November saw an opportunity to attend a Book Making and Sequencing Workshop by the Master Photographer John Blakemore. Nottingham was the destination of the 2 day workshop to learn the skill of sequencing the photographs and then the art of bookmaking to show the images in their most natural context.
Whilst away on Business in the Exeter area, I’d thought I’d take a trip to nearby Exmouth. There’s nothing like visiting the seaside when you are migrating users to a new system. It takes you away from the everyday stresses and clears the mind. The sea air, fish and chips, the sounds of the waves, oh and the sounds of gulls!! It all helps.
On Saturday I decided to take the “scenic route” home from Inverness back to south west Leicestershire. Yes you read right, Inverness. For those of you who are not quite sure where it is, get an map of the UK, start at the top and you won’t have to go too far down the map to spot Inverness.Read More
The best double act in urban photography is an irresistible way to spend a Friday night/Saturday morning in the big smoke. Doug Chinnery’s legendary all night London photography workshop is certainly a crowd puller among the Landscape fraternity and with Terry the Taxi Driver as our chauffeur for the evening/morning, we are in for a treat. We were not disappointed. We started proceedings at Westminster Bridge. A sunset with the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben as the subject matter. Then across the bridge for traffic light trails in front of Big Ben. When you are waiting for one bus, three come along after a long wait! Terry gets the coffees’ in and we’re off to the next destination. A blow to the proceedings is that the lights of Battersea Power Station have just gone off just before we arrive at our next place of interest. Damm! Nevertheless, with the Battersea Power Station as the backdrop, the train tracks makes very interesting light trails with trains coming in and out of the shot. Next on our list is the Albert Bridge, a road bridge over the River Thames connecting Chelsea on the north bank to Battersea on the south bank. Designed and built by Rowland Mason Ordish in 1873 as an Ordish–Lefeuvre system modified cable-stayed bridge, it proved to be structurally unsound, so between 1884 and 1887 Sir Joseph Bazalgette incorporated some of the design elements of a suspension bridge. In 1973 the GLC added two concrete piers, which transformed the central span into a simple beam bridge. As a result, today the bridge is an unusual hybrid of three different design styles. It is a Grade II listed building. A night it is extremely illuminated, full of LEDs which replaced the aging 4000 light bulbs. Next it was a stop by the Thames to photograph Battersea Power Station. It is currently undergoing a massive regeneration project. However from the north side of the river at just before midnight, all you really see are the iconic structures of the building. Battersea Power Station is a decommissioned coal-fired power station located on the south bank of the River Thames, in Battersea. It comprises two individual power stations, built in two stages in the form of a single building. Battersea A Power Station was built in the 1930s, with Battersea B Power Station to its east in the 1950s. The two stations were built to an identical design, providing the well-known four-chimney layout. The station ceased generating electricity in 1983, but over the past 50 years it has become one of the best known landmarks in London and is Grade II listed. Next it was off to the Millennium Bridge at the Tate Modern and across to St.Pauls. We had until 1.50am to photograph as that’s what time the lights on St.Pauls go out (and they were bang on time). The Millennium Bridge can be a bit wobbly, so you need to be careful with your exposures, especially when idiots cycle across it. How inconsiderate! The view to the right of the bridge as you go across to St.Pauls is a fabulous skyline with The Shard on the left, through to Tower Bridge and then the Walkie-Talkie shaped building on the right. By this time, I was getting pretty tired. The reward at the end of the bridge, was a break for supper at Tinseltown, an all-night restaurant in Farringdon. Apparently they are a rare thing, an all-night restaurant where you can sit down and eat. Who would have believe it, in London, the city that never sleeps.
Break over and back in the cab for our next destination. This time to the bright lights of Canary Wharf. It’s now just gone 4am! Even during the middle of the night, time flies when you having fun. We find ourselves in among people’s homes, so we have to be very quiet as we capture the World of Banking asleep! Across from there is the Blue Bridge, a moveable bascule bridge installed in 1969, which is the entrance to the West India Dock. From there you have great view of Canary Wharf and the historic cranes on one side and the Millennium Dome on the other side across the Thames. Our final destination and ready for the sunrise was the iconic Tower Bridge by City Hall. Here we spent a great hour with the sky constantly changing. It was a wonderful end to a tiring but great workshop. Doug was always on hand with tips, technique and advice in getting “the shot”. Terry provided us the transport for getting to these landmarks. Their enthusiasm for this workshop really shone through. Yes around 4 am there was some flagging moments for us all, but we soldiered on, and I’m sure everyone has some great pictures to review to family and friends. Doug is an excellent tutor and his workshops are extremely popular. Terry is the finest cabbie in London, and would happily spend all day with him travelling in his cab driving around the sights of London.
