#Sharemondays My View

In a week where weekly competitions have taken a particular beating I felt as #Sharemondays mediator it only fitting I gave my take on the whole perception that weekly comps are all bad and detrimental to our work and development as photographers.

Firstly let me state, I respect everyones views on all subjects and in no way claim to be any authority, this is just my observations from my tiny and quiet little vantage point on twitter. Personally I just can't find the time to be on twitter all day to have lengthy debates on many subjects I may otherwise like to comment on and feel I just wouldn't do my argument justice as no doubt I would be side tracked by real life events and forget to reply with conviction. 

So my sparse time spent on social media may be a reasoning for my slightly different view of the weekly comps. For me weekly comps are a social event where photographers can share an image from the previous week/weekend that they have felt worthy of sharing in the knowledge there is a better chance of a greater audience and views/feedback. With a designated day, I certainly make more of an effort to get online to view others images and give a little more time to SM on that day for that very reason. Whereas generally I can quite often miss lots of posts and work from many other photographers. It's not religious though, there are weeks where it just isn't possible to give much time even on that day but generally I make that little bit more of an effort to view, comment and share others work when I feel with my humble opinion that it merits it.

Now, in respect to this weekly work being some kind of defining work, that could be seen as detrimental and in some way it lowers our standards as photographers well that I feel is ludicrous. No one is saying here is my best work from my portfolio, what do you think. I see it as an insight into our photographic week, like a snippet of what we have been giving our attention to or working on. I find it fascinating to see for instance where people visit, what their perspective of that location is and how they try to represent it in an image. There is also the experience of watching from afar, as photographers develop in front of our eyes. Seeing them flirt with all sorts of techniques and subjects which may stray greatly from their comfort zone. I don't feel this is in anyway detrimental to our development in fact I would say with the ability to be able to throw experimental work out there for interested parties to view helps develop us as photographers as we flirt with things. Surely this is only progressive. 

Another benefit is the time restraint of a week, I understand that this can be seen to hinder our creative thought by putting pressure on us but need I state the obvious, firstly there is no contract to say we must submit every week or you will be sin binned and not allowed to enter again. Secondly, is there not a benefit from restricting ourselves to try and find an image that we feel worthy of sharing by using our imagination to utilise our surroundings. There are no subject restraints so it allows us to look for something unique, pretty, interesting, a reflection or a spot of light falling on a structure, in fact anything whatsoever. I'm constantly amazed what photographers see in everyday life, we have a different eye from others and I for sure learn weekly from others images. I see it as no different from shooting with one chosen prime or at f2 only for a month or one image a day for 10 days. It's like a mini project that encourages creative thinking not stifle it. If anyone has read or taken ideas from The Photographers Playbook by Jason Fulford and Gregory Halpern they will understand the use of restrictions. If you haven't then I'd recommend it, 307 assignments and ideas to keep you thinking. A wonderful tool and exercise in progression and development.  But ultimately, if you are not in the mood to be creative, then don't, you can't force these things so just sit it out for as long as you wish and maybe if you just viewed others images you might be inspired to get creative outside your area of comfort zone. When I choose to share, I don't announce that image to be my best work, far from it. I post for many reasons, maybe sharing a new found location or a subject with potential or just to share the weather conditions I experienced. It's never definitive of my work and I'd never expect anyone to think that it was. It's a playground to experiment and converse, throwing around ideas.

Now for the judging and results. Let me just say, if you are going to get yourself upset by what is chosen then there is no point in entering. It's really just a side show for what is just a gallery of varying images from photographers on different waves of development. Of course it's obvious companies start these competitions only for promotion, they may use it to highlight an up and coming product, workshop or new article relating to their business.  Let them get from it what they want and you take from it what you can, it's simple and if you are in anyway unhappy with how it pans out then don't enter or silence the hashtag. Also, Judges decisions are always controversial too as is generally evident in the reactions to LPOTY, OPOTY or IGPOTY etc when they make their initial cull or when the winners are announced. It generally goes along the lines of who has been omitted when such and such has been credited and so on.

