Starting November 2018 meeting reports will be posted in the blog at our new site here.
Our lively and stimulating session spilled over into the pub, as sometimes happens, with our guest speaker, Mark Phillips, continuing to share his expertise and personal approach to photography, cameras and people over beer and chips; he favours time spent with one small camera and the same prime lens, avoiding auto focus and breaking as many 'rules' as he fancies. Earlier, our meeting had begun with Mark, chair of the RPS Documentary Special Interest Group, talking about his own work and showing us several storytelling projects he has ongoing. His projects are not restricted in number as our current competition is and several storylines are developing into an idea for a book.
However, his advice was very relevant and helpful to those of us (I mean me) plodding through a pedestrian approach to a beginning, middle and end of literal images. He showed us intriguing fragments and hints of subject matter, preferring to tease and engage the viewer with surprises, ambiguity and unanswered questions. He talked of the impact of studying the work of Alex Webb, Nico Economopoulos, Alex Soth, Don McCullen and Steve McCurry and many more. And how presentation of our work should depend on the intent, purpose and audience we have in mind. And how the analogy of musical flow helps shape his projects.
We spread out our work in progress for Mark to comment on and advise: he has agreed to judge the competition in February and we look forward to his concise and constructive feedback, after we have tried to take on board his very encouraging and thought provoking advice.
Our thanks to Mark Phillips for this wonderful summary of his advice and guidance (left).
Further thanks to John Murray for giving us a timely reminder that entries for the Hands across the Sea Competition with the Camera Club of Hendersonville in North Carolina are needed by October 31st, and to Richard Eyers for his picture (above).
CoL&CPS is currently embarking on a project which is slightly different from our usual competitions; we are exploring storytelling in five images, with a title, which tell a story. Ben Cherry had plenty of advice for us as he talked about how he has developed his love of birds and wildlife in general, using research, video and photographs to tell stories about their habits and survival.
In the first half, Ben talked about how he first became interested in photography and as with so many of our speakers, the lead came from his parents and childhood experiences, which he followed up at university. He has travelled extensively, often to remote areas and with research projects on endangered species. As he described his adventures, it became obvious that he has the persistence, ingenuity and technical inventiveness required to get the images he wants. He showed us images of macaws, pigmy elephants and lynx which were the result of patient research, local knowledge and a certain recklessness.
Ben accompanied Sasha and the swans in the epic flight from Russia last year as they tried to establish why numbers were dwindling and some of his thousands of stills from that trip formed the basis of our second half. Ben gave us three separate briefs: to pick images to illustrate different angles of the story for a potential magazine editor. Our members rose to the challenge with alacrity and some acrimony, but thoroughly enjoyed the very practical and hands-on activity. We bore in mind Ben's five requirements:
an establishing shot
introduction of the main subject
details or 'moments' in the story
a concluding image
all bearing in mind what adds and what doesn't add to the message you are trying to get across.
Now we just need to put the advice into practice in our own story telling projects.
We were also delighted to present Alan Larsen (again) with the Tiger Trophy. There were some great entries in Abstract, the theme for September in our Flickr group competition, but Alan's Angel Wings was an outright winner. He has chosen 'Light and Shadow' for the October theme.
What a bumper crop of entries and a great turnout for our second competition of the year. We welcomed Tim Morland ARPS as our judge and he gave a clear, concise and detailed critique of our images, printed and projected. He was a dab hand with a large cropping card he seemed to have brought along for that purpose and was generous with his post-processing advice, too. He kept the theme in mind and discussed our interpretations of it, with a reference to apposite titles and composition. He raised some interesting discussion points - what is a 'grab' shot or a 'bit of a snap'? By this he meant that the background was too cluttered or had dominant items which detracted from the main subject, which could have been avoided by judicial use of differential depth of field, or a different angle of view. It was a delight that he had a good strong voice everyone could hear and a nice sense of humour.
Congratulations - particularly to our new member who achieved two of the highest marks and to a more established member entering for the first time.
