Blackwood Photography Club News

Les Peters: The Bird Man of Aldgate – 22-May-2014

Les Peters (photo Ray Goulter)

Les Peters at BPC on 22-May-2014 with part of his bird photography set up

On the 22nd May I had the pleasure of introducing Les Peters as guest speaker to the Blackwod Camera club.  Les is a keen bird photographer living not far from me in the Adelaide Hills.  I became aware of Les’s photography when he gave a similar talk to the Birds SA group some 18 months ago.  Speaking to him after this meeting, he encouraged me to step up from the small Panasonic I was using and buy a Nikon.  As it happens I did buy a Nikon and within weeks he was loaning me his Nikkor 300mm lens.  Les took me out to some of his haunts, Laratinga wetland and Browns road reserve.  I was fascinated by his depth of bird knowledge which is equally matched by his knack for photography.

His presentation was no less intriguing, saturated with his passion for bird photography.  He talked almost without interruption for 90 minutes and showed over 200 excellent bird photographs (a small selection is in the slide show below).   It is hard to comprehend the range and quality of the photos when they come so quickly and intensly.  Les however chatted away, keen to tell the story of each photo.  The birds, as Les describes them, have purpose and personality.  This youngsters learning to fly, this one is making a nest, this one hiding from the camera, this one thought I couldn’t see it.  Some of the birds were common, yet beautifully captured.  Others were uncommon or rare birds and would take great luck and skill to capture.

As he talked he described his techniques.  Sometimes he will stalk the bird with the camera in hand.  However his preferred technique is to sit and wait for the bird to acclimatise to his presence and photograph them as they relax and begin to behave more naturally.  He said it often takes around 20 minutes.  Les often uses a tripod and a flash with a “better beamer”.  Certainly these shots had much stronger detail than the ones he took by hand.  The sharpness and detail of his shots was breath taking. Occasionally he would enlarge a shot 3 or 4 times and I admit I could not see any less detail in the cropped image.  He also described how he photographed birds by remote control.

It was a packed house with over 40 in attendance.  Talking to various people after the meeting, Helen and Jo said they felt inspired, and were looking for an opportunity to hone their skills.  Jo was impressed by Les’s kit.  “That Gimbal head on the tripod is worth a heap.”  Ashley although admitting that Bird Photography was not his thing, learnt much from the evening, especially from the explanation of the techniques.  He was amazed that it only took 20 minutes to familiarise yourself to the birds.  Richard found useful Les’s advice to get to know the behaviour of the birds in order to take better photos of them.   Ray lamented that there were too many images that he wished he had taken.  “There is one common theme though.  The best images are taken closer to the subject. Even if you use a long telephoto lens a small bird is still a small bird and you can’t fill the frame even with a 1,000mm lens.”

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Les’ hints for success

  1. Know your birds
    You’ll be better able to predict where they might go and set yourself up in the right place.
    After watching them for a while, you’ll also be better able to able to follow them at the right distance.
  2. Know your camera
    Play with it until you know it well. You don’t want to be thinking about how to use it when you have only a fraction of a second in which to get your shot.
  3. Watch the quality of the light
    You may want to move around your subject to find the best angle for the light. Add flash at -1.7 stops if needed. Watch for any reaction.
  4. Choose a suitable camera height
    Being level with the bird’s eye often makes for the most engaging picture.
  5. Try to capture a clear catch light
    It adds a great deal of vitality to the image.
  6. Use a shutter speed that suits the action
  7. Remember to have fun

I’d like to thank Les for taking the time to share his remarkable hobby and passion with us.  In the car on the way home he agreed to lead an excursion to the Laratinga Wetlands later in the year.  I will speak to Graham and finalise details later.  I can personally say it is worth going out into the field with Les.

James Allan

Self portraits : 8-May-2014

Selfies – they are all the rage. Everyone has a camera in their pocket and the opportunities to record your own face in any number of settings abound. Kids, your neighbours, celebrities of every flavour, actors, wannabe stars, the family dog, unwanted politicians – you name them, the selfie is there to fill gigabytes of internet storage.

