Saturday, 13 September 2014

As in life, so in a game of hazard, skill will make something of the worst of throws

A year goes so fast! Again the nights are drawing in and we are swinging towards the days when photographers start thinking about exhibitions and competitions.

This is the first full year I have been a member of a photographic society and I am still getting used to the rhythm of months of little contact with fellow photographers, followed by a great orgy of meeting and comparisons of your years work.

Today is the start of that cycle, with the society taking part in the Melbourne Art festival and opening its doors to the huddled masses and showing the members work to all who enter.

As usual, the day came quicker than I was expecting and I ended up panicking about what of the years produce I would contribute. The choosing of those to be displayed on the projector was relatively painless since they could hide among the many others. However what to print proved more difficult.

Before I joined the society I had never thought about producing photographic prints, relying on electronic media and websites to disseminate my work. However I now realise that prints are probably the ultimate expression of the photographers craft. Not only is there a cost element, meaning that you are more careful of which are chosen, but they are displayed next to other photographers allowing direct comparison in a way electronic images cannot. They are also your direct advertising of your skill and if it is your want, your product and livelihood.

Prints also meant I had to learn the art of photo mounting. In the past I have left this to the chair of the society (with any profits going to the society ), but I felt I wanted more control over the process so I had a go myself. This may sound easy, but cutting card with the correct bevel turned out to be a hit and miss affair, even with a bevel cutter. Also there is a lot I need to learn in this process such as how the colour of card affects the viewing of the print, the optimum sizes for the mount, and the use of borders.

There is also the issue that some photos are better suited to DPI than print. Also the printing itself can change the image. I sent 5 images of to be printed (I use an external company to do the printing, because for the amount I do it is generally more cost effective) and while 4 came back OK, the 5th had a green tinge which I had not seen on the original image. The question is then, was it the image or the printing process that caused that? It is easy to blame yourself, but with any industrial process there can always be mistakes. The other possibility is that images just need to be manipulated differently for the best results in print. hopefully as I print more, I will learn these lessons.

Anyway I chose my photos, mounted them the best I could and went to help set up the exhibition. This is the first time this season that we got to compare each other work. Of course the hope is that your years work will stack up well against others. As I watched the other images being put up my usual despondency hit me as I realised that I had not moved forward as much as I had hoped.

Of course it is easy to be hypercritical of your own work compared to others, and unless you are a complete egotist, you can always see the faults that others cannot. Also of course you have to be realistic that some of the photographers have access to locations and equipment that you can only dream about. For example, one of the photographers I greatly admire in the club, Simon Pearce, had photos taken of Elephants and Zebras in Africa. In comparison photos of a Robin, however well done, are always going to suffer in comparison.

Anyway the purpose of this blog is to show that photography is not only about equipment and location, but skill and passion. Even saying that,  I have to admit a twinge of jealousy and a bit of 'if only' when I see those photos.

Much more than access to  equipment and locations, I wish I had the time to practice my art. Recently the weather has been glorious for photography, especially in the morning with low mists in the valleys around here. Also the yearly deer rut is building up in Bradgate park offering great opportunities for those willing to get up early and take advantage of the opportunities of an accessible golden hour.

So how many photos have I taken in these optimum conditions? Exactly none. While work and family commitments form part of the blame, I must admit getting up at 5 in the morning, to travel and stand around in the cold at a deer park for 3 or 4 hours, in the hope of getting a decent image, loses its appeal when wrapped up in a duvet.

I do wish however that I could spend more time getting that optimum photo, rather than snatching images when and if the opportunities allow.

Anyway if you are going to Melbourne art festival. Please pop round and have a look. Also talk to the members, they are very welcoming and passionate about their work(even the Nikon users :) )

And if you see a sad group of images in the corner, do not judge them too harshly. While they are not the best that can be achieved, they are all, like all the others, done with passion and the best of intentions.

The 4 that made it to print...

And the one that didn't due to printing issues

Is it me, or was it the printing? The print was far more yellow than this one

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