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The Official MIPP Newsletter

April 2013

FOCALPOINT

Issue No. 28 www.mipp-malta.com


EDITORIAL

So March has come and gone!

And yet again it has been a great month for us especially with the March Seminar going so well and running so smoothly! I would like to thank all committee members who helped me organise, without them I surely wouldn’t have made it plus the donoughts and pastizzi did add more cheer to it all. Dave Wall gave out a brilliant performance throughout the whole weekend and yet again my inspiration has been revived further! And now April, a new month with two talks lined up by Joe Smith and Darrin Zammit Lupi, not to forget the photowalk at Medevial Mdina, and the Rugby event too. Guys you really are spoilt for choice with all these photo opportunities so go out, shoot and enjoy! Meanwhile, how are your little personal projects getting along? Has anyone of you really started at least one at the beginning of the year? If yes I am curious to know more so contact me, so we get a feature about it in the newsletter! Have a great Spring!

Newsletter Team Editor: Therese Debono Design: Therese Debono Articles: Kevin Casha, Sergio Muscat & Therese Debono Editorial Advice: Kevin Casha Contact: newsletter@mippmalta.com


CONTENTS

APRIL 2013

pg 3 pg 7 pg 10 pg 15 pg 21 pg 27 pg 29 pg 30 pg 31 pg 32

cover artist

president’s viewpoint sergio’s blog featured mipp member member’s article special feature past event upcoming monthly event upcoming monthly event Calendar Results & Gallery

A question of time management The Reality of Meaning; Simon’s Far East For the love of food... Suzanne’s Portraiture March Seminar in pictures Emotion The Crisis in Libya Mark out your diaries PTYA Results & Images

CHARLES PAUL AZZOPARDI Being an avid monochrome photographer specializB ing i in architecture, and always striving to improve, one o reaches a point when the photographic art needs to t transcend “straight out of camera” frames and the post p processing moves towards getting closer to what one’s photographic eye saw when capturing the light o of o the particular scene. In I this case, the pattern and symmetry of one detail of Mdina’s St Paul Cathedral ended up with a different M tonal range and toning being expressed in the endt product, to give an altogether different atmosphere to p the t frame.

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president’s viewpoint

A question of time management.... Dear Members, As some of you have recently noticed, I have not been as present and as involved in MIPP events and meetings as in recent years. My reduced appearance at events and meetings seems to not have gone unnoticed and I have had many well wishers contacting me to enquire on this matter. The questions were quite numerous, so I decided to use this viewpoint to explain in depth my current situation. The photographic world has been changing in all spheres and due to my ever increasing involvement in photography tuition I have felt the need to write for a Masters degree in Digital Fine Art at the University of Malta. As one can imagine, this is not an easy course and task to handle particularly at this stage of my life. Taking also into consideration my part time tuition work at MCAST on the Higher National Diploma Course, and the fact that this Masters course is compressed into one and a half years, has put significant constraints on any spare time I have had (if I ever had!) There is also the fact that I am not eternal and that I have recently taken the task of trying as much as I can to delegate more responsibilities on other committee members who, also in their own way, have time limitations. I have tried to keep working to maintain the high standards that MIPP members have come to rightfully expect, but, I must admit, it has been very difficult. For sure, there have recently been times where I could not involve myself as much as I would normally do, so this might be currently causing some slight hiccups in the MIPP’s performance. On the other hand, some Committee members are slowly but surely gaining experience due to this policy and situation – a case in point is the recent running of the March Seminar by Therese Debono – who followed her sterling performance in last year’s seminar with another well co-ordinated event. Her handling of the newsletter has also released me from the various duties I have had in this respect and, I must say, that since she has taken the newsletter over, it has run extremely smoothly and regularly.

