Monday, December 19, 2011


As much a diary entry for myself as anything...

Feb Abstract concept

Mar Seaside / Coastal

April Reflections

May Flowers

June Wild thing Set of 6

July Fishing

August Night life Group of four

Sep Traffic

October Macro

November Environmental Impact

OK, they are the club set topics for next year!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Well, I guess that is pretty much the year gone...

The end-of-year hooley at the club is tomorrow night. I have two entries in for C-grade "image of the year". Of the two, the Mask is my sentimental favourite.

There was a request for images from field trips and activities as well. The only thing I have been involved in during the year was the (very well organised, run and helpful) intermediate course. At one of the final sessions we had a short studio session with one of the leaders as a very willing model. It turned out I was one of only three who had brought cameras that evening. This was the last frame -

Of the November entries - the face painter got HC, taken down by the lettering on the jacket; the alien was a different one (below) which also got an HC. I know that I will not be getting highest points this year.

The programme is out for next year - some interesting thoughts...


The end of year hooley was held last night. As expected the ol' probligo won nothing. He did get promotion to B Grade for digital images from next year. That ups the ante a bit, but don't expect any great changes in approach.

The photo of the "elder" taken at the course was shown. It was met with a quiet "Bloody hell! Where did that come from!!". Frank and I had a brief chuckle over it after the formal sessions.

Actually, I have to concede that the doors did open a little on the night. Several people were happy to stand (or sit) and converse. No, I was very careful to not dominate the proceedings. For example I learned that one was looking forward to a holiday skiing in Canada. I suggested the he take a look at Pohanginga Pete's pages of his trip to Chile. Take a look anyway and be prepared to be awestruck at the beauty of what he has seen and successfully recorded.

Time to go for this year. Been good. See ya next month.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Nove is coming...

Ye gods!! Almost the end of another year.

I have to consider this month's entries, and what is going up for end of year comps. In one respect one is driving the other.

One of the year-end comps is "Set of Four". Four images from entries to the monthly competitions. At least, that is how I read it. So this is what is going in...

So that sets the Open entry for this month.

The set topic for the month is "Street Culture". To get right to the chase, this was the best of what I got from the library. Taken 2009 in Howick it were...

So there it goes.

There are other comps.

The needles might go in for b&w trophy. Got a chance at least.

Friday, October 28, 2011

...and it is all -ober!

The judging for projected images this month was fairly tough. A lady who was quite forthright that a good part of her assessment was subjective only awarded three Honours over the three grades and two of those to A Grade. I can not dispute her assessment of my two images, particularly given her starting point. The difference between depicting “Dance” as a topic and the depiction of “movement in dance” that came from at least three other entries, and my attempt to convey the “energy” involved became something of a theme for the evening. I think I was given “Merit” for both. That equates pretty much as “average”.

That was followed by a brief exposition on histograms, DR, and the difference between visual sensitivity and mechanical sensitivity. Interesting, especially since it explained something that I had not been able to work out. I generally shoot in RAW and have found that sometimes the extreme ends of the histogram contain unexpected detail. The reason you will see, no doubt, is that the JPEG version has sensitivity of just four stops. The RAW file is sensitive to about 1.5 stops either side of the JPEG range, giving a total of roughly 7 stops between total black and total white. Hence the DR of a RAW image can be expanded simply by wringing the two ends of the histogram out into the “middle” portions of the extremes on the JPEG scale.

The reshoot of the mask series has been redone. I have looked at the results briefly. There are issues that need to be resolved – and in the following order -

The quartz-iodide 500W tube I am using for lighting is completely OTT. Far too hot. I don’t want to have to get filters to correct so I am going shopping for eco-bulbs which I have discovered carry a K rating. The ones we use for lighting at home are generally 4500K, much less yellow than the QI tube but still well below sunlight. I know there is a 5500K range as I have seen it mentioned several times. I need go look.

I need to develop a means of stretching the backcloth over its width at tabletop height. It will work quite well as a backing but it is getting shade variations still – quite badly. At this stage I think a couple of loop tags sewed carefully to the edge on each side will suffice. CF or dowel stretchers to follow. Rolling the cloth onto a larger dowel works well. Happy with that I am.

The camera needs further “investigation”. I need to find the manual and read up on the multiple exposure function and whether it includes automatic compensation for the number of exposures. Being film and not digital I can not blame the camera for “averaging” if I am using it on Manual. I tried spot metering this time on the black. I seems to have made some difference, but not enough as the backcloth did not burn out as I wanted.

I just went took a look back over the last couple of months. One of the things in my head that might help with this whole problem of getting the multiple exposures how I want them is actually to backlight the backcloth – put lights behind the backcloth, effectively turning that part into a direct softbox..

The other thing that needs consideration is that of shadows. With only the one strong light, I get a fair shadow on the opposite side of the object. Absolutely not needed. So if I get the 5500K bulbs, I will need about 1500 watts worth – 1000w from the back, 250w each side. I also have in mind the construction of a softbox. That would not resolve the shadow problem but might help in the overall lighting scheme.

I am also trying to determine the actual difference between the various settings – rough eyeball judgement of the negs is not sufficiently accurate. I am going to use a borrowed Dimage scanner to get the film onto disc so I can play around with it.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Oct -

OK, so it is October already. The past weekend has been spent setting up for this month’s competition; set topic is “Dance”.

