Sunrise in the Bay of Rainbows. The “C” shaped curve near top left is the Jura range catching the sunrise. Golden hour on the Moon. 6 frames stacked, 420mm, 1/180sec f/5.6 200 ISO. Olympus EM1. Click to enlarge.
Tuesday 27th Feb is a guest speaker talk. We have Nick Jenkins, Click here for webpage / biography.
Nick is a professional landscape photographer based in Wales. He will also be giving his talk “My Walk through the Landscape”, for Edinburgh Photographic Society. He runs photography courses and has produced an illustrated book on the Glamorgan Coast.
(No- he’s not the Nick Jenkins who was on “Dragon’s Den”.)
Tuesday 27th is also final hand in night for the Fiona Govan Nature competition.
Would any trophy holders please return them tonight, so they can be engraved for this year.
20 Feb 18. We had six entries for the Audio-visual competition- a decline on last year’s eleven, but a 600% increase on 2016. The entries ranged from 2 minutes to over 7, so we had 25 minutes in total, which is just enough to permit a double viewing. Colin Legg won again with “Greens are good for you”, featuring macro images of varied invertebrates amid luxuriant vegetation. Pipped by a mere point was “Marks of the Past”, by Michael Thomson, detailing many of Haddington’s OS benchmarks and telling the story of William Roy’s Survey. A single point behind that was “Off Camera Flash” from Norm Dunk, detailing many ways to use a single speedlite for portrait or glamour work.
We also had AVs on “Rammer Cleugh”, “Petra” and the spooky “Urisk of Old Hailes Burn”. I’ll be watching out for that when I next visit Hailes Castle.
At least three of the AVs were created using Proshow Gold. The others included an unspecified .EXE file , a .WMV and an MP4, so could be produced on a range of devices and software.
Norm’s “Off Camera Flash” was a semi – instructional presentation. For anyone who has something he or she would like to show the club, but who is reluctant to stand up and talk, this might be a method worth trying.
The story linked below is interesting. Before we send “free” pictures to newspapers, maybe we should think about who we are doing out of a job? Plus, if newspapers are using the images people send them, we might ask who exactly are doing the sending? Maybe the Russians are feeding fake news to the “Courier” ? Jings! Crivvens! How much for a photo-journalist?
The latest PAGB newsletter has information about changes in the rules for Nature competitions to allow increased editing so long as it does not change the “truth” of the image. See link below.
20th February will be the Audio visual competition at 7:45.
Before the main meeting, at 6:30, Harry Paton will be starting a Photoshop group in the darkroom on floor one. Anyone wanting to learn the essentials of editing welcome.
6 Feb 2018. Neil Scott ran a monochrome marathon. With a grand total of 87 entries, this was a big job – hence the 7:30 start, which some folks evidently were not aware of. We really must oil that squeaky door.
As usual, Neil had a lot to say that was worth listening to. He apologised for repeating himself, but that’s a consequence of consistent judging of a lot of images. He prefers prints, but the 3:1 ratio of DPI to print entry suggests he has an uphill job to convince most of us. Maybe when he comes back next session to talk about monochrome and printing, he will have time to make his case, free of the burden of judging. Certainly, his prints are impressive, whether from cheap printer or pricier one. Printing is an area of technique that nobody in the club has ever admitted to knowing much about. It’s time we had a good talk on the subject.
Neil is probably right that most of us take colour images and just desaturate a few for the monochrome competition (ironically, the only one of mine that actually started mono got the lowest score), but whenever Neil says “There’s something missing…” from a mono image, I confess I think “colour”, because I like colour; but the fact we all stayed alert through 87 images suggests he may be on to something. Our thanks to Neil for all his work on this and we look forward to hearing him speak in the autumn.
23 January 18. Liz Wheelans and Harry Paton gave us two selections of images from their collections. There were many fine photographs on display. Some of the images have met with success in competition, while others fell upon stony judges. It’s encouraging to know that an image which gets a reluctant 16 from one judge gets full marks and wins an award from another; whether it would be as good a story had the order of the events been reversed, is a subject for debate.
