Face to face meetings have been cancelled due to COVID 19 but the May 2020 meeting was held on Zoom and a recording of the meeting can be viewed by APS Members here.
All Amersham Beyond Group Challenge images can be seen at Amersham Beyond Group on Flickr.
For APS Members only this month's images are also available for viewing and commenting at the Members Only Facebook Site
IMPORTANT - please spend time viewing and commenting upon the images - this is our primary source of feedback at the moment. Authors are also encouraged to provide commentary on their creations here.
#11 TEXT (created by the author themselves)
… and the latest;
#13 POP ART
Most people think of Andy Warhol in association with Pop Art and his brightly coloured, repeated images were well represented. However, we also had images in a variety of other relevant styles. It was particularly gratifying that so many members said they had enjoyed playing with the more extreme features and filters even if several said that they had no idea what they had done and could not repeat it! It makes a change from the strictly photo-realistic style to which we normally feel constrained. There's much more to explore here.
Software used by members in connection with Pop Art included;
- Apps; Prisma, Clip2Comic, Brushes, Paper.
- Stand alone software; Topaz Studio, Zerene Stacker (focus stacking), Clip Studio Paint Pro.
- Photoshop Filters; Cutout, Poster Effect, Color Halftone, Gradient Map, Threshold.
The next Challenge is;
#14 JOINERS AND COLLAGES
David Hockney is a British artist and an important part of the Pop Art movement. He initially had little interest in photography, using it only to capture fleeting ideas, expressions, lighting etc for his paintings and drawings. He said that he couldn’t look at a photograph for more than a few minutes reflecting the brief time taken in capturing it and being captured by it. In the early 1980’s his joiners began life as a rigid grid of Polaroids that closely described the scene in front of the camera. Hockney photographed his Californian home, friends and surroundings. Over a period of months he began to see the opportunity to introduce a sense of time into his joiners by including multiple views of faces or other features. This grew until he was incorporating an hour or more of elapsed time by means of multiple images, often of people, in his compositions.
Losing interest in the rigid grid approach he began to use 35mm film rather than Polaroid which gave him access to large numbers of borderless enprints to experiment with and he started to lay out much less formal compositions with overlapping prints and highly irregular edges, producing his most iconic images.
A collage is an assembly of physical materials or elements not usually associated with one another. It is usually created on a surface and two dimensional, in contrast to a still life.
So – what methods are available to us to assemble our joiners or collages;
- Physically assembly is the classical means by which Hockney created his joiners and every schoolchild creates collages (and usually a huge mess) with speed and flexibility. The end result can then be re-photographed. Unlike for Hockney, physical photographic prints are less readily available today although online printers can send these in the post relatively cheaply and quickly.
- Assembly of multiple photographs can also be done in Photoshop or your favourite photo editor. Ideally each would be in a separate layer for flexibility and this could make for a very large file. Thinking ahead, it may therefore be best to set the camera to take small images (in terms of pixels) and most importantly a medium telephoto lens to create the small pieces of the subject required.
- Another solution is Microsoft Word which is surprisingly good at assembling images once you have changed a few settings. Keynote can be used in a similar manner.
- There are many websites that offer to create a collage from your photo uploads. Unfortunately I struggled to find one to recommend. This was mainly because very few offered the option to rotate the image freely whilst creating the collage. One that did was photocollage.com but I DO NOT recommend this as, when checked, it carried a virus. A better option might be Adobe Spark (£0) although I found the interface rather clunky.
- More successful were smartphone apps and I was pleased with Pic Collage (iPhone/Android/Win 10 - £0 or pay to remove the small watermark). It’s a bit cramped on a phone and may be more practical on a tablet. There appear to be many others.
- Another option is a pseudo-collage made from a single image. I have been pleased with Panographic Photo (iOS/Android $1.99) which offers many versions from a single photo. A more sophisticated and controllable version from the same company is Photo Formation (iOS £5, / Windows, Apple and Plugin £25). Of course you can download the resulting image into Photoshop and edit if further or maybe edit several versions together.
