Wednesday, May 31, 2017

July 24, 2017 “The Santa Experience with Charleen Larkin”

July 24, 2017 “The Santa Experience with Charleen Larkin”

You do NOT need to be a PPA Member to attend

Santa's Workshop has a whole new meaning!

You're Invited to Christmas in July!

Let Charleen Larkin show you how to bring a one of a kind "Santa Experience" to your clients and their children.

Register today get on her nice list and get the inside scoop on:

Marketing the Experience.

Adding tiny details that really create the magic.

Learn how to set the scene.

Find out why natural lighting and free style flow posing make it real.

Watch Charleen reach in her bag of tricks to show you additive lighting and brush stokes to enhance your images.

Finish it all off with heirloom products & sales items guaranteed to make you merry.



Friday, July 14 (9 am – Noon) – Workshops and Portfolio Reviews will run concurrently.
You cannot attend more than one.

Participants in any Workshop must also be paid registrants for the Conference.  Class size is limited. Register early. If paying by check please write separate checks for the Conference and for any of the seven pre-Conference workshops.  See Registration Instructions for Workshop cancellation policy. See for additional information.  Electrical outlets will be provided for power as necessary. The fee for each workshop is $66.95; this includes a 3% UMASS administrative fee.

Workshop I – Digital Boot Camp
By Vinny and Annette Colucci (NC)
This workshop will cover the A to Z basics in photography. Learn about aperture for depth of field for creative control, and shutter speed for freezing or implying motion. Understand the simple approach to exposure and the proper use of the histogram. Know how to compose your subject as well as when to break the typical compositional rules. Discussed will be composition, white balance as a filter set, advanced settings and camera modes such as aperture priority, shutter speeds, manual settings. Also discussed will be lens selection and proper use of tripods. The last portion will be a Q and A with a hands-on demonstration of going through your camera menus to make certain they are set correctly to optimize your images. There will be a few door prizes at the end of event. Prerequisite: Bring your camera with a short lens you can hand hold, camera manual and notepaper.  (Door Prize Sponsors: Wimberly; Singh-Ray; Nikon Professional Services)

Workshop II – Social Media for Photographers
By Joe Edelman (PA)
This is a three-hour deep dive workshop based on the popular social media talk that Joe presented at last year’s conference. Joe will be doing hands on demos and reviews to ensure that you leave the workshop prepared to be a social media star.  The workshop will begin with a Photoshop and Lightroom demo full of tips and tricks for preparing your images to look their best online and a review of ways to automate the process of creating Facebook timeline covers.  Joe will bring you up to date on the absolute latest information on all the major social media platforms and how you can use them to simply share your photos with friends, relatives and other photographers or to build a following and build a business.  This workshop will include personalized reviews of attendee’s social media profiles as time permits. Prerequisite: Bring your laptop and make sure you have access to all your social media profiles.
Workshop III: Art of the Fine Print
By A.Cemal Ekin, MNEC (RI)
In this three-hour workshop the participants will work on their own photographs using Adobe Lightroom, and learn how to prepare their images for printing. The work environment, display calibration, producing the print and evaluating it under proper viewing light will be fully explored. Each participant will produce print(s) on an Epson printer using Red River papers. Print critique and necessary adjustments will be provided. Prerequisite: Laptop computers with a relatively recent version of Lightroom, 5.7, 6, or CC installed and images your imported to the catalog. The preferred image format is RAW but you may also work on JPEG format images. Limited to 15 participants (Sponsored by Red River Paper)

Workshop IV – Maximum Control in Photoshop
By Tim Grey (NY)
If you want to learn to truly master the use of Photoshop to exercise maximum control over your photographic images, you won’t want to miss this hands-on session with Tim Grey. You’ll learn a full workflow for making your photos look their best, with an emphasis on a thoughtful workflow featuring advanced adjustments. You’ll get tips on processing RAW captures in Adobe Camera Raw, learn to make the most of adjustment layers, gain a strong understanding of the Curves adjustment, learn to create optimal selections, apply targeted adjustments through the use of sophisticated layer masks, and much more. Prerequisites: Participants will be expected to have Photoshop CC pre-loaded and activated on their laptops and know how to open and save files. Those who prefer to use Photoshop CS6 may still participate, but need to understand that some features covered in the class may not be available or may be implemented differently in Photoshop CS6. This is an intermediate to advanced class.

