Tag Archives: Camera Club

If You Can Explain It, Are You Sure It’s Art?

The judge will say it's too busy. I don't think so. The judge will say there's no clear subject. I disagree, because I'm drawn to that dark place in the woods. The judge will say that, if that is the subject, it is too near the center of the image. Yada yada yada...

At our monthly meeting, the Ojai Photography Club invites a guest judge to present on a topic of his or her choice and then critique images submitted by members. We encourage newer members to submit their images again if they want a second opinion, and it is not uncommon for one judge to bestow an Award of Merit on an image severely panned by another judge one month earlier. We enjoy the diversity of opinion.

Some judges weigh technical criteria very heavily, while others bow to emotion. When the entire room gasps in exultation at the sight of an image, it does little good to point out that the “rule of thirds” has been violated, or that key areas are not critically sharp.

Personally, when I’m reviewing a publicity or commercial image for a client, I’m extremely attentive to technical issues. But when evaluating personal expression, I have a single criterion: either it gets me or it doesn’t. If it gets me on an emotional level, then I might engage intellectually, but the fact is that once I’m emotionally invested I will rationalize any intellectual basis I need to justify my feelings. And this is true of my own work most of all.

Last night I reviewed some images from an October 2007 visit to Wisconsin, looking for a picture that, when I found it, did not impress me so much in reality as it had in memory. But I also found two images I had ignored at the time. And I like them very much. In fact, I like them so much, I would not dream of submitting them for critique. We can all cite many “violations”, but no checklist of pros and cons will change the fact that I like to look at them. For me, that’s enough.

Nothing to see here. But I like it. That's not enough to make a living, but enough to make me happy. That'll do.


Filed under Composition, Motivation, Nature Photography, Personal

Another Argument for Joining a Camera Club

Self-Portrait, or what I shoot when I don't know what to shoot.

The Ojai Photography Club states two goals: Education and Camaraderie. The secret goal is inspiration. Last weekend I learned how that works.

Although I’ve spent over half a century in southern California, I almost never go to Los Angeles. Joining some family members on Saturday for a tour of landmarks like the Library, Disney Concert Hall, Bradbury Building, and Grand Central Market, I carried my camera and a couple of lenses (Nikon D300, Nikon 35mm f2.0, Nikon 85mm f1.8).

But I was in a grumpy mood. I didn’t like the light – bright and hazy midday. I didn’t like the city – Pershing Square smelled like urine and crazy people hollered at me on the street. I didn’t like the pace of the tour, which prevented me from working a photographic subject at my leisure. But most of all, I didn’t like the fact that I just didn’t feel inspired to photograph anything.

Until I remembered the club’s theme for February: Reflections. All of a sudden, I had some direction, and there were subjects EVERYWHERE.

Looking for photographic education, camaraderie, and inspiration? Join your local camera club!

Pigeon cage in two dimensions

Disney Concert Hall is all reflections, all the time.

The Figueroa Hotel, decorated by nearby towers of glass.

My favorite shot of the day. At first, I was just shooting reflective surfaces, but then I realized that if I turned around, I would see how the glass towers lit their surroundings.


NOTE: After posting this, I remembered that I was supposed to blog about what happens when I have to make dramatic light less dramatic. Sorry; next time!


Filed under Camera Gear, Lighting, Motivation