Some news stories you might have missed

Here are some recent BBC news stories, with some great images, you might like to catch up on while at home. Click on the links to read each story.

Wildlife photos: Squabbling mice top ‘people’s poll’ award

Doctor wins landscape photography top award

Antarctic seal photo wins top prize

In other news, the closing date of the 2020 Landscape Photographer of the Year has been extended to 10th May 2020. Now could be a good time to look through your back catalogue of images from the last 5 years. Click on the link below for information.

Landscape Photographer of the Year 2020

I hope you are all staying safe and well.

 

Reliving Previous Club Meetings

I hope all our members are staying safe and well. While our club meetings may have been prematurely brought to an end, you can relive our previous meetings by looking up the Chairman’s Comments section of the website. One resource you may find useful is to look up the judge’s comments from previous competitions. Here, for example, are the comments from all the digital projected image competitions over the past 5 years (click on each link to bring up the page):

08 October 2015: Digital Images Competition

29 September 2016 (Digital Images Competition)

12 October 2017 (Digital Projected Images Competition)

11 October 2018 (Digital Projected Images Competition)

03 October 2019 (Digital Projected Images Competition)

The black and white prints sequence is also quite enlightening:

04 February 2016 (Black and White Print Competition)

12 January 2017 (Black and White Print Competition)

08 February 2018 (Black and White Print Competition)

13 December 2018 (Black and White Print Competition)

07 December 2019 (Black and White Print Competition)

Try looking through some of the other past competitions. Comments about distractions in the background and cropping come up again and again, but each judge also provides their own individual expertise and advice.

If you are a newcomer to the club I hope these meeting reports will help you catch up a little with what more established members have learned over the years.

Borders Digital Challenge 2020

The Borders Digital Challenge competition takes place on Sunday, 15th March 2020 from 2pm to 5pm at the Tower Mill Cinema, 2 Kirkstile, Hawick, TD9 0AE. The event is being hosted by Hawick Camera Club. Come and see our images projected onto a large screen. The Tower Mill Cinema is part of the Heart of Hawick, and there is a cafe on site. Can we win this competition a 3rd time in a row, and if we do will they let us come back next year?

Click here for information on the venue.

Click here for a map and directions.

The Final Set Subject Competition – Old Faces

Our third and final set subject competition of the season is open for entries. Please send your 3 JPEG images (sized up to 1600 pixels on the longest side and up to 1200 pixels on the shortest side) on the theme of “Old Faces” to George Todd by this Thursday, 5th March 2020. The competition will be judged on 26th March 2020.

Note that this Thursday’s meeting will be in the same large room at Fisherrow where we had the 3-way competition. We will be having a joint evening with Musselburgh Art Club.

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!

13 February 2020 (Set Subject Competition – Wildlife)

This week we had the second of our 3 set subject competitions; this one on the theme of “Wildlife”.  Jim Todd had won last year’s “Abstract” competition but, as he was already judging the “Travel” competition, the judging passed to me in second place. Wildlife photography is one of the most strictly-defined categories. A commonly accepted definition is

Wildlife photography is a genre of photography concerned with documenting various forms of wildlife in their natural habitat.

Competitions such as the International Wildlife Photographer of the Year or Scottish Nature Photography Awards define strict rules along the lines of:

  • The photograph must include a wild creature and not a pet, a tame or farm animal. The creature must also be alive.
  • The photograph must be taken in the wild and not in a zoo, farmyard or any place where animals are in captivity.  N.B. A local park or garden is regarded as a wild place.
  • You must not manipulate the photograph in any way which changes the environment or animal but you are allowed to correct what the camera has done to the image. Cropping, colour correction, brightness and contrast correction, dodging, burning and removal of dust spots is allowed but cloning out distractions or composing composite images is not. Organisers will want to see the original RAW file from your camera as proof. So, if you capture a fantastic wildlife shot and are considering entering it for one of these competitions, keep your RAW file.

The club competition was not judged as strictly as these competitions. All images were accepted. Judging what was wild lead to a few controversial decisions: Is that curled up animal a domesticated cow or a wild deer? Did the photographer stalk that tiger, take a close-up photograph and survive, or was the image taken in a zoo? There were 45 images entered by 15 members. It was a hard competition to judge because all the images were good in some way. The strongest images were the ones which captured a wild animal showing natural behaviour, and where the background showed the environment but wasn’t too distracting from the subject. Photographs taken at eye level gave more engagement with the viewer than ones pointing downwards or upwards (although Mike Clark showed that rule could be broken with a shot of a Sparrowhawk looking directly down from a tree at the photographer). Cropping too tightly was a common fault. Some images were also take in harsh lighting. Correcting the exposure, dodging and burning can help some of these images, but choosing a cloudy day rather than bright sunshine would help capture a better image in camera.