The problem is are they of any artistic merit? Can the self portrait be made creative and interesting again? BPC members gave it a whirl with some creative and amusing attempts.

Judge Suzanne Opitz came along to check out our work and dealt with the images quickly and effectively and gave out a lot of high marks in the process - although being a vignettaholic and cropaholic  :-D  (her words – not mine) did extend some of her critique of the 88 images on offer. Keep in mind that its difficult to judge a self portrait when you can see the subject in the room too. We certainly appreciated her candour and input, and I think a lot of club members went away with some new ideas and some good marks.

Pop over to the Top Digital and Top Print pages for the top images that were presented, along with a few Editor’s choices (I have to indulge myself sometimes).

Self Indulgence - Jenny Pedlar (Editor's Choice)Finally, I’ve put what I consider one of the most important, high impact images of the night in this blog entry. It demonstrates creativity, honesty and a sense of self we should all aspire too.
As Jenny said “I am happy for my portrait to go on the web page. If it helps anyone else to come to terms with breast cancer I will be very happy.”  That says it all doesn’t it?



Nature photography – an interview

James sent me this musing on Nature photography – with all due respect to Messrs Clarke and Dawe.

Good morning Clarke

Good morning Brian

I understand that you have been on holidays Clarke

Yes, Brian, I took holidays with my camera.  We went to Kakadu – my camera and I.  We photographed the wilderness.

So you went on a tour.

Well actually no.

But you were there.

You don’t understand Brian – there were no people there.  No it was just the swamps and the birds, and the crocodiles in a wilderness without people.

But you just said that you went there on holidays.

But that’s the point.  I wasn’t there.  See look at these photos, not a person in sight.  No cars, buses, tour guides, campgrounds or information signs.  Nothing. Zip.

But how did you take these pictures Clarke? You must have been there.

The camera doesn’t lie Brian.  It was just like it was a million years ago, before the flood.

Look at this photo Clarke, I can see your shadow.  You’re standing with your legs apart holding the camera up to your face.

Let me see that Brian.  No that’s a mistake, that shouldn’t be there.  That’s not meant to be there Brian.  We’ll just throw that one out.  Either that or I’ll go and work on it in Photoshop.  But you can see Brian from the other photos that it was a real wilderness, like the garden of Eden.  Not a single human being.

What about this bird Clarke?  It’s got a band on it’s leg.  Someone must have put that there.  Who put the band on the birds leg?

Oh no Brian I gave you the wrong version of that photo.  Look at this one.  You can clearly see that there is no band on the bird’s leg.  It’s remarkable for the complete absence of a band.

But it’s exactly the same bird Clarke.  It has it’s wing up in exactly the same pose with the same background.  Exactly the same.  You just made it look like it hasn’t got a band.

No Brian.  You obviously don’t know anything about nature photography do you.  There are often two versions of the same thing, like parallel universes.

But surely only one of those versions is true.  The other has been altered.

Yes Brian only one version is right.  See the bird without the band looks so much more right than the bird with the band.  This one with the band is rubbish, utter rubbish.  It’s not a nature photograph at all.  We’ll just throw it out.

But Clarke you can’t do that.  You are changing reality.  You’re making it look how you want it to look.  You are not taking photographs of the real thing.

No Brian.  These little things are important.  You have to get it right.  Otherwise it wouldn’t be natural.  After all this is nature photography.  Have you seen all of the rules? There’s a lot of rules.  I’m merely correcting the little mistakes.

Who made the mistakes Clarke?

Not me Brian, I fix the mistakes.

So who made the little mistakes Clarke?

I’ve been wondering that thing myself Brian.  I’m not 100% sure on this, but I read a quote from a photographer named Ansel Adams.  I think he said they are the mistakes made by God.

Important work Clarke.

Yes, Brian, vital.  Us photographers have an important job making corrections, tidying up the mess left by God.

