My Top 10 Tips for Judging

Check out my other top 10 tip articles here

This week's article is aimed to help a more niche audience - our brave photography judges!

With these tips I've tried to condense my experience of judging & having my work judged as well as discussions I've had over the years with judges & photographers alike.


Keep To Time

Easily the most important skill is the ability to keep to time while judging. It can be hard... busy sessions with many images can introduce time pressure but woe betide any judge who infringes on the half-time tea break!

Use a timer if need be and although it's preferable to give each image the same amount of time, practically some will need more time than others.  Just don't overrrun!

Define Your Style

Judges & judging styles vary considerably but in my experience tend to stick to a "bell curve". Most are OK albeit fairly forgettable but you also get extremely poor ones and extremely good ones. The good ones, without exception, take time to explain how they approach judging. After you have "set out your stall" you can then refer back to it later, adding context to your commentary. Simply standing at he front of the hall dispensing judgement without context makes for a forgettable experience. 

Your audience don't have to agree with your judging approach but understanding it means they will get more out of the session. Just as there is room in the photographic art for all types of pictures there is room for all types of constructive judging.

Avoid Anecdotes

It's very important to create a bond with your audience early on and as the saying goes, starting with a joke can help. Just be careful with the anecdotes and remember you are there to educate & assess first and foremost, you're not there to give a live reading of some rambling Norse saga. If you have a personal observation then weave it into your judging where it's relevant, snappy & backs up a point you are trying to make - otherwise, stick to the judging.

Target Your Feedback

Many clubs split their photographers into broad skill/experience categories. If this is the case, tailor your feedback accordingly. For beginners, make sure you cover ways to prevent basic errors but do it across multiple images if you can - don't pick on one image when you can teach the same tips across multiple different examples. Spend time explaining why things work well or hurt the image and suggest realistic ways to improve it.  At all costs avoid cliched judging remarks (see the later tip for examples!).

Do not assume you know the shooting conditions, just judge what's in front of you.

For more advanced classes you can point out possible improvements but you won't need to waste time explaining in detail - the photographer should know & you have probably covered it in the beginner class. Focus more on the artistic vision & creative elements that differentiate average images from excellent ones. You don't need to spend the second half of the evening repeating lessons given in the first half.

Have A System

All photographs are different and the ability to quickly assess a huge variety of images in quick succession, give meaningful advice & judge is hard to do well. When I first started judging I researched dozens of different guides before settling on my own style. Having a system or mantra you can fall back on to provide consistency is a big help. I'm going to cover my own system in a future blog post but broadly speaking I have half a dozen aspects I evaluate before giving critique and a score. By asking the same questions of each image 

Consistency is another hallmark of a great judge, especially when scoring. It's also more likely to see you invited back for future competitions. 

Understand The Competition

Some competitions & clubs specifically want judges to choose the best images on the night, effectively asking you to arrange the photos into a hierarchy. In my experience most do not, preferring you judge each image on it's own merits. Put another way, if you have 20 equally fantastic images, under the former system you need to rank them from 1-20 and under the latter you can recognise & reward all of them equally. Make sure you know what you audience wants!

It's especially important not to compare images for the latter type of competition. Avoid phrases like "this image is OK but there are better examples tonight" - this creates an implicit hierarchy and even though you don't know the artist behind each photo your audience probably does. You don't need to pit specific photographers against each other to give good feedback.

Cut Out Cliches 

  • "This would be better if you took two steps to the left"
  • "It's just a record photograph"
  • "I need to find a reason to knock a mark off somewhere"
  • "This has too much Photoshop"
  • "I've seen this view/mountain/sunset/whatever before"
Just a record shot.

Just a record shot.

Glib remarks drive the viewing audience berserk and, in my opinion, throwing out dismissive one liners seriously undermines your judging credentials. Even though you may see similar photographs a LOT in your judging career you need to be fair to photographers and approach each picture as though it was the first time you've seen it.

Throw Out The Textbook

Club photography has a reputation - whether it's correct or not - for promoting & producing very similar images. It's a whole debate in and of itself but judging does play a part.

There are a range of common, basic items judges look for in images and, in my opinion, this can lead some to following a pattern by rote. In some cases I've seen judges remark that they can't find any mistakes so they award top marks irrespective of artistic impact. Literally, photos of old rope given the highest accolades of the evening because there were no distracting highlights...

I think that judges need to play their part in pushing photographers and promoting a creative, artistic eye rather than someone who gets the "right" combination of settings. I like to reward images that make me laugh, think or inspire even if technically they could be better - focus on the art, not the aperture.

Don't forget to advise what the photographer could consider to improve the image but if you are presented with animage with flaws and yet is still beautiful & stimulating you have been handed the ultimate teaching tool! Make a big deal about those images you see which show genuine vision & creativity.

Forgive the nature of this example but imagine you are potty training a puppy. If he does a widdle in your living room you can berate him, point out his flaws, remark how you would have done it generally tell him off. It has no effect.

On the other hand when he widdles in the garden you make a big fuss, showing that this behaviour is just what you want and heaping on the rewards.

Spending time rewarding mediocre images doesn't make anyone a better photographer. Throw away the textbook when you see something that emotionally resonates and use that to show your audience why we should be making art.

For the record I have nothing against old rope or bits of metal but these are the things we cut our teeth on, the inanimate objects we can experiment with and can take the time to learn our craft by shooting them endlessly. Simply photographing them well does not make them inspiring artworks.

Invite Feedback

Every single session I've seen judged, from club to national or international events ends with a brief thank you, a round of applause and rapid dispersal of participants.

It's such a wasted opportunity! Ask for feedback on the night, invite people to say how they feel in your opening words and remind them at the end. Offer your email to strike up a discussion about what they thought of your judging. The photographers get the benefit of one person assessing their images - you can get the benefit of dozens assessing your judging technique!

Your judging, just like their photography, needs to be constantly reviewed & critiqued to ensure it's still relevant & improving. Going to a competition and doing a "dump and run" with your remarks means you are missing out on getting an appraisal on your own technique.

Recognise Bias

We've all seen the judge who very clearly favours certain types of image and limits their judging to "I have the same image myself" or "simply beautiful, I have nothing more to say" or even the classic "this is a train photo and I hate trains, five out of ten. Next!".

That latter quote is true sadly, but at least the judge was never seen again.

When under pressure it can be easy to fall back into an instinctive, reactionary approach for viewing. This leads to snap marking and poor quality of comments because you favour what you like and tend to dismiss what doesn't interest you. Try hard to avoid this and be as impartial as possible.

