04 March 2021 (Three Weeks in Burma)

On 4th March Mölnlycke Fotoclubb chair Jan Arell joined us to describe the three weeks he spent 2 years ago visiting and photographing Burma (also known as Myanmar).  Jan’s presentation was quite poignant, given the tragic news reports currently coming from that country at the moment.  Jan had been a journalist and foreign news reporter, so he was used to touring and photographing interesting places around the world; and Burma/Myanmar was one of his favourite places.  He began with a quick overview of the country and a map showing the many places he had visited during the three weeks. Then he entertained us with a stunning series of images of golden temples covered in gemstones, a truly gigantic Buddha statue and a temple containing the world’s largest book. He contrasted his images of bejewelled temples with the basic houses and shacks where people lived and the places they worked. He showed portraits of locals wearing colourful costumes and market stalls selling everything from food and textiles to gemstones.  Jan also took us virtually on a narrow gauge train journey across the country, including a video shot as the train travelled across a frighteningly deep river gorge. Then he showed us the aerial images he had captured during a balloon trip across the country.

Jan told us that he found Burma to be a “photographer’s paradise”. He discovered almost everyone was eager to be photographed, and most would offer a portrait just for the laugh of seeing themselves appear on the back of your camera. The decorated temples, market stalls and lovely scenery also had great photographic potential.

Thank you to Jan for an evening that was both enjoyable, informative and tinged with a little sadness. Let’s hope one day the photographic beauty of that country will once again become its main talking point.

 

18 February 2021 (Astrophotography & Action Photography)

This week the club had a virtual visit from Andy Bennetts of Haddington Camera Club, who gave us two talks on very different photographic subjects: “Astrophotography” and “Action Photography“. 

Astrophotography

Andy showed us examples of different kinds of astrophotography. The easiest subject to photograph is the Moon, which is best photographed on a clear night with your longest possible telephoto lens. Andy’s examples were photographed with his 400mm lens, with a 2x converter, at ISO 3200, 1/2000sec at f5.6. The tripod and fast shutter speed help remove camera shake at this extreme magnification. You can use the web site https://www.timeanddate.com/ to predict the phases of the Moon and look up the times of moonrise and moonset.  Andy also likes to photograph the Sun at sunrise or sunset. You need to be careful not to look at the Sun through the telephoto lens and use a narrow aperture to protect your camera. The Sun will appear as a featureless disk unless you use a dark solar filter (see https://www.baader-planetarium.com/en/solar-observation.html), so it is best photographed next to a landmark. The web site https://photoephemeris.com/ can be used to predict when and where to photograph the Sun and Moon against local landmarks. There are also smartphone apps called TPE and Sun Surveyor which give you the same information.

Andy then showed us how to photograph more difficult subjects, such as the stars and Milky Way. These are best photographed from a dark site well away from light pollution. The most convenient dark site near East Lothian is the B6355 from Gifford to Duns. The camera should be set to manual focus and manual exposure for best results.  A red headlight is useful for setting up your camera in the dark.  Andy recommends focussing by looking at a magnified “live view” on the back of the camera, rather than just setting your lens to infinity. Photographs to emphasise star trails are best made with a wide angle lens, with the camera on a tripod. Exposure times of up to an hour can be achieved by setting the shutter speed to “bulb” and using a remote shutter release. Images containing some foreground detail, such as trees, lakes and mountains, will have the most impact. Use a wide aperture and an ISO setting below 400 to reduce noise. On the other hand, photographs to emphasise the Milky Way need an exposure time of 20-30 seconds to prevent star trails. These shots require an ISO setting greater than 1600. Andy recommends taking 5 or more shots of the same scene and stacking them in Photoshop to reduce the noise. Layers can be matched together manually using the “difference” blending mode. The Milky Way shows up better on a dark, clear night without the Moon.  Andy showed us some beautiful images he had taken by the Whitadder reservoir.  Finally, Andy showed us some post-processing tips for astrophotography:

  • Darken the shadows to emphasise the blackness of the night sky
  • Increase the contrast to brighten the stars.
  • Increase clarify, vibrance and saturation to emphasis the faint detail and colour.

