Our judge for the night, Peter Phillips, steadily and constructively worked through the 98 images. Despite his best efforts to pick the best of the night, he still managed to hand out nine top scores of 10.
If I may jump on my old hobby horse of judging, Peter’s effort is what photography clubs seek in judges – a balanced, constructive, positive experience where both new and old members can learn something. He firstly explained that the opinions he gave were his subjective view – and that if the photographer thought it was better than the mark he gave then they were also correct. Peter gave criticism when it was due, managing to give the appropriate level of feedback to both enlighten and entertain. The high scoring images were also given critique that explained how they scored the points. As a bonus, Peter finished in about 90 minutes – giving us time to discuss the images with each other. Thank you Peter – we truly appreciated your work.
The images were again of a high standard – with some interesting takes on The Colour Purple, including James Allen’s effort in showing the purple sheen in bird feathers, the details in many a purple flower, purple furniture and furnishings, people in purple, along with assorted purple fruits (Ray Goulter’s Pashing Fruit was a nice tongue in cheek image). The Open competition also produced some great images, including new member Howard Seaman’s Diptera – a great macro of a fly. Gloria Brumfield also ventured into competition and pulled off two 9′s and a 10 in the Album prints (they’re in our Top Prints page) – well done! It was also a pleasure to see Ashley Hoff return to competition with More Like a Hurricane.
Keep it up – I can see we are going to go through a purple patch at BPC! Its going to be a fun year!
The latest edition of Camera Clips was sent out to club members today by James. Once again, a good selection of interesting articles from club members – well done James for putting together a collection of really useful articles on composition.
Two articles really caught my eye about that hoary old chestnut – photographic judging. Many of you know what I think about it, and to be fair, SAPF President Alberto Guirelli is working with the SAPF committee to change the culture. However, the following articles from James Allan and Mark Pedlar will make you think some more and refresh the discussion.
Learning a better way to Look at Photographs
Ascribing Merit – James Allan
I have learnt a lot from attending Photo club competitions. There seems to be a set of rules that will help you to do well. To name a few things, I have learned that:
- The Horizon should always be straight
- We should see the front of the person not their back, and preferably they should be looking at the camera to engage the viewer
- A moving subject should move from left to right and that
- There should be space in front in order for them to move into
- The subject should be offset onto the thirds
- You should not cut off the top of the persons head, (or their feet)
- It should be sharp throughout
- You should not have burnt out highlights – and no bright spots on the edge of the picture
- You should not depict 2 or 4 subjects, in fact any even number – or any number over 10
These statements appear to be emphatic and should not be broken. In fact I have been told that it is OK for me to alter my image with Photoshop if it means that I can eliminate one of these faults from my image.
NOTE: All images below are the copyright of the original author and only reproduced to demonstrate the authors points about judging
Now have a look at this monochrome portrait. This picture was entered into an International Photo Competition with National Geographic magazine. It has flat lighting with little modelling of the features. The top of the head is chopped off. The corners of the image have a harsh distracting vignette. The model is looking level and straight into the lens without emotion or gesture. She could have been instructed to look more appealing in this stark picture. Technically it could have been done in a photo booth. It won the people’s choice award.
This is what the judges wrote about this image.
This enigmatic shot is “timeless—it has a beautiful simplicity with no pretense,” says Monica Corcoran, senior photo producer at National Geographic Digital Media. “I keep looking at the portrait and wondering about this woman,” says freelance photojournalist Tyrone Turner. For National Geographic magazine senior photo editor Susan Welchman, “the ambiguous, mysterious style also frees the viewer from knowing when or what time period it was shot. Or is it a painting? All unknowns release the viewer from facts and encourage interpretation.”
Or look at this photograph of a dog which was also entered into the same competition. The dog is dead centre in this picture. It is lost in the pattern of the façade and does not stand out at all. There is a near perfect reflection of the scene which competes for the eye of the viewer. One is confused as to whether to look up or look down. Perhaps the photographer should have cropped either the scene or the reflection to reduce ambiguity and give a greater sense of balance or harmony. In this case the picture was awarded an honourable mention.
This is what the judge had to say for the picture:
At Hok Tjing Bio, a Chinese Temple in Palembang South Sumatra, Indonesia, the photographer has framed the shot at a precise moment, with the reflection, and the position of the passing dog in the middle of the tiger pictorial on the temple’s wall.
Despite all that I have learned about breaking up symmetry, this judge applauds the effort to portray and reinforce the symmetry of this image.
Or how about this picture of some Cuban kids letting off fireworks. The horizon is not straight. The characters are moving out of the frame of the picture without there being room for them to move into. Two of the figures have been amputated by the frame of the picture. The largest of the three figures is entirely blurred. It however also received an honourable mention.
The caption reads, The picture was shot at San Juan de los Remedios, Cuba, during a local celebration called “Las Parrandas” in which the highlight is fireworks. Here children light the fireworks and escape.
Lastly this image of a fair ground. Again the horizon is crooked, the main subject, the carousel is entirely blurred. There is a very bright highlight in the sun competing for attention with the subject. This one however was the winner of this section of the competition.
And the Judges’ comments:
The transporting quality of this photo “conjures up childhood,” says National Geographic senior photo editor Elizabeth Krist. Adds freelance photojournalist Maggie Steber: “The photographer took something we have seen a lot and managed to frame it in a setting that is unexpected. It is very cinematic and creates a scene and an opening. What will happen next?”
What I have learned at photo club seems to be at odds with the way the National Geographic judges have been assessing their images. What were the judges thinking of? Haven’t they heard of the rules of composition? Didn’t they attend a photo club? What is going on?
There seems to be a difference in the way we are looking at the images. My initial comments for each image are based on a set of empiric rules. They have been told to me week after week as I attend the various competitions. The National Geographic judges however allude to their emotional reactions to the image. They seem unperturbed by the transgression of the rules, as long as the picture finds a resonance, or emotional quality. As Mark Pedlar puts it – the image has impact.
I am reminded by Arthur Farmer, a life member of our club who loved to quote Ansell Adams – “There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.”
Perhaps we should not think of these photo club statements as emphatic rules, but as techniques of composition. Let me give an analogy. Although a polarising filter has a pleasing effect it is not mandatory that you should always use one in every photograph. Sometimes the polariser can really look awful.
Likewise there is no rule that says that your horizon must always be straight. In the 2 photographs above the uneven horizon creates a sense of movement and drama in the picture. In each case a straight horizon would ruin the effect. Conversely, the horizon is better straight when you intend a sense of balance or calm.
So how do the National Geographic judges ascribe merit if there are no rules? This is perhaps the easiest and hardest part to grasp. It seems they ascribe merit by their emotional response. That seems arbitrary and subjective. Not so. The photographer has a vision they wish to convey. The good images are more successful in swaying the opinion of the judge, better at showing that vision. In fact the set of compositional rules is more arbitrary as it instantly dismisses quite a large number of images. Images that may win International competitions, images that might thrill and excite us.
To sum up, I believe that we need to look at pictures differently. We need a different set of spectacles. It is not about adherence to a dozen rules or guiding principles. I think that is an old prescription that served us well when we were starting to learn the ropes of photography. Now it is time to take off that pair of glasses and look for that inner response that the image creates. What is the photographer’s vision and did they convey it well? We need to relook at the pictures with a better prescription, and I think we will begin to see things that we didn’t see before. I believe we will find more enjoyment in our photography.
James top tips for creative composition
Don’t show the whole thing.
Leave the picture unfinished – let the viewer complete the story (in their head)
Isolate the essence.
Why did you like the scene? What is the essence? Isolate it. Leave out the rest – just photograph the key ingredient.
Don’t over indulge the subject.
Think of the subject/object as a spoilt child. Concentrate on the pattern, the colour, the texture, the subject will make its own way into the picture (don’t be obvious – be subtle)
Look for movement.
Movement engages. Freeze it or blur it – it doesn’t matter. Curves and diagonals create movement. Crooked horizons. The centre is balance, the edge is movement. Look for movement in the picture.
Do it again
Do it different. Nothing wrong with going back over old territory. Often the second time is better. (Don’t try to be better – just try to be different)
Follow the light.
It can transform the subject. Photograph where it shines, where it leads y our eye, where it casts a shadow. Keep walking around until the light lets you in.
Don’t over think.
The concept is usually wrong. Take what you see, not what you want to see.
Work with space.
What does this object need? A town house needs to be cramped. A manor house needs an estate around it. Try it different ways. The Japanese also look at the space between objects. Should objects be separate, should they touch or even overlap?
Do the unexpected.
It’s always better.
Mimicry is king.
Look at photos you like. Watch what others do. Suppress your instincts and do it their way . (It will never be their picture if you take it).
Don’t wait for perfection.
Take the shot anyway. Learn to tolerate blemishes. Mistakes can be miracles and save us from conformity.
Look for lines
Lines will connect objects and make them interact. There are real lines (eg fences) and interrupted lines (eg a row of soldiers) and imaginary lines (eg gaze of a person or direction of a car). Parallel lines are balanced, curved lines create movement and are dynamic, converging lines give depth, while crossed lines clash and create conflict. All are good.