Whether judges like your images or not is surely of less importance than whether you like them. We all take the pictures we take because we have some interest in the subjects, or the process, or both. For most of us, it’s not about competition, but fun- an excuse for a walk, a reason to stop on a hill, the satisfaction of capturing something tricky. Whatever your reasons, please share them. If other members would like to do a talk showing their kind of photography, please let Sue know. It doesn’t have to be long. We could have three or four shows on the same evening, as easily as two.
16 January 18. Malky Benning made it through the snow to show us some of his photography.
There were lots of little insights into professional photography, studio and location. The Sikh and Muslim weddings were a revelation- especially the idea of a “Pre-wedding shoot”. Whit next? Portrait photography is a subject I know absolutely nothing about, so I was fascinated.
Next week we have two senior members (read “old lags”), Liz Wheelans and Harry Paton, who will show us some of their work , old and new. Often, we only see other members’ pictures in competitions. This will give us a better idea of what sort of photography people actually do. It would be good to get more members to step up and give us a demonstration too.
How to format a USB stick for a Windows PC , using MAC OS X. (I assume later versions are the same). This will let the club PC read your images.
Plug the USB flash drive into the Mac OSX computer. Open “Disk Utility” from Launchpad. Select the drive and click “Erase”. Give it a new name if you wish. For “Format” select “MS-DOS (FAT)” Select “Master Boot Record” for “Scheme”. Click “Erase”.
12 December was the theme competition, judged by Douglas Berndt of Edinburgh Photographic Society. I was elsewhere that night, but I see some impressive scores. Liz Wheelans and Andy Bennetts are old hands at the game, on 69 and 66 points respectively – but it seems we have a rising star in Lawrence Hawkings, on 63, best beginner and third overall.
How seriously you take competitions is a personal choice. To me, the important issue is whether I learn anything in the process. If you want to learn how to please judges, you might ask these three.
I was still away for the Xmas dinner, but I understand there were no arrests.
Tuesday’s quiz featured images of a puddle (I saw no mud and I’m qualified to comment on mud. There may have been some silt), congealed gravy and a number 28 tram. This may have been a photo-shopped number 26. It was a quiz, after all. All sharp, with level horizons and fine detail. A liitle less detail would have been acceptable in the gravy. Seasonal felicitations to all and may Santa bring you something expensive with glass in it.
05 December. Well- that was different! Who knew dental x-rays could be funny? (As well as pretty disturbing. That picture of the pencil up the lady’s nose will give me nightmares.) Many thanks to Ian Hamilton, for a rather unusual and enjoyable talk- and maybe some inspiration for the monochrome competition? I’d have liked to see more of his railway posters, too.
The Geminid meteor shower starts to build from Dec 4th, reaching a peak on Dec 13-14th, when it will rain. Or maybe snow.
Info on editing software:- For plans & prices of Adobe Creative Cloud (CC) go to
For Faststone Image Viewer (Free version) , go to http://www.faststone.org/FSViewerDetail.htm
The image averaging trick to make moving objects vanish in Adobe Photoshop works as follows:- Open Photoshop and select File , Scripts, Load files into stack. Then follow the usual browsing method to find and select the files you want. Once they are selected, click OK . This returns you to the Ps Load Layers box. There is the option to select “Attempt to align source images”. Usually this should be ticked. Tick the “Create Smart object after loading layers” box. Hit OK.
The images appear as a stack of layers in Ps and will then be compressed into a single, stacked image. Then click Layer, Smart Objects, Stack Mode, Mean. (“Median” has a similar effect).
The resulting image is an averaged shot of all the images. Moving objects like water will blur. Discrete objects like cars and people will vanish. Noise is reduced significantly. Experiment. This method has many uses.
21.11.17 Andy Bennetts gave us a guide to widefield astrophotography, which involves getting cold, working in the dark and playing with Photoshop. Deep sky imaging is much the same, except you spend hours just finding the thing you want to photograph. Both approaches give interesting images though- and some of the processing techniques can apply in more normal photography as well. The big secret is simple- get to know your camera , so you can use it with your eyes shut. Don’t do this while crossing the street.
