Amersham Beyond Group - 4th Nov 2021

Meeting Notes on Creative Photography and Photo-Art
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Amersham Beyond Group - 4th Nov 2021

Post by spb » Sat Nov 06, 2021 4:38 pm

All our 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 on Facebook here.
Please spend time viewing and commenting on the images - this is our primary source of feedback at the moment. Authors are also encouraged to provide commentary on their creations.

We had an excellent turnout with over 30 members in attendance and viewed a selection of the 117 images submitted for the current Challenges which are;



and the latest;


When introducing this latest Challenge last month I emphasised that with so little content in the frame, great care should be taken with sharpness and composition. The extent to which these had been achieved was the subject of debate and there were also enthusiastic opinions on the issue of ‘what is minimalism?’. For me, a shot of a single simple object, central in the frame is not enough to hold my attention. At least one other element (however subtle) is needed to create a story and a pleasing image that maintains my interest. Some members felt that the brief was met by a record shot of, say a single leaf against a white background. Of course there is no right answer!

On the subject of sharpening, see below.

Many thanks to Clive Hirst who sent me a link to photographer Ben Harvey who specialises in dramatic architectural photography, much of which is minimalist in nature.

The next Challenge is;


To create an image that would look at home at the 2022 RA Summer Exhibition. It may be an artwork with serious intent. It may be playful. It could be crafted, such as a collage or modified print (but submit an image of it initially). Anything goes in this fun Xmas Challenge. There are no rules. IT’S ART!

The exhibition has been held annually since 1769 (including during both World Wars) and has seen the work of greats such as Reynolds, Gainsborough, Blake, Rembrandt, Turner and Picasso in their day. You might think that this is all above and beyond us amateur photographers but in fact it is very inclusive and two of our members, Steve Smith and Chris Read, have images in this year’s exhibition.

I strongly recommend that you see the 2021 exhibition for yourself. It is in Piccadilly until 2 January 2022. Tickets are readily available online. It’s fascinating and often mad!
If you can’t see the exhibition in person, it is all online. Search online for RA Summer Exhibition Explorer, then select Photography under Type.
Apart from Stephen Smith and Christopher Read, you might search for works by John Peter Askew (2) . Theadora Ballantyne-Way, Joel Redman, Wolfgang Tillmans to see that this is no ordinary photographic show. Literally everything and anything is potentially admissible however banal. None of our familiar rules seem to apply – for example several of the photographs are grossly unsharp, underexposed or indistinct.

Although the exhibition is mainly of painting, drawing, sculpture, architecture and other disciplines, maybe about 5% is pure photography plus other work that involves photography such as lithographic printing and old processes such as cyanotypes.

Although this is not necessarily an objective of the Challenge, we certainly could actually submit our work. The dates for 2022 entries are not yet published but the entry bar is not high. Of the work that we see in the APS month by month the vast majority would be admissible. Potential exceptions might be gallery shots including exhibits for which we don’t have the intellectual property and it may be best to avoid the trite and pretty! Political and contemporary work is always popular. The more inexplicable the better, it sometimes seems. So long as you have the IPR, every submission to this Challenge will be equally brilliant and acceptable in principle *without exception*. About 25% of the 16,000 annual submissions to the RA are shortlisted for viewing by the panel and about 10% are accepted.


The next meeting will be held on 2nd December 2021. Hopefully in the New Drake Hall in the new Chiltern Lifestyle Centre.


Sharpening. Unless going for a deliberately soft or blurred effect I believe that almost all images should receive additional sharpening. Raw images are sharpened less by default than JPG’s. Prints need more sharpening than projected images. Matt papers need more than gloss papers due to the absorption of ink into the paper. The main subject should usually be the sharpest part of an image. Digital noise and naturally soft elements such as clouds should not be sharpened. Additional sharpening should be the last thing done to an image after post-processing and especially after re-sizing eg for projection.

There are many means and tools to apply sharpening but I have used the same High Pass method of sharpening for nearly ten years and it is described here. Almost every one of my final images have been sharpened in this way via a few Actions that I have recorded.

Photoshop 23.
The latest version of Photoshop CC for 2022 has probably automatically downloaded itself if you are a subscriber. It no doubt has compelling new wonders that I have yet to explore (improved automatic selections and masks maybe) but I found that despite telling Creative Cloud to delete the previous version (Creative Cloud>File>Preferences>Advanced Options>Remove Older Versions) it had not done so. As a result, my shortcuts and the Faststone editing shortcut were still happily using the old version. Check for the new version yourself. I deleted the previous version without issues.

Cheers, Steve

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