Friday, 19 October, 2018 - 17:02
This week we had a members evening where 3 members showed an overview of their work. It’s a chance to show a selection of images to other members without needing to make them competition standard.
I began the evening with an overview of the “luminosity mask” technique in Photoshop, which Libby Smith had showed us earlier in the year. Those people who asked me for a step by step guide can download it by clicking the following link:
I then showed some of the photographs taken on a short visit to Orkney during the summer. The images included the Ring of Brodgar, the Ness of Brodgar archaeological dig and Skara Brae neolithic village. I was lucky enough to sign up for an out of hours guided tour with Historic Scotland around the inside of some of the houses. This unique view allowed me to take close-ups of some of the stone furniture and photograph the inside of some of the tunnels linking the houses. The tours usually happen around the end of July each year. The tours are usually advertised on the Historic Scotland web site a few weeks in advance.
Malcolm and Lorraine Roberts showed us images taken on their recent trip to Vietnam. There were colourful portraits of the locals cycling, cooking or managing market stalls, including a shot of the crowd watching the Vietnamese football team competing in the under 23 World Cup. There were also some impressive shots of the local landscape, flowers and wildlife, and the cities at night.
Clive Davies showed us a Photoshop presentation on the ‘Gardens of Japan’, with images of incredibly well-manicured gardens. There were zen gardens made of raked pebbles without a single leaf of piece of debris in the shot. There were landscapes in which every rock and stone had been carefully chosen and placed and every tree had been carefully pruned into the right shape. There were also some portraits, showing the discipline of the local school children and the endless hard work of the gardeners (who were difficult to photograph because they never kept still!).
If you have been inspired to bring along some of your own images, there is another members evening planned on 14th March 2019.
- Next week (25th October 2018) George will be receiving entries for the coloured print competition. Please bring up to 3 mounted coloured prints and give then to George. Please can you also email digital JPEG copies of your images to George.
- Next week we will be announcing the results of the “seascapes” competition, the first of our 3 set subject competitions.
- Note that next week will be our last planned meeting at Fisherrow until 15th November 2018. On 1st November we will be travelling to Beeslack Peniuick Camera Club to take part in the 4-way inter-club competition, and on 8th November those with tickets will be travelling to Pencuik North Church Hall for an evening with Andy Rouse.
Sunday, 14 October, 2018 - 13:28
The 600 men and 1 woman who gave their lives, and the many people from Musselburgh who served in the armed forces and many associated services are commemorated in this exhibition.
Saturday, 13 October, 2018 - 14:27
This week we had our first competition of the season, the very popular Digital Projected Images competition. The competition was judged by James Dyas of Motherwell Photographic Society. James had the tricky task of judging 69 images, all of which he liked in some way. There were landscape images, action shots, portraits, reenactments, holiday scenes, nature and flowers and a lot of macro shots of insects. James had positive things to say about each image, and even shots that were not properly focused were beautifully coloured. Some images inspired James to tell a story of similar scenes he had encountered. The backgrounds featured a lot in the feedback, and some images lost out because of a distracting background. One exception was the shot, “Foundry Workers, Blists Hill Iron Bridge”, where the cluttered background actually improved the shot because it enhanced the story told by the image and gave the viewer a chance to see new things with each viewing.
James reserved the highest marks for the very best images. The scoring was tight, but in the end there was a clear winner. The top scorers were (in reverse order):
- 5th place (47 points)
- Joe Fowler
- George Todd
- Gordon Davidson
- 4th place (48 points)
- Mike Clark
- 3rd place (49 points)
- Jim Todd
- 2nd place (50 points)
- Jennifer Davidson
- 1st place (54 points)
- Steve Barber
The top images were
- Harvest Mice on Bluebells [left] (Steve Barber) – 20 points
- Determination [middle] (Jennifer Davidson) – 19 points
- Foundry Workers, Blist Hill Ironbridge [right] (Steve Barber) – 18 points
- Down Hill Biker (Lorraine Roberts) – 17 points
- Crowned Crane (Jim Tod) – 17 points
- Ornate Horned Frog (Jim Tod) – 17 points.
- Osprey With Catch (George Todd) – 17 points
- Brown Hare Meadow (Mike Clark) – 17 points
Congratulations to newcomer Steve Barber for a fantastic achievement in his first competition with the club.
Next week we have a members’ evening. Steven Beard will present images from a recent trip to Orkney and Lorraine and Malcolm Roberts will show their shots from Vietnam.
Sunday, 7 October, 2018 - 17:32
4th October was our annual photo advice evening, where members bring in prints and chat about them around a table. We were a little short of prints to discuss, so the pool was supplemented by the club’s existing folder of black and white and portrait prints. The most useful discussion tool around our table turned out to be a set of envelopes we used to crop the images. I hope everyone who brought prints got some good feedback from the evening. It is very useful to show a print to someone else before using it, because they notice things you have missed. (How did I miss the blue blob in the eye of the portrait I brought in???)
- Next week James Dyas will be visiting us to judge the Digital Projected Images competition.
- The following week, on 18th October 2018 there will be a members evening. Have you been away on holiday? Are you working on a photographic project? Please look into your archives and see if there are images you would like to bring in and show members.
- The RSPB Inpiring Nature Calendar Competition is now open. The RSPB are looking for 12 nature-inspired images to show on their 2019 calendar, and there are pairs of binoculars to be won. The competition closes on 15th November 2018.
Sunday, 30 September, 2018 - 17:43
This week Joe and I gave an introduction to photography for club members. Rather than present the same set of slides for 2 years running, this year I decided to try something different. I set up a make-shift tiny studio consisting of:
- A large cardboard box with the top and one side missing.
