Tag Archives: learning

Results – August 2017

The August 2017 Member Competition was open themed and judged by Amy Cooper.

To enter future photo club competitions, please join and then submit your images. If it’s your first time submitting, please be sure to review the competition rules.

Class 1

There were 30 Class 1 submissions with 7 awards (1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4 honorable mentions).

1st – Woman of Dusk by Hannah Leblanc

Woman of Dusk by Hannah Leblanc

2nd – Bird on the Water by Anthony Charles

Bird on the Water by Anthony Charles

3rd – Rocking Rooster by Anthony Charles

Rocking Rooster by Anthony Charles

Honorable Mention – Overlook by Patti Mitchell

Overlook by Patti Mitchell

Honorable Mention – Flap by Patti Mitchell

Flap by Patti Mitchell

Honorable Mention – Ready for the Rain by Michele Johnson

Ready for the Rain by Michele Johnson

Honorable Mention – Punks on Parade by Brian Nixon

Punks On Parade by Brian Nixon

Class 2

There were 18 Class 2 submissions with 4 awards (1st, 2nd, 3rd, and honorable mention).

1st – Gary by Russ Morris

Gary by Russ Morris

2nd – My Favorite Tabby by Kimberly Fore

My Favorite Tabby by Kimberly Fore

3rd – They Get Around by Joshua Guenther

They Get Around by Joshua Guenther

Honorable Mention – Tiny white flowers by Russ Morris

Tiny white flowers by Russ Morris


NAPƒS Membership

NAPƒS Membership

We’re a few weeks from halfway through 2017 and we’re up to 55 official members. That means we still need 45 folks to join up before year’s end to reach our goal of 100 NAPƒS members.

We’ve had really great speakers in the past year, local experts like Randy Kerr, Chris Sherman, Amy Jasek, and George Brainard plus member presentations from awesome, talented folks like Chris Cina and Bill Bunton. Not to mention the extremely informative Copyright/Contracts presentation by Eleanor Ruffner and Natalie Lynch just last week!

We have excellent speakers lined up in the months ahead, and we’re already getting our 2018 schedule in order.

It’s so cool that you’ve pitched in, not only by joining, but with your participation in the monthly member print exhibition, the quarterly field trips, and my favorite activity, the monthly photo competition. Thank you.

Now it’s time to step it up. If you know anyone that has as much fun with photography as we do, invite them to one of the 5 remaining 2017 meetings and encourage them to join and participate.

Let’s hit that 100 member goal!

Meeting – Thursday April 6, 2017

Rogelio and Jeannie by George Brainard

The fourth NAPƒS meeting of 2017 will be held Thursday, April 6 starting at 7PM.

The meeting location is United Christian Church at 3500 West Parmer Lane, Austin, Tx. 78727 – MAP


7:00-7:15PM Meet & Greet, Member Print Exhibition
7:15-7:30PM Open meeting, Member Print Exhibition Q&A
7:30-9:00PM Presentation, Competition

Member Print Exhibition

During the Meet & Greet, Cynthia Stein will exhibit a selection of her printed photographs. Once the meeting starts, Cynthia will speak for a few minutes about her work and answer any questions.

Monthly Competition

Submission Deadline: Midnight, Saturday, April 1, 2017

April’s competition is open themed and will be judged by George Brainard, our April speaker.

Submissions are divided into two classes and each club member is free to choose which class to enter. For more info, read this post about classes.

The monthly NAPƒS competition is meant to be fun, inspirational, and educational. The judging and associated critiques are positive, supportive, and a useful learning tool.

A reminder – you must join NAPƒS to take part in 2017 competitions. The cost of membership is only $24 and your annual contribution is used 100% in support of club operations and activities.

Read the rules, then submit your competition images!

Speaker – George Brainard

George BrainardGeorge Brainard will give a presentation about his history, how he got his start in photography, and he’ll talk about the process of publishing a book.

About George Brainard

George Brainard is a sixth generation Texan whose photographs have appeared in The New York Times, Rolling Stone Magazine, The Times of London and numerous other magazines, business publications and advertisements. A former working musician, Brainard has shot more than 50 CD covers. He specializes in portraits of ordinary people who, at ease and in their element, display surprising uniqueness.

George’s first book of photography, “All Tore Up: Texas Hot Rod Portraits” was published by The University of Texas Press.

George will have copies of his book available for sale at the meeting.

Results – January 2017

Class 1

We had 20 Class 1 entries with 5 awards (1st, 2nd and 3rd, plus 2 honorable mentions).

