13 December 2018 (Black and White Print Competition)

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)
    • Malcolm Roberts
  • 4th place (49 points)
    • Sean Connor
  • 3rd place (51 points)
    • Joe Fowler
  • 2nd place (55 points)
    • Jim Tod
  • 1st place (57 points)
    • George Todd

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

29 November 2018 (Digital Knockout Competition – Transparency)

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!

22 November 2018 (Introduction to Audio-Visual Presentations)

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.

MCCIntroductionToAudioVisualsNotes

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!

 

19 November 2018 (4-Way Inter-club Competition at Kirkcaldy)

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.

15 November 2018 (Colour Print Competition)

This week we had the pleasure of entertaining Dougie Allen from Beeslack Penicuik Camera Club, who judged our colour print competition. There were 56 prints altogether covering a wide variety of subjects, including photographs of wildlife, portraits of people, and landscapes. The general quality was high, and a lot of the images submitted scored 17-points or more, although none of the images received 20 points. The most frequent comment about an image was the need to crop out a distraction. Dougie commented on the bland-looking sky in some of the prints and recommended the use of a polarizing filter to enhance the contrast in the sky.

The top scorers were (in reverse order):

  • 5th place (49 points)
    • Malcolm Roberts
    • Lorraine Roberts
    • Simon Wilkinson
    • Steven Beard
    • George Davidson
  • 4th place (51 points)
    • Mike Clark
    • Steve Barber
  • 3rd place (52 points)
    • Charlie Briggs
    • Joe Fowler
    • George Todd
  • 2nd place (50 points)
    • Jennifer Davidson
  • 1st place (54 points)
    • Jim Tod

The top images were

  • Jay (Charlie Briggs) – 19 points
  • Low Tide (Joe Fowler) – 19 points
  • Lubber Hopper (Jim Tod) – 19 points
  • Hare Raiding Barley Field (Jennifer Davidson) – 18 points
  • Osprey Carrying Catch (Jennifer Davidson) – 18 points
  • Jacobite (Jim Tod) – 18 points.
  • Rapid Teamwork (George Todd) – 18 points
  • Licking My Wounds (Mike Clark) – 18 points
  • Concentration (Steve Barbour)– 18 points

Congratulations to Jim Tod, winning with a great set of prints.

  • This Thursday, 22nd November, I will give an introduction to audio visual presentations – a different way to present your work.
  • Don’t forget to bring along your Black and White prints this Thursday.

25 October 2018 (Set Subject Competition – Seascapes)

Last year, on 26th October 2017, Helen and Martin Lunden jointly won the “Circles and Squares” set subject competition and earned themselves the right to judge this year’s competition. Since then, Helen and Martin have moved to Sweden, but this didn’t stop them from judging. Here is the message they sent to club members from across the North Sea:

Dear all,

Here are the results from the Swedish jury! Thanks for giving us the responsibility of judging the seascape competition! We really enjoyed it and hope you won’t hate us after you have heard the results. We would have liked to be there on Thursday obviously but we’re sadly stuck here with work and what not. Enjoy the evening. There are some really amazing photos here and we loved looking at them. Would like to hang some of these on a wall. (We haven’t made our own prints, we promise!)

All the best to all of you,
Martin and Helen

Helen and Martin had compiled a comprehensive set of comments and scores to present on the night. The seascape images included a lot of familiar coastal places, such as North Berwick, Bass Rock, Seacliff Beach and Dunbar Harbour, plus some more distant views from Mull, Harris, the Isle of Skye, the Farne Islands and Orkney. There were also some exotic seascapes from Tenerife, Vietnam, South Africa and Australia. There were a wide variety of imaginative shots focusing on different aspects of the sea: sunsets, rocks and sand, seaweed, the coastal architecture, fishing boats, people on the beach and coastal wildfife. The most common fault found in some of the images was a sloping horizon, which is very important to get right in a seascape. Some images could also have been improved by getting closer to the foreground subject or cropping out unwanted distractions. There were positive comments about the beautiful colours and textures captured in some of the images, and the dedication of the photographer who took the image entitled “5am Wake Up Call”. The full list of comments can be found on the club noticeboard.

The top scoring images were

  • Heavy Rain (Joe Fowler) [left] – 20 points
  • Abandoned Pier (Jim Tod) [right] – 20 points
  • Bass Rock Sunset (Jim Tod) – 19 points
  • The Last Of The Pier (Steve Barber) – 19 points
  • Bow Fiddle Sunrise (Jim Tod) – 18 points
  • Bridge To Nowhere (Neil Valentine) – 18 points

There were also a lot of images scoring 17 points, which made a different to the final rankings. The highest scorers were:

  • 5th = place (49 points)
    • Simon Wilkinson
    • Mike Clark
  • 4th place (50 points)
    • Steve Barber
  • 3rd place (51 points)
    • Steven Beard
    • Gordon Davidson
  • 2nd place (54 points)
    • Joe Fowler
  • 1st place (57 points)
    • Jim Tod

Thank you very much Helen and Martin for spending their time judging our images and giving us such detailed and helpful comments. Well done to all who took part. This is the first of 3 linked competitions, so there is still everything to play for.  he next competitions in the series are “Abstract” on 28th February 2019 and “Street Photography” on 21st March 2019. Congratulations to Jim Tod, who wins the right to judge next year’s competition!