10 Common Criticisms at Photoclub competitions
- The Horizon should always be straight
- We should see the front of the person not their back, and preferably they should be looking at the camera to engage the viewer
- A moving subject should move from left to right and that
- There should be space in front in order for them to move into
- The subject should be offset onto the thirds
- You should not cut off the top of the persons head, (nor their feet)
- It should be sharp throughout
- You should not have burnt out highlights – and no bright spots on the edge of the picture.
- You should not depict 2 or 4 subjects, in fact any even number – or any number over 10
- Symmetry does not make a good photograph. Try and unbalance or disrupt Symmetry (for instance reflections
A JUDGE’S PERSPECTIVE – Mark Pedlar
Over a quarter of a century as a camera club member in Adelaide I’ve had most of James’ ten points levelled at my images. The thing is that they all contain grains of truth. They simply aren’t and should never be used as rules.
Our word horizontal, meaning flat, takes its name from the horizon which we all assume to be level. If you are shooting traditional representative seascape you will probably have the greatest impact on your viewers if the horizon is flat. In James’ carousel image the tilted horizon adds to the impact. It is often the case that we find images with a subject offset from the centre more pleasing than those where the subject is dead central. We don’t need to go through all ten; the point is that all can be guides to beginners in photography when they are designing their images. Similarly, the ‘rules’ of composition are guides. You don’t necessarily need an ‘S’ shaped composition, or a triangular one. Diagonals can be pleasing. The point again is that these are guides.
I have talked at several camera clubs about IMPACT in images. In this I’ve used some of the images from Henri Cartier–Bresson world acclaimed as an outstanding photographer. In these many of the human subjects have limbs or parts of limbs amputated by the frame. Yet these are lauded as photographic high art. So the rules don’t always apply.
You should never be hide-bound by the rules but it helps to know the tips at the outset.
So, why do so many judges appear to place such importance on rules?
Tonight I’ll stand in front of 20 – 40 photographers in a suburban club and judge 100-120 of their images. I’ll judge each of the images out of 10 for their artistic merit. This merit will be a combination of MY OPINION of the composition, technical merit, subject material, lighting viewer impact etc. I shall also give a brief critique of each image. For those lower scoring images the objective is to provide a few tips for demonstrating greater artistic merit next time.
At this stage many judges tend to need to justify the score they are about to give. I am about to score 4 out of 10. The author deserves some reason why their image scored so low. It is easy then to fall back on James’ 10 points to show what was missing in that image. That sounds like a cop-out, it isn’t but it can happen.
The National Geographic judges were not required to give each author both a score and a critique of their image along with a similar critique of all the other entries. However, they did pick the best even though these broke the so called rules.
I believe the very system of club judging can mitigate in favour of the tendency to fall back on a formula. As a result club members become acclimatised to presenting images which follow the rules. Further, since judges are drawn in large part from long term club members they can bring with them the culture of these ‘rules’.
Look at the images produced by Uni SA undergraduate. They bear little resemblance to those seen in club competition. Many are far more adventurous.
More significantly, several club members took part in a 31 day challenge over the Christmas break. Some of these images were shown at the club’s first meeting of this year. Many were stunning! Several showed originality, excitement and adventure which doesn’t seem to re-surface in club competitions. We have a wealth of unobserved talent out there. Why is it we do not see some of these images in regular club competitions?
So, take photos for yourself not for a judge.
Keep the ten tips in the back of your mind, they can be helpful.
Whatever the judge says, theirs is only one person’s opinion.
Show the club your best work.
There you have it – a very effective discussion about the difficulties of shooting for yourself and what the rest of the real world is doing.
As for those rules, to paraphrase a famous pirate movie – “the judges rules is more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules”.
So go out, take photos, enjoy your passion, but don’t be limited by the amateur photography world and their judges.
Thirteen photographers from BPC are showing 31 images at the Coventry Library – our 3rd outing at this great venue!
For those that haven’t been, we have been exhibiting a selection of images from the club at the Coventry Library for the last few years with the help of Kelly Morris (Community Programmes officer at the library) . The exhibition runs from 23-Dec-2013 to 19-Jan-2014. Thanks again Kelly – we appreciate the support the library and the Adelaide Hills Council give us.
I’m proud to say the club membership hasn’t let us down. A small group of us spent Saturday afternoon hanging prints (and cleaning up one of the stands). Thanks to Helen for artistic direction, and to Heather (and Reg), Mark & Jenny, John, Ray, Graham, Jo & Ken for their help on the day. If you want to know whats on show, you can have a look at the catalogue (along with a Presidential blurb) if you are so inclined.
This is a great opportunity to see some of our best images from a range of photographers in a completely non-competitive setting (and maybe attract some new members). We again have a great mix of images – some of the same old faces, but a few new ones too. This has to be one of our best shows yet – a wide range of images from landscape, wildlife, nature, human form and even abstract as well as mono, colour and interestingly metal prints.
Tell your friends about it and go have a look at what we get up to on Thursday nights (and any other time a camera is in our hands). The library hours over the next month are below.
Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 10am – 6pm
Thursday 10am – 8pm
Saturday 10am – 5pm
Sunday 1pm – 5pm
from 12 noon on Christmas Eve 24 Dec
Public Holidays Christmas Day – 25 Dec, Proclamation Day – 26 Dec, New Years Day -1 Jan.
Finally, on behalf of the committee and Club President Ashley Hoff we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Hope Santa brings you those photographic goodies you want!
See you at the library or at a club meeting soon!
Yes – its back! The 31 Day Challenge is back and its going strong! In case you haven’t been to our Flickr page (or not been looking at the feed on this web page), we are having a challenge to post an image a day (from that day) over December. No prizes, but its a challenge to capture an image after a long day at the wage mine (or whatever occupies your time). To quote Ashley:
“Can you do it? Have you got what it takes? Can you take and post 1 photo per day for a whole month?
The idea is simple:
- For each day of December, take photographs each day
- On each and every day, post your favourite photograph of the day to this group
- To help each other follow what we are photographing, make sure you include the words “BPC 31 Day Challenge” either in the name or in the description. It can also help if you put in what day you are doing!
- Make sure you check back regularly and comment on your fellow club members photographs
You can also make it a bit more challenging if you like. How about considering a theme? Or even considering limiting yourself to a specific piece of equipment or lens for the period?
Don’t panic if you miss a day, or cannot post every day – this is not a competition, its just a bit of fun. Try and catch up as soon as you can.
So, who’s in?”
This is very challenging intellectually – but it does make you think about finding new things. The first time we did this I spent a month photographing windows. Tricky! But as the month progressed I found lots of new ways to see windows and got some (what I thought) were good images. And it can provide some images for competition too. This time I’m sticking with closeup & macro. I think I’m pushing myself – you be the judge (oops – that word again!).
Here’s a suggestion – use some of the competition subjects for next year as a theme and shoot a few days worth for that theme (do it continually so you keep evolving ideas on that theme). Pop them on the Flickr page and see what feedback you get. You never know – it could be the next Annual Exhibition winner!
Oh – and if you Google “31 Days photo challenges” or “photo a day” you’ll get more ideas to fire your imagination.
Don’t be shy – give it a go! And don’t worry if your late to the party.
30TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS HELD AT MITCHAM CULTURAL VILLAGE INSTITUTE HALL ON SUNDAY 22ND SEPTEMBER 2013.
On a beautiful spring day we celebrated 30 years of our photographic club with 65 members, family and colleagues in photography.
The afternoon began with a digital presentation of fabulous images that have been entered in interclub and competitions by our members over recent years.
A scrumptious High Tea was served, including cakes, slices and scones, along with a selection of teas and coffee. We then stepped back in time as I read a brief but interesting history of the club. Later a series of images were shown and many interesting and often amusing stories were told about days gone by. An insight into the people and events that established the club and its reputation as a very social and different club who don’t just want to take photographs, but want to have fun doing it.
Alberto Giurelli, the President of SAPF and his wife Katy and John and Maureen Mack, past and long-time proprietors of Photographic Wholesalers in Hutt Street were our special guests. A message was also read from the Mayor of Mitcham, Michael Picton, apologising that he was unable to attend and wishing us continued success in the future.
It was a great opportunity for new and old members to meet and for everyone to see the images of those who have since passed away.
The afternoon concluded with Ray Goulter getting all club members together, past and present, for a group photograph, taken with his Arca Swiss 4” x 5” View Camera.
Yours in photography
Blackwood Photographic Club of SA Inc.
But wait – there’s more! There is a President’s address:
Firstly from the Immediate Past President (Chris Schultz):
Before I give you the address from our current President, Ashley Hoff, I’d like to make two thank yous.
Firstly, I want to thank Julie Goulter, who has worked hard and almost completely single handedly (with special thanks to our caterers too) to make this 30th Anniversary event happen. Without Julie we wouldn’t be enjoying our afternoon as we are now. Thank you Julie!
Secondly, the club itself needs to be applauded. We are a diverse group of people who come together to enjoy a passion. In doing so we work at sharing our knowledge, giving advice and embracing a community spirit which may seem lacking in the wider world. As a group we aren’t overly competitive, we value art as much (if not more) as technique, we like to share & help, we like being different from the mainstream photography clubs. While those things remain we will continue as a club for many years. For those reasons I feel that Blackwood Photographic Club as a gestalt entity needs to be thanked.
President’s address: Ashley Hoff
“Greetings from Singapore! I’m sorry I couldn’t make it today.
Firstly, thank you to all our invited guests for coming today and helping to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Blackwood Photography Club.
I am a strong believer that the strength of any club lies solely with the people that make and have made it all happen.
Initially, I wasn’t sure about being involved with a photography club. I must admit I had heard not too flattering stories from a few friends who had been to various meetings with a few different clubs (not ours mind you!), that I just wasn’t sure. Also, being part of the internet age, surely I would be able to engage online?
But with a little persistence from my good friend Matt Carr, I decided to give Blackwood a try.
Now, I don’t know whether it was dumb luck, or whether Matt was really onto something, but this club, just so happened to dispel my initial concerns. Straight away, I could feel it was a good fit – it was (and still is) a club that is very accepting of anyone who has a passion for photography, regardless of their experience, their style or equipment they use. Very rarely have I heard a ‘mine is bigger/better/more expensive’ conversation within the club (which is a blessing, considering how gear obsessed this hobby can be).
There are other strengths as well. When it comes to imagery, as a club, we challenge what might be accepted as ‘good photo club’ photography. We accept that sometimes what makes a good image that is engaging may not necessarily score a 10 (or even a 2…don’t I know it) in a competition. With the re-introduction of peer based review nights, we have given our members another outlet that can be used to explore their own individuality as photographers, without the apprehension of being judged.
The biggest strength, though, of our fine club is it’s membership, both past and present.
I would like to thank all our past members. You input over the last 30 years has gone a long way to forge a club I am proud to be the current President of.
Also, I would like to thank all our current members. Without you, we would have no club. Your attendance, efforts, good humour and willingness to help and be involved each meeting makes this club operate with minimal stress and concern.
Your efforts each meeting to keep the tradition alive puts us in good stead to hold our values well into the future.
Now, I probably feel a bit old fashioned doing this, can I ask for 3 cheers for the Blackwood Photography Club?
Thank you and have a fine afternoon.
It is an amazing thing the Adelaide Hills orchids. The tiny little flowers, no larger than your fingernail are intricate, precise and exquisite. It is a special thing to find these small beauties.
My Uncle Bob had told me to look for orchids on the October long weekend. But I have discovered that this gives only a small part of the whole picture. There is a progression of species that starts in mid winter (July) and extends all the way through to early summer (December). What you see depends upon what time of year you go looking. First there are the helmet orchids and greenhoods and mosquito orchid followed by the yellow sun orchid, the waxlip and the donkeys, the spiders then the various blue salmon and white sun orchids and lastly the hyacinth orchid. Thrown in amongst these are rarer species that I don’t see very often – bearded orchids, duck orchids and fire orchids.
So we planned this trip in early September. What happened? There was only a small group who met for this excursion. Kim and Glori had photographed them in Western Australia. Heather and Reg have been walking the trails of Belair national park and had a good idea where to look. Mark and Jenny have been volunteer weeders in the park for a number of years and were also aware of where the orchids could be found. Alan seemed to be quite familiar with them also. Jo, although she didn’t attended this excursion, had driven along the Sheoak road boundary to photograph them a day or two previously. You can see from the attached photographs what a wide selection we encountered.
Earlier on in the excursion Kim felt disappointed that we would see only 1 or 2 species. Mostly the donkey orchids. Heather however proved extremely valuable in adding to this number with a lot of discoveries. I had to leave early. As I departed, Alan arrived, adding further to the number of species encountered. Kim and Glori had brought black and white backing screens to help isolate the flowers in the picture. It is a funny thing seeing everyone getting down onto their haunches to train their macro lenses on the tiny flowers, a mere 5-10cms above the ground. It is amazing how a tiny breeze comes out of nowhere and starts to move the flower around, just as you thought you had it focused. Although a small group, we were passionate and enthused and it was an enjoyable excursion for all.
Its been an interesting time since we decided to implement the move from competition to peer review. Of course, these review nights have been a work in progress – rough around the edges, but slowly evolving into a night where club members can present an image and not be intimidated by a low score from a stranger. For newer club members, that’s even more important, and Ashley’s recent article in the SAPF Camera Club News (page 10 – One Easy Step) highlights the problems such a judge can cause for all of us.
The first question to ask is why do have peer review or even competitions? I suspect the answer lies somewhere between seeking praise from our peers and wanting to improve our skills.
Could it be that most photographers are all natural show offs? Its personally satisfying to share that little trick or image we’ve found and get a little praise. Its also the social aspect – like telling a story around a campfire and getting attention from your peers. It just makes you feel that little bit better. Regardless of the reason – constructive, positive comments work better than negative, destructive ones.
So here is a brief evaluation of the first half of the year and the peer review sessions (4 of them so far). I’ve included some images to entertain you too - examples of some of the experiments and images we’ve seen to date. See if you can work out what the photographer was playing at.
Firstly, there was the issue of how many images to display. We started out with rounds of prints then digitals – up to 3 rounds in all with 1 image per photographer in a round. To say I was a bit overwhelmed by the response on the night is an understatement. We had a lot of images! So refinement one will probably be that we go back a bit and have 2 rounds, but still with one image.
Secondly how to present the image. The photographer had to describe what they were trying to achieve. Timing could be an issue here – so we gave the photographer 1 minute to describe the image and what they were trying to do. The problem is that people find it hard to say that in 1 minute. Which statement helps the panel more? “I saw these brilliant flowers and took a photo” or “I saw these brilliant flowers in the foreground of this otherwise drab landscape and tried to show the contrast. Does this image work or can you suggest how to make it better?” Do you get the key words? “tried to show” “make it better“. That’s what we need to help the discussion along, otherwise the panel has to fish for an idea to help the photographer.
Thirdly, getting feedback. The panel – followed by the audience – would discuss the image, and the two panelists 1 minute, then the audience could have a go for up to 3 minutes. The problem? You can’t stop people talking. That’s both a good and bad thing.
Well at our first attempt, it its generated a lot of interest with people from other clubs attending the review nights to see how they work. It was a bit rough, and we ran over time. So what? We at least had some fun. We wound up looking at everyone’s first round of images, and then rushing through the last ones. Lesson learnt – keep to time and don’t over do it.
The second observation was that the panel tried to help by saying “a judge would say……but I think…..“. There you go – judges again! Seriously, if we are going to get out of the standard photography club rut we need to discard what the judge says and move to what we feel and think. Don’t worry as much about the technical as the art. We can all improve the technical with practice, but the art comes from the photographers mind. The photographers thoughts are paramount. Everyone else is viewing what goes on in your mind.
That brings me to the third observation – telling the audience what the photographer is trying to achieve. For any review night, we need to help the panel formulate their thoughts. So we’ve encouraged exhibitors to say what they are trying to do, and how the panel & club can help. Not always successful – but I think we are starting to get there.
The next thing is number of images and timing. Two rounds seems to be enough, and timing, although important, is not paramount. Let the photographer have their say. Let the panel mull over the image. Let the audience chip in with comments. Its a conversation as much as a critique session. The only limit is really the imagination of the presenter and their peers.
When we first proposed this concept of peer review (and its not a new one) I was surprised by a number of contacts from outside the club asking if they could come along. My natural answer was “Yes – we’d love to have external input into our little experiment.” But maybe that’s the sort of club we are – outside the main stream and a little bit “bolshy“. It led to some interesting email discussions too – which were very stimulating intellectually and led to a lot more thought about the process we had begun.
What I have seen evolve over the last few months is less of the what the judge says (or would say) and more of the “I like it. I wouldn’t change it at all. I love the way you…….” or “Its pretty good, but I think if you cropped/reframed/coloured/desaturated/changed aperture/shifted shutter speed/removed noise (etc etc) in this it would work a little better“. The result – we’ve had members bring back their images after a suggestion and see if it worked better. We’ve had images entered in competition (or not). They are not all main stream photo club images either – that’s a nice change!
The other thing I’ve noticed is that unlike competition nights, the audience doesn’t fall asleep – the conversation keeps going. There is rarely silence (some folk can’t keep quiet). Everyone gets involved. I’d call that sort of engagement success. And importantly, you don’t see the muttering around the room afterwards about judges with no idea what they’re talking about.
So in conclusion, how is the experiment going? I’d say fairly well. Its not perfect, its evolving as I said at the start. We will get better. Importantly its a conversation between people in a club that shares a passion. Isn’t that what the club is supposed to be about? If it produces better images that a judge likes then that’s a bonus – but I’m personally pleased that’s not the aim.
Trainspotting is a 1996 British black comedy about drug dealing directed by Danny Boyle based on the novel of the same name by Irvine Welsh. I know this because it is one of my son Tom’s favourite movies.
This however was not the theme of our latest BPC excursion. It was all about the trains. More specifically a steam train, the 620 class steam locomotive – 621, The “Duke of Edinburgh“. This is a 4-6-2 locomotive, one of 10 fast passenger engines originally intended for the Adelaide to Port Pirie “East-West” route. 4-6-2 refers to the arrangement of wheels, the middle number “6” referring to the number of large drive wheels that propel the train. The first and last numbers refer to the smaller wheels fore and aft .