We (SWMBO and probligo) went to Atamira this year, it being 2 years since we last went. Atamira is a presentation showcase of Maori art, craft, culture, the whole kete and caboodle. We went on Sunday, as Saturday was too much of a panic to fit SWMBO’s pre-determined timetable. That was a pity because I wanted to be there for the final rounds of the hip-hop dance competition. We had looked in two years back and spent about 15 minutes in the theatre before being overcome by the sound level. Now that SWMBO is getting to join the hard-of-hearing brigade that should not have mattered quite so much. However it was not to be. We stopped by the theatre for a while to listen to Miss Black – Whirimako’s daughter – who is a good club singer but not in the same league as her mum. Yet.

So, that source of images went past without any result.

Back to the library.

Last year we went to the Diwali equivalent of Atamira; substitute Indian and you got it. That is the source for the photo I am putting in to club. It is far from perfect; there is a very large stagelight that gets in the way. Hence the cutout vignette rather than the dodge. I have learned the difference between PS “cookie-cutter” and “layer motif”.

The Taranaki portrait is from the library; this one is from 5 images, taken about 10 minutes prior to the stretch landscape I posted previously. This has not been shopped other than to stitch the image.

While at Atamira, I took a series of pictures of a young guy who was carving a tekoteko (stylised full figure). It bears a fair similarity to Pukaki, who was one of the centre taonga in the Te Maori exhibition that did the tour to New York and other cities in the States in 1984. I have to say that I was impressed by his work. This time I asked for permission to take photos; yes, there is a first time for everything!! He agreed and I am most disappointed with the result. The first three, where he was working face-to-face with the teko I did not realise that he had his chisel - sorry gouge – stuffed up a nostril. Edifying, NOT!! My attempts at flash photo were amazingly underexposed. Don’t know what went wrong there. I will have to look at the metadata to find out what I done. I suspect that I was using a pre-set aperture but don’t know for sure. They look as though the flash was missed. There was another chappie I stopped and spoke to – SWMBO was having a cup of coffee down at the kaumatua’s lounge. He was making tiny – I mean about 20-30mm wide – kete from very fine harakeke flax. Beautiful work. He did NOT want his photo taken. Given the standard of my other efforts I glad that I did not. I also came across a woman who was making taniko cloth – small samplers was all. That is something I have watched being done before but it is one of the “lesser” arts and does not get much publicity as a result. I am fortunate to have a taniko belt my mother made – it was her only attempt and she found it very frustrating to finish.

I have not yet re-shot the mask series. The mood in the camp has not been conducive. I might have yesterday but gardening got in the way. There is not a lot that is interesting in digging cooch out of a drying bed of freesias and granny-bonnets. My version looks like the pigs got in and turned the plot over.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


And so another month drifts quietly to a close. Actually, I have to admit, it turned out to be not half bad in some respects. Primary among the reasons for the good part was the birth of Kath’s twins. That resulted in yt having the house to himself for about 8 days of total self-determination. That status started with the drive back from New Plymouth, which was interrupted along the way by a number of “unscheduled” stops. The remainder of the week was accompanied by watching a bit of rugby. One of the highlights was the U20 and NRL second Minor Finals with Old Dark in one hand and rum in the other. The Sydney league semi was not broadcast or nothing would have got done on Sunday either.

The Awakino Head was probably the highlight of the trip back. There is potential there for some spectacular coast scenery – but very little else truth be told. The beach at Mokau similarly.

Thought about heading up the old timber road from Mokau to Kawhia and Raglan. Dropped the idea when leaving Mokau as the belly was calling for lunch. Tried The Fat Pigeon in Piopio – it was OK but Bosco’s in Te Kuiti is better.

The last Sunday of freedom was mis-spent on re-shooting some of the old attempts at art. I now have a 3m x 1.2m “infinity sheet” in the form of a very nice piece of cotton duck. Next thing to purchase is a 1.2m rod on which to roll it so I do not have to borrow the SWMBO’s flatteninghotter. I used only natural light in the family room.

Which leads into the competition for this month. Judge was another of the senior members – I will stay with my protocol of “No names…”. I had to try and find out just where he was coming from before I started writing this. Interesting cove he is; high-powered member of the club, and in the IT world as well. He is a very respectable photographer as one might imagine.

The pyramid was given “acceptance”, mainly because it did not grab him. He was very up-front; the type of image that it is lies completely outside of his personal taste. Can’t argue with that.

Poor Leo. He was recognised as “large”. The wording fitted the image. The very big defect was that the back of the chair was in focus. Never mind… not all of us have studio soft-boxes that we can trot out at a moment’s notice for that perfect candid shot of a comparatively bad-tempered cat.

The evening ended with a totally unexpected and very unusual experience. I got “chatted up” by a 60-something lady (a member). It was quite un-nerving in some respects. Oh, there was never a hint of anything untoward but the flirting was apparent; even to this old numbskull. Sadly, she is not really my type.

Going back to the pyramid and the mask for a bit, and my re-shoot of the mask.

The image out left is (from top to bottom); test and control for print, f5.6, 1/10; f5.6, 1/20; f5.6, 1/45. This was shot indoors, ambient light only. The three frames are on a single scan, no modification or treatment.

First thing to note is that there is not enough difference between background and object. Simple solution to that is to add light. That will be the next attempt. That will also take out the fold shadows that are all too obvious.

The other thing is the lack of difference between frames 2 and 3. This points up something I have battled for years. If you understand your digital camera you will know that it will - if set on auto - do its utmost to turn everything it sees to an average muddy grey. Commercial printers are no different. They can take a mediocre image and make something out of it. I know. Been there...