Also, some people might try to game the system based on perceptions of your bias. I've done it myself. For example, when I was hell bent on winning my club competition I would research judges' personal websites to get a feel for what they liked and tailor my entries. It works if you let it. Try to keep personal preference as only a small part of your assessment but make a point of saying out loud - announcing it verbally stops you falling back on personal bias as a crutch.

You can acknowledge your personal preference as part of a balanced judging approach, for example when two strong, similar images warrant some form of differentiation, but you need to make it clear that you're using it as a last-resort tie breaker.

And Finally...

Judging is a thankless task. It's up there in terms of audience apathy with football refereeing as maligned, barely-tolerated requirement. Even judges moan about other judges!

It's important you choose to judge for the right reasons, be it a love of teaching, a pure passion for photography, a way to make a little pocket money, because you love seeing new art, a desire to contribute to your photo community or any other of a number of reasons. Personally, the first two are my main driver.

Don't let the feeling it can sometimes be too daunting or let the muttering from the back row put you off. Standing up to give an honest critique for 50 or 60 images is hard work even though it's rewarding!


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The Solarcan

I've never used Kickstarter before. The projects have either been too mundane, too risky or simply not interesting. Usually they tend to be too risky for my appetite and the approach is littered with failed examples and lost money.

However I did want to share the first Kickstarter project I've ever backed. The product is complete, so no risk. The idea is something I think is cool. And it's priced nicely.

It's called the Solarcan.

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Doesn't look like much! 

Howver inside is a 5x7" piece of photographic paper with the can serving as a weather-proof container. There is a hole in the side equivalent to an f/132 pinhole aperture.

The idea behind solar photography is to shoot long exposures - VERY long exposures,  of the order of months and even years. Sample results are shown below but generally you get otherworldly, ghostly representations of your scene with a series of stacked light trails as the Sun moves across the sky.

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My favourite of the three sample images, I love the water reflections of the path the sun has taken. 

My favourite of the three sample images, I love the water reflections of the path the sun has taken. 

This is a very unusual form of photography, one that we as photographers have little direct control over. In fact, what control we do have is where to point the camera and even then it's a best guess scenario! I think it's a wonderful approach to produce some unique and creative images.

The Kickstarter is still running and a Solarcan can be picked up for £15 in the UK. 

 https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/samcornwell/the-solarcan?ref=category_recommended

 I also took took the chance to interview the creator of the Solarcan, Sam Cornwall, and ask him a few questions. 

DCP: What prompted you to start this project, then take it to kickstarter?

I recognised that this type of photography was something people were interested in, but found it difficult to get the materials or knowledge to create one of their own. I have made many at home and attempted to sell them as recycled, clobbered together items for people to use, but it just didn't work. Solarcan is a solution to that problem. Kickstarter is the platform to see if people believe in what I'm doing.

DCP: Were you nervous about launching it on Kickstarter? Solar photography is a relatively niche interest!

I don't think it is. On first impressions I can understand why anyone would think that, but honestly the intended market is anyone with an interest in: photography, art, astronomy or science! Young or old, this could be a fun, easy to install project for anyone.

DCP: Some techie questions - what are the minimum & maxium exposures you would recommend?  Is there an optimum you've found in your testing? Does the film inside have an ISO rating or is it not really comparable?

No less that a week to anything over a year! For optimum results go from winter to summer solstices. That way you'd catch the entire coverage of the Sun through the sky. Inside is photographic paper, not film (no processing required before you ask.)

DCP: There have been some public cases of solar photography cameras being confused for bombs and destroyed - what advice would you have when it comes to placement?

Place it somewhere with permission. If you put it somewhere public you do run the risk of someone damaging it also. 

DCP: What were the biggest challenges in designing & building the cameras?  What would you do in a solarcan mk2?

Thinking ahead, I like it! If I manage to sell the first 1000 Solarcans I have the materials to build, a Mark 2 will definitely be on the cards. I'm keeping the 'upgrades' secret at the moment.

DCP: What are you plans for the future? Can the idea be upscaled to produce larger cameras? What would the benefits of a larger photo-paper surface area be?

Solarcan, as much as it is a camera, is also an idea and a learning experience for people. Anything that achieves that goal and creates excitement around those three ares: photography, art, science is my goal.

DCP: What does it feel like to be an inventor?  I'm assuming it feels pretty epic :)

Ha! Well thank you. The design is borrowed from a workshop style camera which you create out of spare and old parts. Solarcan simply turns that into a finished, ready to use product with everything you need to create a Solar photograph. Believe me though, I have a few more grey hairs now than before. The start up costs to make this a commercial product have broken me.

DCP: Tell me more about you - your background in photography, what you shoot etc.

Gosh, how long do you have? I'm a photographic artist and I have owned and used many different types of camera. Wetplate, film, non lens based, pinhole, glitch, video, experimental. Anything to do with the 'reproductive arts' a la Walter Benjamin is within my scope.

Also, I'm 36, a father to 2, live in the Scottish Borders with my wife Beverley who is also a photographer.

DCP: What advice would you give to people looking to start their project on kickstarter?

This is my first Kickstarter, so I don't know if the successful funding is attributed to luck or hard work. Make sure your goal is attainable, you can deliver on the pledges and skip all the hyperbole!

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The cans should be available in May. Which means the results of my first image should be available in, well, 2018.... 

My Top 10 Tips - The Basics!

 Check out all my top 10 tip articles here.

 

This week I want to share the top 10 basic tips I've learned to help fix common photo mistakes based on my own experience of entering & judging competitions. With these tips I have condensed the advice I have found most useful and most relevant. Learning these mistakes and how to avoid or correct them is a great first step to progress from "someone who takes photos" to a photographer!

I'm also giving away 10% more tips for free... 11 tips for the price of 10! Even better, in addition to my normal top 10 tip guides, I'm also going to illustrate some examples using my own images - photos that fall short & why.

Know Your Subject

When making a picture you need to know your subject - what it is you are presenting to viewers. What is your story or message? What specific parts of your photo do you want your viewers to look at first & foremost. What is secondary?

Here the human element - the sihouetted fisherman - adds a recognisable shape that serves as an entry point to explore the sunset.

Here the human element - the sihouetted fisherman - adds a recognisable shape that serves as an entry point to explore the sunset.