When it comes to #Sharemondays though there is no hidden agendas. I started it up as a result of seeing everyone complain about the results and I felt what better way than to allow everyone the chance to experience the pressure of judging, where we question our every decision and flick between our favourites. I think now that it has been going for a little while it's plain to see the variation of decisions, as with other competitions not always the result we might have chosen ourselves. But when it comes down to it, #Sharemondays is all about sharing, there is no weekly prize or benefit to anyone as it basically runs itself and is merely the chance to show whatever you feel is worthy. No one will judge you for the quality etc as more likely than not its just an experimental piece of work not your portfolio. There has been some talk of a book of winners being produced at the end of the year and I think this would be a great collection of varying work. If it does come to fruition then I hope to include all the winning images giving small details from both the winner and the judge. It will be a non profit book, with only my time given to get info etc and create on a suitable platform. I see it being available as a print on demand project but the finer details will develop over the year as long as the weeklies survive that is. Domain names have been acquired and when I get my finger out a simple web page of winning images and the very loose rules will appear but for the time being you can see everything here. 

If you have got this far then firstly thank you for sticking with my rambling and secondly maybe there is a chance you would still be interested in taking part in the weekly event. If so your contribution no matter how sporadic would be greatly welcomed by everyone even the ever changing judge and who knows, there may be a beautiful book at the end of the year to celebrate the positives of weekly twitter competitions. 

Sleeklens Presets + Brushes Review

The good people at Sleeklens asked me to have a look at their new Landscape photography Presets and Brushes for Lightroom and I have now managed to write up my findings with a short video example of a workflow using the presets. 

I explained to Sleeklens that I rarely if at all, use presets in my image processing but they were still happy for me to give my honest opinion on their products. My reasons for not using presets are mainly due to the fact I feel each image need its own personal attention as it develops and a simple click does not do that for me, in general.

Having now played around with these presets by Sleeklens, I have now realised that it doesn't need to be just one click. They can firstly be a starting point to work back or forward from. One of the good things about these are the different options, you can go for the ALL IN ONE recipes and work from there or by using the layers options where you can add presets on top of each other without altering the effects of the previous one. You can start from BASE and work through EXPOSURE, COLOUR CORRECT, TONE/TINT, POLISH and VIGNETTE to finish.





By using the layer option I found that by also adjusting the develop sliders to control the preset effect more to suit my personal tastes before adding another helped make me feel more in control and of having a part in creating the image than I would have had by just clicking the ALL IN ONE and leaving it there.

In my work I try to be subtle in my processing and so loud colour bursts and crazy saturation is not where I take my processing so I would have to reel a few presets back a fare bit if I was to use then all the time. But as is with many things in life, using things like these presets, in moderation and with full control then there can be a place for them in my Lightroom workflow. 

Below is a short video of an example workflow using the Sleeklens Landscape presets as well as links to their product pages. I have also included a much more detailed and professional video by Doug Chinnery who gives a review and tutorial of the Sleeklens presets used in Photoshop.




A Week in the Woods

Here is an Adobe Spark project I created to show images from a week in local woodlands that were very different in landscaped weather but all captured within 7 days and 3 outings.

A Week in the Woods

Portraits, or lack of them.

I've been looking through my catalogue for portraits and just realised it has been years since I consciously made an effort to create a portrait image of any merit. I used to love the idea of capturing the hidden life and expressions behind an individuals mask that they put up in everyday life. I was hoping to enter an image in AP Magazines monthly competition, which this months subject, Portraits. (If I do enter I better remember to copy and paste the tick passage to the email since I've only just realised I never did this in the previous 2 rounds and so my entries would be void, oops!) Going through the archives I have came up with very little and have since tried to create something while out with the kids to make up for this, but have found I am way out of touch, although, there is still a glimmer of thrill and excitement bubbling away which has possibly started a little fire of enthusiasm again. Maybe, who knows!!!

Below are my shortlist images of possible entries, none of which really excite me except possibly the emotional one of my youngest daughter taken 2 days ago after she got upset over a dog running away with her stick while playing on Stevenson beach. She will kill me on her 21st when I unearth this from the archives. 

Anyway, from this selection process I think I might try and do a little more portraiture especially when I have such willing models in my over enthusiastic daughters, if for nothing else but to humiliate them in future years. I am quite sick really, so I'm told!