28 January 2021 (Pecha Kucha Evening)

On 28th January the club had its annual “Pecha Kucha” evening, where members bring along 10 images of their choice and spend 20 seconds describing each image. The Zoom format was particularly well-suited to this kind of evening, with members able to show the images from their own computers, rather than bringing them along to Fisherrow.

The evening began with a cloning demonstration to supplement the advice given during the Nature and Wildlife set subject competition.  Steven showed how the clone stamp tool (shown below) can be used to copy shapes and textures from one part of an image to another using Photoshop (as shown below). The key thing to remember is that once you have sampled a point (by clicking the brush on the image while holding the ALT key) and then started painting on the image (by clicking the brush somewhere else) the two points keep the same relationship. It is like moving around the yellow dumb-bell shape shown in the picture.

Some cloning tips:

  • Cloning will be easier if the size of the area you are overwriting is smaller than the size of the area you are copying.
  • Watch out for repeating patterns, or broken edges, which give away the fact you have cloned an image.  Zoom in and clone the area again with a smaller brush to remove the patterns.
  • Use a soft brush at 100% opacity. (If you need to eliminate distractions in a blurred background, try the healing brush instead of the clone stamp. It works in a similar way but automatically blends the result.)
  • For the best results work slowly and carefully, and make sure that straight lines stay straight. If you work in a separate layer you can undo any changes that don’t look right.

After the cloning demonstration we began the Pecha Kucha evening.

Steven Beard showed photographs he had taken while visiting the Crawford Collection at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh. This rare collection of books is seldom seen by the public.

John West described his journey into photography, showing his first camera and the photographs he had taken to entertain his children, including an impressive collection of paperclip figures.

Gavin Marshall showed us photographs he had taken of an amazingly detailed dolls house he had seen while visiting a historic building in Dalkeith. He also showed us the impressive fireplace at Cragside.

Jennifer Davidson also described how she had ventured into photography and showed some of her earlier contributions to the club. She recommended the Tough Mudder event for capturing images of human spirit under endurance.

Lorraine Roberts showed us images from Gullane beach and some photographs of impressive ice textures she had discovered at Musselburgh Lagoons.

Malcolm Roberts showed some beautiful reflections captured at the Gosford Estate and Musselburgh Lagoons, and a panoramic view from a golf course near Gullane.

Carol Edmunds showed some of the favourite photographs she had taken, including a rare rally car seen in a B&Q car park and a portrait of Colin Baker she had captured captured at a Comic Con event.

Thank you to everybody who brought along their special images to entertain us.

 

 

21 January 2021 (Building The Queensferry Crossing, In Pictures)

This week we had the pleasure of inviting Gordon Terris of the The Herald to visit us and talk about his experiences as a photo journalist covering the construction of the Queensferry Crossing.  Click the links below to read Gordon’s profile and see one of the stories illustrated by his photography.

https://www.heraldscotland.com/author/profile/73316.Gordon_Terris/

https://www.heraldscotland.com/opinion/15504954.a-fine-feat-of-engineering/

Gordon explained how he had been inspired to take up photography at the Edinburgh College of Art, before joining The Herald in 1996. Gordon is well known by his colleagues for owning a pair of Sean Connery’s underpants!  Gordon also enjoys fashion photography and showed us some examples of his work shot on Gullane beach and Aberlady Bents, plus a creative shot made in the Edinburgh Camera Obscura. Gordon uses minimal equipment, and can get by with just 2 speedlights and a reflector.

Gordon then took us through the story of his coverage of the building of the Queensferry Crossing.  As a journalist, he had the opportunity to view the construction from viewpoints that were not available to the public. He photographed the construction of the caissons which provided the foundations of the bridge, and he joined some of the construction team in their crane-hoisted “cherry-picker”, which offered unique views of the construction below. He also photographed the bridge construction from the shore and from distant viewpoints in Edinburgh and Fife. The one view that eluded him was an aerial shot of the bridge, which was too close to “no fly” zones for drone photography.

Gordon explained how photography for journalism is very different from hobby photography. Opportunity, speed and accuracy are key factors in photo-journalism, Gordon needs to make sure he is the right place at the right time. His shots need to tell the story, and they must be delivered to the editor as soon as possible. Often the newspaper would have a story waiting to go with a slot ready to receive one of his photographs. For this reason, Gordon shoots in JPEG and very rarely uses Photoshop. For him, each shot needs to be captured accurately in-camera and be ready for delivery as soon as he has finished shooting.

Gordon finished his presentation by showing us some of his equipment (over the Zoom video). He has two camera bodies: an old Canon EOS 1DX and a newer Canon 5D Mk II.  He uses 3 lenses: 16-35mm and 70-200mm zoom lenses and a 300mm fixed focal length lens. He occasionally borrows an 11mm fish-eye for creative shots, or for shots in awkward spaces.

