Spring is well and truly here, offering unsettled weather, plenty of photography opportunities, and a time of change. Personally, I've been doing quite a bit of macro photography, as a lot of mosses have spores at the moment, and just like larger plants, there is an amazing range of diversity. I'm also eagerly awaiting the short sun orchid season on the Wither Hills which should occur within the next month. I've found iNaturalist can become quite addictive. It's sort of like social media for scientific observations of living organisms. I initially joined up to get help to identify species in some natural history images, but subsequently I've found even when I know what an organism is, it's fun to contribute observations. I quickly learnt that what is required for useful scientific observations and what makes a photography competition image can be quite different. Composition matters far less than accurate depiction of detail, and environment. It's quite possible to have a beautiful natural history image that is of no scientific value, and it's also possible to have an image with little artistic merit that is very useful as a scientific observation. It's certainly got me thinking whether there's a lot more to photography than just what we tend to focus on in the club, which emphasises photography as an artistic medium.

I rather reluctantly took on the position of club President with a bit of an ulterior motive. Competition secretaries are never required to step down, but presidents are only allowed to serve for a limited period of time on the committee, so ultimately there is an end in sight for me! For those who've never been on the club committee, you possibly don't realise how much work goes on behind the scenes to keep the club running smoothly (or not). We're all volunteers, and all put a lot of time, and often our own money in to keep the club operating. Sometimes we may make mistakes, but it's part of the process.

To try to ensure that the committee doesn't feel overworked, and so that the club can cater for as wide a range of photographic interests as possible, we've started implementing changes to make the club run more smoothly.

Raffles and supper changes

Under the old committee, considerable amount of time was spent trying to organise raffle prizes, which invariably committee members donated, and were then expected to buy raffle tickets as well. On club night, someone needed to spend time promoting the raffle, and time got taken up announcing results. The whole purpose of raffles is to help cover the cost of hall hire, guest speakers, and competition expenses. Workshops already ask for a gold coin donation, so the committee has decided it's more practical to take the same approach on club nights. The $2 donation will also be used to help purchase supper. Supper is another area where members who regularly serve on the supper roster contribute out of their own pockets, so by moving to purchase supper supplies out of member contributions, it encourages everyone who attends club nights to contribute equally.

For anyone who's not in the habit of carrying cash, if you know how many club meetings you're likely to attend during the year, you can make a one off annual contribution via internet banking to the club bank account (Account details on How to Join the Marlborough Camera Club page.)

Competition Results on club night

Competition results can take up quite a bit of the evening on club nights, and while some people like to be competitive, the most useful aspect of the results on club night for many people is the judge's critique. Full results will still be published on the club website, however to get through the competition results a bit quicker, the committee has recommended a couple of changes. Firstly, acceptances won't have the names attached, and secondly, although honours and merits will show the names, they won't be read out. As photographers, you're unlikely to be blind, so you can read who achieved honours or merit on screen. Those of you who are observant, will also notice that we've quietly dropped handing out certificates for honours and merits. This has cost me personally quite a lot in terms of ink and card over the last four years, so when the last card ran out recently, I stopped printing certificates, and there didn't seem to be any great uproar. This also saves quite a bit of time preparing for club night.

Suggestion Box

The committee have introduced a suggestion box for club nights, so that if you have any ideas for workshops or other activities you'd like the club to consider, you can let us know. Of course you can also email info@marlboroughcameraclub.org.nz with ideas.

2020 Competitions

The committee is still working on finalising the 2020 competition topics. This is quite challenging, as there are such a wide range of photographic skill levels and interests in the club. Some people do treat competitions competitively, whereas others use them primarily as learning experiences. There seems to be a consensus that topics should generally be fairly broad so that anyone can have a go, also with an idea that topics should lend themselves to potential workshops, so that members can develop or share their skills. For more experienced photographers looking for a challenge, I really encourage you to enter interclub, regional, and national competitions or consider joining PSNZ. The Marlborough Camera Club is affiliated to PSNZ, and club members are eligible to enter many national, regional, and interclub competitions, however there are some competitions that are reserved for PSNZ members, and also some competitions offer a discount for PSNZ members, so if you're into competitions in a big way, a PSNZ membership may pay for itself quite quickly. If you are consistently achieving honours or merits in club competitions, you should consider submitting a set for PSNZ honours. LPSNZ only requires you to be a member of an affiliated club, however APSNZ and above require you to be a PSNZ member.

Field Trips

I've observed that there seems to be something of a Murphy's Law of Camera Club Field Trips, that states: "If a field trip is scheduled, the weather will be inappropriate for photography." 

This doesn't always hold true, but it's certainly happened a lot, and one suggestion raised has been to allow club members to let each other know if anyone is planning to go somewhere for photography so that others can come along. Due to health and safety, these cannot be official Marlborough Camera Club field trips, however the club can facilitate communication between members who want to organise private photography events. We're still investigating what might be the best means of communication, as not everyone uses Facebook, and people don't always check their email frequently enough for events that come up at short notice.

Competition Entry Process

Putting on my hat as competition secretary, which hopefully won't be a role I'll be doing for much longer, there are still issues with people not following instructions. if you don't follow instructions, you risk your entries being disqualified, as it's not the competition secretary's job to fix your mistakes. The competition rules are quite clear. Entries for monthly competitions close at midnight on club night. A little bit of leniency can be shown if you advise the competition secretary, for example if you can't make it on club night and need to drop off prints, as in practice the images normally don't get prepared for the judge until the weekend after club night, however if you submit images more than a week after club night they will automatically be assumed as belonging to the following month's competition. If you realise you've made a mistake, for example entered an open image as set subject or vice versa, let the competition secretary know. The easiest way to fix errors like this is simply to resubmit the image, and ask the competition secretary to delete the incorrect one. Please note that oversized images will automatically be rejected by the submission system, although you should get a warning on screen that the size is wrong.

Please name your prints on the back with the same titles as you submit via the online entry form. This has caused confusion with judges on several occasions. Also make sure you do actually submit a digital copy of prints. If you don't, they risk being disqualified. Also, remember that although you're allowed to submit up to three images most months, you're only allowed two in any one medium (print or digital), so you can't have three prints or three digital images. If you submit more than you're allowed, any extras will be deleted and only the submissions up to the limit will be sent to the judge.

Happy photographing!

Chris Cookson.

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