Advertisement feature Photography news NEWS PREVIEWS TESTS CAMERA CLUBS INTERVIEWS ADVICE COMPETITIONS FREE Issue 3 In association with In association with
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The exciting third issue of PhotographyNews is inside this coverwrap
Issue 3 | Photography News
In association with
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Olympus OM-D E-M5 with 12-50mm
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If you’re after a camera with ultra-fast AF and like to travel light, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 could be for you. With its large sensor and retro look, it’s giving pro DSLRs a run for their money
The exceptional picture quality and colour reproduction from the E-M5’s 16.1-megapixel sensor is maximised by five-axis image stabilisation that offers the ultimate protection against image blur. With super-fast AF and a shooting speed of 9fps, it’s a modern classic with a retro look.
Perfect for all abilities of photographerwhether near beginners or more advanced users, the Galaxy WiFi camera boasts innovative S-Voice technology to control settings and take pictures with voice commands – perfect for group shots – then share them instantly using Wi-Fi connectivity. It’s not just the software that’s cutting edge: the Samsung Galaxy WiFi camera has a 21x zoom lens, which covers the equivalent of 23-483mm on a full-frame camera, so all photographic opportunities are covered. A 23mm wide-angle lens helps capture landscapes and groups with ease and Samsung’s Photo Wizard to adjust your pictures all in-camera.
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Olympus OM-D E-M5 with 12-50mm plus free Manfrotto 393 Tripod worth £79.99
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Have you seen the #BeardedDragon? Visit www.jessops.com/beardeddragon to find outmore
Photography News | Issue 3
Photography news NEWS PREVIEWS TESTS CAMERA CLUBS INTERVIEWS ADVICE COMPETITIONS FREE Issue 3 10December – 20 January 2014
Your FREE newspaper packed with the latest news, views and stories from the world of photography
Last month, Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines. The strongest storm ever recorded to hit landfall, it killed many thousands and affected the lives of millions of people, many of whom had already been left homeless by an earthquake in October. The international aid community soon swung into action, with appeals for donations going out around the world. Here in the UK, photographer Neil Buchan-Grant is gathering together a group of concerned photographers to sell their photographic prints with all the proceeds going to the DEC Typhoon Appeal. Notable photographers from the UK donating their images include David Noton, David Clapp, Steve Gosling, Damien Lovegrove and Will Cheung, PN ’s editor. You can do your bit by buying a print or offer your own prints for sale – just email Neil Buchan-Grant on firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to contribute. Go on, you know it makes sense. Prints aid typhoon victims Famous names donate shots to raise funds
Competitions to enter, plus the latest gear fromSamyang, OnOne andRogue
All the top stories revealed inside
Hannes Lochner (Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest)
Behind the scenes at Smethwick International Howmany seconds does a judge lookat your salonentry for? On test: 6 premium compacts & 7 super wide zoom lenses
Turn to page 5 to find out what you could get up to on an Olympus Experience Day, and read all about the latest bird of prey Experience. EXPERIENCE
Turn to pages 19 and 24 for details
Issue 3 | Photography News
Photography News | Issue 3
Latest photography news
Perfect Photo Suite 8
NEWS INBRIEF SAVEMONEY Save up to 50% on Experience Seminar training DVDs aimed specifically at Canon EOS photographers. Check out the Christmas DVD catalogue on its website for details of the offers including multi CD collections that offer big savings compared with the individual prices. www.experience- seminars.co.uk Buy an Olympus OM-D E-M1 before 15 January 2014 and you can claim a £100 cashback on any Olympus accessory worth over £199.99. You can make the claim when you buy the E-M1 or within 60 days of the initial purchase. www.olympusuk.sales- promotions.com OLYMPUS CASHBACK
Boost your camera’s integral flash with this cost-effective slot-in unit
Upgrade your workflow for a smooth and efficient experience with PPS8
The problem with integral flashguns is that they are not very powerful so have limited use. The Rogue Safari Flash Booster claims to focus up to eight times more light from a pop-up unit and give a much greater range. It’s optimised for focal lengths of over 100mm, slots onto the camera’s hotshoe and costs £25. To check whether your DSLR is compatible go to http://bit.ly/18dUm2l.
π To find out more, go to www.expoimaging.com.
The latest version of Perfect Photo Suite from onOne software is now out. PPS8 has eight integrated modules: Effects, Enhance, B&W, Portrait, Mask, Layers, Resize and Browse. Each handles a specific image- processing task to help give a smooth workflow. Three versions are available: Premium, Standard and for Lightroom or Aperture. The Premium edition costs £135 and works as a plug-in for Aperture, Lightroom, Elements or Photoshop or as a stand- alone software, while the Standard edition is £59 and works as a stand-alone software only. PPS8 is suitable for Windows and Mac.
π To find out more, go to www.ononesoftware.com.
