Assignment #10 (100th Show!) (Podcast 100)

Summer of '03 - Gion Matsuri #8

Assignment #10 (100th Show!) (Podcast 100)

Well, its official — this is our 100th episode! Bear with me while we work through a much longer than usual intro, but this is amazing! Thanks so much for the messages Forrest, Keith and Phil. I really appreciate that. I haven’t really prepared anything special for the 100th show, but I just wanted to reflect on a few things that have stuck out in my mind while thinking about reaching the 100th episode. In preparation to start the Martin Bailey Photography Podcast almost two years ago, the first thing I did was create a new database table with fields to add the details for the Podcast feed, and I recall thinking about how many digits to assign to the episode number field. If I assigned two digits, I’d be able to go to episode 99, but if I assigned three digits, we could break through 100 and go on to 999 episodes. There was no doubt in my mind that we would not make 999 episodes, but there was also no doubt in my mind that if this took off to any degree, I would at least be doing more than 100 episodes. I chose 3 digits, based on that confidence. Looking back though, at how much time and effort I’ve put into this, I’m going to give myself a big pat on the back for getting this far.

I can’t go any further congratulating myself though, without saying thanks so much to all of you that have listened, some of you from the very start. Without your involvement and support, none of this would be worth doing, so I want to thank you all from the bottom on my heart for hanging around. I do of course continue to pick up new users all the time, and I’d like to say thanks to any new listeners too, and let you know that I appreciate you coming on board too. I have often received mail from new listeners telling me that you downloaded and listened to all the archives in like a month or something. This is truly amazing too. I have to tell you, I have total admiration for anyone that can stand listening for like 50 hours or so of me talking in just one or two months.

I received a mail last week from Eric Lawson, who says “Martin, thanks for maintaining all your back issues of podcasts for your listeners. That is not always the case in other shows. I am up to #60 so far and value the information greatly. I have learned more from your site & podcasts than any other single source!” Thanks so much for the mail Eric. I’m mentioning this here for two reasons. Firstly, because it appears there may have been a mistake in your email address, as the CC that you should receive when contacting me bounced, as well as my reply to your mail, so I’m replying here now. The other reason is that I want to share my reply with everyone while I’m reflecting on the Podcast here, because this was another conscious decision when I set up the feed two years ago. I personally don’t like to see Podcasts that only publish the last 10 or 20 episodes in iTunes. Most of course make their archives available for download from their Web sites, but it’s a pain to grab them for most people, and I really didn’t want to force my listener’s to do that, so from the start I decided I would not cap the number of episodes that I make available in iTunes. This does of course mean that I have to have a file server capable of handling all the archive downloads.

This is another thing that has changed, that might not be obvious. To keep the archives available and to keep the martinbaileyphotography.com and mbpgalleries.com Web sites running smoothly has taken not just a lot of time, but a fair amount of money too. I have had to rent two dedicated server machines to keep up with all of this, which has just cost me $1,680 for the next twelve months rent. I have always maintained that the Podcast will remain free, but if you feel that you’d like to help with this, buying a print from my Online Gallery is always a great way to support an artist, and there’s a donation button on the Podcast page at martinbaileyphotography.com if you simply couldn’t bear to own one of my prints. No obligation of course. I love you all just as much if you don’t buy a print or make a donation.

You have all of course already contributed in some way. The interest in my work has grown tremendously over the last few years, and print sales are slowly picking up. Thanks to all of you that have already supported me by buying prints, or better still just bought one because you liked it, as I know is usually the case. The forum has transformed too over the last few years, as the Podcast attracted more than 800 members, which continues to grow each week, and you remain incredibly civil and professional in the way you interact. One member recently commented how they felt safe to ask fundamental questions without fear of being made to look stupid. This is so true. We have created an environment where any level of photographer can interact without fear of ridicule, and there are so many incredibly highly skilled photographers involved that patiently take the time to answer these questions. Of course, the more highly skilled members also gain from the experience. I know that it really helps to arrange what I know about photography to relay it to you in the Podcast each week, so I’m sure it also helps the more advanced or professional forum members to do the same. The other thing that really helps is that we all know how difficult it was when we first started to gather the information we now know, and none of us are under the illusion that we know everything, and continuing to learn from others is something that won’t stop, just because we’re getting relatively good results in our photography.

