Attend a monochrome class, submit colour photos

A few months ago Andy Beel spoke at our photo society. Andy is renowned for his black and white images. His images are mostly black. A few members thought attending one of his two workshops would be worthwhile. Helen Sterne manfully took on its organisation as she’d decided herding cats no longer presented enough by way of challenge. It was held at Gra Machree on Monday and Tuesday – the eight attendees plus Andy just fitting into our living room. And Andy could use his laptop with an HDMI cable to present both Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom on our television. We all learned a few things.

On the first day there was a shooting exercise. Helen and Andy had scouted the area for something photogenic and unusual. Tricky this, surely a large handful of long time locals would know of most everything. Surely. Well, Helen and Andy did it. We went to Brentford Dock – three miles from my place. I don’t think any of us had ever been there. I certainly hadn’t. We snapped away for a couple of hours, then came back and reviewed each others’ pictures, in camera. Andy, charitably, told me that it had taken me some while to find my shooting eye. I think he may have been hinting that I could still be searching for quite some time yet.

After everyone left for the day I loaded that day’s photos into Lightroom. There were a couple of shots I thought weren’t bad. On screen those two weren’t just bad, they were terrible. But a few others looked ok.

As background, I’d declared I wasn’t going to enter any further monthly competitions – nor attend them. Having been to about ten evenings, having heard 20 of my entries critiqued – and hundreds of others – I believe I’ve long since entered the period of diminishing returns. Blown highlights – check. Crop more tightly – check. See your reflection – check. Clone out that cigarette butt – check. Got it. Done. No more.

So, here I am. I’ve attended a black and white workshop, not intending to enter any further competitions. And I’m going to chuck in two colour photographs from the workshop into the monthlies. That’s me all over, Mr Consistency.

My “A” submission is the more traditional: decayed industrial setting, drab foreground, brightly coloured background, a curve and a figure moving from dark to light adhering to the rule of thirds.

Brentford dereliction stroll

My “B” is more experimental. I don’t really know what it is. There was an enormous sheeted blob, three stories tall, in the dock. I like its abstract texture against the hint of the urban factory background. It could be marked as a 10 (ok, maybe 8.5) or a 6 on the night. The more traditional the judge the lower the mark I guess. By the way, the sharper eyed amongst you may note the same church steeple, top left, in both shots.)

Bentford dock three storey tall blob

My hunch is that it is two boats stacked one upon the other, one with a cabin on top of one without. The steel walkway holds the top one steady. To brace the pair, a polyethylene sheet, of many hundreds of square feet, was draped over them both. And the sheet was then inflated with expanding polystyrene to make the stack rigid. But this could be completely wrong. Anyone with a better answer – or a more amusing one – should reply to this post.

(What about Elmo, our lovely puppy, you ask. He spent two days with Sarah Lie and his dog buddies. He came home to sleep. He had a great time too, thank you.)

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3 Responses to Attend a monochrome class, submit colour photos

  1. Helen says:

    Specially love ‘A’ – those colours, very JS!


  2. Fred Schwab says:

    Well done – A is really great – wish I had seen it! Like the quirkiness of B.
    Glad you will enter the odd monthly as it is good to share your images.


    • jsam says:

      Thank you, Fred. I’ve just realised that, if I thought moving to the Advanced Group was important, that entering a brave* image would be a silly thing to do. Hmm.

      * as in “a brave decision, minister”.


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