Articles

Photography ArticlesThis is Bradford Photographic Society website's teaching and activities section, where you can find advice and stories from members.

Along with reports of our meetings.

We hope to eventually have a good collection of interesting and entertaining articles on different aspects of photography.

Didn’t we have a lovely time, the day we went to Pudsey? For those who didn’t make it on 16th February, we definitely did! The room over the library where Pudsey Camera Club meet was packed, with people sitting on tables etc. Our hosts politely allowed the BPS contingent prime seats in the stalls, though.

The first half of the evening was the print competition and, by the end, although their set included three 20’s to our none, Pudsey were ahead by only 255 to our 251.

After a cup of tea, we proceeded to the projected images section. Once more Pudsey scored more 20s, two to our one, but our consistency carried us to victory by 253 to their 250.

So those of you who are good at the mental arithmetic will already realise that we actually lost by a single point – 504 to 505! In fact, as I was checking the official scoring, I could see that it was a real cliff-hanger all the way through with the scores neck-and-neck from image to image – very nail-biting!.

Our single 20 was Jacquie Gibson’s ‘Composure’ – very well deserved. The digital images that were used are posted in the 2012-13 Gallery and I will add the prints in due course. Chris Hodgson, the judge, made useful detailed comments on each image. Sandra took notes of her comments and you can see them on the forum thread about the battle. You will be able to appreciate Chris’s judging first-hand when she presides over our 3rd Print Competition Evening next week on 21st February.

A truly memorable battle and a great evening’s entertainment.

Billed as a training night, Graeme’s talk was a cosy flash-back to the days of Powerpoint for some of us of a certain age. He gave us his own personal thoughts on landscape photography along with an interesting insight into how he, personally, goes about it.

He covered the basic principles of composition, illustrating the rule of thirds, leading lines, the golden hour, balance, light-and-shade etc with great examples of good and bad. Also including cases where breaking the ‘rules’ gives a better image too. Thus, surely very useful lesson to beginners, this was still an interesting re-cap for the rest of us and reminder of what we are trying to do and why – maybe a reminder of one or two concepts that have fallen out of our repertoire?

When it comes to kit, Graeme favours the lightweight approach. He uses a Leica Delux 3 compact with a 28-112mm zoom and a 16:9 wide-screen format or a Leica V-Lux1 bridge camera with a fixed 35-420mm zoom lens. While he is reacting to a half a lifetime of lugging professional equipment about, some of us will identify with a desire to travel light. (No, not necessarily lazy, just efficient). His assertion that f/11 hand-held can give you plenty depth of field for practical purposes was well demonstrated by his images. Modern image stabilisation must help.

The attractions of panoramic formats was explored, some based on cropping 16:9 format and some created in software from several images. The magic of using the ‘levels’ adjustment in post-processing was clearly demonstrated and this, along with cloning-out occasional unwanted distractions, is the scope of Graeme’s use of Lightroom / Photoshop etc in every-day practice.

My own theory was that, after all his experience, Graeme is physically incapable of taking a bad picture. This was destroyed by the ‘worse’ examples in the pairs he presented to illustrate his points. Although I did notice that a few were deliberately worsened versions of the ‘better’ image – fair enough, really. I wish I had the problem!

A final post-script was a short Australian video on copying and pasting instead of cloning a largish area. That will save some of us a good few man-hours in future.

The evening of the 31 January saw the re-arranged 2nd DPI Trophy night, the judge for the evening being Michael Newton from Hebden Bridge.

The evening commenced with the Percy Lund Rose Bowl Best All Rounder Novice. Eight sets of four images were presented to the judge who gave fair, constructive and encouraging comments on each image. Due to a misunderstanding by myself, the winning set by Steve Swiszczowski unfortunately had to be eliminated as Steve was no longer a novice having won a previous competition. 35 When Vandals Attack. The good news being that Chris Ingleson was declared the winner. Congratulations to Chris for his entries: 'In The Spot Light', 'Clamping Down', 'When Vandals Attack' and 'Detail Bradford Conditioning House'. In second place was Clark Longbottom, and third John Boyle.

