25 November 2020 (4 Way Competition)

On 25th November 2020, Musselburgh Camera Club Members joined Stirling and District Camera Club, Edinburgh Photographic Society and Kirkcaldy Photographic Society for the annual 4-way interclub competition. This year, the competition was entirely digital and hosted virtually by Stirling using Zoom. The competition was judged by Eddie Telford of Milngavie and Bearsden Camera Club. 78 members attended most of the competition, with two more joining during the second half.

Each club had entered 15 images, making a total of 60 images on the night. Eddie gave us a thorough critique of each one, indicating its strengths and weaknesses. By the half-way stage Edinburgh were ahead of Kirkcaldy by 1 point, followed by Musselburgh 1 point behind them. The competition continued to be close, and the final result was decided by the very last image from each club! The final result was:

  • 1st = place, Edinburgh and Kirkcaldy (267 points).
  • 3rd place, Musselburgh (264 points)
  • 4th place, Stirling (259 points)

Edinburgh and Kirkcaldy were declared joint winners. Some disappointment right at the end for Musselburgh, but we held up well for most of the competition and ended only 3 points behind. The following Musselburgh images did particularly well in the competition:

  • Incoming (Mike Clark) – 20 points
  • Stormlight (Mike Clark) – 19 points
  • Bird on a Stick (Gordon Davidson) – 20 points
  • Fighting for the lead (George Todd) – 20 points

Congratulations to Edinburgh and Kirkcaldy and well done to Mike, Gordon and George. Next year’s competition will be hosted by Edinburgh Photographic Society.


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.

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.

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.

Coming Soon: Set Subject Competition C (Old Faces)

In one week’s time we will be trying something completely new and having a club meeting by Zoom teleconference! George Todd will present the results of our final set subject competition of the 2019/2020 season. Click the following links for a reminder of what happened in the previous two competitions:

09 January 2020 (Set Subject Competition – Travel)

13 February 2020 (Set Subject Competition – Wildlife)

George Todd,  Joe Fowler,  Anne Yeomans and Malcolm Roberts are all in a strong position. Join the competition to find out who will be picking up the trophy, and who will be judging next year.

In a few days I will send a meeting invitation directly to all members (it won’t be posted on the web site). If you would like to join and have not heard anything by Wednesday please email StevenMBeard @ aol.com and I will send you the invitation. In the meantime, you can prepare for the meeting by downloading the Zoom client from


You can install a client on a computer or mobile device (but a computer with a large screen will give you the best view of the images). You will need sound to hear George, but a camera is optional. You don’t need to sign up with Zoom to join the club meeting. You can test that your computer can connect to a meeting (and check your sound is working) by clicking on this link:


I look forward to seeing you all again and trying out this new “meeting from home” format. This time everybody will be responsible for making tea!


Choosing a date for our final set subject competition.

George has agreed to present the results of our final set subject competition of 2019/2020 (“Old Faces”) by Zoom. We have 3 possible dates in June when George is able to present the competition (assuming we do it on a Thursday evening like any other MCC meeting).

Please use the following poll to vote for each of the date(s) you would prefer (multiple choices are allowed). If you can’t make any of the dates, please click the last option and suggest another date between 8th and 26th June (we can switch to another day of the week if nobody can make a Thursday). We’ll choose the earliest date with the most votes.

Result of the vote for the Set Subjects for 2020/21

The votes are in, and the final result of the online voting is:

  • Nature and Wildlife: 7 votes
  • Landscapes: 4 votes
  • Flowers and Horticulture: 3 votes
  • Abstract: 3 votes

Some recent votes for Landscapes have moved it into second place. There is a tie for third place between Flowers/Horticulture and Abstract. These two subjects were also suggested by 3 members each, so that doesn’t break the tie, so third place goes to the first suggestion I received. Looking back at the dates when I received the suggestions:

  • Flowers and Horticulture was first suggested on 3rd May 2020.
  • Abstract was first suggested on 4th May 2020.

Flowers and Horticulture was suggested first. So the set subjects for 2020/21 will be:

  • A: Nature and Wildlife, on 7th January 2021, judged by George Todd.
  • B: Landscapes, on 11th February 2021, judged by Jennifer Davidson
  • C: Flowers and Horticulture, on 25th March 2021, judged by the winner of the “Old Faces” competition (to be announced).

The 4th subject (Abstract) will be the theme of the Digital Knockout Competition on 25th March 2021.

Some members have asked for advance guidance on what the subjects include. While each judge has the final say in how closely each image matches the subject, here are some suggestions:

Nature and Wildlife: This is a wider category than the “Wildlife” subject we had this year. This category includes any image of the natural world. Like “Wildlife”, the image must not be altered from its natural state, but unlike “Wildlife” any natural scene is allowed, including farmyard scenes, wild plants, aquariums and zoo scenes. Click here to see the full SPF definition.

Landscapes: This category should be self-explanatory. Wikipedia says: “Landscape photography shows spaces within the world, sometimes vast and unending, but other times microscopic. Landscape photographs typically capture the presence of nature but can also focus on man-made features or disturbances of landscapes“. So, unlike the nature photography, a landscape image can include an artificial element, such as the Forth Bridges.

Flowers and Horticulture: The covers all images of flowers and plants, either arranged in a vase or still life or growing in a garden. It also covers images of gardens. Wild flowers and plants are not allowed unless they have been cultivated as part of a garden display.

Abstract: Wikipedia describes abstract photography as “a means of depicting a visual image that does not have an immediate association with the object world and that has been created through the use of photographic equipment, processes or materials“. In other words, it is an image where the shapes, textures and colours in an image are the dominant factor, rather than any specific subject. A close-up of the texture on a wall or a rusted bucket, or an out of focus image of Christmas tree lights are examples of abstract images. This is a subject you can really experiment with.

I hope these subjects will inspire you to be creative over the summer. Best of luck!


Set Subject Ideas for 2020/21 – Please Vote

Here are the set subject ideas received for the 2020/21 set subject competition. Each subject will begin with one vote for each member who suggested it,  so the poll will begin with:

Flowers and Horticulture: 3 votes
Nature and Wildlife: 3 votes
Abstract: 2 votes
Landscape: 2 votes
All other subjects: 1 vote

At the moment those 4 popular subjects are leading the poll. You can vote for only one subject, so it’s up to you whether to support  one of your own suggestions or lend weight to one of the 4 favourites.

This is the first time we have tried an online poll. If you can’t vote for any reason, please email me your preference (StevenMBeard @ aol.com) and I will add your vote manually.


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.