Friday, 26 January 2018

The Bokeh Challenge - Part 2 - Wednesday 24th January 2018

You pull your focus in,
Your focus out,
In, Out, In, Out, you blur the background out
You make your composition and you take the shot
And that's what it's all about!
Oh, Bokeh, Bokeh, Bokeh,

Etc. etc.

Yes, It was all about being OK to Bokeh when we gathered for our own internal fun competition to review our efforts at capturing good bokeh.

As an added twist, Aodan managed to persuade Chris H, Jane and Dave Stoneleigh to step into the judges' chairs and mark the images, 12 in Level 1 and 25 in Level 2. Thanks to these three brave members for being willing to step up. I should also add here that none of the judges entered any marks for their own images during the evening to ensure all was above board.

The plan was to mix up the judges' comments and then give the marks (out of three) anonymously. The comments were soon thrown open to the floor and led to some entertaining observations as we viewed the entries.

As was bound to happen, there was a wide range of views of what qualifies as bokeh. Suffice to say, some sadly did not and we saw a good range of marks within the range allowed.

To our winners:

Level 1:


A great example of bokeh with a good mix of colours and shapes in the background.

Level 2:


A more subtle use of bokeh here with striking colours being used to make the white bokeh elements stand out.

Dave shared with us his past experience with this photo when entered into competition. The judge marked it down...due to the distracting white spots in the background! It just goes to show you...

So, congratulations to Terry and Dave and well done to Aodan for keeping it all running smoothly on the night.

We must also acknowledge the successful first competition use of our new PhotoEntry software that is now to be used to enter all our PDI competitions. A big thank you to Chris R and Martin for working with this and making sure that we are able to take advantage of this very helpful software. Remember to use it for the PDI entries for 31st January. Till next time!

Friday, 19 January 2018

'Behind The Scenes Photographing the 2014 Football World Cup' a talk by Andy Tobin, 17th January 2018

Quite what it is that football fans find so much to sing and shout about has always puzzled me but I put it down to my profound indifference to the game. However, photography is another game with different goals, so I was determined not to let my disinterest in the sport cloud my enjoyment of this evening’s talk.

Starting in 2007 taking snaps of his son playing football, Andy decided that sports photography was his calling. Encouraged after a couple of years by having one of his pictures used on the cover of Polo Times, he decided that to make any money he had to shoot football. To do this you need accreditation for each match, but to get it you need a track record of photos already published - 25 for most league matches and 40 for the Premier League - a Catch 22 for someone trying to get their toe in the door.

So he joined a small picture agency (Focus Images Ltd) which helped him build his portfolio and get the necessary accreditation. In the first half of the evening he described this process, and then planning his trip to Brazil. He told us what equipment he took and how getting a 20 kg bag of equipment on the plane as hand luggage took some blagging at check-in. Then followed some insight into the rigmarole of obtaining the necessary clearance to attend the matches.

Having a clear idea of the kind of shots you want (those that will sell!) is vital. Essentially picture editors want three kinds of picture. First ‘Action’, particularly goal-scoring, so you need to get to the match early to bag a good spot and set a remotely controlled camera behind the goal. Secondly ‘Cellies’ (celebrations shots) of the emotional reactions to scoring, or failing to score, among the players, the management team and their supporters. If you’ve chosen your position well, you’ll get the scorer’s triumph ritual and his run across the pitch to the team’s dugout for approval. Lastly, you need ‘Documentary’ shots to give a flavour of the place and the surroundings.

Andy used two Canon 1DS cameras with a 400 mm prime lens on one and a 70 - 200 on the other, and part of the skill is knowing exactly when to switch cameras. Each allotted station has a laptop with a fast internet connection to the picture editor’s desk. Once you have some potentially publishable shots, the card has to be put in the laptop, edited, details of the players and what was happening recorded in the metadata, and the pictures sent. The whole process has to be done within 2 to 3 minutes of taking the pictures, and all this time you might be missing action on the field. A neat trick to psych your near neighbours into thinking they are missing something is to fire off a long burst on fast motor drive while they are thus occupied. All’s fair in love, war and press photography it appears.

You might suppose there is as much camaraderie among the press photographers as there is among the players. Not a bit of it. He said they all hated each other!

As with anyone who talks with enthusiasm and passion, they take you there. But for me, that’s as far as I would want to go. The financial rewards were pretty modest considering how much stress you have to go through.. but what an exciting experience you get. Little wonder that he relaxes by taking tranquil landscapes. Thanks Andy for a truly memorable evening.

Anyone wanting to read the daily Blog Andy posted during his trip will find it here:

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

10 January 2018 | Monochrome Competition 2: Print

Happy New Year to everyone! This week was the second of our monochrome print competitions - prints.

Gerald Kitiyakara ably presided over the competition, although even he appeared bemused at a couple of the prints that stretched the idea of monochrome a little too far. That said, the evening was very successful, with some of our newer members showing the rest of us how we really should be doing it.

David Ashworth saw off some stiff competition in a decidedly maritime-themed Level One with a triumphant pair of 10s and David Harford and Martin Faiers emerged victorious in Level Two with their excellent shots.