Friday, April 13, 2012

April May not be finished...

It is strange, sometimes how events coalesce to create problems and sometimes produce unexpected solutions. As is the case this time around. This month's set topic of "Reflections" has been causing some anguish with finding an image that is just that little bit different. I spent the last couple of nights planning a parallel mirror shot - and I might still do that - but in sheer desperation more than anything I went trolling through the library and turned up a series of frames from last April.

The series was completely fortuitous. I took them during my lunch break about 100m from the factory gate and in a stinking mood after a bit of raruraru with the boss. So, this is to be submitted...

That leaves the Open entry and Brickell's Buddha wins hands down.

A word of explanation here,because it is richly deserved.

I have met Barry Brickell just once, many moons back about six months after he established his pottery at Driving Creek in Coromandel. We went there about two years ago - it was a bucket list item of mine - to trip up the hill on his private railway. The Driving Creek Railway is likely better known than his pottery these days but I have always had a strong regard for his sense of whimsy and fun.

The Driving Creek Railway runs from the original potting sheds, via two of the clay mines Brickell drew from, to the top of a hill and "The Eyeful Tower". The Buddha sits in a quiet corner, out of the way of most, and if you look him in the eye then turn 180 you will see that his gaze is directed down the valley to the Firth of Thames; I can appreciate the quiet smile of peace and humour at the series of puns included at every level...

Yes, the frame is shopped. The rest of it is a small part of a very large lump of driftwood pine that sat outside the Omapere Hotel for some months. It was taken in colour but monochromed before being used in this image.


It is probably more correct to refer to Brickell's Buddha as Ho Tai; he is most commonly referred to as Laughing Buddha but Ho Tai is more correct at least in my mind.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Got May sorted...

Easter this year was summer, the best summer weather we have had since May last year. The one thing that was missing was the cicadas. They were around during February, but I suspect that 2019 and 2029 will be very poor years for them.

I have been having problems with getting images together for club for this and next month. Until last night.

I downloaded the SD card from the Easter break and it includes 5 frames taken on Saturday morning. SWMBO drew attention to a monarch butterfly in the bottlebrush alongside the carport. Out of that comes my "Flower" image.

I still do not have a "Reflections" for this month, so may have to resort to the car mirror or something like that. The old two mirror trick is another in my mind.

And I have the "Open" image for this or next month as well...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

April brings the sweet spring showers...

Flanders and Swanne have a great deal to answer for; and in the same breath, to be thanked for as well.

Here it is not so much sweet spring showers, as promised autumnal downpours. It is the continuing story of an La Nina summer; warm, wet and windy. Perhap that is what has gotten into the ol’ probligo brain and growed a fungus that has brought all of these together at the one time.

F’rinstance, the judging of set topic competitions. I eventually caved in to the pressure and posted a minor rant on the club Flikr page. There are no replies as yet, nor do expect that any will take up the glove.

CT was very fair on my two efforts. I got the HC and M that I expected; merit for the wave, HC for the cold morning. The interesting things came out of his comments.

For example, he saw the wavebreak as including quite a bit more than it needed. The before and his idea of what it should have been cropped to is shown. In view of the Merit score, I am not going to argue that one.

The Taupo cold morning went the same way. Before and after are below. Perception is a deceptive rather than constructive mental force. There is recent research reinforcing the idea that the normal brain spends a good deal of its time telling fibs to the rest of itself; this most particularly through memory and recall. The idea behind the original frame was to push the depth of field to the limit by getting the rock (bottom left) and boats in focus. I reckon that was achieved, so I am fairly happy on that score. I don’t think that the image lies entirely with the boats. It is the relationships; boats, distance from shore, coming fog… But, as I said, perception is a cruel mistress.

Set topic this month is “reflections”; some very good efforts were presented in Prints Monday night. I spent some time over the weekend seeking out the reflection of trees in a mud puddle taken down Whangamata way last spring. It was a vague attempt to replicate the Escher drawing of a puddle with tyre tracks and footprints. Very poor in that light and the more I look at the original frame, the less that survives the crop tool.

There was a series of images that I took some years back in Cornwall Park; autumn leaves sitting in the road channel with water. One or two of those would go close so I am going to try and get out there in two weeks to repeat the exercise. Not sure that SWMBO would appreciate sitting around whilst I go puddle jumping. But there y’go.

