Our Thursday night ‘fix’ of all things photography has been the tonic we have all needed during these turbulent times. To be together with like minded friendly people with the common goal of photography, has helped us all cope with pretty well everything that has been thrown at us in the last year.
You can gauge the high level of enthusiasm and creative input in everything the club members tackle whether it’s a competition or workshop or just enjoying some of the great talk presentations we have had this season, from both visiting speakers (curtesy of the long distance Zoom potential) or our own talented members sharing tips and demonstrating techniques. The overall photography Inspiration comes from all our members working and being together as a club. A powerful combination!
Our latest club league print competition gave an Interesting challenge with the two set subjects of ‘Industrial’ and ‘Circles’. There were some diverse and Imaginative Interpretations of the theme, 61 Images were entered to enjoy, viewed on Zoom by visiting Judge Steven Galvin. Thanks to everyone that entered the competition and congratulations to the higher scoring authors.
Special mention for consistent In form member Gordon Calder who was awarded 20points for his two excellent Images in the ‘Circles’ competition.
Members are invited to start voting on the images their fellow photographers have entered into the peer review competition. The Members Area contains all the materials you need, including the Google voting form and the gallery of the entries (30 images)
Voting closed on 14th March to allows us time to collate the scores in time for the reveal on the 18th.
We are very fortunate as a camera club to have an active judge in our membership. Someone who knows about judging and delivering at the sharp end with many clubs every season. So it was great to have Cat Humphries lead our latest workshop evening entitled ‘Judging Images’ an evening designed give an appreciation of the intricacies of judging Images.
Cat talked us through the judging thought process, accompanied by an excellent power point slide show. In addition, armed with the pointers she shared with us, we were able to become the judges on the night, in an Interactive mock competition of her demonstration Images. This was enabled using ‘Zoom’ and phone voting. A thoroughly enjoyable evening which sparked plenty of healthy debate in this sometimes contentious area.
Armed with this additional knowledge (plenty of Information on our website) we have now Invited club entries into an Internal competition where we all become the judges and go through the judging thought process to vote for a winner.
Our next workshop night on the 18th March will review the outcome of this peer reviewed competition. Overall this time spent gaining knowledge and Insight into judging will help us all in our own photography work, as we consider our Images for competition entry.
What makes a great photograph? An age old question and one that is in continual debate. It’s a bit like naming your all time favourite music tune, it’s very difficult, because it depends on your mood at the time of choosing. Emotion often plays a part in a great photography Image and is regularly mentioned by competition judges when they say they are looking for an emotional connection or for the picture to tell a visual story. Of course technical ability and presentation are also key elements in the process. I guess finding the perfect formula is what keeps our quest of Improvement fresh and gives us all the Inspiration to keep producing new Images.
New Inspired Images were very much in evidence at our latest PDI league competitions with 70 Images entered into our set subjects of ‘Lines’ and ‘Creative/ Experimental’. Once again our talented and creative membership let loose with a variety of diverse images which met the subject criteria. Some outstanding Images were produced and within the higher scoring Images awarded by visiting Judge Alan Colegrave was 20 points scored by our very talented Gordon Calder for his excellent Images in both competitions.
Thank you to everyone who entered the competitions, making it a really enjoyable night and congratulations to the higher scoring authors on the night. This was the penultimate PDI league competitions, further adding to the nights Interest of points accrual within the leagues.
Martin Patten kindly provided a handout with all the slides and images he showed us in his inspirational Improving Your Photography talk. Head over to the recordings section of the Members Area to find the download link.
If you’re going into any of the shops, eateries and estate agents in Chorleywood be sure to pick up a copy of Chorleywood Magazine’s February 2021 Special Edition. It features images of some of the socially distant events covered by our very own Cat Humphries. In
between lockdowns Cat was able to photograph two West End stars performing a Back Garden Busk, she met The Audacious Mr Astley and had A Slice of Saturday Night at Watford Fringe, and finally ended the year chasing a panto dame and a London Bus around the streets of Chorleywood. Hopefully as lockdown restrictions are lifted, she’ll be able to go back to being the resident photographer for Rickmansworth Players and represent us at the return of Croxley Revels later in the year.
I recently saw an article on sunsets, by the end of this month the sun won’t set until 5.40pm and by the end of March it will be 7.40pm and by the end of April 8.30pm! A good Indicator there are brighter days ahead. As the pandemic is brought under control through the vaccine being given to more people, hopefully we will soon be returning to normality and we can again pursue our great and creative love of photography more freely.
On our Thursday club meeting night On Zoom we welcomed guest speaker Martin Patten to give us a talk entitled ‘Improving your Photography’. Martin is a very accomplished award winning photographer, is the Chairman of the CACC and also judges competitions for Camera clubs. He gave a very Informative presentation covering an extensive range of techniques and tips on Improving our photography. His talk was also peppered with some of his excellent Images. He emphasised the Importance of ‘Seeing, thinking and taking’ throughout his presentation.
Overall a very enjoyable and Inspiring evening with plenty of Information to consider and help us all further Improve our photography art.
On Thursday 4th March, Cat will be leading a workshop on image analysis. Photography is both an art and a science so we’ll be exploring what to look for when critiquing images, along with our emotional connection and reactions to photographs. This will be an interactive evening where we will all become judges, analysing and scoring images online during the Zoom session and reviewing the results using Menti.com.