You need to make sure that what you want to convey is what your viewers see. There are few images that will have succeed without a strong subject. You need a key focal point that serves as an entry into the image; without this your image can come across confused or muddled. Sometimes it isn't essential, such as pattern/geometry photos for instance, but when you have a message to convey, you need that place to start.

This is a pure pattern picture and a simple exploration of colour & light. There's no real focal point but that's because there's no real story - it's just nice to look at. Even so, the eye tends to be drawn to the red first and foremost.

This is a pure pattern picture and a simple exploration of colour & light. There's no real focal point but that's because there's no real story - it's just nice to look at. Even so, the eye tends to be drawn to the red first and foremost.

To some extent it doesn't matter what your subject and focal points are - it's essentially whatever story you want to tell - but you need to consciously decide what they are and how they are presented.

You might have a good idea what this is when you shoot, or later when you process. However try taking a step back and see what your eye falls on naturally. Is it what you first expected?

Simple works. Cluttered, busy images can have loads of interesting details that let the viewer explore but they need the "hook" that pulls the viewer into the image in the first place. Make sure you have a strong subject that catches the eye!

This image has a huge amount of detail and as a multi-photo panorama could be printed very large indeed to appreciate it... but there's no story or focal point and the end result it that it's quite boring.

This image has a huge amount of detail and as a multi-photo panorama could be printed very large indeed to appreciate it... but there's no story or focal point and the end result it that it's quite boring.

Driven To Distraction

You can always find a distraction if you are looking for one.

Sadly this adage holds especially true in photography :)

This tip is something you can concentrate on improving while shooting & in post-processing. The idea is that anything that isn't adding to the story you are trying to tell in your photograph is detracting. Take away the distractions and your image will be cleaner with a stronger narrative. At least that's the theory!

Distractions come in many forms and it takes an experienced eye while shooting and a rigorous workflow in Lightroom to make sure you catch them all. The bullet points below outline some of the most common distractions.

  • Highlights - the eye is drawn to the brightest sections of the image so make sure this is where you want the viewer to look. Avoid isolated bright spots, especially near the edges of the frame.
  • Darkspots - the opposite can be true too though it's usually less intrusive. The biggest culprit is usually an overly-aggressive vignette. A good rule of thumb is if you notice it, it's already far too strong.
  • Colours - something else to look out for, check for any areas of colour that are strongly opposed in hue or saturation to your subject that you weren't intending.
  • Objects - clutter can be a killer! Keep an eye out for wayward branches, litter... does that random bit of detritus need to be there or would your picture be better if you removed it?
  • Unnatural Growths - unless your subject is Inspector Gadget you don't want things growing out of them from all angles! Check the background immediately beside key focal points.
A classic case of distracting highlights. The story is about the girl and her confused expression and I tried to accentuate the feeling of confusion by turning the photo monochrome and darkening everything else. In the end there's still too many competing highlights in the background and around the edges of the frame. An "almost-something-but-not-quite" picture...

A classic case of distracting highlights. The story is about the girl and her confused expression and I tried to accentuate the feeling of confusion by turning the photo monochrome and darkening everything else. In the end there's still too many competing highlights in the background and around the edges of the frame. An "almost-something-but-not-quite" picture...

The C-word... Clipping

If you want to preserve as much detail as possible you want to avoid what's known as "clipping", in other words where the brightest parts of your picture are pure white and the darkest are pure black. You can do this while taking your photo by checking the histogram function on the camera; avoid the exposure being too far to the left or right. If you can expose your image without losing data in the highlights & shadows you will have more data to work with in Photoshop. If it's pure white or black, you can't do anything with it. 

Usually you will run into this problem with extremely contrast scenes - bright white clouds with deep dark shadows. In general, it's better to "expose to the right", make images brighter without burning them out. People expect dark scenes to have less detail but expect to see more in bright scenes.

Even if your style is to crush the shadows & burn your highlights, make sure this is deliberate & enhances what you're presenting.

In this image the sky is pure white and the shadows pure black but it works because it's a simple, highly stylised image. 

In this image the sky is pure white and the shadows pure black but it works because it's a simple, highly stylised image. 

If you print your images this tip is especially important. Blacks don't look too bad as a solid block of colour but whites can show the underlying paper-white and this is generally taken as an error. Before printing I add a Levels layer in Photoshop and set the limit to 254, just to be sure, but a better idea is to shoot your images to preserve as much detail as possible.

Avoid Amputations

This issue is almost completely avoidable with practice and patient shooting. You simply need to make sure all of the important, prominent elements of your scene are in the frame without being chopped off at the edge. It's a very simple mistake to make in the heat of shooting and although it can sometimes be fixed later it's better to learn to not make it at all! 

Where it's really noticeable is with people and I made two errors here - having the arm disappear out of the frame, then reappear from nowhere, followed by the newspaper being chopped off. Both are important, I should have included the V of his elbow and the whole newspaper.

Where it's really noticeable is with people and I made two errors here - having the arm disappear out of the frame, then reappear from nowhere, followed by the newspaper being chopped off. Both are important, I should have included the V of his elbow and the whole newspaper.

It's a simple little thing to do but I was so focused on the bee that I missed the pink petal creeping off the edge of the frame. It's enough of a mistake for a judge to vote this image down.

It's a simple little thing to do but I was so focused on the bee that I missed the pink petal creeping off the edge of the frame. It's enough of a mistake for a judge to vote this image down.

The image above was an reflex shot - the model changed pose and I snapped away. Sadly I chopped her hand off. The shot below is the second, slower and more deliberately framed image. Not only does she have her hand back but there's a little more room under her left elbow too, making for a more compelling composition.

Choose Your Settings With Care

The three main technical settings used to create your image - aperture, shutter speed & ISO - all have their effect on your image. What you need to be clear about is if the settings you have chosen are "correct" and producing the image you want the world to see, or if there's a mistake. If there IS a mistake, you then need to be honest with yourself... assess if it's a trivial error, or if the techie mistakes are going to be too distracting for your viewers. If you're entering your image into competition you need to be even more careful that your choice of settings doesn't look like an error. Here are some examples.

