Saturday, 24 November 2012

LRPS Panel workflow

In the previous post I talked about my final selection for the LRPS Assessment day in just over a weeks time, so just for a bit of fun I thought I would capture on camera the workflow from my iMac, using Lightroom 4, to printing on a Canon 9000 and finally to mounting.

From the iMac
Preparing my LRPS panel

Thursday, 22 November 2012

LRPS - The Final Ten

In the last two or three weeks I have been deliberating which ten images should make up my panel for the LRPS assessement day coming up at the beginning of December. The easiest decision was that they should all be black and white photos; colour was never really on the agenda. The Royal Photographic Society (RPS) do look for variety of shot for the Licentiateship Distinction,  as well as technical competence and the panel itself should be a cohesive unit. The eleventh image as it has been termed. With help from a fellow club member the final ten have now been selected and the layout finalised. It only remains for me to print and mount all of them and I will be set for the big day.

I also attended an RPS Distinction advisory day last weekend when two panel judges offered advice on a good number of 'L' and 'A' panels. Some were clearly of the standard required, whilst others fell short of the mark. It made for a most interesting time but fortunately it didn't change my final selection. I did not have the opportunity to show my own panel for critique, so whether or not it will pass I do not know. I understand there are five judges and a Chairperson on the day itself, so when my turn comes it will be quite nerve wracking.

The panel is made up with a mix of people shots and landscapes, many of which have already appeared in this blog. Number one in the panel will be this shot taken of Stefan Majoram drawing one of the Auto Union Silver Arrows at the Goodwood Revival Meeting back in September. I used the Olympus EM5 and Lumix 20mm prime lens at f2.5.

An Artist drawing one of the Silver Arrows

It's the first time I have printed this image and I am really pleased with how it has turned out. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the judges will share the same opinion.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Early thoughts.......

As a result of having a number of other personal commitments, not to mention the pending LRPS assessment day on the 2nd December, I have not been out with my camera of late but that doesn't stop me thinking about other aspects of my photography.

Back in June of this year I started this blog about my photography. Prior to this I had been following a number of other blogs (Steve Huff, Robin Wong, Bruce Percy to name but three) and I guess they inspired me to start my own. I thought this would be a satisfying way for me to document and chart my progress as a keen but very much an amateur photographer with an awful lot to learn. Now several months later I have posted 27 entries (plus this one) and its hard to resist the temptation to look at the 'stats' and see how many page views I have had during this time. When I first looked I was delighted to see various hits from different parts of the world, only to be disappointed when I found out these were 'spam' and not genuine page views. Over time the page views have increased and I now believe the majority are 'true' visits.

About 2 months ago I decided that I would regularly upload some images to Flickr, make contacts with other photographers whose work I admire and in so doing I might be added to someone else's contact list. In a small way this has happened and as my expectations are not that great, its pleasing when someone posts a positive or constructive comment, plus the ego boosting favourite tag!

Rather like the stats for my blog, a Flickr 'pro account' provides details of how many times a particular photo has been viewed or your photostream visited. Again these numbers and the associated graph can make for compulsive viewing in the vain hope that today's figures are greater than those from the day before.

I started to wonder why these 'stats' mattered; if indeed they mattered at all? As these thoughts went around in my mind I came across this blog entry by Eric Kim, a very well known street photographer. I had been following his blog for some time as I enjoy candid 'street and people' shots.  It's entitled 'How many favourites or likes are enough'. Its quite a long entry but I very much enjoyed reading it from beginning to end as it helped to explain many of the thoughts and feelings I had been experiencing myself. Having talked about the addictive quality of 'likes and favs' and how this can impact on the quality of your photography, Eric goes on to write about one or two solutions or alternative approaches. It talks about uploading to Flickr just once a year with the 'best of the best' images taken in the previous twelve months. This is in direct contrast to a daily upload just to satisfy the number of views and comments you might attract.

No sooner had I read Eric's latest post, when I came across a blog entry posted on Nov 6th by Kirk Tuck of The Visual Science Lab called 'What's trending in photography'. This raised more questions than it answered but he considers the impact of the digital world on what is after all still an art form and not an endless discussion about the technological advancement of digital cameras; the proliferation of photos on the net, now that everyone with a mobile phone has a camera 24/7. He goes on to talk about photography blogs which have morphed from being a way of displaying your work, to one review of the latest camera only to be followed by another, and in the process having little discussion about photographic techniques, education and the creation of an image which is a work of art and not just another technically 'very correct' photograph.

The combination of these two thought provoking entries, by two very well respected photographers, has really got me thinking about my own work. How should it be displayed and shared? Do I have a style or does a style develop over time in a natural and unforced way? Twelve months ago I would not have believed that the vast majority of my work would be in black and white, uploaded onto the web and here I am writing about my own blog, not just reading someone elses! I also have a Twitter account to alert my  few followers when I have taken what I think is a half decent image. None of these actions were planned a year ago; its simply how things have developed.

Given another 12 months where will my photography be? I don't want to know the answer, as its fun and inspiring just to be on a path, which I find creative and satisfying. In the process if others take pleasure looking at my images or reading my blog, then thats a bonus. It's important to take stock, to review the past, as it is likely to influence decisions made in the future. What doesn't matter is whether or not I have had 5 or 500 page views today, but its still very tempting to take a quick look and find out!

Monday, 12 November 2012

'To flip or not to flip?' that is the question

In the past couple of weeks it has been suggested by two individuals on two separate occasions that I should consider 'flipping' one of my images. Their comments applied to two different photographs so it set me thinking whether or not I should apply this post production technique, as it's not something I had ever considered doing before.