For quick tips on the subject, click here.
Latest PAGB e-news. here.
The Scottish Nature Photography Festival, held every autumn at Battleby near Perth, is no more. Financial constraints have made the event impossible to sustain. This is sad news for regular attenders as these meetings were hugely inspirational.
14.11.17 North Berwick won this year’s inter-club competition by seven points. Congratulations to them and our apologies for the cable problem that affected colour .We have written a letter to Santa.
The email address for the competition secretary changed this session , was briefly supplanted by Bob’s personal address and has (belatedly) been corrected here.Please use email@example.com to send anything to the competition secretary.
Upcoming events / competitions of interest-
Stop press! Sue is shaken by her car crash, but basically sound and will be back next week, hopefully in a new vehicle.
The “First Exposure” competition was well attended There were 78 entries- 32 prints, 46 DPI. Our thanks go to judges Doug Hamilton and Sue Hill, who had obviously waded through them several times and had insightful comments to make.
When we submit a photo which gets a low score, we naturally assume the judge just got it wrong, possibly due to cataract, insanity or bribery by a higher scorer. This, in fact, may not always be the case.
Not all photography is “competition” photography, but when an image is entered for a competition, it’s as well to pay attention to the’ remarks of experienced judges: – not just about your own images, but everyone else’s. Even if an image is not to your taste, it is generally possible to tell if it’s a good shot or not. Liz Wheelans’ “Spectrum” and “”Zero the Arctic Dog”, Alison Cameron’s “Tough Mudder”, Bob King’s “Korean Girl”, Richard Wells’ “Kingfisher and Catch”, Harry Paton’s “Poor Crab” were all great shots in different genres from some of the old lags- but there were several 17 and 18s among the “beginners” too and the scores were all pretty respectable. Looks like stiff competition this year.
For those who were not downstairs doing studio work, Colin Legg had some surprises in store.
For a start, your white balance doesn’t work! Also your brain is lying to you. As usual, Colin had done his research and had some impressive illustrations . For those who missed it, the grey and blue squares on that Rubix cube really were the same colour, though I didn’t believe it till I saw both zoomed all the way in.
The whole business of accurate colour rendering is complex. Can a given shade even in theory be the same on a monitor, a projector screen and a print? What does “The same ” mean when one image is reflective and another is transmitted?
I suppose it means “Pay attention. Experiment with white balance settings- and shoot RAW where possible.”
If you like either landscape or street photography, there has been something to see at the last two meetings – and in both cases, the locations have been exotic or at least hard to reach.
No visas are required to reach Shenaval bothy, but planning and effort are. Geoff Allan set out to visit and photograph every MBA bothy in Scotland. His achievement is the book “The Scottish Bothy Bible” and he showed us some of the images and told something of the story of that endeavour on October 10th.
On the 17th, we had a very different journey, from James Frost and Hazel Mason, illustrating their travels from Yangon (Rangoon) to Calcutta , focussing on people rather than place.
Photographically very different, the two expeditions still have common features; planning, organisation, carrying the necessary minimum gear, paying attention to ambient light, the patience to wait for the right shot, attention to detail.
Even if we are just off to Aberlady for the afternoon, the same principles bear thinking about. Not much point making a three day walk in if you leave the memory card at home.
Thanks to all three speakers, who gave us a lot to think about.
Here is an article, by Libby Smith, about the new PAGB projected image size and how it affects projected images, starting next January.
and here is the PAGB rule on file sizes & resolutions.
PAGB newsletter 193 can be found here.
To see some examples of the sort of thing judges deduct points for, go to the “Galleries” menu at the top of the page and select “Common problems with competition images”. Sadly, it only took ten minutes to find 21 examples on my PC – and most of them exemplify more than one flaw. Title above the image, comment beneath.
