“Blond Bombshell” by Robert Byers.
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Do you have any really good images of East Lothian? We need twenty digital pictures to swap with a club in France, who will send us pictures of their home turf in return. We want as many pics as possible to choose from; superbly composed and symbolic of all that’s best about where we live. Have a dig through your hard drives, or get out in that nice low winter sun and take some new ones. On Feb. 28th we will select the best to send.
Where to send them? Easiest is to bring them along any meeting night from now till Feb 28th on a USB stick or SD card. We will save the lot on the laptop, then go through them all.
14th January. We put in some practice for the Tully Jackson AV competition. (Note that videos are also acceptable for this competition). In brief, an AV is a slideshow set to music or to any soundtrack. It might include video clips as well as static shots. The technique dates from the days when one or two slide projectors would be used, synchronised (manually) with a reel-to-reel tape recorder. That took skill and timing.
Digital technology has made it far easier, but skill and thought can still be applied- as in Colin Legg’s “Postcard from Haddington”, which involved the researching and retaking of historic photos and some clever image editing in GIMP to blend them together.
By contrast, a basic slide show with sound can be put together in a few minutes, using Windows Movie Maker (or Adobe Lightroom), or the version of Proshow Gold on the club laptop, which any member can arrange to come in to the darkroom and use. (JAsk a committee member and arrange a time). So give it a whirl.
Roger Hegarty showed some of his recent work. The Botanic Garden sequence was particulary good, I think. Let’s see other members’ photos- even if only a handful. Often we only see competition entries, which tend to be the pick of anyone’s photos, which maybe gives a distorted idea of “how good you have to be”. We don’t have to be anything.
7th January 2017. We got the new year off to a start with the comic evening. Some very disturbing images were presented and legal action is pending…
13th December. The club Theme Competition was judged by George Neilson ARPS, who had some pertinent comments for us all regarding competition photography. He made the point that an image worth 20 in a small club competition might score far lower in an inter club or national competition, because the overall standard of the broader field is far higher. If you want to do well in competition, it therefore pays to actually go and see what that standard is. Also, if the club as a whole wishes to score well in such competition, it would help if a significant part of the membership attended them- either as contestants or even just as spectators.
To what extent such competition improves your general photography is something we can have different opinions about, but there’s no question that seeing the work of more photographers is generally informative and challenging.
Thanks again to George for his insightful criticism – especially of the prints, which he seemed to remember in astonishing detail, even though he forgot to put them in his car. That’s twice this year we have had inspired descriptions of invisible images; Lindsay Robertson’s invisible slides were also a high point. It must be something to do with having a photographic memory.
Our best wishes also go to George on his retirement from the SPF judging scene and our thanks for all he has done for photography in Scotland.
06 December. Back in September, we had a talk from Lindsay Robertson, who described his career as a professional photographer. This week we had a superficially similar, but substantially different talk from David Scott, describing his career to date which is following a different creative course. No super detailed prints of racehorses in studios this time. An art student with a strong musical interest, David combined his multiple creative interests into photography and videography initially through his interest in the contemporary music scene, building a contact network as he learned his business. What he shared with Lindsay Robertson is the insistence on doing your own thing as well as possible, pushing your limits all the time, being the best you can be.
David’s photos are not taken to please club judges. Instead, they have to meet the criteria of clients with tight publication schedules and limited budgets who prefer to hire a photographer who delivered the goods last time, on time.
It’s possible to get exciting, punchy pictures of dramatic events, using minimal lighting gear and good second hand (or rented) equipment , if you also have an ability to think on your feet and a determination to deliver under less than ideal conditions. And don’t do wedding photos in front of a mirror.
Camera club photography is not the only game in town. We need to be reminded of this. Photography is far from dead and video may be even better. A shame we are mainly oldies and amateurs. This is a talk that young aspiring photographers need to hear.
Links below to David’s site and that of his equally creative wife, Pamela.
