Author Archive

31 Day Challenge – December 2017

A few dedicated club members undertook the 31 Day Challenge on Flickr for December 2017. We have done this each year since 2010 (wow – that long?). The idea if you haven’t seen it before is to take a photo a day and post it on the club Flickr page. No prizes other than a satisfaction in completing a fairly daunting task and keeping it fresh.

For me, it was certainly a challenge and I approached it in two parts. Firstly all posted images had to be black and white. Secondly, I tried to maintain a theme for a week to create a little photo essay (for later use). The second part sort of worked and I think I can get some essays together on commuting, street life and some dark imagery. But more importantly, I’ve had some fun along the way and got some shots I’m very pleased with.

The participants that managed to post a photo a day were Judy Sara, Jennifer Williams, Bruce Nankivell and myself. One notable near daily posters was club life member David Douglas-Martin. James Allen threw a few into the mix as well.

Both Judy and Jennifer tried the black and white treatment too – and the results were very good. Hopefully that means a few more monos next year in competition.

I had a look through the images and selected my top 5 – with myself excluded from that mix (conflict of interest!) and chose the following (click the image to see it full size on Flickr) with comments as to why:


Judy Sara - Feathers and Curves
Judy Sara – “Feathers and Curves”
The rim light tells me what the subject is, and the negative space is perfect

Bruce Nankivell - Mood Lighting
Bruce Nankivell – “Mood Lighting”
Clever use of shadow and a clean surface

James Allan – “Eurobin Falls”
The twist through the rocks of the water works so well – sharp yet soft

Jennifer Williams – “Protea – Day 6”
This has the feel of the Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange et al Farm Security Administration images from the 1930’s

Judy Sara - Henley Beach
Judy Sara – “Henley Beach”
Low key, wide angle, unusual patterns, good use of perspective – what else can I say?

How about you? What about selecting your favourite shots and telling us why? Click on this link to see the full set for the 31 days and choose your own favourites. Let the photographer know what you think as well or post here and share your thoughts.

Cheers

Chris ūüôā


Farewell from El Presidente

My last blog post as President of Blackwood Photographic Club – and my last El Presidente musing for your viewing pleasure.

It’s been a fun ride the last 6 years – as President, Vice President, President and from this Thursday commoner.

In that time with my friends and the committee I’ve tried to steer our club to a more enlightened photographic view – sometimes successfully, sometimes failing. My wish is to see the successes continue – but that is up to you.

Whatever the outcome, I hope you continue to evolve whilst I contemplate my future in photography club land…..

Cheers

Chris ūüėČ


El Presidente loses his cool…..

I don’t normally post here – it all goes into El Presidente’s Musings where it can be lost for all excluding the hardiest site readers.

But on this occasion I’ll make an exception and point you to the latest musing where I lose my cool a little.

Make of it what you will

Chris


Competition: Straight from the camera – 16-Mar-2017

This month‚Äôs set subject was ‚ÄúStraight from the Camera‚ÄĚ and the top print and digital images from the competition have been available on the website for some days. What is significant about the set subject entries, most of those posted on the website, is that they have been subject to absolutely no modification after the shutter button was pushed.

For some time now there have been members in the club who have expressed concern that many images in our competitions have been edited post exposure. Also of concern was that some judges spend a lot of effort describing the various software techniques available for post exposure work that would have improved the images. So with this push to see more images that have not been enhanced post exposure this month’s set subject was included in the programme.

The rules were simple. No alteration to images was allowed post exposure. All images to be printed had to be shot in a printable format, not RAW. Images to be presented monochrome had to be shot that way. All photos had to be displayed full frame, no cropping: nor any changes to exposure, contrast, dodging, burning etc. Sounds like a return to 1970s slide competitions and a very good exercise in getting it right the first time. The only deviation from these rules was that those presenting projected images were allowed to reduce pixel numbers to levels that could be accommodated by the projector.

Judge for yourself – as did our judge for the evening – SAPF Judge Coordinator Keith Seidel.

There are still many photographers who can get it right without the software. Software is not a cheat or a magic wand; it’s just another tool.

Mark Pedlar


A few web page changes!

For the regular visitors to our pages, we’ve made some small changes to page navigation:

  • the landing page is now a Welcome page – not a biggie, but it makes for a consistent interface
  • the top images for the last competition are now displayed on the right of the page – click and enjoy!
    You may also view the images by going to the BPCSA Galleries link and selecting Top Images – Print and Digital
  • Posts are now accessed through the Posts link in the top menu and the last five post titles and links are in the side menu below the Top images
  • You’ll also see a Reading and Reference section (more of those are in Camera Clips) with a few articles and El Presidente’s musings

Ok – got that? Comments are always welcome!

Chris ūüôā


Straight from the Camera shall be the whole of the law or, is Photoshop for cheats?

Mark Pedlar has been doing some work on the rules that will apply to the Straight from the Camera competition. So to get you up to speed, I’m going to reproduce what he’s sent.

Let’s start with that supposed evil – Photoshop – and Mark’s view on image processing today compared to the days of film.

Straight from the camera shall be the whole of the law or, is Photoshop for cheats?

At the age of 12 I bought my first camera, a Kodak Brownie 127 ‚Äď black and white, processed by the¬†chemist. Only three years later I spent all of my first pay packet on a 35mm Halina 35X and I was into¬†colour photography.

For four decades and through a series of cameras the vast majority of my images, family records, fun¬†shots, as well as entries in national and international salons, were colour slides. In all of this there was one constant. Once the shutter button was pushed my images were pretty well set in stone.¬†Whether I waited for Kodak‚Äôs yellow box or Agfa‚Äôs blue one to appear in the mailbox, or whether I¬†processed my own in the kitchen, from 100 foot rolls of Ektachrome, the image on the celluloid¬†could not be altered. The exposure, contrast and sharpness were inviolable. Composition could be¬†modified somewhat by masking portions of the slide with aluminium foil. However, this was obvious¬†since the projected images were smaller than others in the salon. So, over these several decades¬†more than 90% of competitive colour slides, worldwide, were ‚ÄúStraight from the camera‚ÄĚ.

