Michael Curtis – 28th February

On Tuesday Michael Curtis made a return visit to Warminster to follow up on Competition No. 2 he’d judged for us in December. The objective was to implement the changes he’d suggested on a selection of images to see if the “after” image was indeed better than the “before”. I suspect quite often we don’t go through this exercise for ourselves and it was quite an eye opener for more than one of the audience on Tuesday. Michael had put a lot of preparation into what he was showing us but didn’t only show us the before and after images, but took us through exactly how to get there. Michael used Photoshop CC but said he used only those tools that we could also find in Photoshop Elements and other branded editing software. This was so helpful as it left us believing we could achieve the same sort of results and was very encouraging. Michael had picked out s selection of images to demonstrate different techniques but “how to properly replace a sky” was probably the most popular. However, there was no doubt that all the “after” images Michael had prepared were significantly better than the “before”. Finally Michael had put together a short PowerPoint presentation of some of the key considerations of exposure and how we should be using the histogram to help us make sure that the data was there if we needed to pull detail out of shadow areas. Key to this is remembering there is no way of rescuing blown out highlights so if the dynamic range of you camera can’t cope with the extremes of light and dark in a picture at the very least you should expose so not to blow out the highlight areas, although bracketed exposure and HDR will also help. Michael is a fairly frequent visitor to Warminster as a judge or presenter and his light-hearted manner and sense of fun made the evening fun as well as being educational, so thanks Michael and hope we see you back next season.

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Images: Geoff Sims
Report: Mil Chimley LRPS

Members’ Presentation Evening – 21st February 2017

On Tuesday we had a depleted audience partly due to members taking holidays abroad (you know who you are) and others suffering from “The Queen’s Cold” (i.e. the one HM The Queen had at Christmas and, just in case you’re keeping a keen eye on the web site of Warminster Camera Club, may we say we hope Your Majesty is fit and well again now). Never the less, those that made it were treated to a fine Members’ Presentation Evening featuring Ray White and Bernard Clifford, as both had put together thoughtful and well organised presentations.
Ray took us to Russia and who knew you could travel from St Petersburg to Moscow by boat? Helpfully Ray showed us a map of how the trip was made by way of rivers, canals, lakes and reservoirs. In adventurous mood he and Pauline (Mrs White) had travelled independently by air to St Petersburg then joined organised tours of the city and its sights, and finally the last ship of the season to be heading for Moscow. Between October and April the waterways are frozen and, even at the end of September, everybody was wrapped up in coats and scarves as it was far from warm.
Ray’s images showed the outward opulence of what the world considers to be a relatively poor nation, and the gold leaf on many public buildings made for amazing photographs. We saw both outside and inside the Kremlin and I’m sure I detected a note of pleasure when ray told us how many times he had to be frisked by security guards (no, not really, sorry Ray).
Bernard took us to Sri Lanka where he and Carol had been volunteers in a zoo for a month. A decidedly poor nation Bernard said the accommodation was basic but comfortable. Feeding the giraffe was fun but one camel was friendly with Bernard but wouldn’t talk to Carol at all. Personally I was very envious when one image showed Bernard getting down and dirty in the pool with the elephants scrubbing their skins with coconut shells. To keep the record straight it was the elephants I’d have like to have been in the pool with.
Bernard and Carol got some time off and had travelled to a place where there was an elephant sanctuary. Many elephants had been orphaned, and some injured, during the civil war in the country and who wasn’t saddened by the sight of an elephant with one foot missing, it having been blown off by a land mine? None the less “stumpy” joining in all the activities with the other elephants including the trip to the river for the daily scrub down.
All in all we had a very entertaining evening and our thanks go to Ray and Bernard for putting together such an interesting programme.