Workshop V - Create Tack Sharp Macro Images -Without A Tripod!
By Roman Kurywczak, ANEC (NJ)
Tired of carrying around your tripod for macro photography?  Many flower shows and arboretums don’t allow the use of a tripod as well.  Roman will guide you through the steps of creating tack sharp macro images without using a tripod!  The secret to his success is effectively using flash as well as other light sources.  During the lecture Roman will provide you with the settings and secrets to creating your own tack sharp macro images whether you are out in the field or inside a facility that doesn’t allow the use of tripods. Everything from gear, camera settings, to accessories will be covered in this instructional program. After the lecture portion, there will be an approximately 2-hour shoot where you can put what you learned to use with flower setups and more.  Bring your camera with fully charged battery, memory cards, and a flash (if you have one).  Sigma technical representative Mike Deutsch will be there with Sigma macro gear for you to try out. (Sponsored by Sigma)

Workshop VI – iPhone Magic
By Charles Needle (CA)
This workshop will cover the technical aspects of iPhone photography — including how to optimize use of native camera functions, equipment and accessories, workflow and printing considerations.  Through a series of "live" demonstrations (projected on the screen), Charles will teach you how to translate your creative vision into pixels using various iPhone apps.  He will cover some of his favorite shooting and post-processing apps, including editing apps, such as Snapseed and Retouch; shooting apps such as Camera+, Slow Shutter, LongExpo Pro, VividHDR and Burst Mode; compositing and masking apps such as Image Blender, Autopainter, Distressed FX, and many more. Concluding the workshop will be hands-on shooting with your iPhone, using various apps and then post-processing them. Your images will also be shared and projected as time permits. Prerequisites: Latest operating system (OS) installed on your iPhone, as well as the following key apps, which are available for download by visiting the Apple App Store: Snapseed, Retouch, VividHDR, Slow Shutter, Burst Mode, Camera+ (not Camera Plus), Panorama (blue and white yin/yang icon), Autopainter 1 and Image Blender along with 5-10 unprocessed images in your Camera Roll.  Note: Android users are welcome to attend, but this session is geared primarily towards iPhone users.

Workshop VII – Understanding Color and Its Impact on Mind and Emotions
By Bryan F. Peterson (WA)
Based on Bryan’s newest book, due out September 1, 2017, this class is truly all about color; seeing color, composing color, exposing color and processing color. Color does surround us, yet most of us don’t see color and its splendor. And when we do start seeing color, do you know which colors work best near the bottom of the overall composition, near the top; which colors are the easiest to expose for, which are the hardest; which colors are the most advancing, which are the most receding. This course leaves ‘no color unturned’; the culture of color, and the many emotional messages of color are discussed in great length as well. And of course you will learn about a single PS tool that is rarely used by most photographers, yet so vitally important IF you desire to achieve maximum color intensity and for sure this tool is NOT the Vibrance, Hue/Saturation or Color Balance Tool. This course is perfect for all photographers from beginner to pro. 

Workshops and Portfolio reviews will run concurrently, so you cannot attend both

This is your opportunity to have up to 15 images (prints and/or digital) reviewed by one of New England’s top photographers/judges. Reviewers include Bill Barnett, APSA, AFIAP, MNEC; Jake Mosser, HonPSA, EPSA, HonNEC, and Sarah Musumeci, MNEC. The cost is $41.20 per 40 minute session. Participants can discuss their work on an individual basis. If you sign up for this service, a confirmation form will be sent to you by June 23rd.   You must return the form by June 29th. You will then be contacted via e-mail with the time slot and reviewer to whom you have been assigned.  Please note this activity takes place at the same time as the other seven pre-conference seminarsIf paying by check write a separate check. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


72nd CONFERENCE JULY 14, 15, 16, 2017

Mark your calendars – the NECCC Conference is a few short months away! This three-day conference is a great weekend full of learning and fun. The main speaker for Saturday night is Bryan Petersen. Sponsored by Nikon, he is a world known creative and travel photographer, author and workshop leader who is known as the founder of the world’s number one on-line school: Bryan Petersen’s School of Photography.

