On Monday I took some time out to go to Focus on Imaging at the NEC in Birmingham. This year we got away in good time, and arrived before the halls opened at 10am.
One of the highlights was meeting Dave Cross, Photoshop guru from NAPP who was demonstrating on the onOne booth. A truly charming person, and if you don’t know of him look at the “Ask Dave” and “Photoshop User TV” podcasts from Kelby TV He started the show with a demonstration of the onOne iPad camera remote control app, and an explanation of how useful this is to the single handed photographer, before he went on to introduce more of the onOne suite.
A big surprise was the absence of Canon but that had been pre-nnounced, and really odd was the apparent absence of Nik Software as their website was advertising Focus — if they were there I neither saw them, nor found them in the show guide.
Sony had various entertainers — contortionists, gymnasts, jugglers — to give you something to photograph, and FJ Westcott were demonstrating their continuous lighting with the aid of a mini studio complete with beautiful model, and a competition for the most interesting shot.
The entries have to be added to their Flickr group by April 1st and there is a restricted model release, for personal, portfolio, and educational purposes only.
Otherwise the show was interesting, some things one carefully averted ones eyes from (eg Phase One) others were very useful (Lion Picture Framing). As always it’s important to go to these things with complete research if one plans to buy, including checking whether what one wants will be available. Nomad print boxes for instance only had their heavy-duty cases at the show, so I wasn’t able to save on the simple storage versions, unfortunately the extra cost of the rugged version which they had brought to sell was more than the postage cost.
A big benefit of going on Monday was that the show floor was not too busy, and it was possible to talk with the various suppliers, avoiding the crush of the weekend crowd and the bargain-hunting frenzy of the final day.
There’sa slight buzz when someone selects one of your photos. Recently I put a few photos in to a draw on Weekly photo tips, and Scott was kind enough to pull one out in a post to gee up further entries. That was a nice follow-up to having another shot picked for the local tourist board calendar for 2011. It’s validation that one is getting something right.
On Saturday July 24th I’ll be leading the Bishop’s Stortford photowalk, part of the worldwide photowalk. I’m expecting it to be great fun, and a great chance for us all to show off how fine Bishop’s Stortford is.
Scott Kelby, prolific author, is offering a prize of one of his recent books on Lightroom 3 or Photoshop CS5 for the best local photograph, and we also hope to offer the author a fairly large print of their winning photograph locally. The local winner also gets entered into the worldwide contest for a $1000 photo equipment worldwide first prize (and lots of runner up prizes too…).
The prize is great, but the main aim of the day is to get local photographers together to share their enjoyment and enthusiasm, maybe offer mutual help and encouragement… All levels of photography experience are welcome, all equipment from camera phones through point-and-shoot cameras, DSLRs to stand cameras with sheet film backs will take pictures — bring what you’re happy with. Any one of these might take a great photograph, guided by your imagination and eye as the photographer.
I look forward to seeing you on the day!
On Friday evening I went to an eye-opening evening at Hertford Camera Club who had invited Kevin Herbert, a judge of 35 years experience, to give an insight into the judge’s view of a competition.
He added to the theory I had spent days researching about depth of field and the viewing distances which reduce a circle of confusion to a single point in human perception, with a remark about a British standard for how close to inspect a print.
The answer was a fairly surprising requirement to view from a distance of twice the diagonal, and not more than four times the diagonal, which he qualified with the comment that one can then look closer to analyse defects seen from that range.
That was the technical bit. Most important was the initial overview in which the judge has to assess the author’s intent, or at least the effect of the author’s work and presentation, putting firmly aside personal likes and dislikes of subject matter. How to deal with the technically excellent presentation of the boring or revolting, the technically poor but original presentation? All good thought provoking stuff and an evening well spent. I hope we’ll have Kevin along to the local club in the near future, as I’m sure others would enjoy his talk, and come away with entirely different highlights.