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Images: Geoff Sims
Report: Mil Chimley LRPS

David Kjaer – Scottish Wildlife

Last night we were treated to a superb collection of images from a local photographer, David Kjaer. David describes himself as a lifelong birdwatcher and naturalist and has always drawn his inspiration from what he observes in the natural world; he has been photographing wildlife for approximately 36 years and turned professional after a career in the Wiltshire police. Although David describes himself mainly as a birdwatcher, his images were certainly some of the best, showing birds and other wildlife in their natural habitat. His knowledge of all the countryside, wildlife and habits of everywhere he went, the creatures he photographed and described, were fascinating and held the audience enthralled. David started his talk in the Highlands and Islands, showing us landscapes to allow us to understand the different areas and how the birds and other wildlife lived. It takes real dedication to get up at 1.30am so that you can be in the hide before 4 am, but it’s obviously worth it. Patience is also required as, once in the hide, he has to wait at least an hour for the dawn light. Observations of the different species and behaviour were described, which brought the images to life – ‘birds on sticks’ they certainly were not. A short video allowed us to hear some of the blackcock calls. Certain images were so bright and clear, it made it easy to understand how he described feathers as brown rather than black; moving on to Capercaillie, he described how male fights can be serious as they are fearless – they will attack cars and even people. David’s description and images of deforestation in the Cairngorms and the Caledonian Pine Forest allowed us to see how the habitat had changed for the wildlife; burning the grouse moors (creating patchwork) and managing them (including some control of the deer) allows the species to prosper. In fact, some species, such as pine martens, are now starting to move from the west coast to the east – where they will start eating bird eggs and affecting the thriving colonies on the east coast. One hugely thriving colony of gannets was photographed 10 years ago, when there were thousands; a recent photo showed that the colony now covers the whole island and it is not possible to see any land. Some of the cliffs on the east coast are so laden with guillemots there is no room for anything else – but somehow the birds still manage to lay their eggs. Great images of birds, taken over many years of dedication and patience, including one where he waited 6 hours for a buzzard to catch a rabbit to feed its chicks – but what a shot! The real bully boys (the Skua), the white sandy beaches of the west coast (you could be anywhere in the world), treeless North Uist, puffins with sand eels, red squirrels, dolphins, hooded crows – and a local Blandford otter!
Thank you David, a terrific evening.

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Images: Geoff Sims
Report: Marny Thompson LRPS

Multi Club Print Competition 11th February

The hall was booked, and the booking checked, twice. The catering team swung into action in the kitchen, the logistics team erected the print stands and set out the tables and chairs. The chairman wandered about casting an eye over the proceedings without actually doing anything useful. 70 prints were carefully arranged over the stands. Our Multi-club Print Competition 2017 was ready to roll. Penny Piddock DPAGB, AFIAP, was our judge for the competition held on Saturday 11th February. Penny had travelled from Dorchester and members of seven Clubs across Wiltshire and Somerset attended. Penny is an experienced judge and photographer. She and her husband Spike displayed some of their underwater images before the judging commenced; these were taken in exotic places such as the Maldives and the Red Sea, but also included some just off the Isle of Portland, showing that travel is not the only way to get good photographs. Their photographs were terrific and Penny let us into her secret of getting those “over and under water” shots; they were taken as separate images and blended together in Photoshop© to very good effect. Spike ventures into deeper water to get images of fish, squid and the occasional shark. Penny explained that, as multi-club competition, where clubs had already selected the best of their images, she would not give a full critique but how she connected to them and those that stood out from the start. That indefinable “wow factor” separated the good from the terrific. A couple of days after the event, Penny wrote: ‘I enjoyed Saturday especially as there were so many memorable images displayed. Quite a few of them remain very vivid in my memory (for the right reasons), which is always a good sign. Certainly my top three choices stood out from the others almost as soon as I saw them on the stands.’ The highest scoring images (20 points) were by Patrick Emery and Alan Denison from Frome Wessex, Robert Harvey, Gill Cardy and Pam Mullins from Devizes, and Ian Middleton from Wincanton. The “Best Print” individual prize was won by Gill Cardy for her image entitled ‘Great Grey Owl in Snow’ – very well done. The winning team was Devizes again this year (182 points), 2nd Frome Wessex (178), 3rd Calne (171), joint 4th Trowbridge and Warminster (169), 6th Norton Radstock (167) and last but not least, Wincanton (163). Eddy Lane (Vice Chairman, Calne Camera Club) thanked the hosts for a good competition and complimented Warminster on their usual good refreshments. Calne moved from fourth team last year to number three in 2017. Our thanks to all the clubs who participated (and travelled in snowy weather), to Penny & Spike Piddock and to the Warminster club members for their invaluable help. We hope to see everybody again for the next match in February 2018.
Warminster Entry
All the scores

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Images: Paul Duckworth
Report: Marny Thompson LRPS