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Sergio Muscat is also being given various backroom tasks and has also managed to relieve me of a good chunk of administration work. We have also during the past year been trying to diversify and re-study the way we work and this, undoubtedly, causes a bit of upheaval and a necessary trial period which might not go down well with everyone. I run the MIPP as I run my own business – I try to study what is needed and try to adapt with the needs and requirements of the time, and again, this can initially be a bit of a bumpy ride. I would like to ask you to have some patience while we are undergoing this process. I will hopefully be ready from my Masters by early February 2014, so hopefully I will again be able to give my 200 per cent for the MIPP. My appeal to ALL our members is to try and bear with me and the committee in a period which will not be easy, but which will eventually lead the MIPP and its members to higher levels. These are a few things which I would like all to sincerely keep in mind so as to help us to reach these levels: 1. Give us your feedback on anything which you think can help us better our services. 2. Offer your help, if you can. 3. Maintain your membership and get the utmost from it by attending our events and meetings. Nothing will encourage us more. 4. If you think we deserve criticism, by all means, criticize. 5. Give us material and images for the Newsletter. 6. Get others interested in joining up. 7. Try and appreciate the unselfish work that every Committee member puts in – most of it is not so obvious to the members. If each one of you can sincerely do this, I am sure we will be flying high come 2014!

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The Reality of Meaning;


The Meaning of Reality I

have been looking at the work of conceptual artist Joseph Kosuth, and in particular, one of his earlier and most famous works – One and Three Chairs. The work is essentially a play with meaning. It seems to be based on Plato’s three levels of truth – The Idea, the Physical and the Image. This work ties in with the concept of the real-reality. According to Plato, the reality we live in is not really real. It is one interpretation of an absolute truth, which is the idea. The image is one level down from the material, thus being even further removed from the truth. This is something which has intrigued many artists in the past decades, most of which were photographers, for reasons which seem quite clear to me. In fact, Kosuth chose to display a photograph of the chair, rather than a painting of it. Photography has always been associated with proof, which is borne out of the fact that a photograph is as close to the “real thing” as you can get. But photography is only depicting a very limited slice of space and time, and that can hardly be associated with what is real. Kosuth is trying to abstract away from the material and the image by using them as the means to carry the viewer into a new plane of thinking. “I used common, functional objects –

sergio’s blog

such as a chair – and to the left of the object would be a full-scale photograph of it and to the right of the object would be a photostat of a definition of the object from the dictionary. Everything you saw when you looked at the object had to be the same that you saw in the photograph, so each time the work was exhibited the new installation necessitated a new photograph. I liked that the work itself was something other than simply what you saw. By changing the location, the object, the photograph and still having it remain the same work was very interesting. It meant you could have an art work which was that idea of an art work, and its formal components weren’t important.” ~ Joseph Kosuth, WBAI, April 7, 1970 Since the early 20th century, artists have been tinkering with the idea of reality and relativity. Many associate works by Kandinsky, Picasso, Magritte and others to Einstein’s theories of relativity (http://parrishco.com/academic/ perception-is-reality-the-theory-ofrelativity-in-art/). In general, the whole point revolves around the fact that reality is relative to time, space and ultimately the point of view (that is, the viewer). The way we perceive something is very much dependent on our relative position to what we are experiencing. Whether it is a so-called first-hand experience or further down

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the line, such as the experience of art, it is us who give the meaning we want (whether consciously or unconsciously) to that reality. Many artists, including conceptual artists, have used this concept in their work. One particular artist of interest is John Baldessari. His work is very varied, but he often uses found objects, such as photographs or works of art from other artists, and changes their context through manipulation and text. For example, in his Wrong series, he “paired photographic images with lines of text from an amateur photography book, aiming at the violation of a set of basic “rules” on snapshot composition. In one of the works, Baldessari had himself photographed in front of a palm precisely so that it would appear that the tree were growing out of his head.” In his “Double Bill” series, “Baldessari pairs the work of two selected artists (such as Giovanni diPaolo with David Hockney, or Fernand Léger with Max Ernst) on a single canvas, further altering the picture plane by overlaying his own hand-painted color additions. Baldessari then names only one of his two artistic “collaborators” on each canvas’s lower edge, a playful omission that challenges the viewer to identify the missing artist and allows them to draw their own conclusions regarding the image’s authorship.” (http:// artweek.la/issue/may-7-2012/article/ john-baldessari-double-bill-part-2).

