This week club members had a chance to be judges themselves. We discussed 36 images sent to us by Mölnlycke Fotoklubb in Sweden. There were an impressive collection of images covering a wide range of subjects: portraits, street photography, woodland scenes, misty winter landscapes, some interesting night shots and some creative abstract shots. We were especially interested in the images this year, because some of our members are planning to visit Mölnlycke Fotoklubb and may be able to visit some of the places where those images were taken. The images generated a lot of discussion, with members commenting on each image while scribes write down the comments. At the end of the evening we selected the images we liked and then ordered them by popular voting.
The winning image was a stunning night shot taken at a water hole in a Kenyan wildlife reserve. It was a superb composition with a tree acting as a focal point and the waterside leading your eye to the animals in front of a starry background. The image was very dark on our projector but we still liked it a lot. For second place, members chose a portrait of a lovely group of ponies in Rörö wildlife park. Third place went to a long exposure night shot of a ride in an amusement park entitled “loop”, fourth place to a peaceful shot of a lakeside with an archway of trees and fifth place to a portrait of a potter holding his pipe.
Thank you Mölnlycke Fotoklubb for sending us the images. Congratulations to the winner, and some of us look forward to seeing you in a few months’ time.
I forgot to mention at the Swedish inter-club meeting, that this Thursday, 31st January is the submission date for the Human Portrait print competition. Please bring along up to 3 mounted prints (colour or black and white). If you haven’t entered this competition before, it is open to any print where the main subject is a person or group of people.
This Thursday, George will also be accepting entries for the 2019 SPF print championship. Since we are missing the 26 January drop-off deadline, George has offered to hand them in personally to the competition organisers (before the later 7th February deadline). Members can enter up to 6 mounted prints each: 3 monochrome and 3 colour at a cost of 70p per print. Any print which hasn’t been entered into that competition before is valid, not just prints from this year. If you are bringing portrait prints to enter into the SPF competition, make sure they are added to the correct folder.
Click here to see a PDF describing the competition.
This week club members divided themselves into 4 teams and spent an enjoyable evening answering some fiendishly tricky questions posed by Ken Sharp. We started the evening identifying various statues located in the Edinburgh New Town. (Ken explained the history of the statues when he revealed the answers.) We then we moved on to identifying the settings used to take a collection of images of the same scene. The second half of the quiz involved questions on the history of photography and matching images to the famous photographers who took them. Finally, Ken had a reply to the “Which manufacturer makes the best camera?” question posed last year by Jim Tod. Ken’s question was “What is the best camera?” to which the answer is, “Whatever camera you have with you”. Ken explained that being ready to capture an image is the important thing, so having any camera is better than no camera at all.
The competition was won by the “Right back 4” team, with Liz Sowler, Malcolm and Lorraine Roberts and me. Thank you very much to Ken for entertaining us.
Our club meetings resumed after the Christmas break with a talk by Edinburgh photographer Neil Scott FRPS (who had given us an entertaining talk, “Keep It Simple Stupid” in 2017). We were one of the first camera clubs to hear a brand new talk from Neil: “The Camera Never Lies”.
Neil explained that he likes to specialise in 3 kinds of photography: Still Life, Street Photography and Surreal or Abstract photography. He showed us in each of those categories how the photographs can lie about a subject. A common technique is translocation, where a subject is extracted from one scene and added to another, unrelated background. Neil is particularly successful at doing this in his street photography, where a snatched shot of someone against a cluttered background becomes a studio-like shot of that same person against a fresh background. In one example, a shot of a gothic street performer in the Royal Mile looked much more dramatic against a graveyard. Neil has the knack of being able to crop right in on his subjects to cut out the clutter. Neil is also extremely imaginative: combining seemingly unconnected subjects together to make an impact. If you want your subject to look like they are in jail, place them against a crumbling wall and use a photograph of a grill pan in the foreground to make the bars!
Neil also showed us how he constructs his still life and abstract images. Some of them start as an idea seen in passing: a coffee mug placed oddly on a saucer or a picture hanging on a wall in the background. Neil will play with an image until it works; sometimes replacing all the original components on the way.
Neil finished his presentation by taking us through a history of fakery in photography, which has been happening long before Photoshop let you do it more easily. From the Cottingley Fairies to the less favoured compatriots of Lenin or Stalin being conveniently air-brushed out of their publicity photographs, the camera has had the ability to lie to us since the day it was invented.
