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12th November 2015 – Hanham Pay’s a Visit.

Last meeting we welcomed the return visit of our WCPF confederates from Hanham Photographic Society and we thank them for their input into the evening. It is always good to see the work of other enthusiasts to compare and contrast to our own so that we may generate some new ideas, sometimes new angles on our own photography of the same subjects. We have also had a reasonable response to the survey that Gerry put together for us on Survey Monkey which has yielded some clarity around the likes and dislikes of our more active members, I am told and that will be discussed and integrated into future planning by the Committee. Thank you all those who took the time to participate.

 

The stories that we can project onto an image is a powerful hook for a photograph, often before other ascetic attractions. We were entertained with image spreading across decades and something we don’t see in the club very often, AV shows. In fact these were the first AV’s, certainly in the last couple of years that I have been at the club. So this week we are going to take a potter around the topic of Audio Visual Presentations.

 

Primarily they do what it says on the tin, using sound and pictures, usually stills when made by photographers I guess, but often with movie elements mixed in to make a self contained presentation around a topic or theme. They can be made cheaply using software that is either not very expensive or even free, though, as with all things audio and visual you can spend up to an enormous fortune on “Essentials” and gewgaws. None of course are arbiters of quality, the biggest input, as with any IT system, is located between the keyboard and the chair. If you are serious about such things, of course, by which I mean semi/professional then custom and bespoke hardware can be bought in or built and professional market software have a pay off. For the curious existing hardware and free software are available. This piece is aimed at the curiosity end of the market.

 

Movie Maker (aka LIVE Movie Maker) comes packaged with Windows. At least it did before Windows 10, it is now part of the Windows Essentials Package (basically legacy programmes from previous versions of windows) and if you haven’t downloaded it into your Windows 10 then you can get it direct from Microsoft. It’s free. It is also an old version as, for some reason it didn’t make Windows 10 in updated form. So far so Microsoft. Apple’s Final Cut does the same in Apples’ own way though it is not the only option. We can also use PowerPoint, for those of us with the Microsoft Office suite, in a variety of creative ways, or Google’s free photo editing suite Picassa (https://picasa.google.co.uk/), and, of course, Photoshop (though this video is done over a PowerPoint presentation).

 

For recording your commentary, if you don’t already have a programme or app on your computer, and there is one in Windows, you could do a lot worse than Audacity (free) or Free Record Edit. You could also usefully employ an external microphone (quality does make a difference here, but go with what you have before splashing out). If you are going to use music, assuming it’s not your own for which there is plenty of freeware out there for you to choose from, use royalty free music offerings (those with creative commons licensing).

 

As with most things planning makes for a better result. The process can be as complicated as you want to make it but, as ever, KISS – Keep It Short and Simple – rules the rules. There should be a clear beginning middle and end and one item should follow on logically from the previous. Whether you match the visuals to the audio or the audio to the visuals is a judgement you have to make, but if you don’t know where you are going you are likely to find yourself somewhere else. That is to say if you don’t know the point you want to make then you are likely to end up with a bit of mess. Or a lot of one.

 

So, when planning for audiovisual you have to remember that there are different priorities than planning just the image alone. The soundtrack is probably the most difficult element to get right, not so much the choice of jingle jangling music in the background which can be very distracting, but the deadpan voice of the narrator is an absolute joy. Not. This can kill any interest very quickly. A little adaptation goes a long way. The ability to put some emotion into the sentences is worth its weight in gold. Difference in tone, timbre, and occasionally speed gives the presentation of some interest. It is a fine line between nearly and good enough, but the effect on the viewer is far greater than might otherwise be thought. Going over the top does no favours either. The breathlessly enthusiastic can equally kill a presentation just as fast. Basically you need to get the sound right as well as the visuals.

 

Professional AV’s like those used in marketing and sales, can and do use proprietary hardware and software, and that is a sky’s the limit playground for your wallet. The rules, though, stay the same. Of primary importance is to decide who your audience is and the second is to use the medium to talk to them, not at them. The materials you present have to be appropriate, they have to be made available at the right time and often, they have to be able to be played across multiple platforms. This can be where the Web comes in useful with sites like YouTube, Vimeo and so on, where the question of Windows/Mac/Linux viewed on Lap top, PC, Mac, I-Phone Android etc don’t come into play because someone else has already taken care of that. This is good for wide distribution, though controlling access can be problematic. Neither is the cost/bother of burning CD/DVD’s, printing covers and loading into boxes a factor. On the other hand there is a lot you can do with a little, so why not give it a go?

 

Our thanks again to Hanham Photographic Society for an entertaining evening. Next meeting, Life Begins at 40 ……

20th November 2014. On Geometry and Painting With Light

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.

 01_ALIEN SHAPES_242

2nd: “Over Head”  Louise James.

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3rd “Red Ball” Roy Williams.

03_Red ball_266

 

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.


 

LIGHT PAINTING

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.

Fire and Ice_DSC1859Reflex_DSC1862Dr Quatermass Burns Down The School_DSC1881_filtered

 

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.

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Announcements:

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.

LIMITED NUMBERS

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!