See you at competition night.
This Wednesday will be our first of two competitions for the year. Over the years I’ve been in the club, I’ve made my peace with the process. I used to get rather anxious about choosing images to submit and then waiting to hear the esteemed judges pronounce a score. The low numbers really stung. But I persisted in hopes not so much of doing better than my colleagues but simply of upping my scores; more like competing with myself. Little by little my scores got better. But then I had to ask myself, was my photography getting better or was I just learning what judges like? I don’t know. What I know now is that it doesn’t matter. I like my work enough to enter it. What the judges think is just AN OPINION. Presumably an educated opinion but still it’s simply a subjective pronouncement. We don’t have to agree with the judges. We do have to be happy with our own work. So why bother with competitions? Curiosity. I want to know what others think of my work. Have I communicated the emotion I feel when I look at my image? Have I made a technical error that weakens the image? Low scores make me reassess images; I may like it but what could I have done to make others see what I saw and liked when I made the image? Sometimes there is no answer. Sometimes it is just a difference of opinion. Love your work, be proud to show it off, be open to other opinions.
See you at competition night.
The Newark to Paris leg was delayed 3 hours! Grrrr! But at least we got there at a reasonable time of day instead of 6-ish in the AM. Roissey Bus from the airport to Opera Garnier and a few blocks walk to the hotel where we could leave our bags for check-in later. (This is why I need to travel light).
Yes, we walk. And take the Metro (one of the best in the world, IMHO). Everywhere. Average was about 5 miles a day. It’s the best way to see the city and find interesting photo ops. An old unlocked iPhone got a French simcard with a very reasonable data plan and we had GPS and internet just about everywhere. Sometimes the good old maps came in handy though.
Yes, back to photography. Weather was not always ideal. It’s always the wild card when you travel. But the temperature was unusually warm for early November. Though it seemed to be foggy every morning, it usually burned off and as I look at my shots there were only a few days of bald sky. At least some of the cloudy days had clouds with definition.
I wore my camera like I wear my glasses—I felt undressed without it. Though by the 2nd week I was not wearing it to breakfast at the neighborhood patisserie down the block from the hotel. What I did not anticipate was how we scheduled our days. In hindsight I should have known. We’d leave after breakfast for the day’s sightseeing. It was usually to some other side of town so we rarely returned until we were ready to call it a day. The tripod never got opened. Yet I think some of my blue hour and night shots are quite successful and among the best from the trip. Yes I had to resort to high ISOs, larger apertures and noise reduction in Lightroom. Walls, railings and posts were sometimes helpful for stability. Yet some shots were merely hand held even in a moving boat on the River Seine.
The 16-50mm performed like a champ. I couldn’t be happier with this lens. The wide angle (24mm on my APS sensor) was great for cityscapes and inside the churches. And I believe it’s a much sharper lens. I didn’t even carry the 18-200mm when we were out and about. Sure there were a few times I wished I had the extra focal length. Nor did I use the polarizer. It might have been helpful in some cases though. I simply didn’t want to leave it on mainly because of the reduction in light. Stopping to put it on/take it off was just too much trouble. Too much time spent on photography gets me the stink eye from my companion. I have to get the shots quick and move on. You learn to be fast. If you have a few misses, it’s not the end of the world.
As for the SD cards: When a card got to about 1000 images I put a fresh card in. Total image count for the 2 weeks is about 2880 before deleting the worthless ones. I’m still reviewing and editing them but the count for rejection up to 154 as I write this. Trust me there are more for that list. At this point the count of top level shots that I might be able to use for prints or competition is 80, so less than 3%. There are a LOT (maybe 50% or more) of "record" shots not intended to be for prints or competition.
Batteries: I usually needed 1.5 batteries a day. Not bad battery life.
We left Paris twice in the 2 weeks. Once to visit Chartres (charming small town with a fabulous historic cathedral) and once to visit Chantilly (Chateau that is now an important art museum in a picture perfect setting). Both recommended if you are ever in Paris and want a day trip. Easy to get to via trains (Nice trains by the way).
All in all, photographically a great trip, and generally a great trip. We ate well!
Paris to DC, DC to Hartford. Wouldn’t you know it, DC to Hartford, delayed 3 hours. Grrrr!!!
View my faves here:
Professional travel photographers travel to make images. I make images when I travel. Travel is one of the things that got me interested in photography. For me, making images of a trip adds another dimension of enjoyment.