As I mentioned at yesterday’s club meeting, there is a comet moving across the sky this weekend. It is called “46P/Wirtanen” and is currently moving North through the constellation of Taurus, which is just to the right of the constellation of Orion. You should be able to see the comet by looking south around 10pm. The comet is supposed to be visible to the naked eye, but you need to look very carefully. It is larger than the size of the full Moon, and if you see it it will look like a faint, fuzzy blob. Any nearby street lights or thin cloud in the sky will spoil the view, so you will need to find somewhere dark. There are some dark spots along the coast at Longniddry Bents, or up Birsley Brae.
If it’s too faint for your eyes, a pair of binoculars will help (the larger the better). Better still, you could try photographing the comet! A long exposure on the digital camera will bring up more detail than you can see with your eyes. On a photograph you’ll notice the comet is green. There is a photograph of the comet displayed at http://www.spaceweather.com/, where they say:
This comet is an easy target for digital cameras with exposures as short as 10 to 30 seconds. Astrophotographer Juan Carlos Casado offers some advice to novices: “Use Raw file format, a fast lens (at least f/2.8) and ISO settings between 1600 and 3200. The exposure will depend on the focal length. I normally use the 500 rule–that is, exposure = 500 / focal length (mm). It also helps in areas with light pollution to use an antipollution filter. I am now using Optolong L-Pro clip filter which gives excellent color balance.
What the photographer doesn’t say is that you will need to set your camera to manual mode. Manually set the focus on infinity, mount the camera on a tripod, turn off vibration reduction (if your lens has it), set the camera to “M” mode and set the aperture and shutter speed manually. You can use a standard lens, rather than a telephoto, because the comet is quite large. Check out the Christmas tree photo at spaceweather.com.
You can find sky charts of the comet at http://www.cometwatch.co.uk/comet-46p-wirtanen/ and there is a live image of the sky showing where the comet is right now at https://theskylive.com/46p-tracker.
Best of luck!
This week we had the privilege of entertaining Doug Berndt, president of the Edinburgh Photographic Society, who judged our black and white print competition. Doug said he judges photographs by considering their impact, story, quality, creativity and composition, and the best images need to score well in all 5 categories.
There were 45 prints entered altogether. This gave Doug time to appraise each image in detail, point out good features or mistakes and try out different crops. Some good quality images lost out because they didn’t have an impact, so it pays to think about the story you are telling at the time an image is captured. Would a different angle or different location help? Are there distracting things in the background? There were also some highly creative and promising images which lost out on quality, primarily because they had blown highlights or lost detail in the shadows. Some prints had colour casts, and Doug suggested members with Epson printers could try using “advanced black and white mode” to remove the casts. A special mention goes to Colin Dempster, whose image entitled “The Moment Of Truth – Italian Explorers Selection” had everyone, including Doug, guessing what it meant.
The top scorers in the black and white print competition were (in reverse order):
- 5th place (48 points)
- 4th place (49 points)
- 3rd place (51 points)
- 2nd place (55 points)
- 1st place (57 points)
Well done to George Todd, who retains his black and white title. George’s image “Swayambunath Temple Lady” was the top image of the competition.
The top images were:
- Swayambunath Temple Lady (George Todd) – 20 points
- Sunflower Mono (Jim Tod) – 20 points
- Dirt and Dust (Joe Fowler) – 19 points
- Moscow Metro (George Todd) – 19 points
- Low Tide (Joe Fowler) – 18 points
- The Lost Pay Packet (Jim Tod) – 18 points
- Chitwan Girl (George Todd) – 18 points
- My Brother (Sean Connor) – 18 points
This coming Thursday, 6th December 2018, there will no meeting at Fisherrow. Instead we will be travelling to Beeslack Penuick Camera club to see a presentation by wildlife photographer Dean Bricknell. This is a shared meeting between Beeslack and Musselburgh. No tickets are needed, and all members are invited to attend. The presentation starts at 7:30pm.
Those who travelled to the 4-way competition on 1st November will remember the directions, but here they are again. Beeslack Penicuik Camera Club meets at
Beeslack Community High School
Click the above address for a map and directions to the school. The image below shows where we are meeting. If you are approaching from the Edinburgh direction on the A701, turn left when you see the small sign to Beeslack High School on the right hand side of the road. Follow the yellow route shown to the car park around the back of the school, then follow the dotted path to the school entrance. The meeting will be taking place somewhere within the building marked with the “X”.
As before, George Todd is willing to pick up members who would like a lift from Western Musselburgh. Please email George (address on the front of the syllabus) and give him your contact phone number if you would like a lift. I will be glad to give a lift to anyone who lives on the Eastern side of Musselburgh, near Wallyford. Please email me (Steven Beard, address also on the front of the syllabus) if you would like a lift. We both have limited space, so it will be first come first served.
