A new member's progress

At the suggestion of an existing member, Bryan Rawlins joined the Club in 2016 and straight away entered into our activities. After a season's experience, Bryan shared his photographic progress at our “Show and tell” evening in October 2017 and encouraged new members to enter our competitions to learn from the judges' assessments of the photos.

Bryan has kindly allowed us to add to our site the text of his chat. Thanks Bryan, I think your nice touches of gentle humour come across as well the more serious learnings!

Bryan Rawlins' story

“Good evening, l am speaking tonight mainly to the newcomers to the club.

“I stood in front of you, last year, as a virgin and exposed myself to the honoured members as a complete novice. I said that the only way to find out how good or bad my photographs were, was to enter the club's competitions and to be judged by those who know.

“Well it didn't take long for me to find out. I have been criticized for my horizon not being level, accused of over sharpening, for not cropping enough or too much, for my green being too green and even on one occasion for over exposure. It seems that judges see images as works of art and they did not like my pictures of the kids or my holiday snaps.

“So I wondered what I have learnt since this time last year?

“My pictures are no longer just pictures they are now “captured images” that have a subject matter and tell a story and which need careful composition, leading lines and a touch of imagination.

“My learning curve was steep and it started with my camera.

“I know many of you will be shocked to learn that I have started to take images in RAW! I only knew that I previously took images in JPEGs because someone told me and at that stage I had no idea about RAW, but here I am a year later taking my originals in RAW. I know I have to change them back into JPEGs anyway but it's a good place to start and it impresses my friends. Then I took the brave step of switching my camera setting off automatic to manual and have been learning what all the buttons do on my camera, which previously I thought were just for decoration.

“S is for Speed to slow me down and A is for Aperture to control the light. It seems so confusing but once I learned that the lowest number lets in most light and the higher number lets in less light, it seemed to get a little clearer, but then I had to learn about depth of fields and problems with blurred backgrounds.

“I have found out about ISO, but that is still on automatic at the moment and that is something for this year.

“I have tried to listen to the judges about composition and it appears that this is what I have had the most to learn. I need a strong subject with leading and diagonal lines, it must fill the frame yet be natural and it must have a balance between the subject and the background.

“Add to that repeating patterns for pleasing and symmetry for balance, but never break the rule of thirds. Once you have all of that you think you may have a perfect image, but no... that is just the starter.

“For the next step I had to go back to school and was introduced to the magical world of manipulation. I was lucky to find an expert who has the patience of a saint and makes me feel like a very naughty boy. I am still on level 2 and like my violin lessons at school required much more practice than I did, and according to my report I need to concentrate better in class.

“I started with grabbing, sizing and organising my photographs and through “Photoshop Elements” moved onto cropping, cutting and enhancing. I can now adjust shadows, brightness and contrast and with just a single click I can change to monochrome, but there is so much to do and learn and after last week I have decided to leave “filters and plug ins” for another year.

“The first picture that I entered was awarded a 12. Quite a few more followed around that mark, but one in the last competition earned a 19. Perhaps I really have improved, or was that just a lucky snap from holiday?

“So fellow newbies, I recommend that you enter the competitions, you can't be any worse that l was last year and I hope that you enjoy learning from others.”