1st – Forsaken by Joshua Guenther

Forsaken, Joshua Guenther

2nd – Skimmers take flight! by Dennis Eisenberg

Skimmers take flight!, Dennis Eisenberg

3rd – Leaf by Russ Morris

Leaf, Russ Morris

Honorable Mention – Hey, There by Vickie Flaugher

Hey, There, Vickie Flaugher

Honorable Mention – Super Moon by Shawn Hutcherson

Super Moon, Shawn Hutcherson

Class 2

We had 10 Class 2 entries with 2 awards (1st and 2nd).

1st – Screw by Bill Bunton

Screw, Bill Bunton

2nd – Turning In by Bill Bunton

Turning In, Bill Bunton

Results – November 2016

November’s competition was open (no theme). Our guest judges were Greg Burger & Robert Backman from Precision Camera.

Class 1

We had 17 Class 1 entries with 4 awards (1st, 2nd and 3rd, honorable mention).

1st – Ginger on Track by Brian Nixon


2nd – The Barber by Brian Nixon


3rd – Knock Out by Russ Morris


Honorable Mention – Rae by Malinda Baum

(did not grant permission to display on site)

Class 2

We had 8 Class 2 entries with 2 awards (1st and 2nd).

1st – Moon Light Canyon by Andrew Fritz


2nd – Shirley by Joshua Guenther


Meeting: Thursday, Feb 4th 2016

NAPfS’s February 2016 meeting will be held on Feb 4th, 2016 starting at 7PM. The club meets at Lone Oak Barn in Round Rock.

The meeting schedule is:

7:00PM – Meet and Greet
7:30PM – Monthly Competition
8:00PM – Member Presentation

If you can’t arrive at 7, don’t sweat it. The competition doesn’t start until 7:30PM and the speaker doesn’t start until 8:00PM.

Monthly Competition

This month’s competition is Oldies Night with an open theme. Images of any age (not just from the last 2 years) are allowed. Image submission will open on 1/26/2016 and close on 2/2/2016 at midnight. Club member Andrew Fritz will be judging.

Participants will be divided into two classes. Each club member will choose which class to enter. For more information, see this post.

Submit your competition images here.

Speaker – Emily Crowell-Stevens

About Emily

DSC_5166Emily Crowell-Stevens is exited to be sharing with us about her summer 2015 travels at the February meeting. She is studying mechanical engineering at The University of Texas and is a photography director for the engineering magazine Vector. Being technically-minded, yet also creative, she gravitated towards photography, where the two skill sets can be applied. Over the past year, she has been exploring astrophotography and learning to manipulate lighting in her photographs. To see her travel blog go to www.emilycrowell.wordpress.com and for more of her work visit www.emilymariephotography.org.

Two Months and Eleven Countries: Photos of Europe

This February we will hear from our own NAPfS member, Emily Crowell-Stevens, about her summer adventure traveling to 11 countries over a span of two months. Join us as she shares her photographs from the unique places visited. She will be discussing the excitements and challenges she faced in photographing her trip.

DSC_0651-3 DSC_0761-2 DSC_8459

Competition Changes – Introducing Classes

NAPfS is an inclusive club with members of a wide range of skill levels.

Competitions required a minimum number of entries to be successful so we started in a single large group. However, that single group has as wide a range of skill levels. By separating the competition in to skill based classes, everyone is on a more level playing field. The judge is able to provide more useful critiques to those in each class. Each class is more internally competitive. Competitions are more educational and inspirational.

In February, club members will be able to self select the class they compete in from two options. Everyone will hopefully be competing with peers closer to their own image making skill level.

The Classes

Naming the classes is something I agonized about quite a bit. Names have power.

Everyone starts somewhere. Everyone advances at a different speed. We all have different amounts of time, mental energy and money to devote to photography and that makes a difference.

The classes are not about the length of time you’ve been a photographer.

The classes are not professional vs amateur. Earning money or doing it purely for the love of it has very little to do with skill and quality of the resulting images.

Being in one class vs another is not a sign of status.

Which class a photographer belongs in is their decision based on their self perceived experience level and skills. Below are guidelines relative to the photographers main focus when they make images. Hopefully everyone feels comfortable picking a class for themselves. If you are unsure, feel free to ask me (competition@napfs.club) and we will determine the appropriate class for maximum learning and fun.

Class 1 vs Class 2

Class 1 is for photographers that are focusing primarily on getting the technical pieces of a photo to come together. They may have a vision but still need to consciously focus on the nuts and bolts of making the photo: focus length, focus point, exposure, exposure settings or post processing. A class 1 photographer will find, however good their vision that they sometimes struggle to realize it due to technical limitations such as improper exposure, missed focus, less than ideal composition, not being sure what focus length to use or how to achieve an interesting perspective. Technical details like focus, exposure and framing will often be the key to separating images that receive and award from those that do not.

