Through the madness of 2020, I sought respite and solace in photography. Not actually taking photos - as that would have required being able to go outside or visit interesting places - but in articles, magazines, and photo books. In addition to being a distraction, I thought it would be one way of continuing my personal development.
As part of this, I thought that I would use the opportunity to find out more about larger photography competitions. I was already familiar with ones such as Landscape Photographer of the Year, but wanted to see what else there was.
This was not through some grandiose idea that any image I had taken to date would be good enough, but out of curiosity, as a source of inspiration and future motivation, and finally the knowledge that the simple act of trying, failing, and learning from my mistakes would help my development.
Even small items such as understanding minimum image size requirements are useful to be aware of in advance!
I entered a few photos into a variety of competitions in areas that interested me. One actually managed to get through the first round, being selected for a long-list of 1,000. It was an image taken at a Christmas market in Helsinki, entered into the UrbanDot single images category, for Street Photography. It's one of my personal favourites, so I've selected it as my second image to write about.
I like how this image makes me feel. Inside the stall is light, warm, cosy, colourful, soft. The outside - dark, cold, sterile - being pushed aside by this beacon in the night.
I like how the colours have come out here too. I find the images taken on this camera - the Ricoh GRIII - to be so rich, it's a pleasure to use.
I'm also grateful that it has a 24MP APS-C sensor, which allows for some decent cropping when needed. It's an 18mm lens (28mm equiv.), so with this image being a 50% crop I guess that means I'd have the same image with a 50mm lens on my main camera. Interesting to note anyway. I do think that I have a tendency to "see" the image in this way at the time, which means I need to force myself to get in closer than would otherwise feel right at the time (or switch to a 50mm!).
It's reassuring to see that I managed to exposure this scene correctly. The EXIF tells me this was taken 1/200 sec at f/2.8, ISO 320; taking advantage of the fast lens to get acceptable shutter speed and ISO - but digging deeper into the information (and my memory), I recall setting the camera to Tv mode, 1/200 sec dialled in, Auto ISO, and -3Ev correction, specifically to focus on the bright stalls.
It doesn't happen often, but every so often I manage to get the camera set up just right so that I can focus on taking images and not fussing with settings or regretting my settings later on. This was one of those times!
What do I take away from this image for next time?
If I'm going to use this camera, I have to learn to get in closer to the scene at the time; otherwise, perhaps a longer focal length would suit my eye better ...
And, the more I can nail getting the settings right in the camera first time, the more time I can spend enjoying taking photos (and hopefully the results)!