Workshop – Self-critque (Mike Warren)

By | 18th October 2023

17th October 2023


Mike Warren of Steyning Camera Club facilitated this evening’s workshop and started by explaining how the judging has been standardised and how judges award the points for an image.

30% Craft: Image Title; Composition; choice of lens; perspective; focus point; depth of field; landscape or portrait format; choice of monochrome or colour; and for Print competitions paper and mount choices.

10% Technical. How well has the image been reproduced: Tonal range; Colour cast; saturation; sharpness; distractions; and post processing – noise, cropping, cloning and layers.

60% Expressive Quality: Does it engage the viewer emotionally?; Does it invoke a strong positive or negative reaction?; Does it show individuality?; photographer’s input/style?; Does it hold your interest?; Does it convey an idea or tell a story?; Does it ask questions, create intrigue?; and Does it make you think?

We then went through some example images with Mike, discussing how they met (or didn’t meet) these points. Some of the lessons were: Ensuring black and white images have a full tonal range (so as not to appear “flat”). Ensuring that images didn’t have any distractions from the subject. It was noted that our eyes are drawn to the areas of high-contrast, bright areas, faces, saturated colours and text. Good where our subject has one or more of these qualities, but poor where these occur in any other area of the image. It was highlighted that many issues can be resolved with cropping the image a little, or using a vignette or linear gradient to darken bright areas at the edge of our images. Some issues could be resolved with cloning out the distraction, although this can be complicated and result in a poor image.

There was some debate about the use of images taken under circumstances such as courses or exhibitions where the subject had been set up by others and the photographer had only to point and shoot. It was acknowledged that this could be difficult to spot and would depend on other submissions by the individual and the club as a whole.

During the second half of the workshop Mike went through a few of our images: One lesson was ensuring our titles explained the subject/image clearly; and the main lesson was that a little cropping or darkening of parts of the image would strengthen them.

Finally Mike briefly touched on the subject of the latest development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) image generation in photography. The RPS already have the rule “All the elements or parts of the composite image, must have been captured or generated by the photographer and must have originated as an image captured by the photographer using media sensitive to light or other electromagnetic radiation.” For example it is permitted to replace the sky in an image (which uses AI), but the new sky must have been captured by the person submitting the image.

It was flagged that some of the new AI software has been shown to have used copyrighted images without permission, so care should be taken when using these new tools.