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The work is interesting since it provokes the viewer into interacting with the images. The artwork is not complete until the viewer provides the missing link, making the viewer’s consciousness part of the work itself. This concept has been carried on and developed by many artists since then, including Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and Golan Levin. The most interesting series, however, is probably “Prima Facie”. The work consists of diptychs – a movie still paired with a single word indicating his interpretation of the expressions in the image. Baldessari’s explanation of the work was, “What I was trying to do was find equivalents–one word that would have the same weight as the photograph. But knowing that, one, I’m using actors and actresses, and what they do is fake emotion, and then trying to figure out if I saw a person with that face that I might think they were angry or suspicious or unpleasant or whatever, but I could be entirely wrong. Who knows? That’s why I call it Prima Facie– first sight; that’s how we jump to conclusions. …The image size and text size are equal. I’ve always had this idea that a word and an image are interchangeable.” (http://69.73.141.126/~jxatraon/ past_articles.php?articleID=115). In Baldessari’s and other artists’ work, the concept of perception of a reality we do not know is recurrent. The various forms of language, whether verbal,


visual, written, are all a weak rendition of their intention, open to interpretation by the consumer of that language. It is something that needs to be accepted, and through art, abused. The ‘demotion’ of reality into a physical interpretation will always cause incompleteness, leaving gaps which need to be filled in by the viewer. It is clear that such a situation will create different recompilations of the original truth based on the person viewing that shard. What appears to be the likely reality often differs significantly from one person to another, making the artwork different every time it is viewed. It is curious that physical manifestation on its own is nothing, and both the original truth and the derived truth can only exist in an ethereal form. It therefore follows that meaning does not exist in physical form. It becomes a product – therefore most conceptual art is about the production of meaning, and therefore the production of truth, of reality. Follow Sergio here: www.sergiomuscat.com


special feature

Above: Wat Rong Khun Temple also know as the white temple (shot with slr)

Last December I recall vividly Simon’s instagram posts of his travels to the Far East. I used to eagerly wait for them every day! Simon kindly obliged to share his experience with us, and here you can also see images shot with his iphone and slr.... 9


Simon’s Far East “In the beginning of Decem-

ber 2012 my girlfriend and I left the rock for our third, one month long trip to Southeast Asia. Thailand is marvellously addictive....it is magical and also a photographer’s paradise. Our itinerary included North and North East Thailand and landlocked Laos. Equipped with my Canon 600D, Canon 18-200mm lens and Tamron 90mm Macro lens together with my best buddy iPhone4 I was ready to go. I also packed a 72Gb memory card to ensure that all my RAW photos fitted, to avoid previous disappointments where to save on memory I have shot in JPG format. We flew to Bangkok via Dubai. Upon arrival we took an internal flight to the Northern city of Thailand called Chiang Rai, situated in the once famous Golden Triangle... intersecting

three countries: Thailand, Myanmar (formerly Burma) and Laos. We spent some days in this city and outskirts. Through the guidance of a local NGO we visited tribes still living in primitive remote places in the hills, rode elephants in elephant mahout villages and visited various temples for which Thailand is so famous for. One of the most amazing temples visited was Wat Rong Khun or as it is known The White Temple.

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Needless to say the photographic opportunities were endless. Besides shooting with my SLR I also love to shoot with my iPhone and upload immediately via Instagram. I realised that I attracted a number of fan friends who like to follow my travels when I upload the photos on Facebook. From Chiang Rai we travelled by bus to Chiang Khong to cross the Mekong River into Laos via the small village of Huay Xai. We slept overnight there and in the morning we boarded a showboat on the Mekong River which would take us down to the UNESCO World Heritage town of Luang Prabang. The boat trip took two days with an overnight stay in Pakbeng. Luang Prabang is a paradise with numerous beautiful temples all over the place, Buddhist orange clad monks going about their business, street vendors selling from the most delicious noodle soups, barbequed sausages, meat, poultry, frogs and fish to never ending piles of fruit, vegetables, fresh herbs, handicrafts, jewellery and amazingly couloured and intrinsic textiles produced by local tribes. It’s a breathtaking experience and a challenge to oneself ’s control not to get hooked on a shopping spree. Needless to say the prices are ridiculously cheap and quality sky high, however one must keep in mind that any souvenir purchased must be carried on your back all the way to the end of the trip.

