Happy New Year to all CPS members.
I’m sure we’re all looking forward to enjoying our photography in 2019. What better way to do this than to have a tasty meal. However, just before you eat it why not take an appertising photograph of it and enter it in January’s Monthly Theme of Food Photography. Why not share you meal with fellow members and tell them the ingredients for a successful food photograph. However, be careful not to over cook it in post processing. Have a look on the Forum’ Monthly theme for some good advice on photographing food then put it into practice. I’m getting hungry to see you images already.
Just in case anyone missed it we had a Christmas message from our cherished member, Ron Smith. This can be seen on the Forum at Ron Smith’s Christmas message
Happy New Year, Peter
I hope our recent open meeting where we had a look at table top photography has given you an appetite for experimenting further with the topic. Getting started in Still Life Photography is easy as all you need is your camera, a subject and a table by a window. The key to successful still life photography is to plan the shoot carefully before hand. Preparation is everything. Take your time to decide your set up then lay and test it out. Make small modifications one at a time and build it up until you’re happy. It’s a good idea to use a tripod to discipline yourself. It’ll help you to slow down and check the setup as well as keeping camera square and in focus. A cable release will eliminate camera shake if you’re using a long exposure.
Window light is good but it limits you while using artificial light gives you more control. The two main artificial light sources are flash and constant light. Don’t forget that tungsten light has a warm colour temperature while flash is balanced to daylight. Constant light makes it easy to see what the light is doing to your subject while flash can be more powerful, but you’ll have to check your camera’s display to see its effect. Studio flash lighting has the advantage of having a constant preview light that simulates the flash, but it’s bulkier and less easy to manoeuvre. Flashguns are more portable and can be positioned easier to direct the light.
Whichever light source you use they can all be modified with reflectors or diffusers. Diffusing the light with an umbrella or translucent makes it smoother reducing the contrast and reflectors help to fill-in the shadows. A black card can be used to hide unwanted reflections.
While any camera can be used for still life photography it’s the lens choice and settings that determine its success. Generally speaking wide angle lenses aren’t used due to their distortion and they cover too much background. Lenses between 50 and 100mm tend to give better results. I would recommend using your camera fully manually. Focus on your chosen point then switch the focus to manual before recomposing. Set your exposure manually based on an exposure meter, a grey card or accessed by the camera’s histogram. this will prevent the auto exposure being influenced by a light or dark areas in the image. The choice of aperture depends on the effect you want. Use a narrow aperture to get as much in focus as you can or a wide aperture to concentrate on a small detail.
Backgrounds area personal choice but it’s wise to use a neutral or subtle one so that it doesn’t over power the subject. A dark background can help to hide any shadows.
So get creative with your lighting and focusing and show your fellow members what you can do on your table top.
A relaxed style and a peppering of dry humour made John’s talk especially enjoyable. It was always bound to be interesting because we all know that he has an intimate knowledge of Romania, gleaned from numerous visits and inspired by a genuine love of the place.
Haunted forest glades, the shock of bears rummaging in suburban rubbish, the inscrutable road signs, empty petrol stations, ‘Will o’the Wisp’ alight, relics of Vlad the Impaler, colourful street art; were all to be seen in this travelogue with a difference.
John started with an apology, for his photographs. He meant that they were not exhibition quality. Thank goodness! The lifeless perfection that sometimes means would not have conveyed the truth, sparkle and colour these shots did.
A memorable evening.
Tonight’s meeting was particularly enjoyable in being relaxed and informal. With three or four table-top set ups everyone had the opportunity to turn their cameras on something! I am sure everyone learned a lot about their cameras and how they worked with flash and how a lighting set up can have a marked effect on the look of the image. All manner of accessories were brought along and everyone was so busily engaged we lost track of time. Carl finished off the evening with an excellent run down on the OnOne software; a very skilled presentation fitted into the remaing meeting time perfectly.
Thanks to Carl and Peter (whose idea it was) and to others who brought in eqiupment for us to use. A great evening.
(The shot above was a trial of a ring LED lighting attachment by Kaiser, together with two small supplementary lights. It incidentally illustrates how poor the internet is at conveying image quality – the lack of depth of field hardly shows!)
This popular competition was supported by 39 clubs this year, which meant that only the first 4 images from each entry were used. The judge, one of my favourites, John Cartlidge, was presented with the 156 images and knocked out about half of them in each round, giving his reasons in each case. So, the longer your work stays in, the better your score.
We lost nothing in the first round, a sign that we stood a good chance of success. The first image to fall was Guitarist by Peter Robinson in round 2, but confidence was growing as the remainder would get at least 9 points and place us in midfield. As it happened we only lost Stephen’s Halong Bay in R3. Dolores’s MP stood until round 5 and Ian’s Cheetah shot stayed in until the penultimate round, gaining us 6 more ponts – we must have done well.
Indeed we had! When the results flashed up we had 5th place, ahead of clubs like Chorley, who have over 100 members and usually lead the field in events like this. Poulton-le-Fylde won, after a tie-break with Southport. Bury and South Manchester were the other two clubs ahead of us.
The full results will be available later.
Thanks to our selection team, lead by Martin Smith, who did a great job; but of course well done to our members who gave them such excellent material to choose from.