In class 2, photographers have a solid handle on fundamental technical elements of their photography. Achieving sharp (or otherwise vision appropriate) focus and proper exposure happen subconsciously. Critiques in class 2 should focus on the impact of the image. Images in class 2 should generally be free of straight forward technical mistakes (e.g. missed focus) but class 2 photographers break “rules” relative to technical details and have learned to do it in a way that works. The judge should be able to focus on the message the image presents, how it speaks to them and how compelling the photo is in general.


Obviously class 1 and class 2 overlap in many ways. Just because someone is very comfortable with the technical aspects of one type of photography (say landscape) doesn’t mean they will be as comfortable in another (say studio photography). The decision to choose class 1 vs class 2 is about general comfort level and about receiving meaningful critiques. Great photos in either class will be recognized. And a photo with high impact that is missing some technical aspects (see the example below) could win in either class. Winning in class 2 is not better or worse than winning in class 1. A great photo is a great photo.

Example 1 – Flawed but Good

Honor Flight by Andrew Fritz

Honor Flight by Andrew Fritz, Honorable Mention, Jan 2016

This image is an example of a photo by a class 2 photographer (me). It is far from technically perfect and I realized that when I submitted it. I was on location shooting as a photojournalist with not ability to control things like the crowd or lighting. Despite the flaws: busy background, distractions on the frame edge and overexposed foreground soldiers, this image has extremely high impact.

The subject, the WWII veteran, is dead center, in sharp focus and properly exposed. Shallow depth of field helps isolate him somewhat. There is no glaring technical flaw with the subject and that is what matters in this case. Many viewers feel strongly engaged with him and his expression, his rheumy but intense eyes are powerful. The photographer (me) positioned himself to be directly in the subjects gaze. Regardless of intention, the photo is as it is: the veteran stares directly through the soldiers into the camera.

The judge, while pointing out technical flaw, choked up. I (as the photographer) have the same reaction and can not stop looking into the vet’s eyes. After I lock eyes with him, I’m literally unable to see anything else in the photo without a head shake. The technical problems, if not irrelevant, fade to trivial. A class 2 photographer sets out to make images like this and recognizes the result’s impact despite the flaws. They are willing to present it but not another superficially similar image lacking the key element: the subjects engagement.

Example 2 – No Margin

Joshua Baker - Najatt in Gold

Najatt in Gold by Joshua Baker, 2nd Place, Jan 2016

This image is an example of an exercise in technical perfection. Pose, framing, lighting and exposure all had to be nearly perfect for this image to work at all. If any one element was less than perfect, the image would fail despite no easily identifiable technical mistake.

While this type of image looks simple, it is an all or nothing proposition. It requires a diverse skill set to consistently execute. While a class 1 photographer could attempt and even succeed at this image, a class 2 photographer can confidently attempt images like this knowing they have a fair chance of success, and knowing they can determine the successes from the failures. The hard part of this image for a class 2 photographer is coming up with the vision and realizing the elements in the photo (makeup, model, pose) to fulfill that vision.

Like the previous example, the class 2 photographer recognizes this image as the best from probably 10s or 100s of similar images that all different slightly in pose, framing and lighting.

Example 3 – Time is Not the Issue

Travis Johnson - Proud Fella

Proud Fella by Travis Johnson, 3rd Place, Jan 2016

This image, by Travis Johnson, is an example of a great image from a fairly new photographer. I suspect that Travis belongs in class 2 despite being active at photography for less than a year. As noted above, we all learn at different rates for many reasons. Class 1 vs class 2 is not about how long you’ve been a photographer.

Wildlife photography can seem accidental to many, but to consistently produce great results requires great technical skill, persistence and frankly luck (the sort you make yourself by missing sleep). Working with animals in the wild (whether in Africa or your back yard) is probably one of the least controlled situations possible. Where Josh had absolute control over the environment, model, lighting, room temp, camera position, food supply and just about every other variable in his photo above, Travis (and any other wildlife photographer) has almost none.

The light is what you find. If you want something else you have to wait for the weather to change or come back at a different time of day. The background is also out of direct control normally. If you don’t like it you have to move somewhere else. The behavior of your subject is (nearly) totally out of your control. You can’t ask the lizard to do anything. Even approaching this close often results in your subject running away.

So, when a photographer nails the technical aspects, not easy given the lack of control and especially the close focus distance and long focus length this image used, and manages to grab a great expression with clean backgrounds, the image is good. Whether it receives an award will depend on how the judge feels about it and what it is competing against.

The key to whether Travis should place himself in class 1 or class 2 is really about his own knowledge. If he made this image intentionally, finding (or recognizing after the fact) a clean non-distracting background, and releasing the shutter at the right moment (or again, recognizing it after the fact), then I’d suggest he is a good candidate for class 2.  Of course, it is his call.