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Left 3 images: Ayutthaya-Old Temples; Slowboats-MekongRiver; Monks in prayer - all shot with iphone using Instagram


Above: A shot taken from above showing the inside of a Temple (shot using slr camera)

From Luang Prabang we took a sleeper bus to the capital city of Laos, Vietienne. After a couple of days in Vietienne we took a bus to the eastern town of Tha Khaek for onward crossing back into North East Thailand via Nakhon Phanom. We had spent a total of ten days in this fascinating country and left with the wish and determination to visit again. Then we went back to North East Thailand and its friendly people and culinary delights. From Nakhon Phanom we travelled by bus to Udon Thani and Khon Kaen. We visited night markets and ate the most delicious stall foods and fresh fruits, visited numerous beautiful temples, attended meditation sessions with local Buddhist monks and also gave English language lessons to the locals. From here we took a seven hour train ride to Thailand’s former capital city and UNESCO World Heritage site of Ayutthaya. This place houses numerous old temples and the majesty and beauty of these sites are beyond words. I visited at sunrise and sunset and shot like mad! From Ayutthaya we left by taxi for a two hour ride to Kanchanaburi where the famous Bridge on the River Kwai is situated. We spent Christmas in this quaint town and visited one of Thailand’s largest 7 tier waterfalls. We were near the end of our trip and headed back to Bangkok!

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Above: Bangkok’s contrasting skyscrapers & shopping centers

Bangkok... what a difference from the rest of Thailand. An endless metropolis with massive skyscrapers, a million taxis and jam packed with traffic. Thousands of food stalls line all the streets of this city. A city with no centre. After days of sleeping in back packers guesthouses and humble hotels we spoilt ourselves by staying in a 5 star hotel. We needed to recover and dream of all the places we could not visit and to start planning again for our next trip to.......................not sure but India and Nepal are firm favourites!!�

Words & Images by Simon Attard

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For the love of food... Food glorious food! Some of us

love it more than others. Some go for quantity, others for the taste. I go for the shot...and a few delicious nibbles in between too! So what is it about food photography that tickles my taste buds? How can you make someone’s senses go crazy just by a picture? Not an easy task I warn you, however knowing and understanding food and respecting the chef is an important factor if you want to venture in food photography. My love for food did not come from a young age. I was a nightmare kid during meal times, however with good exposure to food, a grandfather who grew his own produce, a father who made his own wine and several long years working as a part time waitress somehow it all gelled and my appreciation for good food evolved. I am far from a good cook though. I am not known for my culinary talent, however I am known for my fun in eating food. So food photography really was the next thing for me. One thing to keep in mind when photographing food is that food photography is just like any other photography – with the same principles of light, colour and composition.

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Words & Images by Therese Debono www.theresedebono.com

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Here’s a few tips to guide you into food photography:

Etiquette First of all listen to what the client wants and most importantly if you are going to work with a chef, you have to listen to him/her. The chef is the master of the kitchen. You are not there to give him tips about spices, but to make the food he/ she prepares look just great as it tastes! Really and truly cooking in an art and so is photography so.... if you want to get the right shot, you have to respect the chef. And vice versa, if you want the chef to understand you, you have to get respect. However compromise is important. You can calm down the chef that the food need not be scorching hot to photograph, however leaving the plate to cool off for too long and it will come out so wrong!

Lighting It does help to visit the kitchen before hand to access the light in the kitchen if you are photographing the chef in action. However for still shots nothing beats natural light, and a diffuser to lessen the highlights. I love to shoot food right next to a big window and usually in restaurants do have those especially hotel restaurants. You can either backlight it by shooting into the light, or use the available light to light your image. I never used artificial lighting for food, however a quick search on the internet suggests the following: use daylightbalanced hot lights or strobes (around 5000K if possible). This will nearly replicate natural light and allow you to achieve beautiful results.

