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Club Photography

April 12, 2012 Leave a comment

 

2008 was important year for my photography. After a while of ’meaning to’, I finally took the plunge and decided to go along to a local camera club/photography Society and see what they were all about. I must admit I had no idea of what to expect although I had heard about club competitions from a friend, who is a member of a club in Winchester, and the idea of winning trophies appealed to me very much.

 

I tried a couple of clubs before I found the one for me. The first one i attended was the closest to my home. It was held in a small back room in a local library. A nice enough membership but not very big and i am sure i brought the average age of the people in the room down by about 40 years!

 

I did meet another prospective new member there though that had already done the research on some other local clubs and was planning on attending another the following night. We swapped deets and met at the next club.

 

Now this was more like it. Over 50 members, (not all members were over 50 either) and we were greeted with a warm and friendly welcome. Where do i sign?

 

I did! I signed up that day and the following season i became a member of the committee, and remain so to date.

 

Since joining a club i have viewed photography in a different way. Before, my aim with each shot was to get everything in sharp, all in focus, no noise etc etc.. Most of my concentration was on the technical side of the shot. Nothing wrong with this but it didn’t have any creativity.

 

I have seen a wide variety of work from club members as well as work from other club photographers in the region. I have been inspired by so many different people and made quite a few friends along the way, not to mention the skills i have developed too.

 

I now look more towards the compositional and story-telling side of my shot before clicking the shutter. This has given me a new direction. I think more about project work, trips out to shoot various vistas…just having fun with my camera. I certainly use my camera a lot more. Before joining my photography was about going out and finding something (normally an object) to shoot. Now it is about going out and using my camera, using the light (complaining about the light) and getting out with other photographers.

 

If i were to pick out my favourite element to being a member of a photographic society it would be the competitions. With this comes the excitement, anticipation of what the judge of the night is going to say (which I can guarantee only the winners on the night will totally agree with what the judge says), and the scores of course! There is always some friendly rivalry throughout the season.

 

Are you a member of a camera club? If not, i highly recommend you seek one out and attend one of their open evenings to find out all about club photography. I warn you now though… It is addictive!

 

Links:

 

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Common Blue Butterflies

March 23, 2012 4 comments

Common Blue Butterflies

Another subject I absolutely love photographing is butterflies. Although not the most masculine of subjects to shoot, if you tried it you would realise how difficult it is and what a challenge it can be. I love a challenge!

The end of March is approaching and the weather here in the UK is starting to warm up. This means that more and more butterflies will be ‘on the wing’ in the coming months. It is true that some butterflies can be seen for most of the year but the summer months are the best for spotting a variety of species.

My favourite species that I have seen to date is still the common blue. These creatures are pretty small and don’t rest too much during the day so chances of capturing them in the middle of the day in bright sunshine is fairly slim. Early evening time is normally best for these, and their slightly sexier siblings, the Silver Studded Blue butterfly. They tend to roost up of an evening and will sit there proud on stems of plants such as heather in the softer sunlight. I find that this is the best time to photograph them because I spend more time pressing the shutter trying to get The Shot rather than running around chasing after them and waiting for them to keep still for five seconds!

Camera club competitions are fierce – especially in the ‘Nature’ category. If your photograph is composed well, technically brilliant, sharp all over, and has a suitable background (clear/diffused is normally best but environmental can be equally important), the judge may give you high marks. However your subject needs to be ‘doing something’ to get those illusive top marks. So, what do butterflies do? Basically you have three main options. They can be found mating, feeding or laying eggs. Or you may find interesting composites such as the one above.

The above image won the nature category in my camera club’s last Projected Digital Image competition.

Can you pick out the elements which you think were factors in bringing home a victory?

 

 

Path to the beyond

March 21, 2012 5 comments

Path to the beyond

You guessed it. This is the result of another successful trip to The Roaches. Roach End in particular. The sky is fairly cloudless and does little to enlighten this sunset picture….until the little cluster comes along and tickles the sun itself.

This shot is actually two separate exposures – one for the landscape and one for the sun. The difference in brightness is way too big for my 0.9 Lee Graduated Neutral Density filter to handle so it has to be done.

Like most other landscape photographers, I don’t consider this cheating – just using the tools I have to hand. Both images are captured by me and merged to recreate the scene before me.

Composing the scene is always the hardest part of any shot. I always like to include some form of foreground subject/interest. Whether it be a simple stone or a winding path such as the one above, I find it useful to have something for the viewer to begin their journey through the photograph and these features give depth to the image.

