28 April 2022 (AGM and Presentation of Trophies)

The 2020/22 Musselburgh Camera Club season ended on 28th April 2022 with the AGM and the presentation of trophies. This season we have been presenting our meetings in a hybrid format where they are hosted at the Fisherrow Centre but broadcast live by Zoom, which has given members a choice of how to attend. Zoom has again allowed us to reach out to judges, speakers and clubs who would normally have been too far away to visit us. For example, we had another live meeting with Mölnlycke Fotoclubb in Sweden. Zoom also gave us the added bonus of being able to share some speakers with Beeslack Pencuick Camera Club. The hybrid format and remote judging meant that most competitions were still in a digital format, although this year’s Human Portrait Print Competition gave members an opportunity to practice printing and mounting. We hope club meetings will return to a more normal meeting format next season, although we will be keeping the Zoom option because of the opportunities it brings.

Members had an opportunity during the evening to suggest and vote for the topics for next year’s set subject competitions. The top results were:

  1. Castles
  2. Wildlife
  3. Landscape
  4. Black & White

The AGM finished with a presentation of trophies and medals to those present in the room and with trophies delivered to those who attended by Zoom. The full list of winners can be found on the following page:

Trophy Winners – 2021/2022

Although the AGM brings the formal 2021/22 season to an end, there will be informal meetings by Zoom every Thursday evening throughout the summer. We have also restarted our summer print exhibition in local libraries, with a schedule on the following page:

2022 Library Exhibitions

Our first meeting of the 2022/23 season will be on Thursday, 1st September 2022. We have another programme packed with local and remote speakers to look forward to. I hope to see you then.

Steven Beard

07 April 2022 (Doug Berndt: My photography journey, distinctions and some of my favourite images)

This week we were delighted to welcome Doug Berndt ARPS EFIAP to Musselburgh Camera Club. Doug is the “Immediate Past President” of Edinburgh Photographic Society. Doug is our last speaker of the season, and because of a technical issue, is also the first speaker to visit the club both in person and speak to us by Zoom within the same session. You can see more of Doug’s work on his web site:

https://edinburghdoug.com/

Doug spoke about his photography journey and explained how he achieved his ARPS with the Royal Photographic Society and his EFIAP with the International Federation of Photographic Art. Doug began by showing us the old film cameras he used when just getting into photography. He then showed is the 10 images he had used for his LRPS qualification. The aim for LRPS is to show a wide range of photographic techniques using 10 images combined into a panel. The RPS provide advice and feedback to help a photographer to put together a panel, and Doug explained how he was helped to decide which images to include. Doug then showed us the 15 images he had used for his ARPS panel. An ARPS panel needs to show a distinct body of work described by a 250 word statement of intent. Doug chose to describe a trip on the Waverley paddle steamer, and the sites visited on its journey along the Clyde. Doug finished his RPS journey by showing us his current FRPS panel, which is a work in progress at the moment.

We were also treated to a display of some of Doug’s outstanding photographs that were accepted for photographic salons, and those that won different medals and awards. This record of achievement lead to his EFIAP distinction. Doug finished the evening by showing us some of his favourite images; featuring scenes from the Edinburgh Festival, shots made on journeys through Kenya and India, and beautiful wildlife images. Doug’s experience revealed the fickle nature of photography: A highly praised photograph of a puffin that was included in an RSPB book became “just another puffin photo” a few months later; and a sharp, colourful rural scene with highland cows received a better mark when deliberately blurred and converted to black and white.

Thank you Doug for sharing your experience and providing advice about putting together panels of photographs. We are sorry the technical issue meant we couldn’t chat face to face over tea as originally intended. The club wishes you the best of luck with your FRPS assessment when it comes.

31 March 2022 (Joint Evening With Musselburgh Art Club)

This week it was a delight to revive our relationship with Musselburgh Art Club and restart our joint meetings after a 3 year hiatus. Our last joint meeting had been on 28th March 2019. We met in the larger room (G6) at the Fisherrow Centre, with some Musselburgh members joining by Zoom.

The evening began with a presentation from Joe Fowler, who showed a selection of our recent prints. Most of the prints were landscapes, showing how photographers use lighting and composition to set the mood. Joe invited art club members to guess where the photographs had been taken. Joe also showed how photographers could use post-processing to change a scene. A mountain landscape image had been created by combining a wide angle image of the mountains with a telephoto image of some buildings. This gave the buildings a more comparable size and helped balance the scene. The art club were surprised by this technique, since they usually painted scenes from life, but were interested in trying it themselves. Joe also showed harbour scenes, some still life images, and John West’s self-portrait of an artist at work.