  • Shutter speed is the most common mistake, usually when the subject is not sharp because of camera shake or motion blur. Whether this is a problem depends on the image - many of the world's most famous images are decidedly NOT sharp but it doesn't matter because the story or imagery they present are so powerful. Get it sharp if you can but get your story sorted first!
  • "Sharpness is a bourgeoisie concept/sharpness is overrated" is a quote you might hear, implying sharpness doesn't matter if your photo is good enough. The reality is that most people will think you've made a mistake if they see blur and there's no harm in trying to get sharp shots. 
  • Depth of field is, in my experience, generally not a common problem. If it is, it's usually the case that DOF is too shallow & focusing is slightly off, meaning the subject is very slightly blurred. A problem when it's someone's face maybe but practice & good technique usually counters this.
  • Noise is easily the least likely artefact to cause image quality issues & it's the easiest to fix. If I were to share one niggle I have it's that many people are petrified use higher ISO for fear it ruins quality! There really is no need - between capable modern cameras & super-clever processing tools it's usually a total irrelevance. Older, famous photos are usually riddled with noise in the form of grain but again the story outweighs the techie niggle.

Whatever settings you use, take a step back and look at your image - will a photography-savvy viewer understand why you used the settings you did or will they think you've made an error?

Finally... I've seen it the world over, and there's always a minority who view any form of technical "error" as a deal-breaker. If your image isn't perfect, it's worthless, regardless of any emotion, artistic-excellence or narrative. I give these guys the time & effort I think they deserve.... if you catch my drift!

Compose Yourself

Composition is a huge subject in its own right with as many theories and opinions out there as there are photographers. It's an interesting one too because it falls into the "you must learn the rules before you learn when to break them" category. Time you spend researching photography composition will be time well spent. I plan to scratch the surface myself with an article in the near future.

Personally my approach is to shoot as many different variations on the scene as I can, the idea being if I shoot my subject in a range of different compositions I have more to choose from later. Rule of Thirds is always a good fallback.  Just beware if you place your subject centrally in the frame... it's like waving a rag to a bull for competition judges! Like many of these tips if you are going to do something that might be considered a beginner error, make it as obvious as you can it is not a mistake.

My go-to example of where a centre crop is not a mistake. Shooting anamorphically to stretch the frame shows that the placement of the model right in the middle was deliberate.

Make it Your Own

We as photographers are creatives at heart and like other artists we enjoy and respect the artwork other people produce. It's perfectly understandable and I imagine everyone reading this article has at some point in their life photographed a piece of art someone else made. Be it a sculpture, graffiti, street performances or painting, it all makes a tempting target for our camera.

In the UK at least this is often a much-maligned practice. Judges & critics often  point out that by simply photographing something, let's say a piece of graffiti, and presenting it as-is, the photographer isn't adding anything to it. They're basically recording a moment in time without adding any of their own creative juice to the picture. I tend to agree - as guilty as I am of having just photographed art before myself, it's always better to do it in such a way that adds your own context or story to it. Showing how the art sits in its landscape, showing how people interact is telling a much better story than "here is a thing, I photographed it".

A bad critic? Well they will say it's "just record photography", give it a crappy score and move on!

I have added none of my own artistic flair to this image - it's entirely the work of the graffiti artist. Although there is merit in preserving these fleeting works of art you'll develop more as an artist if you focus on telling your own story.

I have added none of my own artistic flair to this image - it's entirely the work of the graffiti artist. Although there is merit in preserving these fleeting works of art you'll develop more as an artist if you focus on telling your own story.

Processing - is less more?

I'm delving deep into the depths of personal taste here. Before I offend anyone remember I'm just suggesting what I do myself, and what I have seen tend to work well. How you process & present your photos to the world is your decision but it's worth knowing how others may judge your image purely on how you have processed it.

My own philosophy I stick to is "less is more". Whether I'm creating a composite from multiple different photos or shooting the world as I see it, I always start by erring on the side of caution and making sure my final image looks like it has not really been processed. That's not to say I don't spend hours in photoshop - I do - but that's because I usually want to present images that are a fair reflection of the real world, tell the story I want to tell and don't look like they were photoshopped! Once I have a realistic-looking baseline I then decide what processing I need to apply next to make the image pop or really add weight to my story.

If I had to sum it what I wanted people's first reaction to be in a sentence it wouldbe "Wow what a great picture" rather than "Wow what great Photoshop skills".

Photoshop is not a crime, it's a tool just like your camera.

Generally speaking I find this approach serves me well in international competitions, although less so in UK competitions where the current vogue is for heavily processed images with a certain look & feel.

I can't talk about processing without a word on HDR - high dynamic range. Remember what I said before... what you like, and how you want to present your image, is your prerogative.  That said, I think every photographer goes through an HDR phase. For a few weeks, every image I made looked like a vomit of colour with all the sliders pushed to 110%! HDR processing is just another tool you can use. When used well it can be fantastic, especially when it's used to subtly bring detail out of your image that might have otherwise been lost. But when it's used "badly", producing over-saturated, unrealistic images then it can lead to other photographers dismissing your work out of hand. Crappy HDR is all too often viewed as a beginner's mistake so if you use it, bear this in mind.

Horizontals & Verticals

A few simple points -

  • Make sure your horizons are level, especially for the sea/sky. 
  • If you DO angle the frame, make sure it's very deliberate and for a good reason - otherwise again it will look like a mistake.
  • Verticals look better if they are vertical - mostly the challenge here is with wide angle lenses looking up/down tall buildings.

All of these can easily be fixed with Lightroom's perspective tool.

In The Frame

Check where & how you crop your image, and where you subject is placed in the frame.

For the former bear these tips in mind -

  • Make sure you leave a enough space - but not too much - around subjects like people or animals. If you crop too close it can almost feel "claustrophobic" where the subject doesn't have enough room in the frame.
  • Experiment with different ways to crop your image. Look for empty spaces in the frame that can be cropped out - often an unusual crop can make an image stronger even if it feels strange ending up with an image isn't in the usual 3:2 ratio.
  • Watch out for lines, paths, the direction people are looking... anything that leads your viewer out of the image. Use lines to lead viewers INTO the image, directed to where you want them to look.
  • Look for objects in the environment you can use to provide "natural" frames for your subject - in some ways creating a picture within a picture.
  • While shooting experiment with different ways of framing; try different angles & shooting at different heights. Don't just shoot at eye level.

I've taken one photo and tweaked it here to prove the next point. If something is pointing in a specific direction in the photo, frame it so they have "space to move into". The image above is how NOT to do it, the bird is crammed up against one edge, looking outwards. The image below gives the bird room to "move" on the left and it feels more balanced & natural.

Murder Your Darlings

This is a very simple tip - don't let the time & effort you have spent to produce a picture cloud your judgement as to whether it is actually a GOOD picture or not.

