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".