Of, course this did not in any way mean that everybody was operating on a level playing field. Those¬†using a ‚Äėtop of the range‚Äô Nikon with a battery of excellent lenses would be able to capture some¬†images simply not available to my $50 East German Praktika: multiple exposures on one frame for¬†example.

Today‚Äôs ‚Äėtop of range‚Äô cameras similarly offer rafts of pre-exposure adjustments simply not available to the user of a basic ‚Äėpoint and shoot‚Äô camera. The playing field was never level. Further,¬†the greatest unevenness always has been and will be the way in which the operator uses the human¬†brain he or she puts up close to the viewfinder.

‚ÄėStraight from the camera‚Äô, then, has long been the accepted practice of slide producers. However,¬†that‚Äôs not true of users of negative film and prints. Again decades ago I bought a whole darkroom from an ageing amateur/professional photographer from Brewarrina. I used it for monochrome¬†exclusively. Colour printing was way outside my budget. However, printing from negatives was¬†exciting for a range of reasons; not least of all the ability to modify (and hopefully improve) the¬†image originally captured before it became a print.

So, I cropped the portion of the image I printed to change the composition and to remove¬†distractions like lampposts or stray arms and legs. I held my hands between the enlarger lens and the paper making a circle of light between my fingers. By doing this during the exposure and moving¬†my hands a bit to blur the edges I could allow extra light to a portion of the image. This meant I¬†could ‚Äėburn‚Äô in details to what would otherwise have been a white area (clouds). I had a small circle¬†of cardboard Sellotaped to the end of a piece of wire (once a coat hanger). By holding this between¬†lens and paper (dodging) I restricted the light falling on a shadow portion of the image and allowed¬†detail to appear in what would have otherwise have been totally black.

I chose whether I printed on matt, satin or glossy paper. I chose the paper grade to give me high, medium or low contrast. Later there was multigrade paper whose contrast was adjusted with filters. I chose exposure times to change the final result. I selected developers and their temperature to change contrast. I deleted most of the developed image before fixing using ferricyanide solution and redeveloped to convert the black and white image to sepia. My ancient photographer’s darkroom kit contained a huge range of arcane solutions including some of gold salts that enable black and white to be tinted blue.

All of the modifications described in the last two paragraphs were made after the shutter was released; after the camera had long ago been put away in its cupboard.

So, what are the take home messages? There are two.

First, excellent images can and have for ages been made without any post-exposure modifications.¬†There really is no replacement for getting it right in the camera. However, even if we prohibit ‚Äėpost‚Äô¬†work like Photoshop competitive photography will still not be a level playing field.

Second, makers of prints from negatives have been modifying their images in the darkroom during the printing process for over a hundred years now. When did you last hear somebody suggest that this is unethical or underhanded or cheating? However, there is a body of opinion that makes just these sorts of suggestions about the use of software packages like Photoshop. Why? Not all users of editing software are out there winning competitions, exhibitions and salons. Software does not automatically give you great results without effort. Software is a tool and you need to learn how to use it just as was the case with darkroom techniques.

So, get your image as near perfect as you can in the camera. Then make judicious and competent use of whatever other tools are available to correct errors and finish the job.

Now for the rules (which I’ve also put into the calendar and programme)

Straight out of Camera Submission rules

During the submissions to the club’s subcommittee back in the Spring several members said they had concerns over the emphasis placed by judges on post exposure editing or manipulation of images.

Some were opposed to the concept of editing and others simply had no access to the software to edit¬†images. There was a cry for more images to be presented ‚Äústraight from the camera‚ÄĚ, with no editing¬†carried out after the shutter button had been pushed.

This competition’s set subject is a response to that request.

So here are the rules.

For prints, no alteration AT ALL may be made to the image after exposure and before printing.

  • Printed images must be presented full frame. No cropping is allowed. If the image shot is 4:3 format or 3:2 format it must be printed in that format.
  • Images must be printed from the file originally captured by the camera.
    If you usually shoot in RAW you must be able to print from that RAW file. It may not be converted to JPEG TIFF or similar for printing. Or, shoot in a printable file format.
    For those having files professionally printed, the file submitted to the printer must be printable without alteration.
  • Prints displayed as monochrome must have been captured in that form.
  • The general club rules about size of prints still apply.

Digital images are allowed one alteration only. This is to allow the projected image to conform with our projection limitations

  • The recorded image file may be reduced to maximum of 1400 x 1200 pixels. It must still be¬†presented full frame.
  • All the other print rules apply to projected images.

Finally, I’ve taken one of the documents Mark sent me about photography & aperture¬†and made it a permanent link in our Resources page

Thanks Mark

Chris ūüôā


The journey to commercial photography – Dan Schultz – 20-Oct-2016

Dan Schultz : Commercial Photographer

Daniel Schultz is a young successful commercial photographer in Adelaide. He kindly gave up his evening on Thursday night to tell us a little of how he came to his career, what sort of work he does and how he has created some of his impressive images.

Dan began working in a cycle shop, a long way from photography. This expanded to working part time in both the cycle business and in a wheelchair manufacturing concern. Somewhere in here he and his partner had their first child. Obviously now there was a strong need for photographs. He started recording family history using a simple camera. However, several of his images piqued the interest of those who saw them. He was encouraged to pursue his art. Before he knew it he was on his way to commercial photography. An established photographer took him on in a part time capacity while he was still working in the wheelchair business. Then as his experience and client base grew he launched Sweet Lime Photo.

When asked what equipment he used he said he has two cameras, both Canon 5Ds, one Mark 3 and one Mark 4. These are teamed up with three Canon zoom lenses (16-24mm, 28-80mm, 70-200mm) and one Canon 100mm prime lens. His workflow is Lightroom for all the initial ‚Äúpost work‚ÄĚ followed by Photoshop for final tweaking.

