Amersham Beyond Group - 2nd Dec. 2021

Meeting Notes on Creative Photography and Photo-Art
Post Reply
Posts: 148
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2008 7:04 pm

Amersham Beyond Group - 2nd Dec. 2021

Post by spb » Fri Dec 03, 2021 8:34 pm

All of 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.

It was a freezing snowy night so we only had 18 members in attendance and viewed most of the 80 images submitted for the current Challenges which are;



and the latest;


After some initial uncertainty last month over how minimal is ‘Minimal’ I felt that most contributors were now ‘getting their eyes in’ and we saw some perfectly-minimal-but-not-too-minimal images.

The RA Summer Exhibition Challenge posed some unique problems for us all – the usual guidance on composition, sharpness, technique etc do not apply. With art, anything goes and we saw some very clever, witty and intriguing entries. When I saw this year’s exhibition in person I was surprised and rather shocked at the poor quality (by our standards) of many of the photographic images.

Many of the Challenge entries this month could certainly be serious contenders for an entry in January 2022. I have no more clue than anyone about what might qualify but I felt that images that appeared to make fun of the RA were more likely to fail. Having said that, when Grayson Perry was in charge of the selection in 2018 he was more open to self-criticism and self-mockery than might be usual.

The Beyond Group explores the outer rim of the club photography galaxy but we felt even more liberated than usual to play and have fun with our cameras and software.

The next Challenge is;


In photography, Bokeh is defined as the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in out-of-focus parts of an image. The way a lens renders out-of-focus points of light. Differences in lens aberrations and aperture shape cause very different bokeh effects.

The Challenge is to produce an image in which the Bokeh is a significant feature of the foreground or the background. The Bokeh effect may be the genuine product of a lens or artificially generated eg by software.

Christmas is a good time to play with Bokeh as out-of-focus Christmas tree lights make a colourful background to an image or indeed can make a subject in their own right with nothing sharp in the image.

Bokeh is traditionally seen to best effect by combining most of the following;
a) A large aperture of f2.8 or greater
b) A close subject in focus
c) A distant background out of focus
d) A medium to telephoto lens

The optical characteristics of the lens and it’s diaphragm will determine the shape and quality of the blur achieved. Aperture priority and manual focussing will give good control over the two important variables.

Unusual shaped highlights can be created by placing a black cardboard cut-out over the front of the lens. The cut-out should be no larger than the aperture of the lens. Another method could be to stick black paper onto a clear filter.

Camera phones are also capable of producing out-of-focus effects by forcing them to focus on a close subject and/or by using any available Portrait mode to control the artificial background blur. It may not be as dramatic as a dedicated camera with manual controls.

Another option is to generate blurred spots of light using brushes in photo editing software such as Photoshop. Dedicated Bokeh brushes can be downloaded but the in-built brushes are capable of the same result with some knowledge of the brush palettes and settings. Here is one of many tutorials on the subject.


Although this is not necessarily an objective of Challenge #26, we certainly could actually submit our work. It is first necessary to register and pay for an entry form. The entry for 2022 opens on 19th January. The full details are here , The homepage for the 2021 exhibition is here which includes a link to the FAQs where there is a lot of information.

I would strongly encourage anyone thinking of entering to look closely at the current exhibition and ideally visit in person before it closes on 2nd January. Certain types of work and styles are in favour at any one time and the theme of the exhibition should be known soon which is not mandatory but might guide your image selection.

We shouldn't fear rejection, works by many famous artists including Manet, Constable and Banksy have been rejected. Famously, David Hensel submitted a sculpture in 2006. Unfortunately the sculpture and it's plinth became separated during the selection process. He was shocked to visit the exhibition later to find that the sculpture had been rejected but the plinth had been accepted and was on display!


The next meeting will be held on Thursday 6th January 2022. Hopefully in the New Drake Hall in the new Chiltern Lifestyle Centre.


Dell XPS13 -9350
Processor: Intel Core i5 6200 2.3GHz
Storage: Samsung 256GB SSD
Software: Windows Home 10 64bit fully wiped, reset and updated to the latest spec.
Ports: 2 x USB3, 1x Thunderbolt, 1x 3.5m headphone, SD Card reader, Webcam
Screen: 13” Full HD 1920x1080 IPS non-touch
Power supply: very compact, external.
WiFi: Intel Dual Band WiFi module upgraded from the original for improved performance.

Condition: fully working and in excellent condition, virtually like new. One white pixel on the edge of the screen. Battery was replaced last year for a supposedly original Dell part but only runs about 3 hours on idle. Better replacements are readily available.
Price: £250 ono (was £1,000 new in December 2015).

Ultraportables are ideal travel companions but can also perform as everyday desktop computers with an external keyboard and screen. Dell XPS-13’s have been winning awards for the best ultraportable for many years. We like them so much we’ve bought another.

Contact me at the usual addresses.

Cheers, Steve

Post Reply