Club news

President's prattle: Ray Cole Memorial Lecture

Richard Spiers: “Composition and Working with Light”

We can always rely on Richard Spiers to “give us our money’s worth” when he visits the club, and this evening was no exception. Richard was already well known to many of us as he has judged our Special Subject and Nature competitions for several years and his judging is always first class.

This evening’s talk was full of very useful, practical tips to improve our photographs. Without knowing that I’d covered a fair bit about how we perceive the world (and therefore how we look at photographs) in my President’s talk last month, Richard effectively started from where I’d left off and developed that theme into how to use composition and light more effectively. For example, he showed how relatively small changes in one’s position can have a major bearing on the effectiveness of the composition of a photograph – this may require moving forwards, backwards or up or down depending on the situation. He also showed, with examples, how simply flipping a photograph horizontally can sometimes improve it much more than one would imagine.

On the subject of light, he showed (again with examples) how subtle tweaks in post-processing to enhance the way light falls on certain parts of the photograph can greatly enhance it: he emphasised the importance of not overdoing these.

As usual, Richard delivered his words of wisdom with a great deal of humour and with lots of audience participation: he even took some straw polls as to which members preferred one variation of a photograph to another. This showed quite a difference between members’ opinions, which is of course consistent with the fact that judges can differ in their assessment of a photograph. A particularly useful piece of advice was that one shouldn’t take photos to please the judge – one should take them to please oneself and if the judge likes them – great!

This talk was this year’s Ray Cole Memorial Lecture. Ray was a past member of the club, now sadly deceased some years ago, who left us a significant donation in his will.

David Cottrell