The image sequence above highlights Dan’s workflow for a product shoot for a motorised wheelchair. Click on the images to see full captions

Dan makes heavy use of the layers capabilities of both software packages. Final images commonly make use of anything up to 60 layers. He illustrated his process by taking us through the creation of an advertising image for a new motorised wheelchair. The background was a panorama of multiple vertical images stitched together. Each of these was the HDR result of combining several exposures of the same shot. This panorama overlaid with a shot of the wheelchair and rider was then worked on using layers to dodge and burn various small portions of the image to enhance shadow and highlight detail and to introduce water splash and reflections.

Not only was Dan’s talk enlightening and instructive it was fascinating and a good night out. We are indebted to Dan for the very open way in which he took us into many of his secrets. I now need to settle down and practice what I saw.

Mark Pedlar


The BPC 2017 Calendar is on its way!

Yep – the BPC 2017 Calendar is on it’s way. We’ve prodded and cajoled the club members into giving us their images, slaved over a hot computer, fiddled with bleeds and cropping, been through 8 drafts, sent it to the printer for proofs and produced this

 

 

……well almost. The colours aren’t quite right (ffmeg and I are not getting on at the moment).

This is our major fundraiser for the year that helps pay the bills, buy new equipment, fund guest speakers etc. For a mere $15 you get 13 months (yes 13!) of calendar. Drop us a line if you want one, want to share with friends here or overseas.

Calendars will be available from 3-Nov-2017

Chris ūüôā


El Presidente’s musings – the complete collection!

Yes, now in an easily accessible form for your viewing pleasure – El Presidente’s musings¬†is now a page on this blog.

It’s really a digest of my readings and musings on things photographic – none of the messy club business, just the pure reading/viewing list.¬†It may not last past this Presidency, but it’s a sort of reading resource we’ve talked about for a while.

Cheers

Chris ūüôā


31 Day Challenge for December 2015

Greetings from 2016! And Happy New Year!

Well – the 31 Day Challenge for December 2015 is over, and we had a fun time – at least I think we did. It was hard work finding a topic a day, but Judy, Bruce, Frances, David, Heather, Jen, James and I kept up the pace for the full 31 days. There were plenty of images from Kerry, Anne, Dana and even Matt (remember him?). Lots of photos (435 at last count) and lots of challenges for the participants. The list is just the ones that were posted on our Flickr page – there are lots of other images from each photographer in the mix you can explore.

Some interesting comments from our participants at the end put it in perspective (and a few of their photos):

Judy:It has certainly stretched my photography. I learn from trial and error and there have certainly been lots of shots deleted but in the process I have got to know what my camera can do and my skills are steadily improving. I was fascinated to find so many insects in my garden. Most of them were feeding on different sections of the hollyhocks!

Frances: “As we saw in the new year with friends I just wanted to say thanks for letting me participate in the 31 day challenge. I learnt heaps, from how to take photos, and how to mess them up, as well as the limitations of a compact camera compared to an SLR.”

Heather: “this is the life.¬†It really has been a challenge, a great insight into contributors diversity and skills.”

Bruce:¬†“Had a great month of playing photographer and scratching my head every day as to the next subject. I know I’ve increased my skills, maybe just a little, but it’s growth none the less. Thanks Flickr & thanks Blackwood Photographic Club for running this valuable December challenge.”

So here a few photos that I can access and embed:
December challenge 18  Duxtons - Day 7 BPC Day 26 NZ Kauri Pine 068-15Reflections by DanaSitting by Lake Albert trying to keep coolDay 19 - The look of love
BPC 31Day Challenge - Day 9 Naked Hairy Oak BPC 31 day challenge day 1031 Day Challenge - Day 14

 

You can view the whole group on Flickr in this search BPC¬†31 Day Challenge for 2015¬†. If you haven’t looked at the images yet, please have a look, comment on the images and see what your fellow BPC members have been up to.

Now for those of you wanting to try something longer term, how about a 52 week challenge? I came across this blog this week (there are others, but this one seems well structured). One photo a week with the core themes of Portraits, Landscapes or Artistic impression. The photographer suggesting it (Dale Foshe at Dogwood Photography in the US) has made the list for you. All you need to do is follow the list (which I’ll email out each week as well) and you can play along in the same way. Just post in the club Flickr group and tag the photo with “BPC 52 week challenge 2016” and we can see what comes of it. To¬†participate in the world wide group, you should add the tags dogwood52 and dogwood <week number> (eg this is dogwood 1).¬†Are you up for it? Can you produce a photo a week based on the nominated topic?¬†This week it starts with a Self Portrait.

And a final reminder – the Coventry Library in¬†Stirling is hosting the best of the best from our Annual Exhibition. Pop in and have a look – we have a very talented bunch, and after this years 31 Day Challenge, I think we’ll have lots of new faces in the 2016 Annual Exhibition!

Cheers

Chris ūüôā


BPC presents – Chris Oaten : Live Music Photographer – 22-Oct-2015

Last week BPC had the honour to listen to Chris Oaten speak to us about live music photography. Accompanied by his wife Melody (who provided the background commentary), we had a very entertaining evening that inspired a few of us to take up our camera at a live gig or two.

Chris is a media professional with over 20 years in the industry. Starting from a base of journalism (reporter, writer, sub-editor) he has followed his passion of photography to become a full time professional photographer, is a member of the AIPP and in his spare time photographs live music (I’m sure he does other things in his spare time!). He has extended his knowledge with a TAFE course in photography and is now doing a Bachelor of Visual Communications at UniSA. The night he spoke to us he was due to go to 2am shoot at a construction project. That’s a pro.

Chris Oaten at BPC - by Ashley Hoff

Chris Oaten at BPC (Ashley Hoff)

His range of professional work encompasses architecture, sport, travel, humans, commercial and time lapse images. He specialises in time lapse images around our fair city. To view the breadth of his work visit his website.

But as I said, in his spare time he likes to shoot live music with his trusty Canon 5D Mark III and some fast lenses (his range of lenses includes 24mm, 50mm, 70-200mm, 8-15mm, 16-35mm, tilt and shift 17, some Sigma Art lenses – you get the idea – but not all are used at music events). He does the music photography¬†for professional development – not to make a living – which is near impossible these days. You can see some of Chris’s music photography on the Adelaide Music Photography web site he showcases his collaboration with Max Moore.

