Author Archive

El Presidente’s musings – October 2015

Right – so you wanted the web page to be updated regularly! I heard you. So to try and add some life to this site, I’m going to have a little article at the start of each month with most of the content (I’ll edit out the the routine stuff that doesn’t need to be repeated) from my El Presidente’s Musings emails from the last month.


Well after the AGM, it’s time to get down to the serious business of enjoying our photography some more!

So first up, some house keeping:

  • Peer Review – in the almost standard format. Bring your prints, bring your digitals. Remember, this is for constructive discussion, so don’t be afraid to share even if you’ve never shown something before.
  • The Annual Exhibition is coming up. We’d love to have your images displayed. Don’t be shy – show us your best. This is judged by a panel off site, so you’ll get a score and maybe an award. I’ve attached the form. Here are few details
    • images will be judged on 7-Nov-2015 (in private) for the results to be displayed on 19-Nov-2015 
      A reminder of the rules etc:

      • Each member is allowed 3 entries per section in the Annual Exhibition – and entry forms must be handed in by 22-Oct-2015 or emailed to the BPC secretary email address – by 28-Oct-2015 (so that we can be organised for the judging of the exhibition on November 7).  This is for ALL entry nominations.  The print entry email address is NOT BEING USED for the annual.
      • The Entry Form is attached to this email, or can be obtained from the website, via the Forms page
      • Prints/slides must be delivered for judging by 5-Nov-2015 (the night of the final Peer Review of the year)
      • Digital entries must be emailed to the account by midnight on 4-Nov-2015 – entries sent to any other account will not be considered. You have been warned!
      • Entries are open to financial members of the Blackwood Photographic Club.  Entries must not have been entered/displayed in any previous Blackwood Photographic Club Annual.
    • We also have the Australiana Landscape Trophy
      • only 3 Digital Images section entries are allowed in the Blackwood Photographic Club Annual Exhibition
      • One of the the 3 images entered in the Digital Images section may be nominated for the WEA APC Australiana Landscape Trophy and should be identified as such on the nomination form
      • The image must meet the following definition: 
        • Objects and/or people that are part of the Australian rural landscape and tell a story about that landscape may be included. The image need not conform to traditional landscape images and could highlight a significant natural feature in the landscape such as a cliff face, gum tree, mountain side, riverbed etc. Close ups of a feature against a plain background are not acceptable
        • Eligibility for acceptance is to be adjudicated by the Digital Images Entry Secretary based on the definition
        • Normal judging will occur of all images in the Digital Images section
        • The highest score for the images entered in the Australiana Landscape Trophy will be awarded the trophy
        • In the event that 2 or more images achieve the highest score, the judges will be required to choose the best of the images achieving the highest score
    • A reminder to everyone to return the trophies/plaques you may have won from last year so they can be engraved as soon as possible after the Annual Exhibition Judging – by 23-Oct-2015 please
  • The Bill Templar Award nominations are also required by 28-Oct-2015 (sent to or 23-Oct-2015 (in person to the committee). The winner will be announced at the Annual Awards night.
    A reminder about the Bill Templar Award:

    • This award is for the Most Outstanding Contributor to the club as voted by the members – so think about who you think deserves it.
    • Voting (if required) will be conducted (by email or notes to a committee member) and will close on 7-Nov-2015 (the night of the Annual Exhibition judging)

I also thought a rough summary of the discussions raised at the AGM might be in order too. So here are a few thought bubbles (not in priority order and probably not complete):