29 November. Colin Legg gave a talk on the subject of exposure, which can kill you if you don’t wear your woolies. The whole story is here- photographic-exposure-for-pdf-150dpi
Colin’s task list is included at the end of the PDF file, but here’s a larger version-
Haddington Camera Club – Photographic Exposure
Task 1: Know how to find the Exif data – Take a photo on Auto:
What shutter speed, f-stop and ISO did the camera use?
Task 2: Know how to find, and how to read, the histogram
Set camera to Program (P) mode and ISO to 6400. Turn flash off.
Task 3: Take photos of: dark objects on dark background and
light objects on light background
How well does the camera compensate?
Task 4: Take photos of: dark objects on light background and
light objects on dark background
Compare average, centre-weighted and spot metering
Task 5: Know how to change the exposure compensation
Task 6: How high an ISO can you use before noise is noticeable /
Task 7: Does your camera have DRO or equivalent?
Does it help on a high contrast subject?
Task 8: Does your camera do HDR?
If not, can you bracket exposure and do it on the computer?
Task 9: Remember to reset your camera to your usual settings!
Colin Legg 29/11/2016
22 November. The poetry and picture contest revealed, as if we didn’t know, that we are better photographers than poets. Well done Elaine , Jean and Colin.
Roger Hegarty’s old family photos made me (and probably many of us) think of the shoeboxes full of images and negatives that sit in cupboards in most of our homes, unlabelled and increasingly unidentifiable with each passing generation;- the ones we’re really going to get around to sorting one of these years… Interesting to see the post-war appearance of synthetic fibre materials, colour film, the disappearance of hats as cars came in etc. It would be interesting to get a lineal time sequence of a single place , right from 1900 to today and do a timelapse movie. Wish I’d thought of it forty years ago. Bit late to begin now.
Thanks to those who brought gifts of biscuits and coffee- and especially the cherry liqueurs! (Those are addictive- but would you die of alcohol poisoning or cholesterol overdose first?).
13th November:-Updated score sheet after the SPF event is on the Members’ page, in both Excel 97 and PDF format.. We did not fare well in this competition. In fact, we were last.
10th November:- Haddington beat North Berwick by a scant 8 points, largely thanks to images from Andy Bennetts and Ann Jeffray. Full updated scoresheet at bottom of Members’ Page. NB had some crackers. Good biscuits, too. Thanks for a good evening. The frostbite is getting better.
8th November was the First Exposure competition. Our thanks again to Neil Scott for his informative judging. If competitions are to have value as a tool for improving our photography, we must get feedback from a judge, not simply scores. Neil stressed that we should learn not just from a judge’s comments about our own images, but about all the images.
His description of images as “Record shots” doesn’t mean don’t take record shots- but once you have those saved, look for something different in addition. His point is that Camera Club Competition Photography (CCCP) is about a different genre of picture. What’s wanted in competitions is a degree of originality as well as the sort of technical quality required for a calendar, postcard or magazine picture.
CCCP is not the only kind of photography there is, or even the one you as a photographer may want to focus on most of the time. Do your thing. It pays to learn how to do it better and how to have more fun in doing so and feedback from competitions may help you do that.
Horses for courses. If your aim is to win competitions, give ’em what they want. If your aim is to learn, give ’em what you want and see what they think. Competitions are not the goal. They’re a tool.
Here’s a CCCP Red Squirrel. Subject sharp, a bit off centre, catchlight in the eye, bit of tree for context, background uncluttered and a bit out of focus (Gaussian Blur!). There’s just one problem. It’s a grey squirrel and I’d happily settle for a decent record shot of a proper red one . I’ll keep trying.
So- did everyone else get lost in the woods too? Thursday 4th saw a mob of photographers wandering in the Botanics, trying to photograph lights that changed every couple of seconds. My favourite (and one of the few recognisable images) was the projection of plant hunter George Forrest.