Some many years back - over 15 years back - I spent some six months cultivating a (strictly professional) relationship with a lass in the local pharmacy who had been given the job of running the automatic film processing part of the business. We both learned a heck of a lot about how that machine worked.

I know that those three frames (and sadly the rest of the film) can not be rescued.

But ... they can be re-taken.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Been a busy month, this. As something of proof, daughter sent us this of the latest additions to her family and the ol' probligo's (now probbly completed)small host of grandchildren.

That took a week or so out of the beginning of the month, if only because the missus was stressed out from the last week of August until the event was over. Then the stress level rose to extreme until packing and travel had been sorted. I got a small number of frames on the way back that might be mildly interesting. I have the coming weekend available for project work before the missus gets back Monday.

So, I have been able to sort adequate entries for club this month -

Set subject this week is "domestic pets". I was tempted by a photo of a rock but decided that tempting judges had gone far enough for the while. Stick to the menu lad.

On the other side, however, I turned this out of the library last week. It is in the same mould as the mask...

I wish I could work out how Frank does his virtual masques and frames.

Oh, the cat? No, he wants it known that he is not fat.

Just big!

All 6.5 kg of him.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Not so august?

I have to say that “White on White” is definitely not easy. Attached are before and after of the attempt I put in to club. Confession – the after is “temperature adjusted”, screwed up on the brightness scale by about 60% and converted to black and white, then taken down for the print by 2 stops.

Does it work? We will find out next week.

Went to the final installation of the Grade 2 course the club has been running. Lying around was a print fairly similar to the idea I have been following. Spoke to one of the notables who promptly claimed ownership and said that it had got rubbished at the print night competition the previous night. Oooo-K! Good start that is. I did not press on the point, but if the print was as submitted I can think of two very good reasons why – not the least of which was the cropping as it was marked on the print I was looking at. Given that, my attempt will be lucky to get Acceptance, pushing hard for Merit.

For the open I am beginning to get a bit desperate. At this stage the breaking wave is winning – I might crop that to a 19:6 or thereabouts to take out all but the wave itself. Looking at that on-screen with the blinkers on it might just work for a HC.

The course final night was quite a good evening. In most respects. Out of the ten or so taking part most were a pretty good crew; a police forensic photographer, a retired lady whose husband has very bad Parkinson’s, a lass who is almost blind (and takes a mean photo), a couple others who are better than I am, and the rest. Well, let me limit the rest to just one gentleman. Best illustration of his attitude came toward the evening. There had been a discussion on bulb exposure for fireworks – up to 30 secs. I could not recall if the Lumix had a bulb setting so I tripped through the “snow” to the car and took it inside. No, it does not have a bulb setting; maximum exposure is 8 secs. I was just ruminating this with the person I had been talking to and a voice behind gives a sniff and says “You could not get a decent image with that. Buy a proper camera.”


The two entries - both Merit. Well, not as bad as some that were rejected as not meeting "White on white" requirements.

The major objection to the vases was "over-exposed". The judge was one of the tutors from the classes and I have to say that he is right. It was not in the camera though as comparison of before (I must find out what caused the white balance to go that way...) and after. There was an intermediate which I rejected because it was too clear; the idea I had was to get the vases to "disappear". Strange.

Image of the night was without doubt presented by another C Grader. Absolute perfection as a product publicity shot; good enough for Vogue even. It will be up on the club site next month.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Starting Au-gust..

I am in a quandary.

The set topic for this month is “White on white”. The print competition was last week, and I did not go to club that night. I have this horrendous joke about “monthlies” that would go right over the heads of some senior executives (especially if they have worked for EMA) but which even SWMBO appreciates even if she doesn’t like the tone of the humour one bit. In my case the monthlies strike, without fail, in the last two working days of every month and the following three working days. It is not driven by glands but the need to report to powers-that-be at higher levels of the company by whom I am employed. This need results in emotional and hormonal responses that take out the best part of that week.

As I said, the print competition was last week, and I was not there to see what was going on. I had a brief natter with another member on Tuesday night and was given a rough description of white flowers over white background; kind of thing.

So, why the problem? I know what I want to do. I have had a couple of goes at it and it has not quite worked for me as yet. Yes, it involves white on white; white crockery on white table to be exact. Well, I want the crockery to “disappear”, blend with the tabletop, leaving the tea/coffee, toast and poached egg – with hollandaise if SWMBO wants it. Place the cutlery so that the outlines of the crockery are hinted but not seen… It can work, if I can get sufficient blend between crockery and table without burning the image out by pushing the white too far up and without excessive reflection from the cutlery. So the problems are –

Finding sufficiently white crockery
Removing all shadows and retaining a semblance of depth
Removing the reflections from the cutlery
Interrupting Sunday breakfast long enough to set up the photo.
Not taking so long that SWMBO's egg gets cold

For the open competition? I haven’t really given that any thought. There are a couple of half decent images from Niue I could test the water with. There is a portrait of a senior club member which might go – taken at the last “class” evening when we were playing around with studio and lighting. There are a couple of architecturals which might fit the bill. None of them grab really the goulies.

I have a m-lemma.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The rest of July...

A week in the tropics is all that is needed to get the ol’ probligo over the edge of troppo. Came back from Niue absolutely convinced that the Tuesday week was competition night at club. Worry lines crumpled the probligo countenance when the email revealed no evidence of an acknowledgement of his two entries for competition. Come the next Thursday when entries close and still no mail!!!! Panic!!!

What a silly old duffer I am. Wrong week; the competition was last night, a week later than I thought.