The art club showed us a selection of their paintings. There was a discussion of the relative merits of different paint media. Most of the paintings had been made using acrylic paint, which could be built up in layers and modified as needed, but there were also some beautiful watercolours. We learned that watercolour is an unforgiving medium which is difficult to modify once painted, so it was a bold choice. There were some very impressive works by beginners. There was an interesting discussion about how cropping is judged differently for photographic works and paintings. Photographic judges tend to be more critical of parts of objects being cropped out (especially if the cropping looks accidental).

It was great to be able to meet and chat with art club members again after such a long wait. We finished the evening with some tea and biscuits and a closer view of the works presented. We were limited by the early closing time at Fisherrow, but a big “thank you” to our janitor for his help and understanding at the end.

24 March 2022 (Set Subject Competition – Street Photography)

The 3rd and final part of our 2021-22 set subject competition took place on 24th March 2022 on the subject of “Street Photography”.  Elaine Gilroy had won last year’s competition and gained the right to judge this year.  After the second competition, the leader board was being lead by Joe Fowler, Mike Clark, Steven Beard and Carol Edmond.

39 images had been entered by 13 members. Elaine had researched the definition of street photography before judging.  Wikipedia defines is at “Photography conducted for art or enquiry that features unmediated chance encounters and random incidents within public places”.  Elaine noted that the genre has quite a wide definition. It doesn’t have to feature people as long as there is evidence of a story, although it is normally made outdoors in an urban environment.  There were some really interesting stories told by the photographs entered. A couple chatting on a bench. Someone lying on the sea wall next to the beach. A skateboarder caught in mid air. A man taking his dog for a walk. One striking image submitted by Kevin Johnston showed a moving car only just missing a group of people! Elaine suggested some images could be improved by cropping them to home in on one part of the story (e.g. an image with two couples who were not interacting could be improved by concentrating on one of them). Some of the images needed straightening and others contained cloning faults or dust spots that could be removed. Coloured distractions could be avoided by converting to black and white. Elaine also suggested removing some distractions, such as a bollard in the foregound.  Elaine suggested giving some of the images a clarity boost to improve their overall sharpness.    The top scorers were (in reverse order):

  • 5th place (50 points)
    • Carol Edmond
    • Ross Robertson
  • 4th place (51 points)
    • Jennifer Davidson
    • Joe Fowler
    • Mike Clark
  • 3rd place (54 points)
    • Steven Beard
  • 2nd place (55 points)
    • Gavin Marshall
  • 1st place (57 points)
    • George Todd

The top images were:

  • Niqab Lady (George Todd) – 20 points
  • Guitar Man (Steven Beard) – 19 points
  • Home Delivery (George Todd) – 19 points
  • Stranger Danger (Mike Clark) – 19 points
  • Like My Outfit (Gavin Marshall) – 19 points
  • The Shore (Jennifer Davidson) – 18 points
  • Penny for your Thoughts (Joe Fowler) – 18 points
  • Castle Combe (Steven Beard) – 18 points
  • Business is Slow (George Todd) – 18 points
  • Look He’s Reading (Carol Edmund) – 18 points
  • Oops (Gavin Marshall) – 18 points
  • Saxaphonist (Gavin Marshall) – 18 points

Well done to George Todd, who wins the right to judge next year’s competition! Special congratulations should also go to Gavin Marshall for his best competition result so far, and to new member, Ross Robertson, for being well placed in his very first competition.    When combined with the scores from the previous two competitions, the final result is:

  • 1st place
    • Steven Beard (51 + 54 = 105)
  • 2nd place
    • George Todd (47 + 57 = 104)
  • 3rd place
    • Joe Fowler (52 + 51 = 103)
  • 4th place
    • Mike Clark (51 + 51 = 102)
  • 5th place
    • Malcolm Roberts (49 + 51 = 100)
  • 6th place
    • Carol Edmond (49 + 50 = 99)
    • Jennifer Davidson (48 + 51 = 99)
    • Elaine Gilroy (47 + 56 = 103)

I was astonished to win the trophy! Well done everyone else, and thank you Elaine for judging the competition. Some members missed the beginning of this competition because of the change of hours at Fisherrow, but Elaine was kind enough to give a replay of the first 15 minutes.