- Finally an automatic joiner-maker is available: You Gotta See This (iOS - £0) which I have used and recommended over many years. This works slightly differently, creating a set of images whilst panning the phone camera around a scene. Using the gyroscope in the camera it knows how they relate to one another and assembles them into joiners in a variety of styles.
BACK OF BEYOND - DIARIES
Video Conferencing. I first used this technology in the 1990’s. Whilst living in the USA between 1994 and 1997, I chaired hundreds of audio and some video conferences with participants around the world. The technology was flaky (as it still is today) but we all learned how to get the most out of it. Here are some tips;
- unless your microphone is muted, keep background noise around you to a minimum as any loud noise will interrupt the meeting
- place your camera in a fixed position and preferably not looking up your nose. Waving around a hand-held phone or pad is distracting to everybody. Some light on your face would be good.
- once you have the floor, be brief but keep going until you’ve made your point and then stop. Don’t keep pausing for feedback.
- the host of the meeting may have the power to temporarily mute all other microphones (eg with Zoom) and this can be very beneficial especially for presentations where a smooth flow is important.
I have been involved in many Zoom calls in the last couple of weeks – some with over 80 participants – and they can work surprisingly well. The most common issue is unfamiliarity with three basic controls; muting your microphone, stopping your video and the Gallery/Speaker View switch. This latter is especially important to know. The Gallery View is best for interactive discussions up to the maximum number of video thumbnails that your screen can manage. For presentations or larger groups, the Speaker View works best where the active speaker video occupies most of the screen. You can switch between the two views freely during the call.
Video Conferencing Equipment. If you have trouble getting the camera or microphone to work, check that the operating system and any anti-virus software is giving permission for the video conferencing app access to them.
I have been playing with the dual monitor settings in Zoom; Laptops don’t usually have a dual-head graphics card so you don’t get the full dual screen experience if you plug in another screen. Normally you can only duplicate or replace the laptop screen. The only app I know that makes full use of a second screen in this situation is Powerpoint which detects a second screen and, in Presenter Mode, gives you the presentation on the second screen (or projector) and your notes on the laptop screen. I use this all the time when making presentations and it’s pretty bullet-proof even when the laptop and the projector are different aspects and resolutions – it just deals with it. The way Powerpoint seems to do this is to use the Extend Desktop facility which enables a single extra-wide desktop to be extended across both screens. Using this ordinarily can be confusing unless the laptop and the second screen are the same size and aspect ratio and positioned side by side as you can lose track of the mouse!
I have discovered that if you turn on Extend Desktop on the laptop and then turn on the Dual Monitor setting in Zoom you get an interesting capability; when you share the screen you get the shared screen on the laptop but you keep the participants’ gallery videos on the second screen. This is rather neat. You can see if you are boring the audience with your presentation or see if anyone is waving! The second screen also now has room for the Participants List and/or the Chat in floating windows. It helps to arrange things if you use Exit Full Screen with this second window.
Even premium laptops can have very disappointing webcams in them (mine certainly does) and it would be perfectly possible to add a third party camera of a higher quality if they were not widely sold out! Stocks of third party microphones are only slightly better but I have been able to procure one and have had good results from it. However I have discovered that the acoustics of the room are as much to blame as the microphone itself. Being able to bring a separate microphone closer does, though, help with this. Best results come from putting a duvet over your head but this may be inconvenient.
Photoshop Versions. If you have Adobe Creative Cloud and Photoshop, it’s worth checking that you are actually using the latest version (currently 21.1.2 as I write). I say this because several members (including me) have discovered that Creative Cloud updated Photoshop weeks or months ago but did not delete the previous version nor it’s desktop shortcut As a result we were still happily loading the old version unaware that it had been replaced. To avoid this in the future you can change the following; Creative Cloud Desktop>Preferences>Photoshop>Advanced Options>Remove Older Versions>Tick.
I have found that it’s not usually a problem to keep multiple versions of Adobe software on the same computer, indeed I have previously had as many as six different versions of Photoshop and Photoshop Elements installed and have even run two simultaneously without problems. However you may prefer to save storage and delete older versions which should be perfectly safe to do. However make sure that any important preferences, actions, brushes etc are transferred first.
Meeting Notes on Creative Photography and Photo-Art
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