  • The discussion forum idea has a lot of merit – it would be good to ask questions and get some help when needed. Flickr has limitations, but is pretty open – but it’s not the perfect vehicle. A closed Face Book page makes sense too. That could be used to gather opinion as well. We’ll need someone needed to moderate it though.
    I think the committee should have a discussion but if you have any ideas please pass them on. And let’s not make the moderator one of the regulars – if you’re interested please let us know.
  • Outings and email lists – the Face Book page could work. Julie informed me after the AGM that Kerry and Graham have started working on the week day outings process.
    In the spirit of all our other email accounts (Secretary, President, Print & Digital entries), we should probably set up a BPCoutings@gmail account. The outings coordinators can then send out emails to all as a BCC (as we do now)
  • Member details etc. We maintain a spread sheet, but regularly run into the problem of incorrect emails. We’ll be making a serious attempt to update this as we need to have it current, and then ensure that emails (as the main form of communication) are current.
  • The issue of copyright and intellectual property is important. Thanks to Ashley for discussing it and giving some perspective to those present.
    It is fairly easy to capture images from a screen – if you can see it you can get it. We will persist in only loading images that are no more than 1024 x 768 and 72 DPI. However it needs some education for all and we’ll prepare some guidelines indicating how to both protect and share images.
  • Competition definitions – is going to be hard work. We’ll try to improve that for both clarity and to reduce ambiguity. We need to have the ideas and their descriptions BEFORE we set the programme and get the judge coordinator to guide us. In the meantime, please send us any idea you have – and make sure the definitions are tight.
  • The novice section needs a bit of thought. I like the yellow dot that Alberto & I mentioned – and the digital Novice section. Historically, the Album prints were the novice section, but digital is perhaps an easier way to enter.
    But who is a novice? How many times you’ve entered? How many points you’ve accrued? How long you’ve been a member is a bit simplistic.
    Perhaps a combination – not experienced elsewhere, a number of entries AND scores achieved to work out an average score. When a threshold is reached (it could be several) you are out of Novice and into main stream. It does need a sunset clause – you can’t stay novice for ever.
    So 2 years max or an average score > 7.5 or 50 entries? Or some combination of all?
    However, the yellow dot (unlike the novice digitals) probably shouldn’t mean easier scoring – but it should mean more constructive comments from the judges.
    If you have any thoughts about a novice section please let us know
  • Web page – yes it is a bit stale at times. Are there any volunteers to do write ups? We might tap you on the shoulder and as for a few paragraphs and post them. We will request write ups from someone before the meeting so they are primed.
    If someone has a burning desire to be an editor please let the committee know.
  • Peer review – has been evolving but needs some more work. The impression I get is  everyone likes it. The idea of photo essays seemed to work well, and we have also considered an essays on photographers that inspire you. I think the round tables have worked well too. So we’ll mix it up a little more and see if we can evolve it further.
  • New & younger members – we need to find a way to appeal to them. What do you think? How can attract new members and freshen our thinking? Our club has a proud history of being different – and new ideas help that. But new ideas are often brought in from outside.

We’ll send out the complete minutes to you soon – while the AGM is relatively fresh in your mind.

Finally, here are a couple of web pages I’ve been looking at lately with some interesting thoughts:


What a gloriously sunny and warm weekend! That should shake off the winter blues!

I hope those that went on the club outing to Mannum Falls had a good time – I was doing some work around the house that’s been waiting for sunshine! I’ve already seen a few images on the Flickr group – more to come please! Bruce has posted a piece on Camera Clips webpage……

We certainly had an interesting critique night last week. I was really pleased to see so many interesting images. At least 90% of the images displayed were competition level – and the rest just needed some tweaks (in my opinion – see the web links below)! Well done – hope to see them in the Annual (if not before).

So on to general business

  • On 22-Oct we have a guest speaker – Chris Oaten – who will talk about photographing live music. I’ve seen the outline of Chris’ talk and it looks like we are in for a treat. Remember to bring a plate to share.
  • Kerry has sent me an email about the Festival of Architecture and Design (see which runs from 8-Oct-2015 to 13-Oct-2015. There are lots of free events (and some you’ll pay for like a tour of the infamous Z ward). Check out the web page and the program (see to see what is covered.
  • On the topic of outings, if you have any suggestions for outings, please let me know and I’ll forward them to Graham, Kerry or James (we’ll be setting up the BPCoutings account shortly – I’ll let you know when its up and running)

Finally, some more interesting articles to read:

And two that shows the variety of image capture and perception:


Well I hope you’ve had a great long weekend! Been a tad warm. I’m sure we’ll see lots of images from the long weekend, including the Flinder’s Ranges outing soon.