The Duke of Edinburgh was scheduled to leave Mt Barker at 10.00am to arrive at Strathalbyn by 11.00am and Goolwa by 12.00pm. We arranged to meet at Mt Barker at 9:15 to witness the coupling of the train prior to departure. This however was too early for some, who were concerned about road conditions. There had been a pile up on the freeway the previous morning when it had iced over. Regardless we had a good turnout with around 8 keen trainspotters, (and one that we acquired). We befriended Nigel from the Edwardstown camera club who was out with his wife and nephew.
The magic of the steam trains is in all that steam. The 140 ton steel monolith comes alive when it belches out steam from its various orifices and lurches backwards and forwards along the tracks. No one failed to be captivated. Just have a look at the photos. Standing on the low ground we were enveloped in dense white steam as the “Duke” whistled then tugged it’s carriages out of the station up towards the Wistow highland.
We had a plan. I had a map of the train line showing the location of the 11 level crossings between Mt Barker and Strathalbyn. In our cars we drove ahead of the train and parked near a crossing in order to photograph it. This was quite exhilarating and a lot of fun. On a few occasions I arrived too late, seeing the train chug past as I was parking the car. My fellow photographers however were nicely positioned and have excellent photographs. At Strathalbyn we parted company. Some drove home, others carried on chasing the train. Ken unfortunately had to take his wife to hospital after she developed knee pain.
The photography was interesting. With the stationary train at Mt Barker it took some discipline to step back and look at the scene more analytically. Once I had a photo of the train at the station I needed to move around and look at new angles to improve the mood and the intensity of the subject matter. However once the train started moving it was a different story. Waiting at a crossing it was easy to get bored. Finally as the train rounded the corner and first came into view I wanted to fire of a salvo of shots. It was however too far away and as the train neared the focus was lost and it was easy to get blurred photos. I felt like a fusilier in Zulu dawn. There was a risk of shooting too early and missing the target entirely. I needed a gunnery sergeant to tell me when to hold and when to fire.
Overall it was a well rated and enjoyable outing. Fortunately the predicted bad weather came on later in the afternoon.
Yes – its that time of year again. The annual duel between Blackwood Photographic Club/Edwardstown Photographic Club. On this occasion we held it at our club on a night when the heavens opened. I can attest to that – I kept stepping in a puddle as I moved the selected prints, projection hardware and El Presidente paraphernalia between my car and the club rooms.
Despite the weather we had a good turnout, with 15 EPC members in attendance and about 30 from our club. For a change this year we did the scoring on 2 computers (ours and theirs). Judge Derek Mikolaj & I had joked earlier in the week about scoring with fractions. Oops – that got Derek going and he used just that system – Nine and a half, Six and three sixteenths, 8.95 – you get the idea! The scorers had a chore keeping up, but computers and spreadsheets can cope with these things – as long as you can convert a fraction to decimal (actually, you can do the calculation too – 7 and 3/8 is just that 7 plus 3 divided by 8). Anyway, we had a very good selection of prints (mono & colour), and 50 digital images to see. Derek worked efficiently through the images, giving constructive criticism along the way. These were the best images from both clubs – so marks were generally very high with eleven full 10s (not fractions). The competition proceeded with some wows, some not so wows and some witty remarks from both the judge and the audience. Who said we can’t have fun with the judge?
In the end, despite our best efforts (with images from 25 BPC members – every one gets an image in if they submit), Edwardstown won on the night. The scores? Well here is a little table:
Once again, not a lot in it, but EPC took out every category, even though we had more full 10s on the night (7 vs 4) – but who’s counting? EPC have kindly allowed us to show all of their digital images on this page as well as ours, so rather than carry on any more about competitions, just look at the images and see which ones you liked the best. We’ve put the top scorers from our club in the Top Digitals page, and the slide show here of all the digital images.
To finish the night, BPC members laid on a great spread of supper (which seemed to go down well) whilst everyone checked out the prints still around and had lots of chats about the images. It was great to see the best from both clubs. Bring on next year – where we are going to propose some changes to open up the competition and level the playing field some more :lol: Chris ;)
I had received a lot of in coming mail from people excited to be going on the club excursion to the Gorge Wildlife Park. It looked to be a big event – perhaps bigger than the outing to old Port Willunga. Saturday was quite sunny and a delightful day. On the Sunday morning however I awoke to torrential rain. It had set in a big way and was not letting up. The weather radar showed wave after wave of rain as a depression had settled in over the Adelaide region. Reluctantly I conceded that it was all over. I sent out an e-mail advising all to give the excursion a miss.
Later that afternoon I drove over to the gorge in case any had missed the e-mail and foolishly set off. To my amazement there was a contingent of 4 or 5 eagerly paying their entrance fee, cameras at the ready. “Hadn’t you got my e-mail?” “Oh yes, we got the e-mail, but we thought it might blow over and so we turned up anyway”. This was going to be a weird kind of day. I went in with Ron and Howard, meeting Kim and Ken and his contingent inside.
How do you photograph animals in the rain?
I suggested we retire to the shelter of the covered aviary, a large tin shed where we sheltered from the worst of the rain for over an hour or more. It was hard taking shots in the gloom. The birds however were interesting. Eventually it cleared a little and we were able to venture out and get a few photos. Despite the difficulty everyone seemed to enjoy the challenge of the difficult conditions.
One of the skills was in making the bars of the cage disappear. This is not too hard with a telephoto lens when you stand close to the cage and the animal is in the centre of the enclosure. However if the animal is large, standing close to the wire and the wire is lit up by sunlight, you might as well forget it. Sometimes it can make you swear. It seemed that a lot of learning was taking place as we mimicked each others style and tried different shots.
Eventually the rain let up, just as it was time to head home. It was hard to believe that they were telling me what a successful outing it had been. Needless to say I did enjoy interacting with the animals.
Quietly ignoring the fact that it was Valentine’s Day a large number of members and visitors showed up to inform, point us in the right direction, mislead and confuse us with our Signs competition. Judge David Smith gave us helpful hints, tips and scores as he judged the 90 images, emphasizing the fact that he was presenting a personal opinion and that photography appreciation is very subjective.
There was an interesting range of ‘takes’ on the Signs theme though David noted that there was only one image that was angling for a laugh where Volunteers were wanted at a cemetery (thanks Ron!).
Eric’s Napoleon, Ursula’s Alpha Jet 01 and Chris S’s Rest in Peace impressed him the most. A large number of Open section images in a range of genres created discussion and inspiration. It was also great to see entries from a few of our newer members – they’re certainly throwing out a challenge to the rest of us!
Helen Whitford ;)
Record the date 31-Jan-2013 as an important date in your records.
On that day Blackwood Photographic Club embarked on a new direction that encourages more participation and sharing of photographic ideas. We moved from the mainstream camera club ethos of competition and into (what for us in 2013 is a new idea) actively sharing, encouraging and improving our photographic art as a group, as well as learning from each other and not just receiving a judges opinion.
Interestingly, the peer review/critique session is not a new phenomenon. Many educational institutions have done the same thing for decades (if not centuries) – the arts & literature need feedback to develop. The early days of our club embraced this method of learning, but it got lost along the way. Well, I think we’ve found it!
The night began with another significant event – the raising of the new projector screen!
Matt, Ashley & I spent a bit of time planning how best to mount the new screen – and after a bit of brainstorming, came up with the solution of clamping the screen to the ballet rail and raising the screen up. We did a test run on the Australia Day long weekend, and with a little paint, some more brainstorming, a ladder, some hand tools and a drill the new screen was ready. This method overcomes the problem of the mass of the screen, and therefore reduces the risk to the people raising it as well. We’ve employed the old widowmaker rods for raising it, but they’ll soon be replaced with something even better.
The big advantage of this screen is that we can now project our images at full 4:3 (just like your camera) on a larger, brighter screen. We must acknowledge the support of the SAPF in partially funding the new screen – which replaces our 30 year old screen.
The night was also significant for the debut of the new print stand. Eric built a new one just before the end of last year which is more robust, and allows prints to stand in a rail rather than be clipped into place. Even panoramas will now fit. Our sincere thanks to Eric for his efforts.
So on this already auspicious evening, we began our critique session. It was a pretty full house with many club members present & displaying their images, as well as 5 new members (welcome to Lesley, Ren, Grant, Gerry and Ron). We also had a few visitors – Peter & Richard from Edwardstown PC, Rosemary & Roger (2nd time – I remember ;) ). Richard & I have corresponded about this new direction a few times as well – illustrating that our ideas find a resonance outside the club. We were also pleased to see life member Ruth Palmer attend and lend her support.
|Our inaugural critique night (the modern edition) comprised Matt & Ashley as the review panel, with myself as chairperson, and images (print, slide & digital) from 18 club members. Not bad for a first draft. The initial concept was to have the images displayed in rounds of 1 image (or set) at a time. We thought that up to 3 rounds could be had in the normal meeting time. Each member was allowed up to 1 minute to describe their image, then the panel discussed the image, followed by comments from those present for a total of about 5 minutes. This worked reasonably well, except that the panel and audience ran overtime – repeatedly! That will have to be tightened up!|
A few observations about the process I mulled over afterwards:
- Some members put up images and basically said “What to do you think?”. In retrospect it should be “I was trying to achieve …… by doing …… – have I achieve it or how can I get there?”.