So where are you going for your next holiday Clarke?

Thought we might go to the orient and see some villages untouched by modern civilisation.

Hopefully there won’t be any mistakes.

Bound to be Brian.  But you can trust me, I’m onto it.

It’s a good summary of the broader camera club view of any photography in many ways. I feel that Photoshop gets a bit too much attention and emphasis at competition nights etc. Less art and more perceived perfection according to their rules. Think about it!

Thanks for the contribution James


Shades of purple – 27-Mar-2014

Graham Brice - Mad! - Set (Projected)Another competition – and this time returning to a favourite theme – colours! We’ve had Yellow. We’ve had Red. This time Purple.

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.

So all in all, a good night of purple passions, with a fine sprinkling of ideas in both open and set subjects. Check out the Top Digital and Top Print pages to have a good look at our top scorers.

Keep it up – I can see we are going to go through a purple patch at BPC! Its going to be a fun year!

Chris ;)

The April 2013 CameraClips – revisiting the judging discussion

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:

  1. The Horizon should always be straight
  2. We should see the front of the person not their back, and preferably they should be looking at the camera to engage the viewer
  3. A moving subject should move from left to right and that
  4. There should be space in front in order for them to move into
  5. The subject should be offset onto the thirds
  6. You should not cut off the top of the persons head,  (or their feet)
  7. It should be sharp throughout
  8. You should not have burnt out highlights – and no bright spots on the edge of the picture
  9. 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

National Geographic Peoples Choice - ModelNow 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.”

National Geographic - Honorable Mention Beijing DogOr 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.

National Geographic - Honorable Mention - Cuban FireworksOr 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.

National Geographic - Winner - Fair Ground CarouselLastly 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 Allan

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

  1. The Horizon should always be straight
  2. We should see the front of the person not their back, and preferably they should be looking at the camera to engage the viewer
  3. A moving subject should move from left to right and that
  4. There should be space in front in order for them to move into
  5. The subject should be offset onto the thirds
  6. You should not cut off the top of the persons head, (nor their feet)
  7. It should be sharp throughout
  8. You should not have burnt out highlights – and no bright spots on the edge of the picture.
  9. You should not depict 2 or 4 subjects, in fact any even number – or any number over 10
  10. Symmetry does not make a good photograph. Try and unbalance or disrupt Symmetry (for instance reflections


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.

Mark Pedlar

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.

Chris ;)

Found! February 13th 2014

Steve Wallace_Links from the Past_Set

Steve Wallace_Links from the Past_Set

On February 13th we found ourselves viewing Found Objects, although not a huge number, as only around a quarter of the prints were in the Set Subject category.  James Allan led the way with a number images of shed animal skins of varying types.  In Projected images the breakdown between Set and Open was roughly 50/50.  It was great to see a total of 18 members represented in our first competition for the year.  Congratulations to Alberto Giurelli who threw down the challenge in his new club, receiving three of the four 10′s that were awarded for the night! Well done to Chris Schultz for bagging the other one!

Our judge Vicki Easom, from Port Adelaide Club, took a consistent and quite positive approach,  giving a few tips along the way.  Thanks for your efforts Vicki!

The range of genres and styles certainly made interesting viewing and some members are showing real creativity in their handling and processing of images.  It looks like we’re in for a challenging and inspirational year!

To see the Top Scoring Images visit our Top Digital and Top Print pages.

Here’s to an exciting and productive 2014!


Helen :)

We are back at the Coventry Library in Stirling!

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.

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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.

Opening hours:

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!


Chris ;)

31 Day Challenge – again!

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.

Chris ;)

Annual Exhibition 2013

The year has gone

The comps are done

The judges scored

Awards were won!

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The Annual Exhibition on Thursday November 22nd saw a great turn-out of members and guests to celebrate the year of photographic endeavour, learning, friendship and achievement that was Blackwood Photographic Club in 2013.