Having had some success, coming second in a league competition this image has been part of a local exhibition.

 

Urban Directions

February 22, 2012 1 comment

 

URBAN DIRECTIONS

Taken in an underground car park using various lighting methods. The striking prime colours bring a real connection between the foreground, middle and background of the scene.

 

Awards

Trophy and gold medal for overall winning image of the Lancashire and Cheshire Photographic Union annual PDI knockout competition 2009 as well as acceptances in numerous other exhibitions throughout the UK.

 

The setup

The scene before me cries out to be photographed. It’s pitch black in the corner of an empty underground car park. I set up the tripod and camera, loaded with my trusty wide-angle lens. I love using the wide angle because the range from 10-20mm gives an ultra wide perspective on the scene. With bulb mode selected I have complete control over the exposure time. There is an art to this though. Too long an exposure and all the important parts will be washed out. Too short an exposure and the scene will not reveal itself.

 

The shoot

Flash gun, small torch, and home-made gels at the ready, I click the shutter on the cable release to start the exposure. Excited with anticipation of what is about the unfold and be revealed on the camera’s preview screen I run around like a mad man attaching different coloured gels and firing off the flash gun, taking extra care not to capture myself on the memory card. The picture in my mind is clear. I want to include three primary colours that complement each other and collectively create an image which is striking enough to the viewer to stop and take at least a second look.

 

I sprint back to the setup, click the release button again and wait for the big reveal. It’s always a tense moment when you shoot on bulb mode because the exposure is more of an educated guess than a sensor-calculated time. The camera’s display looks great. I can’t wait to get this up on my monitor to see what it really looks like!

 

Afterwards

Surprisingly, relatively little boosting of the saturation is needed for this shot. The colours speak loud enough for themselves already. Just a little bit of curves and levels adjustment to bring out some of the detail in the rugged concrete and darker background areas.

 

Settings

Bulb mode. Aperture F/5.6. 135 second exposure. Red, green and blue acetate moulded to fit on the flashgun and the small torch using black gaffer tape. Tripod. Cable release. Good grippy trainers.

 

 

Competition success

January 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Having not attended my camera club for a few weeks due to personal circumstances I finally had the time to go this week. This week’s entertainment was the 3rd Projected Digital Image (PDI) competition. This is one of the best things for me about being in a camera club. Seeing what other photographers have been shooting and competing against them.
There were 57 images in the general section and about 27 images in the Nature section. The nature section always seems to be a lot more fierce that the general section and the quality is far superior. This sounds a bit mean but it is completely true.
The judge for the night was someone we have seen before in previous seasons. We only invite them back if they are any good so we knew we were in for an entertaining evening. It is not often the photographers agree with the judges comments but I think last night was one of those rare occasions where I felt he was spot on. I suppose I would say that because I won the Nature section! Yay!

Knock Out Wonderboy!

November 20, 2011 Leave a comment

Knockout competitions seem to be becoming somewhat of a speciality for me!

At the end of each season at camera club we have a knockout competition whereby each member is allowed to enter up to 6 images to be projected digitally. The images are all entered into a piece of software on the computer and randomised. The images will then appear in a random order to be voted against the image next to it. Members vote for the image out of the two they like the best and it goes through to the next round, knocking the losing image out.

Long story short, I won! Here is the winning image…

I call it “Sticks and Stones”

Projected Digital Image Competition

November 20, 2011 Leave a comment

Last week at camera club saw the 2nd PDI league competition judging, in which i entered the maximum of 3 images. The 2 highest scoring images are taken into consideration for the league.

The 3 images were completely different. A colourful seascape, a mono scene from a civil war reenactment, and a nature shot of an Arctic Tern with a Sand Eel in it’s bill. I personally thought they would score highest in that order from high to low…. However, it just goes to show that judging is very subjective and everyone’s opinion is different. My Nature shot came in with 18/20 and the Colourful Seascape was awarded 17/20.

Although not a winner this time around I am very pleased with the scores.

As I have said before a camera club (or photographic society) is a great way to meet other photographers and exchange ideas as well as see what other people are photographing. Whilst social networking sites such as flickr are a great way of viewing other people’s images, there is nothing like mingling in person. I personally found that joining a club has helped improve my photography no end as I am sure i have helped others to develop their craft.

To view more on our camera club competitions or find information on our club in general, see Crewe Photographic Society.