With the top score of 20:
And with 19:
Click on the links below to view most of the images in the galleries:
We are very appreciative of the generosity of visiting photographers who are prepared to share their experiences with us and last night was a wonderful example of this. Aubrey Wade is a passionate and compassionate documentary photographer who spoke from the heart about his early work in Sierra Leone and India. His first degree was in anthropology followed by a Master’s in photography - a combination which has shaped his approach to projects, with an emphasis on social justice. He started to travel, to explore and then he found the themes, the stories and the projects, often supporting himself by taking on commissions from NGOs. His images were strong and compelling, but he dwelled on the stories they told and how important it had been to engage with the people in those images to make sure it was their voice that was heard. Otherwise, it is too easy ‘to take beautiful pictures of an ugly situation’. He asks himself why he is there, why is he taking those particular photographs and for what purpose. A turning point for him was a story he had published in Photo 8 magazine about a child with a life limiting condition. He felt his images showing Rosie being cared for within her family were brought to life by the moving testimony of Rosie’s mother, printed alongside his work.
His most recent project was in collaboration with several writers and the United Nations Refugee Council: ‘No Stranger Place’, showing portraits of families from across Europe with the refugees they had taken into their homes, with their story alongside. It was fascinating to hear how these portraits were produced: Aubrey chose the setting in the home, the pose and even the position of the furniture to make the most of the available light. But first he spent time with the families and gained their trust and interest before working on getting the image he wanted. He described feeling that portraits are a bridge between him and the people he wants us to see. His whole approach was serious, concerned and contemplative and reminded us of the power documentary photography can have to provoke emotions and highlight social situations, natural disasters and the human condition.
We were also delighted to award the prestigious Tiger Trophy to two winners, to Ellen Whittle (and Keith Kavanagh, in his absence) for July and to Mark Johnston for August, plus certificates to Susi Luard for overall winner of the print competitions 2018 and to Paul Shelley for overall winner of the DPI category. Ben Altman's invaluable services with the laptop and projector were also recognised.
It is always fascinating to see how differently people have approached the same scenes, with a variety of cameras, lenses, angles and interpretations. Sharing the images taken around Kings Cross, made an interesting evening with plenty of different photography styles -from absolutely "minimalist" to richly detailed record shots of architecture and sculpture. We learn't the value of HDR for capturing true colours in neon signs, experienced the fascination of the "fisheye" effect when shooting Tom Dixon's copper lightshades and saw just how challenging it is to capture -effectively- people moving in a tunnel with constantly changing background light. Here are a few of the images we saw -see see the rest in our gallery.
Susi Luard devised an interesting route for our annual summer walk and shoot around Kings Cross; 23 of us -21 members and 2 guests- met outside St Pancras station on the last evening of the recent heatwave; fortunately, the predicted rain held off until we reached our destination -Gasholder Park- just as it was getting dark. Our route allowed us to enjoy -and photograph- some of the exciting changes to the Kings Cross area which have resulted from the regeneration which is now pretty much complete. We started with the gothic splendour of the upper level of St Pancras Station where the artworks -including bronze sculptures and Tracey Emin's neon message- provided challenging subjects. We then spent a while in the LED-lit tunnel trying to capture the changing colours and movement of people, before moving to Granary Square alive with people appreciating the cool fountains and the stepped seating down to Regents Canal. We followed the towpath west, weaving among other walkers and cyclists, beside the weed-covered water to St Pancras lock and Gasholder Park where we had a chance to shoot the reflections in the mirrored panel/ceilings on the colonnade inside the skeleton of Gasholder no.8. We are looking forward to sharing the images we made at our next meeting -on 21 August.
Those members present enjoyed a potpourri of John Calliste’s recent images from India, guidance on preparation of prints -and DPIs- for EAF external competitions from Mike Kingston -our Secretary, and a ‘How did you do that?’ session in which the highest scorers from our last competition talked about their images.
John showed us a careful selection from the many images he shot in and around Dehli, Agra, Jaipur and Mumbai on his recent month-long trip -with his girlfriend- in northern India. He shared with us the challenges of making "unique" images in these much-photographed locations and we all recognised his total absorption in making pictures which kept his girlfriend waiting!