I’ve watched Chris in action around live music gigs – and to me it seems effortless and unobtrusive. In reality, there is more to it – and what follows is Chris’s take on how to shoot live music.

Chris started by giving a taste of the problems in photographing live music in pubs and has to deal with poor lighting (professional performers often have far better lighting and make the job easy Рwe were shown some images from a Tina Arena concert), crowded venues etc.

So here are the problems Chris sees – and his solutions:

  • Don’t share boring photos!
    • You aren’t doing any favours for¬†anyone. So edit what you share ruthlessly and be prepared for harsh criticism.
    • Remember, that your photos don’t have the music that goes with them, so they must stand on their own.
    • That means they need to be in focus and they need have the action associated with the photo – singers need to be singing, musicians need to be playing their instruments.
  • Don’t use on camera flash
    • It is needed sometimes, but very rarely
  • Don’t use high ISO where possible
    • Cheaper cameras can’t do it well, it pushes inaccurate focus
    • Hiding noise results in a compromise (over smoothing looks like plastic!). But there are ways to overcome this issue
  • Understand your subject
    • Good sports photographers often play the game, great nature photographers understand the animal and their behavior etc.
    • So in the case of music, understand the dynamics of what is happening on the stage and apply it to the action.
  • Not shooting enough frames
    • Don’t use spray & pray – that high burst mode – as it will often waste time (eg as the buffer clears) and wear out the shutter sooner. Single shots are better.
    • Remember that most of what is happening is out of your control
    • To get the shots you need to be an aggressive shooter. What is that? Someone who moves around and makes the shot rather than someone who walks up timidly to the same spot, takes a few shots and walks away. Music photographers need to move around and capture the action, be involved, engage with the artists

So what is Chris’s style? Get in close, use the lighting to your advantage and use selective (ie shallow DOF) focus, often manually.

So what are his solutions?

How not to be boring

Live music is action photography. Instruments are being used. So get profile shots, stick with the subject as the action unfolds.

Bad lighting can be your best friend – it makes you work harder. There is no such thing as bad light – only bad photographers. Chris showed several example of this with the band Lucky 7 at a gig where there was one light behind the artists. Instead of abandoning the shoot, he used the light to create profiles and silhouettes. Think of old horror movies and how they were lit – the images had great power and atmosphere. Do the same.

On the other hand, daylight music festival are a breeze – but you still need to work hard.

Steve Mitchell - by Chris Oaten

Steve Mitchell – by Chris Oaten

Change your position and angle of view. Use the stage equipment to help frame shots. Remember, the photo is telling a story so use the elements of that story. Chris showed us an example at the Semaphore music festival – which unfortunately for the organisers was held on a AFL Finals weekend. The crowd was a bit sparse, but by moving around the stage he was able to make it look busy (using the out of focus background and more crowd), show interesting on lookers, the artists in action from in front, behind and to the side as well eye contact with the artist to lend intimacy to the image.

He quoted photographer Berenice Abbott¬†“photography helps people see” and illustrated this with some great shots:

  • a young boy at his fathers gig¬†enjoying the music whilst sitting on the floor
  • The interaction of musicians on stage when not playing
  • People dancing to the music (and those disconnected from the action) – the burlesque dancer picture
  • Interesting people and characters
  • Portraits of musicians that they actually like

It’s important to remember that good photographs are enhanced with details – they add depth. That means when taking photographs be observant. Some of the¬†examples acutely demonstrate this:

  • Steve Mitchell - by Chris Oaten

    Steve Mitchell – by Chris Oaten

    Steve Mitchell from the rockabilly band The Satellites has hair that starts out controlled, but very soon is part of the act

  • A musicians special moment – like Belinda Hartman – ¬†from The Satellites singing
  • the musicians style of playing – like a trombone players blowing their cheeks (or giving cheeky looks) or guitarists with special (eg car seat belt) guitar straps
  • Use
    • compositional elements
    • portrait shots of the performers
    • (our tired old friend) the intersection of thirds
    • selective focus
    • the Golden Spiral¬†– where a photograph spiraled in to one person in focus around the instruments and equipment on stage
    • close up features of the instruments or instruments being played (trombone players, guitarists – but drummers are difficult!)

The trick here is to apply what you learn – don’t just be a technician. As Chris said, don’t just be a wood pusher in a chess game (ie know the moves but don’t develop new strategies). In photography, pixels are free, so don’t be a shutter pusher.

How to use on camera flash

Flash does have a role in anti-establishment genres such as Punk and Ska. It is harsh lighting, but can work in such genres. However, at other times it rarely works well.

It’s often better to have off camera flash – and even combine flashes. Chris¬†illustrated this with an image of¬†lighting reflected from a white wall behind the performers onto which the flash fell – much more depth than a straight flash¬†onto the performers.

If you must use flash, use a an orange or yellow gel to warm it (flash can look very cold) – don’t use green or blue. You need to be sympathetic to the available light too – don’t overwhelm the stage lights.

And use the lights to go for drama – like silhouettes or use the light to make more reflections – such as brass instruments.

How to handle high ISO

You’ll need to do some testing of your own camera gear and work out it’s noise signature. What is acceptable and what you can tolerate. Chris rarely goes above 3200 on his Canon 5D Mark III.

Here are the steps:

  • Place your camera on a tripod in a lounge room and shoot some still life. An 18% grey card may be helpful too
  • Shoot images at each¬†ISO from 800 to your camera’s maximum
  • Evaluate the resultant images and determine what is acceptable to you

If you are using high ISO, make sure you have fast lenses – f1.8, f2.8 etc – like his 70-200 f2.8

One simple solution is to purchase a 50mm f1.8 lens second hand Рthere are plenty about (I confess to having a nifty 50 f1.4 myself) Рthat will give you a lens that is fast and flexible.

ISO changes are needed depending on the speed of your subject – a Bob Dylan is ok with slow ISO, but Mick Jagger needs higher ISO and shutter speeds.

