And so the season is now officially over with the presentation of the trophies, but not the events, this Thursday Weston-Super-Mare, get there early as there is lots to see, not least because Thursday night in the summer is Weston bike night. Two weeks ago there must have been a couple of hundred bikes and not a few trikes of every shape, size and paint job, so lots to look at. Starts getting busy around 6pm and there are the other, more permanent attractions to look to as well. This being the summer break from Wick Road, I thought I would use this opportunity to look at just how much is actually going on in our hobby from a quick snapshot of the photographic headlines this last week or so.
Starting, of course with our social evening. I have drawn up a table of winners which you will find in this linked document 150716 Reflex Award Winners 2014-15 and will let that and the strong forward looking feel and commentaries from the AGM speak for the club, and a special thanks to Mark O’Grady for pulling all this information and for all the behind the scenes work. There is a lot of it.
It has been quite an important ten days or so, no, strike that, a very, very important ten days or so for your rights as a photographer. The European Parliament, as I have written about elsewhere held a vote on the European Commission’s proposals, a lot of them as it turns out, for harmonising copyright across the European Union. In itself that is important for the future of photography and photographers among the 500 million EU citizens covered by such an agreement. One of the proposals was to adopt the system whereby public buildings – including furniture like statues that form part of the designed space – should have the copy right of the designers protected and thus photographing them without the architect/copyright holders permission would constitute an offence (civil rather than criminal as far as I can work out). Half a million people signed a petition against this clause which was withdrawn on the day of the vote in face of this opposition. The Freedom of Panorama as it has become known has been maintained, though you should still check what the local laws are on these things because any necessary changes have to be enacted in national legislation (and that can take years). Still, three cheers for democracy.
A triumph for UK photographic technology this week, the sensors that recoded the Pluto images were made right here. It took four and a half hours for the information to get back from Pluto and another 1 hour at Boots to get them developed, but scientists seemed very pleased with the results. It’s a fantastic achievement. OK, you can print them quicker at home, but you have to buy all the kit and have somewhere to put it, not to mention the exorbitant cost of ink and paper.
You wouldn’t want them to all be out of focus like those from the Hubble Telescope, but as of next Year that won’t be a problem for owners of the shortly-to-be-released Panasonic GX8 when a 2016 firmware update will allow the user to “Post Focus” an image – something we talked about a month or so about. The firmware update will also apply to the FZ-300. The capabilities of consumer electronics companies cameras being released now represent a step change from that being evolved by Canon and Nikon, who still have 85% of the market between them. Of course there will be arguments about whether bells and whistles are what are required, but if you’ve been around photography long enough be sure that you can save a lot of time and ear ache and get on with your photographic life by substituting the words “Film” and “Digital” with the words “Proper” and “Toy”. For those of us longer in our remaining tooth we can substitute the brands “BSA”, “Triumph” and “Norton” with “Honda”, “Yamaha” and “Suzuki”. That ended well for market leaders, didn’t it?
There again “You don’t need all that technology to make a photograph”. We’ve heard it and seen it from Justin Quinnell back in March and it’s an idea that has momentum. Pinhole photography is practical, simple and gives you time to think and reflect. The very opportunities that digital gives us can also work against us – especially the “I’ll fix that in post”. There has always been a post and there has always been fixing but there is no substitution for time and care spent on understanding then composing your subject. The idea that the image represents more than what you see because you invest in one that has a connection with you is pretty much as old as art and we’ve been over the whole Gestalt thing elsewhere. Taking time when time is what you’ve got pays dividends.
Finally, if you think that grain is a problem in your images, take a look at this adaption from the film days ….
W-S-M. Thursday 23rd. Be there!
Matthew Lord adjudicated round 3 of the 2014-2015, and the number of entries this year are well up on last in both print and digital categories. Quality is at the very least as good and I think this shows growing confidence within the club which itself is growing at a steady rate. If you haven’t put anything in yet, give it a go, you have nothing to lose and some feedback to gain to give you a start to think differently about your images. A club thanks to Matthew for his lively feedback and congratulations to those commended and placed.
Matthew talked about the way we look at a picture instinctively, though I would say culturally instinctively, because not all cultures have the same relation to space and the expectations of the artistic placement of objects within it, though most human’s seem to start top right when looking at an image. The brain discriminates (and tells you blatant lies, but that’s for another day), the camera cannot. The human eye/brain is not the same as the lens/sensor combination. Henri Poincare pointed out that the notion of space must be understood as a function of objects and all their relations, in photographic terms you can’t have an image without objects set in relation to each other. It’s often been reported here that our judges and speakers say that the photograph should have only one story to tell. The simpler the shot the more impact it is likely to have.