Unfortunately, I missed a lot of the weekend – had to work both in the office and interstate :(

But I did get a few shots in from the Oz Asia Festival (my wife and I were part of the mega crowd) and had some fun in China Town in Melbourne last night (had to work in Melbourne today….). Once again, I’ve been inspired by night shoots which show a different side to the cities you know. Hopefully the outings masters will organise a night shoot whilst the weather is warm and give you all a chance to play in this wonderland of light and shadow.

So on to the routine stuff:

  • This week is the Shadows competition (not the band from the 60s!). The digital entries have closed but you can still enter prints by sending the subject and the titles to by 7pm Tuesday night
  • Don’t forget the Annual Exhibition and Bill Templar award – we already have an Annual entry form from one enthusiastic member
  • Next meeting (22-Oct) is our guest speaker Chris Oaten – all about live music photography!

And now to a some interesting web links again – this time about 2 different photographers – one current and one regarded as a father of photography as art.

I like to listen to podcasts when travelling on planes (the in flight entertainment is pretty average!) and rather like Ted Forbes The Art of Photography

Ted has some interesting conversations and the two that have taken my fancy this weekend have been on street photographer John Free (visit his website for lots of images and idea) and another on Ansel Adams  (you can also view some images of Adams work on the site).

Most of you know my opinion regarding photography as more than just a picture that some judge likes and these two podcasts reinforce that. John Free tells stories with his street photography with (as he puts it) trying to (and I’ll paraphrase it) generate an emotion from your photograph and not just a print, whilst Ansel Adams escaped the pictorialist view of early photography clubs and created art with his landscapes. In both cases, photography has moved beyond the purely technical – although the technical needs to be understood to achieve their outcomes – and on to a higher plane. Something we should all aspire too. Have a look and tell me what you think.

Chris ;)

Judging – the first time!

The first judging at a photography club! Scary!

Alberto called me on Monday of last week – could I fill in at the last minute for a club south of Adelaide? According to Alberto, a bit of a trip, but they were a friendly crowd, a bit like our little happy troop. So on Friday, Alberto and I trekked down the Victor Harbor Road on a wet foggy night to South Coast Camera Club.

On the way we discussed (amongst other things) judging and how to be consistent. I’d re-read my judging school notes over the last few days, and thought about what I was trying to give back. There was lots to think about, and I didn’t want to be the type of judge I had complained about.

Camo Frog – Brad Hodge – South Coast Camera Club

On the night, about 40 people were present, and about 100 images ready to be judged! Now I was scared – I’d been told there would be about 50 images! They must have heard there was a gringo judge coming down! Competition Secretary Brad Hodge, President Andy Mitchell, Vice President Mike Gillies and Club Secretary Wendy Hodge greeted me and led me through the procedures and informed me about the 100 images. The gringo judge was ready!

Brad and Mike presented the images and to be honest, the image quality was very good – similar to our little group. I had spent 10-15 minutes looking at the images before judging started to find what I felt were the top ones – judge between what is there on the night as Keith Seidel kept telling us at judging school.

The set subject was Macro – something I feel I do well. However, Brad led with Open Colour – so it took me a while to get into my rhythm. When we did get to the Macro prints, I’d already judged 40 images and I’d done my homework and felt better about this set. Moving on to set mono prints was a doddle in comparison – just a handful of images there. Digital was harder as they weren’t divided into set or open, and choosing the best after 1 pass is no fun at all. That’s one reason I always give the judge at least 5 seconds to look at an image (time me next competition). All the time, I tried to keep it light and put in the odd one liner or joke. President Andy scored a few references from me (he started it when this horse image was shown at the start!).