The main technique to these images was very much tripod based with remote control in hand (which obviously played up at times). Shooting mainly at ISO 100, exposures range from seconds to the longest one which was over 3 minutes. It is a chance to take your time, get your composition right and then wait whilst the data is recorded. Sometimes you won’t believe what the sensor records. That’s half the fun. You’ll see things on the back of the camera, that you think, where did that come from! Being the capital city, it was actually really light considering it was the middle of the night, not like the Peak District, where it is really dark. It makes a difference. I didn’t really think about light pollution. We were there to capture the light of the buildings and surrounding, not really the natural light. We left that until we got to Tower Bridge. The beauty about this, is that you could go again and get a totally different set of images. That’s the magic of photography.
So why do I belong to two camera clubs? A good question indeed. The initial reason was due to the infancy of my position as Programme Secretary of Earl Shilton Camera Club (ESCC), I wanted ideas, I wanted to see how other camera clubs run. For that reason the decision to join Leicester Forest Photographic Society (LFPS) was successful. I’ve got speakers and ideas from LFPS which I’ve brought to ESCC. Moreover, from a personal point of view, I was already tired of ESCC peer voting system. I needed something else where I felt appreciation was lacking from my photography. Sure enough this also has been fulfilled. I have tried to keep my photographs separate, but obviously there has been some cross over but nothing that has compromised either club. In fact it is common practice it seems if you live out of Leicester to be a member of two clubs, so it is certainly no big deal at all. Also I really do think it has sharpened my photography. If I had solely stayed at ESCC I wonder what would have happened. Nevertheless due to peer voting, there is clearly favouritism and political voting within the ranks which I dislike. No matter how many rules are in place it is difficult to stop. With judge voting, at least the critique is from a person who has experience and has seen many many images to know what’s good and what’s bad even if the result is unexpected. Camera club photography is different. It is considered more of an art than purely the taking of photos. No one will tell you that, it only comes with experience. I like both clubs. I enjoy the competitive nature at LFPS with so many competitions. It fulfils my competitive streak. At ESCC I want to see the club get better. The facilities, apart from the projector, are excellent. However we are stuck between 2 members who are the special ones and 2 new members who wannabe the champs, and some members don’t like it! I must confess I am under-performing at ESCC considering my success at LFPS. I have considered quitting ESCC altogether. I have already relinquished the Programme Secretary role for 2013/14 onwards. But I feel I must give it one more shot. The ambition at LFPS remains high. Yes I would like to get into Group A but is my photography edgy enough? Too much chocolate box, not enough people/manipulation?
Visit my Hall of Fame page to see how well I’ve done at these clubs.
Is creative photography judged on your photographic skills, artist skills or photoshop skills? Being a member of 2 camera clubs, I am constantly finding that winning images are not the skill as a photographer but as a artist that is good or OK at Photoshop. Judges, whether they are camera club members or paid judges, feel they can only associate creative photography with tarting a bad/crap/average image in Photoshop. Adobe’s premier image editing application gets bad press for being a tool that should rescue any poorly executed image into a winner! Primarily Photoshop was a graphic designer’s tool which has now been hijacked by photographers you will use a fraction of the functions within. I get annoyed with camera club lecturers who say “I hate using Photoshop, I only dabble in it!”. Liars! Their images would not look like that unless they spent time. There are some brilliant examples of composite creative photography using multiple images and creating something imaginative which actually works. Also there are some wonderful creative images that use their skill of working the camera to creative images either using long exposures, multiple exposure, panning, lens zoom, creative lens movement and using off camera flash. These are very rarely commended by judges. Why? It makes you just go and take crap photos and then “play around Photoshop” until something is revealed. The argument continues…
Creative results at Leicester Forest Photographic Society
KT Allen from Wigan 10 Foto Club creates brilliant composites
The Creative Group of the RPS with ideas and portfolios
Look at what Google threw up when searching in Images for Creative Photography
Creative photography can have massive impact, but unless you do your research and have a plan in mind, it will just looked “Photoshopped” and in my book, that’s for the recycle bin!