See you next Thursday when we have our joint meeting with Musselburgh Art Club. We are meeting in the larger room, G6, at 7:15pm

17 March 2022 (Charles Everitt: Water of Leith: Nature’s Course)

This week we were delighted to welcome Charles Everitt to the Fisherrow Centre to give us a face-to-face talk on one of his passions: exploring and photographing nature along the Water of Leith in Edinburgh. Charles is a retired police officer who has been a photographer for 30 years and now sits as a trustee on the Water of Leith Conservation Trust. The talk is based on Charles’ book “Water of Leith: Nature’s Course”, published in 2011. Charles was named Scottish Nature Photographer of the Year in 2020 and has contributed to the Wild Nature Diary & Calendar. You can find more of Charles’ work on his web site:

https://www.charleseveritt.com/

Charles began by introducing us to the Water of Leith, from its source in the Pentland Hills, through Colinton Dell, Longstone, Saughton Park, Murrayfield, Dean Village, Stockbridge, and finally Leith docks. He showed us images of the landmarks, wildlife and wildflowers he photographed along the way. Then he introduced us to some more abstract works: special effects created by the light reflected from the water, patterns created by frost and frozen leaves, jumbles of shapes created by the leaf litter. Street lighting, flowers or foliage reflected in the water can create some strong colours. Next he showed us tranquil photographs of the river, with the movement in the water emphasised by a long exposure. Charles finds a 1/8th second exposure shot is usually the best compromise, but he also uses 0.6s and 1.6s for a more blurry effect. He looks like places where the white water can form a line which helps create a lead-in for the viewer. A popular combination is “leaf, stone and water”, where a coloured leaf is placed on a stone in the middle of a stream of running water.

Charles explained how modern equipment has changed the nature of photography. In the past it took a lot of skill to capture a sharp and focussed image of, say, a bird in flight. But now a good camera will tend to do this for you, and everyone can take sharp photographs of birds in flight. To stand out, your photographs need to provide something extra. The emphasis is now on what the picture shows and what story it tells. When he is in a new situation, or is running out of ideas, Charles challenges himself to tell the story of his situation in 6 pictures. One example is “Winter’s Toll”, his series of 6 pictures showing dying vegetation. Another example is the 6 images he took while sheltering under the bridge at Murrayfield, showing the texture of the brickwork, the reflections in the water and the soot revealing evidence of a past railway.

Charles ended his presentation with his photographs of the Gormley statues. He showed how the statues could be made to look very different using different photographic techniques. Tranquil shots of the statues gazing up the water (with the background foliage cleverly blurred using a long exposure shot on a windy day). Close-up portraits of the statues. Night shots of the statues lit by a coloured torch. Finally, there were some low-key black and white photographs which looked like scenes from a horror or science fiction movie.

Thank you, Charles, for visiting and entertaining us with a fascinating talk.

10 March 2022 (Swedish Interclub)

Another year has gone by very quickly, and this week we were delighted to be once again joined by members from Mölnlycke Fotoclubb, in Gothenburg, Sweden for our annual interclub meeting. This time Musselburgh Camera Club members met at the Fisherrow Centre, or by Zoom, and joined Mölnlycke Fotoclubb members by Zoom.

The evening began with Musselburgh members reviewing the 17 images submitted by Mölnlycke Fotoclubb. Members commented on the images and then voted for their top 3 favourites. The most popular images were:

  • 1st place (9 votes)
    • A beautiful long exposure image of a woodland stream. We really liked the contrast between the sharp display of leaves in the foreground and the milky water leading your eye to the background.
  • 2nd place (8 votes)
    • A beautiful, misty and artistic image of a group of reflected trees. We liked the minimalist nature of this well-composed image.
  • 3rd equal (7 votes)
    • A well captured image of a child on a swing surrounded by a deserted beach.
  • 3th equal (7 votes)
    • A street photography image of a musician playing in front of some window dummies. We liked the “footwear and accessories” theme and the almost perfect exposure.
  • 4th place (6 votes)
    • A striking image of frost patterns on a window which looked like the side view of a woman’s head and shoulders. The colours and textures on this image looked like abstract art.
  • 5th place (5 votes)
    • A colourful, misty panorama of trees blending into a glorious orange sky.

Mölnlycke Fotoclubb members then commented on our 19 images, classifying them into “winners” and “almost winners”.

  • Winners:
    • Stylish (Carol Edmund).
    • Misty Morning Loch Ard (Mike Clark).
    • Chaffinch Affection (Malcolm Roberts).
  • Almost winners:
    • Candlemakers (George Todd).
    • Trees (Kevin Johnson).
    • Flooded Park (Joe Fowler).