Whatya Doing? Laura Wright – South Coast Camera Club

It’s amazing how you need to find the faults to tease out the scores. Yes – I dropped marks for poor focus, softness in the wrong place, composition that broke up what could have been a good image, not being close enough (Robert Capa strikes again!) and distraction (aargh – highlights!). I also docked marks for confusing or difficult images. Was that wrong? It is difficult to be consistent when there is such a broad spectrum of images. I did offer them the chance to beat me up after – in an orderly queue. To help novices, SCCC give the judge a little hint as to who is a novice – as a cue to increase the feedback – with a little yellow tag. And to be fair, a lot of the novice images were actually very good – and scored well.

Summer Snails – Janet Harbottle – South Coast Camera Club

Some images just didn’t click with me, and finding the right words is very difficult when you want to be constructive. However, in the end, I felt I had done my best, and no lynch mob lined up outside to give me rough justice in return.

Like our club, there were more colour prints than mono. There were fewer macro images than I expected, but I gave it my best shot. Some weren’t quite macro, but Brad requested I be flexible.

I did change my score once or twice (bad boy!) and dropped the dreaded “step to the left” comment once (it really did need it – but I qualified it by prefacing it with “many judges would say”). Nerves were part of it – but then again I can talk my way out of most things given time, and I felt I did get more consistent. Alberto coached me from the sidelines between sections (a bit like a footy match) and gave me the thumbs up when I got things right, and a subtle shake of the head when I didn’t.

My spread of marks was probably a bit high to start with (why so many 8s?) but I did settle down. I don’t think I handed out a 5, but a few images scored only 6.

SCCC finish each section by getting the judge to choose the Honour (one of them – thank goodness I handed out only one 10 in each) and Merit images (3 – I handed out too many 9s)  and at the end of the night the image of the night from the top 4. Talk about putting me on the spot again!

Fortunately, when all was done and dusted, I felt I’d given out top scores to the best images, and given some reasonable and constructive feedback. And exhaustion was setting in. Remarkably, 90 minutes of judging flew by.

The night finished with some supper – a short talk from me on macro stacking, and the usual thank you’s etc. The stacking talk resulted in an invitation to come back for a workshop. I hope I’ve made some new friends at SCCC!

On the trip home I had my debrief with Alberto. Pretty good for a first time and I gave the top scores to what he would have. A few things though – don’t change the score, try and keep the constructive comments up as much as possible – particularly with the really difficult images, don’t refer to other images with faults as an example of why an image worked. Ok – I need more practice.

I dropped Alberto at his house at about 11:45pm – and got home at about 12:15am. I couldn’t get to sleep. Had I given the images the justice they deserved? Did I offend any one? I hope not. I had probably dropped a couple of clangers and as I said, tell me what you are trying to achieve.

Overall, I was reasonably comfortable with my first effort – not perfect, but not disastrous. I’ve learnt a few things and appreciate the effort good judges put in more. I promise to try harder for more consistency and constructive comment. I need to make sure that even the most difficult image gets given a positive comment. If I don’t – let me know!

Chris :)

Judging – fighting the battle from within the parapets!

This little web page has been a source of much discussion – heated and rational – about the judging standards in photographic clubs. We aren’t the only ones, but in our little corner of the world we were a squeaky wheel.

Our web page and the articles (in March 2011 and April 2014) about judging have been used as ammunition in a battle both in South Australia and South America (I kid you not). There are probably others (drop us a line if you did). I’m sure many people have read our blog and nodded or shaken their heads. Felt our pain. Shared in the angst of inadequate judging.

The discussion began due to the frustration many of us felt about the quality of photographic club judges. They seemed mired in the past. The technical aspects were the only thing examined. Trends in modern photography ignored. Were we pursuing art or were we aiming to be good technicians? I confess that I’m one of the instigators of this discussion. I had seen my photography decline as I tried to please a bunch of people that to me seemed locked in a time warp somewhere around 1970. I realised what I was doing and started to climb out of the abyss. It took some time.

