Friday, 31 October 2014

Projected Image Competition No. 2

Judge :  Darren Pullman

The second PDI competition of the year saw a good sized field of 18 photos in the Level 1 competition and 24 in Level 2.

The judges comments as always were helpful and encouraging for the Level 1 contestants and still helpful but a little bit more blunt for the Levels 2's

Composition seemed to be a recurring theme this evening with the judge clearly liking to see the different objects positioned in a nice triangular shape, coaxing the viewers eye in a little journey around the frame. Not always that easy if the photo is a snatched opportunity but even better if it all comes together. 

The judge also pointed out the effect of clean and busy areas in the photo and whether they compliment or distract from the photo's message.

I guess these two things come through on the two winning photographs. Radoslaw H's Seaside photo was praisesd for its simple and clear composition and its vibrant colours. 

Dave C's photo of a market seller is a good example of where everything can work together, the layout of wooden ties, the seller and the backdrop all complimenting each other. The judge chose it over two close contenders due to its technically flawless execution and it's original and unusual subject.

Well done to everyone for another successful competition. I hope everyone has taken home some new nugget of advice from the evening. 

Next week we have the chance to see how these photos were made as the owners can explain how they set up the shot and then processed them into the final submitted photo. 

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Red, White and Blue

A Member's Evening
Where do I start with his one? 

The guidelines given were to submit photos with red, white or blue themes, each colour on its own or any combination of the colours. This was not a competition so members were more willing to put forward photos that satisfied the theme and had a bit of a story rather than more technically polished competition photos.

Members evenings are always a bit of a wild card so I didn't know what to expect turning up but was  taken aback by the response. 56 photos in total were shown on the screen and each photographer got a chance to explain some of the background to their shots.

And every shot did have a story, from volunteering to place red poppies in Tower of London to visiting the red sandstone mountains of Utah, from an icy blue scene at Carshalton Ponds to the blue processed version of a spiders web in Jane's back garden. There combinations of colours too, from the blue and white of Santorini to the many versions  of the Union flag, including a few photoshopped versions clearly inspired by the recent referendum.


This wasn't a competition but I feel the special mention of the evening should go to Dave C's wife and young son who took turns bowling with the heavy blue bowling ball so Dave could get a shot of the blue ball hitting the white and red pins. Now that's dedication. 

Friday, 17 October 2014

Portrait Photograhy

A talk and demonstration by Lee Townsend from Lenses in Croydon.

"Find you and have fun"

Lee's opening advice to the group was a bit unusual for a technical talk of studio type lighting. It was backed up with his next line

"Portraits are 75% personality and 25% technical skill. "

OK, so it's no quite as extreme as the Einstein quote of 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration but still quite telling.  Lee's belief is that once the lights and the camera have been set up anyone can press the shutter and get a well exposed photo. The essence of a good portrait though, is to catch something about the person, and that's where the personality of the photographer comes in just as much as the subject. 

The photo records the mood of the person at the time. The general atmosphere in the "studio" and the photographer's interaction have large parts to play in capturing that something extra.

That's not to say the technical aspects were not covered. The settings were called out and everyone in the room had a chance to take some photos with the big lights. Many members benefitted from this, it being the first time they turned the mode dial on their cameras to the "M" position. 

Many thanks to Lee from Lenses in Croydon for coming over to share his knowledge and his enthusiasm. 

In case you were wondering ......   Lenses is a "meet-up" group of photographers/models and general art minded people based in Croydon. They often do photo shoots with models. If anyone is interested he is also planning more trips out and about.  He did mention photographing the ice sculpting at Canary Wharf in the new year. Meet-up is free to join. 

And if you are on Facebook you may want to “Like” the Lenses of Croydon page

Friday, 10 October 2014

Print Competition No. 1

Judge: John Nathan

Whoops, I thought ...

It's never good when the judge starts with a warning that the SPA has asked judges to make a wider spread of points when marking. From now on a good photo will get 7 points (as opposed to 8). This means every half point better than this is really well deserved.

Interesting, and I guess it doesn't really matter as long as its applied uniformly. For me, the main purpose of competitions are to get some objective feedback, it might be brutal sometimes but it points out things things that can be worked at to improve.

Some great photos were presented and congratulations go to Dave Stoneleigh for his alternative minimalist take an autumnal photo "Graceful Ending". David also let us in on the story behind the making of the photo, from crawling around the attic to find wire for a DIY clamp to fashioning a white backdrop from some white horticultural fleece. It gave the rest of us an insight into the setup that goes behind a "10" point photo.

Looking forward, next weeks talk is on portrait taking by Lee Townsend from Lenses of Croydon. I'm sure it will be an informative talk and a rare chance to get an explanation of various studio lighting setups.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Some more (random) thoughts on last weeks talk ...

Soup or Souffle ??

 The recipe:

You will need:
- A decent starting photo
- An idea
- A collection of "stock" items from your back catalogue
- A few "stock" texture type layers.
- Photoshop (or similar layer-capable software)

 1. Crop (or extend) to isolate the interesting part of the picture.

2. Add an element from "stock" to give a 3 points of interest, preferably arranged in a triangle around the frame

3. Add a texture layer on top and paint through the important parts of the picture.

4. Dodge / burn / contrast / colour to taste

5. Present in an appropriate frame

Creative Minds, a talk by Mike Bromley DPAGB and Ian Brash

But if only (BIO) ....

It's what happens when a judge is giving a seemingly generous critique but then drop the bombshell ...   We've all heard it.  "I like the trees here, the sky there, good exposure ... but if only ... there was an extra element, an extra subject to draw the viewer in"

What Mike and Ian showed us yesterday is that we shouldn't be constrained by reality when presenting a photo.

Like a photoshop tag team Mike and Ian bounded their way through a collection of before and after slides which showed how creative mind can bring the barest shell of a photo into a masterpiece of colour and composition.

The first slide of Polesden Lacey teased with its neatly presented row of ready to be stitched together of perfectly adequate summers day photos even with blue sky and white fluffy clouds. But a mere stitched together panorama would be way too predictable. No, a canvas texture was added across the top, the colours morphed to Sepia tones, add some vignette, a bit of soft glow and the scene was transformed into an 19th century style painting.

Each subsequent slide showed how the original photo could be literally twisted and turned to produce the final result.

Their work was based on original photos than adapted in photoshop with texture layers, overlain stock images and a good dose of brightness, contrast and colour adjustments. Most of the work was based in Photoshop CC but also called on additional software such as Nik Suite, Flexify, Photomatix to provide that little twist.

A mind-opener as much as an eye-opener.