People who view your photo don't know, or care, how hard it was to take; how early you needed to get up in the morning or how many hours you have spent fixing tiny imperfections. They look at your photo and judge it within a few seconds.

This can be disheartening when you have poured so much into producing an image. The trick is to take a step back & time away from it then come back later. Is it still awesome now that the memory of the ordeal you went through to get it isn't so fresh? One of my favourite phrases is something writers use - "murder your darlings". If you are writing a novel and you have characters you love, who do cool stuff and are generally all-round perfect characters for your book then it probably means they are actually BAD for the novel and need killing off!

The same line of thinking can be applied to your photography - do you love your photo because it's genuinely an awesome picture or really does it need murdering? :)


Examples

Stating the rules is all well and good but sometimes you need to just show pictures that never quite worked out! I've shared a selection of my own images to show those that didn't make the cut & why.

London Bridge Station

Numerous issues with this image.

  • No Subject - Idon't actually remember what I saw here that made me take a photo. It may be a pattern/geometry shot as the rails lead off into the lights but there is nothing really compelling about this image at all.
  • Bad HDR - it's too intrusive. It has let me capture lots of detail, particularly in areas that would otherwise be dark shadow, but in an unnatural, artificial looking way.
  • Distractions - The top of the frame has highlights from white spotlights and the red light signal light are all quite prominent.
  • The sky is ugly. Orange, light-polluted clouds aren't particularly attractive.

Model Photoshoot

  

  

Tawan was a lovely model, one of the best I've worked with, so all the mistakes here are of my own making.

  • Her expression is peculiar, almost confused. Because there is essentially nothing in the photo but the girl, its all about what her expression has to say and here it's "mild boredom". The cause? I fired away multiple frames rather than waiting for one that actually worked.
  • Amputations - Is that her hand touching her lips or someone else's? It's reaching up out of nowhere! I really should have included her whole arm in the frame.
  • More Amputations - On the subject of hands her other one is creeping on behind her...
  • Distraction - The left edge is a blurry bokeh mess. It isn't adding anything to the photo so it's probably distracting.
  • Distraction - Likewise the highlights behind her head are a bit too prominent.
  • Processing - her eyes are are too dark. In fact the whole left side of her face is too dark - it would be tricky to fix this in Photoshop without  it looking fake

Butterfly

  • Framing - the butterfly is framed too close to the right hand edge of the frame, no space to move, and is also a little too tight to the top of the frame.
  • Settings - I used too wide an aperture and too slow a shutter speed. This means I have undesirable Depth of Field and motion blur problems. It's not sharp enough.
  • Distraction - the leaves on the right side are hugely distracting and should be cloned out or cropped.
  • Distraction II - the background is nicely blurred but I ought to darken it by about 20% and brighten the butterfly to really make it pop.

Spearfisher & Crow

  •  Distraction - it looks like the fisherman has been speared through the head and is pinned to his boat. Once you see that you can't unsee it!

Other than that I think the image works quite well!  


Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur

  • Processing - even though I have tried to make the HDR as natural as possible it's still very bright and colourful & almost too sharp.  I would need to tone it down significantly to make it feel more realistic.
  • Verticals - the buildings all look like they are toppling over, towards the centre of the frame.
  • Subject - it's flat out boring. Although an international landmark, this photo is not exciting and I haven't added my own creativity to it in any way. I could get a better photo buying a postcard!

What Happens When The Music Stops?

This one always makes me smile. I took it less than a year after starting my career in photography and it was my first time trying street photography and using a new lens. I knew enough about photography to get the shot I wanted but not enough to know it sucked :)

  • Subject - what I thought in my head was a perfectly captured moment is not really. It's a little dull.
  • My framing could be better. I ought to crop most of the wall above her head out.
  • Processing - in this case I could do more. Making her headphones more prominent would help, and maybe photshopping in musical graffiti might make the image work
  • Horizontal - it's not quite level and slightly tilted.
  • It's a Darling - my memory of the excitement of shooting led me to think the image was better than it actually is!

The Candle

  • It's a Darling - shot in a temple in Cambodia, the alignment of the stone pillar and the shaft of light seemed like I'd found a perfect photo.  The reality is that it's a little gimmicky.
  • Distraction - the tourist is a distraction, seriously hurting the image.  I should clone him out.
  • Processing - I spent so much effort in making the dust motes look good, stylising the image, it has loads of areas that are just too dark.
  • Framing - I think this would be stronger in a landscape format but cramped conditions forced a portrait perspective. I should have shot more photos in the vicinity to have more to work with .

Bear in mind though, as my recent blog post "What Would the Judge Say?" proves, just because something can be changed in Photoshop doesn't mean it necessarily should be. Sometimes what can be considered flaws by some are not judged the same by others. The old adage is true - it's important to learn the basics so you know when it's OK to break them to make a better picture.

 

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A Roll of Film

I love shooting film. It's a perfect blend of challenge, frustration and contemplation that I don't get shooting digital and it lets me approach my photography with a different mindset. It's an indulgence for me - almost like a hobby within a hobby - but I still take it seriously. Today's post is all about the last roll of infra-red film I loaded just before leaving Singapore last year.

Usually I have lots of different digital projects on the go at any one time, for me each roll of film is a record of 36 individual moments, unconnnected and unorganised. I saw something and I took the picture. Sometimes I remember why, sometimes it's obvious why and sometimes I have fun wondering what the hell I was doing!

Yesterday I finished the roll. I was excited because it is the first time I've used infra-red film. It has taken me an entire year to shoot 36 exposures and I don't even remember what photographs I've taken. I was hugely excited to see what I'd end up with when I got the film developed.

Except when I rewound the film and popped the back open... it wasn't infra-red film at all. It was a roll of bog-standard colour film.

IMG_1297.JPG

Ah the joys of film! Normally I keep a shred of the film box of in the holder on the back of the camera but over 12 months that fell out & has been lost.

So today we celebrate the roll of film I didn't know I had! I've shared my favourite images below, warts and all. What I find interesting is how my mindset was black & white but the end result is colour - and how that has helped or hurt the final images. In my opinion this has been the single best roll of film I've shot, in terms of images I'm proud to share at any rate.

The funny part of this? I have a roll of infra-red film lurking in one of my other cameras... and I don't know which one!

I'm annoyed this didn't come out in IR monochrome, I spent a while making sure the framing and composition was just-so.

I'm annoyed this didn't come out in IR monochrome, I spent a while making sure the framing and composition was just-so.

