Wednesday, 26 October 2016

FfotoAber Photo Marathon

I've never done one of these Photo Marathons before. I'm a plodding sort of person. I like to wander, with my camera, taking my time to shoot what it occurs to me to shoot, as and when images unfold in front of me. I see what I see and photograph accordingly. I love taking candid images around town, or, sitting and waiting for the light to change in a landscape out in the hills. I've done photo a day challenges, sometimes for a couple of consecutive years, but without any thematic structure, leaving me free to choose my subjects, or, more frequently, my subjects to choose me. This has its difficulties too, but I always came up with something, sometimes spending hours over any one image. So working with themes, within a fairly tight time frame, is not something I would normally choose to do. But it's good to challenge yourself from time to time, and step out of your comfort zone, so this year I signed up for the Ffoto Aber event in Aberystwyth. These events have been running for some years now, and seem to be increasing in popularity. Six photos in six hours, two themes being handed out every two hours.

 A small crowd set off from The Morlan Centre as soon as we had the first two themes - The Other Side and Four. I strode confidently off into town, with that "how difficult can it be?" attitude. I thought I could easily think "outside the box", and come up with some fantastically original interpretation in the time allotted. Then my brain froze. Time seemed to speed up, and a slight panic set in.

"The Other Side"
I also thought about a gravestone, a shot over a wall or from the inside of a shop window, but somehow ran out of time before moving on to the next image...


Part of my problem was that I kept getting distracted by all the things I wanted to photograph, rather than concentrating on what I had to take! I felt like a child whose mind keeps wandering, going off at tangents, rather than putting their efforts into the homework that has to be finished on time. Only this wasn't just about simply handing in the homework on time, there were no simple "right" answers, and the results had to look good. My inability to come up with the ideas and produce images I was really happy with, was both frustrating and somewhat humbling.

I tried not to head straight down the butchers where a lot of people went, although, in fact, the winner in this category was a shot of raw meat.


 I was pleased that I completed the challenge. I can't say that I was really happy with the images I produced, and I was exhausted by the end of the day, but I think I learned a few things. I learned that, in a situation like this, I tend to overthink things. Also, on the technical side, I came to realise how much I rely on a certain degree of post-processing. Not being able to make various little adjustments once the shot was taken really added to the challenge. Normally I tend to work with black and white, but for the sake of consistency, I decided to shoot entirely in colour. I guessed, based on what I'd seen from previous events, that one of the themes would be a colour, and I really didn't want to give myself the added challenge of interpreting a colour theme in monochrome! Maybe next time.

Probably my most literal, obvious, and badly composed shot!

All in all, a very challenging, but enjoyable day for most people, I think.  The results are fantastic to look at. There are similarities in many images, as you would expect, but also great diversity in style and content - see them on Ffoto Aber's Facebook page.

I must put in a good word for the organisers, a dedicated bunch who work hard to make this event a reality year after year. There was slight chaos when it came to downloading everyones photos, understandable under the circumstances, but over all, a well run event bringing people of all ages and abilities together. You might just see me there next year.

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