WildlifePhotographer of the Year 2014 Could you be the 50th recipient of the world famous title (and the £10k top prize)? Amateur and professional photographers are invited to enter the world’s most prestigious wildlife photography contest. Last year’s contest attracted 43,000 entries from 96 countries, but with a prize pot worth £50,000, the 50th Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest could pull in even more images, so if you fancy having a go make sure you only send your very best. The closing date is 27 February 2014.
π To find out more, go to www.wildlifephotographeroftheyear.com.
Issue 3 | Photography News
Latest photography news
Learn Photoshop in the Lakes Fotocards finishes
NEWS INBRIEF TOSHIBA WIRELESS Toshiba has expanded its FlashAir SD card range with the launch of a 32GB card with a guide price of £60. It’s embedded with wireless LAN functionality and this will also be provided on Toshiba’s 8GB and 16GB FlashAir cards too – an update tool is available for existing cards. FlashAir technology means you can transfer images wirelessly or access them from the computer or mobile devices. www.toshiba-memory. com
Practical, hands-on learning with Lakeland Photographic Holidays
LPH has also introduced a practical landscape photography break for people who are less mobile. Workshops are limited to one and a half miles per day over relatively even ground, allowing participants to capture the spectacular scenery without long treks. The six-night stay takes place from 8 June 2014 and costs £750 (or £725 if booked before 31 December 2013) per person.
Lakeland Photographic Holidays (LHP) is hosting a Photoshop for photographers course led by John Gravett at its Keswick base from 2 February. This five-night course offers three full days of practical Photoshop work and one out shooting wonderful landscapes of the Lake District. It costs £795 (£760 if booked by 31 December 2013) for the five nights and that includes all accommodation, food, tuition and excursions.
π To find out more, go to www.lakelandphotohols.com.
Fotospeed’s Fotocards range has expanded with two new sizes in two new finishes. Art Smooth Duo and Matt Duo are both available in A6 and i3 (74x210mm) sizes and are perfect for producing personalised greetings cards using your home photo printer. A pack of 25 A6 cards with envelopes costs £11.99 and £19.99 for Matt Duo and Art Smooth Duo respectively.
π To find out more, go to www.fotospeed.com.
New Samyang wide-angle Nano Coating System debuts on 10mm f/2.8
Samyang has unveiled a new version of its 10mm f/2.8 ED AS NCS CS lens, the result of a development programme aimed at achieving the highest possible optical performance while reducing the size. It’s the first Samyang lens to feature a new Nano Coating System – this coating reduces reflections more effectively than the old UMC system, and benefits include better light transmission and higher contrast. The optical design includes two aspherical elements and one of extra- low dispersion glass to minimise aberrations. The new design also includes an embedded lens hood for a more compact size and a reduction in weight for the Canon version. The new 10mm lens will be available from the end of January 2014 at a price of £470 for the Nikon version and £430 for other fittings.
IMAGES Offering the highest possible performance at a reduced weight, the Samyang 10mm.
π To find out more, go to www.intro2020.co.uk
Photography News | Issue 3
Latest photography news
Five photographers took part in a bird of prey Experience day organized by Olympus Olympus experience
OLYMPUS FIRMWARE UPDATES Olympus has firmware updates for its OM-D E-M1, M.ZUIKO 12-50mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ lens and the XZ-2 compact. http://bit.ly/IIAnjl
This Experience was just one of a series of exclusive days fromOlympus that have so far covered subjects like street, fashion and motorsport photography. The attendees had the chance to test out Olympus kit including OM-D E-M1 cameras and a variety of lenses to help them capture images of their impressive feathered subjects. Leading the workshop was professional wildlife photographer, John Wright, who was on hand to dish out advice and review the attendees’ images. We asked John to share his top tips. “Watch your shutter speed! 1/200sec may be okay when photographing people, but birds of prey are always moving so you will probably end up with blurred shots. Increase your shutter speed to 1/500sec, even if the subject is static and increase the ISO if light levels are poor.” The next Olympus Experience is all about creative light at night. Hosted by trainer Ade McFade and PN ’s Will Cheung, it takes places on Tuesday 17 December at Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds. Book your place now.
Canon has announced a firmware update for the EOS-1D X, which will be available in January 2014, offering a number
of improvements. www.canon.co.uk
NEWFUJIFILM X-SERIES FIRMWARE Fujifilm has firmware updates for its X-Pro1, X-E2, X-E1 and X100S.
The X-Pro1 update is available now but the other three will be available from 19 December. www.fujifilm.co.uk
IMAGES Hands-on with wildlife photographer, John Wright at a recent Olympus Experience Day.
π To find out more about Olympus Experience days, visit www.olympus-imagespace.co.uk.
Are you theUK’s best? Enter your top shots before 6 January for your chance to be part of the World Photo Awards The Sony World Photography Awards has a new section called the UK National Award, which is open to all UK residents and free to enter. There are ten categories including Architecture, Low Light, People and Travel and the winner will receive Sony camera kit. The winning photographer along with two runners-up will have their work shown at the 2014 Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition held in London during May 2014. Entry is free and the closing date is 6 January 2014.
π To find out more, go to www.worldphoto.org.
