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ePHOTOzine Member Gains Royal Photographic Society Associateship

ePHOTOzine member NEWMANP has recently gained his ARPS distinction. We talk to him about how he did it.

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ePHOTOzine member Phil Newman, better known as NEWMANP, has recently achieved his ARPS, the second level of the Royal Photographic Society's distinctions. Phil is a member of the critique team here at ePHOTOzine. We caught up with him to find out more about his photography, and how he achieved his Associateship.

Phil is generally a landscape photographer, but for his ARPS panel he chose to go for a visual arts panel for his distinction.

ePHOTOzine Member Gains Royal Photographic Society Associateship: The Vigil
Above shot: "Laura, a local goth, was posed on a black background with an unlit lantern. The graves were taken in Chesterfield and processed in mono using Nik Efex.The two were then combined on separate layers and the candle light was added to the lantern. The orange glow on her face was hand painted in using the PS soft brush with selected colours using a blending mode. Several adjustments and filter effects were added including lighting effects," explains Phil.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am 60 years young, and together with my wife of 40 years have been fortunate to spend all of our lives living and working on the south eastern edge of the Derbyshire Peak District. This connection with the gritstone edges is strong and at times I feel it's the only place in the world that I want to be. Our love of walking and the outdoors take us out there as often as possible although working prevents me being there at will to capture the many of magical moments that it can produce. This means that when I do get that moment of magic I feel really rewarded.

Despite this love of the landscape, it is not my only driving force. My photography is very eclectic and I will dabble with just about any subject or medium. I also spend a great deal of time working on people pictures and I have a fascination for reenactment events.
How did you get into photography?
I have had cameras for all my life but when our two sons came along in the late seventies, we decided that in order to record their progress it was time to invest in an SLR and do the thing properly. I took a trip to Jessops, picked up a Pentax MX and was totally smitten.

Within the month, I had expanded the system to include a 28mm lens with a polarising filter which would become my standard lens and a 70-150mm zoom. The same month I joined Bolsover camera club and had my eyes opened to the whole new world of camera club photography. Philip Elliott, a fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, a true gentleman and madly creative visionary, became a good friend and took me under his wing and I became entrenched in the world of salons and competitions as I am to this day. He taught me to print and to make Cibachromes from slides and he was a major influence on my early years with a camera. Sadly he died suddenly in 1989, and I miss him to this day.

ePHOTOzine Member Gains Royal Photographic Society Associateship: Victoriana'Victoriana' by NEWMANP
What made you want to achieve the ARPS distinction?
A couple of years ago, my closest photographic friends Dave and Christine decided we needed a new challenge and we set about chasing the RPS distinctions, first gaining the LRPS before proceeding to ARPS. This was a challenge what would come to feel like the search for the holy grail. There is little information available, even the panel don't know what they expect to find in your work but they apparently know when they see it!

I was about to give up on the search for a panel theme when I happened to meet a group of Goths and steampunks and from photographing them and building composite images I eventually assembled a panel of 15 images with care to ensure sequencing and tonal balance through the set. The panel fit nicely into the category of visual art.

What equipment do you use?
In the late 80s I turned to Nikon with F2 Photomics and have remained loyal to the brand ever since. I am currently using a D300s body with a variety of old and new lenses. The 12-24mm and 17-55mm Nikkor lenses are my firm favourites.

ePHOTOzine Member Gains Royal Photographic Society Associateship: NEWMANP
Above shot: "This chap was nuts! He even had the right teeth for the job. The background is from Thorsby hall and a moody sky desaturated, with a few crows dropped in for good luck. Drac was desaturated too as I don't suppose he has too much blood or a ruddy complexion," explains Phil.

Do you have any tips or advice for someone wanting to achieve the ARPS distinction?
The only real way forward is to attend an advisory day and take advice from a member of the RPS selection board. The draft panel was scrutinised, and I mean under a microscope before being advised that the overall layout was fine with a few fine tuned reprints and the odd replacement image. We then applied and were assessed on 5 March 2013 at Focus.

The best advice I could offer would be to read the hand book carefully so that you can help yourself provide the basis of what the selection panel need to see. Be aware that 60 percent of applicants will fail to achieve the award first time. Pick a theme and avoid using similar images. It's very tough to find 15 images capable of standing alone and working together as a panel and quality is paramount throughout.

You'll need detail in shadows and highlights, and lack of banding and artifacts. Don't not over print as panel prints often look better around A4 or slightly larger in a 500 x 400 mountboard when viewed in 3 rows of 5.

There are frustrating times when it seems that there is no way forward but the award is achievable and very rewarding when you are recommended for the distinction.

Take a look at Phil's portfolio to see more of his images.

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