07 October 2021 (Digital Projected Images Competition)

The first major competition of the club calendar took place on 7th October 2021. Neil McGoldrick, from Hatton, Aberdeenshire, joined us via Zoom to judge our Digital Projected Images competition.  You can check out some of Neil’s work on his Flikr site: https://www.flickr.com/people/45770642@N04/

The competition almost didn’t take place as expected. We arrived at the Fisherrow Centre to discover the Wi-Fi was not working!  This is not a good thing for a hybrid meeting connected through Zoom.  After we had spent 20 minutes struggling to connect, George Todd eventually saved the day by turning his mobile phone into a Wi-Fi hot spot.

17 members had entered 54 images altogether. There were shots of wildlife, landscapes, urban architecture, portraits, men at work, flowers, and some interesting abstract and still life shots. One of these, John West’s “For Khandles”, was praised for it’s amusing and imaginative title.  Neil commented on the composition of each shot and did not like shots with too much empty space or strong background colours. There were some beautiful compositions he really liked but needed their highlight areas darkened. Some shots were not quite sharp enough where it mattered. Neil was pleased that so many members had decorated their images with a border, which helped delineate them when projected onto a screen, but he suggested that pure white is not necessarily the best colour to use. A very bright colour can draw the eye away from the centre. He suggested using a more neutral colour.  The top scorers were (in reverse order):

  • 5th place (48 points)
    • Lorraine Roberts
    • Gordon Davidson
  • 4th place (49 points)
    • Charlie Briggs
    • Gavin Marshall
    • Mike Clark
  • 3rd place (50 points)
    • Jennifer Davidson
    • Joe Fowler
  • 2nd place (51 points)
    • Malcolm Roberts
  • 1st place (55 points)
    • GeorgeTodd

The top images were:

  • Candlemakers (George Todd) – 20 points
  • Not on Speaking Terms (Charlie Briggs) – 19 points
  • Kelpies at Night (George Todd) – 18 points
  • White Tailed Sea Eagle – Catch of the Day (Mike Clark) – 18 points

Well done to George Todd for winning the competition and getting the 1st and 3rd placed images. Commiserations to Charlie Briggs and Mike Clark, who had images placed 2nd and 4th but just missed out on a medal. But your great images will still help the club in our inter-club competitions. The total scores included a lot of shots scoring 17 points.

Next week we will go through the competition images a second time, with more opportunity for feedback, comments and questions. I am away on holiday, so next week’s meeting will be hosted by George and Joe.

See you in two weeks.
Steven

23 September 2021 (Into the Throne Room of the Mountain Gods)

On 23rd September, George Robertson visited the club to give us our first face to face talk for more than 18 months. Two thirds of club members came to the Fisherrow Centre to see George’s talk, with another third joining remotely by Zoom. George is a member of Milngavie and Bearsden Camera Club and runs a guided mountain walking company called “MountainTreks” (see below).

http://www.mountaintreks.co.uk/

He guides clients through mountaineering adventures, and his photography began from a need to give clients a visual record of their journey. George’s photographs have won him awards, the most recent being the ‘Urban Life’ category of ‘Landscape Photographer of the Year’ 2017 and 2020 awards. George’s work can be followed on his photography site:

https://www.mountaintreksphotos.co.uk/

The title of George’s talk comes from a book by Galen Rowell, containing a photographic record of his attempt to climb K2 in 1975. The book inspired George to travel to the Baltoro Glacier in the Karakoram mountains of Northern Pakistan. We had the privilege of leafing through the book and seeing the fantastic photographs contained within it.

George described to us the awe-inspiring journey he had made around this glacier a few years ago while escorting clients to the basecamp of K2. The group had to carry everything they needed for the trip, so there was little room for photographic equipment. George was limited to just a camera body, a single 18-200mm lens and 6 camera batteries. There was no point in attempting to fit a filter or change the lens because the environment was very hostile and dusty. The main purpose of the trip was to look after the clients, so there were only limited windows of opportunity for photography.

Despite the limited time and rigours of the trek, George still came away with a fantastic photographic record. We were treated us to a feast of staggeringly beautiful mountain images: bright snow; stark mountain peaks contrasting against a bright sky; threatening clouds wrapping around the peaks; the striated curves of flowing glaciers; and “mushroom” rocks balanced on stumps of ice. George’s photographs also described the story of the trip: the local towns and run-down buildings; the rough and broken roads; the river crossings; and the tiny tents clinging to a huge mountain landscape. There were also some great portraits of George’s group and of the local people he encountered on the way.

We ended the evening utterly gobsmacked by the quality and beauty of the mountain photographs. Very few people get to travel to these remote and inhospitable places. Thank you George for bringing us a flavour of this amazing scenery.