I think this month is when I shall submit the “Buddha brings Enlightenment to Chaos”. Time I got that one off my chest. That kind of implies that I expect my reflections image to be weak. I hope not.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

... and go March-ing on.

The set topic for March is "Seascape/Coastal". One would imagine (well this one certainly did) that the topic would draw comments like "too much sunset, not enough coastal" from the judges.

Well, I went to prints night to find out. Judge was one of the seniors, a member of the team that took the (very good) course I attended last year. The extreme (in my book) was three images (one in each of the grades) all of the same marram seed - the kind of thing that blows though wild-west ghost towns, a tumble-weed. Yea, I guess that it was coastal to the extent that there was sand, and some evidence of water that may have been salty. That left me with the problem of trying hard to find something from the past twelve months or so that would fit the bill.

First selection was a b&w version I had put together when it was taken last year. Oh, there are five frames in that stitch. There is a sixth frame that does not quite fit on the left; it is about 10* too far to the left. I reshot that frame after the first pan, and the sky had changed so much that it looks like it had been taken half an hour earlier - or later for that matter.

There is also a series of frames taken in January.

Not really what I was wanting...

This is the best of the bunch so far. It needs a crop, but the right elements are there. Oh, I had stacked up every ND filter I have, total about ND9, and the exposure time was 1.5sec to film. I have learned enough that the Lumix just does not like 1.5 secs. And the horizon is a bit on the tipsy side.

This looks the same, it was the same set-up, but I tried something just a bit different. It is in fact three 0.5sec exposures. Being film one can do these things.

It has interesting possibilities, and next time we go north I will have a film ready for the job. For this competition? No.

The other possibility twists the rules just a bit - like with this one from Taupo. Not that I am overly happy with the frame; it does have its defects.

So, there it is. What to put in for open? No idea at the moment. Perhaps one of the "failures" from the above. I want to keep the "Indecision" frame for later.

One of the set topics for later in the year is "Reflections". It is raining at the moment, and I doubt that we will have a six-month drought through winter. I would like to go back to the Viaduct and play with the lines and colours with some water on them. That might have possibilities. There is also "Night Life" and "Traffic" to consider. Might be able to combine all three...

In the meantime, it will be interesting to see what the projected images judge makes of the entries he has to consider. I am also interested to hear if he has any comment on the latitude adopted by the prints judge. Both are topics that can not be debated on the club site because of the fact that the judge is ctphotography himself.


Well the decision is made -

The Taupo frame goes to Open, the long "rock" frame goes to Set. Might score a HC for one, both is a long shot...

Went to the Pacific Festival today - very tiring. Best we saw was De La Salle College Niue kapa. VERY energetic...

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

As we leap into March...

It was interesting at club Monday. My prediction of a fairly low score was fully borne out by a HC in Set and Merit in Open.

The judge’s reaction to both was interesting; indeed her reaction to many of the images could be described thus.

She “did not understand” the Set entry. The shadow met with approval, but there was nothing in “her story” to explain the sharpness of the left side of the image. So, let me explain. Reading from left to right – which is why I rotated the image 90* left – there is the very sharp, and threatening, claw shape that grows out of the “background”. The shadow that it casts is of a fern – exactly as the sculptor intended – a gentle and soft plant that grows in the shade of others. To the right there is the series of diagonal parallel shadows which introduce a sense of instability. Those same lines create a barrier to the right, visually pinning the fern in the middle of the frame. The base of the claw and the fern are joined at the edge of the frame, indicating their direct connection.

I have no idea if the story I have read into the sculpture was intended by its maker but the image for me is direct and powerful. There is a danger in beauty; there is often a very visible but unrecognised cause to both. It might be surf and rocks, such as at Piha or Muriwai; it might be calm water and powerful currents, such as Tory Channel or the entrance to Hokianga, or a deep hole in a river. If you want you could even put a political slant on it; if that rings your bell then go for it.