Issue 3 | Photography News
Camera clubs AnAby phone Marie-Ange Bouchard achieved her Associateship of the Royal Photographic Society with a panel of colour prints. Nothing unusual in that but her panel was the first successful ‘A’ shot using an Apple iPhone. “I couldn’t go to the Assessment Day,” says Marie, “but a friend, Marcus Scott-Taggart, was going and text me the result. I kept checking my phone and finally, a text announcing that the panel had been recommended to the Council for an A relieved me from my misery and I literally jumped for joy. “ We spoke to Roger Reynolds Hon FRPS, chairman of the RPS’s Distinctions Advisory Board for his reaction. “We are delighted with the successful application from Marie-Ange Bouchard. We welcome photography in all forms and it doesn’t matter how the pictures are taken provided they are up to the high standard required for a distinction. This stunning set of pictures is clearly up to the required standard. It also goes to show that the RPS is receptive to every style of photography.”
IMAGES A selection of images from Marie- Ange Bouchard’s successful ‘A’ panel – all images shot on an Apple iPhone.
Warwick Camera Club had its first meeting on 27 November with six keen photographers turning up. “I started a club in Leicester a few years ago which ended up with almost 200 members – we started with two people on that club’s first night,” says Steve Jane, the driving force behind the new club. “So with six people plus three more coming to the next meeting, it’s a positive start. “I’ll be there most meetings to ensure everyone has a great evening but I run my own photographic business so from time to time I might have to rely on others to run meetings, which is how the club is intended to run,” explains Steve. Warwick Camera Club meet every other Wednesday at the Chase Meadow Community Centre, Narrow Hall Meadow, Warwick CV34 6BT. Calling all keen photographers in the Warwick area: members wanted Newcamera club forWarwick
SPEAKERS AT GUILDFORD PS One of the UK’s leading nature
photographers, Mark Sissons is hosting his talk The Secret Life of Puffins at Guildford PS on 6 January 2014. Tickets cost £10 each. See the website for
location details. Later in March 2014 renowned landscaper Guy
Edwardes is giving a talk and so too is Will Cheung FRPS about his passion for photography.
π To find out more, go to www.warwickcameraclub.co.uk or email email@example.com.
“The Df offers much of what most amateurs want; a straightforward full-frame camera without video and minimal in-camera processing. But I can’t understand why Nikon should expect me to pay more for less. Does it do more than the D610? Hardly. So surely it should come in at around £1000.” Roger Tyler What you think of the Nikon Df First Df feedback
“This camera looks fantastic, if Nikon brings out a DX version I would definitely buy one! Speak to Hiro Sebata for me, haha (I already use Nikon DX).” Gerry Marchant
“As a long-standing Nikon devotee, I love the Df which brings back memories of my FE but I feel it’s over priced by £1000.” Bernie Raynard
π We’ll be testing the Nikon Df in the next issue of Photography News (out 20 January 2014) and Advanced Photographer (out 16 January 2014).
• John Morris of Scunthorpe CC for getting his LRPS. • Barry Badcock and Elizabeth Hales of Cambridge Camera Club both for gaining their LRPS. • Christine Hart of Ipswich & District PS for getting her LRPS. • Clive Downes of Cambridge Camera Club for gaining his ARPS.
PN really does need your help to fill its pages, so if your club has a big speaker appearing soon and you want every seat occupied, or if your club (or an individual member) has just scooped a big award or gained a distinction, or you have an exhibition on, we’d love to hear from you so please ask your secretary or publicity officer to get in touch. Stories should be 250 words maximum and accompanied by a high resolution JPEG (at least 2400 pixels on the longest dimension) and emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. If we need anything else we will contact you. Thank you in advance for your help.
The next issue of Photography News is out 20 January.