Yes there are composition rules, we have frequently referred to the thirds, fifths, sevenths and the “Golden ratio”, but composition (long video but very good and well worth putting time aside to watch), the punctum and the studium, isn’t restricted to this. Nor do they rule out simplicity. Simplicity comes with the fewest elements required to tell the story. Backgrounds can be problematic. They can give context, depth, even a certain tone. They can also provide too much information, confusing the subject with what it is set in, providing unfortunate growths like telegraph poles or trees. It isn’t always possible to pull the subject from the background, for example when using a long telephoto focused at infinity at a foreground subject which is far enough away to register the rest of the foreground sharp. Nonetheless, as a general guide and something Matthew picked up on more than once, your image rarely suffers from it and the tighter you crop the more impact your main subject will have.
Colour blocks can also make effective compositional statements. True individual tastes, perceptions and experiences affect the particular effect any given hue has on a person, but large blocks of solid colour in an image will almost certainly have an impact on the viewer. Blocks of complimentary colours can also have a powerful effect, think of the colour wheel and how colours interact. Again framing is an important factor in boosting impact.
Even if cropping the final image square, a personal favourite, the middle should be avoided, usually. This is because it is easy to unbalance a picture by making it static for the eye. The eye needs to move around the image for the brain to engage. By creating an off centre interest the eye will be drawn into space as a secondary motion. A fore middle and background is much stronger than a one or two element image. The eye looks for sign posts for direction and interest and will move long the former to stop at the latter before moving on. Lead lines are thus a very powerful element in composition. To work, however, they must all be a part of the story, or the eye will wander and the brain become confused as to what the story is (part of the reason is because the brain has an operational necessity for lower power consumption and so pre-programming certain reactions saves time energy and processing power, a little off topic but if you’re interested see Daniel Khaneman). Of course this can be played around with. Parallel lines can be a very bold statement, especially if shooting with a wide angle lens, even more so with a bit of Dutching
All in all a fascinating evening and again, thanks to our judge Matthew Lord and to Mark O for his efforts and everyone else involved. A gallery of winners will be posted when available which we are unable to post for technical reasons.
A N N O U N C E M E N T S
Next week – Medieval Combat! http://www.medievalmartialarts.co.uk Club members Ian Coombs, Danny Thomas, and Antony Bezer are bringing their mediaeval martial arts group to the club tonight for our latest practical session.
** Bring your camera & equipment ** **IMPORTANT** If you are attending this meeting you need to be aware that there will be rules set in place for your safety. ANYONE breaking those rules will be asked to leave the meeting immediately.
When: 19:30-22:00, Thu, 2nd April.
9th April: WCPF travelling critique. A show of the entrants to the WCPF salon.
16th April: Club Battle with Backwell. This year at Backwell. See here for further details from Gerry: Backwell Battle.
Andy Beel FRPS (Blog) was the evening’s judge in the Reflex Open Competition Round 2 2014/15 for which there was a high number of entries for both the Digital and Print Sections. The club extends our thanks to him for his time and considerations. Andy is a confirmed monochromatisist and it was his observations on dark and light that suggested the topics of this week’s blog be contrast, extending the conversation started last week by Mark Stone, and framing.
Before we get to the results I just need to clear up the matter of dimensions for the digital images and the digital version of the prints being entered in the competition, as there was some confusion about this among members.
As it says on the competition page the maximum dimensions are 1400 by 1050 pixels. Now to expand on what this doesn’t mean before moving to what it does. What it doesn’t mean is that the maximum landscape (width) dimension is 1400 pixels regardless of height, nor does it mean that the maximum portrait (height) is 1050 pixels regardless of width.
What this does mean is that the maximum dimensions are 1400 pixels AND 1050 pixels and that the image submitted MUST fit within, or under, these dimensions. To put it another way, the maximum of either width or height must not exceed either 1400 or 1050 for any single image – they are viewed as dimensions together regardless of whether the image is framed landscape or portrait.
IF your image is not in the ratio of 4:3, and APS C and Full Frame are not (width to height a.k.a. the Aspect Ratio) then it is possible that one of the dimensions will fall outside of the 1400 and 1050 pixel limits. Look at both and scale it back as necessary. If your image is 1400 x 1051 or more or 1401 or more pixels x 1050 then it must be resized down to within the competition limits. It does not matter what that does to the other dimension as long as it is at or below the stated maximum. Check both to be sure. This is also the rule for most club and salon competitions elsewhere, I am lead to believe.
If you don’t know how to do this with any existing editing software you have, may I suggest pic-resize on the net for an easy to use and free solution.
And so to the meat of this blog – the Reflex Open Competition 2014/15 Round 2.
There was a lot of close competition here, the quality of entries continues to improve across the spectrum, which can only be good thing. Entering these competitions is a sound way to improve through valuable feedback and I think it show signs of working for the majority of us. If you haven’t entered anything yet, give it a go – you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain!
“1925“ – Wendy O’Brien
“Economy“ – Steve Halam
“Feeding“ – Ian Coombs
3rd “Religion” – Eddie Deponeo
2nd “Dancer in the final pose“ – Julia Simone
1st “Abandoned“ – Mark O’Grady.
“Vampire in the wind” – Julia Simone.
“Dark Ages“ – Ian Coombs.
“Unearthed Beauty“ – Mark O’Grady.
3rd “Lost But Not Forgotten“ Ian Coombs.
2nd “Hospital Nightmare“ Suzanne King.
1st “Vacant Stare“ Mark O’Grady.
Congratulations to them and thanks to all the entrants and of course Mark and Mark for getting it all together and making it happen on the night.
Andy was very specific about using dynamism within an image, concentrating the viewers eye using lightening and darkening. This brings us onto the role of contrast. The eye tends to move from light to dark and Andy pointed out that stray bits of light, especially on the edges of pictures, makes the eye wander and the story of that image can lose some of its narrative integrity. Light, of course, is everything, but without a counterpoint, the darker bits, it is nothing. So far so much egg sucking. In black and white the control of contrast along with the control of composition are the major factors in organising the image (OK in colour too but in a different sense as discussed last week).
"Contrast is the difference in luminance and/or color that makes an object (or its representation in an image or display) distinguishable. In visual perception of the real world, contrast is determined by the difference in the color and brightness of the object and other objects within the same field of view. Because the human visual system is more sensitive to contrast than absolute luminance, we can perceive the world similarly regardless of the huge changes in illumination over the day or from place to place. The maximum contrast of an image is the contrast ratio or dynamic range". Wikipedia
There is, of course, a wider and equally as pertinent meaning to contrast in photography, that of the relative positioning of objects but this post is more about the light and dark of it. Practically and to us this means practising Ansel Adams dictum of exposing for the highlights and processing for the shadows, regardless of whether we are talking black and white or colour, RAW, TIFF, JPEG or anything in between. This is simply because we can recover detail that is in shadow by selective processing. If it is blown out, i.e. rendered as white, there is very little to recover. What is there will run over a very narrow spectrum that runs from “Virtually nothing” to “Nothing” in a very short space. We thereby give ourselves the best chance to have something to work with at the extremes, the blacks and the whites (which are at opposite ends of an evenly distributed histogram, blacks to the left and whites to the right) by exposing for the whites. Sort of. Detail is also absent in pure black. This of course has an effect on the shadows, mid-tones and highlights, but these (five) in turn can be adjusted – Ye-Acolytes-Of-Photoshop will be aware that there is a slider for each of these in Lightroom. These five “Zones” bear a relation to Adams and Archer’s 10 zone system, but let’s not stretch a point too far, suffice it to say they are different ways of talking about the same thing, Adams and Archer for Print and Adobe for digital. Each of these can be adjusted to taste or requirement to affect an overall impression.
That impression, though, can be lost or diluted if the framing allows for distracting detail and in passing judgement on more than one of the entries. Andy indicated that this held them back from an award. The frame or crop, he posits, must be tight. Extraneous detail starts to water down the story or introduce a new one. There is only room for one story in each photograph.
There is a three dimensional layering to the two dimensional photograph created by the perception of foreground, middle ground and background and the story is often revealed through how these interact. What is going on in relation to these three layers is the story the image is telling. Look at what is in the corners can you use it to make it more dynamic? was Andy’s tip. Andy suggested that the strongest stories use this dynamic to keep the attention which generally goes directly to the brightest and or largest object in the frame. This is usually (not always, not even preferably – you know, all that thirds, fifths sevenths and “Golden ratio” stuff) centre mid-ground, where, if you follow what has been said above, it most likely loses impact. Impact comes from filling the frame and from the juxtaposition of elements within it. From his long experience with monochrome Andy related that in Black and White especially, but in colour too, light surrounded by dark works best and so several images fell by the wayside.
It was a very successful night and thanks to everyone who attended, judged, administered, entered to make the whole thing possible. Next week is the clubs Xmas celebration. See you there.