I look forward to seeing you all in Penicuik again.
The club’s annual digital knockout competition took place this week. Members had spent the summer collecting images on the challenging theme of “transparency” and had interpreted the theme in creative ways. Many of the subjects were still life arrangements of transparent glasses and bottles, although there was one ghost! Some images were taken through a rainy window, through water and even through wet rice paper, and some images used a veil or curtain to give a feeling of transparency. About 36 images were entered altogether, and after 3 knockout rounds there were 5 images remaining in the final round. Members voted for their favourites, and the final result was:
- In 5th place, “Liquid Gold”, a still life of a golden drink being poured into a glass, by Jennifer Davidson.
- In 4th place, “Through The Window”, an intriguing image of a room viewed through a window, by Simon Wilkinson.
- In 3rd place, “Bubbles In A Glass”, a still life of a glass with large bubbles at the top, by Jennifer Davidson.
- In 2nd place, “Through The Curtain”, a portrait of a model looking through a net curtain, by Jennifer Davidson.
- In 1st place, “Face At The Window”, a portrait of a monk looking through a rainy window, by Joe Fowler.
Well done to Jennifer Davidson, who got all 3 of her images into the top 5, and congratulations to the winner, Joe Fowler, who won a box of transparent fake diamonds!
On Thursday, 22nd November I gave club members an introduction to making audio-visual presentations. Audio-Visual presentations are another way to show your work, in addition to prints and digital projected images. Click on the following link to download the notes from my presentation.
You can create a slide show with captions, animation and basic sound effects using PowerPoint. Clive Davies showed us how PowerPoint can be used to present a large number of images within a surprisingly small file size. The image compression is sufficiently good that the image quality on screen looks just as good as the original.
To make a full audio-visual presentation you will need extra software. The club recommends Photodex ProShow for Windows PC users. You can download a trial copy from http://www.photodex.com/proshow. Mac users can try Boniten Photo Theatre Pro, which is a similar product.
The evening finished with some example audio-visual presentations. Gus Langlands showed us one of the first presentations he and John Knox had put together, taking the viewer on a tour of the sites around East Lothian. The images for that presentation were scanned from slides. Gus and John create their sound track using Magix Sound Forge audio editing software, which can edit a sound track in the same way that Photoshop can edit an image. Unwanted clicks and pops can be “healed” out.
This coming Thursday, 29th November we have a knockout competition on the theme of “transparency” (i.e. subjects which are transparent or evoke the theme of transparency, not slides). Please bring along 1, 2 or 3 JPEG images on the night. If you can’t be present please email your images to George Todd. Members will vote for their favourite images on the night, and the best image will win a prize!
On Monday, 19th November 2018, half a dozen of us travelled to Kirkcaldy to see the second 4-way interclub competition of the season. The competition was host by Kirkcaldy Photographic Society and included Edinburgh Photographic Society and Stirling and District Camera Club. It was Kirkcaldy’s 120th anniversary. They entertained us with a spread of sandwiches, cakes and savouries, and had thoughtfully included some alcohol-free wine for those who needed to drive back across the Forth Bridge.
Clubs entered 15 digital projected images each, making a total of 60 images on the night. There was a mixture of wildlife images, landscapes, portraits and several images from kayaking events. The images were judged by Libby Smith of Carluke Camera Club. Libby commented on the fact that several of the images looked like they had been prepared for print: the contrast was too high, and some were too light. This is something to remember the next time we prepare digital versions of print images: the lightening and contrast enhancements added to make a good print need to be removed before saving the images as DPIs.
By the halfway stage of the competition, things were not looking good for Musselburgh. We were trailing in last place, with Edinburgh and Kirkcaldy leading the field. Then the competition finished with an astonishing turn of events. Our last 3 images received 19, 19 and 20 points, jumping us into second place. Those images were:
- Sunset over Newborough – 19 points
- Licking My Wounds – 19 points
- Hare Raiding Barley Field – 20 points
The final result was:
- Kirkcaldy Photographic Society – 242 points
- Musselburgh Camera Club – 238 points
- Edinburgh Photographic Society – 236 points
- Stirling and District Camera Club – 234 points
Congratulations to Kirkcaldy for winning on their 120th anniversary. In the end, it was the middle-ranking images that made the difference. Kirkcaldy had many more images scoring 17 and 16, whereas we had more images scoring 14 or 15.
Thank you to everyone who submitted images for the competition.