Photography News | Issue 3
John Walshe Do you think that the infamous D600 oil spots on the sensor issue harmed Nikon’s reputation? I know therewas a lot of discussion on the forums but in reality we received very few customer complaints in the UK. Due to the structure of DSLR cameras, dust is often created internally – and dust can find its way into the camera. We responded to concerned customers by publishing a service advisory with advice and information for them about sending their cameras in to our service department for assessment. I fundamentally believe that customer satisfaction is a key part of the Nikon brand and we want D600 owners to have a positive experience. Nikon has always done well in the SLR market but in recent times the D3 sparked a revival in the company’s fortunes. Has this revival been maintained among pro photographers? Our top-end line-up goes from strength to strength. From its launch, the Nikon D3 was considered to be a groundbreaking camera, interesting professionals with its low-light and imaging performance. Since then, Nikon has continued to introduce innovative products, including the D4 and D800. Both cameras have been a great success and have contributed to Nikon’s growing share – particularly visible at major sporting events. Much to my family’s annoyance, I’m forever counting black lenses at events, and more often than not, Nikon has the lion’s share. The Nikon 1 range is arguably not going to appeal to more experienced photographers using full-frame and APS-C users, are there any regrets that Nikon didn’t adopt the Micro Four Thirds standard or take on the APS-C format for its CSC system? The UK saw rapid growth in the CSC sector but it is now in decline. UK consumers seem to view the category as an ‘advanced compact camera’, as reflected by market trends. The Nikon 1 range was introduced to appeal to compact users looking to upgrade to a more advanced system with more flexibility, convenience and speed. In terms of the sensor choice, the CX format sensor was selected to maximise features like 60fps, movie functionality, silent shooting and creative features such as Motion Snap Shot. Earlier this year I saw a number of pros at The Open using a Nikon 1 with long NIKKOR lenses – the silent shooting and video mode go down well with pros. The Nikon D800/800E has 36.3 megapixels. Do you feel that is the limit in terms of resolution on a 35mm full-frame camera? That is a question that has been asked many times over the years! As consumers, we all want maximum
AGE: 48 YEARS IN THE PHOTO INDUSTRY: Just over two CURRENT LOCATION: West London LAST PICTURE TAKEN: Waves crashing at Lulworth Cove HOBBIES? Squash, piano, guitar WHEN YOUWERE YOUNGER, WHAT DID YOUWANT TO BE WHEN YOU GREWUP? Astronaut! DOGS OR CATS? Dogs TOAST OR CEREAL? Both WHICH NIKON CAMERA DO YOU USE THE MOST? Nikon D7100 with 18-300mm lens BIOGRAPHY flexibility and the highest quality images. So whether it’s more megapixels, faster processing or smaller design, we’ll always want more. However, we all know that it’s not just about the megapixels; the new Nikon Df and Nikon’s flagship D4, for instance, feature a 16.2-megapixel sensor. Whenever there have been advances that we thought had reached the limit, we’ve always broken through the barrier and taken technology to the next level. If it’s not more megapixels, Nikon will bring other groundbreaking technology to the market. Any thoughts on the reaction to the Nikon Df? From my perspective, the Nikon Df is in a class of its own – dedicated to pure photography and a retro design inspired by Nikon’s iconic 35mm SLR film cameras. It has been crafted for photographers who are as passionate about their camera as they are about their art. We are delighted with the reaction, the online teaser campaign generated a lot of interest in the run-up to the launch, and consumer and media interest has been fantastic. I only wish I could supply all the demand that has been created. How is the Nikon School going? The Nikon School opened in May 2013 and is going from strength to strength. Over 1300 photographers have attended courses ranging from introductory beginner courses to one-to-one sessions for professionals. All courses are designed to inspire photographers to learn, explore and maximise their creative potential. The central London location and the fact that we now offer courses on Saturdays make Nikon training more accessible than ever. What is the one feature photographers want but no one has come up with yet? There is no one specific feature that stands out, however from my own perspective, we all want to take better photos. The more features a camera has to make capturing the moment that bit easier or for added creativity, the better. What are your future ambitions for Nikon UK? To be the number one imaging brand and I hope Nikon UK can inspire photographers to learn, explore and maximise their creative potential. The I AM campaign seems to be doing well. Is it? It has been fantastic and has done everything it set out to do in terms of engaging customers and increasing brand share. It has also won awards. I think it’s safe to say that qualifies as success.
Nikon UK’s general manager answers PN’s questions, including what the rise of the smartphone means for the serious camera, and howNikon has enabled photographers to shoot in the dark…
What’s your role at Nikon? Nikon UK is a sales, marketing and service organisation so essentially it’s my job to ensure that we have the right products at the right place, at the right time. How is Nikon UK doing in these difficult times? There is no doubt it’s a challenging market but Nikon UK had a record performance last year. By the end of the year, Nikon was the leading imaging brand in the UK and Europe. For DSLRs, our position remains strong and we recently achieved our highest ever market share. Whilst we are pleased with Nikon 1 performance, the overall CSC market has not performed in line with industry expectations and year to date the market has actually been in decline. Sharing pictures on social networking sites seems to be the current trend. Is this something Nikon is keen to join in? Social media plays a big part in all our lives. People are taking more pictures and sharing them immediately as part of the experience of being connected. Many of our cameras feature built-in Wi- Fi, including selected COOLPIX models and the new Nikon D5300, so customers can take high-quality pictures and share them online, via a smart device. What in your view has been Nikon’s most successful technology of the past few years? There are so many things to choose from but if I had to pick my top two I’d pick advancements in our sensor and processing technology. The introduction of the Nikon D3 was a landmark change and the advances we made allowed photographers to pretty much shoot in the dark! With the latest generation of processing engines we’ve created products that can shoot at 60fps and 1080p video. Are compacts doomed with the camera phone playing such a big part in people’s photography? Sales of compact cameras are slowing but we believe there is definitely a place and purpose for both types of imaging devices. It can only be positive that more people are taking more pictures than ever before – highlighting the significance of photography and also providing us an opportunity to embrace new customers. Smartphones are convenient for capturing unplanned moments, but are limited compared with compact cameras, which boast larger sensors for higher quality images. With over 20 cameras in our COOLPIX range, there is something for everyone. Active people, for example, will enjoy the Nikon COOLPIX AW110, thanks to its durable design and features –waterproof to 18m, freeze proof to -10°C and shockproof to 2m.