Well done to Carol, Mike, Malcolm, George, Kevin and Joe for impressing the Mölnlycke Fotoclubb members It was good to catch up everyone again. Roll on next year…

03 March 2022 (David Clapp: Landscape and Travel Photography)

On 3rd March 2022 we joined Beeslack Penicuik Camera Club for a joint session by Zoom, which once again let us to connect with a photographer from further afield. This time we were joined by David Clapp, a successful travel and landscape photographer from Newton Abbot, England. David said he started photography in 2002/2003, at first capturing images on film before moving on to digital photography. He started as a guitar teacher but his interest in photography lead to a career as a full-time professional in 2009. He has contributed travel photographs to guide books and stock photos to Getty Images. David explained that he doesn’t like the “instant gratification” aspect of social media. He prefers people to take more time and enjoy photography as an artform. You can see and enjoy David’s images one his website or his teaching page:

/https://www.davidclapp.co.uk/

https://www.westdean.org.uk/study/tutors/david-clapp

David began by showing us a trick he uses to select the best compositions from a vista. If he finds himself looking at a panoramic landscape he takes a series of, say 7, overlapping shots in portrait mode and then blends them into a large panorama. He can then crop out smaller compositions from this large image. Shooting in portrait mode means you don’t lose resolution when extracting portrait-format subsets. David suggested that the best way to progress in photography is to take risks. Take photographs that mean something to you, rather than photographs designed to please your peers. David took a risk when he converted one of his cameras to infrared photography, but it paid off. He showed us some stunning images of gnarled trees photographed around Dartmoor. The shots looked like snow scenes, but were in fact taken on a misty summer day with the infrared-converted camera.

David explained the composition of his landscape images and illustrated each composition by drawing “force lines” which represented the leading lines which your eye tends to follow. The strongest compositions have “force lines” which come in from a corner and lead you to a focal point. He tries to place focal points either on a 1/3rd or in the middle. Lines which criss-cross the image give it more complexity. David also showed how a balanced image would look more pleasing to the eye. He arranges to have the same-sized gap on the left and right sides and at the top and bottom of each image. He finds the most pleasing compositions are made at moderate focal lengths, and finds a 35-70mm lens ideal for landscape photography. A few years ago everyone tried to capture the “rock in the foreground” shot, where a wide angle lens captures a huge vista stretching from a rock in the foreground, to some trees in the middle ground and then mountains in the distance. Such a shot can capture the attention at first, but your brain tends to lose interest because too much is included and the foreground objects dominate the shot. David prefers to take landscape shots of specific objects within their surroundings, such as the trees in Dartmoor, rock formations on the top of a hill, or farm buildings within a farm. He recommends avoiding focal lengths wider than 35mm.

David described the method he uses to capture the best landscape shots. He avoids using a tripod (unless deliberately making long exposures at night) and instead takes hand-held shots at a high ISO setting. A tripod tends to anchor you to one spot, and David likes to look through the viewfinder, identify the key components in a scene, then move the camera until he finds a spot where the key components are spaced in a pleasing way. Try to have evenly-spaced objects in the scene and try not to have overlaps between objects. Zoom in and out and rotate the camera to find a shot where lines are anchored at the corners. If there is a building in the scene, try to include the door, and don’t turn take the shot more than 45 degrees away from that door.

David warns of falling into the trap of using excessive processing in Photoshop. Adding a colour or contrast boost to your images might make them look punchier, but it can also make them look unnatural. This is another example of spoiling images to make them attention-grabbing. David showed us the histograms of some of his images. They rarely contain completely white or completely black areas because most natural scenes don’t look completely black or completely white to your eye. This gives the images a more pleasing, natural and artistic look. Revisiting the same scenes many times in different lighting conditions will help you capture the best images.

In the second half of his talk, David gave an introduction to architectural photography, using images of the high rise buildings in Bishops Gate in London as an example. He explained how he applies the same techniques for these images. Shots of small groups of buildings work better than large cityscapes. You can even capture abstract images by focusing on just one part of a building. Upward-facing shots can be used to capture a strong perspective, with the vanishing point placed on a 1/3rd or in the middle. Try to rotate the shot so the edges of the buildings pass through the corners. Photographs of window reflections work better when there are no clouds in the sky.

Unfortunately, Musselburgh members at the Fisherrow Centre missed the end of David’s talk because of the early closing time 😦 but I understand he went on to show more abstract images captured in London and show more infrared shots.

Thank you very much Beeslack for hosting this extremely fascinating and captivating talk, and thank you David for taking the time to engage with us.

24 February 2022 (3 Way Inter-Club Competition)

The 3-way inter-club competition between Musselburgh Camera Club, Beeslack Penicuik Camera Club and Haddington Camera Club took place on Thursday, 24th February 2022. The meeting was hosted by Beeslack via Zoom, with images judged by Simon Allen from Dumfries Camera Club. Musselburgh had come 4th in the 4-way interclub competition earlier in the year, so we were eager to do better this time.