16 September 2021 (Introduction to Photography)

This week I gave my introduction to photography presentation for beginners, this time as a combined face to face and Zoom presentation. This was the first use of the club’s new wireless microphone, which we found was good for picking up the speaker but not so good for picking up the chat from within the room. Next time we will switch to a different microphone for the questions and chat.

Here is a collection of downloadable notes, if anyone would like more details.

The following downloadable notes and give more information on club competitions.

After the presentation there was a technical hitch, where the club laptop struggled to manage a Zoom meeting and play a Dingwall DVD at the same time. After a few minutes delay we eventually showed some inspirational images from the Dingwall Camera Club National Projected Image Exhibition.

29 April 2021 (AGM and Presentation of Trophies)

The 2020/21 Musselburgh Camera Club season ended on 29th April 2021 with the AGM and the presentation of trophies.  It has been a very unusual club season, with all of the meetings taking place by Zoom.  A summary of the season can be found on the Chairman’s Comments page.  I would like to thank all members who have supported the club during this unusual year.  The lack of face to face meetings meant we missed some regulars, such as the “match an image” competition with North Berwick Photographic Society and our annual get together with Musselburgh Art Club. But the Zoom format has given us some new opportunities, such as being able to invite judges and speakers from further afield, and meet up with photographers from overseas clubs, such as

22 October 2020 (International Swedish Members Evening)

03 December 2020 (International Dutch Members Evening)

04 March 2021 (Three Weeks in Burma)

11 March 2021 (Swedish Interclub)

Next season I hope we will be able to have a mixture of face to face and Zoom meetings and gain the advantages of both.  Our AGM finished with a virtual presentation of trophies. A full list of winners can be found on the following page.

Trophy Winners – 2020/2021

I look forward to seeing you all at the next season, when I hope we can welcome some new members. Our first meeting will be on Thursday, 2nd September 2021. See you then.

Steven Beard

15 April 2021 (Digital Knockout Competition)

Our last competition of the season was an informal one: our annual digital knockout competition, where all the members get a chance to be judges.  Members submitted up to 3 JPEG images on the theme of “abstract”. 46 images were submitted in total. The images turned out to be a masterclass in photographic innovation. Members had used a variety of clever techniques to create their images; making use of reflections, intentional camera movement, close-ups of textured surfaces; unusual views of architectural features, household objects or artworks; or composites cunningly constructed from objects photographed in a light box. The simplest, and yet most innovative, example was Anne Yeoman’s photograph of the back of the lid from a jar of curry sauce. Now we will all see our used jar lids in a new light!  There were also some great humorous entries, such as Joe Fowler’s  “Crush Me If You Can” and Mike Clark’s “Release The Kraken”.

Members judged the quality and impact of each image, together with its relevance to the “abstract” subject. Most of the images were of high quality, making it difficult to pick the winners. Members felt that the best abstract images were ones that used the texture, shapes and colours of an object to create an effect where the identify of the original object was not obvious.  There were debates whether a textured surface was made of wood, rock, ice (or coffee!); or whether the unusual shapes seen were natural or create by an art filter effect.  There were some excellent still life and landscape compositions which lost out due to their subject matter not being sufficiently abstract, but those images could do very well in a more general competition.  The images were paired together in a series of head-to-head rounds until only 7 remained. Members then voted for their favourite to determine the final placings, and the result was:

  • 4rd place
    • Seascape (Stephen Williams)
    • Orange Light (Sandra Crowhurst)
    • Frosty Feathers (Anne Yeomans)
  • 3rd Place
    • Abstract 03 (Gordon Davidson)
    • Cool Abstract (Lorraine Roberts)
  • 2nd Place 
    • Looking Up (Stephen Williams)
  • 1st Place
    • The Vortex (John West)

The evening ended with a lengthy discussion about exactly how each image had been created, making it the longest club meeting of the season!

Well done to John West, whose winning image was created by taking some beautiful coloured reflections and warping them into a dramatic vortex pattern. Stephen Williams’ second placed image converted an unusual view of an electricity pylon into something looking like an artwork. In third place, Gordon Davidson’s image showed an unusual view of a stack of metal chairs, and Lorraine Roberts’ image showed the surface of a glacier.

25 March 2021 (Set Subject Competition – Flowers and Horticulture)

The third and final part of our set subject competition took place on 25th March 2021 on the subject of “Flowers and Horticulture”.  The competition was judged by George Todd, one of last year’s winners. Besides judging this competition, George Todd began the competition top of the leader board with 108 points. This was the score everyone needed to beat.

45 images had been entered by 15 members. George remarked that flower photography was a difficult subject. It was tricky capturing a good image of flowers in a garden without including distractions in the background. Depth of field was critical. It needed to be large enough to capture the interesting parts of your flower but narrow enough to blur the background. Some of the flower images entered had been made in a garden, while others had been taken indoors under more controlled conditions.  George commented on the composition of each image. The flower images worked better when you could see the stem leading to the flower. Clusters of flowers worked just as well as single flowers, even if not all the flowers were in focus, but very blurred flowers in the background made coloured distractions. Some images worked better when cropped tighter on their subject and some needed their colours enhanced. George also commented on the lighting an exposure of the images. The UV light in strong sunlight can very easily overexpose a flower image and wash out the colours. It is better to take the images in soft light and expose for the highlights. The images overall were to a high standard, which resulted in lot of high scores.