It can only be positive that more people are taking more pictures than ever before
π To find out more about Nikon, go to www.nikon.co.uk.
Issue 3 | Photography News
Photography News | Issue 3
Opinion BEFORE THE JUDGE
Rikki O’Neill FRPS Each issue, a respected judge or exhibition selector shares their thoughts and experiences with us. This month, we put Rikki O’Neill, chair of the Visual Arts Associateship and Fellowship panels, through his paces
Words by Rikki O’Neill FRPS
MEETTHE JUDGE Rikki O’Neill FRPS : Rikki is an artist by profession and a highly respected creative and award-winning image maker. He has been on the Royal Photographic Society’s Visual Arts Associateship and Fellowship panels for the past 11 years and is now their chair. He is also on the Roll of Honour of the Scottish Photographic Federation, a Fellow of the Irish Photographic Federation, a Master of the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain and member of The London Salon.
I have judged extensively at club level and selected at most UK international salons as well as judging abroad in Ireland, Holland and Malta. Taking up photography is not just about your own images, it’s about looking and learning, and what better way to learn than by looking! I love looking at images. Club judging can be very satisfying assuming that you give the right advice. But judges can be totally ensconced in their own type of photography and lack the ability to see the good in others. This can have a very negative effect on many club members, especially beginners. It’s not unheard of for a new club member to feel humiliated and leave, due to remarks passed by a judge. Standards of club competitions can vary greatly. Many of the experienced members who are regular salon exhibitors are continually producing high standards of imagery, but there is still a tendency for the majority of club work to be of a very ordinary standard. However, on the whole the overall standard of club photography is improving all the time. In live club judging it is always challenging to be positive and constructive. As a judge we have to remember this is a person’s image, they have spent their time taking it and it may be their pride and joy. If you don’t give positive and constructive criticism, it can have a devastating effect. No matter how bad an image is there is always something positive to be said about it. I would have to say that I love all judging but I really enjoy salon judging. There is so much goes into salons. There can be terrific camaraderie, not just between the judges but also all the organising team – there is a wonderful social aspect to it all. You can see the high standard of amateur photography in the UK by looking at the quality of images entered into national and international salons. Many of the top awards are given to UK participants. In the photographic sense judging should be bifocal. The ability to see a good image and give the appropriate mark has often not happened just because it wasn’t the judge’s own type of photography. I know this is controversial but unfortunately it is true – it’s an issue. You can often be excited by images that have the ‘wow’ factor and there are always fantastic images submitted, but I do wonder about the submitted images that are so bad visually and technically you wonder why the author bothered to enter. Unfortunately, images can fail for many different reasons. No impact, poor composition, bad lighting, no creativity, no centre of interest, poor colour balance, unsuitable subject matter and not telling a story – any one of these can go against an image. I would probably say images without impact and showing poor technique are probably the two biggest failings.
Home club Dundee Photographic Society. I’m president. Howmany years have you been in photography? 33 What is your favourite camera? I’ve always loved the Olympus as my film camera but am now a Canon lover as regards digital. I also use the iPad. I could not be without my iPad or a compact – image quality these days is so good you can almost eliminate carrying larger, heavier cameras around. Certainly for my type of photography I can get away with it. What awards have youwon? Too many to keep track off but my very first medal, a gold at Solihull in the 1980s, along with being given the chair of the RPS Visual Art Distinctions panel, are highlights. What is your favourite photo accessory?
Who is your favourite
photographer? I love Alexander Jansson because of his art and photography together. He takes imagery to another level visually and to me is a great inspiration. See www. alexanderjansson.com. What is your favourite lens? Give me a wide-angle lens every time. What is your favourite photographic subject or technique? Creating images that step out of the box, images that break the expected photographic rules. I just love being told an image is not a photograph, especially when all the elements are there. Being asked what drugs I am on proves that although the images might not be what is expected, they do create a reaction.
I have no real pet hates but I do get fed up seeing formulaic images that continually do well and, understandably, this only encourages others to create similar work because of their success. The organising of group trips has created the ‘holes in the ground tripod shot’ and because of this we see a series of almost identical images. Photographers should be taking in the knowledge, but also creating their own images. It is likely in a judging session that after seeing similar images several times over, the next one, even if it works on all levels, could still be marked down. Different skills are required to take a good photo and to recognise a good photo. Not everyone has these skills, including judges, and having both is rare. As a judge you have to have a broad perception and understanding of all types of images. However no matter what a judge’s choice, it is always going to be subjective and those who enter just have to take on board that there are winners and losers. I always tell fellow club members not to worry too much about club judges; take on board the constructive points, don’t worry about your mark; another judge would probably see it differently. To be successful in contests and salons you have to understand the requirements of entry. You also need to know your equipment, whether it is your camera, the computer or the software. In software, plug-ins are often a great way to help enhance your image but only when understood and applied for positive effect. You also need to be aware of the latest photographic trends, so look at images no matter where they are: books, magazines, TV, galleries, websites and the accepted images at salons.