Now. How do I put this. Judging started with C Grade Open. A quick flick through the entries first, and the mask is the last of some 10 entries. Tenterhooks!!! The last three before mine earn Honours. Good images, too. The mask flicks on-screen; and the judge says “Only one word – Honours.” I must retake that image, if only to prove to myself that I can do it again; that it was not a fluke. Besides I need to set myself up with an infinity sheet – a good one - as well.

Then on to Set Subject. Same process, except that mine is about 5th of 8 or so entries. “Good to see someone thinking outside the square.” The difference between Highly commended and Honours? The little one on the end “looking” to the side. Thanks SWMBO, good idea and worth the effort.

End of the night comes and those present are starting to get restless after an exposition from worthy judge on flash; interesting ideas but how do I get a Sony system flash?? Thought required – mainly how to rob banks. Hang on, we forgot to nominate the night winners. C Grade image of the month – the probligo’s mask.

So, there y’go. In the club for six months and a winner already… Hard act to follow, that one.

Niue was a joy. Innumerable challenges. From caves including stalagmites and stalactites to hard tropic midday, deep shadow to early morning and late evening colours, HDR to soft monotones.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

July will be a short month...

... because the ol probligo and Mrs probligo are heading north for a week. Being empty-nesters does have the advantage of providing a little extra from time to time - usually ever second year or so - so that we can at least give the pretence of a higher level of social standing than we actually enjoy. So for that reason, we are heading this year to the general vicinity of the equator to a place known localy as "The Rock" and in other places as Niue.

This being the case, and having had the good fortune to have listened (for once) to the opines of Mrs probligo, I have already sorted the entries for this month's projected image competition at the club.

The set topic for this month is "Eyes" and I credit the missus for this idea. Taken with +4 and +2 diopters, RAW file against a black card background. Post camera processing was limited to knocking the black up by three notches to remove the texture of the card, knocking the highlights back by a similar amount, and converting to b&w to remove the (quite bad) chromatic abberation.

While setting it up it reminded me a little of the old school photo and hence the small one on the end with his attention diverted elsewhere...

I will let the reader sort this one. It is scanned from a photo I took about two years back; one of a series that I intend taking up again.

Post scan processing is limited to masking out the horizon line because I was not using an infinity sheet. It was going to be my entry in Set but it is heading for Open instead.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The rest of June -

There are only a few days left in the month, and next month will be fairly busy so I will wrap June up here and now.

There was club last night, with the competition for projected images; set subject for the month was “contre jour”. For those who know, please ignore the next para while I try to explain exactly what that means…

“Contre jour” means “against the light”. A good c-j image will combine three essential elements –

Strong back light.
Visibility of detail in the subject (not a silhouette).
A measure of halo around part, or all, of the subject.

Judge for the night was a (high-standing and well qualified) club member. I give her credit for being fairly gentle with those who submitted entries in C Grade and missed the boat. The B Grade entries had made a quite better effort, I think that only two out of the eight entries were “accepted” due to not meeting the requirements of c-j images. When it came to the A Grade entries, she did not quite have the gumption to follow through on an initial comment that a person at this level should be able to correctly meet the requirements of a c-j image. To award “acceptance” to a disqualified image at the top level is almost dishonest. To make matters worse, it was not a single entry that failed the compliance test but almost half of those eight or so images presented.

The real disappointment about last night’s competition came in the Open section and centres on two, perhaps three images.

There is a fashion in these recent times for a whole raft of image types – yes I have been here before – that in the past might have been classified as “out of focus” through to “very bad camera shake – should use a tripod” to be lauded as “Impressionist” images. The other euphemism, one which is somewhat more tightly defined now, is “Minimalist”. I gave a brief report on a local exhibition, an ex-member of the club, that we went to take a look at earlier in the month. The standard of his– as “Impressionist” – images was several blocks ahead of the efforts at last night’s meeting. Given what was presented last night I could actually consider his as praiseworthy.

“Impressionist” as a descriptive term has a very well defined meaning in the world of fine art. It is a classification that centres on the work of a comparatively small number of people over a similarly short period of time in the mid to late 19th and very early 20th centuries. Names such as van Gogh, Renoir, Monet, Manet spring immediately to mind. I read some while back, a book or article concerning the sight problems that some or all of these artists suffered. Van Gogh for example suffered from glaucoma. The internal pressure that distorts the eyeball creates focus problems and this has been used to explain the “Starry starry night” as just one example. He also took digitalis as a control for the epilepsy he suffered. Looking at Wiki it seems that digitalis causes a persistent yellow coloration to the sight. The original article (from far-off recollection) listed about six of the Impressionists) all of whom had a problem with vision – possibly including such rarities as synaesthesia. Just how accurate these interpretations (and my recollection) are, is of small importance.

I give credit to those who tried to create "Impressionist" images, and their efforts were rewarded with “Merit” and one “Highly Commended”. One image which did deserve the tag of “Impressionist” had as its subject the reflection of two people having a conversation. The reflection was on the side of a brewing vat with consequent distortion of the scene; the whole image being very well managed indeed. It was not until the image was explained that the full impact of the technical side became apparent. It surely deserved the accolade of “Honours”.

I can but wonder what might be thought by a competition judge of an image, badly out of focus or using an astigmatic lens with a yellow filter. Perhaps that is worth a try – title “After van Gogh”.