Now the tricky bit – professional events have good lighting – pubs have cheap lighting. Usually LEDs and that is hard to work with. So work with the light – use blur, have long exposures to add a dynamic element.

How to work with your subject

When photographing live music you need to know what is going on – understand the dynamics of the performance.

You first need to understand the genre. Once you’ve got that, then think about the parts of the performance.

There are verses and choruses. So you’ll have a group in a chorus, but the main performer in the verse, or a solo instrumental. Knowing how performers work and when they are likely to do something can help.

For example Steve from the Satellites (who is a double bass player) often has a big finale Рtime your shots for events like that. Lucky 7 have a horn section who will play together Рuse that.

Drummers are often left out of shots, but they do some interesting things (Chris has got know a couple and now interacts with them whilst shooting). Pick the player most likely to give you a performance.

But always be respectful of the performer. Don’t embarrass them.

How to shoot more frames

You need to commit yourself to chase the right frame and for fast action.

Most performances are 2 hours – which is 7200 seconds. After most shows Chris has about 1000 shots in the camera. That’s about 1 shot every 7 seconds. But not every shot is a winner – and some shoots the band might be having a bad night, so getting good shots is difficult.

Many bands will be slow to start (or nervous) – so don’t shoot song 1 – wait for song 2 or 3. Be patient.

Final words and where to start

Chris never shoots with any supports like a monopod – all hand held. That is part of being respectful of the audience. They are there to hear the band or dance or both. So don’t get in their way.

Some gigs require a media pass – if the band is signed to a label or it is a major event like WOMAD (who are very restrictive). The Roller Derby in Adelaide has photographers sign their rights away. In some cases your copyright may be lost – but that is another major discussion!

Venues such as The Gov are accepting of photographers if it is a local band. However, to be safe, contact the venue or the band. Many local bands don’t mind – and if you share the images they might even get you back.

And remember a big camera can be seen as problem by some venues – even if you are an amateur.

So there you have it Рa great night, lots of useful information and a really entertaining evening Рfinished off with cake, cups of hot beverage and lots of chat. Many thanks to Chris and Melody for sharing their experience Рwe hope to have Chris back as some stage to share his other photographic skills with us.

Cheers

Chris ūüôā


Art – the dilemma of the photographer

The perennial dilemma of the modern photographer – should I photograph that bit of art I admire?

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We are faced with this daily – from¬†photographing¬†sculpture, architecture, industrial design or paintings to painting someones photograph (now that’s one you hadn’t thought of!) or sculpture or industrial design or architecture.

There are also potential copyright issues. The simplest way to look at the problem is to consider if it is a derivative work and you’ve added something to it. So a photo of a sculpture needs to add something to it – a person examining it, some interesting light that makes it unique, the interaction of place, time and light. How about a photo of a hood ornament on a car? A teacup? Someone else’s photo of a tea cup?

Some places & countries even go to extremes and forbid commercial (and probably amateur) photography of buildings, panoramas etc without permission. A debate raged earlier this year as Europe tried to standardise the copyright of Freedom of Panorama (see this DP review article). Have a look at the Wikipedia page link above to see where you can take pictures safely. The conclusion was a defeat of the proposal Рyou can keep taking photos of the buildings of Europe (sort of).

But if you change or interpret the original, you are deriving something new. And that I think is the crux of the argument.

There are many discussion on the web about the topic (the World Intellectual Property Organisation Рa part of the UN Рhas an interesting article applicable to photographers; the Creative Commons licence system;  the US governments Copyright office definition of derivative work or the American Society of Media Photographers discussion) and we are adding to that in the latest Camera Clips, where the opinions of camera club judges, photographers and legal experts have been canvassed.

Have a read and form your own opinion.

Cheers

Chris ūüôā


El Presidente’s musings – October 2015

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

21-Sep-2015

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

So first up, some house keeping:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

28-Sep-2015

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

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

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

So on to general business

  • On 22-Oct we have a guest speaker – Chris Oaten – who will talk about photographing live music. I’ve seen the outline of Chris’ talk and it looks like we are in for a treat. Remember to bring a plate to share.
  • Kerry has sent me an email about the Festival of Architecture and Design (see www.fad.org.au) which runs from 8-Oct-2015 to 13-Oct-2015. There are lots of free events (and some you’ll pay for like a tour of the infamous Z ward). Check out the web page and the program (see¬†http://media.wix.com/ugd/9a1163_c452827a6dbd4404bc766f11f172406f.pdf) to see what is covered.
  • On the topic of outings, if you have any suggestions for outings, please let me know and I’ll forward them to Graham, Kerry or James (we’ll be setting up the BPCoutings account shortly – I’ll let you know when its up and running)

Finally, some more interesting articles to read:

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

5-Oct-2015

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

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

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

So on to the routine stuff:

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers
Chris ūüėČ


Judging – the first time!

The first judging at a photography club! Scary!

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

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

Camo Frog – Brad Hodge – South Coast Camera Club

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

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

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

Whatya Doing? Laura Wright – South Coast Camera Club

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

Summer Snails – Janet Harbottle – South Coast Camera Club

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chris ūüôā


Judging – fighting the battle from within the parapets!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chris ūüôā


Music in our souls – 12-Mar-2015

Ashley Hoff - Precision Bass - Set The competition РMusic.

The images – 116 incredibly varied photographs.

The judge – David Smith.

The Outcome – BPC members with music in their souls!

 

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

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

Ron Hassan - Sunset - OpenTwo things stood out tonight:

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

 

 

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

Keep on dancing to the music!

Chris ūüôā

 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sam Savage

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


Blue for you – 29-Jan-2015

Blue – it evokes a range of emotions, has a range of meanings and is seen all around us. For some it is sadness or melancholy and for others it is calming and¬†soothing. We relate blue to cooler temperatures. ¬†We listen to¬†blues music, and often see it in corporate colours. In some cultures blue means a¬†boys colour (but in others its for girls). It’s the colour of the sky and of water. Blue is often a favourite colour (no Monty Python quotes here) – or not – but that also depends on culture.¬†Many people wear blue clothing (blue jeans!). It is the colour of an utterly¬†insignificant little planet in the outer western spiral arm of the galaxy. Technically, blue is a primary spectral colour, with a wavelength of 450-495nm and RGB value of 0,0,255. Until the advent of modern chemical dyes, it was a difficult colour to reproduce and source from minerals such as lapis lazuli and cobalt or plants such as woad. Early photographic emulsions were overly blue sensitive making colour reproduction difficult which was overcome with the advent of panchromatic films.

