Tuesday night Micki Aston came along to give us a talk on why we should enter competitions, what the judges are looking for and the art of monochrome photography.
Micki has been doing photography for 50 years and it is her passion and Micki first ask us the question why do we enter competitions. Club members said, ‘to show our work and get critiqued’.
Micki was pleased with the answer to get critiqued.
Competitions are good in allowing others to see one’s work.
Micki said she has done ‘youtube’ videos and had experienced getting hundreds of hits which was gratifying.
Competitions are an alternative to putting on exhibitions for ones work which can be expensive and through competitions one gets the exposure of one work for free.
However, the main reasons are to get constructive feedback.
Micki said she used to write down every word said from the judges who look at one’s work as an outsider.
Micki asked if our club sets theme subjects for competition and the answer was yes.
That is good said Micki, as to be a good photographer say working for a newspaper or magazine one has to go out and photograph everything requested.
Those photographers have the skills to bring back good work every time it is asked of them.
Micki then said she was going to say something controversial, ‘that advanced photographers should not enter competitions’.
A set of small prints were displayed by Micki who said they had been made from slides and the reason why they were kept small was to draw people in to have a closer look.
Judges are looking for the wow factor and Micki often studied record album covers to see why they been chosen, as one needs to be creative in photography.
Before competition a judge will ask the club how strict subject needs to be judged and whether they can be flexible.
When entering competitions please go out and take the image that has been set rather than going back into your own libraries to get them.
For sports images like football always include the ball
or if a speed event follow the subject and don’t be frightened to blur the background to indicate speed.
However, this image below tells a story with the mud on the legs and is a bit different from the rugby scrums and kicks in normal images.
Landscapes, make them interesting
or have a subject of interest in the picture.
Use the golden hour or early morning to get the best light.
There are rules but first master them before breaking away from some of them.
In the top picture below Micki had been set a subject of a ‘blue bottle’, the full lens focus was on the bottle top with the rest of the bottle slowly going out of focus for something different. ( my mind for that subject would be thinking about a large fly lol )
On the bottom left picture there is a lever in focus and the remainder of the background in the image is going out of focus this is called differential focus.
The toothbrush in the middle was set to use angles lit from a coloured light box and I believed was used by Colgate.
Micki said, she can talk for England and will look at a picture and try and understand why the author had taken the image and what he/she was trying to say.
Get the image to show the mood of the scene and the secret of taking characters is to first make a quick interactive relationship with them which is important.
Micki went to a Japanese wedding and sometimes visitors are not welcomed.
They are still much in the 1950’s with their wedding photos with the bride and groom and family each side.
Micki took the picture below but did not notice the expression on the bride’s face until later.
Learn the rules but sometimes breaking rules in your image does work in the right settings.
On the left a single tree in the salt pan works. There is no foliage but the lines in the sand lead the eye to the tree.
The first in the Lake District where it was a dull cloudy day, then suddenly a shaft of light came through the clouds to light the scene.
The image on the right was taken in Utah where Micki in her early days took a picture on 35mm film of the light coming through the edge of a canyon.
Micki recently returned to capture the same scene again with a digital camera but found about forty other photographers were there all after the same picture. She managed to bluff her way to the front and recaptured the shot where the light only lasts for about 4 minute.
If you use preset software treatments do use the correct ones that suits the scene best.
Get the best aspect for your photograph which may have to be taken from high up or low down.
Presentation and mounts
Try not to use colour mounts and use neutral colours so as not to distract the eye from the image.
Also try small images in mounts.
so coffee time
In the early days there was no choice other than to take a photograph in monochrome.
In 1936 the first Kodachrome colour came out. Yet monochrome as art still exists, why does it still command its high value today?
Well colour takes away the building blocks of an image
eg. texture and light and colour can make a picture look mediocre.
Colour images are reality.
Monochrome is an interpretation of reality.
The key to monochrome photography is to learn how to see things in b/w.
Train yourself to imagine the scene in b/w.
However, not all subjects are good in b/w so chose carefully.
Scan through your images and if you feel it may look right in monochrome make a copy of it to compare.
Look for textured walls of old buildings which may be weathered.
Look at lighting conditions as monochrome may look harsh in the midday sun.
Always take places like graveyards in monochrome as the stones and shadows work well.
Shape and form
Images in colour are usually two dimensional and photography is all about shape and form.
Monochrome can give a three dimensional feel to the image with the shadows and shade.
On portraits hands at the front in monochrome can look ugly but taken as a subject they could look marvellous.
Places like the houses on Lindisfarne give the three dimension effect in monochrome
Shadows work well in monochrome
Micki used a beanbag to rest her camera for this shot as tripods are not allowed.
It is best to get a couple of people sharp in the image whilst people are buzzing around in a blur to create movement.
The eyes have something to rest on in the picture.
All light colours become shades of grey and it is good if one can get the full tonal range in a picture, except in high key portraits.
Micki was particularly pleased with the first picture as the subject’s face had a full range of colours and even his white tee-shirt stood out from the white background.
The second picture was taken in a derelict mental hospital which had a padded cell and the textures of the walls tell a story.
The third image was taken in Brazil where people seem to dance in the street and this picture uses the full tonal range
This image was taken in Yellowstone Park
This was taken on a freezing cold morning in St Petersburg where the temperature was minus 20 and the camera was kept close to Micki chest for warmth lol.
Without colour one eyes are drawn to the subject’s face, eyes and clothing.
Try and capture the mood and essence of the subject.
This guy below was as gentle as they come and well spoken, so never judge a book by its cover.
Here the model was a jolly character and hopefully that was shown in the image.
Places to go are Milton Keynes or perhaps Canary Wharf.
Micki could remember places like the gasworks at Brighton where she lived
This old buildings in Berlin was almost falling down.
This was taken in Central Park many years ago when it was safe to walk around at night.
Sadly it is no longer the case.
In travel photography monochrome is timeless
A piece of graffiti Micki found which is contradicting Dave Gorman’s Modern Life is goodish lol
This person is framed by the door and made a good shot
Micki took this gondola in Venice but focused the camera on the top part only with the rest of the gondola going out of focus to make it different.
This shot was taken in Quainton Railway where historical items are laid out and can be perfect taken in monochrome.
Has any club member tried to do a triptych of pictures.
If you do make them cohesive so they tell a story.
Thank you to Micki for coming along and giving us an entertaining evening with lots of information.
Next week is a change in the programme
Blasts from the Past
Tuesday November 26, 2019 from 20:15 to 22:15
A change to the previously advertised session.
‘Blasts from the Past’ night. Members are requested to submit images (up to 4) from past photography – these should be Images NOT submitted for competitions but favourites of the author for any reason. This is a great chance to revisit places and events from past years. Authors should be ready to explain what they liked/where it is/what they might have learnt since then!!
Prints are also welcomed, there is no need for mounting