The Novice Trophy was followed by The D Bates Trophy Best All Rounder which attracted an impressive entry of eleven sets of four images, again Michaels analysis was spot on. I know that we all gained some new photographic knowledge from his visit. In first pace with her excellent winning set was Sandra Cockayne : 'My other Job is a Ballerina', 'Mirror Pool Centenary Square', 'Deadly Fibre Cap' and 'The Drawing Room Bolling Hall'. In second place was Michael Myers and third Graeme Mitchell. The judge awarded two 20/20's One to Michael Myers for 'Sparkler Wine' the other to Graeme Mitchell for 'The Langdale Valley'.

On the 10th January 2013 Leeds photographer John Dolan came to talk about his 365 and 52 photography projects and also about his portrait photography. This entertaining and informitative talk had been postponed from the 16th October when John had been due to do a co-talk with fellow photographer Si Cliff, who also does inspired self portraits. John spoke about what inspired him to start his 365's and the difficulty in comleting the projects whilst working full time as a teacher. John is an active member of the Leeds flickr group and you can read more about John and view his work by viewing his website.

 

http:/johnfotohouse.com/

On 13th December, our second print competition evening of the year provided a lot of interest with a healthy overall entry of 60 prints submitted for the three trophies on offer. As all the images were marked together, it was a bit of a cliff-hanger to work out who was winning until the great revelation at the end!

moonlightThe Greenwood Trophy for the best print by a novice, had only eleven entries and was won by Karl Dunachie with his striking image ‘Moonlight’. It was the only image submitted for this trophy to score 20 with the judge commenting that it broke all the rules and was clearly a combination of two images – to great effect, though.

Six sets of three images were entered for the Tom Scatchard record trophy. Although second place’ Peter Davison, had two 20s for his images ‘Guitar Ensemble’ and ‘Detail of Stephenson’s Rocket’ he was pipped for the trophy by Graeme Mitchell who score no less than three 20s for ‘Detail Above Door of Bank at Sowerby Bridge’, ‘Hall of Fame Gallery, Munich’ and ‘Library at Chatsworth House’.

The open best-print JH Leighton Trophy drew an impressive entry of 31 images of which no less than eight scored 20! They were:
‘Fairground Ride’ by Bill Longbottom.
‘Altar at St Weonard’s Church’ by Stuart Ross.
‘Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness’, ‘Quiet Water’ and
‘Towpath Rider, Hebden Bridge’ by Michael Myers.
‘A Winter’s Day at Arncliffe’ by Graeme Mitchell.
‘Stormy Whitby’ and ‘West Burton Waterfall’ by Steve Barrick.

Michael Myers won with ‘Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness’, a beautiful classic natural image, neatly demonstrating that his skills extend well beyond Photoshop!

It was her first judging date for Margaret Southerington, our judge, and we thought that she did very well. The club appreciated her constructive comments and her efforts on our behalf, giving us a memorable evening.

Our first projected images competition evening of the season took place on 15th November. The Novice trophy was for the best set of four images, and attracted ten entrants, while the open JF Mather trophy was for sets of three images, and had 18 contenders. If you do the arithmetic, that gives a very healthy total of 94 images that were shown in the evening!

In the Novice trophy, third place was taken by Peter Kurton, with a consistent set of images of Bolling Hall, scoring 68. Chris Ingleson, with 70, came second with images of a variety of subjects, all scoring 17 or 18. Bill Clark’s winning set scored 72, and included the only two 20s in the competition: for ‘Strawberry Splash’ and ‘Keep Calm’. He was accused by the judge of being drunk when he took his impressionistic floor-level shot of ‘Boogieing on the Dance Floor’ – which Bill happily confirmed afterwards.

The Open trophy generated an impressive number of high-scoring images, with three 20s. These were awarded to Graeme Mitchell’s ‘Wast Water Screes’, Bill Longbottom’s ‘Footbridge’, and Graham Pile’s ‘Aurora’ — all stunning images. Overall, Bill came third with a score of 56, while Graham and Graeme tied on 57 points — the decision going to Graham Pile in the end.

Richard Townend, our judge for the evening, employs a detailed scoring system, awarding partial scores for sharpness, exposure, composition and artistic merit, which he adds up to give the total score. He left his score sheets with these details, so, if anyone wants to know how their images were scored, please contact me.

It was another great evening’s competition, with a large selection of fine images in contention.