Edie. Needless to say I'm happy with this one.

Edie. Needless to say I'm happy with this one.

Jasper is always a willing subject.

Jasper is always a willing subject.

The light on this morning in St. Ives was superb, almost otherworldly. It gives such a crisp, bold airiness to the picture.

The light on this morning in St. Ives was superb, almost otherworldly. It gives such a crisp, bold airiness to the picture.

Waves & rocks. I could have spent hours here watching last night's storm batter the coast of Cornwall the following morning.

Waves & rocks. I could have spent hours here watching last night's storm batter the coast of Cornwall the following morning.

A shame about the light leaks but I can fix those in Photoshop later. But these images are giving me a hankering to shoot some medium-format landscapes.

A shame about the light leaks but I can fix those in Photoshop later. But these images are giving me a hankering to shoot some medium-format landscapes.

Thinking in infra-red I was expecting the bench to sharply contrast with the vegetation surrounding it. 

Thinking in infra-red I was expecting the bench to sharply contrast with the vegetation surrounding it. 

I love the contrast in tones that build up this image in layers stretching back to the sea.

I love the contrast in tones that build up this image in layers stretching back to the sea.

Another I thought would have looked awesome in infra-red. If I get time I might try emulating the effect artificially.

Another I thought would have looked awesome in infra-red. If I get time I might try emulating the effect artificially.

A final piece of fun to complete the roll.

A final piece of fun to complete the roll.

How To Write A Photography Book - Part 4

I'm writing a book! Join me as I share everything... how to write, photograph, market and publish from start to finish! Click here to find earlier posts in this series

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It's my fourth post & already I'm feeling more confident than ever that I might finally get this project completed - there's a long way to go but I'm writing a little bit every day and it's starting to add up.

Today's post is not about writing though... it's about photography. More specifically, I am going to share how I plan to illustrate the book. 

In my last post I described how I wanted a hand-drawn, lovingly crafted feel to my book but none of the artists I engaged were quite hitting what I wanted. Their work was great but it wasn't matching my vision.

In the end I hit upon what I think is an awesome idea... 

  • I hire a model & studio to photograph the scenes I need in the book
  • I share a behind-the-scenes view on the whole process; from casting, designing & planning through to lighting & shooting on the day
  • I process the images in photoshop to make them look like pencil drawings

I think this is a fantastic idea - not only am I in total control for the whole creative process (which is admittedly sort of scary) but I get to share much more about how I am bringing the book to life - I'm especially happy it means I can get back to taking photographs too! 

I've already started looking for a model who might fit the bill but it's early days. When I plan a model shoot I make sure I know exactly what I want, how to shoot it, source any props and book a studio... I don't want to book a model and have them waiting for weeks until I'm ready, or to book the perfect model who then disappears.

Instead, for the last few days I've been experimenting with the process to turn photos into drawings. I need to prove it works because if not I will need to rethink the plan.  What better photo to start with than a selfie....

Here's one of my earliest attempts at converting a photo into a drawing - 

National Portrait Gallery here we come. 

National Portrait Gallery here we come. 

The photo below is the source image I worked from, actually taken from my Project 365 back in 2013.

IMG_1246.JPG

A few caveats - this image is far darker than I would probably want to use the book. The plan is all scenes will be photographed against a white background to match the paperwhite of the book. I'd also want much more colour & vibrancy in the final image whereas this is much more muted, almost monochrome. Still it was the first time I processed the photo and found a result that worked out. Getting the pencil effect right is key, colouring in is easy.

Image processing is a hugely important consideration - I need it to be sophisticated, look original, flexible enough to let me tweak to taste but easy enough to repeat dozens, maybe hundreds of times. I tried at least half a dozen excellent Photoshop tutorials on YouTube but even though the results were impressive it was taking hours and hours to edit a single image. Not going to work!

Eventually I found a photoshop action which at the click of a button would analyse my image & produce the pencil drawing effect inside a minute or two. It's the most complicated action I've ever used in Photoshop!  I'm typing this blog post on my commute so can't share the author's name - I'll try to remember for a later post.

Immediately I bought the rights to use the action for only £5. It's perfect - not only does it do the hardest part of the processing for me, the sketching effect, but I can tailor the end result in all manner of ways. It gives me the baseline I need to tailor it to what I want and I can apply a consistent, reproducible action to all images. This means all illustrations will have the same look & feel.

I've posted some images below - these are from model shoots I did in Singapore and I used them to experiment with processing. Remember, I haven't settled on the final look I'm going for - these images are helping me make that decision. It's a WIP!

The source photo here is practically black and white and I think that's why this has worked so well. However what I was REALLY looking at was how the pencil action would render the strong shadows on her face - and it had worked well!

The source photo here is practically black and white and I think that's why this has worked so well. However what I was REALLY looking at was how the pencil action would render the strong shadows on her face - and it had worked well!

This is testing a white background would stay white and not be "pencilled in". The shadows on her face were also less pronounced than before but still came out well. I need to figure out how to get the skin-tone coming through the pencil shading properly.

This is testing a white background would stay white and not be "pencilled in". The shadows on her face were also less pronounced than before but still came out well. I need to figure out how to get the skin-tone coming through the pencil shading properly.

Really pleased with this one. The skteching and the skin-tone work very well together, there's good defintion on the original image (it's not "swamped" by the pencil effect) and even the lips and eyes come through. For this image I added a new step in processing - after creating the pencil sketch I went back to the original image and added a very contrasty "harsh structure" layer using Silver Efex Pro. I blended that in using a 40% luminosity mask. The result is I get sharp edges, sharp detail - look at those eyelashes - but it still looks like a drawing. If I can replicate this effect on the other images I'll be very happy.

Really pleased with this one. The skteching and the skin-tone work very well together, there's good defintion on the original image (it's not "swamped" by the pencil effect) and even the lips and eyes come through.

For this image I added a new step in processing - after creating the pencil sketch I went back to the original image and added a very contrasty "harsh structure" layer using Silver Efex Pro. I blended that in using a 40% luminosity mask. The result is I get sharp edges, sharp detail - look at those eyelashes - but it still looks like a drawing. If I can replicate this effect on the other images I'll be very happy.

I've found that testing the process is a very useful exercise for showing me what photos work with the action and what don't - this is hugely important as it means I won't run the risk of getting a load of unusable images during my photo shoots. Instead I can arrange my scene & lighting to maximise the number of shots I know will probably handle processing well.

Speaking of this, I found one image that did NOT work. 