The club could not function without a huge effort from those willing to be involved, from our new President, Ashley Hoff, who did an admirable job of hosting his first Annual, previous President Chris Schultz who put enormous energy into ably guiding us through the greater portion of 2013, to all the members who help with setting up and taking down of equipment, organising supper etc., and of course, all who bravely fronted up to the judges with images for competition.

One person who has gone above and beyond the call was James Allan who was awarded the Bill Templar Award for 2013.  James has put an enormous amount of time and effort into arranging outings throughout the year where many members have shared their knowledge, honed their skills and made new friends.  He has collated and edited Camera Clips where he has gathered and written a range of interesting articles and shared images from the outings. He also put together another fabulous calendar, sourcing images from as many members as possible to make it a truly representative and inclusive showcase of the club’s work.

Thanks to Lydia Strutton AAPS, (SAPF Secretary) and Andy Smylie, AAPS, AFIAP, who judged our images earlier on November 9th, and to Lydia for returning on Thursday night where she was roped into presenting the awards.  As for the results of the Annual Exhibition competition, it seems you had to have a name beginning with J or H to rank in the top images.  Congratulations to James, Jo, John, Jenny, Jim, Heather and Helen for placings!  (Sympathies to those whose names do not begin with J or H!)  To all who entered the Annual and also the regular competitions through-out the year, thank-you and congratulations on a great effort!  Regardless of scores and awards, it is you the photographers who courageously present images, knowing that the judging is incredibly subjective, knowing that not everyone will ‘get’ what you were trying to achieve, knowing that you are still learning and experimenting with camera and post-processing techniques, knowing that your printer might not be giving you the results you thought you had, knowing that you might feel ‘shot down’ or go home on a high because something you did struck a chord with someone, it is YOU who make the competitions and who make the club what it is!

Here are the Trophy Winners and a few of the other certificate recipients that were present

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Annual Exhibition Competition Results

Projected Images

Jo Tabe_More from Wana

Jo Tabe – More from Wana

 1st Hutt St Photos Award  Jo Tabe  More from Wana
 2nd  Heather Connolly  April Fog
 3rd  John Vidgeon  Waiting for a Grub
Merit  James Allan  Hanging Rock
 WEA Landscape Tropy Jo Tabe  More from Wana

Monochrome Prints

Helen Whitford - Hello There!

Helen Whitford – Hello There!

 1st  I’ve Been Framed Award Helen Whitford Hello There
 2nd  Helen Whitford  Nice Kitty
 3rd  Helen Whitford  Otter
Merit  Jo Tabe  Keen

Colour Prints

Helen Whitford - King of Beasts

Helen Whitford – King of Beasts

 1st Mal Klopp Award Helen Whitford King of Beasts
 2nd Jim McKendry Bird of Paradise
 3rd  Jenny Pedlar Island Boats
Merit  Jenny Pedlar That’s where I left Them!
Merit  Jo Tabe Portland Lighthouse

Album Prints

Jo Tabe_Just a Donkey

Jo Tabe – Just a Donkey

 1st   Jo Tabe Just a Donkey
 2nd  James Allan Eric’s Frypan
 3rd  Helen Whitford Dewy Cactus
Merit  James Allan Mallee Buds

Annual Aggregate Results

Projected Images

 1st   Photographic Wholesalers Award Helen Whitford 
 2nd James Allan 
 3rd Chris Schultz 

Monochrome Prints

 1st   Blackwood Times Award James Allan 
 2nd Jo Tabe 
 3rd Helen Whitford 

Colour Prints

 1st   Blackwood Photo Club Award Helen Whitford 
 2nd John Vidgeon 
 3rd James Allan

Album Prints

 1st   JV Spick Award Helen Whitford 
 2nd James Allan 
 3rd Heather Connolly 

To see all the Top Scoring Images from throughout the year visit our Top Scoring Prints and Top Scoring Digital Images pages.

What happened at our 30th Anniversary High Tea!


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.

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Yours in photography

Julie Goulter
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.


