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!
Today’s post and pictures are brought to you from Purton Hulks by club member Myk Garton.
A trip to Purton Hulks on the River Severn as 12 club members braved the heavy rainstorms that were falling over Bristol and made the short journey up the M5 and A38 to the Purton Hulks boat graveyard on the bank of the River Severn. By the time we arrived, the rain had cleared and we were treated to a lovely sunset at the car park whilst waiting for others to arrive, although it didn’t last for very long.
With the light fading rapidly we made our way along the canal tow-path to the boat graveyard. Some members had beaten us there and were already taking photographs. Most of the group walked along to the wooden hulks further along and began shooting various bits of the old wrecks.
As darkness descended, it was time to get the lights out and practice some light painting techniques. I think everyone managed to get a few decent shots.
All images courtesy Myk Garton © 2014
The Summer trips are now complete and we now get to move into our new venue. It will be good to see and hear what everyone has been up to over the summer break
Talking of the new venue. If you haven’t heard we are moving to the newSt. Annes Junior School
BS4 4HUon the 4th of September. Read on for what Dan Ellis wants your help with at that meeting!
NEXT WEEK (4th September)
Because of the late confirmation we’ve sadly had to postpone Bob Martin’s visit until the New Year. Instead we’re going to be doing a variation on the 10×10 nights the club often runs.
This week’s 2x5x10 nights will hopefully help you think about where you are now, photographically, and what you’d like to get out of the coming year. We ask members to bring in five images from both categories.
“Destination” images that you bring in could be of a subject matter that attracts you (perhaps you want to improve your portraiture or macro photography), they could be representative of a photographer you particularly admire (a club member, someone from Flickr, or a “famous” photographer) and would like to learn their style. Perhaps you’ve come across a particular technique you’d like to start using (you might really want to get to grips with depth of field, or learn how to do good HDR), or maybe you want to start selling your images or getting them published. How would you like your photography to improve in the coming year?
Images of your own that you bring in could be some of your best, ones that you think represent your “average” or typical output, or they could be ones that are your current attempts in the direction you want to go (if you want to improve your portraiture bring in a recent portrait you’ve taken).
We ask that you submit images in the usual way via Dropbox but it might be worth bringing them in on a memory stick just for this meeting as the clubs Dropbox folder on the laptop may not be able to be updated before this particular meeting.
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.
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!)
For most of us, it appears, Adobe Lightroom is all we are ever likely to need in a photo editor, and in this insightful evening, Kevin Spiers, Mark OGrady and Dan Thomas gave us a whirlwind tour of some of the possibilities. It certainly isn’t the only editor available, Gimp, Pixlr, Picasa, Paint.Net are all free alternatives with their supporters but none, as they appear to me, have an interface quite as slick and certainly none have the full capability of the cloud based full suite (Photoshop CC and Lightroom) which can now be rented at just under £9 a month. Mind you, photo-shopping is not always approved of!
Kevin was first up and showed us the cataloguing feature. An image isn’t much use to anyone if it can’t be found, and with the ease and cheapness of taking another frame comes the problem of sheer volume. The number of images quickly adds up. Looking for that photograph can soon become evidence of that old proverb involving needles and haystacks, though why anyone would think to even begin to look for a steel needle in a stack of dried grass, much less think that was a suitable storage medium in the first place, has always defeated me. Sounds like bad filing practice, which is exactly what the cataloguing system is designed to overcome. Like trying to find a needle in a sewing box. Simples!
Frequency separation is a technique that gives the user the ability to process the surface and the depth of an image in different detail layers. The image is divided into two layers, containing the high frequencies and the low frequencies and allows the use these layers to work on colours, on broad and fine details independently, using non-destructive changes to the original image.
Definitely an advanced users technique, but one that seems to be getting wider use over the last couple of years . It is, in essence, about utilising the different strata (think of a photograph as a sandwich and each component of the sandwich is both part of the overall sandwich and a thing in itself) that make up a photograph. Or think of your favourite song played by different artists , there are individual notes and there are chords arranged together in subtly different ways that form the overall, still recognisable but differently rendered, tune. If you change the chords and notes sympathetically you change the harmonies but can still retain the tune. Frequency separation is about using these strata to enhance or alter parts of a photograph in the process of retouching and moving the image to a more striking, enhanced representation. Again not a process without controversy, but something that started when the first human artist drew the first image and the first human critic ,that is the first person the artist showed it to, thought “That ain’t right”.
The technique involves creating two layers, a high frequency layer and a low frequency layer. The low frequency layer contains large areas of colours and tones and the high frequency area fine details like skin pores and blemishes, hair and so on. Julia Kuzmenko McKim gives a blow by blow account of this and also includes a Photoshop action that automates the process (which you might use, but entirely at your own discretion). These actions can be replicated in some other programmes too, Gimp, for instance has its own frequency separation plug in.
To the low frequency layer, Mark applied desaturation (taking it to black and white) and Gaussian Blur, also known as Gaussian Smoothing. Carl Friedrich Gauss was an C18th mathematician, perhaps the greatest since antiquity, whose work has had a huge effect on the modern world. It is the application of an algorithm derived from his work and that of Fourier which we need to know not even that much about, leaving such technicalities to people who have use for them. All we need to know is that it is a blur effect that reduces image noise and detail. Mark suggested using a brush around 3.5 to 5 pixels and though the size used would depend on the job to be done and the preferences of the user he suggested that would be a happy medium. The larger the brush the bigger the effect. On the high frequency layer he changed the blending ode to linear light and talked about the relative merits of the healing brush and cloning.