 The Photo-Ops room will continue to have innovative subject matter for your photographic endeavors with lots of extras including “Insects by Creepy Con”- Kathy Baca (NY)”, High Key Color Glassware – Mary Boucher (MA); and on Saturday speakers Charles Needle (CA) with Inspirational Floral Techniques, and Cheryl Belczak (NY) with Dark Field Glassware. Last year for our Sunday morning special photo event, we had bicycle BMX jumpers and this year we have revved up our engines and will have motorcycle jumpers from The Boston FMX Team doing stunt ramp jumping sponsored by Hunt’s. There will be lots of air stunts and more opportunities to photograph the riders with our NECCC models.

There will be models, vendors, and photo equipment to borrow from Canon, Fuji, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Sigma, Sony and Tamron. Our vending area will open two hours earlier on Friday July 14th at 10 am with Hunt’s Photo and Video open with great bargains and early bird specials. Other vendor’s opening times may vary. Come early to shop and see what they have to offer. For the third year Sigma will host a special digital competition (with Sigma lenses for top two prizes) which is in addition to conference competitions in digital images and prints. 

There will be seven Friday am pre-conference workshops for your selection this year. Sign up early as many of the classes have limited seating. Classes will be offered in understanding color, social media, Iphone photography, Photoshop, hands-on workshops in printing and macro; and for beginners there is a hands-on digital boot camp-learning to use your camera.

Flyers should be in the mail to all past attendees shortly. Conference updates, the registration flyer, along with the online registration link will be on the NECCC website ( by the middle of March; program descriptions and speaker information by the end of March and the tentative schedule by end of May. Register early for pre-conference classes and air conditioned dorm accommodations.  If you aren’t staying on campus be sure to make a reservation at a local hotel, motel, or bed and breakfast

Hope to see you all there!!!.

For any questions please email Susan Mosser, HonPSA, HonNEC

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Current Conference Schedule for NECCC 2017 has been posted

The Current Conference Schedule for NECCC 2017 conference has been posted

You can download the pdf and the excel versions on the conference page:

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

new book: order now Create Fine Art Photographs from Historic Places and Rusty Things

"Create Fine Art Photographs from Historic Places and Rusty Things" Order it here:

Tom and Lisa Cuchara have a book coming out. The book is done and is way ahead of the publication schedule, but need a few more pre-orders for the publisher will go to print. If you were thinking of ordering the book or have it in your cart or wish list please go ahead and order it:

"Create Fine Art Photographs from Historic Places and Rusty Things" is for people who enjoy urban exploration, historic subjects, old cars, rust, detailed scenes, still life images, light painting, etc.

“Tom and Lisa have found a way to take run down decaying subjects and turn them into an amazing art form.” —Mike Moats, Pro Macro Photographer

“Lisa and Tom Cuchara, through their keen vision, show us a world that has been forgotten, and they do it in a detailed, colorful, and beautiful way.” —Harold Ross

“Lisa and Tom celebrate the graceful degradation of things; both common and uncommon, and all beautifully captured.” —Thom Rouse, M. Photog. MEI, CR, CPP, F-ASP

“Whether you’re a serious amateur or novice, this book will help ignite your passion for photography, in general, and challenge you to interpret what your eyes and heart see using your camera.” —Charles Needle, Author of Tiny Worlds (Amherst Media)

This book will inspire you to visit new “old” places and to get to know them well enough to tell their story. Order it here