The squeaky wheels – not just our little club – started to be heard around the photography clubs in this state. Judges were discussed in both whispers and loudly.

How could we change things? We discussed this many times. The suggestion – change it from within. “No” many of us cried. “Too hard”. “Don’t have the time”. “It’d be a lone voice lost in the wind”.

At the same time, the SAPF executive noticed – and set about reform and change. Training more judges. Getting a broader range of opinions. Keith Seidel and John Hodgson took on the task. SAPF President Alberto Guirelli talked at club meetings around the state about changing the culture. He even became a judge!

Judging schools were revised. Other opinions sought. The SAPF now had more and varied judges. We started to notice something new in the judges that came to our club. We were often told that the scoring was their opinion. That our own opinion of our images counted as much. What? Hang on? What happened to the 1970s technical judge? That rule of thirds guy? They were starting to fade. Technical issues were still considered – but as a method to refine down to what was the best image of the night. Not as the only arbiter of what was a good photography club image.

And then one night last year I was asked to put my own voice into the mix by Keith Seidel after a particularly poor judging effort we had both observed. “Come along to the judging school. Be part of the process.” said Keith. I had to put up or shut up.

So in February this year, 10 of us went along to SAPF head quarters and spent the day learning about how to judge. We went through a range of topics led by Keith, Peter Phillips (who judged one of my first images when I started) and Des Berwick.

We heard about what made a good image – Visual Impact, Composition, Interesting, Purpose, Originality. Oh – and then some technique. But not to exclude the other aspects.

We discussed distractions in an image. Balance was considered. Flat lighting. Things that diluted what could be interesting.

And then the crux of it – judging is relative and not to some pre-conceived standard. Judging should be diplomatic. A good judge should recognise a good image and have an open mind to other image types. Bias should be left outside as should ego. Cliche’s abandoned. Keep up with new trends. Be an active photographer. Understand photographic camera and processing techniques. Be Consistent and Constructive and Entertaining.

Ye Gods! This sounded like our wish list! What had happened? People had listened!

The day progressed with some technical discussions about defining set subjects, handling standard images (pelicans and meerkats!), what is “someone else’s art”, image border sizes, photographic quality (golden means, odds numbers, diagonals etc), plagiarism & copyright, types of paper suiting the image. There was a lot more……

The differences between solo judging and panel judging were discussed. We got to do a panel judging of our own just before lunch – a very sobering exercise.

Then we got into some examples – using stills from television programmes. Yes – some of the best photographic art is in TV and film. The creative use of light, focus, placement, viewpoint, perspective. Look at the great artists such as Turner or any of the impressionists. The history of photographic techniques. Trends from modern photographers like Trent Parke (Australia’s own and only Magnum photographer). Learning from the great photographers of the past and present and why they are great.

More aspects of judging – what to say and what not to say! Get rid of those cliches that add nothing.

We covered country judging too – supporting those who can’t have a judge on site every meeting. (For reference 1/3 of South Australia lives outside of Adelaide and deserve better). I’m pleased to say I’ve signed up to help Jeff Venning and his country judging team.

The day had a lot to take in. I’ve got pages of notes and thoughts and ideas.

To finish we judged ourselves. We’d been asked to send in 10 images which were mixed up and presented to us. We judged each of them and noticed the mix of scores around the room. Some were instant hits, other images divided the scores. In that session the broad church of judging was clearly exposed.

At the end of our day – and it was a long one – Keith announced that he and the others felt we were all ready to go out into the big wide world of club judging. A surprise perhaps, but Keith has been watching and listening to us. At the recent SAPF AGM and Delegates Meeting Keith reported exactly the same thing.

Thanks Keith, Peter and Des – I promise to do my best.

