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.
Two away days to cover as last weeks scheduled blog got displaced. Hopefully back on track now. An unexpected opportunity to tour a Tannery courtesy of member Nick Hale replaced our scheduled Millennium Square trip the week before last and a trip to Blaise Hamlet last week both threw up some tricky light conditions, namely the lack of it and flat light with low contrast. The Thomas Ware & Sons Tannery was formed 175 years ago. The process and buildings are fantastic material and I look forward to seeing members images after the summer’s road trips. Thanks Nick, that was a fascinating evening and all the members were suitably impressed, I thought. Blaise Hamlet was built to house the workers who serviced the John Nash designed main house of the Blaise Castle Estate when they retired. John Harford bought the estate land in 1795 for £13,000 (a bargain £1.2m in today’s coin, using the Retail Price Index, but the average wage in 1795 was circa £20 per anum, in 2014 £25,000 – Source EH.Net ) The castle itself was a folly built as part of the evolving grand design of the estate.
The sun was hidden by a uniform blanket of rain-threatening cloud for both events, which was a pity, as the plentiful sky lights and doorways held the promise of some photogenic lighting in the tannery and the warm coloured stone of the main house and the intertwining of nature and construction to be found at the Blaise cottages (cue debate on the use of buildings to reinforce social order) offer a lot of subtleties that contrasting light brings to the fore. So, if photography is about light, and it is all about light physically, what do we do in the absence or limitation of it? The obvious answer to this is to provide our own, but this is not always feasible, so this week we are going to look at shooting in low light situations, what can and what cannot be reasonably achieved and the costs of doing so in terms of quality. We shall be looking more closely at ISO, the more mysterious member of the Exposure Triangle.
The options on camera are, basically, open the aperture, select a lower shutter speed, or select a higher ISO. The other useful option is to use additional, artificial lighting, either constant light or flash/strobe. A tripod can help with longer exposures. The two other options that spring to mind are focus on details rather than panoramas or switch to black and white, but these are variations, though very useful ones (yes photography is about details and exclusion but we are talking about large buildings here remember and in general at the moment, not in particular). Then there is the pack-up-go-home option and its local variant, pack-up-go-home-come-back-another-day. But where’s the challenge in that and where the learning opportunities? Are you a photographer or a Sherpa?
ISO stands for the International Standards Organisation, doesn’t just apply to cameras, it does exactly what it says on the tin, publish standards for a huge variety of items, systems and products. One of them covered film “speed” or the way that film reacted to light, more specifically, the sensitivity of the crystals in the emulsion applied to the transparent film base react to light. The most widely used standard was the American Standards Association (ASA now known as ANSI, the American National Standards Institute) and that was eventually adopted by the ISO (DIN or the Deutsches Institut für Normung e.V. was used by Agfa among others and had a different numbering system) ISO was carried over to digital processors by the manufacturers, the familiar making sense when introducing a new way of doing something.
Of the three parts of the exposure triangle ISO is the one that acts directly on the sensor. The other two parts, aperture and shutter speed work by throttling the amount of light before it reaches the sensor. ISO directly plugs into the sensor to alter its sensitivity to the amount of light reaching it with its own particular characteristics. With aperture it is depth of field and with shutter speed it is motion blur. ISO can boost it. It can also cut it to a point. There is a constant where the sensor will provide the best quality image, usually around 100 ISO and a group of ISO numbers where very little difference is made by the sensor manipulating the light received, but gradually, as with faster film emulsions, there comes a point where the image will begin to noticeably deteriorate with the incursion of noise. Noise is a product of the signal moving around the sensor, and is a function of all electrical circuits. How much signal (desired data) there is and how much poor data there is in relation to it. As poor light produces more poor data (noise), and the chip amplifies that data to produce the image, the quality starts to deteriorate as artefacts generated by the process become more apparent. All sensors will have a certain amount of noise present at any ISO, it’s part of the mechanics of the sensor. The amount of noise as a proportion of the overall signal determines the reproductive quality of the image. When the light is good and the ISO is set at or close to the speed of the chip then the signal is strong and the noise is low but gradually this inverts the more boost is applied. When you amplify the signal you amplify the noise in the circuit, when the signal to noise ratio is good this doesn’t matter much, but noise will increase as you boost the signal and it will be an increasing amount of what is going on. Hence, well, noise at high ISO’s.