Fresh If you are going to photograph for an extended period of time, you may wish to replace parts of the dish as needed. For example – melted cheese will harden quickly and no longer appear appetizing. If you are photographing any type of meat, it will likely start to release juices that will mar the plate. Re-plate it and keep shooting! It’s better to take the time to redo something, rather than try to correct it in postproduction.


Another tip is oil. Keep it handy! If you really want to get those taste buds started, you need to make the food glisten, however there is a fine line between glistening and soaking, so add little by little rather than what you normally put if you were going to eat the food rather than photograph it.

Depth of Field Use a shallow depth of field to create interest and drama in your subject, plus it allows you to make the best of the available light you have. Now when you shoot in this manner, keep the focus point towards the front of the lens. For eg if you are shoot a sushi roll, focus on the piece closest to the front and let the rest of the roll fade into a beautiful bokeh.

Details Well this is important and if you can’t understand a plate set in front of you then ask! The way we see food (from a customer’s point of view) is way different than the way the chef sees it. You might be surprised when the chef sends a plate back inside to be redone, or even re-cooked. The example below of the salmon was one particular example. I shot the plate on the left first and when I showed the image to the chef, he immediately pointed out that the lower part of the salmon was a bit too dark, later he came out with the plate on the right....and I could see the difference! So really if you see something in the food which does not look quite right just ask nicely if that is how it should look. Also notice details about food. For example, if you have a piece of meat that is grilled, make sure those grill marks are beautifully straight and perfectly criss-crossed. Well this might not be within your power, but do point this out to the chef and am sure he will be more than happy to oblige! After all if he is a great chef he will want his food to look great!


Food Styling Well so far I have never had the opportunity to work with a food stylist. To date the food stylist has always been the chef and his/her assistants. A food stylist is the in-between person which evens things out and makes the subject ideal for shooting. One tip I can offer is this: before a food shot (and any other shot at that), just browse through the internet and look at other work related to the subject. That way you are prepared, inspired and ready to shoot some mouth watering images! Be inventive, get herbs and fruit for eg to decorate a plate of a set-up. Use contrasting colours to make the shot pop out at you!

I hope that these tips will help you get you to shoot better and greater food images....just keep back from the nibbling....because pounds pile up quickly!

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SUZANNE’S PORTRAITURE I have known Suz for a while now...she is the petite dark haired woman with the interesting questions during workshops & lectures, and the one cracking a joke or two! I caught up with her because I was intrigued by her latest portraits....here’s her story about her evolution in photography so far...

“Even

though I have always owned a camera, I decided to start learning photography in its proper, traditional manner about 41/2 years ago, after I bought my Canon 450d. For a while, I realized that I had to put everything back on hold until I became computer literate and learned how to use today’s methods of post processing. My first photography lessons were Kevin Casha’s Fast Track Modules, where I learned the basics of balancing apertures with shutter speeds, composition, posing and the use of natural light and reflectors. He insisted that I learned the techniques and rules properly before trying to break them or bend them to suit my images and ideas.

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special feature

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Today, I realize how beneficial this has been. I joined MIPP about a year afterwards and I make it a point to attend as many Lectures, Workshops, Seminars and Conventions as possible. Through these I have learned different tips and techniques from various photographers, which are too many to mention individually by name, however they have all given me loads of help, encouragement and inspiration. I try to incorporate all this into my own work without copying but still retaining my own individuality, which I feel is important. Every lecture, workshop and seminar gives us members the opportunity to meet, learn, network and discuss each genre of Photography, as well as being great learning experiences, they are good fun. I guess, each meetingallows us to come out of our ivory towers and enables us to appreciate other photographers’ works, helping us realize that it is an asset to be able to compare, criticize and exchange ideas and techniques as well as clicking away on our own personal work. I personally started shooting in as many genres as possible. However, I am now branching off into Portraiture and I am content with using both natural light and studio light. I find studio light a challenge and I must admit, my hands trembled the first time I used my own lights, in December, but I have made it a point to try to learn something new everyday. Studio lighting is not as daunting as it seems to be, it somehow opens up a Pandoras Box of intricate, fascinating, endless combinations and techniques. It can give a whole new concept or aura to an image, allowing us to create a classic,timeless image with a contemporary feel. I mainly enjoy shooting portraits of teenagers as each one of them has an idiocyncratic, unique attitude, style and mannerism which somehow reflects the era, or moment in time. However, I also try to point out to them the difference between a traditional pho-

