12 November 2020 (Colour Print Competition)

This week we had our virtual replacement for the colour print competition. Members submitted the images they would have used as colour prints digitally. The competition was judged by Fiona Brims of Stirling and District Camera Club. You can see some of Fiona’s work at the link below.


Fiona was unable to join us by Zoom, so George Todd read out her comments. Fiona began with a letter telling us that judging the images had been difficult because there had been so many good entries. She had had to be pernickety in her judging to separate these images, but she explained this was just one person’s judgement. She was born in Musselburgh and was delighted to be judging for her old home town.

54 images had been entered altogether. There were landscapes, portraits, photographs of birds (which Fiona recognised by name from the World of Wings bird of prey centre) and close-ups of flowers and cacti. There were also some imaginative abstract images, some of which Fiona felt were more digital art than digital photography. Fiona commented on the composition and technical execution of each image. There were some images where a longer shutter speed could have given a more dynamic image of a moving target by adding motion blur, and there were other images of moving water where a shorter shutter speed would have prevented burn out. Some of the close-up images could have been improved by a smaller aperture and larger depth of field. Some images were let down by dust marks, noisy backgrounds or editing mistakes. Fiona didn’t like the ivory borders that some members had used and recommended that digital images should have borders no wider than 3 pixels.

The top scorers were (in reverse order):

  • 5th place (46 points)
    • Gordon Davidson
  • 4th place (48 points)
    • Sean Conner
  • 3rd place (50 points)
    • Joe Fowler
    • Malcolm Roberts
    • Steven Beard
    • Steve Williams
  • 2nd place (52 points)
    • George Todd
    • Mike Clark
    • Anne Yeomans
  • 1st place (53 points)
    • Jennifer Davidson

The top images were:

  • Rattray Head at Dusk (Steve Williams) – 20 points
  • Sparrowhawk (Jennifer Davidson) – 19 points
  • Pool Room (Joe Fowler) – 19 points
  • Hover Fly on Flower (Malcolm Roberts) – 19 points
  • Brown Hare Grazing (George Todd) – 19 points
  • Incoming (Mike Clark) – 19 points
  • Northern Gannet (Anne Yeomans) – 18 points

The fact that the top images are spread between so many members shows the consistent quality of the entries. Well done everyone, and an especially well done to Jennifer Davidson, who wins the trophy. My apologies to Anne Yeomans, whose superb image of a gannet catching a fish in mid air would have done better without the ivory border I had provided in my earlier post.

29 October 2020 (Members Show Their Work)

This week Steven Beard, Kevin Johnson and Gavin Marshall showed the photographs they had taken in the past year. Steven showed photographs he had taken on walks around Prestonpans during lockdown, revealing the hidden details you don’t normally see unless you have the opportunity to stay and look closely. Kevin also showed some lockdown images from Musselburgh and some pre-lockdown photographs of Glasgow and Amsterdam. Gavin Marshall shared the night shots he had taken on a rallying trip to the Isle of Mull and shots of Jodrell Bank telescope and Lindisfarne. Here are some links with more information on the subjects featured in the photographs:

It is time to start planning another socially distanced photoshoot. We have our next photoshoot roundup planned for 19th November 2020. It was suggested that Flanders Moss Nature Reserve would make a great location for landscape and wildlife photography. However, with the expected travel restrictions we will have to save that trip for another day and try something closer to home. 😦 We decided to go for Calton Hill and places in the east of Edinburgh. If you have the opportunity to visit Edinburgh in the next 3 weeks, capture some pictures to bring along. If travel restrictions prevent you from travelling to Edinburgh, take some local photographs with an Edinburgh theme, or find some Edinburgh photographs in your collection. I look forward to seeing what you bring along on 19th November.

In the meantime, we have a recorded lecture and colour print competition coming up…


22 October 2020 (International Swedish Members Evening)

We were delighted to welcome members of Mölnlycke Fotoclubb, Gothenburg to our very first international members evening. Connecting virtually by Zoom means we can meet up with other club members anywhere in the world. Our host for the evening was Jan Arell, the chair of Mölnlycke Fotoclubb.

