November 2017 Saint Paul Camera Club Salon

I missed this salon, so have no idea what was going on in the judge’s mind.

Just saying.

Prints: Open Monochrome

Secret Garden at San Juan Capistrano

I like how the spiky plants contrasted with the hard features and geometric shapes of this courtyard. I also think I got a really nice traditional black and white print – something I’ve struggled to accomplish.

Secret garden San Juan Capistrano - Cindy Carlsson

I have no idea what the judge liked or disliked about it, but he didn’t put it in the awards.

Looking at it now, it could be a little too complicated for competition, where judges want one clear subject that lets them instantly understand what they are looking at. The bright light on the right edge was probably an issue too. It’s distracting even if it does continue the pattern.

But I’m just guessing.

Preparing for worship at Mont Saint Michel

I loved the light in the church at Mont Saint Michel in France, but I was having trouble turning it into a interesting image until a nun came in to prepare the space for the next worship service.

Preparing for worship Mont St Michel - Cindy Carlsson

Most of the time she wasn’t where I wanted her to be, but I got a couple shots that worked. In post-production I removed a couple of heads that were just peeking through the background. (There were people sitting on the benches in the area behind the altar – I left one of them, but he probably should go too.) Fortunately, the filtered light held up well without having to do anything special to it.

I was pretty happy with the printing too. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but pretty close.

The judge liked it enough to put it in the awards with a 9.

Digital: Shallow depth of field

Minimal focal range. Emphasize the subject as a sharp image, while deemphasizing the foreground and background.

I usually dread finding an image for the monthly digital challenge, but I was really excited about this one because I LOVE playing with depth of field.

Unfortunately, the images I thought were the most interesting and best met the challenge criteria were all shots with flowers. I don’t like entering shots that are at all similar in case the judge hates flowers or the color pink or whatever, but I kept coming back to the same images, so that’s what I went with.

Pink magnolia madness

With the right lens, a shallow depth of field creates soft circular patterns in the background called bokeh. This isn’t a great example of that effect because the bokeh is edgy rather than soft. However, I loved the contrast between the soft foreground and rather jagged abstract of the completely out-of-focus abstract. I think it really makes the focal point stand out. And all of that is done in the camera, not in post-processing.

Pink Magnolia Madness - Cindy Carlsson

Apparently the judge wasn’t as charmed by it, because it did not show up in the awards.

I wish I knew what he said about it, because I still think it is a cool shot. The one corner blossom is a little heavy, but I couldn’t figure out a better way to crop it. And it completely meets the requirements for this competition.

Cherry blossoms at the Washington Monument

We hit cherry blossoms in Washington DC on November. When I shot this I wanted the focus to be on the cherry blossoms, but I also wanted the viewer to know exactly where it was taken. Like the magnolia shot, the blurred foreground, sharp mid-range focal point, and out-of-focus background seemed exactly what the competition called for.

Cherry Blossoms at Washington Monument - Cindy Carlsson

Again, the judge didn’t see it the same way. Again, I don’t know exactly what it scored, but it didn’t end up in the awards.

Despite my dismal showing, I don’t feel bad about what I entered in the digital competition – both shots exactly met the requirements and (having seen the winning images) there is no way I would have entered anything that would have won.

A lot of the winners were normal shots that, while they used a shorter focal length, they didn’t do anything interesting with it. Not all, but a lot. Very few had a background that was greatly out of focus. Almost none had a blurred foreground, let alone both. I wish I would have seen what else was entered, because I wasn’t that impressed with the winners overall – and especially not given the competition guidelines. It seemed weird.

I need to remember that the monthly theme is almost irrelevant and just enter really good, normal pictures.