So there you have it – a mea culpa of sorts from me. I’m now a photography club judge. Will I bring a new perspective and more balance? I’m a bit apprehensive – but will give it a go. If you find my judging inadequate let me know. Tell me about what you were trying to achieve. I’m not perfect and have never claimed to be. But I am empathetic – and maybe that will be my saving grace.

Chris :)

Music in our souls – 12-Mar-2015

Ashley Hoff - Precision Bass - Set The competition – Music.

The images – 116 incredibly varied photographs.

The judge – David Smith.

The Outcome – BPC members with music in their souls!


About 45 BPC members and visitors attended on a night with colourful and intriguing images of music being performed, danced to, instruments close ups, musicians in action and lots more. Some images obviously came from the archives (a very young Cliff Richard was observed). And some images were so fresh they had titles like Music 1 and Music 2. Mad March in Adelaide supplied a lot of the images from the Clipsal 500, the Adelaide Festival of Arts, the Adelaide Fringe and WOMAD. There was something for everyone! Even beer (well – a picture of beer).

Judge David Smith worked through the images with care despite the large number, giving constructive critique and a fairly large number of 10s in the process. Not that the recipients complained!

Ron Hassan - Sunset - OpenTwo things stood out tonight:

  • The high quality and creativeness in the novice competition – well done!
  • Ron Hassan’s Sunset image



I’ve delayed publishing this whilst I chased images – but not all have turned up. Check out the ones we did get as usual at our Top Prints and Top Digital pages.

Keep on dancing to the music!

Chris :)


Spain through my lens – Paul Hughes – 12-Feb-2015

A large audience of 43 members and visitors at our last meeting were present as BPC President, Ashley Hoff, welcomed English visitor Paul Hughes (and North Norfolk Photographic Society member) and his family to our meeting.  Paul had earlier contacted the club and offered to show his photographic record of his walk through northern Spain along the renowned pilgrim route known as Camino de Santiago – it is also known as the St James’ Way or the French Way.  It commences in the French town of St Jean Pied-de-Port and finishes at famous Romanesque Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, a journey of about 800 kilometers.

Paul explained that after much research and with the generous encouragement from his wife Kate he decided to do the walk to mark the year of his 70th birthday.  The trade off was Kate would visit family in Blackwood South Australia.

The first thing – other than the walk – that Paul mentioned was the need to travel light. He left behind his large SLR and lenses that weighed almost 10kg – his research had indicated that a pack of 7kg was about the limit. Instead he used a smaller Canon Powershot G12 so he could carry clothes and water. In one image he showed us was this travel beaten camera that served him well.

It was not long before everyone was being taken along the walk through Paul’s many photos using landscape and portraits as well as well placed videos of the various characters he came across in the many towns and villages he passed through.

Paul had initially decided to do the first short leg of the journey up to Puene la Reina. But after returning home and much thought he chose to complete the full journey.

The basic but adequate bunk accommodation (including bed bugs) and the camaraderie quickly established between the walkers along the way were experiences obviously enjoyed by Paul. His shots of the Pyrenees landscape to the flat plains known as the bread basket of Spain and the various wine regions along the way were fantastic. The architecture from Roman bridges to modern city buildings, the vast Gothic Cathedral in Burgos and the stain glass in the cathedral at the Leon were outstanding.

During Paul’s presentation we were given an insight into the various cultures and Spanish way of life. This included those in the famous wine lands of Rioja, the streets and people of Pamplona, famous for its bull running festival and culturally rich Leon.

Upon conclusion Paul invited everyone to view the mementos of the trip has referred to during his presentation. Fortunately, he didn’t bring any of the boots he found – often seen abandoned on the walk.

Many members used this opportunity to discuss Paul’s walk with him and to add to the vote of thanks made by Ashley at the conclusion of the presentation.

Sam Savage

Spanish borderYou can see many of Paul’s photos on Flickr


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 70 other followers