ABOVE Rikki O’Neill’s creation, His Own Little World.
Different skills are required to take a good photo and to recognise a good photo. Having both skills is rare
π To see more of Rikki O’Neill’s work, go to www.rikoart.com.
Issue 3 | Photography News
Behind the scenes Thousands upon thousands of photographers around the world submit to photography exhibitions and salons. Few, however, get the chance to see how their images are judged, so join Photography News as we go behind the scenes at the recent judging of the Smethwick International 2014
The popularity of national and international photographic salons has never been higher and entry numbers run into many thousands. Organising them is a serious undertaking and is hugely time-consuming for everyone involved. Over 11,000 images were received for the Smethwick International 2014, over 3000 of which were prints. As you might imagine, getting those images in front of the judges – two panels of three – takes time; this year the judging takes place over a long weekend. It starts off on the Friday with Open Colour PDI (Projected Digital Images), Nature Prints and Nature PDI. On Saturday it’s Open Monochrome PDI and Monochrome Prints and then Colour Prints on the Sunday. We’re sitting in on the Friday judging session, starting off with Nature Prints. The three judges are David Osborn FRPS, John Bebbington FRPS and Mike Lane FRPS, all experts in nature photography. Smethwick’s team outnumbers the judges. Chair of the nature judging is Barbara Lawton FRPS, who is calling out the image title, with five others handling the prints – mostly presented in 40x50cm mounts – plus a score checker and another monitoring everything on a computer, to ensure the scores and image title tally. It’s a very smooth, organised and fair process. Every image is given fair consideration, but the time spent in front of the judges varies between four and ten seconds, with six seconds being average. Each judge uses a keypad and scores out of five with the minimum score of two. The minimum score of six isn’t that rare, but the maximum score of 15 was. Each print scoring 13 or more is kept aside and then later all the prints are viewed again to determine the medal winners. It’s worth noting
that prints scoring 15 do not necessarily win a medal. In fact 47 prints score 13 or more, meaning they qualify for the final judging. These are whittled down to 36, from which medals, awards and honourable mentions are awarded. This section of the judging takes much longer as the three judges closely inspect the shortlisted entries. Of course, it is only after the results are confirmed that any photographers’ names are mentioned. At the same time as the nature judging, in another room another panel of three judges – Peter Paterson FRPS, Simon Allen MPAGB and Jean- Claude Menneron MFIAP – are steadily working their way through the 3000 or so images in the Open Colour PDI section. Here, thanks to a neat software called PhotEX, the judges can work on their own, with just the laptop for company. Originally written for Smethwick by Phil Stapleton, this software is now used by 24 exhibitions in the UK, US, Canada, Norway, Macau and Australia. The club version, PhotoComp, is used by about 50 clubs in the UK. For details see, www.photcompsoftware.com. The software shows the image with its title and as the last judge votes the image changes – each image is on screen for between five and eight seconds. Not visible to the judging panel, the computer shows the author’s name, title with the image and then the total score before the next picture is shown. It’s a very slick system that works impressively well. Again images scoring 13 and over are in the running for the awards. All in all, with 39 exhibitions under its belt and plenty of practice it’s no surprise that Smethwick’s operation is so smooth and slick. With so many entries, it can’t be any other way. If you’re a regular on the exhibition scene or thinking about having a go for the first time, you can rest assured that judging and scoring images – if Smethwick is any measure – are as fair as can be. But when you are preparing your entry you must remember that you have perhaps just five or six seconds to get your message across. Shoddy printing, poor presentation, weak compositions and dodgy camera technique will not do you any favours at all. To succeed your photography has got to be at its very best.
Judging is a very smooth, organised and fair process. But the time spent in front of the judges varies between four and ten seconds
Photography News | Issue 3
IMAGE Smethwick International chairman Roger Parry with just a few of the entries.
This year if you count all the prints andPDIs we’ve just over 11,000 entries fromover 1100 individuals
Awordwith the chairman, Roger Parry “The Smethwick International started 39 years ago as a colour slide only exhibition. My wife Judith has been involved for the whole 39 years. “Prints were introduced at the third exhibition when Judith took the job as print chairman. In 1998 I became chairman and have done it ever since. “The chairman starts off the exhibition process six or seven months before the closing date by applying for the patronage of the international bodies, the main ones being the Photographic Society of America (PSA) and FIAP (International Federation of Photographic Art). We also have patronage from the RPS and UPI (United Photographers International). We have to do this every year and send off the rules of the exhibition for approval too. In the case of the PSA we have to apply to each of their divisions separately so if we have a print section we apply to the print division; if we have a nature section we apply to the nature division and so on. With FIAP it’s one application through the FIAP representative, which is Dave Coates in this country. “We get medals from all those organisations, which we have to pay for, and these are highly coveted as major awards. We also give medals from Smethwick. “Then I get a teamof international judges together
If you want to see the results of the 39th Smethwick International, the exhibition takes place 4-12 January 2014 at Smethwick’s club room at The Old School House, Churchbridge, Oldbury, West Midlands. π To find out more, go to www.smethwickphotographic.co.uk, email email@example.com or phone 0121 427 4224. “We open the exhibition for ten days to the public; we are probably the largest exhibition of its type in terms of what’s on show in the UK. All the prints that are accepted are shown in three rooms in the building. All the accepted PDIs are put together in the form of an audiovisual presentation with music so it’s more like entertainment. Over the weekend we get people from all round the UK to see the complete programme – it takes them nearly all day.” Diarydate recording the scores, emailing out the results and producing the text and pictures in the catalogue. “I don’t think we could handle the sort of numbers we get now with the old manual method we used with slides.
