My aim, when joining the Blackwood Photographic Club of SA, was to move from taking snapshots to taking photos. Participating in Dogwood 52 was a significant step in this learning journey.
Not only did I have a weekly photographic assignment but there were also thousands of images that were posted to the Dogwood Facebook or Flickr sites to be viewed. Wow – what great photos. Over time I could analyse the photos working out how they had been composed and developed. I could think back to all the photography articles I had read and videos I had watched and identify the specific techniques used. Many times, I was just in wonder of the imagination and creativity of the photographer.
I was reminded of the words of photographer Genevieve Hathaway, who said “Be kind to yourself”. My most common form of learning is trial and error. I had to accept that my learning journey was the important thing. I needed to stop wanting a great image and post the best of what I had done! Genevieve also said “Stay the course, put in the work, do the time and you will get there.” When I review the photos, I took before 2016 and those that I am taking now, I can certainly see a difference.
The assignments were in three categories. Landscape I felt comfortable with but when I think of the photos taken these do not stand out. It was the other two categories, portrait and artistic impressions, that I had to do a lot more thinking about that I remember the most.
I do remember trying to use The Photographer’s Ephemeris to work out when to be at the Hallett Cove for the morning golden hour and then waiting an hour before the Sugar Loaf could be photographed! My favourite landscape shot was of pink salt crystals at Lochiel for Week 26 Landscape Simplify.
Portrait photography is category for the professionals! I hated taking the first and last week’s photos which were self-portraits. The portraits that were posted in that first week really made me question whether I would continue as there were so many great photos, showing real creativity. I had no idea of lighting, and was not prepared to invest in lighting equipment, so all my photos had to be taken with natural light. I was not familiar with High Key and even after researching it had no idea of how I was going to do that assignment. Luckily, I saw the afternoon light passing through scrim curtains falling onto Elle my granddaughter and I knew that this was the light I needed.
I took photos as she kept playing and this is my favourite portrait shot. Light through the dining room window was used as a back light and light from the IPad was used to light Elle’s face for the Week 46 Portrait Backlit.
The community that developed around the Facebook Dogwood Photography Chatter site was a real plus for the challenge. People helped each other by giving feedback, helping to choose photos to post, sharing techniques to improve images and suggesting websites to visit. They were also generously detailed how they shot different images. I had great fun photographing M&Ms through water drops after reading about the technique.
I was intimidated by the third category Artistic but came to enjoy it. Many of these photos were not planned but came from seeing something and recognising that it would fit into one of the assignments. A fallen frangipani leaf on a street path was used for Week 18 Texture.
My most popular image was one that I nearly did not upload. Many of the Bokeh shots were taken using fairy lights but this one used gold star patterned foil to reflect the midday sun. I was not sure that the black background produced fitted the native daisy. But perhaps that was the point of difference that made the image stand out.
It was great to be challenged to photograph so many different situations and to have to learn many new techniques.