Getting Industrious – October 24th

Chris Schultz_Steelworks

Chris Schultz’ Steelworks

It was a hive of industry at the back of the room preparing prints to hang for this month’s Urban/Industrial Landscape competition.

Actually, while print numbers were down a little we had a great range of images and some interesting interpretations of the theme, as well as some impressive open section photographs.

Our judge Lindsay Poland, from Diamonds/Photographic Wholesalers, initially needed a little encouragement to elaborate on scores and make comments, but as he warmed up to the task he gave helpful hints and tips, added personal anecdotes and generally engaged the club members in a positive manner.  We even squeezed a couple of 10’s out of him – congratulations to Jo and Eric who achieved this rare feat!  Thanks to Lindsay for a great job.  It was good to have your professional eye cast over our efforts!

It was interesting to note that females were few and far between on this particular night.  Perhaps less interest in the selected theme? Perhaps purely coincidental. (Or did I miss a really good chick flick on tele? ;) )

Check out the top images pages.  Congratulations to Jo Tabe whose work particularly impressed our professional photographer judge!

To see the Top Scoring Images visit our Top Scoring Prints and Top Scoring Digital Images pages.

Helen  ;)

Emotions Ran High! Sept. 26th 2013

Jo Tabe_Untitled  Artistic handling of a studio shot by Jo Tabe

When the prearranged judge called in sick a couple of days before the competition, (hope you’re feeling better David!) emotions ran high as the committee debated what to do.  Should we swap with a Peer Review?  Should we have some form of Community Judging? Should we run around in circles like a chook with it’s head cut off?  The decision was not final until moments before the competition was to begin, when Alberto Giurelli, who had just signed up as a new member, (welcome Alberto!) kindly offered to be our judge for the evening.

The set subject of “Emotions” brought out some beautiful and engaging images, while the Open section was again well represented.  Alberto judged with enthusiasm and a refreshingly positive outlook, talking about what part of an image spoke to him, what he thought the author was probably trying to communicate as well as technical aspects that were either well handled or could use improvement.  He sprinkled his comments with welcome humour, survived being heckled by the crowd and overall helped to make the evening a positive experience for exhibitors.  There was an impressive range of images of a high standard and it was great to see a couple of members braving the competition when they have been more reticent in the past, and doing quite well. The fact that there were relatively fewer entries than usual meant there was more time to chat and enjoy the images when the judging was completed.

By the end of the evening I think the emotions were mostly happiness and relief, with no sign of the angst and confusion that had been trying to get a foothold earlier in the week.  Thank you to Chris (El ex-presidente) for handling the rearrangement of the evening (while new President Ashley had escaped to Singapore  ;) ) and to Alberto for filling the breach in a positive and generous manner.


To see the Top Scoring Images visit our Top Scoring Prints and Top Scoring Digital Images pages.

Helen Whitford ;)

BPC goes hunting for orchids! 8-Sep-2013

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.

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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.

James Allan

Ruminating on the peer review process

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.

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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.

Chris ;)

BPC goes Trainspotting : 21-Jul-2013

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.

James Allan

“Lines” Competition August 1st 2013

Heather Connolly-Noarlunga Gold-set

We drew the line, followed the line, toed the line and tried not to cross the line as our efforts this month went before judge, Matt Makinson of Black & White Photographics.

Matt has worked as a professional photographer but has concentrated on the printing side of the business in recent years.  As a printer in commercial photography he brought a different perspective to judging, closely scrutinizing the quality of the print and picking up flaws such as colour casts, pixellation etc.

He also strongly encouraged us to make use of vignetting (but to keep it subtle) so that the eye is not drawn away to light corners of a photograph.  Like most judges he also pointed out distractions which could be removed to improve a picture, such as bright patches, marks from a dirty filter or objects cut off by the frame.