Pre-order Price Guarantee! Order now and if the price decreases between your order time and the end of the day of the release date, you'll receive the lowest price.Here's how

Lisa and Tom Cuchara see the beauty in decay and abandonment. In this book, they take you on a guided journey of historic, grand, dramatic, and unique locations and provide tips to help you capture creative fine-art photographs of rusty, dusty subjects and locations. In this book, you’ll find a plethora of urban exploration images and discover the processes used to create each one. You’ll learn how to capture HDR images, create long-exposure photos, and paint with light. You’ll also learn how to approach challenging locations, deal with high contrast scenes, create stitched HDR panoramics, and produce light and shadow effects. The authors share the gear that was used, the camera settings, the story behind the scene, and how they pre-visualized their images and looked for light (or created it) in each location. This book will inspire you to visit new “old” places and to get to know them well enough to tell their story. (Lisa and Tom Cuchara)

“Tom and Lisa’s photographic fine art is incredibly unique, and each piece has its own wow factor. Even to a trained photographer’s eye, many of their pieces do not even look like photographs; they appear to be surreal and even fantasy-like. Their art will draw you in and encourage you to draw your own conclusion or story. They have created their very own style using state-of-the-art techniques and are always willing to share their secrets with other photographers. If you get the chance to take one of their classes, I highly recommend it. They are wonderful teachers and mentors.” ——Patty Swanson, Certified Professional Photographer (CPP)

“Tom and Lisa are true artists who see the beauty in these places and things left behind. They are so generous and share their passion, knowledge, and knack for seeing this beauty with you in their workshops. They truly have made me a better photographer, and I can’t wait for our next adventure together. Who knows what is waiting for us in the next rusty and dusty location? You should definitely come along....”
—Raquel Gonzalez, Photographer, Workshop Attendee, AVP Financial Center Manager at Bank of America

Lisa and Tom have a superb knack for finding incredibly fascinating places to photograph. They are encouraging, patient and terribly creative people whose energy and passion make you never want to put your camera down." Jennifer Dooley, Workshop Participant, Avid Photographer for 20 years 

Tom and Lisa are both creative and talented photographers who look to push the edge in their photography. As excellent, patient and devoted teachers, they use their beautiful images to help inspire others to open up their own path to making more visually interesting compositions and designs. They excel at finding beautiful color palettes and  utilizing good post processing techniques. The textures and details of their rusty explorations are a visual delight for photographers and non photographers alike. This book is both informative and inspirational, a valuable addition to your photo library. Bobbi Lane, Bobbi Lane Photography,

Friday, May 12, 2017

August 21, 2017 “Landscape Fine Art with Ruth Clegg”

August 21, 2017 “Landscape Fine Art with Ruth Clegg”

Get down & dirty tricks to transform your landscapes to fine art!

Use color, design, texture and beautiful countryside to weave into dynamic imagery.

Work with the environment, your creativity and camera to make beautiful images.

Further enhance your work with knowledge of Lightroom, Photoshop and Painter.

Complete the process with a good understanding of presentation, marketing and sales of your fine art.


You do NOT need to be a PPA Member to attend

2016-17 season of the NECCC Electronic Interclub competition winners

The highest scoring clubs for the 2016-17 season of the NECCC Electronic Interclub competitions were announced in the Spring report, the third and last competition of the season.

And now, the winning images in each of the four classes have also been chosen.  The judge used for this daunting task was John Davis, HonPSA, MPSA.  He is from Orchard, Washington and is a past president of the Photographic Society of America.  His current title is President Emeritus and Goodwill Ambassador for PSA.  He also coordinates the PSA Portfolio Assessments.  In making his choices, John wanted to pass along comments that every image was worthy of the “best of the best” designation.  He thanked both Bill and myself for letting HIM see such wonderful images.

The high scoring clubs were:
Pictorial A            Greater Lynn Photographic Association AND Photo Society of Rhode Island
Pictorial B            Cape Cod Art Association
Nature A              Gateway Camera Club
Nature B              Housatonic Camera Club

Winning Images (see them here):
Pictorial A            “An Uneasy Feeling” by Stephen Rostler of Gateway Camera Club
Pictorial B            “Tulip” by Phyllis Meinke of Lakes Region Camera Club
Nature A              “Sandhill Family Dinner” by Peter Curcis of Greater Lynn Photographic Assoc.
Nature B              “Hummingbird” by Michael Lynn, Jr. of Whaling City Camera Club

Congratulations to the clubs and individual winners.  If winning image members are in attendance at the upcoming NECCC Conference, please advise them to attend the awards ceremony on Sunday morning to receive their much deserved award and congratulations.  Likewise, any club representative in attendance should also attend the awards ceremony in order to also accept the award and well deserved congratulations.

2016 - 2017 Electronic Interclub Competition
Nature Class A First Place Winner - "Sandhill Family Dinner" by Peter Curcis, 
Greater Lynn Photographic Association

2016 - 2017 Electronic Interclub Competition
Nature Class B First Place Winner - "Hummingbird" by Michael Lynn, Jr. 
Whaling City Camera Club

2016 - 2017 Electronic Interclub Competition
Pictorial Class A First Place Winner - "An Uneasy Feeling" by Stephen Rostler, 
Gateway Camera Club

2016 - 2017 Electronic Interclub Competition
Pictorial Class B First Place Winner - "Tulip" by Phyllis Meinke, 
Lakes Region Camera Club

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Pixels in Your Pocket: Creative iPhoneography with Charles Needle

Pixels in Your Pocket: Creative iPhoneography with Charles Needle

Learn how to craft creative, expressive images using nothing more than your iPhone!
Join Charles Needle in this fun, educational, 8 hour hands-on workshop in a beautiful private studio in Plymouth, MA. 
Charles will cover some of the technical aspects of smartphone photography — including equipment, accessories, workflow, and printing considerations.
Tuesday, July 11, 2017 Plymouth, MA 8:30am to 5:30pm

For more information, registration and details check out the link here at Photography Events by Amy

~Amy Davies

The Westport Art Group in Massachusetts is launching a juried photography exhibition in our new gallery.

The Westport Art Group in Massachusetts is launching a juried photography exhibition in our new gallery. The theme is "TREASURE" your own interpretation.

DEADLINE FOR ENTRY IS MAY 19. Exhibition June 16 to July 2nd.
Enter through enter "TREASURE" in the contest field.

Award for the best in show photographers will be a two person show in the Manton Room of the Westport Free Public Library, November 2017. We look forward to entries from all New England states. for information.

Linda Rogers 508-636-7129

TYLER STABLEFORD - Capturing the Dramatic Moment: A Creative Immersion with Canon Explorer of Light”

THIS SATURDAY! TYLER STABLEFORD - Capturing the Dramatic Moment:
A Creative Immersion with Canon Explorer of Light”

HOST: The Shutter-Buds Photography Group Please consider joining us!
WHEN: Saturday, May 13. 9:00 am – 4:00 pm (doors open at 8:00 am)
WHERE: Trinity-on-Main Cultural Center, 69 Main Street, New Britain, CT
ADMISSION: $12 for online tickets ( and $15 at the door.

CT Valley Camera Club (CVCC) will feature a presentation by Sean Elliot

Connecticut Valley Camera Club Meeting
Monday, June 5, 2017 at 7:00pm

The June 5th meeting of the CT Valley Camera Club (CVCC) will feature a presentation by Sean Elliot, Director of Photography at The Day in New London, CT.
The meeting will be held at 7:00pm at the Old Lyme Senior Center, 26 Town Woods Rd., Old Lyme, CT.  Club Website:

Monday, May 8, 2017

July 24, 2017 “The Santa Experience with Charleen Larkin”

July 24, 2017 “The Santa Experience with Charleen Larkin”

You do NOT need to be a PPA Member to attend

Santa's Workshop has a whole new meaning!

You're Invited to Christmas in July!