West Yorkshire Inter-ClubIt started with a Disaaaster, Daaahling! Bob Free's initial announcements proclaimed that his own club was penalised 16 points for using an image that had appeared in the Interclub before, and BPS was penalised 17 points from our first round score because two of the images in the general section were by the same author, Graham Pile, which is (strictly) not allowed!! He later privately revealed that he had been back through last years entries and found several examples of the same crime — too late to change anything now. So we were rumbled, and take forward 73 points from the first round, instead of that lovely 90 we originally had.

In the evening's competitions, we fared more modestly than last time, but still respectably.

The set subject was ‘Dance’, and our entry ‘No Mercy’ by Keith Nuttall scored 16. In the set theme, ‘Record’, Steve Barrick's ‘Looking Back on Evolution’ scored 14.

In the general section, ‘Strawberry Splash’ by Bill Clark scored 17, ‘Goit Stock Falls’ by Graham Pile scored 12, and ‘Siena Dusk’ by Keith Nuttall scored 17, giving us a respectable score of 76 for this round. (Note that, having two of Keith’s images is OK, as the rules specifically allow one person to have an entry in the set subject as well as the general sections. Phew!)

Since the penalties had not been correctly deducted, BPS was announced as 4th overall after two rounds with a score of 166. Sadly our real overall score is only 149 — not a total disaster, but quite a disappointment.

As anticipated, the judge, Graham Hodgkiss, was entertaining and educational, even if I couldn't agree with all his scores. There was an interesting bias towards artistic appreciation, versus the stricter adherence to conventional rules of composition and photography that we are used to. The main subjects of one image, of Cossack-type dancers, were just a blur of vivid colour, and it scored 20!

So altogether an interesting evening, but not for all the right reasons!

With a large turnout of members on 8th November, it was an enormous relief to Graeme and Tom when Ian Beesley finally arrived at 8pm! That M62 has a lot to answer for.

A consummate professional, both as a speaker and a photographer, Ian was unruffled by his little local difficulty and swung rapidly into his illustrated talk. This time he told us of his work in themed portraits and commissions for hospitals. His project to photograph centenarians produced a series of anecdotes, including being sent away by one old lady who would only have her photograph taken by someone ‘properly dressed’ in a jacket & tie. The pictures showed some real characters, and revealed that vital connection between the subject and the photographer.

Being the first photographer to do a bespoke project for a hospital, led (he says) to his becoming an ‘expert’ in photography for hospitals. Personally, I think the quality of the images and the imagination might have had something to do with it! Developing the project for the corridor to the Bradford Royal Infirmary MRI scanner into a trek along its axis all the way to Cumbria was one splendid illustration.

Showing the odd failure, along with the hard work involved in creating the successes, Ian clearly demonstrated the importance of relating to the people involved in each project—both the subjects of the pictures, and the intended consumers. His pragmatic tip for relaxing a rapid sequence of children in a studio—let the parent take the picture!

Hearing him speak and seeing his work, it is not difficult to understand why the Royal Photographic Society has just awarded him an Honorary Fellowship for his continuing dedication to photographically documenting social and industrial topics in the UK.

His latest project for Bristol University involves research on mid-life—shouldn’t be too much of a crisis!

Leaping Salmon by Bruce Pickering

On 1st November, we had another fascinating talk by Bruce Pickering about wildlife photography. Billed as a training night, Bruce's talk was especially interesting for those of us who want to learn how to take better wildlife pictures. He reviewed his own equipment - cameras, lenses, lens adaptors and tripods. In each case he explained what it was good at, what it was bad at, and, even in the case of a shelf clamp, why it was a total waste of money!

A comprehensive description of the particular photographic techniques required for specific subjects was very useful. The common theme was planning and lots of patience - lots of patience! That includes being prepared to keep going back until you get the shot. Showing pictures that did not work well, with an explanation of why that happened, was very useful. Taking that theme to a higher level, Bruce also showed several pictures that most of us would have been delighted to have taken. He then explained why these would not gain top marks in a competition, and gave us an insight into what judges are looking for. It's almost impossible, really! Still I suppose you never win a high level competition on any theme without producing an exceptional image.

The only disappointment of the evening, for those of us who enjoyed his last talk, was the non-appearance of that gillie suit! Our thanks to Bruce, and also to the silent Helen Hall, whose contribution is clearly key - Christmas Day on a nature reserve even!

Si CliffOn 16th October, his co-presenter’s car problem left Simon Cliff to make a solo presentation on the topic of personal projects — and he rose to the occasion very well. We were treated to an account of the highs and lows of undertaking these ambitious self-imposed projects.