Cat has provided a large set of images for you to practice analysing and scoring. You can use these either before or during the workshop. A useful checklist has also been provided to help you be objective. These materials can be found in the members area of the website now.
Then in March we’ll be running our first Peer Review competition so we can use the judging techniques we have learnt. The peer review competition is now open in PhotoEntry for members to submit images they would like reviewed. This will close on Sunday March 7th and the submitted images will be published in a private gallery for members to judge using Google forms. Judging will then close on Sunday 14th March and the results revealed on the 18th.
Summary of the time line below.
George and Cat (but mainly Cat)
Peer review competition open in PhotoEntry
Critique workshop materials available in Members Area
Critique workshop evening
Peer review competition close on PhotoEntry and online judging opens
This week marks Steve’s hundredth blog post as Chair of the club. Looking back through my inbox I found that this year will be his 10th anniversary of joining us so it seems like an appropriate time for us to say a few words of thanks.
Way back in the mists of time, when we could all meet in the hall on Thursdays AND some Wednesdays – but importantly before we started to enjoy Vanessa’s legendary cakes…. it was a dark time. Then some sunlight appeared through the clouds as Steve arrived at the community centre as a fresh faced, nervous but keen photographer. We took him under our wing, introduced him to studio portraiture and encouraged him to trust his very capable photographic instincts.
Helped by an eye for a good image, the “usual” processing techniques and a selection of interesting hats, we saw Steve rise up the league tables to become our own “David” Bailey, before twisting his arm to elect him to the committee in April 2016 as Vice Chairman.
Since 2017 Steve has been a fantastic figurehead for the club, supporting members both new & old and encouraging all of us to improve our photography. His vision has led us through the challenges of lockdown with virtual club meetings all through the past year, and recently we even reached the dizzy heights of the North West Federation of London Clubs Semi Final. (Just 1 point behind Amersham in the PDI section – who’d have thought it! Thanks Martin!)
I can honestly say that Steve is the embodiment of our club’s reputation for being “The Friendly Club”, even if he has made me cry on occasion, and it is with great thanks that we congratulate him on these milestones and give him a virtual round of applause!
Photography can document and creatively capture so many different subjects and views on the world. The vast majority of the photos we take will not be “winning images”, particularly as we’re taking more images now than ever before in human history.
We’ve all had disappointing results on competition nights where a judge hasn’t understood our image, or simply didn’t like it, but does this mean we should cast aside photos that don’t do well in competitions? Should we feel that they are somehow failures in our photographic journeys to the nirvana of imaging success? Definitely not!
Here’s a few ways for images that wouldn’t necessarily be “winners” to bring a little joy to our lives.
A common phrase a few years ago among camera club judges was that an image was “just” a record shot. Images documenting everyday life or local places sometimes only find their importance at a later date. You may need to know more of the story behind them to know their significance, or they need to be part of a bigger photo-essay to be effective.
Back in the 90s I spent a few afternoons wandering around the streets of my hometown documenting the buildings and the people. None of those images would have won a competition but looking at them now I have a glimpse into another world – people’s homes that have been demolished, a retired man outside a working men’s club that’s now the home of a glass-ceilinged shopping centre and skate-boarding teenagers long since grown up.
Who knows what social history we may capture today and then look back on in the future with different eyes?
Portraits of Friends and Family (and dogs and cats and rabbits…)
Your emotional attachment to people and animals you love is always going to give some photos a greater meaning. Learning to separate our emotions and experiences when we’re selecting images for competitions can be difficult and knowing how others will view our images can be almost impossible! Enjoy capturing the memories for yourself and others, just because it doesn’t have emotional value for a judge, doesn’t mean it’s not successful for you.
We’re not all brave enough to approach strangers in the street like Instagramer Alex Stemplewski, but giving a great image to someone you don’t know very well can be a huge gift to their self-confidence and a boost to your own wellbeing.
Projects and RPS Distinctions
Like social documentary images, some of the most creative imagery doesn’t work as a single image. Committing to a photographic project can open your eyes to documenting a subject from different points of view. Trying the same photographic style or treatment on different subjects can help you see what works and what can be improved.
Online communities like Blipfoto encourage you to try and take an image every day, while working to gain photographic distinctions from the Royal Photographic Society can give you a sense of purpose. Whether it be the entry-level LRPS that challenges you to achieve a level of technical standards and create a harmonious panel of images to show your skills, or the next step up to the ARPS where you can explore the creative possibilities on a single theme. Many images that would not be “winners” on their own take on bigger meaning as part of a panel. Just as the opposite can also be true – three winners don’t necessarily make a successful triptych.
The Joy of Taking and Making an Image
Let’s not forget that sometimes the best part of photography is the challenge of taking the image or processing it afterwards – no matter what the end result is. Over Christmas I spent three hours in the near dark squirting a syringe of water at some fruit I’d balanced on cocktail sticks while using a remote trigger on a studio flash to hopefully capture the right moment. I then spent another three hours editing together a stack of 17 layers in Photoshop to merge together all the different splashes and remove the supports.
What I was aiming for was to get the fruit floating impossibly in mid-air while the water drops made it look mouth-wateringly tasty. The result…positively underwhelming! It definitely won’t be making it into our “creative or experimental techniques” competition later this month. Would I do it again? Absolutely! I learnt lots from the process and had so much fun splashing about in the dark, even if I did soak half the kitchen and end up an hour late for dinner. Sometimes it really doesn’t matter what comes out of the camera if you’ve had fun doing it.