Information


Membership

Membership of PPS is open to anyone with an interest in Photography – and includes membership of PSNS. If you are interested please come along to any of our meetings and see what you think.

2017/2018 Membership Cost is £45 (including PSNS subscription which allows discounts on their ticketed events – see the PSNS web site for details).

What kind of camera do I need?

That all depends on what kind of photographs you intend to take. Some of our members use professional cameras with a wide range of interchangeable lenses. Others use a smartphone. But, as a general rule, if you want to move beyond taking snapshots you need to have a camera that allows you some degree of manual control of the shutter speed, aperture and focus. One thing is clear – you don’t need thousands of pounds worth of top quality gear to take a good photograph. A modest but good quality camera in the hands of a photographer with a good grasp of composition and exposure can produce surprisingly good results.

Do I need to learn how to use Photoshop?

No. Photo processing software is important – but you can do almost all the basic adjustments with free software such as Google Picasa or iPhoto on a Mac, or open-source software such as Darktable and The Gimp. For more advanced photo editing you can progress to Lightroom. And one day, once you have mastered the basics, you can progress to Photoshop. We can help you do that. Several members are experienced at photo processing and give workshops from time to time.

I’ve never entered a print competition. How do I prepare and mount my pictures?

We can show you how to do this. If you don’t have a photo-quality printer you can get prints made at a photo shop (e.g. JRS on Scott St in Perth). The prints are mounted behind a sheet of mount card with a bevel cut hole to frame the image. For our competitions the mount card must  measure 40x50cm . You can buy mount card at any art shop (e.g. Dunns on Scott St), most members use antique white colour. There is a special cutting device that is used to create the mounting hole in the card. These cost around £60 from Dunns. Any of the members will be happy to show you how to cut the mount card and attach the print. We have workshops on print making and mounting from time to time.

Do you run courses?

We run short workshops on some club evenings and many members are happy to mentor and advise people who are willing to learn. The best way to learn is by going on photo trips with other club members. Many members are also happy to give tips and advice on the use of photo processing software.

Can I join mid season?

Of course. After Jan 1st we can offer a reduced membership rate.

How do judges judge photos in a competition?

A good question, with no simple answer. Participating in competitions is a very good way to improve your photography skills. But it can be disappointing when a judge dismisses your “masterpiece”. So what are they looking for? All our external judges are approved and trained by the Scottish Photographic Federation to achieve some degree of consistency but they are individuals with their own tastes and sensibilities, often formed over many years of photographic experience. Here’s a very rough guideline of what they look for:

Impact. The picture has to catch the judge’s attention. In a typical competition the judge may have to look at a large number of pictures. He will scan through the entries and pick out the pictures that make an impression.

Artistic Quality. The judge is looking for some kind of “artistic” quality in the picture. It should elicit some emotional response, be it beauty, joy, sadness, humour, curiosity, danger — any human feeling. So the picture has to communicate with the judge.

Originality. In these days of digital cameras, every possible scene and subject has been photographed many times. Judges are often pleased to see a different angle or treatment. A little originality can transform a cliched scene into something interesting and memorable.

Flaws. The judge will look for technical flaws in the picture. These can often help him mark one picture lower than another so it is extremely important to be aware of any technical imperfections in your picture. For example:

  • Is there an obvious focal point in the picture that draws the viewer’s eye? Sometimes judges will comment that their eye wanders over an image and they don’t know where to look.
  • Are there objects in the picture that distract the viewer’s eye from the main subject?
  • Are there large “vacant” areas in the picture with no interest?
  • Is the image correctly in focus? Not under- or over-sharpened?
  • Is the image over- or under-exposed?
  • Are there burned-out highlights or black shadows where detail is lost?
  • Are the colours over-saturated or too weak?
  • Are lines you’d expect to be horizontal or vertical straight or is it tilted? This can be a problem in scenes with a horizon or in architectural shots.

It is important to regard the judging as a learning process and to recognize that it is subjective. We can help you overcome the technical problems but only you can develop your own vision and style.