Amersham Beyond Group - 2nd July 2020

Meeting Notes on Creative Photography and Photo-Art
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Amersham Beyond Group - 2nd July 2020

Post by spb » Sat Jul 04, 2020 12:24 pm

Face to face meetings have been cancelled due to COVID 19 but the July 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 APS 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.

We viewed the current Challenges which are;



and the latest;

This Challenge proved to be very popular with over a hundred images of consistently high quality being submitted. I would categorise maybe half of these as ‘fine art’ and the remainder as good record shots of flowers. By ‘fine art’ I mean an image that would not look out of place on a gallery wall – a flower probably (but not necessarily) abstracted from its natural background.

Many of the fine art flowers had clearly been influenced by our recent speaker Polina Plotnikova with textures and intentional camera movement much in evidence. Architectural flowers such as lillies were popular. Topaz Labs software was often used to add colour and texture. Appropriate sharpness and softness were both put to good use. Some of the images were definitive examples of their genre so well done to all. We were impressed.

I was also pleased to see image editing skills continuing to develop with focus stacking being widely used as well as some complex manipulations involving many layers. Unfortunately many of the results were ‘happy accidents’ that could not be repeated! I would always recommend labelling each layer with its purpose, blend mode, opacity etc. immediately and before it is forgotten.

The next Challenge is;

To make a new image in some way inspired by, or in the style of, another photographer, photograph, work of art, object, design style or visual characteristic.

As examples from our own past work in the Beyond Group I showed images inspired by intentional camera movement, the film Titanic, 1920’s seaside posters, paintings by Rene Magritte, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, David Hockney and Ed Ruscha. Also an image inspired by Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Man Jumping Over A Puddle.

As well as the end product, I would like the author to supply an example of the inspiring source so that we might be able to appreciate the connection between the two.

Uniquely for this Challenge I am looking forward to a set of images in which there is absolutely no overall connection or theme!


The next meeting will be held on 1st October by Zoom but Laurie Turner has offered to host some additional informal sessions over the summer. The exact nature of these will be communicated in due course.


Tethering. Several members (including me) implemented tethering in their home studios for the first time for the latest Challenge and with great effect. I believe that using a physical cable is faster and more capable than any wifi tethering that might be available with certain cameras. I actually bought a new camera (Olympus OM-D OM1 Mk II) to achieve cable tethering as my previous OM10 was not capable of it.

Light Pad. Several members have purchased light pads to provide both an even white backlight but also softbox-type diffuse frontal lighting for small subjects. The British made RJH Light Pad seems to be well-made and is inexpensive. There are A4, A3, and A2 sizes. The stated size is the lit area so they generously sized and the A3 size is working well for me. They are designed for tracing purposes but are bright enough to shine through, say a white flower, although too much frontal lighting could over-power it and a tripod is always recommended for longer exposures.

Macro. Many lenses have a macro capability and of course there are dedicated macro lenses. However, greater enlargement can be achieved in many less expensive ways such as reversing rings, coupling rings, close-up lenses, extension tubes and bellows combined with our existing lenses. These will often result in the loss of electrical coupling to the body and so result in a fully manual lens but this is not necessarily a bad thing when working slowly and deliberately with macro.

Diffraction. When a lens is used at or close to minimum aperture, light is scattered by the edges of the aperture blades which results in a softening of the image. In macro work a small aperture brings the big advantage of greater depth of field and with subjects such as flowers some softness is not always a bad thing. However I personally avoid apertures close to minimum in normal circumstances. Incidentally, maximum aperture has also been avoided as a source of aberrations and corner softness but modern computer-designed lenses are much better at this and it need not be a concern for all but the cheapest glass.

Orton Effect.
A soft dreamy effect can be easily produced in Photoshop. There are many recipes but the simplest is to duplicate the image layer then use Gaussian Blur on the upper copy. Set the blending mode to Screen and experiment with reducing the Opacity to adjust the effect.

Cheers, Steve

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