3rd October- “Water” images. It was great to see the large response here, from old and new members. Frankly, we were taken by surprise by the number of images submitted. A single judge would probably have spent at least a day selecting 20. If the final selection seemed a bit arbitrary, it had to be done against a ticking clock: Also, the people right at the front were able to see small imperfections that may not have been evident to those further back.
It would be good , during one of our members evenings, to look at the images again and provide some feedback on what caused one to be picked and one rejected. From where I was sitting, the average standard was good.
A few folk reported problems with resizing images, especially on ipads . There are many apps available that resize images, but most do so to preset sizes. One free app that lets you pick the sizes is “Image Resizr” . It’s installable from the Appstore. You can read about it online here-
I assume there are Android equivalents.
If anyone knows more about Phone photography, let us know. I am not a phoneographer, but I’m sure we have several.
Most Windows photo editor software can resize images easily. Go to the Photo Tips \ Links menu at the top of the page and scroll down to find some Windows methods.
19 Sept. 17 Well. How to photograph a buzzard. Sit patiently for four hours. Phil Mclean showed us a selection of nature photographs reminiscent of Sandy Cleland’s last year. There were a load of little tips on baiting , swapping out perches and using hides, which we might all try to good effect, but the main message, ever understated, is always the same:- Real nature photography requires knowing the area, the behaviour of creatures in the area and using terrain and light to achieve the effects you want. It’s simple– just not easy. Work is involved.
-oh and this was his old stuff, remember!
12 Sept. 17. Right. We’re off! What follows is mostly for new members and prospective new members. It’s easy for the old lags to forget that they didn’t know what a DPI was till someone spelled it out. (Its spelled “Dee-Pee-Eye”, if that helps. ) Most of what you need to know is already here somewhere. The links below should help you find stuff.
Don’t be afraid to ask. Nobody bites. (Fixodent isn’t up to it). If you have a question about the club, or competition rules, or how to find a lost lens cap- ask. Either buttonhole someone at the tea break, email the website or the competition secretary, or anyone who gives the impression of knowing anything , or just stand up at the start and ask everyone. Do not be afraid of looking stupid. That’s my job.
Remember- It’s YOUR club. You have a say in how it works.
The “Members Only” page, requires a password. Ask. If you need it now, use the contact form. There are no state secrets there, just score sheets and personal email addresses, which not everyone wants on an open web page.
Shortcuts. Click the appropriate link for information about…
General competition rules Competition rules
This year’s competition schedule 2017-18 competition schedule.
Who does what Contacts
Jargon glossary (what does all the blather mean?) Jargon list
The Photographic Alliance of Great Britain (PAGB), sends a monthly email newsletter. As an experiment, I will put a link here. You can subscribe to the email list yourself PAGB 192.
Poldrate has changed the door entry code. We are requested not to post it online. You will all be given the number and a false tooth filled with cyanide at the first meeting. If you can get in. If you need access now, email me and I will send you an encrypted telegram.
The syllabus for 2017-18 is now complete and may be inspected Here.
WATER. Wet stuff. Dihydrogen Monoxide. Looks like flat lemonade. Anyone taken any photographs of it recently? There’s some outside my house, if you can’t find any. We will be needing rather a lot for the North Berwick competition.
If you are here to learn about the club, maybe thinking of joining one of these days, go to the Home menu at the top of this page and click “Interested in photography?”. Or click this link-> http://haddingtoncameraclub.org.uk/interested-in-photography/
We meet on Tuesdays through the winter. First meeting will be Tuesday 12th September 2017 in the Granary building at the Poldrate Centre, at 7:30pm.
On June 3rd (Saturday) HCC had a table in the Corn Exchange at an event hosted by Haddington Rotary Club. It looked like this……sadly, the attendance looked much like that, too, as good weather and other events kept the public outside. Thanks to those members who turned out to lend support
The theme for next season’s meeting with North Berwick will be “WATER”, so start thinking about watery shots now.
04 April 2017 A big “Extremely well done” to Elaine Dowding, who pretty nearly swept the board of silverware at the AGM. Overall score sheet for the year is on the members’ page.
Competition dates & judges for 2017-18. Judges are scarce and must be booked months or years ahead. The rest of the syllabus will fill in around their availability dates. Start preparing now.