The traditional 365 project (taking a photograph every day for a year) is a daunting challenge for most. But if they all have to be portraits, self portraits even, it sounds impossible! However it has certainly be done, and done well creating a huge variety of impressive images on the way.

For a 365 project applied to general portraits, the problem would seem to be finding enough models. We were assured that this is quite straightforward if you just approach people in the street and ask their permission. So add charm to the list of technical abilities you need for success!

Having heard something of the daily challenges, pitfalls and tribulations, the audience could only be astonished by the imagination, artistic flair and sheer determination demonstrated. Also it seems to become addictive – as soon as you finish one project you are driven to plunge into another, apparently!

Are we inspired to try it? There was some muttering about once a week being more possible – a 52 project anyone?

TrophyThere was a record submission of 103 prints for the three trophy competitions being held on 25th October, our first official competition evening. Once 3 that would not fit the trophy definitions had been withdrawn, we were left with a round 100 images to be judged on the night.

We started with the 24 entries for the W H Hammond Trophy, which provided a wide variety of styles of portraits, people and figure studies. It was won by Terry Kolonko‘s “Evacuees”.

Next was the Norman Stow ‘Applied’ trophy, with another healthy entry of 24 prints. Since this covered the diverse ‘Record’, ‘Natural History’ and ‘Photo Travel’ categories, it offered a wide range of images, and posed another kind of problem for the judge.The winner was “Agricultural Mechanics” by Rais Hasan.

After our tea break came the monster 51 print entry for the J W Murray pictorial trophy. From the varied range of subject matter, both the winner “Gold Hill, Shaftesbury”, and the highly commended “Whitby Abbey” were classic scenic images beautifully executed. Both prints were the work of Steve Swiszczowski – an impressive double!

Thus ended a remarkable tour-de-force by Andrew Rothery, our judge. He managed to provide useful, constructive comments on every image in spite of the impossibly tight time frame. These are particularly valued by the majority of members who are still looking for ways to improve their images. So a big thank you to Andrew for his efforts and well done particularly to our new members for diving into the first competition evening with such enthusiasm.

Artists vs PhotographersAs scheduled, the much anticipated casual internal competition between the Club's 'Artists' and 'Photographers' took place on Thursday 11th October. We were not disappointed! The ten categories corresponded approximately to those in a standard photographic competition. One example of an art work and a photograph were placed side-by-side for each category, and members voted for their preferences.

The bald statistics show that the 'Artists' won 6 categories of the 10, and scored 123 total votes compared with 104 for the photographs. However that is only a small part of the story. The author of each image said a few words about its creation - and that was pure gold!

For the uninitated, it was quite overwhelming to hear about the inspiration, techniques, skill and painstaking patience involved in producing an art work. Whether it was the skill needed for Kath to dash off a charcoal and chalk seascape in ten minutes, or Graeme to capture the detail and dynamism of a water skier with the blunt instrument of a palet knife. Or Sandra's account of inspiration from Jackson Pollock and Vivaldi, and Rais by traditional Persian art. Or the huge commitment and sheer detailed hard work of Kath drawing a dry stone wall in pencil, Graeme making a portrait from strands of wool and Rais building up his large woodland scene over many weeks and layers of paint and money! Don's explanation of his still life of his painting equipment, which he did specially for the meeting over the previous fortnight, offered several pearls of wisdom about compostion and light that apply equally well to photography.

While many of the lessons in the 'Photographers' explanations may be more familiar to many of us, it is still inspring to see what you might be able to produce by just going back to a location until the light is right, using monochrome instead of colour, or using the classic compostition conventions like leading lines. Then there's the ever elusive 'eye'.......

In the end, the preconceptions of painting as an art, and photography as a technique, was destroyed for me, at least. There is a lot of hard-earned technique in a good painting and a lot of artistic thought in a good photograph. Here endeth the lesson!

The evening was great fun and I hope it will be an annual fixture in future years.

The reports of the meetings held by Bradford Photographic Society

Reports of BPS Exhibitions and talks held by others

Articles on the history of Bradford Photographic Society

Reports about Bradford Photographic Society photowalks and shoots

Articles on how to improve photographic techniques

Other articles about Bradford Photographic Society or photography in general

Reports on the various competitions in which BPS is involved