PSNZ Judging Seminar

The weather has been really lovely for the last week and last weekend particularly so, unfortunately I did not get much chance to enjoy the sunshine. I spent the weekend at a seminar organised by the Photographic Society of New Zealand on competition judging and accreditation. While it was a shame to be inside with the sun was shining the seminar itself was extremely interesting and useful with around 20 attendees from around the South Island of New Zealand. 

The seminar as was very ably run by Bruce Girdwood (Chair of the Judge Accreditation Panel) and Shona Jaray (PSNZ President) both of whom had clearly worked very hard on providing a clear and useful presentation. The seminar was very interactive based around a framework for evaluating images and how to provide useful feedback. It included examples taken from a variety of sources and finished with a session where we all had the opportunity to evaluate some images and present our results back to the rest of the participants.

The framework presented was based around the concepts of visual design and composition. I have heard the concepts presented before but it was useful to hear it explained in terms of judging images rather than making them. The importance of trying to identify what feeling/mood the photographer is attempting to convey was also stressed. The basic principles that were outlined are given below, there are plenty of texts covering these concepts for those interested in learning more.

Visual Design:

  • Light
  • Lines
  • Shapes – triangles, squares, circles
  • Textures
  • Perspective
  • Dominance
  • Balance
  • Proportion
  • Rhythm

The intention behind the seminar was to start the process of improving the general standard of judging in club competitions; to make it more consistent and also to make it more helpful to the club members. After all the purpose for most people entering the club competitions is to improve their photography and it is important that judges provide positive and useful feedback on the images being judged.

I now have to judge my first competition in a couple of weeks and I hope I manage to apply what I learnt to provide useful, well reasoned feedback. I suspect the judging itself will be fairly straightforward, presenting it back will require some careful preparation!

At least with the sun out this week I managed to cycle to work, and make a few images on the way – just to brighten up this post a little!


Sunset over the Waimakariri River


The flowers in my garden are getting busy.


The trees are in blossom.


But it is still cool and misty in the morning!



Almost Portraits

I had great intentions of a long post on lighting for portraits. I was asked to do a talk for my camera club on Monday evening and I went fully prepared – with speed lights, umbrella, soft box and my old PowerBook so that I could shoot tethered; demonstrating the effects of changing lighting. This all went more or less to plan until the end of the evening when my PowerBook would not wake up. I pressed the power button to turn it off and thought no more of it.

On arriving home I wanted to get the images off my PowerBook to prepare for my 365 project and for my long and exciting blog post, unfortunately it appears that my trusty PowerBook has finally expired, like Monty Python’s parrot it is deceased, no more and indeed popped its mortal coil. The fan still works but that is about it, so I have lost almost all my images. I did take a couple at the end of the evening when answering questions but my long and interesting has been replaced by this one instead 😦


This was taken with a large 50″ Westcott Apollo JS Softbox lit with a Nikon SB900 flash.

Now I need to find some more willing models and try again.

After the Convention

So last weekend we had the PSNZ Southern Regional Convention 2010, great fun was had by al, at least I hope so. It was a good convention with interesting and entertaining speakers in Grant Sheehan (Phantom House Publishing) and Andrew Goodall (Nature’s Image Photography) and a fun field trip to Akaroa. In particular the stop at Tree Crop Farm was great fun, an interesting location and many thanks to our models for the day for their patience and the effort they went to  with costumes. Given the circumstances with New Brighton (where the conference was held) being badly hit by the earthquake the whole event went remarkably well.

I now have a large number of images to process and some new things to think about, I really must get across to the West Coast to take some images in the forests over there! I am hoping to get a couple of sets of images from the field trip; maybe six colour and six monochrome and I am intending to produce a consistent theme across each set of images.  I will post the results here when finished. In the meantime here are a couple of initial attempts…

Convention_2010-10-09_11-18-53_DSC_1117_©RichardLaing(2010) Convention_2010-10-09_12-00-33_DSC_1200_©RichardLaing(2010)

SmuginProForAperture Review

This has been a really busy week, but a good one.

I was contacted earlier this week by Joseph Linaschke who also runs a really useful resource for Aperture users. I had sent him details of my Aperture plugin SmuginProForAperture and he was interested in reviewing it. I was both surprised and delighted when he wrote a blog post about using it with Aperture and Squarespace. He also made it a pick of the week on on This Week in Photo. Thanks Joseph.

I have been working on an update to SmuginForAperture and SmuginProForAperture, the changes have been taking longer than I had hoped; in the short term I will be putting out a bugfix release next week to fix a couple of issues – the theme will default to the default and not BBQ for example. By the way I am always happy to get feedback and suggestions from users so drop me an email or leave a comment.

In between actual work and Aperture plugins I am helping to organise the PSNZ Southern Regional Salon and Interclub competition, the closing date for entries was last Friday and the Salon judging is on Sunday. I have been preparing the interclub images for the judges with judging sheets and cover notes and so on. All done now I hope, off to the post office tomorrow. Not content with that competition I  have also prepared the images for our clubs monochrome competition and the images for an interclub competition between Kaiapoi and two clubs in Australia, Corio Bay Camera Club and the Gem Camera Club. Some really interesting images and I am looking forward to the results.

So definitely busy the only downside is that I haven’t had time to take any photos this week, there is always tomorrow though if the rain and hail let up. Apparently Spring is here…but not today!

Interclub Competitions

It has been a very busy week preparing images for a couple of interclub photographic competitions. It is always fun trying to collect enough images from as many members as possible. We can only enter two images per member and our competition with two clubs in Australia needs 25 images in total, with a small club getting enough entries can be a challenge. I think I now have everything organised and ready to go.

My next task is to get organised for the Southern Regional Salon judging day in a couple of weeks, it is suddenly not very far off and I doubt I will get an entry organised; a bit sad really when I am helping to organise it!

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A sunny day on the river.

On the Spot

A fun evening at the photo club tonight, we were all sent out to take up to twenty photos in about half an hour, we then got to pick the best ten for review with the rest of the club – the catch pick your spot and you can’t move and you can’t change your focal length. I decided to go with my Nikkor 105 Micro lens hoping that I might get a few macro shots as an option.

There were a variety of camera and lenses in use, from point and shoot cameras up a Nikon D3 with a fisheye lens which produced some quite different and interesting images. We were photographing around the school where the club meets with the children’s playground providing a good selection of shapes and colours. We were also very lucky to have some very interesting clouds which I think everyone took some photographs of.

The evening went very well, the only difficulty being that we had a good turn out of members and getting everyone’s images off a wide variety of cameras and memory cards onto the computer for display took a while.

I have put my 10 images up on Flickr and we may post some of the other images on the club website.


Note: we were all shooting JPEGs not RAW.

John Maillard

Just back from the Kaiapoi Photographic Club meeting, a really interesting talk from John Maillard. I love his images and it was amazing to see enormous prints being made from even small point and shoot cameras. Definitely inspiring, time to try some photo stitching I think. The other point he made was that many of the images were taken within a few miles of here in the Port Hills so now we have no excuse.

I thought I would share another image from last weeks portrait night, I like it.