PIMS for short, this promised to be an evening with a difference put together by 3 members of Old Coulsdon Camera Club. It was presented by Pat Couder CPAGB, BPE1, QPSA and Ian Brash CPAGB BPE2 an old friend at Photocraft. The third contributor was Mike Bromley DPAGB BPE2.  We were told that Mike’s enthusiasm waned at one point and he dropped out of the project but some of his work was included.

The projected kicked off when someone picked up a copy of The Essential Guide to Close-up Photography from Smiths. The book offers a series of themed close-up projects with technical advice on how to approach each one. Pat, Ian and Mike thought it would be an interesting challenge for each of them to give it a go and compare their resulting interpretations of the themes. Not competitive, you understand but just an exercise to help their creative skills and technical capabilities in Photoshop.

Setting yourself a challenge is a great way of learning Photoshop. I would endorse this method as it forces you to work out a way to achieve the result you want and, in the process, you learn by trial and error the best way to do it.

We were shown sets of images on themes such as Leaves, Raindrop patterns, Bokeh, Smoke, Love story etc., 24 in all. With each theme, the thinking, technical details and evolution of the final image was explained in detail. Pat and Ian’s final creations were then displayed side by side and we were asked to note down which we preferred. The scores were then totted up at the end. (Just can’t escape from competitions can we.) We were told that Pat always wins so Ian always has to buy the chips on the way home.

During our club competitions, it’s interesting to try to guess who put in each picture. People’s personalities come out in their photos in the same way that no two artists paint the same picture of a subject. So I wonder whether Pat and Ian realised that by showing 24 of their images like this gave us a window into their souls (only kidding!).

They have kindly sent me a few of their images to give a flavour of the evening’s entertainment.

The first is Pat’s on the theme ‘Board game’. She photographed the words ‘Love’ and ‘Hate’ in Scrabble tiles on a reflective surface and cleverly amalgamated them as you can see. The point being that love and hate are two sides of the same coin I guess, but a bit spooky…

Original image 1
Original image 2
Final image

The second is Ian’s on the theme ‘Recreate a still life painting’. He chose a painting of eggs in a bowl. Ian said that the only bowl he had was not the same shape as in the painting so he used the Distort tool to reshape his bowl. Unfortunately, this also reshaped one of the eggs which looks about to hatch. The road to hell is paved with good intentions..

Original image
Final image

As you can see, Mike’s example on the same theme was a pretty decent attempt to imitate the texture of the original painting which is shown first. Golly, have I got those the right way round!

The original still life painting
Mike’s re-creation

It’s a tribute to the success of this exercise that they have kept it going for around 7 years and have been invited to give this presentation to camera clubs on upwards of 50 occasions. Long may the project continue and thank you again for an engaging and entertaining evening.

An afterthought. I have been editing images in Photoshop for many years and believe I would have little problem with the manipulations we saw described, should I choose to. However, apart from basic editing to improve the look of a photo, by and large, I choose not to. The idea of cobbling together bits of different pictures, overlaying textures and the like doesn’t appeal to me much and I’ll tell you why.

For me, what distinguishes photography from all other forms of image-making is its power to capture an instant in time and give it everlasting life. I think that is worth preserving, otherwise photography degrades to just another technique for creating a picture. Producing a mash-up of bits of photos is not my idea of photography; it is just another kind of graphic design. Photography is in danger of losing its identity and I don’t wish to be part of its decline. So those who consider themselves to be ‘creative photographers’, step up to the mark and defend yourselves. But if you agree with me, please say so!

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