  • Please can everyone who handed in prints for the colour print competition this week also email JPEG copies of the same images to George Todd (email address on the front of the syllabus). The images should be resized to 1600 pixels on the longest side. These new images will help us in the second 4-way competition in Kirkcaldy on 19th November 2018.
  • Please note there will be no more meetings at Fisherrow until 15th November 2018. On 1st November we will be travelling to Beeslack Penicuik Camera Club to take part in the 4-way inter-club competition, and on 8th November those with tickets will be travelling to Penicuik North Church Hall for an evening with Andy Rouse. I will email directions separately.
  • It is also time to arrange the Christmas Social Evening on 20th December 2018. We usually have a Christmas dinner at the Ravelston House Hotel in Musselburgh. Click here to see their Christmas menu. There is a sign-up sheet on the notice board at Fisherrow. If you would like to join us, and are willing to pay a £10 deposit, please contact the club secretary Steve Williams, whose email address you will find on the front of the syllabus.

 

18 October 2018 (Members Evening)

This week we had a members evening where 3 members showed an overview of their work. It’s a chance to show a selection of images to other members without needing to make them competition standard.

I began the evening with an overview of the “luminosity mask” technique in Photoshop, which Libby Smith had showed us earlier in the year. Those people who asked me for a step by step guide can download it by clicking the following link:

MCCAdjustingHighlights

I then showed some of the photographs taken on a short visit to Orkney during the summer. The images included the Ring of Brodgar, the Ness of Brodgar archaeological dig and Skara Brae neolithic village. I was lucky enough to sign up for an out of hours guided tour with Historic Scotland around the inside of some of the houses. This unique view allowed me to take close-ups of some of the stone furniture and photograph the inside of some of the tunnels linking the houses. The tours usually happen around the end of July each year. The tours are usually advertised on the Historic Scotland web site a few weeks in advance.

Malcolm and Lorraine Roberts showed us images taken on their recent trip to Vietnam. There were colourful portraits of the locals cycling, cooking or managing market stalls, including a shot of the crowd watching the Vietnamese football team competing in the under 23 World Cup. There were also some impressive shots of the local landscape, flowers and wildlife, and the cities at night.

Clive Davies showed us a Powerpoint presentation on the ‘Gardens of Japan’, with images of incredibly well-manicured gardens. There were zen gardens made of raked pebbles without a single leaf or piece of debris in the shot. There were landscapes in which every rock and stone had been carefully chosen and placed and every tree had been carefully pruned into the right shape. There were also some portraits, showing the discipline of the local school children and the endless hard work of the gardeners (who were difficult to photograph because they never kept still!).

If you have been inspired to bring along some of your own images, there is another members evening planned on 14th March 2019.

Some announcements:

  • Next week (25th October 2018) George will be receiving entries for the coloured print competition. Please bring up to 3 mounted coloured prints and give then to George. Please can you also email digital JPEG copies of your images to George.
  • Next week we will be announcing the results of the “seascapes” competition, the first of our 3 set subject competitions.
  • Note that next week will be our last planned meeting at Fisherrow until 15th November 2018. On 1st November we will be travelling to Beeslack Peniuick Camera Club to take part in the 4-way inter-club competition, and on 8th November those with tickets will be travelling to Pencuik North Church Hall for an evening with Andy Rouse.

 

11 October 2018 (Digital Projected Images Competition)

This week we had our first competition of the season, the very popular Digital Projected Images competition. The competition was judged by James Dyas of Motherwell Photographic Society. James had the tricky task of judging 69 images, all of which he liked in some way. There were landscape images, action shots, portraits, reenactments, holiday scenes, nature and flowers and a lot of macro shots of insects. James had positive things to say about each image, and even shots that were not properly focused were beautifully coloured. Some images inspired James to tell a story of similar scenes he had encountered. The backgrounds featured a lot in the feedback, and some images lost out because of a distracting background. One exception was the shot, “Foundry Workers, Blists Hill Iron Bridge”, where the cluttered background actually improved the shot because it enhanced the story told by the image and gave the viewer a chance to see new things with each viewing.