I’m going on a little bit here, but bear with me a little more as I mention one other thing that was discussed in the forum recently. Robin Kelly from the UK was kind enough to start a thread called “What’s Next?” In this thread Robin threw out some of his ideas as to what we might see from the Martin Bailey Photography Podcast in the future, now that we’re going past the 100 episode mark. That thread has grown with ideas from other members, and I’m definitely going to implement some of these ideas. I have been hoping to start doing interviews of people to cover areas that I’m not so hot on for a while, and never really got around to it, but as I mentioned earlier, we can all learn from others, even on areas that we think we have down, so the first idea I’ll act on is a kind of MBP Roundtable, perhaps similar to the Photocast Network’s Focus Ring Podcast that I sometimes join. We’ll get a few of the members from the MBP community on Skype and record our conversation, and I’ll release that as an episode. There’ll also probably be episodes where I just speak to one member that has a lot to say on any particular subject.

Another thing, again increasing the interactivity is I’m going to start and interview members about their shots in the Members’ Galleries Web site. There is a huge amount of talent posting shots there, and time often keeps me from really getting involved, but I do try to at least keep an eye on what’s getting uploaded and to be honest, a lot of it just blows me away. Long time member Marisa has been prompting me to start and do something like this for a while, but I’d not really thought about doing this interactively, usually shying away from talking about others’ shots, because I’m not that good at critiquing. The interactive nature of this type of Podcast and the roundtable type Podcast would really make it a lot of fun though, so I’m definitely going to start doing this too. There are some other great ideas in that thread, which I’ll also work into the show soon, so stay tuned for all of these new changes. Thanks to Robin for starting that thread, and for all of those that have provided such great ideas as a follow up.

The last thing that I wanted to mention is that Robin speculated that I might go out with a bang, but I can assure you, unless something totally unforeseen happens, I am not going anywhere. I can’t see me doing this forever, but I definitely have no plans to stop anytime soon. Why would I stop, now that I’ve made so many new friends!

So, with that incredibly long introduction finished, let’s take a look at the winners for the 9th MBP Assignment, and talk about the next assignment which starts today. Firstly, as usual, I’ll announce the winners of the last Assignment, which was on Movement.

In third place is boab, real name Robert, with “What a Rush!” This is image m6058. I’ll put a link to the scores page in the show-notes, which is where you can see the winners and the accumulated scores for the yearly grand prize. I guess it’s not so important for members gallery images, but I’ve recently done a little work on my Web site, cleaning up the top page, and this has resulted in me moving the field to type the photo number into to jump to the image to the Podcast drop down menu. I’m not sure how many people actually use the number to jump to the shots, but you’ll need to roll your mouse over the Podcasts menu and then click the field at the bottom of the menu, then type in the number and hit enter or the button to the right of the field to jump to the shot. The good thing about having this in the site, apart from the fact that it enabled me to move if off the top page, is that this menu is available no matter where you are on the main site. Not so useful as I say on the members’ galleries site, as I don’t use this menu there, but for my own shots, if you usually follow along by punching in the number, you can just go to the menu and punch in the next one from the current image page.

What a Rush!

What a Rush!

Anyway, in Robert’s image, which once again is number m6058, we can see a couple of guys on a roller coaster, and can see from the caption that this is actually Thunder Mountain at Disneyland, and the people in the photo are Robert’s cousin and his family. Congratulations Robert. This is a great photo. You really captured not only the movement, but the spirit of the moment, with the excited face of the man on the left, and the guy to the right laughing, forming a base for the image. Then, for me at least, my eye goes back to the youngster seen between the two men, with an excited yet somewhat apprehensive, maybe even a slightly scared look, and then the Mum and two more ladies behind them all with smiles on their face. Behind the roller coaster there is the track, kind of swooping out to the left top of the image, which really helps to lead us out of the back of the shot, but I seem then to get brought back in by the open free space that is suitable motion blurred down the left side and I start looking at the men’s faces again. It all just comes together really well from a composition perspective. Your decision to convert to black and white adding a kind of timely feel to image, was spot on too. Actually as there’s no EXIF data, this could actually have been shot with black and white film I guess. Either way, a great shot, and timeless image. Well done Robert.