I decided to visit the UK’s biggest photographic show, Focus on Imaging, at the NEC Birmingham. Due to the nature of my job, it’s a free ticket for me!! I’d done some pre show planning to see who was talking when and on which stands. Twitter and the dedicated F-O-I website certainly helps to plan your day. I think this helps you get the most out of it otherwise you’ll end up walking around aimlessly looking at all the trade stuff, bemoaning that you cannot afford anything and then reliasing you’ve missed seeing someone you wanted to see. So plan your day, use a diary to enter the times of the events, and this will allow you to get the most out of it. In the morning I caught up with fellow camera club members and got my bearings where all the stands were. In the afternoon, I was going to catch David Noton on the Canon stand, but the queue was ridiculous so I passed that and went for lunch. In the afternoon highlights were Mark Pain’s Olympic images on the Nikon, he’s good http://www.markpain.com/, Karl Taylor demostrating some still life techniques, he’s also good http://www.karltaylorphotography.co.uk/ and Frank Doorhoff, demonstrating creative portrait shoot tips on the Flash Centre stand. He’s also really good http://www.frankdoorhof.com/site/. I think it maybe the sort of thing that doesn’t warrant an annual event. I’m sure in places, is it a bit samey. There is not enough there for the beginner nor the expereinced pro. Targeting enthauists, semi-pros and new pros I guess. I did managed to get a free A2 print from http://www.rgbuk.com/ which was really cool. Parking at the NEC is its usual rip-off, £10. But it is a great space to host events like this. I would love to see a UK/European Photoshop World here, now that would be cool!!
Today I’m visiting the big smoke. Am I mad as its nearly Christmas it will be chocka with people rushing around getting their Christmas fayre! All decent exhibitions are held in London these days. I do wonder at times whether we are a one city nation. But there are lots of photographic exhibitions on show and that’s where we are heading.
Astronomy Photographer of the Year was held at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich with a small number of images on display but nevertheless a good selection. The overall winner was particularly eye catching.
At National Maritime Museum was the iconic American landscape photographer, Ansel Adams. An entrance fee, £7, applies to this exhibition but none the same it is a fine exhibition tracing his early years through to the period pre and post WWII where some of his most famous images are displayed. Highlights include 3 gigantic images which he printed. There are elements within his work I’ve seen for the first time today which I’ve seen in my work. Amazing! The documentary excerpts where also interesting in what he said.
Next was the landscape photographer Michael Kenna. A selection of his prints were on display at Chris Beetles Fine Photographers store near Piccadilly Circus. There were 50 prints on display. A fine selection of monochromatic prints indeed. Some simple compositions, others more complex. Many were taken whilst in Japan and US. The tones on the prints are beautiful with some a much smaller mono palette. I enjoyed viewing these prints, as with Ansel’s prints makes you look at B&W with real pleasure and that colour can sometimes seems inferior.
Final destination was the National Theatre for Landscape Photographer of the Year. A problem year for the competition. However, hopefully lessons will be learnt from this year’s event. Camera club members you have been warned! The images were superbly printed and many large so that you get a sense of being at the scene that the photographer set. A good selection of images. Not sure whether I enjoyed the winner’s work as much as others. Not taking anything from the winner, Simon Butterworth, I’ve seen his work before and he is an excellent photographer, so worthy in that sense? Get the feeling that too many images are over vibrant over saturated. Not a huge amount of B&W. Maybe more sutle needed next time!
Another camera club season and another season of mainly lows and criticism directed at the Judge! For those who don’t know, let me give you an insight into “Camera Club World” The stereotypically scene of a camera club is full of dirty old men! Well, there is that to a certain extent. However younger members are taking part as they try to improve their photography. Many younger members come and go as other commitments take precedence. The “retired folk” remain. I think it’s a great way for these people to keep their minds occupied, keep being creative and it in some cases, get out of the house into the outdoors in pursuit of their hobby. Elements of the camera club revolve around lecturers, competitions and improvement techniques mainly in post processing. It’s the competitions which cause much debate. Typically these are judged by a federation judge. Each area of the country has a photographic federation which camera clubs in that area are affiliated to. There is a circuit of judges and lecturers attributed to each federation. It’s these judges that turn up week in week out to camera clubs up and down the land to judge members’ images. Therefore the competition is based on their opinion. So in many respects, it is judgmental and involves an element of luck. The fact remains that what we would deem to be the best images do not necessarily win!!
So onto the judging itself. For the majority of the time, each judge talks sense. A lot is clearly common sense in terms of taking a picture… but here’s where the majority of them fall down. If you were a referee you would never show your allegiance to a particular type of player or club, so why o why to judges “show their hand” and proclaim their favouritism to either landscapes, wildlife, portraiture, etc. Judges – your favourite subjects should NEVER be discussed. It puts the mindset of the camera club member in a spin. Keep your cards close to your chest so that each image can be judged on its merits without bias or extra emotion. Additionally, judges are inconsistent. This is really frustrating and often their winning selections differ to what they’ve discussed about each image previously. Very frustrating for club members. It’s a thankless task being a judge but please stick to the rules and be consistent. That’s all we ask and maybe, just maybe, the best images will be victorious.