There used to be regular Photo Industry shows in Sydney but, alas, they stopped a few years ago. I do not know why, but I suspect expense was at the root of the problem. The last show I attended was probably ten years ago.
At that event, as well as all the usual gear displays, there were photo exhibitions. These were fascinating for me and included a display of pictures from Chinese camera clubs.
At the time, I was struck by the fact that almost every photo was heavily post processed. Indeed, many of the prints looked more like illustrations than photos. Maybe was the fashion in Chinese photography at the time, but I most definitely did not like the end results. As I left the show I made a mental note for myself never to produce photos that looked like those. Never say never.
Fast forward to October 2015 when I went to the annual Chromefest Hot Rod show at The Entrance, a town a few kilometres north of where I live in Terrigal, NSW. Now, this sounds an odd name for a town, but it is actually a rather logical moniker because the place is located at the entrance of Tuggerah Lake, one of a number of large lakes on the Central Coast of New South Wales, Australia.
The earliest pioneers in the region were short of ideas to name the location — they could have been the same people who came up with New South Wales — so they plumped for the descriptive term “The Entrance” and so that is the name today. There is a small settlement on the north side of the water and calling it The North Entrance did not work for them, so it is called The Entrance North. Maybe a Frenchman or Frenchwoman pioneer was involved in that decision.
Now I usually come away from the hot rod shows slightly disappointed with the photos I have managed to take. The 2015 event was no exception. But as I was leaving the main show area I spotted three ladies in “rock ’n roll” costumes crossing the car park. Having abandoned my shy and retiring demeanour many years previously, I had no hesitation in asking them if I could grab a shot and then I spent a little time marshalling them into where I wanted to show them to best advantage.
When I downloaded the photo later that day, although it was technically good, I felt that it could do with more impact. I tried lifting it with various adjustments in Lightroom but was not satisfied with the result. I slept on the problem and I suddenly thought about those Chinese exhibition prints. In an eureka moment I decided to go over the top and maximise the bling. I massaged the photo in Lightroom then ran it through Nik Color Efex Pro4 and Nik HDR. The end result is above. At the time I just thought that it was a bit of fun, but it certainly wasn’t the sort of photography I would normally do. My Color Efex and HDR have had very little use over the years.
Six months later, the local council where The Entrance is located ran a photo competition and one of the classes was “Local Events”. Well, Chromefest is a local event so I entered the Hot Rod Girls really as a joke. Surprise, surprise it was selected as a finalist from a large entry. This meant I had to organise a large mounted print for display in the local council gallery. It did not win a prize but it did stand out among the other entries.
Last week I had an idea to test Hot Rod Girls again — this time in the LFI Gallery. Another surprise: it was selected as a Master Shot — the highest recognition category. Maybe those Chinese photographers knew what they were doing, although I cannot see myself indulging in more of this sort of photography in the future. But never say never.