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.


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.

Clubmen Characters

Clubmen Characters

No, this is not an article about those odd people who frequent sporting or licensed clubs playing sports or the poker machines, propping up the bar or feeding in the bistro. It is actually about some of the men who have been members of the Canberra Photographic Society (CPS) over the years – some are still members. Yes, photographic clubs have clubmen characters too!

Take Murray for starters. Now there is a real character. Murray hails from New Zealand. That makes him different for a start. He used to own and use a CAP 40 colour print processor and go bushwalking with a view camera. When he was CPS President he used to deliver delightful Presidential reports at annual meetings whilst stroking his long beard. He wore John Lennon glasses when he lost his contact lenses. And took pictures with a Widelux. Definitely a character.

EPSON MFP imageMurray Foote

I think this image of Murray and all the others below were taken by either Alan Chapple or Jim Mason on one CPS meeting night. Jim is 90% sure they were all taken by Alan.

What about Orlando? We were amused when he first showed us a picture and told us the exposure time was “two cups of coffee”. Who else would put their camera on the still warm bonnet of their car to photograph a tree lit by a street light when the temperature was close to freezing? We used to wonder if he realised cameras worked by daylight too. He became a complete expert on night imagery, had a one man exhibition of night photos and could even make night shots look like they were taken in daylight. Another bearded character he was.

EPSON MFP imageOrlando Luminere

Keith was the one who was most likely to enter into debate with the judges. When you’ve been involved with photography as long as he had, why shouldn’t you take the judges to task? “I know Mr Kodak has made it possible to record every colour of the rainbow, but do we have to have them all in the one image?” Keith was a most suitable subject for photographic character studies – grey hair and beard, glasses, pipe smoker, and a well-rounded figure. A good place to capture him was at the arts and crafts market at Gorman house when he was selling his own black and white prints. There was no such thing as colour in Keith’s photographic world!

EPSON MFP imageKeith Bogg

Fred was another bespectacled and bearded character who had been around the game for a long time. He really liked to stir up judges too. Montages of numerous postcard-sized commercial prints joined together to create an overall impression of a place. Or why not a laser copy print rather than one produced using an enlarger? Anything for a stir.

EPSON MFP imageFred Doutch (I think that’s right)

Ian, on the other hand to Keith, was a colour worker only. Didn’t sport a beard either. Graduated tobacco filters warmed his cool skies. Speed filters made static objects move. Trees and people were known to grow during Ian’s exposures. Statues of athletes began to perform like the real persons they represented. Bold black shadows created patterns over colourful flower beds when Ian’s camera or enlargers worked their montage magic!

EPSON MFP imageIan McInnes

Maurie managed to capture his images in both colour and monochrome. He loved the high country, especially when it was covered by snow. And he didn’t mind whether it was in Australia, Switzerland, France or wherever. He loved it and that love showed in his photographs of it. Told us he was working on a ten year project to document the Kosciusko National park region in all of its seasons. Hoped to publish a book about it one day. Lectured for us occasionally – quite esoteric and moved well. Wore a beard too!

EPSON MFP imageMaurie Weidemann

Bob’s main claim to fame was that he was the shortest, bearded member of the club. In terms of physical height that is. For some curious reason he was also interested in the Society’s history and was able to provide, or extract, odd snippets of information from our archives from time to time. Bob didn’t take as many photos as some of us and the unkind were known to make sarcastic remarks when a placing in the monthly competition revealed his camera had been used.

EPSON MFP imageBob Legge

Denis was a lawyer so I must be very, very careful with what I say about him. He didn’t have a beard, loved cats, had raced bicycles and had a habit of putting captions under some of his prints. Once he even did a photo series illustrating the adventures of a toy exploring parts of Canberra. Reminds me a little of that other member who photographs a spoon in odd places. I hope I’ve avoided a lawsuit.

EPSON MFP imageDenis Jessop

Trevor was another member, with a touch of what one might call rotundity. He liked to photograph cars and planes. Fast cars, fast planes. On display and static. Or doing their thing. Trevor only ever sported a moustache. Does anyone remember his surname?

EPSON MFP imageTrevor

Colin was a dentist. Not that that has anything to do with his photography. Except that he had been known to photograph the shadows of his dental equipment on the wall of his surgery. Actually Colin was quite keen on photographing shadows generally. Perhaps it came from having x-rayed shadows in teeth? Another clean shaven member.

EPSON MFP imageColin Rickard

I could go on for ever. There was another Peter and a couple more Johns. There was Ross, Bruce, Brendan and yours truly. I don’t know all the names to go with the images, so if you can help with identifying someone please let me know.

EPSON MFP imagePeter Dawson

EPSON MFP imageJohn Coen

EPSON MFP imageJohn (Jack) Clarke

EPSON MFP imageRoss Yarnold?

EPSON MFP imageWho was this?

EPSON MFP imageAnd who was this?

EPSON MFP imageYours truly Brian Rope

As you can see all these men made quite good character studies when cameras are trained on them by other members. And, yes, I know we have women members too in the club – and none of them have beards. But, as they say, that’s