Overall it was a fascinating and enjoyable evening. We hope to invite Gordon back to hear more of his stories when we are able to meet face to face, and get a closer look at his well-used but functional equipment.

14 January 2021 (Human Portrait Print Competition)

This week we had the digital replacement for our human portrait print competition. The competition was judged by Simon Wooton of Midlothian Camera Club. Click on the link below to see Simon’s gallery of landscape, sport and wildlife images.

Simon Wooton’s image gallery.

13 members had entered 38 digital images of people. There were portraits of individuals and group portraits. The group portraits worked better when they told a story of people interacting together, rather than just people who happened to be standing near to each other.  A group of people taking a selfie in the botanical gardens while their baby looks away bored out of shot told a story, as did the shot of two tired young girls in stained and crumpled party dresses sitting on the doorstep.  Simon particularly liked the shots of happy people enjoying life, as an antidote to the current situation. He expected shots taken in a studio to have a higher technical quality than spontaneous shots made in the street. Some portraits had distracting accessories, and Simon recommended hiding shoulder straps from bags that were not visible and removing objects that poked out from behind someone’s head. In some shots harsh lighting had lost detail in the highlights, or had cast a shadow onto the eyes, while other dull shots could be improved with a levels adjustment. Focussing and sharpness were an issue for some shots. It was important to focus on the subject and avoid camera shake, but also important not to oversharpen facial features. The framing of each image was important, and Simon suggested a tighter crop or a different placement of the background in some shots. Despite his enjoyment of the group shots, it was the individual portraits that won the day.

The top scorers were (in reverse order):

  • 5th place (47 points)
    • Gordon Davidson
    • Gavin Marshall
  • 4th place (49 points)
    • Steven Beard
  • 3rd place (50 points)
    • Joe Fowler
    • Steve Williams
  • 2nd place (52 points)
    • Mike Clark
  • 1st place (54 points)
    • George Todd
    • Carol Edmund

The top images were:

  • An Old Gentleman (Carol Edmund) – 20 points
  • Temple Boy (George Todd) – 19 points
  • I’m in Trouble (Mike Clark) – 19 points
  • Prabhu – Temple Warden (George Todd) – 18 points
  • The Joker (Mike Clark) – 18 points
  • The Basket Weaver (Steve Williams) – 18 points
  • Black Lives Matter (Carol Edmund) – 18 points

Well done to George Todd and an especially warm well done to Carol Edmund, who wins a trophy in only her second year at the club.

Making Audio Visual Presentations

There is an audio visual evening with Beeslack scheduled for 4th February 2021. Last week I was asked about software for creating audio visual presentations from photographs. Microsoft Powerpoint can be used to make a presentation, but it can be tedious to use. I gave an introduction to audio visual presentations back in 2018, which you can find by clicking this link.

https://musselburghcameraclub.org.uk/2018/11/26/22-november-2018-introduction-to-audio-visual-presentations/

At the time, the recommended software to use was Photodex ProShow Gold, which was available for Windows only.  There was a Mac alternative called “Photo Theatre Pro” (which may or may not still be available in the Mac store). Sadly, Photodex Proshow is no longer available and has been replaced by “Photopia”.  The good news is the new software now works with both Windows and Mac. It has a subscription-based licence, so you could subscribe only when you need to make a show. Click the link below for more information.

Transition from ProShow to Photopia

However, if you have Windows 10, the free Microsoft Photos program also contains some of the basic elements that Proshow Gold used to have. You can combine images into a slideshow or video, add a title slide, add captions and add background music. I think this is now a better option than Powerpoint for Windows users. You can start the program by selecting the images you want to show, clicking with the right mouse button and selecting the “Create a new video” option shown in the menu.

When the program starts you will see a screen like this (which looks remarkably similar to the Proshow screen). You can drag photos from the library window on the left onto the timeline at the bottom and view your show using the preview window on the right.

I hope this helps. Have fun, whichever tool you use.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RHS Photographic Competition 2021

Sandra Crowhurst has pointed out that the Royal Horticultural Society’s 2021 photography competition is now open for entries. Click below for details.

https://www.rhs.org.uk/promotions/rhs-photo-competition/

Entry is free, so if you have already collected photographs for our “flowers and horticulture” competition you could send them to this competition as well.  You could also browse their galleries for ideas how to improve your images before submitting them. Best of luck!

 

07 January 2021 (Set Subject Competition – Nature and Wildlife)

The second half of our 2020-2021 season opened with the first of our 3 set subject competitions: competition A on the subject of “Nature and Wildlife”. The competition was judged by Joe Fowler, one of last year’s winners.