The critique this type of opening remark received was at times a little soft, but then the introduction by the photographer led to that. So next time you come along please tell us what your trying to do
- Matt & Ashley tried to be constructive and make helpful observations. They prefaced some remarks with “a judge might say…..”.
Although this is valuable, particularly for competition, its not the only way to provide feedback, and they tried to avoid the cliches. Well done guys.
- They also worked hard to give feedback on composition and technique - along with members of the audience such as Arthur (who I think commented on every image), Eric, Helen, Ray, James & Peter (apologies to those I missed).
Many other members chipped in too – and this is the important part of the night - we all took part.
I felt all those present were looking and trying to help the photographer improve the image – and not just superficially. This is something we miss after a competition night as the images get whipped down and stored.
- Everyone stayed polite and constructive – brilliant!
- Members such as Helen, Heather, Theo & Eric displayed images to help them refine their display and technique. Helen addressed her ongoing screen calibration issue, Heather looked at image resolution, Eric showed us how to photograph drops of water & Theo addressed the issue of what is the best perspective – in close or out wide? All of this generated some excellent discussion in the process – and many of us – not just the authors – left with new insights.
- There was a good selection of prints on the night as well – with some valuable discussion on breaking the standard judging rules – the rule of thirds needs to be taken out and buried and sharpness need not dominate our lives!
- We ran out of time after the first round – hmmmm. Fortunately, we managed to have a 15 minute free for all with the remaining digital images.
Next time we will have to be a lot stricter on time limits
- We were all enjoying it so much I didn’t see anyone doze off. Amazing! Some competition nights you can almost here the snoring – none evident on this occasion! :D
Next time we’ll have another pair of panelists – everyone will get a turn (don’t be shy!). In fact thats another way of improving your art – by being made to give feedback to someone else.
So there you have it – the first installment of BPC Peer review. We’ll refine things as we go along. If you’ve got any ideas or observations I haven’t addressed email me or leave a comment on this page. I promise our critique nights will only get better!
After the success of last years exhibition, and with the support of Kelly Morris (Community Programmes officer at the library) we are back at the Stirling Library with another fine selection of images from BPC members. This time around the exhibition runs from 15-Dec-2012 to 14-Jan-2013.
So, after my appeal for images and also at the Annual Picnic, we now have 28 images on display for all to see – along with the usual catalogue and the El Presidente promotional blurb. There are of course the expected exhibitors but I’m pleased to say that we have a couple of new exhibitors including Henk & Yvonne. Thanks to everyone for pitching in – I was starting to panic as the deadline approached!
The images titles and authors are:
|Eric Budworth||Bearded Iris|
|Eric Budworth||Onkaparinga estuary|
|Eric Budworth||Melting watch|
|Chris Schultz||Guitar Man|
|Chris Schultz||Eye for detail|
|Chris Schultz||Little Dip sunset|
|Chris Schultz||Sunflower echo|
|Carolyn Beckett||Blue Hue|
|Carolyn Beckett||Just out of town|
|Henk Smelter||Yarra by night|
|Henk Smelter||I’ll think about it|
|Mark Pedlar||Flared for landing|
|Jenny Pedlar||Gathering storm|
|Yvonne Sears||Reticent child|
|Melinda Hine||Glenelg Jetty|
|Yvonne Sears||The Obelisk|
|Helen Whitford||Mother and Child|
|Helen Whitford||Big Eyes Bakari|
|Jo Tabe||Beachport Jetty|
|Jo Tabe||Marino rocks|
|Jo Tabe||Brighton Beach|
|Jo Tabe||Something in the air|
|Jo Tabe||Menindie Lakes|
|Hilary Thompson||Aboard the Falie (1)|
|Hilary Thompson||Aboard the Falie (2)|
If you have time, pop around and have a look at whats on show – and don’t forget to tell your friends who wonder what you do every second Thursday night! I’ve put the library hours at the end of the post.
Oh – and the images in the gallery below are from my phone – not bad considering. Click on any image to start the slide show.
Finally, on behalf of the Committee we wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I personally look forward to catching up with all of you in the New Year and sharing in your photographic adventures!
The Stirling library opening hours over the Holiday period are:
|Thursday 27 December: 10am – 5pm||Monday 31 Dec & New Years Day|
|Friday 28 December: 10am – 5pm|
|Saturday 29 December: 10am – 5pm|
|Sunday 30 December: 1pm – 5pm|
Normal hours are:
10:00am – 6:00pm
10:00am – 6:00pm
10:00am – 8:00pm
10:00am – 6:00pm
10:00am – 5:00pm
1:00pm – 5:00pm
The BPC Annual Exhibition has been run, judged, awarded and examined!
Yep – all over. Thanks to everyone for their entries and efforts.
Judging night saw the well oiled BPC machine (with some minor hiccups) displaying a great range of images – album, colour & mono prints, along with the projected images, which this year did not include any slides. Thanks must go to Mark Pedlar for collating the prints in order ready for display, and Ray & Julie Goulter for their picture hanging skills :lol:
Our judges, Lydia Strutton (Port Adelaide Camera Club and SAPF Secretary), Suzanne Opitz (Adelaide Camera Club) & Lindsay Poland (Photographic Wholesalers) worked their way through:
- 18 Album prints
- 39 Colour prints
- 19 Monochrome prints
- 35 Projected images
Of course being a panel judging, there was no feedback, and the scorers (Ashley & myself) diligently recorded the numbers whilst the audience sat admiring the work of their fellow club members.
Next years Annual Exhibition judging will be not be a club meeting to help reduce the no-doze consumption :lol:
Two weeks later, after a bit more work, we were ready for the exhibition. Awards were engraved, certificates and the Annual Exhibition booklet printed, copies of everyones scores prepared, and Ray’s camera was fired up ready for recording the great event.
Many club members toiled to put up the images – with labels, so we could see who did what and have a chat about how images were captured and admire the creativity of our fellow photographers. On top of that a range of food was laid out for all to share whilst we surveyed the images – courtesy of our members! As one member pointed out, it was good just to have a relaxed evening talking about the images with each other. We were also honoured to have Lydia return to view our awards night and share in the fun.
So on to the results!
The winners of the awards & certificates……
- JV Spick award – Helen Whitford
- 2nd – James Allan
- 3rd – Heather Connoly
- Edge Malpas award – Jo Tabe : Beachport Jetty
- 2nd – James Allan : Fern frond unfurls
- 3rd – Adrian Hill : Kanyaka Ruins
- Blackwood Photographic Club award – Helen Whitford
- 2nd – John Vidgeon
- 3rd – James Allan
- Mal Klopp award – John Vidgeon : It wasn’t me
- 2nd – Joe Tabe : Days end
- 3rd – James Allan : Common Brown Butterfly
- Blackwood Times award – James Allan
- 2nd – Heather Connolly
- 3rd – Jo Tabe
- I’ve Been Framed award – James Allan : Lone Surfer
- 2nd – Jo Tabe : Lenswood Ruin
- 3rd – Jo Tabe : Something in the air
- Merit – Helen Whitford : Two of a kind
- Photographic Wholesalers award – John Vidgeon
- 2nd – James Allan
- 3rd – Helen Whitford
- Hutt St Photos award – John Vidgeon : Cat and Mouse
- 2nd – John Vidgeon : Balloons in grain
- 3rd – Jo Tabe : Wanna
- WEA APC Landscape Trophy – Jo Tabe : Wanna
I can see a pattern here – certain names just keep appearing! But seriously, all of you exhibited some great images, and although there are official judged winners, its not about the competition but about sharing and having a bit of fun.
So there you go – another Annual Exhibition over, another year over. All of the images from the digital section are in the Top Digital Images page – pop over and have a look.
Sincere thanks must go to Mark Pedlar for collating and organising the Annual Exhibition material (including certificates, the book, the score sheet etc etc etc), Helen Whitford for collecting/collating all the scores over the year, Yvonne Sears for organising the trophy engraving, doing those club secretary things etc, Ashley Hoff for running around and chasing things up, the scorers, image hangers, chair stackers etc, and all of you for participating, sharing your images and making the club function. If I’ve left a name or two out its just the lateness of the hour and I apologise in advance (check the post time – its after 1am!)
Have a great holiday break, relax with family and friends, keep those shutters firing, collecting images and enjoying your art. And don’t forget that next year we’ll be having those critique sessions – so collect the images you want to talk about.
The low resolution sample above contains a watermark which will not appear on the calendar you purchase
Our calendar Gurus – James Allen & Eric Budworth – have been beavering away at producing our ever popular Blackwood Photographic Club calendar. The 2013 calendar is again filled with mostly local, Australian, colourful, and stunning images from our talented members. The price remains the same – a snap at just $15. Give it pride of place on your wall, hang it in the office as a talking point with colleagues, give it as a memorable Christmas gift, let it travel to far flung climes overseas or interstate.Whatever you choose, its ready for you to obtain a copy from any club member, email us , or write to the club via snailmail (yes, we do have a postal address). We accept cash, cheques & money orders (payable to Blackwood Photographic Club of SA) and Electronic Funds Transfer (details available upon request) as payment for this great calendar. Please add $2.90 for tough bag postage/packaging mail delivery.
