February 2017 Saint Paul Camera Club Salon

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As I write this (in June), the Saint Paul Camera Club has already held the year-end awards banquet. That means I know how I did in this year’s club competition.

However, you are going to have to wait until I’ve gone through the rest of the season before I give you the final results. Maybe you will be as surprised as I was.

I was traveling again when the February camera club came around, but this time I didn’t have anyone taking notes for me so I have no idea what the judges had to say about my images.

Prints: Open monochrome

The Butter’s ready

This is a shot I took at a folk festival in Sweden. I really like the fact that the woman is in sharp focus, but you can still see the movement in her hand as she lifts the lid on the churn to check the butter.

Butter's Ready Sweden - www.playingwithphotography.com

I also thought I did a good job of Photoshopping out a distracting window right behind her head.

Apparently the judge was less impressed, as it didn’t score high enough to get into the awards.

Swirly Sand Dunes

I’ve been trying for a couple years now to do something interesting with a few of my Sahara images from Morocco, but with little success. The color prints look garish and busy while the black and white ones look dull and lifeless.

I liked the lines in this image, but they got lost in all the color. (This is the original image I was working from.)

On a whim I desaturated the orange almost to the point of turning the sand dunes completely white. Since that was an improvement, I kept going, turning it into a black and white (keeping the orange saturation really low). That was sort of interesting, but looked sort of odd as it was a mix of a realistic image and unrealistic tones.

The next step was to see if I could capture what the desert feels like, so I pulled up Topaz Impression and started playing with filters and settings and various tools until I came up with something I liked.

Swirly Sand Dunes - www.PlayingWithPhotography.com

I loved it, but I was shocked to learn the judge put it at the top of the awards with a 10!

Digital: Patterns

I’ve been really struggling with the digital themes this year. I just seem to come up blank when it comes to ideas. What I need to do is start researching how others have approached these same themes, but I never seem to get that far.

So I seriously considered not entering the competition this month because I couldn’t find anything I thought was really great. In the end, I picked the two best images I had and submitted them so I would at least get 5 or 6 points for entering.

Courtyard of the Hmong King

This is a picture from northern Vietnam. It’s the view across a courtyard through a wooden lattice. You see the roof tiles and windows along the wall across the courtyard and the underside of the roof above the lattice I’m looking through. There’s a lot going on.

It was one of several shots from Vietnam I worked on as potential competition entries. I did all of them in black and white, but then decided this one didn’t work in monochrome. (In black and white it became so flat you absolutely couldn’t tell what it was.) I transferred it back to color and increased the saturation a bit to give it some depth.

King - www.PlayingWithPhotography.com

I thought it was cool, but figured everyone else would just think it was strange. Thus, I was pretty surprised to discover the judge put it in the awards as a 9.

Birch and tamarack

Desperate to find a second entry, I went back to some older images. This is a shot I took up in Grand Rapids a few years ago. I had entered it in a “Patterns in Nature” competition at the Minneapolis Photo Center once. It didn’t get accepted for that competition, but it seemed like an ok image, so I adjusted the crop slightly and entered it.

Birch and Tamarack - www.PlayingWithPhotography.com

The salon judge must have liked it well enough, because it got into the awards with an 8.