your common sense I know most of you have some.
- The image has to be “Landscape” format and 800 pixels wide with a maximum height of 600 pixels.
- Please don’t fill empty space around the image with black. If you really must try to get around the size restrictions please use white as the fill colour.
- Send them as JPG’s Medium quality (or about 55% on the slider when you save them)
- Maximum Filesize should be no more than 1MB. This is a restriction on our website and all the images on our website are less than that size.
You can have your name or website on the print if you want but I WILL be having a title & your name show up when your picture appears so please save the images with a file name in the same way as you would save them for our competitions. If you don’t supply me with a title for the image it will be shown on the site as “untitled” followed by your name.
It may be possible to have your image link to either your website or your Flickr/Facebook pages (This part isn’t guaranteed and depends on how easy it is to implement as part of the slideshow). So if you want that and I can get it working you will also need to have supplied me with a link.
This Thursday we are trying something we’ve never done before. But we need you to help out! We need you to Dropbox or eMail images into the club that you would like someone to edit for you. You can send in JPG’s or raw files it doesn’t matter which.
The aim of the meeting is to try and show you various ways an image can be edited.
we are going to do that is by using your own images and having someone else edit them! You may not be sure or may have already decided on the best look for one of your photographs. But what will another club member think of it? Will they edit it in a totally different way. Maybe you never even considered that it could be turned monochrome. Maybe you didn’t think a grunge look would suit it. Well hopefully our group of volunteer editors will give you some ideas for you to try out when you next edit your photographs.
Quite a few of you may recognise the two images on this Blog post. They are from exactly the same raw file! The vertical portrait one is a jpg copy (A raw file was just too big to put onto this website) of the original raw file. The larger image at the top of this post is the finished image. Now would you have deleted the original from the back of your camera when you looked after taking it? Or would you have waited until you got home and seen if anything could be rescued from it on the computer? We’re trying to make you think that there may be more to your pictures than you are currently seeing, that there may be more to them than you think. Don’t just discard an image you think isn’t good as soon as you see it on the camera screen. Take it home and look at it. You may just get something you like.