Amusement Park Abstract

Amusement Park Abstract

In second place, keeping with the fairground theme, we have Super Digital Girl, real name Leslie Granda Hill, with “Amusement Park Abstract”, which is image m5836. Staying with the black and white theme too, this is another pretty timeless and very captivating image. From the caption we see that it is a Swinger ride shot handheld at night. From the EXIF data we can confirm that this was a two second exposure, and Leslie probably moved the camera around some during that time. The results is a beautiful array of lights in the form of the ride, that I seem to be able to trace around with my eye for quite a long time without getting bored. Had this not been converted to black and white it would probably have been very colourful, and have a totally different mood altogether. As it stands in black and white, all of the confusion that colour would add is gone, and you can really concentrate on the beautiful lines. So congratulations to Leslie too, for another great shot!

And in first place, congratulations to scuba66, real name Harry Stevens, with the image “Bug on the Water”, which is image number m5706. Not a black and white image, but very much a natural sepia toned image, with beautiful golden colours. At first, it was difficult to understand how Harry had made such fine ripples in the water, and I thought it was perhaps a very large bucket of water that had been hit or standing on a board or something that was in turn hit, to make these really shortwave ripples. Then as I read the title, it became obvious taht that is a bug there in the middle, probably either struggling to get out of the water, or have a damn good time washing in it, and that has caused all of the tiny ripples that Harry captured. I really like the tight crop removing everything else except the main part of the circle of ripples, and that golden lighting is really just exquisite. Well spotted, and well capture image Harry. Well done indeed.

Bug pn the water

Bug on the water

So Harry I’ll mail you shortly with instructions on how to select the image that you will receive an original print of my online gallery and get the details to me to get that out to you. Also we can see that the accumulated scores are now mounting up as we finish the second Assignment for the 2008 grand prize that will until around next May. I’ll put a link to the Scores page in the show-notes, but it’s also right there at the bottom of the Gallery menu at martinbaileyphotography.com if you are already at the site.

And moving on to the next assignment, I have to thank Landon, the patron saint of photography, for following up on a call for some Assignment ideas recently, as Landon started a thread with more ideas than you can shake a stick at. Thanks very much Landon, that was a huge help, and thanks to those that also followed up with your own ideas.

From the list, I’ve selected one that I will probably find the most challenging, as it takes me a little bit out of my comfort zone, and that is Documentary/Photojournalism. Now, my first reaction to this from an administration perspective was that I should modify the assignment gallery so that we could all upload up to 3 images to help us to tell a story more easily. Then I thought that this was a bit of a cop-out, because it would be even more difficult to tell a story with just one image. As usual, this assignment is going to be open to your own personal interpretation, and the voters will let you know if that interpretation was good or not, but when I think of documentary or photojournalism, I think about images that really tell me a story. It doesn’t have to be totally profound, or earth-shattering, though it would be pretty cool if you could come up with something like that, but I’m definitely hoping to see images that communicate to me.

"Bad" Signwriter

“Bad” Signwriter

Let’s take a quick look at a couple of examples from my gallery that come to mind when I think of images that I’ve already shot that might fit the bill. First, let’s look at image number 40, which was shot some six years ago in Kyoto. I was using a Canon Powershot S10 for this, which was my first digital camera. The reason this shot comes to mind, is because it portrays not only the craftsmen in his store, but also the modesty that even a businessman displays while doing his business in the historic city of Kyoto. The reason for this, is because the writing above the shop, which in Japanese is “heta na hyousatsuya”, translates as “A Bad Sign Writer”, with bad here meaning poor or not very good at. This sort of modesty or humbling of oneself was much more common in Japan years ago, but is being lost in many areas as Japanese businesses become take on more Western business practices. Japanese craftsmen are of course quite the opposite, being incredibly skilled and proud of their work, so I’ve no doubt that this guy is far from not very good at his trade. It was just nice to see this use of modesty still at use in modern society. And this is the story that I get from this shot. I can see a little bit of Japanese history and culture from one image.