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tographic i portrait t it and d some off the th ‘type’ ‘t ’ off images i b being i posted t d on social i l network sites to date. I mainly use a 100mm Prime lens on a full frame but I sometimes switch to a 70mm-200mm zoom because of the limited studio space I work in. I am now trying to give more emphasis to backdrops and posing, since December, I have been working on improving my lighting techniques, almost to the detriment of composition, creativity and posing; now the next step is towards ‘marrying’ the light with more interesting poses and set ups. I thoroughly enjoy the freer atmosphere of natural light, however, as well as it being a challenge, studio lighting and a home set up gives me the opportunity to juggle and balance my passion for photography with my hectic domestic life and my passion for my kids.

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MARCH SEMINAR IN PICTURES Last month’s seminar by The Societies in collabo-

ration with the MIPP has been a great success! UK photographer and tutor Dave Wall, gave a hands on demo on Saturday about small product photography, and Sunday the group spent a half day at St James going round shooting interiors followed by a tutorial about how to create ambience in interior architectural images. A totally refreshing seminar!

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Emotion:

The Key to your audience’s heart...

Joe Smith In this digital age, where the artist is surrounded by technical wizardry and amazing software, it is quite easy to get carried away and fall into the rut of producing cold, manipulated and stereotyped images. Images that are contrived and that create a barrier between the viewer and the work itself. Emotion is what lifts a picture above the rest and it is what sets the mood of your audience, whether they are viewers in a gallery or judges of a photo competition. Emotion comes from observation and from “thinking outside the box”. How can we be different and create impact in our work? Joe will show some of his award-winning works and also describe simple digital techniques that can take a picture into the realms of art. He will speak about how he gets his inspiration and about his constant quest for being different: a challenge he relishes. Feedback from the audience is always appreciated and if anyone wants to bring along some images for discussion, this is most welcome. Date: 16th April; Venue: Corinthia San Gorg; Time: 19:30hrs

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Covering the Libya crisis Darrin Zammit Lupi Malta found itself in the centre of the action at the start of the Libyan uprising, becoming a hub for evacuations and the main lifeline for aid into the besieged city of Misrata. Showing a large number of pictures, I will talk about covering the uprising from the beginning, including the defection of Libyan pilots to the island, the evacuations from Libya, the protests and clashes outside the Libyan embassy, various attempts to get into Libya, a trip to Misrata on a Red Cross aid ship at the height of the siege, and my experiences in Benghazi and Brega as the regime crumbled in Tripoli. I am not a combat photographer so I won’t be talking about that. Rather, the presentation will show what it’s like to be working on a major news story over a period of several months.

Date: 30th April; Venue: Corinthia San Gorg; Time: 19:30hrs

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CALENDAR Kindly note that the Course ‘Foundation in Image Editing’ Course is going to be held at iLab, Qormi.

3rd & 10th April Course - Intro to Photography Techniques Corinthia San Gorg; 19:00hrs

13th April - Saturday Photowalk - Medevial Mdina Mdina Gate; 11:00hrs

16th April Talk: Joe Smith Corinthia San Gorg; 19:30hrs

18th & 25th April Course: Foundation in Image Editing iLab; 18:00hrs

30th April Talk: Darrin Zammit Lupi Corinthia San Gorg; 19:30hrs

9th & 16th May Course: Foundation in Image Editing iLab; 18:00hrs

19th May Photowalk TBC

21st May PTYA Judging Corinthia San Gorg; 19:30hrs

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PTYA RESULTS

Clockwise: Oblivion by Simon Attard; Bridge Sunrise by Ryan Farrugia; Winter Is Coming by Dennis Cutajar

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FOCAL POINT