Comp No 4

Last night was Competition No. 4, the last of our Pool Points competitions for the season. Now a member of Frome Wessex because they meet on a Friday evening, our judge for the evening was former member, and still a friend of the club, Huw Alban. Huw is an experienced photographer and now an experienced and well-respected judge who always puts a lot of time and thought into his assessments.
Huw went into a lot of detail of what he liked in an image and gave thoughtful advice as to where he thought an image could be improved, and members find this very helpful. Huw also explained that it was only his opinion and another judge may have a completely different point of view and will give a different score.
We started with the 30 PDIs where there were number of high scoring and maximum scoring images. First up was a super image of a Spider & Lunch by Angus Donald, although some of us preferred not to keep the image on display for too long. That scored the maximum 20 points as did Angus’s reptile image Curly Tail. Carole scored 20 with another of her great images of surfers and Paul scored two 20s with his gig images of Brakelight at Inspire Warminster and Elvis Tribute. Other 20s were David Covey for his interesting image of fireworks on a November Night, Mike for Calling Ewe and Debra for Window Reboot (so peace in the Williams household then).
After the interval we viewed the prints and again many of the images achieved a good score. Only 2 maximum points among the 18 prints being Peter for Darter and Denise for Cheap Street in the Rain.
Vice Chairman Peter thanked Huw for his assessment and welcome advice.
For members the complete score sheets can be found in the Members’ Only area of the web site. The Pool Positions and copies of the notes Denise kindly takes on the judge’s comments will be available in a day or two.

Images: Geoff Sims & Members
Report: Mil Chimley LRPS

Quiz Night 13/03/18

On Tuesday we were treated to a fun night courtesy of Paul Duckworth who had devised The Quiz of the Year. We were split into teams of 3 or 4 members so as to pool brain cells.
There were 4 sections in the quiz – General, Technical, History and Modern. Paul’s confession that he’d used one or two questions from last year’s quiz wasn’t much help to those who have difficulty in remembering what they did that morning, let alone what was in last year’s quiz.
There was much head scratching and a great deal of laughter as we worked our way through some fiendish tests of our limited knowledge. The technical questions were particularly difficult as it required some mental arithmetic the like of which most of us hadn’t practiced in many a year.
After the interval, in which Paul had surreptitiously swapped the answer papers on the tables round, we resumed to find another team’s answers in front of us. Paul then took us through the correct answers and we diligently marked and counted points.
The eventual winners were the only team of three being Gary aided and abetted by Marny and Mil. To be fair Gary probably knew more than his 2 team members put together, so he is likely to be highly sought after for next year’s quiz. Perhaps his comparative youth had something to do with his superior memory.  There were no prizes but the winners had the satisfaction of having won something this year.
Our thanks to Paul who put together the questions and acted as quizmaster, and we can only hope he’ll have the time to construct another next year.

Images: Geoff Sims
Report: Mil Chimley LRPS

Match-an-Image v Wincanton Camera Club

We did win again, but must closer, well done to Wincanton who learnt fast and posed some difficult challenges. Many thanks to our judge, Brian Tarling, who was very fair, particularly with all the barracking and shouting from both sides in the competition; he just joined in.
I cannot remember all the Leaders and Followers (15 Leaders from each side), but I make a few comparisons at how we all tried to cheat and pretend some very dubious matches.
Wincanton put a leader of a map and a plane model. As we had no planes (our Red Arrows had gone against a plant) we put forward ‘Old Soldier’ and claimed he was a pilot. Brian was having none of that and declared ‘No Match’ but did think our image was ‘more interesting’ and therefore we each got a point.
We put forward an image of some people on an escalator, with a reflection, which formed an interesting triangle. Wincanton made a good stab with an apex of a hut. After a lot of discussion, Brian decided it was not a match. He did think a match was made with our response of Clevedon Pier to a seaside set of stairs, so we did OK with fighting off that one.
Warminster thought the window image of some coloured gloves was hard to match, but Wincanton proved us wrong with an image of some coloured (travel?) rugs. A match and they got the best image (Brian’s view was that the window display was someone else’s art – ie the window dresser). We tried again with a window display – the art of chocolate making – we were foiled again, with their eggs, set against a stripey background – and they got best image too. A very interesting image of some skeletons and bones floored us, so we displayed a selfie against a brocken spectre (at least it was people) – no dice (and Brian was right, we all agreed!).
Three flying ducks by Wincanton; we beat that one ‘Puffin Landing’ with 2 points gained. One of Carole’s surfers also won against a seaside pool/shell image – it was a good try though.
So well done Wincanton – what game are we playing next year?

