2017-18

A big “Thanks” to Pure Malt of Haddington, particularly Miles and Emily, for the enjoyable and interesting guided tour.

2017-18 trophy winners.

27th. March was the club’s AGM. The winners of the various competitions were presented with trophies , with Liz Wheelans coming out on top this year and needing both hands for her share of the silverware. Scores and annual totals are now on the “Members” page.

As has been the case often in recent years, nobody was willing to volunteer for the club presidency in the year ahead. This seems to be because most club members have only a vague idea of what is involved, but have the well founded suspicion that it can be very demanding. We will proceed with a compromise solution, using a “rotating chair” system , with the aim of spreading the task load far more evenly across the committee. Although several members were stepping down, three new vict volunteers have been recruited.

The club’s thanks go to Sue Kempson for her hard work and many initiatives over the past two years and to Mike Shakspeare for his willingness to stand in at short notice.

If you wish to contact other members over the summer, perhaps to arrange a photo excursion, you can do it by using the Contact form on this website.

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20th March- annual competition.  It is an article of faith among camera club photographers that competition judges are universally senile and possibly actually blind. They miss the clever but subtle clues we put in the titles. They utterly misunderstand that the big black bit is intrinsic to the point of the image. They fail to get what we intended, so artistically , to portray.

Truth is, you don’t get to be president of the SPF by being blind. (It more probably happens because you didn’t run away , years ago, when someone asked for help). Hunter Kennedy started last night by pointing out that we are each our worst critic, because we were there when we took the shot. The judge wasn’t. The way to win competitions, is to make him feel like he was.

Liz Wheelans pipped Andy Bennetts into first place by one point. It’s worth noting that despite the subjective element all judges are bound to display, these two individuals seem able to appeal pretty consistently to a wide range of opinion. A masterclass from each of them in “making judges feel they were there”,  would be an interesting addition to next year’s syllabus.

Our thanks go to Hunter Kennedy for all his work, comments and insight- and not least for driving all the way from Lanarkshire to do it. The truth about competition judges is that they have many demands on their time and they have probably seen more kingfisher shots than hot dinners, but they still maintain their enthusiasm and commitment to club photography.

The full score sheet is on the members’ page.

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Tuesday 13th March was the Fiona Govan Nature competition, which was won by Harry Paton’s “Egret landing.” Liz Wheelans was second, with best DPI, “Red Squirrel.”

27th February. Nick Jenkins. Biography.

Landscape photographs are generally in landscape format and are generally of scenic places. So when someone starts with a portrait format pic of Port Talbot, you know something is different. (Actually PT’s not so dreadful at all, Kenfig and Margam are right there and the beach really is nice).  Nick’s images covered  northwest Scotland, the Lakes and Yorkshire, as well as some of the prettier parts of south and mid Wales and bits of Iceland. Each nicely edged with a thin white border, which added a certain something.

I particularly liked his use of long lenses and cropping to remove the overexposed skies which spoil many landscapes – and his use of filters to bring out detail where the sky was a major element. I’m also a sucker for reflections and he had some  crackers.

Having a ringside seat for a lot of lovely images , many of places I know quite well, was a very pleasant way to spend an evening, even as hail hammered on the windows. I could happily sit through them all again. Nice to see the North Berwick contingent present in force too.

Next week we have Richard Bennett  Website.    “In search of nature’s images.” Looks like more good stuff.

Andy Bennetts sends this link to some great Winter Olympics images.

…and some more inspiring pics from around the world.

Topical Tip-Photography in snow.   More snow tips.

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.

PAGB Newsletter

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”.

PAGB 198.

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

https://www.adobe.com/uk/creativecloud/plans.html?promoid=759X6WK9&mv=other

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.

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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    hcc_compsec@outlook.com   to send anything to the competition secretary.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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. 

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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!

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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.