45 images had been entered by 15 members.  Unlike last year’s competition on the theme of “Wildlife”, this year’s “Nature” category covers a wider variety of subjects showing or representing the natural environment. There were a lot of bird images, photographs of insects on flowers, some farm animals and a selection of other animals and plants.  Joe commented on composition, exposure and sharpness of each image. Some of the images were spoiled by distractions which Joe recommended the author clone out by copying textures from elsewhere in the image. Sticks, bright blobs and foreground blades of grass were notable distractions. Some images were a little overexposed, due to capturing them in full sunlight, which had burned out the highlights.  Joe recommended cloning texture to recover detail in lost highlights and using the dodge tool to bring up detail that had been lost in shadow. The best images were the ones that were well-framed, well-lit, had fewer distractions, were sharp in the right places but showed some movement where expected.

The top scorers were (in reverse order):

  • 5th place (49 points)
    • Carol Edmund
  • 4th place (50 points)
    • Mike Clark
  • 3rd place (53 points)
    • George Todd
    • Gordon Davidson
    • Anne Yeomans
  • 2nd place (54 points)
    • Steve Williams
  • 1st place (56 points)
    • Malcolm Roberts

The top images were:

  • Green Violet-Ear Hummingbird (Steve Williams) – 20 points
  • Puffin With Sandeels (Anne Yeomans) – 20 points
  • Great Spotted Woodpecker (Malcolm Roberts) – 19 points
  • Nuthatch (Malcolm Roberts) – 19 points
  • Hornbill at Sunset (George Todd) – 19 points
  • Hover Fly (Gordon Davidson) – 19 points

Well done to Malcolm Roberts, who wins the right to judge next year’s competition.

This is the first in a 3-part competition. The next instalments are “Landscapes” (hand-in date 21st January 2021) and “Flowers and Horticulture” (hand-in date 4th March 2021). The final result depends on the total score from the best 2 competitions, with Malcolm, Steve, George, Gordon and Anne now standing at the top of the league table.

Set Subject Competition A – This Thursday

Happy New Year to all Musselburgh Camera Club members!

A reminder that our first set subject competition of the year, on the theme of “Nature and Wildlife” takes place at 7:30pm this Thursday, 7th January 2021 by Zoom. The competition will be judged by Joe Fowler.

I hope you all had a good Christmas break, and I look forward to seeing you.

 

10 December 2020 (Black and White Print Competition)

On Thursday, 10th December we had our virtual replacement for the black and white print competition. The competition was judged by Doug Berndt of Edinburgh Photographic society.  15 members had entered a total of 60 JPEG images. Doug explained that his job as judge was to put the images in a pecking order, and every judge has their own opinion. He judged each image on its composition, impact and story, together with any technical issues; although minor technical issues wouldn’t prevent a great image getting a good mark. He also judged how much creative input each photographer had used to make each image.

There were wildlife, nature, still life, landscape and portrait images, and some photographs of urban architecture. Doug commented on the overall sharpness and depth of field of each image, as well as its exposure and contrast. Some images could be improved by increasing the local contrast to cover a wider range of grey levels, as long as detail isn’t lost from the shadows or highlights. He also commented on the geometry and the textures each photographer had captured, or attempted to capture. For some of the urban shots he speculated whether a different viewpoint could have created a stronger image. Some macro shots needed a larger depth of field to capture more detail, and some shots had been over-sharpened. Doug also pointed out bright distractions which could be darkened, and suggested a vignette to pull attention away from the edge of the edge of a shot and back to a central subject. But Doug was impressed by the overall quality of the entries and awarded a lot of high marks.

The top scorers were (in reverse order):

  • 5th place (49 points)
    • Steven Beard
    • John West
  • 4th place (50 points)
    • Sean Conner
    • Gordon Davidson
  • 3rd place (52 points)
    • Jennifer Davidson
  • 2nd place (53 points)
    • Mike Clark
    • Steve Williams
    • Elaine Gilroy
    • Carol Edmund
  • 1st place (55 points)
    • Joe Fowler
    • George Todd
    • Anne Yeomans

The top images were:

  • Withered Rose (Elaine Gilroy) – 20 points (and Doug’s best image of the night)
  • Eyes Front (George Todd) – 20 points
  • Hurricane (Mike Clark) – 20 points
  • Reflections (Carol Edmund) – 20 points
  • Otter with Dogfish (Anne Yeomans) – 20 points
  • The Farrier (Joe Fowler) – 19 points
  • The Forge (Joe Fowler) – 19 points
  • Storm over Lisbon (Steve Williams) – 19 points
  • Hands (John West) – 19 points

Well done to Joe, George and Anne for their joint win, and well done to Mike, Steve, Elaine, Carol and Jennifer, who all win medals. It looks like the club will have to increase its medal budget!

Human Portrait Competition – Change of Date

I have been informed that we had the wrong date for the Human Portrait competition on the syllabus. Simon Wooton could not make the original date of 28th January 2021. The competition was moved to 14th January 2021 but the syllabus on the web site was not updated. George informs me that the closing date was this Thursday, 10th December, but as this is too short notice for everyone Simon has agreed to receive our images next week instead.

So please start preparing your human portrait images and submit them to George by 17th December 2020.

Apologies for the mistake on the syllabus. It has been corrected.