We've just had our election and as predicted Fine Gael ran away with the votes which, by the way, was a massive 70% of the electorate. I sometimes wonder about statistics when you consider I had two polling cards delivered to my house - neither of which had my name correct. Oddly, the local politicians' pollution machine that pukes out blurb about the candidates went into overdrive and sent me two of everything. Again, the names were incorrect. Oh well, the excitement is over, the posters will eventually come down either by design or by encouragement of time and weather, the government will form with compomises made, the public will turn on them as they renege on their implied promises to solve everything without cost and we will continue where we left off several months ago.
However, the doom and gloom hasn't affected me too much. I've been busy. My memory is so bad I can't tell you what I did yesterday but I do have a few landmark moments I can recall that brighten up my day.
Photographically I've done well. The Dublin Camera Club hold a Winter league competition every year that runs from October to February. There are 3 categories - Colour print, Mono print and projected image (colour or mono) for each of the levels - Novice, Intermediate and Advanced. There are overall winners in each of the sections and a number of pictures are retained by the club for a "best of the best" final in March.
I'm not an overly competitive person. I'm probably my own worst critic but I do enjoy seeing a reaction to my pictures and to hearing a judge's opinion on them. There is friendly rivalry and discussions about the judge's expertise and whether we can do a job on his tyres before he can get to his car. The club also puts the pictures on display in the Council room so that we can all get a closer look at them and also get a chance to talk to the photographers who took them and maybe get some knowledge as a result.
This year, there were a few front runners in each section and the final outcomes (besides the March final) were not forgone conclusions and all depended on the judge on the night. And so comes one of my highlights. I won 1st place in the Advanced sections for colour and mono prints. I'll be putting up the photos I entered later on next month so keep checking.
A bonus that happened during the competition was that the IPF were holding print and projected image competitions. These were regional competitions that culminated in a national final in Athlone during February. I entered a few prints into the competition when the regional competition was being held in the Dublin Camera Club. It was there I helped a woman and her child with her buggy. I showed her where to go to enter her prints and we started chatting. We all had to leave the premises until the judging was being done so we ended up having a few coffees in the nearby Insomnia where I learned she was from Riga in Latvia (where I had visited once) and she not only took photographs but was an artist and a horse whisperer. I had seen the pictures she had entered for the competition and was already impressed so the additional skills were causing a slight overload. She showed me some self-portraits that were equally impressive and that was when I asked if she would pose for me and she agreed.
Nadina's work can be seen on her website and on her blog.
We went back to the club for the judging where she won two places - a first for this shot below called "TWO"
.......and a third place for this shot called "THE GAME"
Sadly, Nadina didn't win in the finals in Athlone but I got the good news that my entry in the mono section was awarded a judge's silver medal. There are the regular gold, silver and bronze medals with others receiving "highly commended" certificates. Apart from these the judges are allowed to give a medal to and individual print and I got one for "IVETA".
On top of this I got to have a photo session with Nadina in the studio. Below are two pictures from that shoot. An exceptional photographer and a gem to photograph. More shots will follow.
I also did a photoshoot in a country manor house with two friends from the Dublin Camera Club. We had been planning this for some time. It is difficult to coordinate three photographers, two models, a makeup artist and availability of the location. However, we managed it. The original idea was for a collaboration between us so that we could learn from each other and also share setups - we had a mixture of Bowens monoblocs and speedlites of various types along with softboxes, brollies, snoots and the like. We had also decided on a mixture of shots from art nude to 18th century costume. I had hired an 18th century costume from Clown Around and bought a wig on eBay. I also made a visit to one of the models to choose clothes for the shoot. A lot of planning and yet we ran over time and, in my case, I felt the pictures were not as good as they could have been because I was rushing. But I learned lessons from the day more about management than photography
Instead of a collaboration, what actually happened was we did three shoots. That's not a fault of the day, just what happened and suited all of us. It also cemented new relationships that would be mutually beneficial in the future. Three of my photos from that day did well for me in the Winter League competition I mentioned earlier and here they are: