The Rationale behind the Revised Constitution – your approval needed

Apologies to all those members who find this stuff dry and boring. Please read on for just a little bit…

Your society is working towards creating a vibrant, creative and collaborative space for Canberra photographers of all shapes and sizes. Do do this we need some underpinnings – one of which is a constitution that reflects who we are and what we aspire to. Hence this post. You will be asked to vote on this proposed new constitution at the upcoming AGM.

 Explanatory Notes re Proposed New Constitution for the Canberra Photographic Society
The existing constitution is based on the model rules provided by the ACT government under the Associations Incorporation Act 1991. The Canberra Photographic Society has to comply with this act and other relevant acts and regulations governing community groups in the ACT. Our compliance is overseen by our Public Officer, Ian Marshall.
In order to have our governance mechanisms aligned with the goals of the society, the committee is seeking to update the Constitution. This task has been undertaken by
the Strategic Planning Subcommittee with legal input provided by Tony Burslem.
Rationale for change:
The most important proposed changes are around the Objects of the Society. These have been clarified and simplified with the intent to reflect who we are and what our goals are as a society (See clause 2)
We have clarified the definition of members (see clause 3 and 7) to allow honorary members and honorary life members (clause 16) to vote at general meetings. Our definition of honorary member (clause 15) has been expanded so it no longer refers to particular affiliations (such as the Australian Photographic Society) but is more generally inclusive.
Changes have also been made to clarify and facilitate administration of the
society, such as moving the closing date for payment of membership dues from 1 July to 1 March (clause 11) and making provision for electronic meetings (clause 28). We have also updated language to reflect the current use of electronic communications for membership applications (clause 8 and removal of the old Appendix 1) and the serving of notices (clause 50).
Changes are proposed that clarify the roles and responsibilities of members (clause 9)
and the committee (clause 19). Clauses around conflicts of interest (clause 29) and the declaration and recording of potential conflicts of interest (clauses 30, 31 and 32) have been added.
We have improved the definition of quorums for the committee meetings (clause 27(5)), for annual general meetings (clause 35(3)) and general meetings (clause 38(2)) so that they are more flexible and allow the society to dissolve itself if the membership dwindles to almost nothing. The calling of general meetings at the request (not requisition) of members now requires notice in writing of ten (not five) percent of members (clause 36). Only members may vote at general meetings (clause 42).
We have improved the procedures for the election of committee members (clause
22). We have introduced a requirement for nomination of members for election to the committee to be made in writing at least 24 hours ahead of the meeting and the requirement for all nominees to indicate their consent to being nominated.
The proxy form that was previously Appendix 2 now becomes Appendix 1.
What happens now?
Before the Proposed New Constitution can be adopted it must be accepted at a general meeting of members. In order to change the constitution we have to lodge with Access Canberra either a list of proposed changes or the amended constitution in its entirety. Because of the extent and complexity of the changes, we propose using the latter method. Thus we are putting the proposed amended constitution in its entirety to members.
The committee proposes that members vote regarding their acceptance or otherwise of the
Proposed New Constitution at the upcoming AGM on March 14th 2017.
Prior to this date, all members are encouraged to read the proposed document and
are welcome to make suggestions and comments to the committee so that any concerns can be addressed before the AGM.
The Proposed New Constitution is available (with additions highlighted) for comparison with our Existing Constitution on our website
Comments should be sent to

The future of the Aggregate Competitions

At the recent workshop held to discuss the program for the CPS for next year, the question was raised as to whether we want to continue with the Annual Aggregate Competitions. Currently there is an A Grade Aggregate competition and a B Grade Aggregate competition with trophies and modest cash prizes for winners and runners-up.

Advantages of the removal of the Aggregate Competitions that were raised are that it could remove any feeling of disadvantage or disincentive for members who join part-way through the year or who miss a competition for whatever reason. It could also give us the freedom to be more flexible with the competition formats. Some see that Aggregate Competitions promote a competitive culture that is at odds with the sharing and learning culture to which we apsire and does not encourage creativity and risk-taking in image making. On the other hand, the Aggregate Competitions could be seen as providing a valuable incentive for sustained and ongoing participation over the year.

One suggested change, which has already been agreed to by the committee, is to rename the event our Exhibition Night, rather than the Competition night.

Members said they feel that having an external judge who provides comments and a score on submitted images is helpful and motivating and they wish to retain these. Thus the model being proposed is that we continue with the (renamed) Exhibition Nights where we retain A and B grade, scoring out of 5 and Image(s) of the Night. We plan to continue with the Comment Only category. Images scoring 4.5 and 5 would continue to be eligible for Gallery 9 and Images of the Night would continue to have a free entry into the Image of the Year competitions. We would also publish the scores for each image each month. The only change would be that we would not publish cumulative Aggregate Scores and not make awards to the photographers who achieve the highest aggregate scores each year. High achievement in all CPS Competitions would continue to be taken into consideration when deciding on the award of the Photographer of the Year.

In deciding this issue we need to consider the type of society we wish to be and if the Aggregate Competitions are consistent with our current goal to “help members achieve their photographic potential” through “sharing and learning.”

We wish to recognise and reward photographic excellence and achievements within the society. We will continue with the Photographer of the Year, the Russell Hunt Award for service to the Society, the Annual Photochallenge awards as well as the Image of the Year awards. We would like to consider some new awards and seek member input as to what these could be. For example, we could have awards for Student Photographer of the Year, Most Improved Photographer and so on.

The committee has agreed that the proposal to remove the Aggregate competitions while retaining other elements of the scoring system be discussed at upcoming Workshops (September 20th and October 18th) so that both supporters and opponents of the idea have a chance to have a say to other members. We will then run a poll from October 19th to 28th (responses to a dedicated email address monitored by a Returning Officer) where every financial member of the society will have a vote. The committee will then make a decision based on the results of the poll and the results will be announced at the November Competition Night on November 1st. This will give all Members an opportunity to have a voice and ample notice of the procedures for the Exhibition Nights for 2017.

A Photoshop Workflow

In response to several requests for more technical information to be provided as part of Canberra Photographic Society activities, we have started a new technical session to be conducted at the start of each Workshop evening. Members will take it in turns to spend 15-20 minutes talking about a technical aspect of photography or image processing. I kicked off the series with a demonstration of a workflow (using Bridge and Photoshop) that I used to process one of my images from Bermagui.

I chose this image because it has some short-comings and I wanted to demonstrate how I could overcome some of these with processing. Obviously it is not possible, nor desirable, to “fix” bad images with processing, but I wanted to illustrate a couple of points. I find the image inherently amusing but the background is a bit distracting as it has a lot of color, structure and light areas. Also, there is a pelican in the foreground that could be seen as a distraction, so I am going to demonstrate how to “clone it out.” I want to draw attention to the main subject – namely the fish in the pelican’s beak.

Below is the original raw file that has been opened in Bridge. I have made some adjustments to the exposure and reduced the contrast. In Bridge I almost always go into the Lens Corrections tab (6th from left) and enable lens profile corrections (in the profile sub-tab) and tick remove chromatic aberration (in the color sub-tab). Most of the other adjustments (such as noise removal) I leave on the default values. 01_Pelican_Raw

Once I am happy with the raw processing in Bridge I click on the “Open Image” button at the bottom and this opens the image in Photoshop. 03_pelican_photoshop

Above you can see what the base layer looks like without all the adjustment layers (only the bottom layer has an eye symbol to its left). To illustrate my workflow I am going to step through turning on each layer so you can see the effect that it has on the image.


The first layer (above) corrects the color balance. I used the color picker tool (a pencil with a plus sign) and select an area that should be white or neutral grey. I then use a curves layer and adjust each of the colors so that the values for red, green and blue are the same. If they are 255,255,255 then I have adjusted the spot (and the highlights) to white – if the value is less then the spot is grey and I have adjusted the high mid-tones. You can see that this adjustment has removed a magenta cast from the image.


In this layer (above) I have removed the pelican on the left. I used the lasso tool to draw a rough outline around it and then went to the Edit tab at the top of the page and select Fill then Content-Aware to give a rough fill. I then used the clone tool to tidy up the fill, making sure that there are no repeated structures evident. I also built up the tip of the remaining pelican’s wing.



I then have several curves layers where I have progressively darkened the background and lightened the birds. I do this in steps so it gives a more subtle result and I use a different mask for each layer. I use a soft brush to make my masks and usually feather each mask also.


You can see here (above) the mask that I used to darken the background while not changing the birds. You can visualise the mask by going to the channels tab and clicking on the bottom channel, which is usually the mask. Don’t forget to turn the mask channel off before returning to the layers menu (unless you want to see the mask to make fine adjustments to it).


In this layer (above) I am working to give more emphasis to the pelican beaks. I start by changing the color balance and shifting it slightly to the magenta and red (from cyan and green respectively). The rest of the image is masked out so the changes only apply to the beaks. I then apply a hue-saturation layer where I gently increase the saturation in the reds and magentas. I almost always make saturation adjustments selectively and usually avoid increasing the global saturation. I have a second saturation adjustment layer where I have reduced the saturation in the blue and cyan. This often corrects a consequence of darkening (particularly for skies) as Photoshop has the unfortunate tendency to make darkened skies too saturated. Here I am removing color from the water to bring emphasis back to the pelican beaks. Often removing saturation in some colors is a more effective way of emphasising the remaining colors than just increasing those colors’ saturation.


In the next few layers I have lightened the black feathers in the wings to bring some structure back there. I also have a few more layers to reduce the contrast in the water even further. I now want to add more contrast and emphasis to the plumage of the birds. Here I am using a technique for adding structure called HiRaLoam. This is basically a sharpening tool, so I need to work on committed pixels. Most of my layers so far (except for the cloning layer) have been adjustment layers that are basically a set of instructions that tell photoshop what to do with the information from the layers below. A useful shortcut that I use when I need a committed layer (a requirement for sharpening) is to hold down the Control-Shift-Alt-E keys simultaneously. You will see a lot of other ways of doing this, but I have found this to be the quickest and simplest.

To perform the HiRaLoam adjustment I go to the Filter tab at the top of the page, select Sharpen, then Unsharp Mask. Then I use a high radius and a low amount (Amount 30, radius 30, threshold 2). There is nothing magical about these numbers and it sometimes takes a bit of trial and error to get the desired effect. Be sparing with this as it can produce halos (as can all sharpening techniques). I usually start with a black mask, and only add the effect sparingly where I want it, taking care to avoid any obvious edges.

Finally I have a couple more curves layers to get the overall brightness and contrast correct – sometimes it is useful just to use the Auto setting on the curves layer to see where photoshop thinks you should be. You can accept or reject or modify this at your discretion.

Obviously you want to be saving your photoshop file frequently as you go along. If you need to produce a small jpg version of your file my last step is to resize the image. Because photoshop doesn’t retain the detail in the masks at high resolution when it resizes, it is desirable to flatten your image before resizing. Note that this will compress all your workings and discard any layers that aren’t visible. You need to be very careful NOT to save this version of the photoshop file as you will then lose all your working. To resize the flattened image go to the Image tab at the top of the page and then Image Size. Enter the desired values and then save your file AS A JPG. When closing the file photoshop will ask if you want to save it – now say NO to avoid ending up with a low resolution, layerless .psd file. Below if the final version of the image (top). It isn’t markedly different from the original (below) as I like to keep a fairly light touch with photoshop work, but I leave you to judge if it is an improvement.






Sharing and Learning: a worthy goal

Last night Steven Shaw won the Ted’s Hedda Morrison Portfolio competition with a magnificent set of portraits of mountain gorillas. Julie Garran was awarded a Highly Commended for her portfolio of Indian men and Matt James received a Highly Commended for his portfolio of textures from Uluru. Congratulations to the winners and to all the entrants for the high standard of entry. We thank judge David Paterson for his considered and insightful comments on all the work and we thank Ted’s in Petrie Plaza for sponsoring the competition and providing the prizes.

Last night I asked the audience present for feedback and suggestions regarding CPS programs and services. I asked for suggestions as to what our goals are and for ideas for activities, themes and set topics. I asked people to identify what they liked and what they didn’t like. Eleven people responded – many thanks to those who took the time to write a note.

One response identified the first meeting of the month as a favorite activity because of all the discussion. Another member liked the local excursions best followed by competition nights and then talks by specialists. A third liked the combination of training and competitions and liked having a Set Topic each month. Printing and Portraits were mentioned as topics of interest.

There were four requests for more technical workshops on post processing and printing.

One member suggested that we hold an orientation evening once or twice a year for new members unfamiliar with the club structure.

There was a request for something more in April for those not going on the Weekend Workshop (which was aimed at new members and less experienced photographers). There was also a request for more weekends away.

There was a suggestion that we publish a list of good locations for photography in Canberra for animals, architecture, landscapes etc. so that visitors and new photographers have some ideas about where to go.

One person suggested that we use the hearing loop for those with poor hearing.

One response requested that we not mess with the Competition scoring.

Sharing and learning was identified by one respondent as their goal. Given that our currently stated mission is to “help members achieve their photographic potential” I hope that means that we are on the right track, although there is always room for improvements.

If you would like to add something or comment on these suggestions please reply to this post, talk to one of the committee members or drop me an email (president[at]

All suggestions are welcomed and the CPS committee will follow up on each one. In response to the requests for more technical workshops talking about processing images we will introduce a “Processing Demo” at the beginning of each Workshop night. A member will choose one of their own images and demonstrate the steps that they employed to go from an initial capture (most likely a RAW file) to a final image. I will start off the series at the upcoming workshop on 17th May. I expect the demo to last about 15 minutes, after which members will show and share their own images. The theme this month is Photojournalism and workshop attendees are asked to bring a favorite news image and some of their own “images that changed your world”. This topic aims to encourage people to think about the impact of photographs as an agent for change both globally and personally.

Homework for Photography Projects

This list was given as “homework” to be done in preparation for the CPS Annual Weekend Workshop. It is also a useful “to do” list when embarking on any photographic excursion – things that it is useful to know or do beforehand.

Things to look up in your manual

Diopter setting
Image quality: RAW/RAW+Jpeg
Exposure: Evaluative/Matrix
Histogram: RGB not just tonality
Exposure compensation
Highlight alert (blinkies)
Color space: Adobe RGB.
Aperture priority and aperture adjustment; know what your shutter speed is.
Manual; know how to adjust shutter speed and aperture.
ISO setting
Single point focus
Back-button focussing (turn off focus on shutter button).
Red-light headlights

Topics for discussion next week (as part of the Workshop preparation)

Some ideas on composition and cropping
Choice of lens for story telling
Hyperfocal distance
Mirror lock-up, timer delay
Use of Live view for composition (particularly in low light)
Group etiquette
Tripod setup and discussion
Bring your manual
Bring your camera and tripod

Things to bring with you to Bermagui

Bring your manual
Bring your camera, spare battery and charger, spare cards
Bring your tripod
Computer for downloading
Red headlight or torch
Alarm clock to wake you well before dawn
Warm gear and perhaps swimming costume
Sturdy shoes (perhaps wellies)
2-3 prints for discussion
Sense of humour


A brief history of landscape photography

This post is based on a short talk given to the Canberra Photographic Society as part of the introduction to the Landscape Photography workshop being held in Bermagui. It presents a brief overview of some of the key developments in landscape photography.

It is often useful to have a look at how people have approached something in the past to see if their ideas still have relevance today. It is also interesting to have a look at how technical advances have influenced photography practice, and what is considered “normal”.

Firstly a brief time line to give a framework for some of the observations that follow:


Early photographers photographed landscape because that was where the light was – exposures of hours were sometimes required, but gradually light-sensitive chemistry and the physics of camera and lens design improved. Early photographers had to work to get their images, so there was some consternation when Kodak releases its first “consumer” camera that brought image-making to the masses. Does this sound familiar? It only took 100 or so years for history to repeat itself with the cell phone.

Slide3Before photography, landscape painting was a popular genre (the word “landscape” is derived from the dutch “landschap” – landscape painting was important in the dutch painting traditions). Above, a famous painting by an English artist shows some of the characteristics of painted landscapes that had an important influence on early landscape photography, namely the soft and dreamy mood and the carefully constructed composition that sometimes included reference to the antiquities.

Slide4 The Pictorialist style was practiced world-wide. Some of the best-known Australian pictorialists were Frank Hurley ( and Olive Cotton (By Olive Cotton – Tea cup ballet at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Public Domain,


In response to this use of photography to emulate something else (painting), some photographers sought to practice photography as an art in its own rightSlide8

The group’s name, f/64, was a reference to the small apertures used to create images of the landscape that were sharp throughout. Famous members of the group were Ansel Adams and Edward Weston. Sonya Noskowiak was one of the now lesser-known members of the group.


The F/64 group was successful and highly influential. Alfred Stieglitz also worked hard in the early stages in the development and recognition of photography as an art form.


Widely regarded as the father of colour landscape photography, Eliot Porter was friend of Stieglitz and his wife Georgia O’Keefe. His colour work is characterised by soft and muted colours. He published a significant body of work including several books over his lifetime.


The photobooks published by the Sierra club were highly influential and succeeded in halting the construction of two dams that would have flooded the Grand Canyon. They were not able to stop the construction of Glen Canyon dam, so today Glen Canyon is flooded by Lake Powell.

Slide13Philip Hyde was a student of Ansell Adams and a major photographer for the Sierra Club. His images are characterised by strong and vivid colours. However, note that his images are also strong compositions. It is easy to be seduced by colour in the landscape, but usually colour alone does not make a strong image.

While learning the techniques for creating images that please you I suggest that you also ask yourself why you are photographing. If you consider what you are aiming for, your images will probably be better for it. Approaches that inspired earlier photographers may also be relevant today.













Developing a Program for the Year

I find that it can be a bit of a challenge to come up with a program for our photographic society. This is my third year of doing it, so I have developed a formula that seems to work okay. It will soon be time for me to hand over the task to some new talent, though!!

In order to have a coherent program, we have our activities organised around monthly themes. Set Topics for the monthly competitions are tied in to the themes. There are a few constraints in the program, such as the AGM on the first Tuesday in March, our portfolio competitions that currently don’t have Set Topics, and our end-of-year celebration.

We usually hold a Workshop in about August where members are invited to provide comment about the current program and suggestions for the upcoming program. Below is a summary of the workshop we have just held to review the 2015 program and to develop the 2016 program.

If you want to jump to the chase and have a look at the draft program, click on the link below. Please note that this program is a draft only and we welcome feedback and suggestions. Just reply to this blog post if you would like to make a comment.

This year there are a few innovations: – the main one being the introduction of the concept of “Open Studios”. For this to work, members volunteer to host a small group, either in their studios (hence the name) or in any other agreed venue, to teach a particular skill or to demonstrate a particular technique. This could be related to a camera (for example mirrorless camera users could get together to discuss the best ways to use their kit), post-processing or anything that comes to mind. I have put a few suggestions into the program that relate to the monthly themes.

If you would like to participate in “Open Studios”, please just email me at

At this year’s workshop, held on 18th August, member input into the design of the monthly competitions was also sought.

Here is a summary of some of the issues that were raised. If you would like to add your input please respond by commenting on this blog or sending an email to


There was general strong support for the “Monthly Theme” concept that forms the framework for the program.

When asked what aspects of the program people liked most, Excursions were mentioned by several and the Weekend Workshop at the coast was also mentioned as a popular and worthwhile activity. There were requests for more of this type of activity for the general membership (Weekend Workshops held so far have targeted new and less experienced members).

In response to previous requests for more educational activities regarding camera use and post-processing, the suggestion of “Open Studios,” where members volunteer to host small groups either in their homes or in public places, was supported.

Handling of the CPS Image Gallery.

Members would like to see images currently on the CPS Gallery on Coppermine retained for posterity, but it was agreed that they don’t need to be kept online and should be backed up on a suitable medium and retained.

Members supported maintaining Gallery 9 images and the Portfolio Competition Galleries in an online gallery.

Competitions Format

There was strong support for retaining A and B grades and for having scoring on all images submitted. There was no support for allowing images to be submitted “not for scoring”. It was felt that the Workshops provided an opportunity for members to seek feedback on experimental work and for new members to “test the waters” before venturing into entering the competitions.

There was no support for allowing members to submit images taken by other photographers, such as scanned photographs from family archives. Members present felt that competition entries should be restricted to entrants’ own work (including scanned versions of the members’ own images).

There was support for relaxing the current restrictions on image size and support for specifically recognising multi-image entries. It was noted that there are practical constraints regarding what can be displayed so it was acknowledged that it would be up to the photographer to take into account the constraints of the viewing system. Constraints for competitions where a judge prejudged work (Hedda Morrison Portfolio Competition and Image of the Year competitions) would be retained for practical reasons. Again it was felt that the workshops provided an outlet for more outrageously exploratory work (such as really long panoramas or other large works).

There was support for reinstating viewing of the prints on the wall rather than on tables. It was recognised that any viewing system is a compromise and that lighting will become an issue that will need to be addressed for wall-displayed prints.

It was suggested that prints be displayed first on competition nights and this was supported.

There was recognition of the importance of prints, but some members expressed the view that the medium of the print was not accessible to them because of difficulty in accessing printing facilities, costs associated with both printing and matting and storage issues.

There was a suggestion that members who enter prints into competition be required to upload a digital version of their images to the CPS gallery before competition night. This would facilitate display of winning images in Gallery 9, on the website and in Capital Image and ensure that both digital and print entrants had to plan ahead. It would also make it easier to make digital versions of entries available for viewing on different devices during the competitions if this option were pursued. The requirement for concurrent entry of digital versions of both print and projected images was supported.

There was a suggestion that we consider a tablet for the judge to use when viewing images to overcome shortcomings of the digital projector. There was also some discussion around mechanisms for having images available for viewing on other devices during the competition judging.

There was a request, supported by others, that we reinstate having judge commentary on all images submitted for the Image of the Year competitions. It was recognised that this would have to be brief as the evening usually has a full program.

There was a suggestion that we introduce a Set Topic for the Portfolio competitions.

There was support for continuing with having one competition a year where the Set Topic is compulsory. It was felt that this Set Topic should feature a local environment or abstract theme.

There was a request for more abstract and thought-provoking Set Topics.

Helen McFadden

Program Coordinator and Review Workshop Convenor