The style of both our guest speakers and their content gives us a rich variety. Our speaker this week has made over 150 Zoom presentations and his confident incisive and wonderfully articulated talk was well received by our members. Chris Upton is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and is proud to be a brand ambassador for Fujifilm.
Here is a synopsis of our meeting.
Like most photographers the willingness, at every opportunity, to share their knowledge with tips and hints is very welcome and Chris has crystallised all of his skills into seven general headings, as described below:
1. Know the fundamentals of photography – these can be either creative or technical, having a knowledge of depth of field, the ability to compose an image in order to direct the observer, realise the use of interesting foregrounds, capture different effects by modifying exposure times and the intelligent use of filters. Naturally the variation on ISO settings needs to be understood for some conditions to catch a shot under challenging odds.
2. Know your equipment – purchasing a new camera, for example, can cause our excitement to press it into service without properly and seriously knowing the functionality that is available and being able to draw on it when the conditions demand it. Can we all enter bracketing mode instantly? Likewise, switch from auto focus to manual, access stacking mode and to use the many and varied art modes now an integral part of many cameras. Remember to consider portrait or landscape aspect, walk around and think about the image you want to present to the onlooker, observe changing conditions and know how to react to them.
3. Get out there – Workshops can advance your skills apace, chat to fellow club members in order to draw on their experiences, there are many and varied available and you must ensure you get value for money when under the guidance of an expert. Clearly the best pictures are taken at the start or end of a day so be prepared to join in with any chance. The most inclement of weather can often bring about great opportunities when many others are sitting, at home, in front of the fire!
4. Plan your shots – Good pictures are achieved by luck, great ones by planning. To help this process we now learn of many available web sites and apps (Photo pills, Photographer’s ephemeris, Google earth, Street view and also, interestingly, we learnt of Weather pro, Dark Sky, Clear outside). Using some of these sophisticated programmes might well give us a clear advantage in achieving a photograph that only existed in our mind
5. Hone your composition – There can be nothing more important, including and excluding content will make a huge difference. There are, of course endless rules (thirds, odd numbers of subjects or position of horizon) these are only guidelines – before you press the shutter button ask yourself WHY? And WHAT? Am I trying to achieve here? Build it up, have a stroll round, use your smart phone to assess some early ideas. Think about Light, Subject, Composition, Emotion. Consider the square crop, notice the action of people with the background, can you make a connection? Consider symmetry, would this rooftop scene be better taken in the blue hour? Do I need to see the canopy and sky in this woodland shot?
6. Learn to process – The wide debate regarding the extent of post camera processing will continue. Those of us immersed in this fascinating hobby will need to work on our technical skill to a greater or lesser extent and to be left too far behind in this aspect will put us at a disadvantage. Photoshop, Affinity or Lightroom cannot be learnt in five minutes but why not undertake to master say 5 or 6 techniques and build up your armoury slowly – you will become fascinated.
7. Review, Refine, Re-shoot – Remember this, trial and improvement. Shoot in live mode and criticise your pictures, don’t forget one man’s meat etc. Look back at some of your earlier efforts note your progress and enter competitions and listen to the Judge’s comments, take them on board. At the end of the day shoot for yourself and enjoy your time with your camera in your hand.
The notes shown above were the substance of Chris Upton’s talk. He was able to develop these basic ideas and to show us examples of how and why they have worked for him, as a successful professional photographer. Why not visit his web site, receive his newsletter and feel his enthusiasm? You might be tempted to attend one of his workshops – you will not be disappointed! – http://WWW.Chrisuptonphotography.com