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!

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.

https://www.fionabrimsphotography.co.uk/

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.

Welcome to the 2015-2016 Season

It was good to see everyone at the open night on September 3rd, and I was delighted to chat to some potential new members over a cup of tea. I hope we can make them feel welcome. Thank you to all the committee members (and others) who helped to prepare the room.

We have an interesting and varied syllabus coming up. Click here for a syllabus listing. The syllabus includes 3 slots for members to show their work to the club. The first slot is on 1st October (followed by 5th November and 7th April  2016). You could be the first members to try out our shiny new projector! So if you have something interesting to show us (have you had a holiday somewhere interesting, been to an interesting event, learned a new technique, bought a new piece of equipment, etc…) please let Kenny Sharp know. We can have presentations from more than one member per evening, so you don’t need to fill the time on your own.

This year we have a competition every calendar month. Click here for competition dates and rules. Ask George Todd if you have questions. The session begins with the Digital Images competition. Submission of images is on 17th September, with the judging taking place on 8th October. This is the easiest competition to enter. Any subject is accepted, and you don’t need to print or mount the images. Find three of your best images and send them to George as JPEG files. (George has offered to help beginners to resize their images.)

The second competition is the Colour Print competition, with submission on 8th October and judging on 29th October. This is also an open competition, with any subject acceptable. Charlie Briggs can advise you how to mount your prints. Since the Digital Images and Colour Print are both open competitions, a good way to begin the year is to find your 6 best images. I usually make test prints to decide which ones look better as prints and which ones look better on the screen.

Some dates for your diary:

See you next Thursday evening.

Steven.