and we start calling for entries. “People who wish to participate enter via our website. Unusually, not only do they upload their digital images here, the titles for their print entries are added here too. The prints are then posted to us. Towards the closing date, prints are unpacked, we call their names up on the computer and see what prints they’ve entered and their titles and get labels printed out, so we get some order to a massive pile of prints. “This year if you count all the prints and PDIs we’ve just over 11,000 entries from over 1100 individual photographers, half from the UK, half from the rest of the world. We have entries from around 66 countries. Smethwick is very popular abroad and we are getting an increasing number of entries from mainland China. “Of the entry we have about 3250 prints and that includes the nature section, so we have around twice as many PDI entries. Interestingly, this year we’ve had the highest print entry we’ve ever had which is surprising given the cost of postage, but it’s probably because FIAP has said that 10% of acceptances must be prints. “Across the weekend of judging we will have around 25 club members working. Judging prints takes longer simply because they have to be physically handled. With PDIs, it’s driven by the computer. Our software enables online entry,
TOP LEFT The nature print judging in progress LEFT (2nd from top, work: Jean-Claude Menneron, Peter Paterson and Simon Allen LEFT (3rd from top, l to r) The nature judges deciding the award winners BOTTOM LEFT (l to r) David Osborn, Roger Parry, Barbara Lawton (chair, nature section), John Bebbington and Mike Lane l to r) The Open judging panel at
Issue 3 | Photography News
Bags of quality MANFROTTO BAGS Often overlooked, but oh so vital is a bag for your kit. Manfrotto’s new range offers the perfect combination of protection for your camera and comfort for your shoulders
In the mad rush for megapixels, we often forget that our cameras need decent and comfortable protection. Thankfully Manfrotto hasn’t forgotten; it offers two ranges of bags, Advanced and Professional – that’s 37 bags to choose from. Manfrotto’s rugged Advanced range comprises 21 camera bags. And the clean lines and neat shapes of the range are just delightful. In other words, you can have the looks and the protection too. Based on your ‘real needs’, as Manfrotto puts it, these Advanced bags are designed to be easy to use. This means there’s a holder for your tripod, some sturdy protective inner pads, plenty of multi- use pockets, a rain cover and a durable High Density Nylon Fabric outer with careful stitching to ensure it lasts. Add to that the metal zips, pulls and buckles, and you’ve got yourself a great bag. Among the range, there’s a Gear Backpack, which comes in small, medium and large, and is basically a single compartment with well-padded dividers inside to keep gear secure. Meanwhile the Active Backpack (pictured) has a bottom half for camera equipment, and a top half for all the other stuff you need, which means you can go on day trips with your camera and pack in some essential extra supplies too. If you want to experiment with a variety of ways to carry your kit around, try the Tri Backpack. It can be worn in three different ways: straps on both shoulders, straps in an X formation, or one strap used as a sling. It really depends on which works for you, but having these options definitely helps you find the perfect fit. All in all, the Advanced range comprises some fantastic shoulder bags, holsters and sling bags. They’re good value for money too. Prices start at just £25 for the Advanced Shoulder Bag 1, and for the Advanced Tri Backpack large you’ll be charged less than £125. If you want something a bit tougher, check out Manfrotto’s Professional range, comprising 16
bags. These bags offer full protection for all your gear – you can rest assured that even the toughest treatment and sharpest knocks won’t dent your kit. And it’s all thanks to Manfrotto’s engineering skills, as the whole range features a clever shock- absorbing design, named Exo-Tough, to diffuse sharp impacts: the force of the impact is cleverly spread across the surface of the bag. And when you take a closer look, there’s more evidence of Manfrotto’s attention to detail. Open up one of these bags and you are greeted with the sight of 3D foam dividers in the core. These thick, shock-absorbing dividers help spread any impact around the core of the bag, which Manfrotto says gets the brunt of any shock. So your gear is nice and cocooned. Each bag is made of rip-resistant fabric and it has small feet to help keep it off the ground and out of puddles, ensuring equipment stays dry. There’s also a built-in rain cover to keep things extra dry when the wet stuff starts. And whereas many bags have fiddly zips, Manfrotto’s Professional bags have oversized ones – perfect for large hands, cold days and gloves. Stylish, down to earth and well built, the Professional range bags don’t cost the earth either. Prices start at £65 for the Holster Plus 20 Professional bag and go up to £320 for the Professional Roller bag 70.
