RCPS Press Report 14th July 2016

Although the new season seems a long way off, more folk will be out with their camera during the coming months than at almost any other time of the year so It’s useful to think ahead with regard to the type of pictures you may want to take with next season’s competitions in mind.

The first one, with entries due in early October, is entitled ‘Humour’ – seriously, I am not joking! Whilst we await further guidance as to what will qualify as an entry it’s worthwhile thinking about what subject matter you might include. We have all probably seen pictures of horses, nostrils flared and teeth bared looking for all the world as if they are enjoying a joke or perhaps a shot of a small child pulling a funny face. Gurning is the name given to pulling a funny face when an adult. In fact, there is a gurning competition in Cumbria that has its origins way back in 1267 when the Lord of the Manor gave out crab apples to the townsfolk. Today’s competitions often involve a participant twisting their facial features whilst peering through a leather halter of the type used on horses. Make up is usually not permitted although manipulation of false teeth is, (perish the thought), for those who have them. These competitions often attract older people, both men and women who are less self conscious about screwing their face up in public! This year the 749th Crab Fair and World Gurning Championships are being held, as they always are, in Egremont in Cumbria on Friday 16th and Saturday, 17th September, 2016.

The second competition is entitled ‘Motion’ and the provisional deadline for this competition is 24th October. Controlling motion in an image can be achieved by using a fast shutter speed that will give sharp images if the available light and the camera sensor is adequate. Alternatively, you can open up the lens, say f2.8 or f4, which will blur the background whilst the rest of the image stays sharp. You may need to increase the ISO depending upon the available light. Another technique is to use a flash source that will allow you to grab a shot in the hope that it will remain sharp. The problem with all these techniques is that you may end up with a subject, say a moving racing car, motorcycle or cyclist looking sharp, but the whole image looks flat. Experimenting with a slower shutter speed and panning, that is locking onto your subject and letting your camera move with the flow of the subject, may get you an image in which the main subject is sharp and the remainder of the environment blurred, giving a greater sense of speed. Over the years some of the best motion shots I have seen have been of pets, usually dogs, taken by a photographer lying on the ground, getting the camera as low as possible and shooting as the dog runs towards the camera. Such a technique may well result in excellent images where your favourite mutt is virtually flying through the air! Of course, it is also possible to use software to add a suggestion of speed by using a filter to produce motion blur. As with many aspects of photography, the best thing to do is to go out and experiment or spend a wet day on a computer trying out software programme features.

The Landscape competition also features in the autumn programme, as does a competition on British Natural History, so these two events should inspire photographers to be out and about this summer looking for suitable material.