The top scorers were (in reverse order):

  • 5th place (52 points)
    • John West
  • 4th place (53 points)
    • Malcolm Roberts
    • Steve Williams
    • Gordon Davidson
  • 3rd place (54 points)
    • Steven Beard
    • Anne Yeomans
  • 2nd place (55 points)
    • Joe Fowler
  • 1st place (56 points)
    • Elaine Gilroy

The top images were:

  • Lilly in the Rain (Joe Fowler) – 20 points
  • Sunflower (Elaine Gilroy) – 20 points
  • Reflected Beauty (Steven Beard) – 19 points
  • African Violet (John West) – 19 points
  • Frosty Leaves (Anne Yeomans) – 19 points
  • There were also 14 images with 18 points; belonging to Jennifer Davidson, Joe Fowler, Malcolm Roberts, Steven Beard, Steve Williams, Elaine Gilroy, Catriona McKay, Gordon Davidson, Ian Marr and Anne Yeomans.

Well done to Elaine Gilroy, who wins the right to judge next year’s competition! The final result of the competition after this close and high scoring round is:

  • 1st place
    • Malcolm Roberts (56 + 53 = 109)
  • 2nd place
    • George Todd (53 + 55 = 108)
  • 3rd place
    • Joe Fowler (52 + 55 = 107)
    • Steve Williams (54 + 53 = 107)
    • Gordon Davidson (53 + 54 = 107)
    • Anne Yeomans (53 + 54 = 107)
  • 4th place
    • Steven Beard (49 + 54 = 103)
    • Elaine Gilroy (47 + 56 = 103)

Well done to Malcolm Roberts, who wins the trophy! Thank you also to George Todd for judging the competition.

11 February 2021 (Set Subject Competition – Landscapes)

The second of our 3-part set subject competition took place this week. The subject was “Landscapes”, and the competition was judged by Jennifer Davidson, one of last year’s winners. There were 48 images altogether, entered by 16 members. There are fewer opportunities for capturing good landscape images during current restrictions. Some members had submitted views from their local environment, but most images came from trips members had made in the past. There were many Scottish landscapes, ranging from East Lothian to Skye, along with scenes captured overseas as far away as the USA, Iceland, Southern Africa and New Zealand.

Jennifer commented on the composition of each image, with some compositions becoming stronger when cropped to make their main subject off-centre. In some cases, a sloping horizon, or the presence of dust spots, caused a distraction. Some images contained distracting features, such as dead trees, foreground weeds, or too many people, which could have been removed by cloning or by waiting for a better opportunity. There were also some examples of poor cloning, and Jennifer recommended always going over a cloned area a second time to look for duplicate features or areas which stand out because they are sharper or softer than their surroundings. She also recommended checking the direction of light and shadows within a composite image. The most frequent comment was about the sharpness of the images. Most landscape images need to be sharp from foreground to horizon. While some images (such as of crashing waves or fleeting mist) could be hand-held grab shots, landscape images are best taken using a tripod and a narrow aperture to give a good depth of field.

The top scorers were (in reverse order):

  • 5th place (50 points)
    • Steve Williams
  • 4th place (51 points)
    • Malcolm Roberts
  • 3rd place (52 points)
    • Joe Fowler
  • 2nd place (54 points)
    • Gordon Davidson
  • 1st place (55 points)
    • George Todd

The top images were:

  • View from the Crags (Joe Fowler) – 20 points
  • Alftavatn Lake Boat House (George Todd) – 20 points
  • Pentlands Weather (Malcolm Roberts) – 19 points
  • Milarochy Sunset (Gordon Davidson) – 19 points
  • Kincardine Sunset (Gordon Davidson) – 19 points
  • Kalahari Desert and Lone Oryx (George Todd) – 18 points
  • View from Traprain Law (Carol Edmund) – 18 points

Well done to George Todd, who wins the right to judge next year’s competition! The league table after two competitions looks like this:

George Todd (53 + 55 = 108)
Malcolm Roberts (56 + 51 = 107)
Gordon Davidson (53 + 54 = 107)
Steve Williams (54 + 50 = 104)
Joe Fowler (– + 52 = ??)
Anne Yeomans (53 + 48 = 101)
Mike Clark (50 + 49 = 99)
Carol Edmund (49 + 49 = 98)

Only 1 point separates George Todd from the rest of the field. Entries for the final part of the competition (“Flowers and Horticulture”) are due on 4th March 2021.

 

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.

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.

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!