But enough of the philosophy and history of blue. How about some photographic representation? There were plenty of people present to see how we could represent blue in our images – 40¬†members, 3 guests and judge Peter Phillips. On this occasion Peter had 108 images to judge (of which 45 were set subject). Peter seems to be making a habit of visiting our club at the start of the year as a judge – and that may be a good thing as he carefully and efficiently judged the images, giving some very good critique, sharing his insights, and handing out scores. As Peter carefully pointed out at the start, the scores he gave were his opinion – but the most important opinion was that of the photographer responsible for the image. Despite his warning – he did hand out a lot of very good marks (I counted eleven 10s and fifteen 9s – that’s almost 25% of the images). We also shared our usual club banter with the judge (there were a lot of puns and segues) making the night the usual friendly, relaxed affair we all enjoy.

Jennifer Williams - Something Blue - Colour (Set)

Jennifer Williams – Something Blue – Colour (Set)

So – how did we go?

Well the usual offenders obtained their expected high scores (and a few lower ones as well), but a few new faces emerged that will threaten the status quo! Jen Williams shook up the competition with the image at left. I’ve been watching Jen’s work on Flickr – and I think other BPC members should not be complacent. This image¬†evoked no comment from Peter other than “10”. Enough said about that.

Gloria Brumfield is showing off her talent too with some great images. Dean Johnson again showed his ability with just one very clever image. David Hope gave us a stark landscape. And Perry Phillips took a punt in the novice section with some unusual images of silica gel (I knew what it was) – I hope we’ll be seeing more from him.

It was also good to see Theo and Ursula Prucha return to the club and get a few high scores in the process.

So Рthe first competition of the year is over. Check out the images that scored highest in the Top digital and Top print pages.

Cheers

Chris ūüôā


The 31 Days of December 2014 are over – did you like it?

A dedicated bunch of BPC members took up the challenge again this year. It’s been a fun ride and most of the participants managed the full 31 days.

If you look through our flickr group it looks like Heather, Jen, David, Eric, John, James and I managed to post at least an image a day. Kerry came close, and we had a few images from Gloria, Ann, Helen, Terry, Howard and former member Hilary.

So what did we see? Well first we had a huge variety of images, following of themes, a bit of image manipulation, some of our photographers rediscovering their photographic passion, and a bit of repartee between us in the comments. I’ve picked what I think are the best of each members images and a comment on what they gave us. You may not agree with my choices, but you’ll probably¬†agree it’s been fun and entertaining for the observer.

sticks and bits 14/12

Sticks and Bits

Let’s start with Heather, who gave us a selection of wildlife, birds, travel photos, Christmas food and drink (love that Quinta Ruban!) and observation. No theme per se, but Heather looks to have had fun. What’s more, Heather didn’t confine herself to her dSLR, but use her iPad and a compact as well. For me, the image above¬†was quintessential Heather – simple and effective imagery.

31 Days 2014

Figure to ground relationship

Next we had Jen exploring themes of photographic composition, often using simple objects and simple lighting. There were some powerful images in there that merit a serious look Рlike the 3 rocks and the almost monochrome sea urchin on a black background. Jen has a very good eye for composition Рso watch out in this years competition everyone! Jen I think takes out the award for comment discussions. I direct you to one image as an example and you be the judge!

Kerry took part for most of the 31 days (actually, all of them I think, but she didn’t post them all on the BPC flickr page), and seemed to explore a lot of food! Not a problem really, as we all like it, and I was half tempted to visit and inspect the pantry! You’ll have to look at her photo stream to see her images as I can’t embed¬†the images here directly. Never the less check out her Monarch Butterfly Caterpillars and her Dump Trucks¬†to see what I mean.

Father & Son

Father and Son

David worked at giving us an image a day from his secret hideout south of Adelaide (we can’t tell you where or he may have to silence us!). David presented us with an fascinating array of still life, images from the hideout, ¬†and garden images, often manipulating the images to add something new. For me, Father and Son, (although not fully representing the body of work) showed us David’s wit and talent. But don’t overlook his artistic work either – Argive Abstract is one not to miss.

Year End. 31.Day.2014

Year End

Now on to Eric. Never stuck for a word or a witticism, Eric produced some excellent work demonstrating clever manipulation in camera, around the camera, in processing and outside the camera. Check out Friction Grater¬†as an example. That’s comes from lots of practice and experience. But for me, Year End was a stunner that should not be missed.

 

Day 16 BPC Hindmarsh Old and New

Hindmarsh Old and New

Our newest club member, John, participated in the process enthusiastically – both as commenter and photographer. Although a long time photographer, he commented to me¬†“This challenge has whetted my appetite for photography again. Until it started my camera would have been lucky to have been out of the house more than once a month or so”. John’s stream of images shows his new enthusiasm with some great images of his favourite¬†architecture (like the one above), but also exploring other ideas like panos (which he does very well – have a look at Base Running),macros and some clever textures. I’m glad you had a good time John and look forward to lots more images from you.

Bus Shelter 2

Bus Shelter 2

James again enthusiastically took part in the Challenge, even incorporating a Best of 31 Days¬†commentary on his new Camera Clips page. His images of course show his experimental and strong visual style. The image above is one that is shows a powerful awareness of that style. It has shades of Robert Capa’s “If your photographs aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough”. How many of you see beyond the obvious? James of course gave us his bird and insect shots, but I think his abstracts are some of his best images.

Day 11: Coffee! (B&W)

Coffee!