On the part of the photographer getting to know your cameras useable limitations – and it is a judgement thing rather than a given absolute – we have to judge how much noise we are prepared to put up with in an image. There are ways of limiting its effects in post production, also in camera with some models, but the pay-off is a softening of the image. Also do not forget the idea of an optimal viewing distance, as a rule of thumb 1.5 – 2 times the length of the diagonal of the viewing area (works for tv’s too) AND the minimum pixels per inch – calculated by dividing 3438 by the viewing distance). So that is pretty much it, without getting over my head in technical details. ISO and noise.
Tonight – Millennium Square. Meet under the big shiny ball at 19:00 hours (7 PM).
Apologies for the gap between posts, hopefully now we are back on track. This week I am going to over two things, not disconnected as it turns out, though through serendipity rather than design. The first is what we discovered about the rules of composition we learned from our Just-For-Fun (non) competitive round on “Geometry”, where the winning image was a light painting, the subject of our most recent practical evening, by Julia Simone. The second was our session this last Thursday on Light Painting.
About three weeks ago, I think it was, Amateur Photographer quoted Bill Brandt (1904-1983) thus: “Photography is not a sport. It has no rules. Everything should be dared and tried”. Our meeting on 6th November was an open non-competition, that is to say that the members voted on photographs inspired by “Geometry” submitted by the membership “Just for fun”, but it doesn’t count towards the Reflex Open Competition (ROC). Quite a bit was dared and tried, nature, landscape, macro, light painting and there was enough to keep both Ye Acolytes of Photoshop and the Get It Right In The Camera-istas happy, with plenty in between. It certainly was an enjoyable evening and good to see how many people put entries in. More the merrier! Special club thanks to Mark S. and Mark O. for making this happen on the evening and it was followed by a selection of the WCPF travelling exhibition images for some additional inspiration.
Geometry – basically the arrangement of points, lines, surfaces and space – in composition is far from new, of course. Much, much older than photography. What we are really talking about, pictorially, is the relationships between form, shapes and space as we interpret, capture and refine it. Basically features or points in an image that form squares, rectangles, circles, arches, polygons and or triangles. Spotting these is a good start in the following winners entries:
1st: “Alien Shapes” – Julia Simone.
2nd: “Over Head” Louise James.
3rd “Red Ball” Roy Williams.
It is, of course, not the fall of light that allows us to see the arrangement of forms, but how that light is reflected. Without reflection we could see nothing, it is how we see the world. Within that world repetition is probably the first geometric form we think of and gives a sense of stability to an image and a set of sign posts for the eye to follow in a structured sort of way. Our brains like structure and order because that way they can assess the environment for dangers more easily. A similar effect can be made through gradation either in size of objects or colour. Contrast is a form of rhythm all of its own and for many forms the attraction of black and white where distracting colours are leached out of the equation.
Then there are the composition rules of: thirds, fifths and sevenths; the “Golden” or “Fibonacci ratio”, (or even the Rule of Thirds v Golden Ratio); of leading lines, illusions of depth and perspective (eight kinds) sometimes forced by choice of angles and colour (also). These get included or become part of the armoury with practice, sometimes consciously through research, sometimes, maybe most of the time, through seeing and copying them in the works of others either consciously or otherwise. These are the things which we interpret, capture and refine in the space in which they exist. Or we arrange them.
Our light painting adventure, for which thanks to Myk in the woods and Kev and Rich back in the hall – and a big club thank you to them all for making this work – also illustrated these things, “The Rules of Composition“. The bonus with this type of photography, is that the amount of light and the source of light are added in with a higher amount of control than normal. Look at it this way. When we take our camera out in the daylight we mainly constrict the light through aperture, speed, sensitivity to light of the processor or film, or we boost certain aspects according to our concept of composition. In its simplest form light painting – the origin of the word photography is the Greek for Light drawing or painting – we are starting with dark and controlling the amount of light we put into an image, using the longer exposure times to allow for movement and blur which become light trails and patterns. The essentials are pretty basic, but as with any art form, mastery is something else. The big bonus is you get something special from the beginning.