Time is running out but there are still places on the WOODLAND shoot. See Myk.
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 (again):
” 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.
8TH January 2015“What Christmas Means to me” & Mounting Prints
See everyone’s images from our Christmas Challenge of “What Christmas Means to me” followed by a demonstration on how to mount your photographs.
I bet your wondering what this “What Christmas means to me” thing is as you’ve possibly never even heard it mentioned at the club before. Well now I’ve had it explained to me with a handy infographic I can explain it all to you. Well actually no I’m not instead you can follow this link and read all about it as that’s exactly the same way I found out what it was!
15th January 2015: Club Battle, Bristol Photographic Society (Away).
22nd January 2015: Colour Space Editing. Tutorial (part 1) Practical (part 2). Bring your Lap Top!
The competition season reached the trophy round last meeting with the awarding of the John Hankin (print) and the Stan Scantlebury (projected image) Shields. It was an interesting evening with the chance of looking back at some of the more favoured images over the season and see them in light of a fresh competition and a fresh judge, John Bjergfelt and our thanks to him. Rules for this round are as per the open competition but with the exception that this is restricted to entries that have already been submitted for the open and no points are awarded. All images are accompanied by a short summary of the judge’s comments in the catalogue only, see the link below.R E S U L T S
2nd – The rat catcher – Ian Coombs
3rd – New dog old trick – Ian Coombs
Highly Commended List –
Proud to be Russian – Eddie Deponeo
and Lady of the lake – Mark O’Grady.
Commended List –
A road well travelled – Julie Coombs,
Unearthed beauty – Mark O’Grady
and Tintern sunrise – Eddie House.
Digital 1st –
2nd – Must get ball must get ball! – Eddie House
3rd – Sailing – Roy Williams
Highly Commended List –
Plitvice Waterfall – Annamarie Miles,
Happy Meal – Alison Davies,
Ivy Leaf – Wendy Goodchild
and Against the night – Mark Stone.
Commended List –
Bathtime – Pauline Ewins,
Desolate Industry – Mark Stone,
Masquerade – Ian Coombs,
Summer Bloom – Pauline Ewins,
Simple Crocus – Debbie Griffin,
Hidden in your shell – Mark O’Grady
and Fairy wand – Alison Davies.
The Full Catalogue with summaries of the Judges remarks (at least as fast as my thumbs would type on my phone) is available here:
A very big thank you to everyone who made this happen, an enjoyable evening and a chance to get another judges comments on work we have already seen judged.
– that the Flickr competition this month is about Food & Drink.
– that Rich Price is running a trip to Exmoor to photograph the Milky Way. Details re on the club Flickr site, dates are . Looking forward to that one (all weather dependent of course).
The new Brunel wing is now open and we will have a chance to exhibit. Details to follow.
THURSDAY 22nd May is European/Local elections: NO Meeting at the School this week due to it being used as a polling station. Instead meet at the Dovecote pub next to Ashton Court @ 19:30.
Thanks to Julie for this:
ROC Round 1 Results
Here are the winning entries for Round 1 of the ROC (Reflex Open Competition). There were some fantastic images entered and the standard was amazing, as usual. We’re trying out a new way of posting the images so please let me know what you think. To see them full size you just need to click on one and it will open larger. Then to show them as a slideshow simply click on the little triangle in the bottom left corner of the border that is around the image.
Results (names in red link to one of that persons websites) :
Digital Projected Novice
(at time of posting this stands. Although it may be altered later)
Digital Projected Image (advanced)
Prints (Advanced) Section
Thanks to everyone that took part and I’m looking forward to seeing your entries for Round 2.
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Reflex Open Competition Results
The winners and runners up in the 2012/13 season of the Reflex Camera Club Open Competition. Congratulations to you all and a huge thank you to everyone that took part.
1st Suzanne King 65 points
2nd Maurice Thompson 39 points
3rd Julia Simone 37 points
1st Richard Price 37 points
2nd Mark OGrady 27 points
3rd Angie Nelson 25 points
1st Suzanne King 44 points
2nd Richard Price 38 points
3rd Angie Nelson 36 points
Photographer of the Year
1st Richard Price 75 points
2nd Suzanne King 65 points
3rd Angie Nelson 61 points
Best Digital Image (Stan Scantlebury Shield)
Best Printed Image (John Hankin Shield)
The following Novices are promoted to the Advanced Section:
Suzanne King, Julia Simone, Wendy OBrien, Dan Ellis, Gary Horne, Maurice Thompson