James reserved the highest marks for the very best images. The scoring was tight, but in the end there was a clear winner. The top scorers were (in reverse order):

  • 5th place (47 points)
    • Joe Fowler
    • George Todd
    • Gordon Davidson
  • 4th place (48 points)
    • Mike Clark
  • 3rd place (49 points)
    • Jim Tod
  • 2nd place (50 points)
    • Jennifer Davidson
  • 1st place (54 points)
    • Steve Barber

The top images were

  • Harvest Mice on Bluebells [left] (Steve Barber) – 20 points
  • Determination [middle] (Jennifer Davidson) – 19 points
  • Foundry Workers, Blist Hill Ironbridge [right] (Steve Barber) – 18 points
  • Down Hill Biker (Lorraine Roberts) – 17 points
  • Crowned Crane (Jim Tod) – 17 points
  • Ornate Horned Frog (Jim Tod) – 17 points.
  • Osprey With Catch (George Todd) – 17 points
  • Brown Hare Meadow (Mike Clark) – 17 points

Congratulations to newcomer Steve Barber for a fantastic achievement in his first competition with the club.

Next week we have a members’ evening. Steven Beard will present images from a recent trip to Orkney and Lorraine and Malcolm Roberts will show their shots from Vietnam.

 

4 October 2018 (Photo Advice Evening)

4th October was our annual photo advice evening, where members bring in prints and chat about them around a table. We were a little short of prints to discuss, so the pool was supplemented by the club’s existing folder of black and white and portrait prints. The most useful discussion tool around our table turned out to be a set of envelopes we used to crop the images. I hope everyone who brought prints got some good feedback from the evening. It is very useful to show a print to someone else before using it, because they notice things you have missed. (How did I miss the blue blob in the eye of the portrait I brought in???)

  • Next week James Dyas will be visiting us to judge the Digital Projected Images competition.
  • The following week, on 18th October 2018 there will be a members evening. Have you been away on holiday? Are you working on a photographic project? Please look into your archives and see if there are images you would like to bring in and show members.
  • The RSPB Inpiring Nature Calendar Competition is now open. The RSPB are looking for 12 nature-inspired images to show on their 2019 calendar, and there are pairs of binoculars to be won. The competition closes on 15th November 2018.

27 September 2018 (Introduction to Photography)

This week Joe and I gave an introduction to photography for club members. Rather than present the same set of slides for 2 years running, this year I decided to try something different. I set up a make-shift tiny studio consisting of:

  • A large cardboard box with the top and one side missing.
  • A subject (vase of fake flowers) on top of a pedestal (looking suspiciously like a biscuit tin).
  • A sheet of black paper fastened to the back of the box as a plain background.
  • The subject was lit with a pair of adjustable LED lights fixed to the side of the box. I used two DIALL 220LM PLASTIC LED BLUE TORCHes, which you can find at a hardware store such as B&Q. Portable LED torches and work lights can make a good budget alternative to studio lights or flash.

This setup was designed to be as compact as possible so it could be set up at Fisherrow. If you are going to try something like this at home I recommend using a larger space and moving the background further from the subject to avoid shadows being cast onto the background.

Here is one of the shots which resulted from the demonstration. This shot is taken with a 0.5 second exposure at f/16 and ISO 400. The camera was set to spot metering mode (because of the black background) and focused on the left-hand white flower near the front. A +1/3 stop of exposure compensation was added because the “spot” was sampling a white flower. The f/16 keeps all the flowers in focus, and I don’t need to be exact with the depth of field because of the plain background. The shot ended up with an ugly dark grey background, which I selected in Photoshop and darkened to black.

I have made up a PDF handout from my slides, which you can download by clicking below:

MCCIntroductionToPhotographyNotes

After the demonstration, Joe showed us how he creates and improves his images. A much better shot can often be made by combining components from several images together. A shot of a motorcyclist is much stronger if you include the eyes. A shot of a rider with a clear visor in a boring situation can merged with a dramatic shot of a rider with a black visor to make an even better shot. The human brain likes images with 3 subjects, and a shot containing two riders can be improved by cutting and pasting a rider from another image. An image can also be improved by cutting and pasting the subject onto a different background, as Joe showed by taking a shot of a surfer riding on a flat lake and pasting them onto a rough sea. Nature shots can be made more interesting by adding a focal point (such as an individual bird) into the foreground (although Joe pointed out that a shot changed in this way will not be eligible for a wildlife photography competition).

Joe also showed that the easiest way to improve an image is by cropping it. Try zooming in to the interesting part of your image and see if you prefer the result. You can also clone out distracting objects, although whether they are considered distracting or not is subjective and depends how the viewer perceives the image. For example, does the white post show the skill of the motorcyclists in avoiding it, or is it a distracting white post? Do the support cars distract from the racing cyclists or tell the story of the event? The important thing is to create the image which tells the story you want to show.

  • Please send your 3 JPEG images for the “Seascape” set subject competition to George Todd (email address on the front of the syllabus) by Thursday, 4th October 2018.
  • Also please note that the entry date for the coloured print competition will be on 25th October 2018. The club needs as many prints as possible for the first 4-way competition on 1st November 2018. If you can submit any of your black and white or human portrait prints at the same time, that would be help us a great deal.
  • Our next meeting (Thursday, 4th October 2018) is Photo Advice Night. Please bring 1, 2 or 3 unmounted prints to share with club members. These can be images for which you would like advice or feedback or anything that other members would find interesting.