Jan introduced us to a recent trip the club had made to Ramsvik, a small photogenic island on the west coast of Sweden about 150 km north of Gothenburg. The island has quite a stark appearance, with hard granite rocks making interesting shapes.  A blue sea, bright green algae and green lichen scattered amongst the rocks adds to the interest.  Jan showed us the pictures their members had taken during the visit. There were images of the sea, sky and rocks taken from different viewpoints. There was even a great shot of a curious polecat. The weirdly-shaped holes carved into the rocks by the sea gave an opportunity for numerous abstract compositions. The rocky textures also produced impressive black and white images, and some of the rocks were so shiny they looked almost metallic. There were a few houses on the island which featured in many of the photographs and helped to add more shapes and colours. There were also portraits showing common activities on the island, such as hiking, mountain biking and, of course, photography. The show finished with a view of the setting sun next to a wine glass.

Musselburgh camera club members returned the favour by showing Mölnlycke Fotoclubb members some of the pictures they have taken during last year’s visit to Gothenburg. We also showed them images of Seacliff Beach,  the Pentland Hills,  Rosslyn Chapel,  leaping salmon in Loch Achray,  The Kelpiesthe Magdalene Chapel in Edinburgh and Musselburgh to whet their appetite for a visit to Scotland once the travel and social restrictions are lifted. We finished the evening with a lovely chat. It was a pity we couldn’t share some tea and biscuits.

We will have another opportunity to meeting up with Mölnlycke Fotoclubb on 11th March when we have our Swedish Inter-club Competition.



08 October 2020 (Digital Projected Images Competition)

This week the club had its first competition of the season, and the first ever competition judged virtually from our own homes. We were pleased to welcome Dougie Allan from Beeslack Penicuik Camera Club. Dougie also took the opportunity to show us some more of his impressive drone photography.

There were 54 images altogether, covering a wide range of different subjects. The pictures included landscapes, sporting events, portraits, wildlife, flowers and some interesting abstracts. Dougie commented on the composition, sharpness, focus and depth of field of each image. There were some lovely compositions which were not sharp and some sharp images that were let down by distracting elements in the composition. A shallow depth of field can be good at reducing distractions from background objects, but it doesn’t help if those distracting objects are brightly coloured (like a red mushroom or a yellow wheel). Some images needed a larger depth of field to keep more of the subject in focus and some images could have been improved with a longer exposure time (to add motion blur or to blur the water). Dougie also mentioned that some images, where the subject was dark against a light background, could have been improved by adding light from a flash or reflector. There were also some fantastic shots where all the elements worked, and these images gained the highest marks. The virtual nature of the presentation, with everyone muted, meant the top scorers didn’t get the loud applause they all deserved. The top scorers were (in reverse order):

  • 5th place (51 points)
    • John West
  • 4th place (53 points)
    • Mike Clark
  • 3rd place (54 points)
    • Joe Fowler
    • Steven Beard
  • 2nd place (57 points)
    • Gordon Davidson
  • 1st place (58 points)
    • GeorgeTodd

The top images were:

  • Making a Splash (Joe Fowler) – 20 points
  • Hare on the Move (George Todd) – 20 points
  • Calton Hill (Gordon Davidson) – 20 points
  • Making an Exhibition of Yourself (Steven Beard) – 19 points
  • Tearing up the Track (George Todd) – 19 points
  • Taking the Last Jump (George Todd) – 19 points
  • Forth Bridge at Sunrise (Gordon Davidson) – 19 points
  • Royal Highland Show (Steven Beard) – 18 points
  • Roe Deer Buck Portrait (Mike Clark) – 18 points
  • Shipwreck Sunset (Mike Clark) – 18 points
  • Wallace Monument at Dawn (Gordon Davidson) – 18 points
  • Stretching Time (John West) – 18 points

Well done to George Todd for winning the competition with only 2 points short of a perfect score.  And well done to everybody else who entered. There was an improvement in image quality across the board this year. A newcomer who is improving today can be a winner of the future.

Next week we will go through the competition images a second time, with more opportunity for feedback and questions.

01 October 2020 (Photo Advice Evening)

On 1st October we had our first virtual photo advice evening. Normally we would sit around tables in the Fisherrow Centre and discuss the prints brought by members, passing the prints from table to table, and finish the evening with a chat over tea and biscuits. This year we discussed digital versions of our images by Zoom teleconference. Each member presented 3 images for comments and advice. Unlike the photoshoot round-up last week, this time we spent much longer on each image discussing its merits and suggesting improvements. Some of the lessons learned were:

  • Macro photography is difficult and focusing is critical. If you are close to your subject even small camera movements can shift the focus away from your subject. Flowers blowing in the wind can drift in and out of focus as they move, and you if you choose a smaller aperture to give a greater DOF the wind can cause motion blur. Macro photography is best done using a tripod in a sheltered spot. Hand-held macro shots let you be more creative, but you should allow for a lot more rejected shots.
  • A focus stack is difficult to get right, but small focus increments work best, and the shots are best made using a tripod. Try taking a test shot at a very small aperture (such as f/22-f/32) to see how your subject looks with a large DOF. The focus stack will have worked if you can create a sharper shot than the one taken at the very small aperture. (Shots at very small apertures are blurred by diffraction.)
  • A landscape image works best when there is something interesting in the foreground, such as a house, a river or a path which leads the eye to the interesting scenery in the background. It is well worth collecting photographs of interesting skies, even if the foreground is boring. You can replace a boring sky in a landscape shot with an interesting one from your collection.
  • Nature and wildlife images work best when there is a narrow DOF and no distracting objects in the background. Ideally, distractions should be avoided by careful composition in camera but we don’t always notice everything at the time. Distractions can be cropped out or darkened or (for nature photography only) removed by cloning. These days, the most successful nature and wildlife shots are ones that capture interesting or unusual behaviour.
  • Shots made at unusual angles can work really well. Try getting down on the ground and photographing your flowers from their level, or capturing a crabs-eye view of the shells on a beach.

Thank you to everybody who brought and shared their images. There were some really cracking flower and nature shots we may well see again in future competitions.

  • Next week we have our first competition of the year. Dougie Allan will judge our Digital Projected Images Competition. Our first virtual competition. I look forward to seeing you then.


24 September 2020 (Outdoor Photoshoot Roundup)

On 24th September club members met to discuss their experiences visiting the The Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh.  Members had visited the gardens on different days and at different times, and had photographed the plants and flowers under different lighting conditions. We took turns to show the images we had captured during our visit. We quickly discovered the following subjects had attracted attention and been independently photographed by members in different ways:

  • The young moorhen in the pond.
  • The plants growing in the rock garden.
  • An inquisitive squirrel.

There were lots of photographs of flowers and wildlife, photographs showing the texture of tree bark and photographs showing the natural patterns made by leaves and foliage.  There were also some photographs of the patterns created by the flotsam in the pond, and a lovely photograph of the Chinese pavilion.

This was our first practice at screen sharing in Zoom and it worked.


17 September 2020 (Opening Night and Trophy Presentation)

We started the 2020-21 season with a very different kind of opening night. We normally meet up at the Fisherrow Centre for a social gathering, a look back at the previous year’s photographs and a look forward to the coming events on the syllabus. It is an opportunity for potential new members to come and meet our members, try out the club and see if it is the kind of club they would like to join. None of that happened this year. The Fisherrow Centre remains closed to clubs, and due to Covid-19 restrictions we can’t meet face to face as a group. But we have a new Zoom Pro account to try out, we can meet virtually from our own homes and find creative ways to make this season work.

I was pleased to be able to announce two new events on the syllabus. There will be a joint meeting with Mölnlycke Fotoclubb on 22nd October and a presentation of images from two photographers from The Netherlands on 3rd December. Being able to meet via Zoom gives us the opportunity to meet other photographers around the world.

Our first creative event of the season was a simulation of the trophy presentation that would have taken place at the end of the last season. Normally, we would have the trophies neatly arranged in order on a table, with the bronze, silver and gold medals lined up. The winners would be called up one by one to accept their prize. Instead of this face-to-face ceremony, George Todd (our competition secretary) put together a presentation to run us through the competition results. The winner of each trophy was announced by an impressive curtain-open transition, while members responded with cheers and Zoom reaction buttons; and some winners responded with surprise because they had forgotten they had won! Here are the full results. Congratulations to all the winners:

The next creative event will be a socially-distanced photoshoot at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh. Some members had already visited, and others were intending to visit this weekend. We will all visit separately but join up at the next club meeting (on 24th September) to discuss our visit and share our pictures. I look forward to seeing you all again next week.