Obviously this technique could not be applied to an image with any writing or symbols, which when reversed, would no longer be legible and it would be clear to the viewer that they were in fact looking at the original image in a 'mirror'. Neither could it apply to a recognisable landmark as it would no longer be a true representation of what the viewer expected to see. However if the image did not fall into either of these categories then what would be wrong with flipping? If the result is more pleasing to the eye, even though it no longer represents reality, then what's the issue? After all the vast majority of my images are converted to monochrome because thats how I want my images to look. No one 'sees' in black and white so this change is applied for visual imapct. If I wanted my photographs to represent what people would actually see with their own eyes then frankly nearly all post production work would be a 'no go' area and even the choice of lens can distort what the eye actually sees, but thats a topic for another day.

Well, the only way to find out would be to try 'flipping' and to then compare and analyse the results.

The example I have chosen for this exercise is a shot taken at East Head in Wittering of wind swept sand dunes. The first image is the original photo followed by the flipped version. No other changes have been made.

Sand dunes at East Head

.....and now the flipped version.
Sand dunes at East Head - version 2 'flipped'

So which one works best? Well in my view the flipped version is the better photograph, it's more visually pleasing. So why should this be?

In my opinion its down to two main factors. Firstly when we look at an image our first inclination is to start from the left hand side and our eyes then move to the right hand side. Our eyes naturally follow this path as we read from left to therefore feels comfortable to look at an image in this way. Our eyes are also drawn to the brightest areas of an image; in this case the sand in the lower half of the picture. So when the image is flipped, the bright area is now on the left and not on the right. The lead in lines of the sand, take our eyes to the right, the grasses are also being 'blown' from the left, and our eyes find it much easier to move around the image. In the original shot this does not happen and our eyes find it difficult to settle, with the result that we see a 'busy' image and one that really doesn't work that well, or not as well as it could when flipped. As there is nothing else in the image which would give the 'flipping' game away, the final result is in my opinion perfectly satisfactory and an acceptable form of post manipulation.

Friday, 9 November 2012

A 'Folly' known as Racton Tower

Standing proud on a hill to the north of Emsworth and to the west of Chichester is Racton Tower in Lordington. This monument is in fact a folly and now a ruined tower. Thought to have been built in the late 1700's, many say it is haunted. Surrounded by trees the place certainly has an eery feeling to it and as I left the site to return to my car, the sun was setting and I for one would not want to be there at night time. Judging by the graffiti it is almost certainly a venue for drunken parties!

Taken at different times but all on the same day, the shots of the monument with dramatic clouds as a backdrop were taken around lunchtime, whilst the 'close up' shots were taken later in the afternoon when there was more cloud cover and as the sun started to set.

All images were shot with my Olympus OMD EM5

The sun lights up the tower itself and I just cant resist photographing these wonderful cloudscapes
Panasonic 45-200mm lens @51mm f8 1/1600 ISO 200
Cloudscape at Racton Tower

Friday, 2 November 2012

LRPS Assessment Day

Having enjoyed some success and recognition at my camera club during the past year, I decided a few weeks ago to set myself the goal of submitting a panel of work to the Royal Photographic Society or RPS, for Licentiateship. I thought six months would be a reasonable length of time in which to prepare.

Another club member, who has the distinction of being an ARPS or Associate, gave me the confidence to believe that my work is worthy of a submission and that he would be prepared to be a mentor and guide me through the process.

Believing there was no rush, as the first available date was not until April 2013, he suggested it would be a good idea to attend an assessment workshop in November. I booked myself a place and I will look forward to the day.

In the meantime I checked the RPS website for their guidelines and what would be required come the big day. This was something of a mistake, as I noticed they had added an extra assessment date to their the beginning of December this year!

Do I or don't I, I asked myself? Believing there is no time like the present I completed an application form, sent it in the post with my entry fee, and the following day received email confirmation that my application had been accepted.

Now the hard work really begins. In the space of the next few weeks I have to select ten images, decide on a layout, print and mount them. The printing and mounting are hopefully fairly straightforward, but before I reach that stage there is plenty of 'dithering' to be done. I have chosen a short list of about 25, images although in truth I think there are only fifteen of the standard they are likely to require.

If the number of entries to this blog reduce in number in the next few weeks then I hope you will understand why!

I have added an image which might just make the final ten.

Sea Swirl taken on the Isle of Eigg last year.

Swirling sea on the Isle of Eigg

Thursday, 1 November 2012

South coast seafront

I am very fortunate to live and work close to the sea, so the opportunity to take some coastal shots when I have a few minutes to spare are most welcome. A few days ago I took some photos of Bognor Regis seafront, although on this occassion I mainly concentrated on the Pier. Like many in this country the pier is always in need of repair. The constant ravages of the salt water, wind, rain and even the sun, all take their toll as the seasons pass by. From a photographic point of view  they also make good black and white subjects.

When I have more time I will take some images of other piers along the South Coast. They are a relic of a bygone era, and whilst many still survive others have sadly been lost forever.

Here are a few shots all taken with the Olympus OMD EM5 and Panasonic 20mm f1.7 prime lens. On this occasion the mono conversion was carried out in Lightroom 4 and not in Silver Efex Pro 2. I have also set up a preset in Lightroom which allows me to quickly batch process a series of images into black and white, using my preferred settings. These are mainly, adding contrast, clarity and sharpening, as I always shoot in RAW.

As it's the end of October I suspect this may be the last time the 'Bouncy Castle' will be inflated this year.

Bognor Regis seafront