Let Charleen Larkin show you how to bring a one of a kind "Santa Experience" to your clients and their children.

Register today get on her nice list and get the inside scoop on:

Marketing the Experience.

Adding tiny details that really create the magic.

Learn how to set the scene.

Find out why natural lighting and free style flow posing make it real.

Watch Charleen reach in her bag of tricks to show you additive lighting and brush stokes to enhance your images.

Finish it all off with heirloom products & sales items guaranteed to make you merry.


Saturday, May 6, 2017

July 7, 2017 “Bold Business Strategies with Trish Logan”

July 7, 2017 “Bold Business Strategies with Trish Logan”

If you think Business isn't FUN... You haven't met Trish!

Business doesn't have to be boring: in fact if it's not fun, why do it?

Learn the FUNdemental business strategies needed to set you apart from your competition from Photographer, National Speaker, Author & Business Coach, Trish Logan. Join her for a full day hands on social media, marketing and branding workshop and give your photography business a jump!

Whether you have been in business forever or are just starting out, you'll walk away at the end of the day with BOLD new ideas to market your business.

Grab your laptop and let's update your Facebook & instagram together. Learn why branding is so important and understand the differences between marketing and just tossing things up on the internet.

Marketing is an important part of business, why not enjoy it!


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

May 21,2017 Millennials, Marriage & Marketing with Patricia Takacs”

May 21,2017 Millennials, Marriage & Marketing with Patricia Takacs”

How to generate the attention of the next generation.

If you love wedding photography and wonder what it takes to get ahead of the competition, this is the perfect workshop for you!

To get hired; you have to get them to notice YOU!

Join Patti for a full day of marketing to the modern bride:

Topics include:

Blogging for success, what modern day brides want to see on a website when searching for a photographer.

Learn the importance of portfolio curation and the face you show the world be it instagram, Facebook or other platforms

Understand why finding your ideal client is not only important to you; but how it will allow you to deliver the ultimate experience for your couple.

Round your day off by taking your marketing and portfolio to a new level to REALLY stand out.

Discover why stylized shoots can build your vendor network and ultimately bring you the ideal higher end clients and incredible locations you dream about.


you do NOT need to be a PPA member to attend

Tuesday, May 2, 2017


This post appeared here:



Photo Competition Prep: A Fresh Look at the 12 Elements
One of the most daunting sentences you can hear as a novice competitor in PPA's International Photographic Competition is “Entries are judged using the 12 elements of a merit image.” What are these 12 elements? Where can you find them? And most of all, what do they mean?
If you’re new to image competition, it can feel like a game. It’s possible you have only a passing familiarity with the 12 elements of a merit image. Yes, the list is displayed at every image competition and a short description of each element can be found on the PPA website. But do you really understand what they mean? Do you understand how they underpin one another and build upon one another?  
Many people believe these elements are listed in order of importance but a brief conversation with Randy McNeilly, M.Photog.MEI.Cr., CPP, API, F-ASP, former chair of IPC, confirmed our belief that this is not true. Impact is often touted as the most important element of all, but you can’t really separate impact out as separate element. Impact is what you get when all the other elements are working together in concert. For us, impact is a result rather than an independent element.
So rather than looking at the elements as a linear catalog or a checklist, our brains saw them as more of a constellation of interconnected elements with some in a slightly more subordinate position and others in a more prominent position, but all working together to create impact. We created this mind map to explain how we see these elements working together, assembled in logical groupings.

Impact takes the center of the map, with the rest of the elements leading in to it. We broke the element list apart and created four major areas, or pillars: composition, creativity, technical excellence, and storytelling. Branching off these four major components are the elements that support each pillar. You’ll also notice that the left side of the mind map covers the more technical aspects while the right side of the mind map covers the more emotional aspects.
We grouped color (sometimes called color balance or color harmony), presentation, lighting, and technique together as the elements that make up technical excellence. You can’t have technical excellence if your white balance is off or your colors are fighting against each other. And the way you present your image at competition is a huge part of technical excellence. If you print your image, you should choose the best media for your subject matter, which could be glossy, metallic paper, art paper, whatever makes the most fitting presentation. Matting should present the image to its best advantage. Image files should be prepared appropriately prior to printing so they can be viewed properly under the strong lights at competition. Digital submissions should have an appropriate digital mat and possibly key line or stroke to frame it.  


