The Photography Show lights the way

The Photography Show recently showed there’s still a lot of life left in illustrated print books and was also a great example of just how a show should be run.

Big, hefty print books about Computing matters were reckoned to have gone the way of all flesh, replaced by websites, online videos and ebooks, but the book stall at the show was doing brisk business for titles covering Photoshop, Lightroom and all things photographic.

The long queues for lectures about using photo software at the Adobe Hall also paid testimony to the buoyant market for digital photography information.

Titles with a lot of illustration don’t display well on many e-readers and tablets and particularly on smartphones, so print definitely has its advantages in this sector.

Fixed-layout ebooks can get round the problem of legibility but this is at the cost of only being really suitable for reading on a certain type of device, usually a full-size iPad or similar-sized Android tablet.

It’s a dilemma that doesn’t look like being solved any time soon and highlights the fact that there’s a long way to go on developing ebooks.

The Photography Show 2015 in Birmingham in the UK was everything a great show should be — packed with stalls from retailers offering a range of special show bargains and manufacturers with their latest products, a massive range of interesting talks and some brilliant special features, including an indoor garden for flower photography.

I always find photographers to be a cheerful, optimistic bunch of folk and photo shows must be one of the few events in the world where everyone is encouraged to bring in a big, bulging shoulder bag containing all sorts of camera equipment. Most of them seemed to be adding to their bags during the day as there were some fantastic bargains to be had at the retailers’ stands.

I only attended the four-day show on one day but I will be going next year on at least two days if they have anything like the array of speakers they had this year.

It was a fantastic line-up, with the Live Stage running a wide range of demonstrations, including lighting, the secrets of food photography, mastering your photographic skills, and the art of wedding photography.

The Streetscape stage featured a packed schedule of talks and demos all about urban photography, while the Behind The Lens area had nearly 30 seminars covering a range of subjects from lessons learnt on personal projects to using social media effectively and building and refining confidence.

For motion photographers, the Film-maker Theatre included, Why Video is the Future for our Industry, multimedia shooting, documentary film-making, and A Photographer’s Journey Into Film.

All the talks and demonstrations listed above were free, although there was also a two-day Pro Conference with tickets at £10 for one day or £15 for the two.

The Pro talks included insider tips on what stock images clients are buying, how to be a successful photojournalist, breaking into the media market, and understanding client contracts and how to charge for your work.

One of the things that really impressed me about the talks was that the organisers had managed to plan the venues so the speakers could be heard easily. So many shows and conferences plant their speakers right in the middle of a busy floor with noise from stands all around.

There was a whole lot more going on besides, with workshops, product demonstrations, a Mobileography series of talks on smartphone photography, a seminar on Women in Photography, and my particular fave — the IGPOTY Garden, which also featured a series of great talks on garden photography.

POTY contests have taken off in a big way in recent years, with TPOTY — Travel Photographer of the Year — probably being the best known, but IGPOTY — International Garden Photographer of the Year is also wildly popular. IGPOTY contest No 9 is now open and if you have any interest in beautiful photography and/or winning up to £7,500, then you should check out the site.

The Sigma DP2 Quattro v Ricoh GR

The IGPOTY area included a very nice indoor garden specially created for the show, with spring flowers including daffodils and tulips, which gave me a handy way of testing out the low-light capabilities for close-up work of the Sigma DP2 Quattro and the Ricoh GR.

I am particularly taken with the mono output from the DP2Q, so I stuck to shooting black and white with that, especially as tulips always look great in mono, while I used the Ricoh GR for colour pics.

The experience confirmed my belief in the capabilities of both these cameras. The DP2Q has a 3D-like quality that puts it into a class of its own while the Ricoh GR continues to be my go-to camera for great all-round results.

The Sigma DP0 Quattro offers an ultra-wide addition to the Quattro range

At the show, I also took a look at the new cameras in the Quattro line — the DP0 and the DP3. The DP0 is a recently announced surprise addition, as it has an f4, 14mm super-wide-angle lens which is equivalent to 21mm in 35mm terms. It feels surprisingly well balanced, considering the fixed lens protrudes a fair way from the body, and is likely to be available in early May.

The Sigma DP3 Quattro promises to be a macro maven

The DP3 Quattro, which I am eagerly awaiting, has an f2.8 50mm lens (75mm in 35mm terms) and promises a 1:3 maximum magnification, compared with 1:7.6 on the DP2Q, so should be great for macro pictures. The DP3Q is also reckoned to be available in late April/early May.

If you want to take a look at some of the events from The Photography Show 2015, there’s a Facebook page which features videos and pictures from the show.

The Photography Show was run by Future, which deserves a lot of praise for a great show and I’m looking forward to next year, when it is scheduled to run from March 19-22 at the NEC in Birmingham.

How the Sigma DP2 Quattro became the new King of Compact Cameras

Macro Photography with the Ricoh GR