Notes for New Members
Gloucester Camera Club meets every Tuesday evening between early September and late April starting at 7.30pm.
We are a thriving club with an increasing membership. Several of our members have been at the Club for 20 or more years and many are highly skilled in a variety of photographic styles and genres, having gained various photographic distinctions in the process. They are always willing to assist by passing on their knowledge, so if you need to learn, we would like to think that Gloucester Camera Club is the place to do so.
If you have a driving need to improve your photography, we can offer a varied programme every year where there is bound to be something that suits your needs. We have regular competitions but, then again, you don't have to compete. We have technical evenings where some tricky photographic and post-processing skills are covered – some of these are on a Friday night and are extra sessions over and above our customary Tuesday slots. Again, these are optional but always prove to be very useful to members. We organize regular trips to venues which offer photographic opportunities but usually without travelling too far. Most members, however, just get a kick out of enjoying the meetings and seeing the work of others.
Over the years we have had our ups and downs, just like any organisation, but have managed to retain a friendly and vibrant atmosphere. Our membership covers a mix of ages and abilities.
There is no obligation or pressure to progress to higher levels as we believe the Club is for people to do what they like doing. So if you would like to give us a try, you will be made very welcome.
Competition Notes for Beginners
Competitions play a large part in the life of the Club, although whether you choose to compete or not is left entirely up to you.
First, there is the annual competition over six monthly rounds which is divided into two sections: Projected Digital Image (PDI) and Prints which are in turn open to Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced members, making six independent competitions.
We also have a Panel competition which is split into prints and PDIs, but not split by ability. In this competition, each entrant provides five related images which are judged individually and, just as importantly, as a coherent panel of images.
Rules for all competitions can be can be found in the Club Constitution and Competition Rules.
Hints for Beginners
The composition of an image is a very important factor, one which all judges will mention, especially if they believe it does not work!
The scope of his topic cannot be dealt in full with here, but typing a phrase such as "photographic composition", or "artistic composition" into a search engine will yield many pages on the subject.
Suffice to say briefly that basic composition includes such factors as:
- An understanding of the Rule of Thirds and the Golden Mean
- How to balance the various components of an image
- How to use lead-in lines
- How to gain the best viewpoint
- Which is the best lens to use to achieve the best composition and the effect that lens might have
- The effect the background has on your final image – especially important in portrait, macro and natural history work
- The use of symmetry and patterns
- An understanding of depth of field
Another factor in the appearance of a photograph is the possible presence of small blemishes. These might take the form of unwanted spots, or the odd patch of intrusively bright detail. As when looking through a viewfinder, it is easy to concentrate on the main subject and fail to notice other details that might be obvious to others, especially competition judges, who are usually on the lookout for such things. It is often worth scanning the entire area of a photograph, bit by bit, looking for things that can be cleaned up using an editing program. It can be discouraging to hear strong criticism of something you have worked hard to create, so remove as many as possible of the things that judges look out for.
A top photographer in the Club offers the following suggestion about sharpening images:
"Take the slider right over to the left where there is no sharpening and gradually push the slider to the right until and only just until the picture becomes sharp."
In fact, there are many ways to sharpen an image, from simple options in Photoshop or your chosen editing programme to a variety of techniques too numerous to mention here although one of the more popular methods involves the use of the high-pass filter. Google it to find out more.
Just remember that judges are highly skilled at spotting artefacts caused by over-sharpening.
Storing Image Files
Don't risk losing quality by saving your image with too low a setting of the JPEG quality level. In fact, it's a good idea to save in Photoshop (PSD) format, or even bitmap format, until you are certain that you have the final version of the image that you want to use. Even then, save it in a high quality format first. Saving in JPEG will make the program flatten the image, so don't then save in the program's own format. The high quality formats use more memory space, but that is seldom an import consideration.