The reflection was even worse. I think she recognised the image as being a reflection. It was not in her story that the people were looking at the objects floating there. The fact that they were created to look like flowers was missed. There was just no recognition at all. So between me and the person who made the sculpture we completely lost the judge. There was just no connection. The puns are almost multitude: reflection; it is, the three people in the reflection are reflecting on the “meaning” of the flowers in the water; flowers; artificial or not, flow-ers; flowers grow in a garden; is this a water garden, it is also the Botanical Gardens; and so it goes.

Or is my mind just too far bent for others to pick these things up?

I have to credit the judge with making the distinction between an “impressionist” image and a plain bad frame. In question was a picture of a family picnicking under a very large tree. As you can imagine, there was lack of focus and/or presence of movement. There was also a measure of manipulation in the image as well to burn out other detail. Not well enough burnt out in the judge’s opinion. It would have been better had the frame been deeper exposed in order to take out the houses etc in the background. I agree. It is a matter of how you do it; in camera, or in computer is the question.

One thing I have learned, and must remember, is the use of “Vaseline filters”. Good thing with which to play around. Also coming out of the comments last night is the difference between “form” and “texture” and “intensity”. This latter came from an image which, in the opinion of the judge, would have been better in black and white rather than colour. It was a very wide angle of a room in a photo exhibition. It was blurred and swept as one might expect.

One last comment. One of the images presented by an A Grader was of two surfers on a wave. Time of day appeared to be dusk. The image was manipulated by the addition of gold light on the crests of the two waves. This met with warm approbation by the judge. There was one problem. The light was – quite obviously too – from behind the surfers and the waves, as the front of the surfers was not similarly coloured but were in shadow. How come then that the front of both waves carried that gold light. The intensity of the colour was too deep as well. There was no blue, emerald, gold fade in though the blue-yellow boundary had been feathered. Sometimes judges can be as imperfect as can I.

Also out of the same evening comes the question, "Is this a competition on image manipulation, or expertise in obtaining and presenting photographic images?".

Friday, February 24, 2012

So the year begins...

Ahhh, time of joys, of the long late summer, and the commencement of the competition scene at club. That latter prospect has improved through the presence of a good mate who has decided to join the club this year (as a “beginner” naturally). The improvement will come from the occasional debate that we may have concerning things photographic.

F’rinstance, a question regarding the nature of “photographic images” was debated over the tea-cups one afternoon this last week. The question arose from Rules 2 and 3 -

2. An entry must originate from a negative, colour slide or digital file that was exposed by the contestant.

3. An entry may be manipulated in any way provided no areas are added that were not exposed by the contestant.

Seems straightforward enough, huh?

I looked long and hard at Rule 2 last year for the “White on white” set competition. I had a white feather – collected from one of my sister’s chooks I think – which I tried scanning with a white background, only problem was that the scan came out somewhat more yellow than I had imagined and the idea was dropped because of my inability to clean the image for consideration. But the question starts at that point – an “image” taken with a scanner? The output is a “digital file”, no?

Consider the use of a digital file taken from a scan of a film image. Is this in any way different to a print taken from a digital file for print competition? That is easy – the answer is “No!”. The premise here is that the image was originally captured using a camera. One can argue the same for an image captured using an iPad camera or phone camera. Equally as valid, equally a “photographic image”.

So, why the objection to an image from a scanner? There is no lens? I believe that the lensing and sensing functions in a scanner would be quite complex. In fact quite as complex as a digital camera in fact. That became a particularly unfruitful moot.

The application of “no areas added that were not exposed” in Rule 3 is comparatively straight-forward. There is a small matter of detection involved. Primary in my mind when I say this is an image that was presented in competition last year under the “photo-journalism” heading. It was of a crowd, either Japanese or Chinese, all looking in the same direction, all dressed in what I would think of as late 50’s or very early 60’s clothes; suits, hats. The overall feeling that I got from it was of immediate post-war Japan. There is no way that I could get any proof, but I had the uneasy feeling that I was looking at an image from the ‘Net rather than the person presenting it, and dating from some 50 years BP rather than being an image from current times.

I am not going to allow the year to get off to a bad start with the prospect of the "Abstract/Concept" as the set topic this month. The judge has been named and to give an indication of what she might expect. Sorry, mine is going to look like this -

I had a long struggle with which to offer as the Set topic. I chose this as the Open entry -

Both images were taken last month at the Auckland Botanical Gardens.