IMAGES Every little detail has been thought about, so Manfrotto’s bags are a perfect fit for your kit.
Manfrotto’s ruggedAdvanced bags have the looks and the protection too. And they’re designed to be easy to use
π To find out more, go to www.manfrotto.co.uk.
Photography News | Issue 3
How friendly is your club? SPEAKERS’ CORNER
This is your chance to climb up on your soapbox and have a rant. This issue, and a fewmonths into the new club season, Del Barrett asks howyour newmembers are faring. Are they still keen asmustard or have they drifted off never to be seen again?
greatly improved by cloning out that sign.” And with that pronouncement, my picture joined the others on the reject pile. I watched the rest of the evening in horror, as original, stunning images joined my landscape while the keeper pile grew in stature as every bloom, bird and bee was approved. After the judging, we had the chance to mingle and the secretary took me under his wing. He said that I’d made a poor choice, but he would be happy to look at my portfolio and help me choose one for the following week. I duly emailed him my favourites and back they came with the comment that they were not bad, but needed a bit of post-processing to improve them. He hoped I didn’t mind, but he’d made a few alterations to show me the sort of thing they were looking for. I eagerly opened the zip file and my jaw dropped. I’d like to say it dropped because I was so wowed by the dazzling improvements, but I’m afraid it dropped in horror as I saw that he’d tried to clone out the very things I was shooting – and hadn’t made a very good job of it either as evidenced by the smudgy post-processing artefacts. I realised I had a life-changing choice to make – either abandon photography or abandon the club. It wasn’t a difficult decision. What I found disturbing about the whole experience was the dogmatic belief about what constitutes a good photograph. It was evident that the club thinking was so blinkered, that anything slightly different was going to be dismissed. I don’t know whether it’s a question of the judges not appreciating any genre other than their own, or whether there are certain judging guidelines and technical requirements and anything outwith these is deemed a failure. But what I find even more disturbing is the hypnotic way that photographers accept these judgements. I see many images in the course of a week and if there is one where I am not fulsome in its praise, I can guarantee that the author will bleat that it recently scored highly at the camera club. Before you bombard PN’s editor with invitations for me to visit your club because you’re different, take a good look at yourselves and ask if you really are. A friend of mine joined a club last year, insisting that it was not like other clubs. I have watched her refreshingly different approach fade. I no longer envy her portfolio. I no longer look at her images and think ‘I wish I’d taken that’. I no longer seek her opinions on matters photographic, because I know within minutes she will mention the view of the camera club, as if she now has no ideas of her own. It has been like watching a loved one join a cult as she is brainwashed into thinking that her run-of-the- mill – albeit technically competent – stuff is world- class photography.
wanted two women to make the tea during the interval. I could feel my hackles rising. And I wanted to scream or tie myself to the railings when every manicured hand in the hall shot up, but as the newbie I thought it more diplomatic not to make a fuss in my first five minutes. After all, I didn’t want to get drummed out of something that promised so much. So having chosen the tea makers and sold the raffle tickets, the chair announced that the show was about to begin. I’d been told to bring a picture for the main event, a competition. One by one, the images were placed on the easel and one by one they were critiqued and laid in one of two piles – the keepers and the rejects. Finally, my photograph was up there. I was rather proud of my image. It showed a vast sweep of the local common taken with a wide aperture, such that the only part of the image that was in focus was the foreground – some blades of grass and a sign warning about speed cameras. I took it because I found it amusing. It was so obvious that there was not a speed camera in sight. Judge Dread looked at my picture, hummed and ahhed for a bit whilst stroking his chin and then proclaimed: “A nice landscape, but it could be
Words by Del Barrett ARPS
I had a life- changing choice tomake – abandon photography or abandon the club. It wasn’t
Recently I met someone for lunch and, given we are both passionate about photography, it wasn’t long before the conversation turned from the business of the day to cameras. After he had been waxing lyrical about his recent competition wins at his local camera club, I confessed I was not a fan of clubs. “I know,” he said “I was warned.” I was surprised my reputation had spread so far, but what he clearly didn’t know was my reasons. When I’d had a camera for about three months, I Googled around and found a local camera club. I immediately emailed the secretary and could hardly contain my excitement as Thursday night approached. The prospect of meeting once a week to discuss this great passion was exhilarating. I duly arrived at the village hall and my first thought was that I was in the wrong place. Had I inadvertently stumbled upon the local Darby and Joan meeting? Having established that I was in the right place, I paid my money and took my seat. The show began with the chairman making a few announcements, the last of which was that he
a difficult decision
IMAGES Del Barrett ploughs her own furrow, daring to be different with her photography.
Does Del Barrett have a point or she is just smarting from one bad experience? Do you pride yourself in the way your club handles newcomers? Drop us a line at opinion@ photography-news.co.uk. WHATDO YOUTHINK?
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