Starting with the low frequency layer Mark evened out the skin tones and then switched to high frequency layer to work on the blemishes, making sure that the healing brush was set to sample from the current layer. There are a number of techniques, he assured us, that can be applied, and people derive their own favourites and short cuts. The results were quite stunning and well worth trying out, more finely controlable than just stamping around with a clone brush. Mark recommended Scott Kelby‘s book on photoshop.
After break Dan took us through the Lightroom layout, which is set out in a way as to aid workflow in that the tools that it shows you at the top of the menus the things you are more likely to productively work on first. This all helps with the work flow. Dan emphasised the lossless nature of using Photoshop, leaving the original untouched. To emphasise these points he took us through some images that he had provided earlier and applied some of the options that the abundant menus allow the user to easily apply. Dan’s top tips? Take in RAW and Slide the Sliders! RAW gives you more data to work with and the sliders let you apply effects incrementally and as long as preview is switched on you can see the effects on your image in real time, saving considerable effort in going back and forth to check your image. There is a downside of course and that is, in the words of Yogi Berra (American baseball player and yes, that was his real name), “If you don’t know where you are going, you will wind up somewhere else”. It helps to know what you want to do before you start fiddling around.
A great evening and thanks to Kevin, Mark and Dan for making it possible.
You can find an expanded version of what Dan took us through here and includes ground covered by Kevin as well and a whole lot more too.
Chair’s evening was very successful, in that there were enough chairs to go around and the photography was interesting, varied and showed that even two people taking the same shot at the same time don’t get the same photograph.
The head count was approximately the same at the end of the evening as it was at the beginning, (Maurice insisted Steve take a headcount) which is always a good sign, even if only of strong security. Split into two the evening evolved mainly around images that were taken 8,000 miles and 15 years apart. Maurice’s opening took in his membership of the Air Training Corps (since 1963) and a trip with cadets to the Falklands in 1998 (and other locations), with bits of RAF Fairford and international cadet exchanges as variation interspersed with images of places not to be found in Venice. And some skiing. The post break slot was taken by Kevin Spiers’ and Richard Price’s long planned Iceland trip taken last October which produced some stunning shots.
The chair opened with the observation that Venice had previously been done, which had been his intention and thus we were treated to such delights among the main fare of such as: the Piazza de San Cabot Circus, several images of the Feeder and the Sharpness Canal; the Pero’s Bridge after Mark S got at it with a hacksaw and minus its horns (I never realised how much those Horns masked its resemblance to the Bridge of Sighs, so well spotted Mark); Cardiff from San Giorgio Maggiore and Chiesa di San Francesco della Swansea Bay. Couldn’t help but be struck by their resemblance to the current views of the Somerset Levels. I understand UKIP are to field a candidate in that part of Somerset in the next General Election to campaign against the feared swamping of Mucheleny by benefit hungry Italian Gondoliers (as highlighted in a nine page spread in Tuesday’s Daily Mail). This could provide us with some photo-opportunities as it is cheaper to get to Mucheleny from Bristol than it is to get to Venice. Cornetto anyone?
The Falklands were/are still riddled with ordinance and some of the detritus of battle formed part of the subject of several of the images provided by Maurice, including the sanger from which Colonel H. Jones VC OBE was shot and killed. Although these places were the backdrop to the visit they were not the purpose and they certainly lived up to motto of the ATC (Venture Adventure). The Corps is as much about citizenship as venturing and adventuring and there were images of community and respect to balance this out. There were also behind the scenes shots from Fairford. There is something about a photograph being a moment in time and Maurice was able to fill in some of the details of some of the cadets since. Every photograph tells a story, but the story doesn’t end at the click of the shutter.
The old saw that to fail to plan is to plan to fail cannot be applied to Kev and Rich’s expedition to Iceland (no Supermarket jokes, please). If it weren’t for the fact that they might dismiss it because the letters aren’t alphabetically organised one might be lead to suspect a touch of OCD. That said, on the evidence, there is very definitely a need to plan if you have a must see list. Getting ten miles from your hotel they reported as an expedition stuffed with the temptations of some other stunning detail. This is the landscape that NASA used to train Astronauts in driving the Luna Rover, and where two continents meet and crammed with photo-opportunities. So being selective is based on knowing what comes next and, as they both pointed out, a little discipline. And how that planning paid off. The land of ice and steaming hot geysers, the northern lights, black sand, ice sheets and volcanoes was beautifully framed and presented. I can fully see why they want to return, though not, apparently by taxi at £80 for 30 miles.
So our thanks to Maurice, Kev and Rich for an evening that was amusing, informative and entertaining and also to Mark for doing the background technicals. Next week is the open competition round three and based on earlier rounds I think we have a treat in store.
“The Photographic Angle’s free photography exhibition which will be taking place at Castlemead in Bristol from Saturday 15th to Wednesday 19th February.
A Beautiful World features the work of 19 photographers who have been moved by our beautiful world enough to document it in all its glory.
Entry is free and the exhibition will be open daily from 10am to 3pm.
Please visit our website for more details”
And also PLEASE remember the Flikr competition.