For lighting, technical excellence is achieved when you’ve chosen the best lighting for that subject in that setting. That means it could be broad light in certain circumstances, depending on the subject and the mood of the image. Or perhaps short light would be the best way to light the subject, particularly if your subject is a woman. But there are other lighting styles—for a fashion or film noir image, the best lighting choice might be butterfly. Given the proper scenario, you might even choose spooky lighting. The actual lighting technique matters much less than whether it supports the subject matter and story you’re trying to tell with that image. Judges look for directionality and intentionality with a lighting scheme—did you choose your lighting intentionally or just take what was given? With photojournalistic images, you may have little or no control over lighting, but you can control where you are and when you press the shutter release.

As an element, technique looks at how you approached the creation of your image. It includes your choice of presentation media (printed or digital; paper selection, and so on), but it goes further than that and includes posing and expression, key (whether the subject’s clothing is in key with the background) and even how the image was captured as well as the post-processing you did after capture. Technique looks at things like digital noise in the capture, moirĂ©, ghosting, chromatic aberration, and other distracting and avoidable elements in an image.
It also looks at post-processing. Is there discernable banding in the processing or the printing? As you processed the image, did you accidently create halos (areas that are lighter or darker around an element in the image caused by sloppy dodging or burning or sometimes from the sharpening technique)? If you applied a texture, is it there to enhance the image or to hide some digital noise? Are there cloning tracks in the image? Are there digital artifacts from oversharpening? Is your white balance off, creating unintentional, unnaturally tinted skin tones in the subject? Is there a color cast on the skin of the subject from strongly colored objects in the scene such as grass or brightly painted walls? When it’s apparent that the skin tones are altered for an overall effect, it’s OK to have a tint to the skin, but when it’s clearly a matter of poorly controlled white balance, it will be a negative factor in your overall technical excellence.

Technique also applies to your black-and-white conversion—is it muddy? Soft and creamy? Snappy and contrasty? And most importantly, is your black-and-white conversion appropriate for the subject and the mood you’re trying to evoke? A soft and creamy black-and-white image might be appropriate for a sweet newborn but could be out of place for a moody, heart-tugging image. As with lighting and presentation, there are no hard and fast rules about which style to choose. As the maker, you need to select the processing that fully supports the story you’re trying to tell and the subject matter.
Color balance provides a sense of harmony to the image, which is why it’s often referred to as color harmony. This harmony can take many forms. Working with complementary colors (colors directly opposite each other in the color spectrum) or analogous colors (groups of three colors that are next to each other on the color wheel) are two ways to ensure that your images will be balanced. However, your colors need not always be harmonious. Sometimes clashing color creates just the right amount of tension for the image, evoking strong feelings and reactions. Not every image needs to be pretty to be effective at conjuring emotion.