Finally, there was me. I spent a bit of time trying different things like only using one prime lens a for week (I succeeded), experimenting with mono treatments of images (like the one above – check out it’s colour cousin), wide angles, abstracts, and memories of lost relatives. It was hard work at times – as work and other things again got in the way. But the capture¬†of a daily image or two to share was very satisfying in the end.

So there you have it – an interesting journey for all of us. Please visit the club Flickr page and see what we’ve done. We’ll probably hold another mid-year just to try¬†something new.

Day 31: The End!

¬†Chris ūüôā


The 31st BPC Annual Exhibition – 20-Nov-2014

Hasn’t the year flown by? Here we are about to finish up and another BPC Annual Exhibition has been run.

It’s been a busy year, with competitions, critique, some memorable workshops, outings and a new calendar. Full credit to all those who get stuck in and make every evening happen – the folk who set up chairs, the tables, the screen, the supper, the print stands – and then tidy it all up afterwards. Without your involvement it wouldn’t happen every fortnight and maximise our enjoyment.

So on to the Annual Exhibition. Like last year, we took the judging out of the meeting programme, collated the numbers and presented the results. Our thanks to our 3 panel judges РJoy Lee-Archer, Gary Secombe and John Williamson who carefully and efficiently scored our best images. Our thanks also to Jenny & Mark Pedlar for hosting the judging (and a great supper to go with it). Mark Pedlar then organised the certificates (again Рthanks Mark) and a programme whilst Julie Goulter had trophies engraved.

On the actual awards night, we had an excellent turnout (I counted 43), with judges Gary Secombe and John Williamson in attendance along with several guests (like an ex-President, a few former club members and a partner or two) and many members filling the room comfortably. John Williamson liked us so much he joined our merry band as a member. Welcome!

President Ashley Hoff and Secretary Julie Goulter officiated to hand out the awards – Ashley getting RSI from signing all the award certificates and spots in his vision from the flash ūüôā

So Рwho won what (you can peek at the winning images on the Top Digital and Top Prints page)? Starting with the aggregates for the year, our trophy winners were:

JV Spick Chemist Award for Album Prints

1st

James Allan

164
2nd Gloria Brumfield 126
3rd Heather Connolly 117

 Blackwood Photographic Club Award for Colour Prints

1st

Helen Whitford

184
2nd Jo Tabe 174
3rd James Allan 167

 Blackwood Times Award for Mono Prints

1st

Jo Tabe

165
2nd James Allan 137
3rd Alberto Giurelli 103

 Photographic Wholesalers Award for Projected Images

1st

Chris Schultz

167
2nd James Allan 156
3rd Ashley Hoff 135

Congratulations to everyone who participated – and challenged each of us to try that little harder over the year.

The Annual Exhibition itself had some inspiring images to stimulate us. The full selection of digital images are presented below – click on any one to go into the slide show for a full size view.

And now for the Annual Exhibition Award winners – drum roll please………

Edge Malpas Award for Album Prints

1st

James Allan

Bee Eater

1st: James Allan - Bee Eater

1st:  James Allan РBee Eater

2nd Helen Whitford Parrot Fashion
3rd Jo Tabe Strike a Pose
Merit Helen Whitford Fun with Pebbles

Mal Klopp Award for Colour Prints

1st

Helen Whitford

Longing

1st: Helen Whitford - Longing

1st:¬†Helen Whitford¬†–¬†Longing

2nd Jo Tabe A Quick Snack
3rd Jo Tabe Left to the Weather
Merit Jo Tabe Mixed Emotions

I’ve Been Framed Award for Monochrome Prints

1st

Jo Tabe

The Opening

1st_Jo Tabe_The Opening

1st:¬†Jo Tabe¬†–¬†The Opening

2nd Jo Tabe Standing Proud 2
3rd Helen Whitford Going for It
Merit Helen Whitford Let’s Stick Together

Hutt Street Photos Award for Projected Images

1st

Ashley Hoff

Mother and Child

1st_Ashley Hoff_Mother and Child

1st:¬†Ashley Hoff¬†–¬†Mother and Child

2nd Jo Tabe River Contrasts
3rd Ashley Hoff Not the Messiah
Merit Kerry Malec Pacific Coast Iris

WEA Australian Landscape Trophy

Jo Tabe

River Contrasts Jo Tabe - River Contrasts (2nd & WEA)

This time, even though the awards were dominated by those with a J or H as their first initial, other letters of the alphabet made an appearance! Well done to K, G and A for getting in the mix.
I’ve created a summary of the final scores from the big spreadsheet that you can download¬†for those that like numbers. For those who prefer it, we also have Mark’s official BPC Annual Catalogue.

So what of that other award – the Bill Templar Award for services to the club over the last 12 months? It came down to a secret ballot vote between two people – Julie Goulter and Chris Schultz and was awarded to…….. Chris Schultz…. Hey! That’s me ūüôā . I’m pretty humbled by that and appreciate your support. Thank you all.

Finally, after all the awards, celebration of our work and sharing in the fun, the evening finished with a supper of assorted goodies, viewing of the all the images, ¬†a lot of chat and supplemented again by Ron’s pizza!

Here’s a few photos of the award winners to finish (and yes – some faces just keep coming back ūüėÄ )

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Thanks again to our sponsors and everyone for taking part.

Next year promises to be interesting again with a new Novice only competition, some changes to the Peer Review nights and more interesting speakers.

Oh – and while you’re waiting for 2015 – anyone interested in the 31 Day Challenge for December? It’ll be on again – just post your images with the day number in the Flickr group.

Roll on 2015!

Chris ūüôā


The BPC 2015 Calendar has landed!

Yes! Another BPC Calendar has rolled off the presses.

We have trawled the images of our talented club members again and managed to snare the work of 39 different photographers. You may have seen some on the club Flickr group or at a competition or an exhibition or even on these pages Рbut they are all high quality images that will provide viewing pleasure and maybe inspire you.

This time the calendar editor role¬†has passed to……..me! I’ve been given the task of producing the¬†calendar for 2015 and tried to fill it with mainly¬†local images, but now with a couple of twists. This time you get a glossy cover, a different layout, and each page has a theme (see if you can guess it).¬†We’ve also worked with the printers to reduce page curl for a better product you’ll be pleased to share or give.

