Latest website update:31/01/2018

the camera club

Sandown & Shanklin District Camera Club

the club on the bay


Self portrait

Photo by Eric Kim

10th January 2018

I went to an inspiring studio workshop last week, organised by the RPS Southern Digital Imaging Group (all welcome) and presented by the renowned flower and still life photographer Polina Plotnikova ARPS EFIAP.  I learned a lot.  There is no limit to the breadth and scope of photography and I reckon I can employ the skills I learned in my landscape and creative photography.  

The three shots above taken at the workshop are cropped square but otherwise unprocessed and straight from camera.  Following the workshop, I can't wait to get out there, both in the field and in my garage under lights!  Any member of the club who would like to join me, just let me know.

8th November 2017

A trip to Birmingham brought the excited photographer out in me.  There's something about a city, its people, buildings and its public spaces that get me going and I'm glad I had my camera with me (as usual).

10th October 2017

I am a huge admirer of the landscape and portrait work of the great Bruce Percy.  He writes of his

approach to composition in a number of excellent e-Books and I have bought most of them.

As I start on my next photographic challenge (obtaining my ARPS) I am tentatively trying to absorb

his techniques into my project, that I hope will be a powerful set of narrative and reportage images,

that will focus heavily on people, their work and their relationships.

Bruce Percy states often that the viewers' eyes rarely move in horizontal or vertical directions when scanning an image. 

Michael Freeman ("The Photographer's Mind") says, "In terms of energy, noticeability and sense of movement, the strongest

is the diagonal and the weakest the horizontal".

With this in mind, I ventured out in Southampton to snap a few candid shots of people with

strong diagonals in mind. The diagonal from the little girl's eyes to her sister's, and from mum's

eyes diagonally into the high distance.  The key lesson I was trying to teach myself was to go

out with the intention of taking something with a strong diagonal from whatever human

interaction unfolded in front of me.

The boy absorbed in his phone whilst an interesting black and white video played above him

with a group of adults happily chatting in the background without a screen in sight.

Strong diagonals connected the three subjects that I thought made an interesting observation.

I offered these two shots up in a club competition and they were panned by the judge, proving

that communicating a narrative takes more than composition alone.  Controlling the viewer's eye

is a very uncertain process, but I still think it is an important element in telling a story.

18th September 2017
The summer is always a dormant time for me.  Sunrise and Sunsets are at anti-social hours and the light everywhere is usually poor, so I tend to work on my post-processing skills.

 I had to be in London a couple of days ago.  There is never a shortage of subjects in that great city.  I had to travel light so I wandered around with my Fuji mirrorless camera and grabbed a few street shots.

A new club camera season kicks off tomorrow - it will be interesting to see what everybody has been up to!

26th July 2017

Where does portrait photography fit in with the advent of the ubiquitous 'selfies' that are snapped and shared everyday by the million.  Many are brilliantly posed, shot, amusing, revealing and interesting.  Serious portrait photography presumably reveals something more profound about the subject on a 'deeper' level.  We have had some great portraits presented at the club this year showing great sensitivity and technical skill.  I have put some up on the HomePage today.  Is it me, but are the shapes of mouths and lips just as expressive as the eyes?

Of the 4 shots of mine above, the only one that works, I think, is the Man in the Woolly Hat. There is a hint of personality in his face and a connection between him and the camera.  The rest are misses.

A great landscape picture requires a great view, sublime lighting and perfect exposure for the scene.  Not all scenic views are that good.  Not all faces are inherently full of character and interest either.  You can't photograph what isn't there, but the best photographers draw out something special very regularly.  No substituting for talent.

Cut this link out and paste it into your web browser to maybe get some inspiration for your next portrait shot.

21st July 2017
I was in London on Tuesday and had 5 hours to spend waiting for my wife.  What else to do but to set out with my Oyster Card on the tube and explore the city like a tourist?

I enjoy just taking photographs.  I feel energised and engaged and usually I like what I see around me and I like my shots, but I never like them as much as I like other people's images.  Still, I've enjoyed myself so mission accomplished, yes?  No.

At the back of my mind, is always the idea that I am taking photographs for others to look at.  If you want to people to pay attention to your photography and enjoy it, you have to give them a reason to look at it longer than a glance.

This is the challenge.  I've come to the conclusion that a photograph has to have depth, that invites the viewer to look harder into it.  A physical depth of field, or an idea that is worth thinking about.  That's the hard bit.

I've got a long way to go to achieve my goals but I'm thinking about the How.  That's a start.

19th July 2017
There is a trend to take candid photographs on the street using small mirrorless cameras so that the photographer is 'invisible' to the subject.  I buck that particular trend, preferring to shoot with my largest camera in full view rather than furtively hide in a corner.  I never mean to cause offence and if asked, I always refrain from pressing the shutter.

Sometimes, it is impossible to know until it is too late!!!

14th July 2017

I read in a book recently ["The Photographer's Mind" by Michael Freeman] a brief summary of what he thought most people tend to like visually about photographs.  Not all photographs can tick all the criteria he listed, but they all bear thinking about.  They were:

* Familarity * Rich colour * Brightness * Contrast * Harmony *Definition and clarity * Beauty

On the other hand, in Eric Kim's blog I liked the idea expressed in a photograph of his wife (shown below) that breaks all the rules above and he gave his reasons for taking that approach, particularly in black and white images.  He says:

1.   Blurry photos are more engaging and edgy, and dynamic.  
2.   Gritty photos are not clean like real life. It feels more dangerous,
and ironically enough– more real. Real life photos should be gritty.
Real life isn’t photoshopped perfection.   
3.   Out of focus photos: Cause the viewer to be confused.
Encourages them to take a closer look.

My shots below, taken on holiday in Sicily this year were inspired by this idea and I enjoy them.  They work for me.

I discovered one thing though - this type of image only engages the viewer if a human figure is in the frame.

Impressions of Sicily by Mike Rooke

10th July 2017
I came across a website the other day that I found inspiring and instructive.  Take a look and tell me what you think.

Digging deeper in this direction led me to:  Now, I had never heard of Marian Schmidt but I was immediately struck by the apparent simplicity of his work and wondered why I struggle so much to get those images that resonate to a wide audience.  Please take a look at that one as well.

While I was at it, I thought I might start a Blog on our website to describe my on-going struggle to find my own photographic vision and share my enthusiasm for this great challenging hobby with you.

I take many photographs that please me, mainly black and white, but I would never dream of showing them at the Club, but forgive me if I indulge myself from time to time on this Page.