Mike summarised the Committee's frustrations with trying to fulfil the mandate to resume entering the East Anglia Federation [EAF -the Federation to which CoL&CPS belongs] competitions given by members at the 2017 AGM. With reference to some of the prints retained for entering, he reiterated the presentation standards with which our high-scoring images -whether print or DPI- need to comply if we are to enter such external competitions.
The evening finished with John Murray, Cathryn Rees, Natalie Robinson, John Wilder, Alan Larsen, Terry Fallis, Kate Shortland and Robert Wilkinson, whose images scored 19 or 20 in our most recent competition, recounting how they selected and processed their images; Hilary Barton and Chris Jepson spoke for Richard Eyers and Keith Cavanagh who were unable to be at the meeting. We haven't done this type of post-competition feedback before and it turned out to be a useful -and enjoyable- exercise which we plan to repeat.
We met Sisi Burn when she was busy taking photos at Alan Ainsworth’s exhibition of jazz photography and were delighted when she accepted our invitation to speak to CoL&CPS. Our audience consisted of those members who were not distracted by the World Cup, film premieres, the extreme heat or any other valid excuses. And for those present, it was a real treat: Sisi had put together a great presentation with images from all stages of her photographic journey. She had taken this opportunity to look back reflectively at her whole career, an experience she said was actually enjoyable and useful to her and was fascinating and inspirational for us.
Her first passion as a teenager was music and so during her A level photography course she started to make images of musicians and music events. She worked in film, in black and white, and her creativity and willingness to experiment was evident in the earliest of her work. She studied documentary photography at Newport where she was encouraged to combine storytelling in the context of her interest in the music scene. Her first published image was on the cover of the Guardian Careers supplement and subsequently she has had many of her images in the arts and culture pages of national newspapers when they were still providing such space. She works sometimes on commissions but often free-lancing, sending in her images of musical events, from jazz, classical, opera and baroque music, to editors.
In talking about the images she was showing us, Sisi illustrated how confidently she has moved through from film to digital, from black and white to colour, from portraits of individual musicians to group portraits and performance shots in small and large venues. She has used a range of cameras, from film Leicas with monopod, to her current favourite, the much lighter Olympus OM-D Mark II. She particularly likes to use a silent shutter to free up shooting during a performance. Currently, Sisi is training to become an arts counsellor and expects to use photography as part of her work. Thank you for such an interesting evening, Sisi.
We used the break to acknowledge Jemma Ayre’s success in our June Flickr PotW competition by awarding her the prestigious Tiger Trophy. Her beautiful image of a stained glass window and its projection was her entry to ‘A splash of colour’. She has chosen as her theme for July, ‘Old and New or Young and Old’ - maybe a challenge for our August 7th walk and shoot?
Thanks to Kanu Joshi for the photos in this report.
There was a pleasing increase in the number of prints and DPIs submitted for this, the first competition of our new year. There was no theme, which some members prefer, whilst others like to have the focus of a specific subject for the competition. And that's why we have two themed and two open competitions within the year. This time, subjects were as varied as architectural abstracts, travel pictures, and landscapes to closeups of flowers, several portraits and forked lightning.
We were pleased to welcome as our judge for the evening, Rosemary Wilman, Hon FRPS, known to many of us through her presidency of the Royal Photographic Society. Her own work can be seen here.
Rosemary looked first at the prints we had submitted and as she awarded scores ranging from 13 to 20, she offered advice and suggestions about composition, presentation and printing. It was also apparent that some of our titles were not the most helpful in illuminating the intention of the photographer, although Dave the pigeon was self-explanatory and larger than life.
After the break, we presented our projected images, and again, Rosemary was encouraging and helpful, explaining carefully her choice of mark and how an image might have been improved. A specific point was to recommend adding a subtle key line on certain DPIs to define the edges. By the end of the evening, there was a satisfying number of top marks and those members are to be warmly congratulated. The images are now on the gallery page. Many thanks to Rosemary for her time and wise words, to our print handler Brian, to Ben and William for managing the logistics, and to Terry for the photo above.