Autumn is a beautiful time of year when the trees turn golden and vibrant especially when ignited by a sinking sun. It’s a great season to get creative and experiments with different techniques. Slow shutter speeds can make flicker leaves look like fire and a wide angle lens can stretch a huge oak. Or why not concentrate on the fine detail of a curling leaf? Show fellow members your autumn delights and join in the productive discussions.
This photograph, showing the Ark Royal being constructed in Liverpool, is one of the best known works of Chambré-Hardman (1898- 1988). The story goes that he had planned to take this view for quite a while and then, one day, he realised that they were painting the ship and it was going to stand out so beautifully in the morning light. Setting up, he had a great stroke of luck; a school boy walked past and down the centre of the road, the perfect visual path into a great composition, touché.
Back at his studio in Rodney Street he developed the negative but must have known all along that there was one flaw to his masterpiece; the end of the house on the left was also a light colour and was going to ruin the shot by competing with the aircraft carrier for attention. No problem; he made a mask so that the house got more exposure under the enlarger and turned dark grey. Hey presto, a miniature masterpiece was born!
Chambré-Hardman made his living from studio portraiture – a good earner in those days, but he loved to get out into the city and countryside, sometimes by bicycle, and take picture for himself, his own artistic satisfaction.
Great pictures they were too. Perhaps my favourite, for its atmosphere and perfection of composition was one taken in France. It perfectly illustrates my favourite composition lines, what I like to call the “Painter’s Armature” – Ian McNab, in his talk to us, illustrated it as something which Henri Cartier Bresson was taught in his painting lessons and intuitively used in his photography.
Chambré-Hardman’s studio in Rodney Street is now a National Trust property and is set out to show how he worked. When some of us visited it shortly after the NT opened it I was a bit disappointed to find that there were relatively few of his photographs on display – nothing like the wonderful exhibition I saw in Bradford a few years before – but no doubt it was a temporary omission.
On Sunday Carl Sumner and I attended the L&CPU’s Big Day and Novice Cup event in Eccles we enjoyed listening to four talented photographers who had achieved a CPAGB or higher. We also submitted our clubs entry of 6 monochrome and 6 colour A4 prints. There was a strong entry of mixed subjects and quality, some of which was very high. It’s clear that many photographers are taking this seriously now.
All the speakers told their encouraging stories of how they achieved their awards. They all stressed how the L&CPUs mentoring system had helped them greatly and they welcomed being told that if their work wasn’t up to the standard and what they needed to do to improve it. They shared the same dedication and stressed their attention to detail. The speakers told the stories behind their panels and how they decided on the balance and frequently changed their selection. They also told us of their main photographic interests and showed us some excellent examples of work that owed as much to excellent Photoshop skills as much as camera techniques.
Eddie Leach, a member of Oldham PS, kicked off the talks by explaining his path to achieving his CPAGB. He started photograph 5 years ago and enjoys photographing people, sport, macro and landscape. His main tip was to photograph objects that can be used in a composite like skies, textures and backgrounds.
The talented Christine Johnson CPAGB continued the theme by discussing her panel and love of photography. Her passion was to photograph her dog playing on the beach and capturing the atmosphere of the places she visits.
After the included buffet lunch former engineer Steve Proctor explained how his background had helped him create a structured approach to planning his portfolio. He developed a spreadsheet to monitor his works results and comments and referred to it before deciding on his panel. This removed some of his personal preference from his selection. He was an excellent and natural speaker who would do well giving regular talks. Christine Widdall asked him to talk at the next L&CPU event.
The final speaker was Yorkshire lass, Andrea Hargraves who has achieved a MPAGB. Her work was pure fantasy in the vein of beautiful ladies floating on clouds. Some would argue that it’s not pure photography, but no one can deny that she’s extremely talented and her work is beautiful.
Unfortunately, we didn’t gain any awards with our Novice Cup entry this time, but on seeing the high quality of the opposition I can see it was very difficult for the judges. Thank you to everyone that submitted photographs for the competition.
The Monthly Theme for October is Street Photography. It’s a subject that is accessible to everyone and can be accomplished with a wide variety of equipment. Many successful street photographers find a suitable location without many distractions and wait for their subject to appear in their composition. As Street Photography isn’t set up more natural photographs are created in a urban environment. You’ll soon learn it’s just a case of snapping people in the street, but looking for a situation to develop and planning the photograph will give you a thought provoking photograph. I’ve provided some links to useful Street Photography websites in the Forums thread.
Why not enter this months’ theme. It might be right up your street!
We are now a couple of meetings into the new season and have an exhibition mounted in Crewe Library, so a good time to take stock.
Self-help and the society of other enthusiasts are probably the most valuable features of any club and that has been underlined in the last two weeks when we have looked together at some of the best club prints from the region and heard three talks from members about their recent work.
The discussions which arose have been an invaluable help to us all. Our faith in the internet as a source of information is justifiable but, as a member commented last year, “I just learned more in five minutes about [subject] from [another member] than I have in years”.
We hope you will take a look at our exhibition. It shows the variety of work our members undertake – that bit is always up to you, of course – but if you feel inspired to find out more just come to a meeting!
Remember that printing is a special thing that we don’t all do – many are happy with electronic images, the things that everyone knows from social media etc, but we want to do it all that little bit better.