The more formal part of the evening over, one of the senior members gave an exposition on the topic of depth of field and focus. Those with mathematical bent might find some interest here if google is prepared to play ball. I have looked through that and the eyes glazed over after the first para or so. As did the majority of those present last night at club. No question that the presenter knew exactly what he was talking about, and trying to explain. His explanation was simple enough but would have left many floundering in the shallows. One thing that I did work out - why a pinhole camera has infinite (or very near) depth of field. It has to do with the length of the lens, its focal length and possibly one or two other things. A pinhole has close to zero length - decimals of a millimetre in a good one. That seems to be (from what I could make out last night) why a pinhole is so... Oh, and I might try and get a copy of that "Focus Encyclopedia".

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

For the solstice...

I came across a book in the library last month, somewhat by chance, that is proving to be of more than passing interest. It is biographical, not in the usual sense but as a collection of papers, essays and letters. An instance that caught the eye and the mind at once -

Photography as a fad is well-nigh on its last legs, thanks principally to the bicycle craze. Those seriously interested in its advancement do not look upon this state of affairs as a misfortune, but as a disguised blessing, inasmuch as photography had been classed as a sport by nearly all of hose who deserted its ranks and fled to the present idol, the bicycle. The only persons who seem to look upon this turn of affairs as entirely unwelcome are those engaged in manufacturing and selling photographic goods. It was, undoubtedly, due to the hand camera that photography became so generally popular a few years ago. Every Tom, Dick and Harry could, without trouble, learn how to get something or other on a sensitive plate, and this is what the public wanted - no work and lots of fun. Thanks to the efforts of these persons hand camera and bad work became synonymous. The climax was reached when an enterprising firm flooded the market with a very ingenious hand camera and the announcement "You press the button, and we do the rest." This was the beginning of the "photographing by the yard" era and the ranks of enthusiastic Button Pressers were enlarged to enormous dimensions. The hand camera ruled supreme.

Before you run into the distance, think "digital camera" in the place of "hand camera" and you would have heard some ten or fifteen years back the exact same sentiments echoing through the august halls of probably every camera club in the land.

In 1890 when I returned to America I found that photography as I understood it hardly existed; that an instrument had been put on the market shortly before called the "Kodak" and that the slogan sent out to advertisers read, "You press the button and we do the rest." The idea sickened me.
Finally one day I met a middle-aged stock broker by the name of W.B. Post who had just returned from Nassau. He showed me some four-by-five prints he had made. I was amazed. They were beautiful.
He asked me if I did not want to try out his camera. The temptation was too great to resist. I had certain things in mind that I knew could not be done with the large camera and tripod.

So in 1892, in February, there was a great blizzaed. I loved snow, I loved rain. I loved the deserted streets. All these seemed to attune to my own feeling.

During the blizzard I stood at the corner of Thirty-fifth Street and Fifth Avenue with Post's camera. I had watched the lumbering stage-coaches appearing through the snow; the horses, the drivers, the driving snow - the whole feeling - and I wondered could what I felt be photographed.

The resulting image you will probably find on the net if you search "Winter - Fifth Avenue" and "Stieglitz". And those dates are not typos. This was in the 1890's and Stieglitz was one of a number primarily involved in the establishment of photography as a practical technology and as one of the arts.

The emotional strength of Stieglitz's campaign is illustrated best by a letter written in 1942 - a few years before his death - following a request that he contribute to an exhibition to be toured to Army corps on active duty. The request stated that there could be no guarantee that prints sent would be returned, and that mounts were to be standardised. Stieglitz's reaction -

I have your communication of January 12th. What am I to say? In a sense I am horrified.

First of all, I am not qualified, according to your letter, to contribute a print, as I have not as yet become a professional photographer. But even if I ignored this, what I might look upon as a "slip", I could not possibly send you a print of mine as I have spent my life in fighting for the recognition of photography as an additional medium of expression ranking with the other media of expression such as painting, etching, lithography, drawing, etc., etc.

You seem to assume that a photograph is one of a dozen or a hundred or maybe a million prints, all prints from one negative necessarily being alike and so replaceable. But then along comes one print that embodies something that you have to say that is subtle and elusive, something that is still a straight print, but when shown with a thousand mechanically made prints, has something that the others don't have. What is it that this print has? It is certainly something not based on a trick. It is something born of spirit, and spirit is intangible while the mechanical is tangible. If a print that I might send did not have this intangible, what would be the value of sending it out?... I might just as well say that any machine can take a picture, and turn out a print mechanically. You might get a wonderful picture as a result, but they would not contain that something called love or passion, both of which are required to bring forth a living print - or any other living creative expression. A print lacking these elements is simply an illustration.

Stieglitz should be recognised as one of the unsung heroes of the photographic world. Not for his skill as a photographer - in his time he was a leading technician as well as artist. Not for his unending fight to have photography added to the visual arts - a battle that has finally waned in the past generation or two.

He deserves recognition as an artist of light, an artist of the ordinary in extra-ordinary light, his ability to record emotion in two dimensions.

And I shall return to my practice of making illustrations...

Friday, May 27, 2011

More of May...

Being Saturday, the probligo and SWMBO went to the library, shopping (fresh greens etc for the weekend and a bottle of wine) followed by lunch out (that is not ordinaire!) and a visit to Uxbridge. A word of explanation on the latter. Uxbridge is the local arts centre, based on one of the old church halls. Presbyterian, I think. Occasionally they have some really worthwhile things going and this was the reason for today's visit.