Get your copy now and enjoy our vision of Australia
In case you’ve missed out on the news most of the 2012 committee is back! But with some new ideas!
Our sincere thanks to Jenny Pedlar for her work as Treasurer over the last few years – but as we knew, Jenny wanted to pass on that role, and so we welcome Carolyn Beckett as Treasurer. We also have Helen Whitford joining as a general committee member to boost our numbers and give a fresh perspective.
We also have a some new positions – an Outings Secretary which James Allan has consented to fill. James will endeavour to have an outing a month for club members to both provide a social focus and get more images in our catalogues. Mark Pedlar has agreed to co-ordinate the judges, and Julie Goulter is reprising her role as Social Secretary! In fact Julie has already earned our sincere thanks for organising the brilliant October Long Weekend outing at Robe. I’ve posted her report, but am still waiting on more images (although there are quite a few on Flickr)
On to the new exciting stuff.
At this years AGM, we had a discussion about the direction the club was heading in. I have had comments from members about judging, workshops and getting more out of the club. In my opinion we were in a rut, with the regular cycle of workshops/talks (which are generally very good – who can forget Stavros Pippos!) and competitions (which can range from good to downright awful depending on the judge and their comments). In fact, after one competition I had several members leave in total exasperation and frustration that they had learned nothing new and sat there listenning to one persons “egotistical rant”. That was followed up by several phone calls expressing their concerns.
We have all felt frustrated with judges in the past – including me. But it then begs the questions What is a photography club? Is it
- a social gathering of like minded people?
- a place to have some fun?
- there to help people improve their photographic skills?
- there to provide constructive critique of photographs?
- meant to be a discussion forum?
- there to help us push the boundaries of our photography?
- a place to learn about new directions in photography?
- there to provide a competition venue?
The answer is Yes to most of these questions, but one question should not dominate the others. Unfortunately, the last question - is it a competition venue? seems to have started to dominate our club. Thats not why I joined, and from what I’ve heard from many others its not the reason they joined either.
So how can we bring it back to the core values of enjoying and learning new photographic skills with a bunch of like minded people? To start with, how about having more outings and doing things together? Well, the Outings secretary and the Social secretary can address that. So theres a tick in that box.
What about learning new things? The workshops (both member and external visitor supported) address aspects that cover that. So another tick (although we need to know what you want too! Please tell us!).
Then the question of discussion and constructive critique arises. Now we have a problem. We can listen to judges comments at competition nights, but its not a discussion – its a lecture! Some are better at this and some are worse – more of the latter rather than the former in my experience. After a lot of thought and discussion with the committee, we thought it important that we give our members the opportunity to talk about their images and get constructive feedback. That gives us context. More importantly, it reintroduces dialogue – not just throw the image up, get it judged, put it away and say goodnight.
As a result, at the AGM, we put up a new proposal (I’ve put that in a PDF you can download and read) – to switch meetings to a rotation of 1. Workshop/Talk, 2. Competition and 3. Critique night. After some discussion, the proposal was passed almost unanimously! Now we have a chance to worry about competition less, and instead think about photography and push the boundaries of our skills. There will still be competitions (7 instead of 10), but there is now a real opportunity to have dialogue and share our thoughts. So now we have tick for that box as well.
So starting next year, there is a new programme (coming soon in the RSS feed) that encourages club members to share their images and talk about them. Don’t be shy – bring in your images, have a talk about it, listen to what others have to say about them.
This change will also introduce our new projector screen – which now has a 4:3 aspect ratio (ie bigger images) and is more reflective. We were fortunate to secure a partial grant from the SAPF (after some discussion) to help us replace our 30 year old projector screen. This week, Ashley & I collected the screen, and Matt & I spent Friday night planning how to mount it on the wall safely (the widow maker won’t do!) and store it. It will involve a bit of engineering, but we have a plan and should have it up for the start of next year! Thanks to the SAPF and the committee for helping to get this important piece of equipment replaced.
Speaking of the SAPF, I must mention the new direction they are taking thanks to SAPF President Alberto Guirelli and the new committee. Alberto spoke to us after John Hodgson’s AV presentation earlier this year. He came not only to speak, but to listen to what clubs want from SAPF. As he pointed out, SAPF is there to represent us and bring us together as a community. As you all know, Alberto is a fan of our little club and its attitude (a favourite of his is our little blog entry about judging for example). To bring about this change, he is actively seeking opinions from clubs, trying to get greater involvment from the clubs with the community, change the judging process (he has joined the pool of judges), and is trying to engender a change in attitude to bring modern ideas of photography into the process of judging and photography. That includes discussions with the AIPP about judging and a national standard, increasing the range of images we and the judges see and more focus on the art (and impact) rather than the technical aspects of photography. We can help by joining with SAPF in pushing the boundaries of judging, and criticising them if they don’t meet the standards we want – so we need to ensure we submit judges critiques to Keith Siedel and the SAPF judging team. Alberto reminded us of the mantra that many of you have heard from me – shoot for yourself! Please support Alberto and his cause – I feel that he is bringing back relevance to the SAPF and that has to be a good thing for all of us.
The final thing I’d like to mention is the new Australiana Landscape Trophy in the Annual Exhibition which is being sponsored by Ursula and Theo Prucha. Many thanks to the Prucha’s for sponsoring this award and giving us something new to try and achieve. I’ve put the description of the trophy and its rules into the Awards page and the Annual Exhibition entry form.
Another of the changes we have planned for the Annual Exhibition next year is that we are going back to tradition and not going to have you all sit through 2 hours of silence whilst the judges look at images! We’ll have the judging outside of club hours with just the committee and then have the Annual Exhibition with everyone seeing the images for the first time and awards handed out so we can have a decent discussion about the assembled images!
Enough of El Presidente’s thoughts – see you all soon at the Annual Exhibition judging (bring the NoDoze :D)
ROBE SA – Friday 28 September to Monday 1 October 2012
- Julie Goulter (The Organiser)
- Ray Goulter
- Jenny Pedlar
- Mark Pedlar
- Helen Whitford
- Russell Whitford
- Eric Budworth (El Professore)
- Rhonda Budworth
- James Allan (Captain Click)
- Frances Allan (Madame LaFarge)
- Chris Schultz (El Presidente)
- Yvonne Sears (The Quiet Achiever)
- Jo Tabe (Bird Woman)
Where we stayed
A rental property in the heart of Robe. The house was very comfortable and provided all the amenities we required.
Where we went and what we saw
Small groups headed in various directions on Saturday morning to see what was interesting around the town of Robe. Beacons Hill Lookout, the Boat Harbour and the Main Street to name a few spots. Along with photographs being taken a few tried out the local coffee shops. What a relaxing way to start the weekend.
Everyone returned to the house for a casual lunch – those who were hungry ate, those who weren’t watched.
In the afternoon many ventured to the Boat Harbour but it was quite windy so it was decided to move on to the Obelisk and surrounds. Although the wind was chilly it made for some wonderful photo opportunities of the coastline and the waves crashing on the rocks. Chris Schultz wandered off the track and headed to the cliff edge to see what other images he could come up with.
Ray and Julie took a few minutes to visit the Royal Circus and Customs House, now a small but very interesting Maritime Museum. The caretaker told us that the town fought to stop the historic old building being knocked down. Thank goodness another piece of our history was saved by local intervention.
On our way back to the house they also visited Mahalia Coffee where the master roaster of a vast range of coffee beans prepares and sells his beans and ground coffee. Coffee and other local produce was purchased.
Saturday night a selection of salads, both hot and cold, were provided by various members and the steaks, chops, sausages and chicken were grilled to perfection on the bbq. Dessert for those that felt inclined was blackberry self-saucing pudding and yoghurt (oops, forgot the ice-cream).
This was followed by an evening that was relaxing to the body but tested the brains of all the guests. A game of lateral thinking, quirky questions for you to ponder and mysteries to solve.
Beachport today, about a thirty minute drive from Robe.
The first stop for some was the Woakwine Cutting, an area that was once just swamp and had been cleared and drained to create beautiful, lush grazing area for some of the best Hereford cattle in the district. A shower or two of rain fell but not enough to stop us looking around.
Upon arriving at Beachport we noticed a large group of people gathered adjacent to the jetty. This evoked much discussion about whether they were there to scatter someone’s ashes off the jetty. As we watched with interest from the Jetty Café across the street, we were told it was not a wake, but the Blessing of the Fleet to open the fishing season.
Following morning tea at the Jetty Café we again broke in to small groups and wandered around the wharf and township to see what caught our interest. We all met back at the bakery for lunch and a chance to compare stories of what we had seen and done.
Mid afternoon several of us headed out to do the Bowman Scenic Drive after a slight hiccup which took us out of town. Once on the right track we discovered more areas of rugged coastline and some interesting rock formations caused by tidal movements and erosion over many, many years.
Late afternoon on the way back to Robe a few detoured into Little Dip National Park, in particular to the Little Dip Surf Beach. Once again the rock formations and choppy seas provided some interesting subjects.
Another BBQ that night and a relaxing chat around the table. A few of the members decided to take advantage of the full moon and headed down to the harbour for some night photography.