Each club has submitted 15 digital images, making a grand total of 45 images. There were landscape images, wildlife images, horticultural images and portraits ranging from characters at a battle re-enactment to a family beach holiday. The most unusual image was a stunning astrophotograph called “Cygnus Wall”, submitted by Haddington.

Simon mentioned there was a high standard of images overall. There were no bad images, and the marks represented the overall ranking of the images compared against each other. Simon commented on the composition and execution of each image. He described what he liked and didn’t like about each one. The best photographs had a clear distinction between subject and background, and images with bright distractions lost marks. But Simon pointed out that some background objects were necessary to show the whole story. For example, a portrait of a soldier would not have worked without the out of focus image of his musket. Some images had sharp edges in the background which might have been created by selections in Photoshop not being properly feathered.

Musselburgh members watched the competition either from home or from room G3 at Fisherrow. The post-competition chat had to be curtailed for those at Fisherrow because of a change to the Fisherrow opening hours (so apologies to Beeslack and Haddington that we had to leave so quickly at the end). The final scores were:

  • 1st place: Musselburgh Camera Club, 255 points.
  • 2nd place: Beeslack Penicuik Camera Club, 248 points.
  • 3rd place: Haddington Camera Club, 232 points.

So our revamped selection of images was a big success! Here are Simon’s best Musselburgh images:

  • Roe deer on guard (Jennifer Davidson) – 17 points.
  • Glenfinnan Viaduct (Steven Beard) – 17 points.
  • White Tailed Sea Eagle (Mike Clark) – 18 points.
  • Millarochy Bay Sunset (Gordon Davidson) – 18 points
  • Kalia – Green Activist (George Todd) – 19 points
  • Dreaming of days gone by (George Todd) – 19 points
  • Stylish (Carol Edmund) – 19 points
  • Mountain Gem Humming Bird (George Todd) – 20 points

Well done to Musselburgh, thank you to everyone who provided images for this competition, thank you to Simon Allen for judging it and thank you to Beeslack for hosting it.

In case you missed it

If you were not at Musselburgh Camera Club last Thursday, Andrew Lanxon Hoyle has now added a recording of his talk on “Expanding Your Mental Kitbag” to his YouTube channel:

We get a plug at the beginning. The recording shows everything except the extensive question and answer session we had at the end.

See you this Thursday for the 2-way competition.

Cheers,
Steven

17 February 2022 (Andrew Lanxon Hoyle: Expanding Your Mental Kitbag)

This week we were delighted to welcome our second face-to-face speaker of the season. Andrew Lanxon Hoyle is an Edinburgh-based photographer and senior editor for the technology publication CNET.com, responsible for shooting automotive, product and editorial images. Andrew has his own web page displaying his work, where you can find many of the images he showed us tonight.

http://lanxonphotography.com/

He is also well-known for posting photography stories and advice on his many social media channels:

In fact, you can find now a recording of his talk here:

Andrew gave us a presentation entitled “Expanding Your Mental Kitbag”. If you find yourself running out of ideas as a photographer, or are not happy with the images you are creating, it is tempting to try expanding your kitbag. Surely, buying an expensive piece of kit like a new lens will help improve your work? But Andrew pointed out that you could just end up pointing your new lens at the same subjects. Instead he recommends expanding your mental kitbag. Don’t let yourself be categorised as just one type of photographer (landscape, portrait, macro, still life, etc…) if you happen to be good at that one thing. Try new ideas, new situations and new techniques. You will find that ideas that work in one area of photography can be adapted to a new area and bring sometimes surprising results.

Andrew took us on a fascinating photographic journey from when he started with simple product photography to his later, more sophisticated use of lighting. He learned an off-camera flash lighting technique for wedding photography and then found he could use that same technique for his editorial images. Andrew’s signature is to find unusual ways of showing a subject. Where most product photographers would show someone holding a phone, Andrew would show the phone against an abstract landscape. And instead of showing a distillery manager sampling his whisky, he photographed him in the grain silo! The more techniques Andrew tried, the more he learned how to use lighting. A DJ’s spotlights could be used to make a unique wedding shot. A high speed flash can be used to freeze the motion of a water splash, whatever the shutter speed. The highlight of the evening was Andrew’s story of how he photographed the Bugatti Chiron. Instead of settling on the usual “on the road” shot, Andrew proposed to shoot the Bugatti at night against a popular landmark in Madrid. The photoshoot required a road to be closed by a police escort. The shot was created using a light painting technique where the car was lit from different angles and dozens of shots stacked together to give the final result. Andrew impressed Bugatti so much they nicked his photo. That must be the definition of success!

Thank you very much for inspiring us with a fascinating talk.