The lighting on her face was flattering in the photograph but didn't have sufficient contrast or shadow for the pencil action to work. Blending in the underlying image didn't work either - looks like I need to have very well defined areas of highlight & shadow for faces to work.

The lighting on her face was flattering in the photograph but didn't have sufficient contrast or shadow for the pencil action to work. Blending in the underlying image didn't work either - looks like I need to have very well defined areas of highlight & shadow for faces to work.

I'm considering a blue dress and red hair for Pel so wanted to test a blue & red image. I didn't have one that fit so found a free stock photo and tried experimenting on that. It isn't too bad - I just need to figure out a way of boosting the vibrancy of the colour without losing the pencil defintion

I'm considering a blue dress and red hair for Pel so wanted to test a blue & red image. I didn't have one that fit so found a free stock photo and tried experimenting on that.

It isn't too bad - I just need to figure out a way of boosting the vibrancy of the colour without losing the pencil defintion

The source image, free stock from Pexels

The source image, free stock from Pexels

So as you can see, I've been busy this week. I still haven't settled on a final art-style and although the effect I am producing now is close to what I want, it's not 100% there. When I do finally get the effect I'm looking for I'll do another blog post going into step-by-step details of the processing I apply.

I'm going to be away for a few days which will delay progress for a while but I have a few things I want to talk about in the days to come -

  • Branding, marketing, advertising
  • Copyright & trademarks
  • Publishing options

However, because I've also made progress actually writing a few sections I might try and do a partial mock-up of what I have and share it.

The problem is there's so much I want to work on I need to focus and do what's important now!

Hope you enjoyed this week's post and I'd love to hear some feedback. What do you think of the test images? What do you like/what would you change? Do you have suggestions or sample images I could experiment with that you are willing to share? 

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Where Are All The Photography Magazines

It's late and I've been out for a few drinks after work. It's even a school night. I am waiting here in Victoria train station for my train home and standing confused in the magazine section of a major newsagent. It's a big newsagent. It sells novels and everything.

Where are all the photography magazines?

I know the death of print has been heralded for a long time now, time & again. But I'm not asking where the magazines are... I'm asking where the photography magazines are.

I have time to stand here and type my thoughts as I wait for my train, time to browse the shelves. Ignoring the huge, £15 "Ultimate Guide to Photography" pseudo-books, I can count a few genuine photography magazines. The venerable Amateur Photographer is still there of course, sucking on its Worthers Original, alongside one of the generic Digital-Practical-Photography-Camera-Photo-DSLR-User clones. I can see a copy or two of Outdoor Photographer sat beside a single, lonely copy of the British Journal of Photography with Black & White Photography & the single copy of Professional Photographer I have snatched off the shelves finishing off the pantheon on offer.

The brave band of survivors... 

The brave band of survivors... 

It wasn't that long ago that we had maybe double the selection we do now. Notable passings include my personal favourite, Advanced Photographer, for example. Yet when I look around I find evidence for the death of the magazine in short supply for any other genre of magazine.

My train still doesn't have a platform so I begin to count.

 

  • Five magazines devoted to models, from wargaming figurines to sci-if tanks. If we add the model trains in here it doubles it to ten
  • Essentially countless video gaming magazines - just the gaming, not the general technology magazines. They have their own entire stand.
  • A mind boggling 17 - SEVENTEEN - sewing magazines. I include things like quilting because it's basically the same, in the same way outdoor photography is still photography.
  • Another fourteen baby & pregnancy magazines.
  • An entire rack of music magazines - this is the opposite side to the video game stand so we are taking dozens of different ones.
  • I count over 20 house & home magazines. This includes one magazine dedicated entirely to "Wallpaper"
  • I skip hastily over the Hello/OK-style drivel but not before noticing they have a full end-rack of celeb-news rags
  • Four or five magazines dedicated to every sub-genre of sport imaginable - per genre I might add - except football which stretches off into the distance.
Khawkins04 - Flickr - CC

Khawkins04 - Flickr - CC

I could go on - quite literally because I'm still waiting for a train - but it's at this stage I realise how woefully under-represented photography is.

The standard reason for photography magazines dying off basically boils down to the Internet - all the news, opinion, user guides & inspiration you could possibly want is available, often for free, online. Magazines can't keep up to date with a fast moving technology industry like photography and in the same way our high street photography stores are closing, magazines die off.

Based on the evidence of my own eyes though, why does every single other genre of magazine seem to be thriving?

My mistake - Wallpaper despite its name and appearance is not a magazine all about wallpaper. 

My mistake - Wallpaper despite its name and appearance is not a magazine all about wallpaper. 

Surely every other technology-based magazine genre should be trimmed back to its last few stalwarts too, depleted by the advance of the Internet, but computing, HiFi, television & movies are all heavily represented. Those industries move just as fast as photography with at least as much material out there online.

Homewares, baking, arts & crafts all have Etsy, Pinterest and YouTube to offer advice and inspiration so who still needs a magazine?

Running, body-building, football... the internet is swimming in content and you can't exactly jog around reading a copy of Runners World.

These magazines can't survive on the occasional after-hours reader picking up an impulse copy on the way home; they must have a loyal readership. What do they offer their readers that photography magazines do not?

All of the reasons we've been told that herald the death of photography magazines should apply equally to other magazines, pretty much, but while photography is relegated to a corner of the news stand alongside iPad for Beginners and Ancestry Weekly, by contrast the other magazines seem to be thriving.

As I finish my musings I've managed to make it onto a train and I'm nearly home. My copy of Professional Photographer is sitting untouched next to me - for now.

I have a feeling I may not be able to explain why photography magazines are so poorly represented tonight but I will damn well figure it out... I feel some theories percolating.

 

Let me know your thoughts & theories in the comments below!

 

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How To Write A Photography Book - Part 3

I'm writing a book! Join me as I share everything... how to write, photograph, market and publish from start to finish!

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I want to use today's post to go into much more detail about how I am designing the main character for my book. It's important to understand how your lead will feature throughout - how do your story & character interact? For example, knowing WHAT I am teaching in each section andWHO will be teaching it makes it easier to understand the HOW it will be rendered in the book.

Stories are about people; you can't plan on the how before you know the who.

This might sound backwards but it worked for me.  Think of it like a regular novel - I have my story arc (the overall plan for the book), my character and all I need now are the events and set-pieces that stitch the whole thing together. The perspective I use to tell my story.  Designing "set pieces" without knowing who was going to be in them just didn't work out.