Our last day saw us all up bright and early for breakfast and packing up. We were out of the house around nine so stopped off at a café in Robe for a cuppa and to decide our movements for the trip home.
Some wanted to see more of the national parks on their way to Kingston. For the rest of us the first stop was Wangolina Station Winery. It was a bit early for wine tasting but the owner was happy for us to wander around all the old sheds and outbuildings. Jenny spotted a huge flock of black cockatoos in the distance and a couple of kangaroos. We were then told that a short time before we arrived there had been about 60 kangaroos in the nearby paddocks.
From there we moved on to Cape Jaffa, where the lighthouse once stood. The first thing we noticed was the very strong smell of fish. Understandable when it is a popular fishing spot with the locals. A quaint old jetty and more of the rugged coastline provided some interesting photography subjects.
Our last port of call was Kingston where we visited the the Cape Jaffa Lighthouse in its new home opposite the foreshore. A quick drive across town brought us to the Big Lobster, a well-known tourist attraction. It was there that we met up with the other members and all sat down to lunch. Eric and Rhonda Budworth had already headed for home to beat any holiday weekend traffic into Adelaide but the rest of us congregated around the ‘Lobster’ for one last photograph before we all wended our way back along the Coorong and home.
The accommodation was good, apart from a few little issues and the weather was overcast but kind to us from a photography perspective. A sincere thank you to all who participated and for the spouses who also joined in the experience. Thanks also for the various contributions of food and drinks. We hope everyone had a great time and we look forward to our next trip, wherever that may be.
Two questions to ponder from the weekend away….
Does size matter?
Is height important?
To find out the answer to these and many other questions join us for our next exciting adventure!
BPC Social Secretary
My apologies to those that have been hanging out for a few words about competitions over the last few months – we’ve been a tad busy with other things (another post will describe that)!
However, all is not lost – the images have been posted for your viewing pleasure.
I’ve been away for some of the competitions, so I won’t comment about those, but I will pass comment on the the most recent competition I managed to get to – Low Light photography. The night was judged by Keith Siedel (of Edwardstown club & now the SAPF judge co-ordinator). We had a broad range of images for the evening – some that were fairly routine, and some that pushed the boundaries of low light imaging – including one very clever slide by Arthur Farmer entitled 5 minutes at f8 – the title says it all!
Keith’s judging was very constructive – and despite the number of images each images pros and cons were given! Some of the points to come out of the judging were partly personal preference, but also some basics that always work:
- People add interest to an image – even in low light
- Silhouettes are always an option
- Tight cropping is not always the answer
- Monochrome with incandescent light is a good alternative to colour
- Red colours in a print always work
- Try to capture the shape and form of landscapes – not just the broad sweep
Afterwards we had a good discussion about some of the images – including correcting some of the judges mis-understandings (like the car airconditioning button being on during a cold night in one image).
I’ll leave Ashley or someone else to post comment about the other competitions.
On the Friday prior to the Noarlunga Photographic Expo. I spent most of the day try to assist the volunteers set the hall ready for the weekend’s function. My wife had been busy cooking up some treats for sale at the event for those attendees who wished to have a “Cuppa and Cake”. These cakes and cookies along with more treats which other club members had baked, were sold thus raising much needed funds for the club.
Saturday, the first day of the Expo, started quite well with a steady stream of visitors through the doors. The organising committee were expecting a possible lower attendance on Saturday due other functions being held for the Shimmer Festival and the Crows playing at Football Park. This expectation however proved to be a myth as the public kept entering at a steady rate right up until the closing time of 4 o’clock. Some members of the public were still trying to enter after the doors were closed.
Sunday was also a quite well attended day with lots of interest in the local clubs, all of the BPC programs that I placed on the display were taken and a few people took down notes of our address and meeting times. I dispensed information about our club as well as photographic advice to members of the public interested in the possibility of joining.
All of the clubs displays were very good with the Hallett Cove year 11 & 12 students being an excellent display.
I found it strange that the stand used by Photographic Wholesalers was not staffed by anyone! At one stage I was asked if I could help some young students who were enquiring about studio flash units and their usage, this was due to me standing adjacent to the PW display whilst talking to Tim Newbury. I tried to assist these young photography students as much as possible.
The Noarlunga CC had their calendars on sale for $10.00 each and I must say they did quite a good trade. A glass display cabinet with some old cameras and photos were on display of which yours truly supplied most of the equipment. There was one old photo of a couple of bicycles which were joined together so that they were ridden side by side with a young baby seated between the riders. The photo was taken about 1923 and later on Sunday afternoon the “baby” came to visit the Expo !! she is now in her mid nineties and quite well. It was a joy to meet her and have a chat.
A raffle was held and drawn at the close of the show on Sunday and the number of people through the doors over the weekend was in excess of 500 this was confirmed as the public were issued with a ticket on entry (although some may have sneaked in without accepting ticket) so as to be able to verify the attendance numbers.
All in all I felt it was a good show and thanks must go to the Noarlunga CC for the fine job they do each year in organising this event.
It was also pleasing to see some of Blackwood Photographic Club members putting in an appearance at the Expo.
Prints displayed at the Expo by BPC will be returned at the next meeting. Thanks to all who participated.
The annual competition – this time at Edwardstown’s rooms at Glandore. We had a good turnout from BPC members (14 in all – plus a few apologies) which was very pleasing. The judge for the night was Des Berwick, from Adelaide Camera Club, who evaluated our images efficiently, with generally constructive comments to help the assembled photographers.
A total of 110 images were presented by both clubs – our digital selections are below:
So we didn’t win, but we weren’t embarassed either. Congratulations to Edwardstown – but as we both said – its not about the competition but about having some fun.
For the benefit of BPC members, here’s a list of our top scorers in each category:
|Port Augusta sunset
- James Allan (9)
|Mother and child
- Helen Whitford (9)
(Also an SAPF award & Trophy winner)
- Eric Budworth (10)
- John Vidgeon (10)
|Gap in the fence
- Hilary Thompson (10)
|Cat and mouse
- John Vidgeon (9)
- James Allan (10)
|Eye for detail
- Chris Schultz (10)
- Helen Whitford (9)
(Also an SAPF Trophy winner)
Edwardstown also put on a very pleasant supper – thanks for that! We had a look at the images, chatted to a few folks including the judge (no – James’ swimmer did not have a crooked horizon & my guitarist did have a fret board that was discontinuous :lol:), and had a good look at all the images. Regardless of the outcome, a pleasant evening was had by all, and we look forward to returning the favour next year at our place.
Before I sign off, I will register a small note of protest here – Des had judged at the SAPF Annual Exhibition and a number of the entries were exhibited at that event – so perhaps the judging was slightly compromised (in which direction I can’t say). Des himself admitted that it made his judging more difficult. Perhaps both clubs need to think about a change in scheduling or judge selection for the evening to help both the judge and the clubs.
Some of you may recall the comments last year from guest judge Lindsay Poland on the quality of printing in one of our competitions – and it wasn’t all favourable. So to help us improve things, we invited Lindsay back to talk about making prints. Lindsay is also friends with Steve Huddy from Canon, and managed to get Steve to come along too and share his knowledge of inkjet printing.
To start proceedings, Steve told us little about himself and the history of inkjets. Steve was once a professional photographer who cruised on Fairstar liners – and he shot Nikon (not Canon) for a long time. In those days it was all film. When the first good quality, manageable digital cameras appeared, like the Nikon D1 (the same as Eric showed us a few weeks ago) it was a revelation. At some stage, Steve switched brands – but that’s another story.
Of course, once you have digital imaging, you need to print the images. You can of course use professional labs (like I do), but you can also print at home (like a lot of you do!). Enter the inkjet printer!
There is also a story that Steve told us about technician who accidentally put his fountain pen on a hot soldering iron. He didn’t realise his error, but a few minutes later ink squirted out of the pen, and the inkjet printer was born. In fact, story of the inkjets dates further back to around 1867 when Lord Kelvin patented a continuous (pumped) ink stream method directed by an electrostatic charge to mark products (didn’t know that did you?). But the first commercial version didn’t appear until 1951 and was mainly used in chart recorders. An IBM inspired idea was contracted out to InkTronic (according to one blog I read), which developed this further in the mid 1970s creating a matrix type printing system, but the quality of the printing wasn’t great. Other inkjet systems developed soon after using different methods – heating the ink through a matrix of small heated nozzles which bubble out the ink (think Canon, HP & Lexmark/IBM) and piezoelectric head which changes shape when a charge is applied and ejects ink. from (think Epson & Brother). Incidentally, there are also thermal wax “inks” that work a bit like a laser printer and don’t run when they get wet (mainly Fuji-Xerox) – but these aren’t aimed at the home printer. There’s a Wikipaedia article on inkjets if your interested in more detail – and a stack of other material you can find with an internet search.
The inks that are used vary as well – either pigment inks which are particles that sit on the surface of the paper or dye inks which soak into the paper. Pigment inks are ideal for B&W images. We worry about the longevity of the these inks compared to silver halides and manufacturers now quote a 300 year life span (under glass and on a wall) but only 100 years if exposed to air and light – a long way from the inkjets of old. This improvement in ink quality has led to many professional photographers now using inkjet printers for both proofing and display. For example, internationally famous wedding photographer Yervant (who recently gave some talks in Adelaide – and 5 BPC members attended) now uses inkjets. Part of the reason is that he perceived that 30% of the work is taking the photo, 20% is marketing, but 50% is the post production work which the photographer must do to realise their vision. Another example is Adelaide born photographer Robert McFarlane, who recently at recent retrospective display of his work at the (the Art Gallery of South Australia also have a permanent collection of his work as well) showed inkjet printed works – and is reported to have saved over $2500 compared to conventional prints.