The new committee members contact list is in the members page. We now have a single competition secretary to whom ALL dpi images should be emailed at –
firstname.lastname@example.org (Note the underscore (_) after “hcc” )
28 March 2017 Your scribe missed the Annual competition due to a prior commitment. If anyone has anything to say about it, please send me your comment via the website contact link. Our thanks to Ron Bell LRPS for coming up from Gala to judge. Nice to hear there was a more or less even number of prints and DPIs.
For anyone interested in future development of optics, Federico Capasso’s group at SEAS Harvard is one to watch. Here is a link to the Harvard Gazette item.
14th March. Frieda Christie of the Royal Botanic Gardens explained how the extreme macro world of scanning and Transmission electron microscopy works and showed us some truly wierd and wonderful images from the world of extreeeeemely small botany. Odd how very like asteroids pollen grains look!
Frieda’s husband, Tim, also impressed with his AV setup for Frieda’s tour of the nanoworld and I think we may try to get him back for some advice in that department. He would have swept the board in the A/V contest. My thanks to them too, for setting up and taking down their own gear. I wish everybody was so organised.
7th March. The Fiona Govan cup was won by a print this year – Puffin with sand eels- from Liz Wheelans , with Richard Wells’ Dragonfly in flight and Ann Jeffray’s Kingsfisher in motion second and third. Nice to see a print on top for once. It’s interesting that the popular vote tends to home in on the same images which would probably score highly from a formal judge, though a judge might put heavier emphasis on technical issues. One problem with the popular vote system is that we need a faster way to tally the scores for next year, as Robert and Jean almost had nervous breakdowns adding the numbers. Maybe if everyone gets to cast just one vote?
Reduced size versions (there are 32 images) of the DPI entries only can be found under the “Competitions” menu at the top of the page. or here Scanning the prints would defeat the point of printing them- but if the authors want to send me a jpg original I will add it.
21st February Was the Audio visual night. It’s ironic that digital tech has largely killed the old art of A/V presentation, while making it far simpler to do. This competition was started by Jack Tully-Jackson, one of the club’s founder members and local historian. With Jack’s retirement from photography, the entry had dwindled to a single item or two in recent years, so it was good to see almost a dozen entries, featuring slideshows and straight video.
7th February. Neil Scott returned to judge the Monochrome competition. As usual, Neil had interesting observations to make. It had not occurred to me, for instance, that anyone actually takes digital photos in monochrome. I know I never have. I assumed everyone converted coloured images- but Neil pointed out that what makes a good colour image , once you remove the colour, may be a poor monochrome one if it lacks shape, form, contrast, strong line or texture. It’s like learning to sing, in braille. Printing in B&W seems to be like singing in braille while juggling on a wire above Niagara Falls, so I’m looking forward to having Neil give us some tips on that next session. Our thanks to him for his insights.
31st January. Due to a last minute speaker cancellation caused by ill health. tonight featured a couple of hastily prepared home made presentations:- Sue on how to take scanning electron micrographs of boy scouts stuck in horses’ hooves and abuse of turpentine and Elsan Fluid – and Alastair (me) on how optical diffraction affects back garden fences as well as suicidal spiders, motorcyclists with faces (hoorah!) and parallel lines that converge in photographs no matter what Euclid or competition judges think. More to follow on the jpg v raw issue.
Anyone else with short technical issues / test demos they want to raise on how to / how not to use digital imaging, please let the committee know. Having a few small talks on hand is always welcome.
We wish Simone Meddle a rapid recovery. Maybe we can see her avian photographs next year?
21st January. After the traditional fight with the Laptop-that-hates-Powerpoint, Richard Bingham gave us some indication of how wide ranging his photographic repertoire is:- from photos inspired by paintings to landscape, wildlife and nude studies in studio and outdoor settings. Richard has some brave models- posing elegantly in the nude in places I would’nt go without work boots and a hard hat. It’s a tough game, photography, but someone has to do it and Richard is a past and present master of the art.
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