The top-scoring images were

  • Red Squirrel (Jennifer Davidson) – 20 points
  • Where’s Dinner? (Joe Fowler) – 19 points
  • Female Green-Breasted Mango (Anne Yeomans) – 19 points
  • Robin Redbreast (Jennifer Davidson) – 18 points
  • Queens Of The Road (George Todd) – 18 points
  • Sparrowhawk Eyes Locked On (Mike Clark) – 18 points

The highest scorers were:

  • 5th place (47 points)
    • George Todd
  • 4th place (48 points)
    • Malcolm Roberts
  • 3rd place (50 points)
    • Mike Clark
  • 2nd = place (52 points)
    • Joe Fowler
    • Anne Yeomans
  • 1st place (55 points)
    • Jennifer Davidson

Well done to Jennifer Davidson, who wins the privilege of judging next year’s competition. The league table after two competitions has narrowed and now looks like this:

George Todd (55 + 47 = 102)
Joe Fowler (49 + 52 = 101)
Mike Clark (51 + 50 = 101)
Anne Yeomans (47 + 52 = 99)
Malcolm Roberts (50 + 48 = 98)
Lorraine Roberts (49 + 45 = 94)
Gordon Davidson (49 + 45 = 94)

Only 4 points separate the top 4 places, so there is everything to play for.  Entries for the final set-subject competition (on the theme of “Old Faces”) are due on 5th March 2020. Best of luck everyone!

30 January 2020 (Human Portrait Print Competition)

This week we had the last print competition of the season. Roger Stewart, vice president of Stirling and District Camera Club, visited Musselburgh to judge our human portrait print competition. Roger specialises in wildlife and landscape photography. Click here to see his gallery.

Ten members had entered 30 prints, which was a smaller entry than usual, but this gave Roger more time to critique each print. Most of the entries this year were portraits of individuals, but there were a few group photos, and it was a group photo of three people having fun in the water which won the evening. Some of the portraits were a little too tightly cropped, and Roger recommended allowing a little more space so that a piece of hair, or the very top of a hat, is not cut off by the frame. The depth of field was an issue in some images. In a portrait the eyes must be sharp, but there were cases where the camera had focused on a nearer part of the face, leaving the eyes soft. Portraits that were not face-on posed a particular problem. If your subject is sitting at an angle you’ll need a larger depth of field to keep everything of interest in focus. The title of the print can also suggest what needed to be in focus. For example, if the title suggests the subject is writing a letter, both the eyes and writing hand need to be in focus. Likewise, a portrait entitled “Wink” leads to a dilemma over whether the open eye or the closed eye should be in focus. Settle the dilemma by keeping them both sharp. Brightening the eyes and face can also help improve a portrait. Distracting backgrounds were a common problem, and Roger suggested whether a different angle of view could have helped.

The top scorers in the human portrait print competition were (in reverse order):

  • 4th place (46 points)
    • Jennifer Davidson
    • Malcolm Roberts
    • Sean Conner
  • 3rd place (48 points)
    • Joe Fowler
  • 2nd place (49 points)
    • Steven Beard
    • John West
  • 1st place (53 points)
    • George Todd
    • Mike Clark

and the top images were:

  • Bursting With Happiness (Mike Clark) – 20 points
  • Brahman Priest  (George Todd) – 19 points
  • Fortune Teller (John West) – 19 points
  • Tanahun Priest (George Todd) – 18 points

Well done to George Todd and Mike Clark, who now need to decide how to share the trophy. Congratulations also to relative newcomer John West for a great result.

 

09 January 2020 (Set Subject Competition – Travel)

We opened the second half of our 2019-2020 season with the first of our 3 set subject competitions. The competition opens with the subject of “Travel”.  Jim Tod had won last year’s “Seascapes” competition and earned the right to judge this year’s competition.  Jim began the evening by drawing our attention to the commonly-accepted definition of travel photography:

Photography that may involve the documentation of an area’s landscape, people, cultures, customs and history. The Photographic Society of America defines a travel photo as an image that expresses the feeling of a time and place, portrays a land, its people, or a culture in its natural state, and has no geographical limitations.

42 images had been entered in total from locations near and far, including Scotland, England, Czech Republic, Latvia, Estonia, Iceland, Vietnam, India, China, the Galápagos islands, South Africa and New Zealand! There were landscape images showing the beauty of these locations, portraits of people going about their business, shots of interesting things and photographs of various forms of transport. The best images were the ones which combined these aspects, showing people in the context of their culture or landscapes connected with iconic local landmarks. The transport images had more impact if they showed people using the transport and included a clue to the destination in the frame (for example an image of a ferryboat approaching a jetty had more impact than a shot of a boat isolated in the middle of a lake). Blown highlights were a common fault. Many shots had been taken in bright sunlight and the use of a polarizer filter and better control of the exposure would have helped those shots.  Jim explained how some of the shots could be improved by a better viewpoint or better camera angle. The adventures of Sven Martin Bullwinkle (a series of images showing a cuddly toy journeying through Scotland) raised some laughs with the audience!

