Portfolio Review: “Infra Vision”

by Lexi Nemeth

Lexi Nemeth

One of the greatest opportunities at the Houston Photographic Society and a measure of our own assignments is the yearly Portfolio Review.

I try to complete my portfolio every year. However, when I start to work on something challenging and new for myself, I just need more time so that my in-progress portfolio will shift to the following year.

As a long-time HPS member, I received many useful suggestions from my fellow HPS members, respected peers and our Portfolio Review critique/discussion judges. They all helped me fine tune my vision, think more about my images, and have inspired me to improve my photography and interpret my images better. This resulted in my successful participation on group and solo exhibitions, art shows and print sales.

My best images are part of my “Drops”, “Reflections” and “Doors and Windows” portfolios.

I tried to do something different in 2010, and presented my “Infra Vision” in-progress portfolio.

Portfolio Pieces
Click on Thumbnail to view full-size

Artist Statement:

The “Infra Vision” series represents parts of my dreams and childhood remembrance of fairy tails and ghost stories, revealing messages from the unknown as well as the future.

The photographs were taken during this summer’s trip (2010) to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. I have been there several times. But this time, I visited the Mammoth Hot Spring Terraces and the Lower Geyser Basin to record the unpredictable geothermal activity with my infrared camera.

It was amazing to see all that the infrared camera could detect in the surrounding landscape that is normally invisible to the human eye and how it translated that vision to unusual black and white images. Slowly, the mysteries and secrets of the geysers were revealed to me and I was happy to have discovered this new infrared “Infra Vision.

I always seek to explore the situations in our natural environment in which the light causes some unique effects. This portfolio of work shows a magical and secret world revealed through the infrared spectrum and challenges the viewer with a different perspective on our fragile natural surroundings.

Artist Bio:

Alexandra Nemeth is a Mohs histology technician at the Dermatology Surgery Associates during the week, and a nature photographer on the weekends. She was born and raised in Hungary, traveled throughout Europe, and the USA, finally settling with her family in Houston, Texas in 1990.

She always loved nature and she was happy when she was able to visit her Grandma in a small village near the Danube River. She met her husband, Dr. Laszlo Perlaky in a research lab. Fortunately both of them were interested in nature and liked to participate in nature protection projects. They worked in nature conservancy camps where their mission was to plant conservation ideals of our natural world into the kids.

She started to take nature and travel photographs seriously in the past ten years. She became a member of the Houston Photographic Society, where she enjoys the challenging print competitions and critiques.

She does not like to carry a big lens, especially not with a heavy tripod, so she started to photograph close-ups, landscapes, and not-too-difficult wildlife. She loves to find, observe and photograph bugs, patterns, and small things.

At the present time, she uses her Nikon DSLR system, including her infra-red DSLR camera. She has successfully participated in international photography contests, and exhibited her work at major art festivals.

State of HPS in cyberspace

Geek talk
by Don Hill, HPS Webmaster

As the webmaster for Houston Photographic Society (HPS), I am no only charged with creation, maintenance, and information sharing on the site alone, but expanding with the times including usage of social media (Facebook and Twitter).

Beyond that, I occasionally do some data mining. After examining the statistics today, I’ve found some interesting tidbits on the HPS website and on HPS’s Facebook page that may or may not be of interest to you. I also come up with some conclusions with various revelations that might be fuel-for-thought about our future direction regarding HPS in cyberspace.

HPS – Website (www.hpsonline.org)

* Stats based on analytics between January 1 and March 1

About the site visitors

In the past two months, our website had 602 absolute unique visitors (meaning non-repeat visitors) with a total of 1,190 visits (this includes repeat visitors). That’s not bad considering HPS is a localized society (Houston area) and we’re just talking about a two-month period of time.

Interestingly, 46.81% of our visitors are new visitors, which tells us that many people are looking for photography-related topics in our area and perhaps seeking a photographic group to join.

Visitors’ locations

Of course, most of HPS website visitors’ are from the U.S. However, people from other nations have viewed us in the past two months including: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, France, China, Germany, Belgium, India, Canada, Ireland, Mexico, UK, Argentina, Serbia, Sweden, Vietnam, Switzerland, Japan, Australia, Hungary, Poland, Moldova, and South Africa.

