Last Updated: 28-10-2019 15:11

After a rather prolonged wait, involving some correspondence with Customs, and an unexpected invoice, a Trademe purchase from 'Wellington' finally showed up from Australia recently.

My wife always gives me a hard time about my photography, and whenever the courier shows up, she always suggests it's a lens, although in reality, I probably only purchase one lens a year at most, and they've all been second hand, although admittedly my camera bodies have always been new.

Photography can be quite an expensive hobby, although once you've acquired it, good equipment can last for years if you're not too hard on it. I know I'm not alone in looking for opportunities to earn some money from photography, if for nothing more than to cover the cost of equipment, even though I take photos for enjoyment, and work on a pretty lean budget.

People take photos, or participate in Camera Club for many different reasons. Some of you will be beginners looking to learn how to use your equipment, while others will be experienced, possibly even professional or semi-professional photographers, who either earn a living or supplement your it through photography. Some of you may only have a phone camera, while others may have spent many thousands on cameras and lenses.

Trying to strike the right balance with club activities when the club is made up of such a diverse range of skill levels and interests isn't easy, but that is exactly the task that members have entrusted to the committee.

Feedback on 'Competitions'

There's been quite a bit of discussion around 'competitions' and it's been suggested dropping the name 'competition', as not everyone wants to be competitive, but simply wants critique to learn from. Some people do enjoy a challenge though, whether it be against their peers or simply to challenge themselves.

For me personally, the commentary by judges on competitions has been hugely helpful in improving my photography. I'm a bit of a geek, so I figure out gadgets and software well enough myself, but understanding what other people find pleasing or otherwise about an image has made me think more about my photography, whether I agree with a judge or not!

When I started out as a humble C grader back in 2012, the challenge of set subjects and the requirements to advance a grade provided an incentive to explore photography that I might not otherwise have attempted.

Other people may gain more from hands on tutorials, or buddying up with more experienced club members, and it's important to speak up about what you find the most useful.

Currently 'competitions' gain points which contribute both to awarding of annual trophies, and to enable B and C graders to advance a grade. At present there is no time limit to advance a grade as long as you remain an active member of the club, however you must achieve at least five honours and three merits as well as having a minimum number of points before you can advance a grade. Previously, only three honours and five merits were required, but there was a two year time limit, and before that only one year, to achieve the required number of points to advance a grade. In my seven years in the club, perhaps only one or two people have ever managed to advance a grade in a year, although many competent photographers can manage in about 18 months. Currently most competitions except Shot of the Year contribute points, however in the past Natural History and Landscape have not been awarded points. There's been quite a bit of discussion in the committee around whether the current system for advancing grades is fair, and in the near future will present a proposal to members to compare with the current system, to select one option going forward.

The committee needs members' feedback to ensure we're on the right track with the direction of the club. There are only six of us, and we have to try to represent all of you, so if you have a view, make sure you let us know. We won't be able to please everyone all of the time, but if we can please most people most of the time, then we're probably headed in the right direction.

New Competition Entry System Coming Soon

Speaking of competitions and geeky stuff, I have an updated competition submission system being tested by a few members. I haven't actually been doing as much photography as I'd have liked, as I've been busy writing code to bring the whole club competition system into the cloud. It will make the competition secretary's role a lot easier and possible to share, and will also make it easier to verify that your entries submit successfully, as you'll be able to visually verify that they've actually uploaded to the club website. You'll also be able to check back over your previous submission history going forward, and there'll also be means to directly upload field trip or workshop images to the site instead of having to email to a committee member to upload. In order to allow for the new features, each member will have to have their own login, which will take time to set up, so in the meantime the existing submission form will run in parallel, but by the February hand in, I expect most people should be transitioned to the new system.

At the end of the day it's about Photography

As you'll have figured out by the time you read this, I was unable to attend club night this month, due to school holidays. Many, if not most of you have other interests besides photography, but instead of letting them compete for time with photography, I encourage you to see your other interests as potential subjects for photography. Anyone can share stories about their world as seen through a camera lens, and some of the most compelling images often happen because someone was in the right place at the right time, rather than because of what photographic equipment or experience they had.