Associate Distinction Society of International Nature & Wildlife Photographers (ASINWP) / by Geoff McGrath

 Carlingford Lough - One of the images from Geoff's successful Associate Panel submission.

Carlingford Lough - One of the images from Geoff's successful Associate Panel submission.

Some of you who have been reading my blog will know something of the journey I’ve been on as a photographer this past few years.  Just last year, I completed my HND in Photography gaining a distinction from Southern Regional College.

 

While I am pleased to have achieved the Diploma, there tend to be various opinions among photographers as to the validity of such academic qualifications when measured against the rigors of actually working within the industry. For this reason I decided to continue with what had been in my mind for some time…. to become a qualified member of a photographic society.

 

To this end, over the past year or so, I have been taking advantage of The Societies “Mentor Me” program which exists to help photographers work towards gaining distinctions and this past summer I met with Phil Jones and Podge Kelly to discuss my work.

 

I had been hoping my work might be good enough for the Licentiateship Distinction. To read about the various distinctions available to members, click here. Imagine my joy when I was told I was wasting my time! But in a good way, because the felt that my work would be at a much higher standard. All that needed to be done, was to assemble a cohesive panel of images and then submit them for judging with a view to an Associateship!

 

I am very pleased to be able to announce that as of the 11th February, I am now an Associate Member of the Society of International Nature & Wildlife Photographers!!

 

 

 

 The beautiful Slemish mountain where Saint Patrick often roamed while tending sheep.  This is another iconic image from Geoff's successful Associate Panel submission.

The beautiful Slemish mountain where Saint Patrick often roamed while tending sheep.  This is another iconic image from Geoff's successful Associate Panel submission.

 

It was quite difficult to compile a panel of 20 images. First of all there needed to be a theme, something cohesive that would pull the images all together. I might have to go out and reshoot some images or shoot some new ones. During the Mentoring, Phil emphasised that my compositional elements where very strong, especially the way that I used implied or real leading lines…. things that directed your eye around the image. Things such as the use of a fence or a road, or at times, evey the way that cloud formations led your eye. These were elements that I took into the selection process. I submitted a panel via the mentoring program again to see if I was on the right track and very quickly received feedback from the guys. One of the images wasn’t strong enough. I think I knew this myself and wasn’t surprised to hear it echoed in the mentoring team’s own comments. So… suddenly, I was at an impasse. I needed to find 1 more image that would balance the panel and make it complete.

 

So, some weeks past. I started to go down through my catalogue of 1000’s of images. I decided to leave no stone unturned as I knew I would find what I was looking for. I needed something that would convey the mystery of this beautiful island… something that would draw your eye into the scene and cause you to immerse yourself in the place… something like this….

 

 

 Upper Doolough Valley, Mayo – ASINWP Distinction Panel – Geoff McGrath.

Upper Doolough Valley, Mayo – ASINWP Distinction Panel – Geoff McGrath.

Over the past couple of years I’d become aware of the work of a fellow landscape photographer, Matt Klowskowski. I had tuned on one day to a tutorial he was doing on Creative Live on post-production in Lightroom. Now, I had never been able to get my head around working with Lightroom, being a Photoshop-freak but the way that Matt explained things… I honestly have to say, it totally changed my life. His simple workflows and explanations made sense to me and I could see a way that I could enhance my images without making them look “OVER-PROCESSED.” There are photographers whose work tends to look a bit OTT (Over the top) and I didn’t want to be one of those. I wanted to show the natural beauty of this island

 

And so it was that after literally weeks of digging and searching, processing and deleting I found an image that I felt fit beautifully into the panel.

 

 

 Warren Road, Donaghadee – ASINWP Distinction Panel – Geoff McGrath.   

Warren Road, Donaghadee – ASINWP Distinction Panel – Geoff McGrath.

 

I was so pleased with this final image, as I had written it off years ago. At that time, my understanding of image processing was very basic, but for me, this vindicates completely never deleting images we think are no good. I just didn’t know what to do with it at the time. I hear photographers who are constantly deleting their old unworked images. Sure, if you have no room I suppose that’s understandable.

 

The weather has started to pick up again to the way it was when I photographed this scene and I think this week I’ll be back out there again, seeking a fresh view of this beautiful scenary right on my doorstep.

 

I’ve received some lovely comments from people but one of the nicest was from a lady who told me, “Geoff seeing your work and how you struggle at times to capture the image that pleases you really has inspired me to pick up my camera again and get back out there.” Its too easy to just give up and settle. Of late I’ve been taking a break from landscapes due to some health issues and doing some ‘interesting’ portrait work with the likes of Spiderman, Batman and a few judges from Mega-City One (I might do a blog post about some of that soon, but its been getting some great reviews too), but I’m hoping to get back out soon shooting this beautiful wild stormy Ireland, with its crashing waves, grey mists and moody skies.

Here’s my COMPLETE panel of 20 images on the SINWP Website!!.