In the U.S., people from 35 states have visited the HPS website. Besides Texas, Californians were the second highest visitors followed by those from Utah.

In Texas, a majority of our visitors (58.57%) are from Houston, as is expected. All in all, 51 people from other cities both near and far visited the site.

Thus, this would tell us that the HPS website has the potential to be more than just a "local club" site. With the caliber of members in our Society, we could do something really special with this site that transcends our local interests!

How they are viewing the site

It’s fairly even in how end-users are finding HPS’ website:

  • direct traffic (typing our URL in the browser) is 35.88%;
  • search engine results are 32.69%;
  • and sites that refer to us are 31.43%.

This is a good mix because the more avenues people visit our website, the more effective our site is!

Furthermore, it’s interesting to see how the HPS website bucks the national trend in terms of the tools visitors utilize to view our site:

  • 36.81% use Microsoft’s Internet Explorer
  • 32.35% use Apple’s Safari
  • 16.55% use Mozilla’s Firefox
  • 11.68% use Google’s Chrome

Perhaps the reason it buck’s national trends is because many artists are known to be Apple users.

Connection speed statistics are good. It shows that photographers embrace high speed internet. A mere half of one percent of our visitors are still using dial-up. This means it is okay for us to provide larger bits of information such as videos or larger image file sizes should we choose to do so Having stated such, the site has long utilized small download sizes for fast information transmission.

Visitors’ main interests

While it’s obvious that the most visited page is the home page, it’s interesting to note that the second most visited page is the Activities and Programs pages. This means people are definitely interested in what we have to offer in terms of educating in our craft and social activities.

Following this in order of pages visited is Member Info. It tells us that people are interested in the type of members that belong to our Society.

After that is the Print Competition page and then Meeting Information page. People are interested in comparing their prints to others and getting feedback and then they tend to follow up by learning where we meet and how we are structured.

The conclusion is that the people searching our Society is interested in what we can offer them, which is a good recruitment tool.

HPS – Facebook (www.facebook.com/houstonphotographicsociety)

Right now, there are 99 subscribers from 8 different nations.

Besides the U.S., we’re being followed in Canada, France, Australia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Peru, and Costa Rica.

Besides English as a primary language, other languages who follow us include Spanish, German, Italian, and English (UK).

This is interesting since HPS is a location-specific entity (Houston).

In Texas, subscribers hail from 66 different cities.

Examining the demographics of our Facebook subscriber base, the largest group is comprised of men over the age of 55 (19%) with a near second being males ages from 35-44 (17%). 56% are male subscribers. Regarding females, the largest subscriber group is 35-44 years of age at 12% with the next highest being 25-34 years of age at 11%.

4,145 viewers have seen our Facebook posts.

HPS – Twitter (www.twitter.com/HouPhotoSociety)

Not as much information is gained from Twitter as the other aforementioned sites. However, this does not mean it isn’t useful information.

49 other Twitter users are following us regularly in regards to what we post. HPS is currently following 145 others.

The more Twitterers we can attract, the more viral our message becomes to the world. So, there is definitely room for improvement as the relationship-building process on Twitter can take some time for such a specialized entity as HPS.

Suggestions

I would like to see HPS take a more proactive approach in terms of being more than just a local entity. With a global society so opened up thanks to the World Wide Web, it would serve us well to take advantage of that.

While the meat and potatoes of our Society will always be the human interaction we have through our various meetings and outings, there’s no reason to remain limited.

I encourage my fellow HPS members to increase your role in our cyber-world. First of all, if you’ve not done so already, please join our Facebook and follow us on Twitter and spread the message to others. It’s been good to see this year’s HPS President take my advice and share his thoughts in a monthly message. It’s been good to see a couple of members share their portfolios for the site.

I’d like to take advantage of what our Society has to offer the world. We have some of the most creative and bright minds in photography. Unfortunately, it’s primarily stuck within our own Society. A few of our members are connected globally such as Laszlo Perlaky, who is involved with international competition and even photographic societies outside our own state. Let’s see more be involved.

