The competition will run once again and so be armed with your camera or iphone when out and about, ready to capture a winning shot. Judging by Master and Wardens will take place after the Easter. The categories will be:
- Out on a shoot
- Wild animal or domestic pet
- The weather; including a sunrise or sunset
- Only members of the Gunmakers’ Company may enter
- The photograph(s) must have been taken by the entrant, but could be from your archive
- Each entrant may enter up to 3 photographs per category
- In submitting photographs, the entrant gives permission for their possible use on the Company’s website
- The judges may not enter
When submitting photographs, please state the category and give each a title (add some narrative if there is a story to tell about the image if you wish). Submissions should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday 25 April 2022.
All levels of skill are welcome and so get some tips from Liveryman Paul Fievez … here… , get out your camera or iphone, and send in your best shot at anytime between now and Easter. The winners in each category will receive a wall plaque featuring the Company Arms.
‘How to improve your pictures’
by Liveryman Paul Fievez
With the Worshipful Company of Gunmakers annual photographic competition looming fast on the horizon, this seems an appropriate moment to answer questions which I am frequently asked.
The questions, which more or less follow identical themes, are usually; “Why does the sweeping vista look so wonderful whilst I am just standing there, enjoying. And why is it so often just a confused ‘muzzy’ image when I see the resulting picture?” This inevitably leads onto; “And how can I improve my photographs?”
To simplify. Our eyes are constantly moving. Focussing, and re-focussing. They see the tree fifty yards away, the barn a little to one side. They see the hill or brooding mountain a mile or so in the distance, taking in all of the detail of aforesaid ‘sweeping vista’, and then almost instantaneously, change focus again, and notice the dog, rolling in the fox muck, a yard in front of you, and of which, until the hound stirred up the aroma… you had not previously been aware!
Our brain interprets these messages, faster than any computer. We see whatever we might be looking at in colour, in perspective, and also as a three dimensional image.
A camera cannot do that. At the moment you click the shutter, it is focussed only on one point. ‘Seeing’ only a fairly limited segment of the scene. Everything either in front of, or behind that narrow viewpoint becomes progressively more and more ‘out of focus’, or simply put; ‘muzzy’. Just to complicate matters, because of the way it is calibrated, the camera is also trying to convert everything to a shade of mid-grey. For those of a technical inclination, mid, or more accurately, ‘Middle-Grey,’ is a neutral colour, which has 18% reflectance across the visible spectrum.
In modern smart-phones, and digital cameras, it gets even more complicated.
So, how to improve your pictures? Well, although it might seem to be a contradiction, teach yourself to see a little less! Ignore the whispering grass (but not the fox muck) a yard in front of you. Be selective in what you want to include or exclude from the final image. If you have a camera with settings which you can adjust, experiment. Using a slow shutter speed, (a tripod to keep the camera still, and stable, also helps here) the fluttering leaves and whispering grass, are recorded as blurred – giving the impression of movement.
Conversely, should you want to freeze the action, use a fast shutter speed. But be warned…. If you are trying to freeze the wing movement of a Humming Bird Hawk Moth, it’s hard to do.
If you can manually adjust the focus of your camera, take several frames, focussing on a different point of interest each time. You be amazed at how different each picture is!
There is a phrase photographers use. Actually, there are many phrases professional photographers use. Some of them are even printable……! You might, for example, hear a photographer say; “Respect the empty space.”: This is merely a technical way of saying that not everything you see should be in the picture.
Consciously look at what you are photographing. Is there a dominant feature? Is it strong enough to fill the frame, excluding everything around it? Or, going for a wider view, will the picture be improved if you move a few yards closer or further back, or angle left or right so that it is on one side of the picture rather than dead centre?
Decide what elements are essential, and concentrate on them. Exclude whatever does not improve the final result. Are people in the image? Instead of ‘posing’ them, try have them behaving naturally, walking away, possibly as a silhouette, mid-distance, or even walking towards a feature on the horizon. Let the foreground lead your eye towards the subject. You will be amazed at the difference even simple tricks, such as these make to a picture.
Experiment! Break the rules! Try something different, and with the convenience of digital photography, take many frames. You can always edit out those which do not work, keeping only those which please, and which are the difference between a snapshot, and a good picture.
The result is all that matters! So, get the camera, or the smart-phone out. Go and take pictures. As many as possible. Enjoy looking for something different, or trying a different approach.
Our Clerk, always announces the categories, the dates, and other details, I enjoy looking at all of your pictures. The Master and Judging Committee, always have a vigorous debate to find the winners in each class – I am only a very unofficial ‘technical’ adviser, and do not do the judging… “
So, as I suggest, get those cameras out, Enjoy your photography, and let’s have a bumper entry into this year’s competition.
I was in Canada on an assignment. Work finished, I went for a walk in search of a couple of landscapes for my own use. Niagra, can be stunning. In many places though, the views along the lake are however, actually quite boring! I passed this little private jetty. The sun was fast setting, the light fading. I was shooting in black & white, loved the way the light on the water, was picking out the flag, whilst the jetty itself was silhouetted. I quickly adjusted the camera settings, a second or two to compose the frame, ‘Click!’ ‘click, click.’ And one more, just for luck, ‘Click!’ Job done. And for the purists, muttering; “But how can it be a landscape, he shot it as an upright?” Well, all I can say is break the rules! ‘Landscapes’ do not always have to be horizontal, and portraits do not have to be vertical!
I spent an entire wonderful summer afternoon drowning in the scent of a Lavender hedge in full flower, as I attempted to capture Humming Bird Hawk Moths feeding. I focussed on just one flower stem, waiting for one to come and feed. Many did. I shot frame after digital frame, constantly reviewing, and frequently discarding the images. Eventually I got exactly what I wanted to capture. The Humming Bird Hawk Moth, (Actually, it is a butterfly…) hovering just a centimetre or so away from the Lavender. Proboscis out, feeding, and completely filling the frame. No extraneous detail, or clutter! Just the insect, and the food supply. I was working at 1/2000th of a second, and the wing-tips are still blurred. They move that fast!