Action Photography

Andy then showed us the techniques he uses to capture action shots, using different kinds of sporting events as examples. The photographer has control of the aperture, shutter speed, focal length and camera movement.  A wide aperture (such as f2.8) is useful for reducing the depth of field to emphasise the action while blurring the background.  A fast shutter speed (such as 1/500s) will help to freeze the action, while a slower shutter speed (such as 1/50s) can help to emphasise movement. Panning the camera helps to emphasise the movement of fast-moving subjects such as motorbikes, cars and cyclists.  A long focal length lens allows you to zoom in on the action from a distance. You can also eliminate a distracting background (such as ugly buildings behind a sports stadium) by cropping closely on the action, such as a rugby scrum. You can hand-hold a lens up to 200mm, but for longer focal lengths Andy recommends a tripod or monopod. A monopod gives you the best compromise between steadiness and flexibility. If you don’t have a long lens there are also opportunities for capturing action from a closer viewpoint, such as at the Edinburgh Marathon or at road cycling events.

Getting the focus right is one of the most difficult aspects of action photography. Autofocus works better when your subjects are well separated from the background, but even then most of the shots will not be focussed properly. Andy takes lots of shots and selects the ones with the best focus. Some sporting events, such as horse racing, are difficult to get right with autofocus. For those events, Andy recommends manually focussing on a stationary object, such as a fence, and waiting for the riders to jump or pass that fence.

Andy gave us some hints on where to find subjects for action photography. There are usually (when not in lockdown) regular football, rugby and cricket events in Haddington. Horse racing can be photographed at Musselburgh, action water events often take place at Fox Lake Adventures, near Dunbar, golf at Gullane, Canoeing at Grand Tully, wind surfing at Longniddry and Gullane beach (best viewed at high tide) and Motor Cycling at East Fortune.

Thank you to Andy for a very enjoyable and informative double evening.

03 December 2020 (International Dutch Members Evening)

This week we were joined by my good friends Hans van der Boom and Denise Gielen from the Netherlands. Denise began the evening by showing us some of her macro, wildlife and drone photography, including some stunningly beautiful kingfisher images and cleverly framed drone shots of colourful tulip fields.  Some of Denise’s wildlife shots were taken in Oostvaardersplassen, a park in Flevoland made from reclaimed land, and Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen, a national park and nature reserve on the west coast. Hans enjoys travel photography and showed us a selection of photographs he had taken on travels throughout the world.  Hans finished his introduction with some cleverly-constructed indoor studio shots.

The Hans and Denise took us on a photographic tour of the Netherlands, showing us less visited places where we can experience Dutch scenery without being swamped by tourists.  Amsterdam is crowded with visitors each year, but Hans showed us the following less crowded towns which are similar to Amsterdam.  Click the links for more information:

When tourists visit the Netherlands they also want to see windmills, and Hans and Denise showed us some of the more photogenic windmill sites. For example:

But the Netherlands has more impressive structures than just windmills. Hans showed us the impressive architecture within the city of Rotterdam, and Denise showed us beautiful long exposure shots of the Ketelbrug in Flevoland and Hans his dramatic image of the Zeeland Bridge, the longest bridge in the Netherlands. You can also see some of the most iconic structures in the world in miniature in the Madurodam model village.

Of course, a visit to the Netherlands would not be complete without a visit to the impressively colourful tulip fields. The most famous of the tulip displays can be seen between March and May every year at the Keukenhof Gardens near Lisse.  An even bigger and rarer event is the Floriade exhibition, which is coming to Amsterdam in 2022.

After Hans and Denise had finished, Mike Clark showed them some of his impressive underwater shots. Denise’s husband Niels photographs farming machinery for Agrifoto, an agricultural photography site, so Steven Beard finished with a selection of photographs from the Royal Highland Show.

Thank you very much to Hans and Denise for entertaining us, showing that with Zoom we can reach out to other clubs and photographers around the world.