10 September 2020 (Extra Club Meeting)

We are starting the 2020-21 season two weeks later than usual. There has been a lot of uncertainty over the summer about whether or not the Fisherrow Centre would reopen, and exactly how many of our meetings we would need to hold by Zoom videoconference. This extra club meeting was arranged by Zoom to inform members about the latest news. Here is a summary:

  • The club needs to follow guidance for keeping members safe during the covid-19 pandemic. The situation is changing constantly and members are advised to monitor the web site and watch out for club emails to be informed of last minute changes. You can find some guidance at the following links:
  • Existing members can join the club by emailing the treasurer, returning an application form and paying their membership fee by bank transfer or cheque. New members can contact the club secretary (as stated on the home page) and will be referred to the treasurer.
  • The Fisherrow Centre is closed until further notice, so all our meetings will be held by Zoom unless otherwise stated. I have created two sets of recurring meetings for members:
    • A meeting at 19:30 every Thursday for our regular club meetings.
    • A meeting at 19:30 every Tuesday for extra meetings such as training sessions.
    • When members join the club they will be given the information needed to join these two meetings. However, we can create as many meetings as we like, and the club is not limited just to these two occasions.
    • Haddington camera club have kindly provided a link to this article describing how to use Zoom:
  • There has been a change to the club rules for Digital Projected Images. All images must now be no wider than 1600 pixels and no taller than 1200 pixels. The matches the club rules to Scottish Photographic Federation (SPF) rules.
    • The deadline for submitting images to the DPI competition is Thursday 17th September. Please email them to georgetodd1957@me.com.
  • Print competitions will take place digitally until further notice. Judges will accept images digitally, but they must be sized to the same limits as DPIs.
    • Members can add a small border to indicate how they would have mounted their image, but this is entirely optional.
    • Because of the image size limit, use a thin border, not the thick border demonstrated in my previous club message.
  • We would like to arrange regular photoshoots so that members have an opportunity to meet face to face outdoors. The following venues were suggested:
  • The maximum limit of 6 people from 2 households meeting up will make photoshoots more difficult but not impossible. We can follow this procedure:
    • The club advertises a venue and a 2 hour time slot.
    • Members make their own arrangements and visit the venue during that time slot.
    • Up to 6 members from 2 households can arrange to meet up.
    • After the visit we meet together by Zoom, show our pictures and compare our experience.
  • The recent change in the rules on meeting people in Scotland means that next week’s opening night and trophy presentation cannot take place face to face. Instead, George will present the trophies virtually and will arrange to have them delivered to winners.

The real start of the club season begins next week with our opening night and long overdue presentation of the trophies from last year. I look forward to seeing you again (albeit through a computer screen).

How to Make a Digital Print

Our new season is fast approaching. This season, because of covid-19 restrictions, it is likely that many of our print competitions will need to be held digitally. Our judges have agreed to accept digital versions of images and judge them as if they were prints.

So how do you distinguish a print competition from a digital projected image competition if both competitions are judged digitally? Well, one of the differences in a print competition is choice of mount: its colour and size relative to the print. For a digital competition you won’t be able to physically mount your prints, but you can make it look like they have been mounted. The following presentation shows you how to do it using Photoshop.


Here is a mount-board swatch I created by scanning samples of my own mount-board. If you have a different selection of favourite mount-board colours, you can scan or photograph samples of your own to make a similar swatch.

Of course, with “digital” printing you can create a mount-board in any colour you like!

I look forward to see you all at this Thursday’s extra meeting and welcoming you to the start of the new season.

27 February 2020 (3-Way Inter-club Competition)

This week Musselburgh Camera Club hosted the first of a new series of 3-way competitions with Beeslack Penicuik Camera Club and Haddington Camera Club. I was disappointed to miss this competition myself, due to a late night at work. I would like to (belatedly) welcome Beeslack and Haddington to Musselburgh and hope they enjoyed the homemade cakes that we usually lay on for such occasions.

The competition was judged by Doug Bernt from Edinburgh Photographic Society. I heard that Doug picked up on every detail that he thought would improve the images submitted. Each club submitted 5 prints and 10 digital images each, and the competition was split into 3 stages: 15 prints followed by the first 15 digital images, then the remaining 15 digital images. Musselburgh Camera Club submitted the best print (Taj Mahal “Before The Crowds”), but Haddington Camera Club submitted the best digital image (The Green Dress).  The final scores were as follows:

The top Musselburgh images were:

  • Taj Mahal “Before The Crowds” (print) – 20 points
  • Tanahun Priest (print) – 19 points
  • Loch Ard Boat (DPI) – 19 points
  • Pelican Reflection (DPI) – 19 points
  • Razorbill (DPI)
  • Magnificent Hummingbird (DPI) – 18 points

Thank you to Doub Bernt and well done to Musselburgh Camera Club for another decisive win!