Now here’s a thought – Christmas is only 4 months away! So let this little beauty soar to remote locations, give it to your Aunt Mabel or Uncle Bob, surprise your¬†neighbor with a copy over a cuppa, present¬†one to your boss or favourite co-worker or even hang one on the wall in your home or office.

Here’s a YouTube video¬†showing you each page:

The price remains the same Р $15.  Tough bag postage/packaging mail delivery is extra. You can 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.

Chris ūüôā

 


How did you do that? 14-Aug-2014

How many times have you been to a competition, seen someones works and asked the question “How did you do that?”.¬†Well, tonight was the night we found out.

Helen organised a few of us to share our little secrets. Not really that secret, but enough to inspire some work!

So who did we have?

First up, James Allan describing his little worlds – or extreme panoramas. Fortunately, James put it into a slide presentation, which I’ve reproduced below:

Keen readers will recognise the feature image – and may even see it in our upcoming Calendar (on sale soon!)

Next, Jo Tabe described how she produced some of her stunning HDRs. Yes, there is a tool in Photoshop. Yes, it works. But there are other ways.
First up, get your images – and it need not be all -2, -1, 0, 1 and 2 stops. It can be just the top or bottom three. You can even cheat in Adobe Camera Raw and derive it from one image.
Once you had your image, the merging part took over. Jo’s tool of choice is PhotoMatix – a plugin for Photoshop, Lightroom or Aperture. The trick is to play with the images, allowing for motion in your subject (like trees) and removing halos that form in standard HDR images. As she pointed out the aim is have a high dynamic range – not surreal art.

Alberto Guirelli then ran through some very simple image manipulation to turn bland images into stunners. He should know – he keeps getting awards!
His trick was to use crop and vignette, and importantly, curves. This is the key – set the white and the black points in the image first. Then crop to what you need. His example of the bland looking Tuscan hillside took all of 2 minutes to transform into a stunning wide range image.
The vignetting method from Alberto was a bit more subtle. Use the lasso tool to outline your subject. Then set a smallish feather (about 50 pixels) and apply an unsharp mask to that area (at about 130-140%). Now, invert the selection and change the feather to about 250 pixels. Then darken it with curves. Now you have an irregular vignette that works!
Finally, the tool of choice that shuts the judges up – the clone tool in Photoshop. Get rid of unwanted branches, insects, people etc with the click/drag of a brush!

Next up – me. I rather like macro photography (probably stemming from my work years ago in a histology lab working with all sorts of microscopes – dissecting, dark field, transmission electron, scanning electron etc).
In the plain old photographic world we quickly run up against lack of sharpness and detail due to diffraction as we try to magnify images more and more. The answer lies in Focus Stacking. Here is a little presentation I put together:

Helen Whitford_King of Beasts

Helen Whitford_King of Beasts

Helen – our MC for the night – then showed us how she made King of Beasts (that great lion image) – starting with the lion with the cage behind it – in all its distracting glory. However, using Nikon Capture she demonstrated the removal of that grid, the ultimate vignette, and then the trick that Nikon Capture (which is apparently based on Nik Efex) allows modification of colour range brightness and contrast at an extreme (almost pixel) level. This allowed her to alter fur, reflections and edges with extreme accuracy.

Richard Akroyd then followed up Helen’s demonstration with more about Nikon Capture showing the broad range¬†of what Capture (ie Nik Efex) can do. Could well be worth the $149!

To follow the high tech world of fine level manipulation, Mark Pedlar presented the image manipulation tech of Photoshop layers and the right selection of images. His Hell’s Gate image is a photo that’s been 7 years in the making when he first saw the gate. Assorted attempts at making it look good were not 100% successful. However, with perseverance we can now show how he did it:

So there you have a summary of the nights proceedings. Lots of lessons and methods, but not all of them high tech. In fact, some really simple techniques that result in some of our presenters gaining the highest awards in the amateur photographic world. As Jo said, sometimes all you need to do is play with the tools you have and learn what they do to get the most out of them. Sage advice

Chris ūüėČ


Movie Stills – 31-Jul-2014

Inspired by the movie "Blowup" - A 1966 film directed by Michelangelo Antonioni

Inspired by the movie “Blowup” – A 1966 film directed by Michelangelo Antonioni

Movie Stills. We’ve all seen them – those classic images that entice us to the movies, inspire our photography, fire our imagination and lead us to into another world. The challenge arose after some of us recalled some brilliant¬†work from Cindy Sherman’s book entitled “Untitled Film Stills“. These were not real movie stills, but images that could have been inspired by film noir, and Italian neo-realism (see the reference in Wikipedia)

Well sadly, it seems not many people at BPC understood the brief! The complaint came from the floor that it was too hard. Que? No matter – we still had a few interesting images pop up on the night. Cindy may even have liked some of them!

Judge Keith Seidel helped us out enormously in several ways. First, he was a last minute judge as the original judge couldn’t attend. Thanks so much Keith – we appreciate the effort.
Then, Keith did a superb job of judging the works on offer with constructive, well thought out commentary and criticism. It was a pleasure to stand out the front hanging the images for Keith to evaluate – and having a bit of banter with him along the way (something our little band of renegades is noted for).
As he commented to me afterwards, our work was good, and he was forced to hand out more 10s than usual.

So what about the movie stills? Well there were only two prints in that category (and I’ve put one of them here). There were a few more in the digital section (just 7), including a clever Lego version of Jaws by Dean Johnson. As for the rest – some great Open category images including Helen Whitford’s “A Screeching Halt” triptych and Jo Tabe’s “Just a Short Tail”.

Head over to the Top Prints and Top Digital section to see who scored well.

Chris ūüėČ


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 ‚Äúbetter beamer‚ÄĚ.¬†¬†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‚Äôs kit.¬†¬†‚ÄúThat Gimbal head on the tripod is worth a heap.‚Ä̬†¬†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‚Äôs 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.¬†¬†‚ÄúThere 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.‚ÄĚ

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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