Share your ideas with me and we’ll tap into your gift and knowledge! It’s not a hard-core commitment. With as many people we have in HPS, we could literally be an E-Zine for other interested photographic artists in the world who want to improve upon their craft and share their ideas too.

~ Don Hill

Sometimes, permission is easier

Message from the President
March 2011

I had an article almost completed for this month, which I promptly scrapped a few minutes ago. Sometimes I just have to run with a thought.

A couple hours ago, I saw a Facebook post from a high school friend of mine who said he had just finished shooting some footage with Morgan Spurlock (the guy who made Super Size Me.)

Battleship Texas by John Kleb
Blacksmith by John Kleb

After a couple of messages back and forth, I found out the Spurlock is going to be in a town near where I grew up for the next couple days working on a new documentary project. Of course, I have to do what I do and let my friend know that I’d love to shoot a portrait of Mr. Spurlock while he’s in town.

No, I don’t expect it to happen. But, just in case, the camera bag and some gear is in the truck and ready to go. The batteries are charged and the memory cards are formatted and ready.

So, what does this have to do with anything? The realization I concluded long ago is that you’d be amazed at what you can do if you just ask.

For example, people seemed amazed that I was able to set up an overnight photo trip on the Battleship Texas for HPS a couple years ago. How did I do it? I called up their office and explained who we were and what we wanted to do. That’s it!

At George Ranch a few weeks back, I was able to get a good portrait of the blacksmith who was working that day simply by striking up a conversation and asking if I could. Yes, I got some grab shots of him working; but the portrait where the subject engages the viewer is what makes the series — not just a collection of snapshots.

I guess what I’m trying to get at is this — don’t just hide behind your camera.

A camera is just a tool to use. It doesn’t matter if you are shooting strangers, friends, still life, nature, or landscapes. Be bold and make the shot happen for you.

This might mean taking an extra hour to hike to the spot for the scene you really want instead of the scene that’s easiest to get.

Maybe you need to hand a business card to a person who just pulled in the parking lot with a car you’d love to use for a shot of the skyline at night (I did something similar this morning) and ask them to call you if they’re interested.

Perhaps you need to boldly get up a 4 a.m. to drive to a lake so you’re set up and ready for the birds to come in.

The point is; the more you do aside from the camera to make a good photograph possible, the better that photograph is likely to be.

Boldly go forth and make photographs!

~ John Kleb, 2011 HPS President

My portfolio review experience

by Nathalie Brouard

Nathalie Brouard

I participated to the past two portfolio reviews (2009, 2010) and it has been a fantastic experience. But, more importantly it helped me to improve my photography.

During the monthly print critique, we receive advice and opinions on our individual images. The portfolio review brings you to a whole new level — thinking about a whole body of work.

It started for me with reflection — why do I take pictures?

Therefore, my first portfolio (2009) was a travel through time and the traces it leaves behind (Suntales of the passing time). From this first experience I learned how to focus my message and create a coherent body of work.

My second portfolio (2010) was more of a self-portrait relating my discovery of my new home (Texas Impressions). They were printed using the cyanotype process. The critiques and comments were very encouraging and I am now working on so many other projects that I’m not sure which one will make the next review.

In summary, participating to the portfolio review is wonderful way to bring your photography from individual nice pictures to the next level and develop your artistic message.

Portfolio Pieces
Click on Thumbnail to view full-size

Artist Statement

Texas Impressions (from 2010)

I was born in a country town in the heart of Normandy, France.

My studies and career took me around the world from Paris, France to Melbourne, Australia, and for the last four years, Houston, Texas.

The photographs presented here are some of my first impressions of my new home.

First came the fascination for the local fauna, and the unique landscapes. Then came the cowboys.

Moving beyond the clichés of Cowboys and Indians from movies in my childhood memories, I increasingly became aware of the hard work behind the Western wear.

February 2011 print competition slideshow

February’s print competition took place Tuesday, February 22, 2011 and was judged by photographer Hugh Hargrave. The slideshow from this meeting is courtesy of HPS member Leslie Stessel. The special assignment theme for the month was “Small Town USA.”

This month’s print competition winners’ photos will be posted in the near future once all photos have been received.

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