The top-scoring images were

  • A Long Way from London (Malcolm Roberts) – 20 points
  • Lake Cruiser (Mike Clark) – 20 points
  • No Room For A Passenger (George Todd) – 19 points
  • River Crossing (George Todd) – 19 points
  • Morning Commute (Joe Fowler) – 18 points
  • Mainline Steam (Mike Clark) – 18 points
  • Line (Kevin Johnston) – 18 points
  • The Beagle At Dawn (Anne Yeomans) – 18 points

The deciding factor in this competition was consistency,  and the top places went to members who had consistently good scores across all three images. The highest scorers were:

  • 5th place (47 points)
    • Anne Yeomans
  • 4th = place (49 points)
    • Joe Fowler
    • Lorraine Roberts
    • Gordon Davidson
  • 3rd place (50 points)
    • Malcolm Roberts
  • 2nd place (51 points)
    • Mike Clark
  • 1st place (55 points)
    • George Todd

Thank you very much to Jim Tod for judging this competition over his Christmas holiday. Congratulations to George Todd, who wins the right to judge next year’s competition.

This is the first in a 3-part competition, with George, Mike and Malcolm now standing at the top of the league table. The next two parts will be the “Wildlife” competition (hand-in date 23rd January 2020) and the “Old Faces” competition (hand-in date 5th March 2020). If your images didn’t do well in this competition don’t despair.  The final result depends on the total score from your best 2 competitions, so there is still everything to play for.

Set Subject “Travel” Competition This Week

Happy New Year to members!

A reminder that our club evenings restart this week. On Thursday, 9th January 2020 at 7:30pm, Jim Tod will reveal the result of our first set subject competition on the theme of “Travel”.

This Thursday is also the hand-in date for prints submitted to the Human Portrait Print Competition. In this competition colour or black and white prints are accepted, as long as the main subject is a person or group of people. Please bring 3 mounted prints and send JPEG copies of your 3 images to George Todd at georgetodd1957@me.com.

Please ensure that competition prints are attached to mounts no larger that 40cm x 50cm in size, as larger mounts will not fit into the carrying folder. The club mount cutter will be available this Thursday if you need help cutting a mount to size.

07 December 2019 (Black and White Print Competition)

This week, Neil Scott visited the club to judge our black and white print competition. Neil is a long-standing member of Edinburgh Photographic Society, and in 2016 had been listed as the 4th best monochrome photographer in the world by the Photographic Society of America. Neil began the evening by showing us some of his work and explaining what makes a good black and white image. The key points were:

  • A good black and white image is not a good colour image with the colour removed. When he judges an image, Neil asks himself if the photographer had a black and white image in mind when the shot was taken.
  • A black and white image relies purely on light, shade and texture. Plain backgrounds help the subject stand out. Neil prefers a strongly-contrasting, white or black background. If a subject doesn’t have a plain background (e.g. in street photography), darkening the edges can help draw your eye back into the centre.
  • Most good black and white images contain black, white and shades of grey in between. Most landscape, still life and portrait images would benefit from an increase in contrast to ensure the full range of shades is included. There are some exceptions. High key portraits of women or babies look more delicate when fewer shades of black are included.
  • Neil spends a great deal of time dodging and burning his black and white images, to ensure that the shadow and highlight areas retain their details.

There were 45 prints entered by 15 members, and Neil appraised each image in turn and explained his scoring system. A score of 14-15 meant a print needed some improvement. An average print would score 15-16, a good print 16-17 and a very good print 18. Scores of 19 and 20 were given to the top images in the competition. Some prints looked a bit flat and Neil recommended increasing their contrast to cover a greater range of blacks and whites. Some prints needed their shadows brightened to include more detail. There were also some subjects that were too tight in the frame (touching the edges) and could have been improved by giving them more space. As expected, some otherwise superb prints lost marks because they looked like good colour images with the colour removed. When the scores were added up the competition was very close, with the top places all decided by a single point! The top scorers in the black and white print competition were (in reverse order):

  • 5th place (50 points)
    • Steven Beard
  • 4th place (51 points)
    • Jennifer Davidson
    • Anne Yeomans
  • 3rd place (52 points)
    • George Todd
  • 2nd place (53 points)
    • Joe Fowler
  • 1st place (54 points)
    • Mike Clark

Well done to Mike Clark, whose top image “May Contain Nuts” was backed up by two 17-point images. The top images were:

  • The Dandy (Joe Fowler) – 20 points
  • May Contain Nuts (Mike Clark) – 20 points
  • Flightless Cormorant With Octopus  (Anne Yeomans) – 19 points
  • Eyeing Up The Opposition (Jennifer Davidson) – 18 points
  • Taj Mahal “Before The Crowds” (George Todd) – 18 points