With bigger subjects, or those where we want to isolate a subject and surround it with dark, we can light in part or as a whole or both in series using a single light source if we so wish. Of course it can get as complicated as you like.
Perhaps the most obvious defining characteristic of light painting is the high contrast of the images it produces. Those images need not be complicated to construct, though the level of complexity, layers and so on is really an individual choice and prevailed upon by individual tastes. The contrast is usually, but not always, on a scale that fades to black, so brightly lit subjects will “Pop”. The key, though, is the long exposure and the bright light source. All you need is a camera that has some form of manual control (preferably with a bulb setting that will hold the shutter open as long as the shutter button is depressed) a steady place to mount a camera (tripod would be ideal), a torch and a subject. Oh, and a willingness to experiment. Give it a go. It’s fun, relatively easy and you get some interesting results.
From Mr M. Garton of this Parish
WOODLAND PHOTOGRAPHY DAY
Over the Christmas/New Year holiday period we are holding a Woodland Photography Day.
We’ll be spending a day photographing models (both male and female) in woodland settings
We’ll meet up at 9:30am and start shooting by 10am. The plan is to use one location up until 12:30pm and then the 2nd location until 3pm or later depending on conditions.
Any questions, please ask Myk either at the club or via the club Facebook Page.
OLD REDCLIFFIANS LADIES RUGBY TEAM
Need some publicity photographs. A non-paying gig, but something worthwhile for the community if anyone is interested. Ruth Doyle has the details.
UPCOMING AT THE CLUB
November 27th – Bring laptop (+USB) and your selected images for the MAKE A XMAS CARD event! Short presentation followed by a practical. The best one will be sent out as the club card this year!
December 4th – Capturing Stunning B&W images plus Post Production Tips from basics to more advanced from Mr Mark Stone.
December 11th – The second round of this year’s Reflex Open Competition (ROC) will be judged tonight. Get your entries in now!
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.
Greetings all! This week we split up into small groups and set off on our quests to venture where our group leaders pleased.
Group 1 quest for trains had brought them to the land that is known as Bitton Railway, Ruth Doyle reports back on her group,
“Well what can I say? 14 intrepid photographers arrived at Bitton Railway Station. It was closed, and there were no trains running but that didn’t put us off . We took loads of pictures between sheltering from the rain and a great time was had by all- results will astound you“.
However, there have been rumours of a certain images of someone’s behind that should not make their presence known, for they have been banished from this land by the order of the secretary, or they will rue the day they ever made an appearance.
Group 2, which featured two brave souls, one being the leader, Daniel Ellis, who ventured into the midlands of this land that is known to locals as Town Centre, where they trekked the old city wall of Bristol, only to find that the wall had been demolished and replaced with a copious amount of pubs, bars, and clubs, all filled with teenagers celebrating their A Level results. During their trek, they had stumbled across 1 particular memorable individual in an alley way, who instead of trying to steal our cameras, greeted us with the poetry of life. Then after a quick pit stop, decided to make one last adventure out and play with light trails.
Group 3, however, unfortunately did not make it to their destination and chose to retreat and regroup with Group 6 for safety in numbers, due to the catastrophic attack from the weather.
Group 4 were marched on further out away from base by Mark Stone to enjoy the delights of another city, or so they thought, until they were met with a strange event, Myk reports back:
“Mark and myself left Bristol at 6:45pm for the 18 mile drive down the A37 and A39 to the smallest city in England… Wells. Arriving at around 7:30pm our first port of call was the famous (and much photographed) Vicar’s Close, followed by (even more photographed) west front of Wells Cathedral, where we met up with Richard Price. Many photos were taken of the cathedral as well as the cathedral’s resident ginger cat. We wandered around the Bishop’s Palace and managed a few sunset shots before the rain clouds moved in and soaked the cobbled stones in Vicar’s Close giving up some great reflections before we headed for home at around 10pm. On the way back to Bristol we stopped at Priddy Pool on Mendip and did a few long exposures in the pitch black wilderness. However, whilst Mark went back to the car, he missed the best event of the night. ALIENS!!!”