 

MCC Trip to the Trossachs – This Weekend

Jim Tod has provided more information about this weekend’s club trip to Loch Ard in the Trossachs. Jim is proposing to go on Saturday morning, as the weather forecast looks better that day, and there is a chance of some morning mist. If you would like to go on the trip please sign the list on club noticeboard this evening. (I will be passing Jim’s contact details to those who signed up, in case you need to get in touch on the day.) Jim recommends bringing warm clothing and wellies. (Some photographic equipment would also help! 🙂 )

On the subject of car sharing, Jim is happy to pick up 2 members from Eskbank railway station car park at 5:50-6:00am on Saturday. Please call him if you would like a lift.

Jim has provided some maps showing the meet-up points. The first map shows an overview of Loch Ard. The 7:30am meeting point is on the right, on the road from Aberfoyle, and the 10:30am meeting point is on the left, near Kinlochard village hall.

Here are some more detailed maps of the two meeting points.

I hope you all have a fabulous trip, get some good weather and come back with some great sunrise images to share with the club.

 

18 April 2019 (Club Photoshoot at Newhailles)

On Thursday, 18th April the annual club photoshoot took place at Newhailes House & Gardens, just to the west of Musselburgh. Fortunately, the Easter egg hunt scheduled to start on the Friday had not altered our plans and the estate was open as usual. The estate contains some woodland paths where there were glades full of bluebells, anemones and flowering garlic. Some of the flowers were protected behind a fence, but still accessible with a long lens. There were views of Newhailes House through the trees (left) and architectural focal points along the paths. Towards the end of the evening we photographed the setting sun reflected in one of the windows (right).

If anyone captured some good images on the estate, please email them to Newhailes@nts.org.uk. The National Trust are always interested in new and interesting images taken at their properties.

The next event due to take place at Newhailes is a 1745 Battle Reenactment on 25-26th May 2019. This could be another good photographic opportunity.

The next meeting at Fisherrow will be our club AGM at 19:30 on Thursday, 25th April 2019. There will be some unexpected surprises! Please come along, have a say in how your club is run and join in the fun. Refreshments will be served and trophies will be presented to the competition winners.

 

 

Club Photoshoot and Easter Egg Hunt

I have discovered there is an Easter Egg Hunt taking place at Newhailes Estate this weekend. Click here for details. The event happens from Friday 19th April to Monday 22nd April from 10am until closing time. Our photoshoot on Thursday is sufficiently close to the event that it might be affected (I wonder exactly when they need to close the estate to hide the Easter eggs).

We’ll need to play it by ear. If the gates are locked at 7pm I suggest we go around the north side of the estate, park near the Shell Garage on Edinburgh Road and have a photoshoot along the beach. Fingers crossed…

 

 

Club Photoshoot on Thursday, 18th April 2019

This Thursday there will be no meeting at Fisherrow. We will be meeting at 7pm in the car park at Newhailes House & Gardens, just to the west of Musselburgh. The house, cafe and playpark will be closed at 7pm, so we will be restricted just to walking around the estate. There is a £3 charge if you take your car onto the estate. The Newhailes House web site says “Please note that our car park opening hours will vary in 2018/19 due to our ongoing restoration project“. If the car park is closed by the restoration work, we might need to park nearby and walk onto the estate. Mike Clark is our local expert on the area.

Click below for some maps.

https://www.nts.org.uk/visit/places/newhailes/getting-here

Newhailes Estate Google Map

 

 

Epic Scottish Airshow Adventure

Do you know this man??

george smith 2george smith

Yes of course its George Smith Working hard at the Scottish Airshow in Ayr.

In fantastic weather the trip turned into an adventure. Aside from the airshow interest, there were so many static displays that we could not do justice to them in the time we had, in-between fly pasts. It is a fantastic event and one that we will attend again next year. I have not edited my shots yet but here is one i prepared earlier.

ATB

Mike

Typhoon Mike Clark

Typhoon
Mike Clark