An ex-member of Howick Camera Club, one Derek Penlington, had a display of some of his more recent work. He has been working in long-exposure landscapes; movement of the camera; multiple exposure. Interesting but, I have to say, a rather limited range. There were perhaps four sequences of (similar) images; a seagull in long and multiple exposures; wave-break (surf); kaihikatea swamp; an autumn scene. Good images, nothing particularly amazing. I thought that there would be far greater impact if he had taken the same image in bright light, with bright colours, and used ND filters to lengthen the exposure. There - something to try.

Like this as an example -

Not as extreme as Penlington - nowhere near. But the idea of a passing autumn breeze is (I think) very well conveyed at 1/15 as against 1/250.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Most of May...

No competition entries this month. Too "busy" Been to club for nights two and three, and the couple of "training" nights, but there has been little enough time to think and plan, let alone prepare for competition.

Set topic this month was "food". The "projected images" competition was remarkable. Not for the sparcity of entries - there were only five for B Grade and eight for A Grade - but for the absolutely stunning still life that won image of the night for C Grade. If there had been an overall winner it would have cleaned that as well. If I remember I will post the link to the club site so you can see for yourself. No, it was NOT mine; I try to give credit where due.

There are two sessions of the course left. Have I learned much? Yes, the ol probligo brain aint dead yet! Had a quiet natter with one of the presenters at the last session. Nothing direct, but I can feel the old challenges returning. The homework is to prepare 8 sets of images showing examples of differing types of light.

So some f'rinstances.

"Flat light" -

For "Artificial Light", I am putting up the "Night Tree" image from earlier in the year, along with this that I grabbed (one of four frames) after "class" -

After posting... hmmm, wonder what happened there. That bottom third was sure not like that on the original jpg.

And to wind this up, this is under the heading of "Hard Light" -

Monday, May 9, 2011

The April that was...

In some ways this photographing lark is a bit strange. I say that on very limited recent experience, but it is a feeling that matches with the two years I was previously involved (and competing) at club.

This last fortnight included the slides/projected images competition on Easter Monday. I had in two entries; the “privacy” one with the bowlers, and the other the Wairere Boulders picture of the interior of a “partial cave” above. Because it was Easter Monday, I was not there to hear the judge’s comments. Suffice to say that both earned H/C’s, a little to my surprise for the bowlers privacy. But, I can imagine the difficulty the judge may have had with the other.

Regulars (if they do exist) will know my rabbiting on about “minimalist” images. I set this one up as an instance of other approaches to the “minimum colour, minimum contrast” images that seem to rank in this strange offshoot of the craft.

There is another aspect to this; it comes (in my mind at least) under the heading of “realism”. It is a strange thing. One could not imagine that there could be anything more “real” than a photograph image. OK, there is also a boundary here. It lies between the “real, in the camera, in the eye” image and what can be achieved with varying degrees of processing.

The first, annoying, brush was the criticism of the waxeye image because of the “boring, dull grey” background. Yes, because that is what it was like; trying hard to rain and not quite succeeding.

The second - again I think I have mentioned this - is the “dramatic sky, shadow, dramatic landscape” legacy of the likes of Ansell Adams and his followers. Now do not get me wrong. Adams is the pinnacle of landscape photography in most quarters; he is in mine. He deserves the adulation and sincere imitation of any who take their imagery seriously.

Can you hear the “BUT” yet?

Adams’s great skill was in his ability to capture – in black and white – the colour and drama of what he was seeing. There is an additional talent of “right place, right time”. He had a great talent in the production of his images.

Right now, off on a different tack…

The probligo’s better half is a member of the local tennis club, and they have an annual Charity Day in support of the local hospice. It is very successful, and generously supported. She suggested that I contribute a print of my two “oyster catchers”. While this is by no means anywhere near competing with Adams or even some of the beginners at the camera club, it is a “good” image – I like it. SWMBO over-heard comment while it was on the table for sale, “… the sky is never that colour… too artificial…”. Sorry luvvies, it is that colour if you look; particularly through a polariser; or if you look rather than just “see”. The lovely deep cobalt blue that comes on a clear winter day when the sky has his face well scrubbed and all.

The advent of digital imaging, and the facility of processing those images, has widened the whole idea of photographic image into an art that rivals the fine arts of the past in both scope and variety. So one can project into modern photography the parallels of all the offshoots ranging from the (intentionally) surreal distortion of reality, to the quick sketch, to the monographic record, to personal impression and interpretation. A quiet couple of hours on the net will find photographic surrealism that would rival that of Ernst, Miro and Dali; impressionist use of form and colour to rival Manet, Monet and Pissaro; perhaps even the simple lines of primitivism and "child art".

I have at long last received my copy of the "approved text" for the club's course on landscape photography. One of the most stunning images in this book would likely qualify under the heading of "field colour abstract. There are essentially five blocks of colour with very little in the way of detail; blue sky, two foreground wedges of colour, and between them is a small black silhouette of forest.

And I think that is where the "BUT" arrives...

Friday, April 15, 2011

April already...

Quite an interesting month thus far.

Went to the first of the club "workshops" Tuesday week ago. A lot of faffing about, but one or two interesting bits. The four taking the course spent about the first 90 minutes introducing themselves. There was no opportunity given for the participants to introduce themselves - a pity that because I might now have the names but putting faces to them? Impossible.

Got "homework, due Thursday this week, and I flubbed about and got half of it in. There were ten frames required that I did not submit - two landscape subjects with POI shown in each of the four "thirds" corners, "golden square" corner and central. Could not find a bloody thing to fit the requirement. Submitted eight other frames that (I hope) meet the requirements of the remaining exercises... using different focal lengths etc. Examples shown...
...using different focal lengths...