I recently returned from 2 weeks in Paris; thankfully a few days before the attacks! I thought I’d report on the photography aspects of the trip. Since I’ve been to Paris several times before, I didn’t need much advance research on the city, it’s sights, getting around, etc. Other than a list of places we wanted to revisit, there was no planned itinerary. We’d wing it pretty much day by day. That left packing as the primary advance-planning chore. Obviously I’d take my main camera, batteries (I have 3), chargers (I have 2), SD cards (3 32 GB, 1 16 GB), a blower, a couple cleaning cloths, and the camera manual. The big decision was what lens or lenses to take. I considered what I’d be shooting: architecture, cityscapes, street captures, maybe people, night shots, indoors (museums, shops, restaurants). I nixed the 70-300mm as not appropriate. The 50mm, f/1.4 is fast but not versatile. I’d just gotten a new lens (16-50mm, f/2) less than a month before and hadn’t yet become familiar with it. I was eager to give it a try. My previous favorite walk around lens was an 18-200mm, f/3.5-5.6. Not really fast enough but would I miss the longer zoom range? I decided to make the 16-50mm the one I’d put on the camera. I packed the 18-200mm just in case. To carry it all, I chose a medium size sling pack. It’s not designed for cameras but it’s comfy. It slings across the body over one shoulder and can be worn on your back or up front. This would be my personal item to take on the plane as well as a carry-all walking around the city. At this point it was getting full since it also had to carry about half of what I usually tote around in my purse. Here’s where all you mirrorless shooters can gloat with your compact systems! Question was, do I need a spare camera? I decided there wasn’t room for it space or weight wise. I stuck the circular polarizers in for each lens, a small reflector and a sunshade (it adds a bit of shade where the lens hood leaves off). To tripod or not to tripod? That was the next question. I have a nice compact one. Sure, take it. I can carry it out at night for night shots. I put it in my carry-on. I had to be responsible for one large checked bag, a carry-on duffel-like bag and my “camera bag”. I was maxed out.
Hartford to Newark, Newark to Paris.
Stay tuned for Part 2.
We all know that when your camera is mounted on a tripod whatever type of vibration control you have, be it in camera (called Steady Shot in Sony DSLRs) or in lens, should be turned off. Leaving it on can actually cause vibration. But I find it hard to remember to turn it off. Today I made labels to stick on my tripods: TURN OFF STEADY SHOT. Now there is no excuse.
Last night we viewed the Members' Project for the 2014-2015 year; Song Titles. Members were given a list of 22 song titles. The assignment was to make an image depicting each title; e.g. Macho Man, Stairway to Heaven, The Long and Winding Road, Here Comes the Sun, etc. Through technical wizardry (FotoMagico software for Mac and member L.S.) we were treated to a slide show of the images accompanied by the songs they were depicting. I think we all enjoyed it and saw some wonderful images from our members and guests from the Connecticut Valley Camera Club who were invited to participate with us. It really was fun to see what everyone else captured to fit the titles.
But years ago, before everyone converted to digital and many of us were still using film, Member Projects were much different. In some ways it was more fun, and definitely more challenging. We still had an assignment such as a scavenger hunt but we sold each member a roll of slide film with processing. You completed the project with just that roll and kept a log of each shot. So, with a list of perhaps 20 items to find and shoot, and a roll of "24 exposures" you had maybe 4 extra frames in case you wanted to substitute another shot for one you had already taken or maybe you knew you probably had made a mistake and wanted to make another exposure. The deadline was usually 4 to 6 weeks later so it didn't tie up your camera for very long. Now here is where it got interesting. You turned in the unexposed roll and your list designating which frames you wanted to use for each item on the list. The first frame was always a selfie so we could identify whose roll was whose. The film was processed and the coordinator sorted the slides to show all of item 1, all of item 2 etc. for the slide show. So not only was it fun to see what our fellow members did but we had no idea how our own shots turned out until we saw the slide show! It was a meeting we all looked forward to attending!
Last night I presented members with a ballot describing 4 possible projects for next year. I asked them to vote for as many as they found interesting. The overwhelming favorite with 18 votes (runner up had 12 votes) is SHOOT THE RAINBOW. More specifics will be announced at a later date but you can start NOW searching out subjects in rainbow colors. What better time than summer when COLOR returns to our lives. We may also include White, Gray and/or Black just for kicks! The subject should predominate in the frame. And remember, we're looking for your best work; mind the exposure, focus and composition. This is a super easy project so I hope we get a lot of participants.
Here are the top scores.