When you look at technical excellence as a product of the effective use of color balance, technique, lighting, and presentation, the elements start to make more sense and work together. Instead of being disparate pieces, they are components that go logically together.
When all these elements are thoughtfully and intentionally in place, you achieve technical excellence and that points you toward impact. But the job isn’t done yet. Now let’s look at composition as an element.
We’ve attached center of interest as a component of composition, but there’s much more to a pleasing composition than having a strong center of interest. If, for example, you’re photographing a stand of trees, there might be one that is different enough that it stands out and becomes the center of interest. In that case, the placement of that special tree will greatly determine if your image has a pleasing composition. But sometimes a stand of trees is interesting all on its own for the uniformity of the tree trunks or the strong repetitive pattern and chiascurro (an effect of contrasted light and shadow created by light falling unevenly across the subjects in your image) that the trees create. In cases like that, you won’t have a strong center of interest because the entire image is the center of interest. And truly, sometimes, not having a center of interest is the whole point of the image, such as with an abstract piece or a fine art piece.
But center of interest is just one part of the composition element. Does your image bring viewers into the image and keep them there? Are there leading lines that take you right to the center of interest? Are you working with the rule of thirds? Or are you breaking the rule of thirds intentionally for a specific effect? Are you using mood lines (patterns and lines that convey mood or emotion) to create visual tension? Do the overall lines of the image create a mood that matches the story you are trying to tell with this image? Are you using the Golden Mean as a compositional element in your image?
It’s OK to break rules of composition, but you have to do it with great intentionality and find a way to indicate that you did so knowingly. Sometimes a symmetrical image creates just the right feeling of stability and strength that you need for an image. Other times that same symmetrically can create an image that is too static and the net effect is boredom for the viewer. You have to make sure you know the rules, though, before you try to break them so you can do it effectively and intentionally.
Storytelling is an element that has often been given short shrift because of its place at the bottom of the list. Many people see it last and believe that it’s the least important element. For us, it’s one of the four major underpinnings of impact. Subject matter is an important facet of storytelling, but it’s not the whole thing. There are aspects of storytelling throughout the image—the setting, the props, the expression, the pose, and even the title, which we like to call the 13th element, are all part of storytelling.
Storytelling is further enhanced by your choice of post-processing and possibly even presentation. A vintage-style image might lose some of its impact if it’s printed on glossy paper but that impact could be recovered if it were printed on a paper that supported the vintage feel. For a retro piece, it’s possible that art paper might be a stronger choice. Maybe a torn or deckled edge would go even further into supporting the storytelling aspect of the image.
The final pillar of the impact is creativity, supported by style. While it’s true that style could support other areas (composition or storytelling, for example), we felt it fit best as a component of creativity. It’s hard to define creativity, but we tend to know it when we see it. Creativity is best defined as the ability to transcend traditional ideas to create meaningful new ideas. We see it with a fresh approach to something that’s been done over and over and over. We see it with imaginative and inventive compositing or styling in an image. An image that shows us a new way to look at something scores high on the creativity and style scale. While not technically an element, titles are a very important component to your competition image. It’s your only chance to actually talk to the judges, so think carefully about what you choose to say. Do you really want to throw away that chance to talk by saying something that a hundred other people have already said? Old and tired titles do little to advance your cause. And some titles have absolutely nothing to do with telling the story of the image and can end up being a stumbling block for judges who are trying to reconcile the two. Use your titles to draw out the story. Point your viewers in the direction you want them to look. After you’ve worked so hard to capture the image, process it perfectly, and then print or prepare it for display, don’t let a mundane, tired, boring, overused, ill-fitting title be the first thing the judges encounter.

The last element to discuss then is impact. As you can see, impact doesn’t just happen. It is the amalgamation of the rest of the elements combined. Bob Hawkins, in his original description of the Twelve Elements of a Merit Image, described impact as the sense one gets upon viewing an image for the first time. We call it the wow factor. An image with great impact comes around on the turnstile or pops up on the monitor and you get this momentary cessation of breath. Your mind goes blank for a moment and all you can do is absorb the image before you. Then you can start looking at it from the standpoints of the other elements. Images like this don’t just happen—they are thoughtfully created and nurtured and cultivated through the judicious attention to the other supporting elements. Sometimes one or another of the elements will prevail and take precedence over another (such as when a strongly emotive image will allow storytelling to make up for slight deficiencies in technical excellence). Think of impact as the tabletop with the supporting pillars of composition, storytelling, technical excellence, and creativity. The other elements keep those pillars strong and make sure that the table doesn’t fall over and spill the all-important element of impact.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Registration is LIVE for the 2017 NECCC conference

Please announce this at your clubs, post it on your websites and Facebook pages. 
Pass this on to other photo enthusiasts. Thank you!

Registration is LIVE for the 2017 NECCC conference