- A subject (vase of fake flowers) on top of a pedestal (looking suspiciously like a biscuit tin).
- A sheet of black paper fastened to the back of the box as a plain background.
- The subject was lit with a pair of adjustable LED lights fixed to the side of the box. I used two DIALL 220LM PLASTIC LED BLUE TORCHes, which you can find at a hardware store such as B&Q. Portable LED torches and work lights can make a good budget alternative to studio lights or flash.
This setup was designed to be as compact as possible so it could be set up at Fisherrow. If you are going to try something like this at home I recommend using a larger space and moving the background further from the subject to avoid shadows being cast onto the background.
Here is one of the shots which resulted from the demonstration. This shot is taken with a 0.5 second exposure at f/16 and ISO 400. The camera was set to spot metering mode (because of the black background) and focused on the left-hand white flower near the front. A +1/3 stop of exposure compensation was added because the “spot” was sampling a white flower. The f/16 keeps all the flowers in focus, and I don’t need to be exact with the depth of field because of the plain background. The shot ended up with an ugly dark grey background, which I selected in Photoshop and darkened to black.
I have made up a PDF handout from my slides, which you can download by clicking below:
After the demonstration, Joe showed us how he creates and improves his images. A much better shot can often be made by combining components from several images together. A shot of a motorcyclist is much stronger if you include the eyes. A shot of a rider with a clear visor in a boring situation can merged with a dramatic shot of a rider with a black visor to make an even better shot. The human brain likes images with 3 subjects, and a shot containing two riders can be improved by cutting and pasting a rider from another image. An image can also be improved by cutting and pasting the subject onto a different background, as Joe showed by taking a shot of a surfer riding on a flat lake and pasting them onto a rough sea. Nature shots can be made more interesting by adding a focal point (such as an individual bird) into the foreground (although Joe pointed out that a shot changed in this way will not be eligible for a wildlife photography competition).
Joe also showed that the easiest way to improve an image is by cropping it. Try zooming in to the interesting part of your image and see if you prefer the result. You can also clone out distracting objects, although whether they are considered distracting or not is subjective and depends how the viewer perceives the image. For example, does the white post show the skill of the motorcyclists in avoiding it, or is it a distracting white post? Do the support cars distract from the racing cyclists or tell the story of the event? The important thing is to create the image which tells the story you want to show.
- Please send your 3 JPEG images for the “Seascape” set subject competition to George Todd (email address on the front of the syllabus) by Thursday, 4th October 2018.
- Also please note that the entry date for the coloured print competition will be on 25th October 2018. The club needs as many prints as possible for the first 4-way competition on 1st November 2018. If you can submit any of your black and white or human portrait prints at the same time, that would be help us a great deal.
- Our next meeting (Thursday, 4th October 2018) is Photo Advice Night. Please bring 1, 2 or 3 unmounted prints to share with club members. These can be images for which you would like advice or feedback or anything that other members would find interesting.
Tuesday, 25 September, 2018 - 13:28
This week we welcomed our first speaker of the season, Libby Smith of Carluke Camera Club. Libby entertained us with photographs taken during a recent holiday to the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland (click here for a map). She took us on a fascinating journey around this beautiful area, explaining how she planned and executed her photography and produced some stunning shots, including several seascapes (giving us ideas for the forthcoming “seascapes” competition) and some thought-provoking shots of the interior of abandoned cottages. Libby had good advice for beginners and experienced members alike:
- When planning a photographic trip, allow plenty of time to get there.
- Spend some time checking out the best spots. Ask the locals which places look good at different times of the day and plan to be in each place at the optimum time.
- Try to stay the night close to your first location, so you can take your shots at sunrise and return to your lodging for breakfast.
- Don’t be disappointed if the weather is bad. Wind, rain and fog can create some dramatic shots by the sea. Be prepared to get your feet wet.
- Try to include some interesting foreground objects, such as rocks or driftwood, in your seascape shots. A low angle will increase the drama.
- A long exposure will make any movement in the sea more dramatic. The best shots can be taken in the dim but colourful light around sunrise or sunset.
- A graduated ND filter can help balance seascape shots by darkening a bright sky against a dark foreground.
Libby showed us a series of “before” and “after” images and explained how to give them more punch using Photoshop. The key thing is to start with a good, well-exposed image in the first place, as Photoshop will emphasis any faults.
- Always adjust the brightness and contrast before making any colour adjustments, as increasing the contrast will also change the colour saturation.
- An image has “depth” when the foreground and background objects appear separated. You can separate the foreground and background by increasing the contrast of the foreground and decreasing the contrast of the background.
- Photoshop CC has a “camera raw filter” which can be used to make more adjustments to an image after processing in Photoshop. The “clarity” adjustment is particularly useful. Those without Photoshop CC can save the image as a TIFF and reopen it in Camera Raw.
- The “luminosity mask” feature in Photoshop is a hidden gem, Look for the “load channels as selection” button within the “channels” tab (which looks like a little circle of dots.) Pressing this button will instantly select all the highlights in your image, allowing them to be adjusted separately (using a “levels” layer). Following the adjustment with a “select/inverse” allows you to adjust the shadows as well.
- Joe Fowler is holding a “Photography for Beginners” class at the Fisherrow Centre at 7pm on Wednesday 26th September 2018.
- The closing date for the “seascapes” set subject competition is 4th October 2018. Please send up to 3 JPEG images to the George Todd using the email address shown on the front of the syllabus. Images must be sized to a maximum size of 1600 pixels and renamed to show your member number and the image title, for example “56_ThisIsMyTitle.jpg”.
- This Thursday I will be attempting to present a live technical demonstration to club members and Joe will be giving his usual good advice on capturing good images. The evening will be a good opportunity to discuss photographic techniques. I hope to see you there.