Saturday saw the opening of the East Anglia Federation of Photographic Societies annual exhibition in the Gibberd Gallery at the Civic Centre in Harlow. It was due to be opened by a Harlow civic dignitary, but they were delayed, so eventually the show proceeded without them. If I heard it right there were over 1500 prints for the judges to select from, and a similar number of projected images, so the judges have to be congratulated on their stamina right up front. If each work had 10 seconds consideration that is about 5 hours on each category.
After the presentation of awards we went upstairs into the nicely air-conditioned council chamber to see the projected images (the few slides had been scanned for this). It may have been an artifice of the usual low resolution of the digital projection, but to me the show had an extreme acutance that screamed too much shrinking, too much photoshop. However I’m not anaesthetised to these effects by watching TV, having banned the haunted fishtank back in 1988. Others may be less sensitive.
It was fascinating to see what caught the judge’s eyes. The nature shots were mostly ‘doing something,’ along the lines of Terns fighting, Eagle with prey, birds with nest materiel… There was lots of monochrome, which seemed to favour the grainier or higher contrast (lith) styles which certainly do nothing for me. Almost completely missing were architectural shots and normal daylight landscapes.
Definitely worth a visot — 10am to 5pm weekdays, and Saturday mornings 9am till 12pm. Parking at the Water Gardens is more expensive (and difficult) on Saturday, but if you need groceries from ASDA you can get a partial parking refund on your way back to your car.
Some of the EAF types running the projected image section had a splendid sense of humour. They managed a completely straight face while maintaining that the projected resolution was completely irrelevant, and there would be no benefit from increasing to 1960 x 1080 from 1400×1050. Quick, let’s enter some 72dpi black and white lithograph prints for next year — nope too late; someone’s already gone there
I admit it, I don’t understand photo competitions and club judges. There’s an old camera club joke told by longer serving members:
The Heavenly Camera Club agreed to an inter club battle with Satan’s Snappers. Saint Veronica’s view was “How can we lose? We have all the great photographers!”
But as Satan retorted “We can’t lose — we have all the Judges“
Certainly it sometimes feels that way. 🙂 But it would be nice to know what they look for — sometimes it’s infuriating to get comments about one’s photoshop technique when the photo is a highly creative ‘as shot’ image, or remarks about distant sea when the image was shot in the mountains at an altitude od 2000 metres looking down into an enclosed valley. So all right the photograph has to communicate unaided, but for the same photograph to get a 6/10 one week, after a 10/10 “possibly some commercial value” the previous week. Pfui.
While I’m having a moan let’s add antique, and possibly inadequately calibrated display technology to the set of sitting ducks to take pot shots at. HDTV 1080i is here (1960×1080), projectors are available from £999, yet clubs are only just moving to 1460 bits as the standard resolution for competition, Bizarre or what?
Anyway after my first year of club competitions I’m moving toward a few general guidelines which of course can be ignored for particular effect. I really would like feedback and correction here, so please don’t hold back with your comments. In no particular order
- Eyes must always be in pin sharp focus
- Use high gloss paper.
- Photos with motion blur must have 1 sharp line across the direction of blur
- Keep portrait format for prints, and photos that need the sharpening that you get from the massive shrinkage. Digital projection is low resolution and not subtle.
- Expect your near whites to be burned out, and near blacks to be black when projected, and to be criticised for these failings of the equipment / environment.
- Never use more than a hairline to frame a projected image
- Remember that the bevel in a standard mount frame gives you an edge for your print, and that mount board is available in black core, so you can delimit the edge of a light coloured print
- When mounting prints, offset the cutout window slightly toward the top of the frame
- Think very carefully before using coloured mount board, some judges can take that into account, also make sure the edges of the mount are not visibly damaged.
- The judge is usually within 6 feet of a print. It doesn’t have to look any good from the middle, let alone the back of the hall.
I feel better for that, but what have I missed, where have I grabbed the wrong end of the stick? Over to you.