His commercial eye favoured an arty style and he suggested possible markets for a number of images such as Council brochures and magazines, as well as hanging on someone’s wall.  Heather did particularly well with some quite abstract images.  His dislike of flies and cacti may have cost Kerry a couple of points (bad luck, not bad photography Kerry!) but overall his remarks were encouraging and positive.

I think we all enjoyed his little anecdotes along the way, as well as his show and tell with a magnificent print of Uluru, which helped make it a pleasant evening.

To see the Top Scoring Images visit our Top Scoring Prints and Top Scoring Digital Images pages and scroll down to August.


Helen : )

Once more into battle we went – the BPC/EPC interclub – 4-Jul-2013

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:

Digital images 220.1 226.9
Monochrome images 127.25 130.8
Colour prints 120.275 124.275




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.

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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 ;)

Watch out! It’s the Paparazzi! – June 20th Competition

Watch out!  It’s the Paparazzi! – June 20th Competition

E.Budworth_Allo, Allo, Allo!_Set

Actually as Photojournalists I think we failed to net any celebrities but did manage to capture some interesting characters!  Our Photojournalism Set Subject didn’t attract as many entries as Red the previous month but it was evident that many enjoyed the challenge of finding a story to tell.  Judge Susi Lippert provided constructive comments on the whole and seemed to enjoy our selection of images. Keep getting out there and enjoying your photography folks!  It’s great to see entries from so many different people!

To see the Top Scoring Images visit our Top Scoring Prints and Top Scoring Digital Images pages.

Helen  : )

We Saw Red! – 9-May-2013


Graham Field_Astrid in Red

Whilst it was intended that we see a lot of Red on May 9th it could be said that there was more of this than expected.  Judge Anne Emmett’s comments led to much animated discussion after the night where 115 prints and projected images, many in the Set Subject of “Red”, were scrutinised and criticised.    Anne focused on the technical, pointing out how flat lighting, distracting elements and borders, images cut in half and lack of saturation could all spoil a photograph. Regarding saturation, she acknowledged that projected images could look very different on the screen to how they appear on our computer at home – a factor that a few of us have wrestled with over the years. (Hint: increase saturation and decrease brightness a little for Projected Images!) She also urged us to make sure we look for a different angle, to avoid taking the ‘standard’ shot and raised the question of whether a photograph has greater value if it was difficult to take.  It was again great to see new members braving the competition with some appearing among the top scoring images.  It was also good to see some very creative work with a number of people “thinking outside the box.’’ Hopefully we’ll continue to see a range of photographic styles, people being willing to experiment and try new genres and remember that we’re here to enjoy our photography and learn from one another.

To see the Top Scoring Images visit our Top Scoring Prints and Top Scoring Digital Images pages.

Helen  : )

28-Mar-2013 – BPC Presents photojournalist Barry O’Brien sharing his experience

We were fortunate to have multi-award winning photojournalist Barry O’Brien speak to us on 28-Mar-2013. Barry was unsure if he could see us – as he lives in Gawler, but despite the distance, he made the trip and we thoroughly enjoyed every minute.

Barry is the current Australian Society of Travel Writers Photographer of the Year. Since leaving The Advertiser after 46 years, he was asked to return and produce two books, Moments in Time and also Moments in Sport. He is now a freelance travel writer, having stories published around Australia in News Ltd Escape sections as well as a variety of magazines. But that only tells part of the story of this fascinating photographer.

Barry started in 1956 at age 15 when his mum showed him an ad for a job at the Advertiser. He applied and so started a remarkable career. His first camera was pulled (not actually – but the same model) from a well worn aluminium case – a wonderful Speed Graphic. With this camera, Barry had 6 plates of 4×5″ film he could use – 5 that were used on the assignment, and a spare for that shot that popped up when you least expected it. The Speed Graphic had a focal plane shutter, shutter speeds up to 1/1000s and 3 viewfinders. It was the work horse of press photography – but not built for speed.