To demonstrate the current generation of inkjets, Steve brought along a Canon Pixma Pro9500 Mk II printer – capable of printing on A3 using 10 colour ink cartridges using 6400 jets. This class of printer has a price tag to match though (over $800) plus inks (about $350 for a set of cartridges) – but has been superseded by a newer model that retails for about $1500. He also printed two A3 size images – one full colour and one in monochrome. If anyone is interested we have the images in our store cupboard (will they last 300 years in there? :lol:).
The important thing to note about using inkjet printers (and papers) is that they must be colour profiled along with the screen. Some large printing houses (such as Atkins) can provide the colour profile of their printing equipment to allow correct colour matching.
The question was asked of Steve – why are printer inks so expensive? The answer is that the printers are almost given away, and the cost recouped with the ink cartridge. The manufacturers of course don’t want you to use third-party inks, as they are not reverse engineered versions of the original inks, and are claimed to clog heads etc. I won’t get into that argument, but if your going to produce inkjet prints for competition or display use the best materials you can. Fortunately the ink wars don’t apply to printer paper, printer manufacturers now allow multiple papers profiles to be used from any manufacturer.
Lindsay then took up the conversation, talking about his own workflow. He has 22 years experience in the printing in the wetlab – and more recently the digital world. The difference as he points out is convenience vs control. Wetlab printing uses an sRGB colour space (see Jame’s Camera Clips for December 2010, February 2011 & September 2011 and for a discussion about this) with an array of 3 LEDs and any corrections are fairly basic – most must be done before the printing stage. Inkjet printers in contrast allow finer control – like a wetlab but still in an sRGB colour space (for reference, there is also Adobe RGB colour space – that’s used by offset printers that use CMYK). sRGB is adequate for most printing needs, and covers most colours we can perceive.
When we print in black and white, there may be a colour cast. This is a result of either the printer generating the black from mixing colours or a cast applied in post-processing. Better quality inkjet printers overcome some of this by having different shades of grey – not just black ink. The important part – again – is to profile the printer correctly and convert the image to grey scale.
The important part of that workflow is making sure his monitor and printer are calibrated correctly. For that he uses a spectrometer from ColorMunki from X-rite which allows him to calibrate the screen and importantly, the printer as well – a 30-45 minute process in total. Fortunately, the paper and printer only need calibration once, but the monitor is regularly checked (for those that aren’t aware, we have a Spyder 3 Pro spectrometer which allows us to calibrate screens only – club members may hire it for $10 + $10 bond).
Like the inkjet printers, papers also have calibration requirements. The International Colour Consortium (ICC) have a profile for each paper which may be downloaded from the manufacturer website. Lindsay uses Ilford Galerie papers – including a wonderful new 310gsm paper that’s like traditional baryta (barium sulphate) photographic paper that allows a high colour gamut – Galerie Prestige Gold fibre silk 310gsm
Once calibrated, the workflow can begin. Lindsay uses Adobe Lightroom where he will check & adjust exposure and sharpness. A useful tool available in Lightroom 4 is soft proofing. This allows you to check how the final image will look on paper before printing (and so save money) – but it only works if the screen is correctly calibrated.
When printing, a couple of tips from the professionals we gleaned:
- Don’t print at High Quality – it will just use more ink and you’ll get nothing extra. Just use standard or normal
- Allow the prints to dry to get full colour saturation – it can take a few minutes
- print at 360dpi – that’s more than adequate
- streaking on your prints is probably a result of dirty print heads – clean or replace them
So there you have it – words of wisdom about printing images to the highest quality. And I think the take home message is calibration!
Another competition night. This time we had non-SAPF judge Lindsay Poland from City Cross Camera House judging the Detail competition. Lindsay surveyed our work, and although he’s often happy to share opinions (wander in to the shop and have a chat :lol:) he was a bit less fulsome in his comments on this evening.
That worked to our advantage as he quickly judged the images, with some minor critical comments, and as always reserved the highest marks for the absolute best images (no one got a 10!).
But what we did afterward I think added to the night significantly – I asked him why he awarded the images the marks he did – from the low to the high. For example, Jenny Pedlar’s blue door was a great image and he really liked it, but he down graded it a bit due to some distracting elements in one corner. There was a bird print from James that got a lowish mark – the reason was due to what appeared to Lindsay to be over sharpening. A high key image of my daughters eye was down graded as he felt it needed some more of her face (not just her eye) – to make it more of a story than a clinical image (fair comment). This sort of Q&A generated some interesting discussion from the floor which went on for another 20 minutes and I feel was more productive for many of us as it was a conversation between us and the judge rather than wisdom from upon high.
So if you are all willing, we might try this with some other judges as the year progresses and tease out far more than the thinking out loud we are used to hearing. In the meantime, check out the top digital images (sorry – haven’t had time to get the top prints from authors)
Workshops have been a touch tricky this year – our guest speakers or events haven’t always worked out or been available, and this evening looked like being the same! The night was supposed to be about Antarctica, but we had to find a guest speaker at very short notice.
- His work takes him away from home for 3-4 months – usually to the bush
- Jeremy runs education sessions for ArtsSA at Carclew, and for SA Health. The workshops are very much participatory events and often involve mental health, disadvantaged groups or juvenile detention kids – the main point being to engage people. This can be used to advantage in school setting too with team building exercises.
In all cases, strong outcomes are sought, bombarding the participant with creative, high energy material – homework is optional!
- If you’ve been to the Royal Show you may have an Ikea catalogue – with your picture on the cover. That was Jeremy’s job (very hard work!!!), but he also runs a lot of pop up photo sessions for people like SANTOS or the Motor Accident Commission
- There isn’t a lot of marketing in his other work, which these days is mainly digital and straddles both commercial contracts and visual arts.
- He has some exhibitions too – cafes, pubs, restaurants if your interested.
So as you can see, he has a lot to occupy him and tries to have a range of jobs that keep him occupied for a good part of the year. Have a look at what Jeremy is working on at present and you get the idea:
- A youth workshop at Streaky Bay for 12-25 year olds with a fashion stylist
- a 20 year retrospective of his work
- Pop up photo booths for Schoolies
- a new portrait folio
- a book for a church
- feet for a beautician
- Red Cross Drug and Alcohol programme
- the migration team to help refugees
- a project with children in Sri Lanka
We got onto some general discussions like Why do we take photos? The answers that popped up from the audience ranged through capturing beauty, autobiographical, needing an audience (don’t we all?), sharing (yep!), getting new ideas and discussing photos. Now aren’t they the reasons that a lot of us are members of Blackwood Photographic Club?
Jeremy suggested if we want to extend ourselves try setting an assignment – find “faces”, shoot colour, take candid shots. We had a bit of general discussion about candid photos. Jeremy found that people in Australia aren’t as shy about having their photos taken as we think. He showed some images he’d taken in New York (he’s been there and used a point and shoot rather than dSLR to really get involved) and said Adelaide wasn’t really that much different.
If we are to take photos be aware of some of the rules. There is no actual right to privacy although we have a reasonable expectation of it. The important distinction is that if peoples images are used commercially (ie for profit/sale) that’s a possible risk of litigation if they have not consented. On the other hand, places like the beach are public places, as are city streets and there is no law restricting photography per se. Be overt about taking your photos, don’t be timid, and even share the photos with the subjects. However, there are restrictions regarding children, private property, Defense department land, Sydney Harbour Bridge foreshore and others. There is a discussion going on around the world about this, and situations where people try to forbid you to take pictures (eg security guards) may not be a problem after all – but check the situation. Have a look at the 4020 and Arts Law web sites for more information – there is quite a bit about it.
Jeremy then asked if we’d do a questionnaire to help him frame workshops for groups such as ours – and talked about getting the most out of your images as we answered his questions. Things like:
- understanding your camera
- photograph what you love
- change your white balance
- use different view of your subject (low/high/left/right/above/below etc)
- shoot to a brief to test yourself
- Shoot wide angle
- use Photoshop to try tilt & shift for correcting architecture
The discussion moved on to some images that Jeremy brought in of his work – ranging from product shots, to portraits, multiple prints on one sheet (that reduces cost), adding grain to images (gives it that film feel) and some tasteful human form studies in various environments. He noted that digital photography has affected professional business (as everyone’s a photographer now!) and this is now reduced, and so value has dropped. Interestingly, darkroom prints have become more valuable.
So after a wide ranging discussion, Jeremy went away with his questionnaire, and we went away with some ideas about what professional do and how they survive in a cut throat world.
Oh – and before I forget, welcome to new member Peter (who’s also in Edwardstown – but we won’t hold that against him :lol:)
For those that missed it, Jeremy has organised a portrait workshop (at a cost of course) – which filled quickly – and 8 of us will be taking part. Others will occur if there is sufficient demand.