I knew finding a name that was important and wanted something that was linked to photography but not in an overt, ham-fisted way.

A lot of time was spent researching possible options! However, I kept coming back to one of the earliest potential names I found.

Pel.

Simple, cutesy like a Pixie, kept up with the alliteration. It is an old, very-rarely used shortening of "pixel" so it fits the photography theme too.

Designing Pel

Initially I assumed all of the artwork for the book would be hand drawn, similar to classic children's books but with a more adult look & feel. Photography concepts are MUCH easier to explain with words & images rather than words alone and I expected there to be dozens, if not hundreds, of illustrations.

I began by sketching out some ideas, quite literally on the back of a napkin, for the main protagonist of my book - the Photo Pixie. Although initially a fairy, I decided early on to distance myself from other famous fairies (*cough* Tinkerbell) and over time the fairy evolved into a pixie. I liked the alliteration of the name "Photo Pixie" as well and once I had settled on a name it just all seemed to come together perfectly.

 

I can't draw. I'm hopeless. Even my handwriting sucks. I realised immediately that if I was going to illustrate the book I would need some help.

IMG_1126.JPG

I explored a number of options, contacting local artists, asking friends... I even considered taking an art course so I could learn to draw myself! I created a Pinterest board to gather images for inspiration. Nothing worked out quite how I wanted it l, or was far too expensive, but I did find one option that has been really helpful.

 

It's a website called fiverr. The idea is that artists, photographers, actors and other creatives around the world offer their services to do a small job for $5. Oh you can pay more for "expanded" services and in one case I did just that - I even began thinking I could commission my favourite artist to illustrate the entire book for quite a reasonable price but in the main I've simply used fiverr to tap into the collective mentality of a number of artists to help guide my own creative instinct. Not all of the "gigs" panned out but seeing what others would create from a simple list of keywords was tremendously useful.  The images in this post are just some of the illustrations I commissioned from artists around the world.

FullSizeRender.jpg

In fact, the "Fiverr experiment" was so useful that it was while browsing for more artists to test out I had a flash of inspiration; the lighting-bolt of creativity which will let me produce all of the illustrations myself, from scratch. All without touching a pencil. 

And in the next episode I will give a demonstration of just what I mean :)

 

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What Would A Judge Say?

Today's post was inspired by a question posted on my local camera club forum. The image below was shot by Diane Arbus and limited edition prints are currently up for auction in the neighbourhood of $100,000.

With tongue planted firmly in cheek the question was asked - what would a UK club photography judge have to say about this image? 

I decided to go one further and see if I corrected the "flaws", does it improve the image?

Here's the base image

Here are the "faults" that a judge might pick up -

  1. Distracting highlights around the edge of the frame
  2. Black-clothed people at the edge of the frame
  3. Person growing out of young boy's head
  4. Tree growing out of young boy's shoulder
  5. Not enough space in the frame along the bottom edge (toes too close to edge)
  6. Branches at top right
  7. Leaves & trash on the pavement

Into Photoshop we go! Here's a 5 minute blitz-job -

Below is a side-by-side comparison of the original vs the "fixed" version with some contrast, sharpening and vignette tweaks.

The question is... Has it improved it? By following the photography judge textbook to the letter, have we actually created a better photograph or does the original have a quality that makes minor "faults" irrelevant.

Very keen to hear what you have to say, leave me a note in the comments!

How To Write A Photography Book - Part 2

I'm writing a book! Join me as I share everything... how to write, photograph, market and publish from start to finish!

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The Premise

Time to start getting into the nitty gritty :) 

In this post I'm going to cover more of the specifics of the book and show you some of the work I've done so far. 

  • My book will be an absolute beginner's guide to photography
  • It will cover everything a new photographer would be able to do with their first camera
  • It will be targeted at both adults and children
  • The style & tone of the writing will teach fundamental techniques of photography in a fun, easy to understand way without being patronising
  • Technical jargon will be minimised wherever possible
  • As well basic principles it will include examples/how-to guides for the most common questions I get in my teaching workshops
  • It might cover things like composition, colour theory etc. but I'm not sure - I don't want to overcomplicate things
  • It will cover the basics of camera technology but not gear - remember, basic principles!

That's what it will be, but where did it come from? What's my inspiration?

My Muse

A very, very dear friend of mine bought a camera, the venerable Canon S100. She was not a photographer but knew she had a good camera and wanted to know just a bit more, to get the best from their camera. She asked me to go through the basics, explain the different setting then set her up with a "cheat-sheet" she could refer to later.

This was quite a few years ago, back before starting teaching. Let's just say that my explanation of pixels, collecting light, aperture & ISO didn't work. Too techie, too dry. Boring. 

You can explain how a modern digital camera has a sensor, how that sensor creates an image when light hits it, how we as photographers control the light to produce the image we want. How the lens interacts with the sensor, how shutter speed controls or causes blur. ISO, f-stops, focal-lengths, aperturrrraargh!  No, just no. Needless to say this was just a hopeless way. In other words, I took the convoluted, years long process I took to learn and tried to condense it down. 

Learning this lesson taught me how best to  tailor your teaching to the student. I think the way I taught THIS student might just appeal to more and the idea for the book was born!

The McGuffin

To teach my beginner friend I replaced all the electronics, physics and jargon inside a camera with... a pixie. 

Abstracting away the technical side of things teaches the underlying concept in a very easy-to-understand, relatable way. You can always explain the techie jargon when someone understands broadly how they can take a photograph and understand how it came out the way it did.

What's Next?

This post has basically brought us bang up to date. Everything I've described so far is stuff I'd already started over the last couple of years. From here on in, everything is new. Every page I write, every photo I take will be brand new...

I'm really excited with how it's going so far. I've poured more time and energy into the book in the last few weeks than the last two years!

Join me next time when I go into more detail about how I am designing the lead character for the book. But for now, here's a quick preview...

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New site feature - Monthly Newsletter!

The eagle-eyed among you will notice I've added a new button at the top of my site. 

I've decided to launch my first newsletter! The idea is simple - I also want to be able to keep you up to date with my free guides, new projects & developments! Basically, a quick & easy way for you to see everything I'm doing and tons more stuff that might interest you.

Initially I plan to only send one email a month at most, giving a roundup of everything that's going on in one easy to read mail, not to mention giveaways & competitions.

No spam.

No sales pitch.

You can unsubscribe at any time.

Interested? Hit the link at top-right to sign up!