2 November already. Malkit returned, bearing lights and umbrellas. His main message was to give the camera lots of artificial light so you can forget about shutter speed and ISO and just use aperture to control exposure and depth of field. The problems start when you can’t find the sub-sub menu of the sub menu of the flash menu that stops your camera trying to expose using the 2-candlepower trigger flash you never used before.
As so often, “Read The Friendly Manual” is good advice.
To judge by the results though, most folk got it right. This was a lot of ground to cover with a big group and a few folk had to leave before the hands-on work got started. Maybe next time we should start with the practical bits and do the theory at the end?
25th October was a “putting the boot in on the other foot” evening, when Andy Bennetts explained how to become a judge and then gave us a shot at it. Unsurprisingly, we all did incredibly well, because, as we all suspected, it’s dead easy. So that’s that then. Next week, we learn how to be concert violinists.
On October 11th, Sandy Cleland gave us a show of masterly wildlife images, mostly from Scotland and the wider UK, with some from abroad. Sandy makes it sound so easy. He just happens to be wandering along a road and a beast of some sort just stops what it was doing and poses alongside him.
The clear, but modestly unspoken message of proper natural history photographers like Sandy Cleland or Laurie Campbell, is that you actually need to know a great deal about the creatures you are observing, their habitat and ethology – and you have to wander along a great many roads, for many years, with infinite patience, respect for nature and a very precise vision of what you hope to find there – to capture images like these – not just of a bird on a twig in the distance, but of an animal actively doing what it does best in its own environment.
The only problem with a demonstration of mastery like this is that I don’t know whether to be inspired, or to sell the camera in despair. Lovely stuff.
So – 4th October was our first try at a problems and answers night. More problems than answers, maybe, but part of the idea was to find out what basic knowledge levels are like and to get folk talking to each other. To judge by the noise levels, we managed that at least.
Next time we do this, we want to be able to focus on what folk want to do, want to know. To that end, please give us feedback. What was right, what wrong, helpful, confusing etc. – what would you do if you organised it, what do you want to find out about? Let us know. Don’t be shy. It’s YOUR club. Send comments to HCCWebmail@Gmail.com . The more the better. We can sort them and look for common factors to use as a preparation for next time.
Last Tuesday, 27th September we had our first encounter with Malkit Benning, (He’ll be back!), who gave us tips and practical experience of studio portrait photography. No White Rhinos or racehorses, but thanks to Louise for her patience as model.
A page of Malkit’s notes is available below as a 1997 DOC file or as plain text.
Downloadable Doc 97 file
On Tuesday 20th September, we had a talk from Lindsay Robertson, which illustrated how uniquely personal photography can be, both as a recording medium and as an art form. Lindsay is an advocate of film over digital, quality over quantity, and of doing things the way your heart tells you is right for you. Not many speakers show up with a van load of large , framed prints which sell (when they sell!) for four figures – or with such illustrative invisible slides. The fact he forgot the digital part of his presentation may be more than chance. The prints are unforgettable.
His point about a life in photography was that while it sometimes pays, it’s always worth doing, if you do the best you can.
His challenge to us as photographers- to take one, single image and get it right, is very much at odds with current notions of taking 10 frames per second and hoping one comes out right- to say nothing of shooting 4k video and extracting still frames, a technology eagerly anticipated by many.
Not everyone can maintain this sort of personal discipline, nor should they. Photography is a hobby, too. There are many facets to photography and Lindsay’s way is personal and distinctive to himself- a timely reminder at the start of the season that camera club competition photography is far from the only game in town and doing what you choose to do is rather the point.
We kicked off the 16_17 season on Tuesday 13th September with a talk from new president Susan Kempson outlining her plan for the Autumn and Winter syllabus. It was good to see a number of new faces and we hope to see you all back next week.
PLEASE REMEMBER YOUR MEMBERSHIP BADGE ______________________________________________________________________________
The president’s Summer newsletter is here:- Summer Newsletter 2016