1ST—DREA KOVAL BABCOCK GRISTMILL 26PT/SECCC
2ND—DIANNE ROBERTS BEE 25PT/COASTAL
2ND—LINDA WATERS ANGRY BIRD 25PT/SECCC
2ND—LOU SECKI JUMP 25PT/COASTAL
2ND—CHERYL PHILOPENA BARBER’S CHAIR 25PT/COASTAL
3RD—KERRY MC CARTHY LAST FLIGHT OF THE DAY 24PT/COASTAL
3RD—PAULA CHABOT OLD ECUADORIAN WOMAN 24PT/COASTAL
3RD—BRIAN ALPERT TEL AVIV SUNSET 24PT/SECCC
3RD—MARK JANKE AWAITING THE TOURISTS 24PT/COASTAL
3RD—LINDA WATERS LIGHT LUNCH 24PT/SECCC
3RD—MICHAEL FRECHETTE VIOLINIST 24PT/COASTAL
3RD—CHERYL PHILOPENA HEADED FOR THE TRACKS 24PT/SECCC
3RD—PAT ANDERSON ABSORBED IN ART 24PT/COASTAL
BLACK & WHITE
1ST—BRIAN ALPERT UPPER & LOWER FALLS 27PT/SECCC
2ND—DAVID RATHBUN LOOK’N AT YOU 26PT/COASTAL
2ND—BRIAN ALPERT YOSEMITE FALLS 26PT/SECCC
2ND—LINDA WATERS MT. COOK 26PT/SECCC
3RD—DREA KOVAL CHARLESTON WINDOW 25PT/SECCC
3RD—CATHY DOWNIE SPIRAL STAIRCASE 25PT/SECCC
3RD—KERRY MC CARTHY DOCK IN FOG 25PT/COASTAL
3RD—LINDA WATERS GRIST MILL 25PT/SECCC
3RD—BOB FEDDER WELCOME DANCER 25PT/SECCC
3RD—MARYANN FLICK PATIENTLY WAITING 25PT/COASTAL
3RD—JOHN PATON GENTLE SNOW FALL 25PT/COASTAL
3RD—LINDA WATERS FINE ALE 25PT/SECCC
1ST—KERRY MC CARTHY CARDINAL IN SNOW 27PT/COASTAL
1ST—DREA KOVAL SMOKIES WATERFALLS 27PT/SECCC
2ND—DEANNA BRODERICK COMMON TERN FEEDING CHICK 26PT/COASTAL
2ND—SHUYA DRAGONFLY 26PT/SECCC
3RD—ELLEN WAGNER COASTAL FOG 25PT/COASTAL
3RD—DIANNE ROBERTS THE HUNT 25PT/COASTAL
3RD—DIANNE ROBERTS SNAKE 25PT/COASTAL
3RD—MARYANN FLICK RUBY THROATED HUMMINGBIRD 25PT/COASTAL
3RD—CATHY DOWNIE FEMALE NORTHERN CARDINAL 25PT/SECCC
3RD—MIKE COHN NICE CATCH 25PT/SECCC
1ST—CHERYL PHILOPENA FAST FLOWING 26PT/SECCC
2ND—KERRY MC CARTHY NEW YEAR’S DAWN 25PT/COASTAL
2ND—DREA KOVAL PLETVICE WATERS 25PT/SECCC
2ND—DEANNA BRODERICK MILA & THE WHALE 25PT/COASTAL
2ND—DIANNE ROBERTS FLOWERING WATER DROPS 25PT/COASTAL
3RD—ELLEN WAGNER WATER PROOF 24PT/COASTAL
THANK YOU TO ALL WHO PARTICIPATED---ALL OF THE PHOTOS WERE REALLY SPECTACULAR!!
WE LOOK FORWARD TO NEXT YEAR!!
COASTAL TOTALS: SECCC TOTALS:
Many thanks to all who braved the rain last night and traveled to the hinterlands east of the river. I hope you found the competition interesting and inspiring. There were some truly stunning images!
A big thank you and a round of applause to all who submitted their work for judging. Between the 2 clubs we had over 200 images!!! Unfortunately it meant there was no time for judges commentary. My overall impression/opinion was that a good number of images were scored too low, a few were scored too high, but most were scored fairly. As you know by now, judging can be highly subjective.
If this was your first encounter with a camera club competition I hope you weren't scared off. You now know what quality of work is expected to earn a high score. Don't think you are not capable of bringing your scores up. Keep practicing, pay attention to small details and keep submitting work for feedback whether it's just a score or actual explanations of good and not so good features of your images. And remember too, on another day, with other judges, scores can be wildly different.
In Part 2 I'll summarize the results but after a casual glance at the score sheet I think CCC did pretty well against SECCC. Well done!
Here's a well presented article on getting better pix from your iPhone camera. Don't discount it's value and abilities. It's always in my pocket, it's unobtrusive (everyone is grabbing phone shots--I don't stand out as 'photographer') and I actually have several iPhone images represented by Getty. End use is the key factor when you're dealing with a camera that has a lower MP count; lower resolution. I get very nice 8 x 10s but I wouldn't try for much larger than that. For computer screens there's no problem. Remember, 10 or 12 years ago an 8 MP digital camera was considered high end.
I came across this interesting opinion piece. Worth a read!
Ten Myths About Nature Photographers
For Part 2 click on "Next post" at top right of the page.
What do you think?
President, Coastal Camera Club