Another of my own shots that springs to mind is one that I’ve mentioned before, because of the story it tells me, and that is image number 109. This was shot in 2003, and I actually titled it “Summer of ‘03”, because although there are no surrounding to tell me where these young girls are coming from or where they’re heading, I get a distinct feeling that they are making lasting memories. I’m sure we all have a few memories from hot summer days as kids when we got together with friends to go off and do something slightly different to our normal play, and these things really tend to stick in our memory. I may well be wrong, but I really feel that these five young ladies as they walk across the paved area up to the main temple at the Narita San temple complex in the Chiba Prefecture are having such a good time with each other, drinking their crushed ice drinks, chatting and pointing at stuff. This photo really kind of speaks to me, and gets me thinking of my own childhood as well as the Japanese culture, and it’s really this sort of thing that I think of when I think of documentary photography.

Summer of '03 - Gion Matsuri #8

Summer of ’03 – Gion Matsuri #8

Of course, there are many, many other types of documentary photos, and these are just a few of my own shots that I thought of in relation to this. As I say though, this is going to take me out of my comfort zone a little, so you can guess this is not a genre I shoot a lot. I can’t wait to see what you guys make of this, though, and I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into this myself too.

Remember that your images cannot be shot any earlier than today, which is August the 20th, 2007. Following lots of discussion among the members, the general idea is we don’t care what your motives were for shooting the image in the first place. This isn’t a competition as such, as though I do offer a prize for the winner. This is really to get you and me out shooting with an objective that makes us think and shoot a little differently to how we would otherwise. I give us a long time to get what we want, and this assignment is no exception. You will be able to upload your entries to the Assignment gallery on the mbpgalleries.com Web site until the end of Sunday, September the 30th, anywhere in the world. I’ll then turn on the voting system until the end of October the 14th and announced the winners on the next Podcast, probably released on the 15th of October. I’ll put a link to the assignment rules and guidelines into the show notes too. Please do check these before you start shooting, as it often breaks my heart to tell someone that there image is not eligible for one reason or another.

So that’s it for today. Sorry for the long intro, but I hope you can appreciate and join in my excitement on reaching 100 shows. This is really a great achievement, even though I say it myself. I feel I can say that though, as I could definitely not have done this without your continuous support. So give yourself a big pat on the back too. This has been a great day for me in many ways, and another that I’ll probably end up always remembering this day for is because today is the day that Canon announced the new flagship pro-body, which is the EOS 1Ds MarkIII. I’ve been speculating on what this camera will have for some time, and as we’ve seen the specs of the 1D Mark III revealed, stuck to my guns on some of the things that I’d really like this camera to have, and I have to say, Canon has pulled out all the stops, and put in everything I wanted and more. The most important for me was the five frames per second, and they did it, even though they will now have 21 megapixel images to push to the memory card. I’m not going to go into detail here, but I just wanted to say that my order is in, and you can expect a full review as soon as I take possession, which will probably be towards the end of this year, and you never know, possibly even the beginning of next year. I’m forth on the list at Map Camera in Shinjuku though, so I will hopefully be one of the first to receive mine, if Canon don’t supply all of the big name shops first.

And that’s it for this memorable episode and with that, I’ll say Good luck with the assignment, and you have a great week doing whatever you do. Bye-bye.


Show Notes

Note: Due to site changes, the scores page and forum are no longer available.

The music in this episode is from the PodShow Podsafe Music Network at http://music.podshow.com/


Audio

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Michael Rammell

Posted on behalf of Martin by Michael Rammell, a Wedding Photographer based in Berkshire, England. Michael also has a long-standing passion for Nature & Landscape photography. To catch up with Michael, visit his Web site, and follow him on the following social networking services.

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