Barry’s first front page photograph was George the orangutan at Adelaide Zoo. George was a much loved character at Adelaide Zoo and Barry wanted a special shot of George, and went to down Rundle Street and borrowed a football from the sport store of Hambly & Clarke promising to return it when done. Barry went to the zoo with the football – which George played with for a few minutes before proceeding to pull it apart. From that event a classic front page was born – and the sports store was not happy – they did get their football back. His association with animal didn’t stop there, with images of circus elephants escaping in the Adelaide hills (moral of story – have camera, will capture image!) which couldn’t be caught. He also developed a love for rodeos and  even tried it – although the image of him falling from a horse after a few seconds was a touch embarrassing.

Apart from this animal work, Barry also did a lot of serious photojournalism, capturing images of significant events such as a major bus crash at Wasleys in the late 1960s. On this occasion, his camera failed him – it was night, his flash wouldn’t work (they were very finicky devices at the time) and he rushed to Gawler where he bought some Kodak Instamatic cameras from the chemist with flash cubes and proceeded to capture this horrific event. He covered other events such as the Bordertown bushfires and a lot of political events.

At the moratorium marches of 1969 Barry was looking for a unique image – so he stood behind the police motorcyle cordon, climbed on his trusty aluminium case and with a 20mm lens captured an image with the police in the foreground and the marchers approaching. This followed his mantra of shooting where someone else wasn’t. During that time in Adelaide, Barry was walking along the River Torrens one morning and came across a group of university students on the river bank being spoken to by one serious gentlemen. Barry was in the habit of wearing a suit at all times whilst working, and the speaker saw the camera and the suit and accused Barry of being an ASIO agent. Things got a little heated as the man ran for Barry & his camera whilst Barry snapped off a number of images – one of the man running making the front page. But politicians (& politics) were also shown as human – with images of them like Don Dunstan in the Le Cornus children’s ball pit, or Des Corcoran resigning due to illness. He also enjoyed capturing faces – such as a brilliant image of Chad Morgan.

His other passion – as hinted by the rodeo work – is sports photography like cricket & football. Once again, the camera case came into its own to help get above the action. However, as he pointed out the art is to catch the exact moment – so you need to know what is happening and anticipate it.  Of course, not all images were spontaneous – many were staged. Some of you may remember John Platten at a very muddy MCG in gum boots, or South Australian Football coach Neil Curly wearing a Victorian footy scarf, or the image from the top of a light towers at Football Park (although Barry is afraid of heights). His fear of heights was tested even more when he crossed by rope between the HMAS Adelaide (on her maiden voyage) and another ship in mountainous seas.

A problem with being a sports photographer is that you get given other tasks, or where your equipment is not perfect for the job, and your subject is not in your own comfort zone. One such incident was the visit by Rudolf Nureyev & Sir Robert Helpmann. The image that he captured of Nureyev was frowned upon by the great dancer (and bears a cross from Nureyev across it as proof) – as his toes were not perfectly pointed down – and Barry managed to trip up Sir Robert in an area he was told would cause no problems. So much for the the arts adventure.

However, sport shots can also be very rewarding, such as aerial shots of events, and important images including those of Sir Jack Brabham & Stirling Moss at the first Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne (in the late 1950s) & then Adelaide subsequently. Barry also managed to capture other interesting images like the washed out 1989 Adelaide Grand Prix when the drivers went on strike. Barry however got a different shot – of Ayrton Senna in his car praying. That image went around the world as one of the great images of Senna. Motor sport can provide opportunities for unique images – just don’t be where the other photographers are working. Go down to the pits, take an image of a driver walking back to the pits all alone, show the pit crew celebrating. All unique, and all out of the main stream.

Barry O'Brien at BPC - showing the bent Uri Geller spoon

In addition to ballet stars, sport stars & politicians, Barry had the opportunity to photograph celebrities like Uri Geller – and showed us the bent spoon he still has from that photo shoot.