... frame which works better as landscape rather than portrait presentation.

Set topic for the month is "Privacy". Could not make up my mind about either of the two below. The bowlers won for set topic and the dandelion is in for open.
The bowlers was taken at Clevedon last year. The Mrs probligo enjoys walking and decided to enter one of the SUB (Sarah Ulmer something; and look SU up in the cycling press from about 6 years back) 10km walks. Did very well, first in the 65-70 group. Ol' probligo hung around for photo ops and noticed the old codgers playing bowls next door. The catch took a bit of patience - three ends to be precise - before chance and a fair bit of sidling got everything in the right places. There is one clue which shows that it was cropped. See if you can pick it :).

The dandelion was taken on a Sunday drive not long after. Again out Clevedon way. There is a disused silo in the middle of a paddock which had some interesting colour and texture. I was walking back to the car and the dandelion caught my eye... Two frames later and the cat got up and walked away in disgust.

On the matter of "there ain't nothin new"...

Went to the library this am. Picked up a copy of a Brit photography magazine with an article about 1 minute plus exposure landscapes. Uses a ND10 filter. What was I saying? Still, there is unending possibility. Most of the ideas revolve around the "minimalist" ideas of moving water and old jetties. The ol' probligo has a few of his own. Experimentation at Easter in Opo.

Oh, May sees the first of the club special comps. I am going to put the foggy estuary in for digital image, and this one for the Maslen Cup (black and white landscape). Evil grin...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

March (ing on)

Well, I guess that is about the end of March.

I quite enjoyed the competition night (projected images) this month. My entries are below.

The Waxeye was praised for its colour and composition. The difference between the Highly Commended it got and Honours was (as far as I could determine) the colour of the background. Apparently early spring in Auckland when it is trying its best to rain should have blue skies, that cobalt colour you can get with the judicious use of a polariser. Yeah, wouldn’t it be nice!

I ended up choosing a different frame from the series I took at Tanu Beach of the touch-rugby players. The main criticism was around the background (…a marvellous sunset…) and the fact that the players were only in silhouette. Fair enough. That was one of the reasons I chose that frame – and a measure of desperation that my library of “Sport” images from the past two years is very limited. There was one Honours frame from C Grade – and I can not dispute that it deserved the award; it was a beauty.

So, I can’t and won’t complain. Two HC’s out of two.

There was a quick “technical” to close the meeting on panorama photos. Quite satisfying to hear an expert tell you that what you have been doing is absolutely right… I might be heading for the print competition next Monday (HT!! skates ON!!) with a Taranaki print.

April set topic is “Privacy”. I have a couple that I am thinking about. More on that later.

I am getting a replacement print for one of the photos in my gallery; a sunset taken at Mangere about ten years back. It is in a cheap frame and the glass is not uv-proof. It has suffered badly as a result so I am replacing that glass. Mrs probligo also wants a new photo for the opposite wall and has selected one of the Tamaki fog series for that. I am putting another of them into competition next month to judge the water for a B&W competition in May. I am converting to B&W using the process suggested through PS9. Not easy for a beginner… The ‘Naki print is also on order.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

March so far...

Well, the month is half gone.

I went to club for the first meeting of this month. There was another couple of new members :D This is getting to be quite uproarious. But as I said in the previous post the test will be when my next set of entries goes in. I am tossing up between the Tank photo I submitted last month and another which I might put into a later category.

If I use the Tank photo, I need to dodge the background somewhat. I NOW HAVE PS ELEMENTS 9 so it should be a breeze, right?

Yeah. Right! That battle will continue. The original is in fact on film, printed to cd, so I am not sure of the quality at that level.

I spent this weekend digging through the old files. There were a number of quite important frames I have been missing. In the course of that search I found at least three of the lost ones plus a "perfect" image for the Sports next week. I have also dug out a frame for Open so here goes ...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

February - 2010

I went along to the camera club of choice on the second Monday of Feb and signed myself up. Good-oh, I thought. No dramas there! Happy faces but apart from an announcement at the opening of the more formal part and one or two sidelong glances from some oldies there was very little reaction. Well to be frank I was not expecting to be welcomed as the prodigal son.

That night was on print mounting, a topic that was one of the difficulties I had originally. I was hoping to catch up on what was acceptable, the current techniques. What I found was that I need to invest some $250 in a matt cutter. An extremely interesting tool ranking alongside of a balsa stripper for builders of small aircraft models. Perhaps next year...[GRIN]

In the meantime, there is much to be learned from the experts. I have to get the discipline back in gear.

The third Monday of each month is “projected images night”. So, I selected a couple appropriate to the occasion (I have stuck them in below). I have to say they are not my best. The Yasur image is “clouded” by the ash being emitted continuously from the crater. That makes the hot lines from the ejected rock look as though they are out of focus. BTW that was a 40 second exposure taken about 20:00. (What a weak excuse, the old Minolta was on its last legs as well).

“Tank” (and that is his nickname) is a delightful chappie, from the north of the Hokianga. He has been competing at the Opo Chops for more years than he cares to remember. As you can see from the expression on his face, he enjoys it even if he can’t keep up with his handicap. I like the image because of the smile on his face, and the action even if the motion blurs and all are absent… I was very tempted to enter it in the Set topic of “Hot” but the volcano “won”.

How would it have done in the club comp? Acceptance probably. It certainly would not have ranked with some of the others shown. So I have to be a bit realistic about things; most of all the ability I have which I know is small compared with many others.

