Recent & Current Stuff

    December 4th. Having spent a lifetime trying to minimise camera shake, I had never heard of “ICM” (Intentional camera movement), so Mark Reeves’ talk on alternative landscape concepts and methods came as a surprise to me. Mark’s images are not “club competition” photos, being , as he said, impossible to judge by traditional club standards. This idea- that modern cameras give us a wide freedom of creative expression as well as the ability to capture reality under challenging conditions- is one that keeps popping up this year. Grace’s zoomed-in flower shot and Jim’s “reflection” images come to mind.  Mark’s Turner-esque shorelines and ghostly beach umbrellas were a  hybrid of traditional landscape and abstract, a reminder that sometimes we should stop and think about what it is that we are trying to do and why. Photography should be fun. It has been suggested that we do an “ICM” challenge to follow the current “weather” one. Sounds good to me. November 27th. We looked through the N.Berwick entries briefly, with an eye on the judge’s comments, then we looked at monochrome images from 2017, again with the judging in mind. As the judge in both cases was Neil Scott, who will again judge the monochrome competition in January, it’s worth noting that Neil seems to prefer very bright or very dark images of unusual, uncluttered subjects, with a wide tonal range.  Bob King demonstrated the NIK collection of add-ons for Photoshop and Lightroom which he particularly likes for mono images. Rich Dyson, who will be speaking to us in the new year has a video on his blog this week, using the NIK software to produce a single colour superimposed on a mono image (“A colour pop image”). Note- This would not qualify as a mono image for our competition, but it illustrates the NIK software in use. Link is here. November 22nd. The North Berwick Competition was a good evening, especially as we won by 332 to 318 points. Congratulations to David Petrie and Andy Bennetts on getting one “20” apiece. All the scores are on the “N.Berwick Competition” page. As always, the images I liked best didn’t get the highest scores. My favourite was actually one of the NB entries, “Outsiders”,  a shot taken through a stained glass window of some people beyond. I liked the colours and the fact that it pretty much flouted most rules of composition, but made a really pleasing picture. Thanks to Neil Scott for his judging and to all at NB for a fun evening and good cake! Suggestions for next year’s theme are invited.We are considering the current suggestions:- “High Altitude Low Opening Skydiving”,  ” Nudist beaches of East Lothian” and ” Black cats in coal cellars, at night.” November 20th. Rob Rogers gave us a  detailed talk on printing and printers.There was a lot of information here, of which the primary fact was that if your monitor is incorrectly calibrated, the chance your prints will match what you see on the monitor is very small. If the monitor is calibrated, even an inexpensive printer can give very good results , if paper and ink are chosen appropriately. Going further than that requires  a degree of dedication which I, as a non-printer, am unlikely to invest. It would still be good to think the monitor was showing me what the camera saw. Also, it seems the same device used to calibrate monitors can be used  to read the screen output from a projector, which would be interesting given our history of dissatisfaction with projected colours – and the comments of various guests and judges. Rob has offered to try this, though I suspect technical constraints, particularly security software may prevent it working on our PC, , especially if we had to use another screen. Still , it can’t hurt to try.  

November 13th. Another interesting evening. It was fascinating to see the wide range of subject matter that a number of members photograph, for their own interest. Who knew we had a novelist in the club? Or a book cover designer?  Mostly, we only see each other’s work in competitions – and it’s clear the constraints of producing images a judge can “make sense of” can restrict as much as improve creativity. We had   some lovely landscapes, some distinctly gritty street work, some uncompromising “blue sky” images and some fun and intriguing software tweaks, as well as a proliferation of fireworks. All in all, an eye opener of an evening.

Would the idea of short term projects appeal to many members, as an alternative , or addition to the “traditional” competitions? Like you have two weeks to produce a shot of [fill in subject here], with a simple show of hands to decide the best?

November 6th was an interesting departure. Instead of simply consigning the “First Exposure” images to the past, we tried editing as many as we could along the lines suggested by judge Charles Summers. Opinions naturally varied as to how big an improvement the changes made- some yes, some no, but an interesting discussion developed, with a lot of people taking part.  Opinions vary on the value of competitions and methods of judging. The present  “score out of 20” system forces judges to find comments to justify scores and reinforces traditional tropes from the days of film which may be irrelevant in the digital age. Other scoring systems exist- Charles told us that a simple “first, second , third” system is now in use by several clubs. If we chose to go that way, we would have to rethink the way club trophies are awarded, as traditional scores would be unavailable. Worth thinking about though. We don’t have to do things one way forever, just because we did them that way before.

 October 30th was the First Exposure competition, ably judged by Charles Summers, a man of taste and discernment. Many thanks for the twenty, Charles! He also generously provided us with his scoring notes, which we will use as a basis for  assessing the images ourselves next week.

Tuesday 23rd October , we looked at  and voted on the entries for the North Berwick competition. The scores are here. Robert Byers then gave us a talk on how easy it is to photograph fireworks. As with playing a piano concerto, it’s seemingly just a matter of hitting the right bits in the correct order. For those who feel some actual practice might help, sign up next Tuesday for the fireworks group. 16th October.  Many thanks to Brian Montgomery , of Montgomery Optometrists, who gave us a fascinating talk about eyes and how the latest photographic developments have moved eye care forward. As someone who would be unable to drive, use a camera or even a computer or do much of anything, without my glasses, I’m very glad folk like Brian know what they are doing. Tuesday 9th October. Rule 1- Never work with children, animals, Lightroom or Photoshop! Software is fickle, but it’s fun when it works, which it mostly does on your own computer, where you have it set up the way you want. The main thing is for those who never edit anything to realise what’s available and for those who do to learn new stuff- to which end , here are links to more info, mostly about Lightroom . As usual on the home page , rather than put live links, I will just show the text. Copy and paste into any browser.   Tuesday 2nd October. We covered a lot of ground. Every major digital camera type from cellphones to Full Frame, DSLR and mirrorless. A lot of information. The future looks mirrorless and fullframe mirrorless will be far smaller than full frame DSLR, so the crop systems like APS and 4/3 will lose their huge size advantage. Who will win out?  25th September. If anyone wants to try the techniques Neil Scott described  on  for creating monochrome images from colour, remember the club PC has photoshop. We don’t have the NIK add-on, but Club member Norman Dunk has- and if you want a copy of the earlier free version you can get it (as a 440MB download) from him here.    The PC is in the darkroom (currently unplugged). It is available for anyone to use, but we keep the room locked. Anyone wanting to have a shot with the computer can either grab me (Alastair) at a meeting, or use the website contact form. First time, I will meet you and explain how to get started. The PC is a club resource for all members. If you would like another look at Neil’s images, the link is here. Neil will be judging our monochrome competition later in the year , so I hope everyone was taking notes! ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ September 18th.  Charles Summers’ informative and enjoyable talk ” A Judge’s View”, was based around a Powerpoint presentation. A link to that is here.  As it is pretty large, and requires Powerpoint or similar to view it, when I get a minute I will cut the text and paste it as a readable page. Charles was telling us how he assesses competition entries. Our first competition will be on October 30th , with Charles as judge, but we need the images to be handed in by October 2nd, so we need to get going on this.