Group 5 was lead valiantly by Hanneke, who quite rightly ran her session from her house, in the dry, Andro gives us the down-low of this groups shenanigans:
“There were various tools at our disposal from Water to vases, and bowls. We all started off with projects working with water, smoke oils and dye to make Photo Art. We all came away with our various takes on our photos. Louise has some great images of Darren and smoke induced bubbles which I am sure you will see from the photo she will share at the club. I tried my hand at photographing fruit splashes alongside Gerry, and achieved my very first photo of a successful fruit (Strawberry) Splash. Hanneke was a perfect hostess for the evening and we thank her for a successful night.”
Lastly, Group 6 lead by John Pike explored the grounds of Temple Meads Station, John reports back:
“Our group of 8 went to Temple Meads Station having gained permission from Network Rail beforehand. We were allowed to go wherever we wanted but were not allowed to use Flash on the platforms. This made us use other ways to get our photos in the low light available. Hopefully we all got some good shots and you will see them when we have the planned night later on.”
Images from these mini groups will be presented on 11th September, mark it in your diary and/or start editing!
Next week we are meeting in Clifton at the Victoria Rooms for 19:30! This will be a photo walk Be there or, well, miss out!
That’s all for today folks!
Until next time, peace out
Megan G (magicalzombiecat)
I would like to say a big thank you to everyone that helped contribute to make this post possible, thank you for your co-ordination!
Images courtesy of Alison Davies, Andro Andrejevic, Myk Garton, Ruth Doyle and myself.
Greetings one and all, it has come to the time that I, Megan, shall take over the sacred duty known as the blogging! Hello! If you would like anything added to the next blog post, then feel free to reach me on any of the mediums listed below:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Send a message on Facebook
- Text me, provided you have my number (just ask me for it if you would like it)
- Or of course, find me at a club meeting. If you are unsure as to which one I am, here is a little reminder! Although, I am terrible with names sometimes so you may need to remind me of your name!
Now that is out-of-the-way, let’s get on with what you’re really here for!
This week’s antics have brought us to the MShed, a place where you can learn of Bristol’s history, or look at the pretty boats, trains and ships, or both, which ever takes your fancy. We met up at 19:30, though others were there from an earlier time. Some chose to photograph the local scenery, the boats and ships, the train carriages, the cranes and bollards on the harbourside, others chose to photograph the brightly coloured locals for their style, and a few chose to take to the skies, photographing the peculiar shaped balloons, such as the daisy (an american visitor), the flagon, and the Smurf, as they headed towards Bath, being Bristol Balloon Fiesta Weekend. The more adventurous brave souls marched on deeper into town, and were never to be seen again, well, that night anyway.
Hard at work, taking photos
Next week(14th August), instead of having another group outing, we shall be running 6 mini groups. However, Myk has decided to cancel his group due to lack of interest, but John has stepped in to run a group in his place. If you would like to join a group, please email Ruth on the clubs email address ( email@example.com ) to sign up to a group, you will have to be quick as some are limited!
- Group 1 Shall be run by Ruth Doyle – Bitton Railway, meet by the barrier to the car park for 19:30. https://goo.gl/maps/LuQ1s
- Group 2 shall be run by Daniel Ellis – Retracing the route of Bristol medieval city wall, Meet at the Slug and Lettuce on St. Nicholas’ Street for 19:30. https://goo.gl/maps/ZUXme
- Group 3 shall be run by Steve Hallam – Meet at the Bag o’ Nails pub at the bottom of Jacobs Wells Road for 19:30. https://goo.gl/maps/fR0Yi
- Group 4 shall be run by Mark Stone – Wells, Meet outside the cathedral for 1930. https://goo.gl/maps/LcHiz
- Group 5 shall be run by Hanneke ter Veen – Playing with water at her home, however this one is limited and 1 space remains for this group.
- Group 6 shall be run by John Pike – Meet outside Temple Meads Station for 19:30.
The pictures that you all take in these groups will then be presented at a later date!
Until next time, peace out
Images courtesy of Ian Gearing