Now notice the doubt there? My entries did not turn up in the competition. Nor did my badge either. I have not yet been approved as a member. Well, fair enough I thought. I wasn’t too worried because of the standard (or lack thereof) of my entries anyway. I wonder if anyone will look back through the club records for about 5 years back. I know my name is on at least one trophy; but that was then…

Last night the club newsletter for March arrives by virtual mail. Greetings to one new and one returning member. OK! My name in lights!! Not. I must have joined on the wrong night. [ANOTHER GRIN].

March should be interesting when I send in my entries. I am going to tag them with a reply requirement for receipt and open. Ah, the fun… :D

Belated Update -

I realised that I had missed the heading, so that has been corrected.

We (Mrs probligo and yt) went to the Lantern Festival. Interesting. And some very crappy images. I might get brave enough to select one or two of the better ones...

Friday, February 11, 2011

That minimalist theme again...

I almost titled this "Making the best of...". These two images were taken at sunset at Omapere on an evening when there was a gold coloured haze and light patches on the north head.

This first is unmodified, if somewhat over-exposed, as recorded from the negative (I am making a practice of "printing to cd" rather than paper). It gives a faint idea of what I was trying to grab with the headland partially hidden behind the fishers on the jetty.

It did not take long to get the idea that there was a greater possibility in taking longer exposure frames so out came the ND2 and ND4 filters. (Thinks... I MUST get that ND8 I have been promising myself).

I put these here as an illustration of how I see many of the "minimalist" theme photographs that google and bing throw out of the net. I am not at all happy with any of these. I have some more on the next film taken in Mangonui which I just know will be even worse. The difference is that I now know what I am doing wrong after having one of those epiphanies that les religieux seek so fervently.

You MULTIPLY the denominator of the EXPOSURE, you ADD the APERTURE!!!

So, 1/180 becomes 1/400 for two exposures, 1/600 for three...

So, 4.5 becomes about 8, 10 becomes an impossible 20...

At least, that is the current thinking. Stuff another film in the Canon and try again...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

January 2011

Hey!! Where did January go to? Last time I looked it was December and I was knocking around the North, annoying the neighbours and my sister.

To which end, she has retaliated by publishing a very rare photo of the probligo in the act of knicking her blackberries. To be fair, I was not the only one at it as the attached will reveal. Stephan, and the probligo’s sister are easy to spot. The Mrs probligo is a bit more difficult to spot among the brambles.

More to the point on the photographic side, I am beginning to find the limitations of my ability and to some extent the limits of the Lumix especially in low light and in HDR situations.

The immediate problem I have is getting the camera to accept ISO100 or anything else as the default setting. It is easy enough to build and grab one of the custom scenarios, but these seem to hold only for the next frame. Experimentation and consultation of the manual required because I am obviously doing something wrong. This impacts directly on the limitations I am meeting – especially when the camera insists on using ISO1600 and 1/50 instead of ISO100 and ¼.
What I need to do more than anything is to spend an afternoon on each of low light, HDR, high contrast, and polarising; brushing up the technique and knowledge on all is definitely required. Now that I have found a possible D&P resource for film (after my experience with one in Howick who “gave” me 2 prints of each frame at an additional cost of about $16 when the instructions clearly said “CD and Index ONLY”), I might take film and digital at the same settings to see what happens.

The first set topic for HCC is “Hot”. I was going to enter prints, but that was this week (early February) and I have missed. My attempts at getting digital for the same subject were foiled by weather – far too windy and cool. I had in mind trying to get the heat shimmer on the road as a basis.
(happy snap)

There was a fantastic opportunity at the Kohukohu ferry ramp but the tarseal was too cool and the wind was about 15k off the harbour which removed any remote possibility. The image of three semi-wild chooks standing in a “pool” of heat shimmer would have been quite neat but it just wasn’t there. In similar vein, I had thought of getting a “wild-west” scene at Waimamaku. We went over there for a brunch but again the weather was against any success – windy and cool. In fact, rather than wild west the country looked far more like Ireland after one of their wetter summers.

So the intention is to tootle along to the next meeting – on the 21st – as a refresher on mounting and displaying prints. The following week is digital entries and I will be going to that, perhaps with one or two to show. I will see…

Friday, January 14, 2011

And so the year turns...

I wrote in my last post of having paid a couple of visits to Manukau Photographic Soc. meetings. The first image was grabbed as I was leaving that meeting. I was one of the first out, but a woman went past as I was getting things right in the camera and asked what I was doing. I gestured to the trees and she said "You know, I have never seen that!".

Yep, goes to show.

The second is one I need some help with. I took this at the Diwali Festival in November. I would love to show it, but the face of the kneeling girl needs to be removed as does an ear that sticks out on the left of the left-side girl's skirt. There is also a merge between the skirts of the girl on the left and the girl behind her. That is less noticeable (unless you realise that the gold is not right round the skirt).

I do not have Photoshop. I have got hold of a freebie processor that has a spray-over function which I can not get right. There is a combination of motion blur and fabric that I am having great difficulty with matching. I think it might be a combination of factors; like what kind of merge to use, fade factor on the spray, spray width... I am somewhat lost.

BTW the image was at 1/4, hand held. Not bad for an old bugger I reckon.

One thing I have realised, mainly as a result of using the Labels function on blogs that I run, is the need and ease of creating an index to my photo library. NO, I am not putting the whole lot onto the Net. I know there are several quite good library drivers there. I want this one "in house", for MY use.

Any suggestions out there?