Barry told us the story of drug smuggler (and former athlete) Reg Spears pretending to be someone else, who was caught in Colombo. Barry had to fly to Colombo, via India at short notice to check if this really was Spears, and if so capture a photo and transmit it back to Australia for the next days headlines. The tale of travel, customs officials, bribery and equipment mismatches. The man was in fact Reg Spears, and when he met Barry confessed that the game was up! But that wasn’t the end of the story. Barry had to send the images back to Australia, but his power adapter was wrong for Colombo (despite being told it would be ok). Fortunately a lamp cord was pressed into service to help send the images and we saw the images the next day.

Barry also covered the Azaria Chamberlain inquest. In the process he got to know the Chamberlains, and understand what they had been through. He sometimes caught Lindy Chamberlain’s emotions, but these images were never used. Barry also obtained images without permission from the authorities as the Chamberlains were moved out of prisons in the Northern Territory – but only passed them to his editors despite offers of cash & rewards by other publishing groups. A result of his integrity and honesty was that when Lindy Chamberlain published her story, she asked for Barry to be the photojournalist who took the images exclusively. That is another interesting story involving messed up visas and cross border events.

So after a fascinating 90 minutes of hearing and seeing what Barry had done, we were given a few take home messages. Rather than paraphrase Barry, I’ll quote from his last email to me:
What I wanted to get across was to think outside the square. Don’t just take the obvious. Think ahead. When I covered an event, (of any description) I would take the obvious so that at least I had a standard picture if all else failed. But then I’d look around for a different angle. I was probably considered anti-social by other photographers and cameramen because I rarely participated in the banter. While the others were telling jokes and discussing other things (which I’ll leave to your imagination) I was usually off to one side thinking about what I could do to be different. I hated bringing back the same images that were seen all over TV.
Thanks Barry – we had a wonderful time and hope you can come back and share some more of your experiences.
Chris ;)

21-Apr-2013: Gorge Wildlife Park – Photographing Wet Animals

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.

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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.

James Allan

Crossing Of Paths – A Meetup with Tea Tree Gully Camera Club – April 7th 2013

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Part of the fun of being involved with a Photography or Camera club is the enjoyment you get sharing your passion with others who feel the same.  Can you imagine how much more fun it is when 2 clubs get together?

On Sunday the 7th of April, BPC were invited to enjoy an afternoon of photography at Port Adelaide with the like minded people of the Tea Tree Gully Camera Club.  Approximately 6 BPC members were in attendance and approximately 10 from Tea Tree Gully.

It was a very pleasant afternoon, exploring the treasures around the Port, Capped off with an interesting sunset (dare I say, enhanced with a massive Jet contra trail, which I failed to capture!).

Tea Tree Gully seem to be our cross town kindred souls, who seem to share similar values when it comes to photography and photography/camera clubs.  If you would like to find out more about there club, you can view their website @

Needless to say, I think a return invite will be very much in order for the spring!


Science and Technology – 11th April 2013

Eric Budworth_Different Recording

Eric Budworth_Different Recording

The competition subject was Science and Technology and, while some such as Eric embraced it, specifically setting up still life shots to illustrate the theme,  many  retreated to the ”safety” of Open competition, with the largest number of Open Colour Print entries in four years!  There were a number of Nature Science photographs and quite a few focusing on structural/mechanical/engineering technology.  The judge, Peter Phillips, drew our attention to the subjective nature of judging photography by simply taking votes on our favourite colour and pointing out that we all see things differently.  He gave constructive comments and overall created a positive atmosphere.  He seemed particularly impressed with the Colour Prints, showing appreciation for the diversity of subjects and attention to detail, and giving many 9′s and a few 10′s.  Again it was great to see a number of people in the top scores, including some new members!

Click on the links to check out the  Top Scoring Prints and Top Scoring Digital Images pages.

Helen Whitford

It Must Be a Sign! – 14-Feb-2013

Volunteers Wanted - Ron Hassan - Set

Volunteers Wanted – Ron Hassan – Set

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!

To see the Top Scoring Images visit our Top Scoring Prints and Top Scoring Digital Images pages.

Helen Whitford ;)


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