Images: Geoff Sims
Report: Marny Thompson LRPS

Nick Cable 27th February

Nick stood in at last minute as our booked speaker was ill – and it was a very worthwhile evening. Nick showed us some of his wonderful images (his website is worth visiting as well as giving us some very useful technical tips and information.
He is based in the Somerset Levels, a one time member of Taunton Camera Club and now a member of f8 Image Group, which although small, were awarded the Western Counties Photographic Federation (WCPF) digital projected image competition winners for the South West region in 2015 and 2016 and joint winners in 2017. He works on commercial photography, some landscapes and other genres.
Nick works in IT and is obviously familiar with many data and technical aspects, which some photographers would wrestle with, but he explained in such a non-technical manner, he has you understanding the concepts (or thinking you understand!). He did say that photographing should be fun !!
He mentioned that entering National Competitions is very different than Camera Club Comps – something few of us has ever tried. The judges have a few seconds to make a decision – so make an impact.
He likes taking things that the eye doesn’t see and often uses a 500mm lens with a tele-converter. For an aviation image, maybe using 1/2500 shutter, ISO 200. He has a gimbal head on the tripod and uses ‘back-button focusing’. To get detail in these images he might use Topaz Clarity (micro contrast).
Nick showed us some great people images, many using textured backgrounds. He does this by layering the textures over the subject, masking and rubbing out so that the textures stay as background – very impressive but commented that you might play with this for hours, changing the blending mode per layer. He seems to use vignettes frequently and to great effect. You can see some of these on his website.
Data – get the most data you can from the camera. Understand the fundamentals, understand your camera and how to control it; shoot RAW, process RAW to put all parameters back into the image (and showed us several before/after to prove his point). Also understand that the old concept of the ‘camera never lies’ is not true – the LCD shows a jpg preset, ‘live view’ shows the image at maximum aperture (use depth of field preview to stop down). If you have a choice, use RGB histogram, not the usual brightness (as this uses grayscale). Remember that the digital sensor is not as sensitive as your own eyes.
ETTR – expose to the right for maximum detail, reduces noise, to adjust the blackpoint in processing. Dynamic range – everything out of range is either black or white – how to work around this? Exposure blending seems to have an answer – I’m sure it is not as simple as Nick made it sound.
For example, want some flowing water in the river, sharp, still trees – bracket the shots but using speed – two photos, 2 layers, 1 mask.
Nick spent quite a lot of time explaining exposure blending, but it is hard to recall all he mentioned. Taking a series of shots, hand blending, luminosity masks. Suggests many tutorials are available courtesy of google. One suggestion is to use 32bit file: take 4 files into LightRoom, merge to HDR Pro in Photoshop – this creates a 32bit file. Exit before the HDR sliders and save as a temporary file, which you then load back into LightRoom. Checkout google – processing 32bit files.
Experiment with panoramas – you have to calculate the nodal point (if close to an object in the image, it won’t work) and you have to have nodal stick on your tripod (180 or 360 degrees). It works OK on a landscape but for an interior of a building, it matters. Overlap at least 20% on each image, take vertical so you can more information in each image: for an interior of Wells Cathedral, he took 16 images.
Nick finished his talk with information about a trip to Norway, with the hope of seeing the aurora. He spent 10 nights there, only 3 good days weatherwise, no aurora. On the last evening – there is was – and the camera sees it better than your eyes. It was -25 degrees, camera didn’t freeze but his tripod did (he had been in water so not a surprise really). Some tips for skies with stars (and not trails) – ISO 3100, f4, about 25 seconds (there is a rule about 500 divided by focal length of lens – you’ll have to check on google).
Thanks for a good evening Nick, and to fellow members – sorry if I haven’t got all the detail in this report – so much information.
Nick teamed up with fellow photographer David Morton to offer residential workshops in specially chosen locations throughout the UK, covering a variety of topics from understanding your camera, creative image taking to post processing and preparing your image for print. He can also do one-day only for Camera Clubs.
Each workshop is limited to a small group size. Something for us to think about ………………

Images: Geoff Sims
Report: Marny Thompson LRPS