Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Happy Christmas All

A Christmas note from our chairman:

As we approach the end of the year, I just wanted to thank everyone for making the first few months of our new membership year such fun.  The engagement levels are fantastic, which bodes really well for the future of the club.  Thank you again, and I look forward to more of the same in 2016!

Looking ahead to the new year, a few things that I’d like to remind you about:

- The first club evening will be Wednesday 13th January.  We will kick the year off with a bit of fun courtesy of a “Where in the World" quiz night.  Please send me your photos (up to six per person) and ensure that the location is included in the title. To give the teams a fighting chance please don't just include the fiendishly difficult to guess locations :-)). This evening is also a chance to give any SPA Biennial Exhibition prints to Dave S. He can also answer any questions you have.

- Our first competition evening will be Wednesday 20th January.  This will be an open print competition, so start rummaging through your archives and dig out your best prints!  Remember that David P offers a very cheap mount cutting service if you are in need of new mounts (all details on the website or blog).

- I have been approached by Cheam camera club asking whether any of our members might be interested in joining their trip to the NEC photographic show on March 19th.  The coach will leave from Cheam at around 7am (arriving not long after the show opens) and will leave at 6pm.  On the assumption that the coach is filled, transport will cost around £25 per person (ticket to the show extra).  Please let me know if you are interested and I will forward numbers to Cheam.

Thats about all from me for 2015 .. apologies that I didn't make it to the Christmas party (the photos on Facebook looked great!) but thanks again to Jane for organising.  Not only did it look like a fun night, but it also raised over £170, so great news all round!

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a fantastic new year!

All the best,


p.s. I am expecting to see some excellent examples of bokeh in the new year .. those christmas tree fairy lights are just begging for some attention!! ;-)

[Ed. this is my attempt based on the lights at the Whitgift Centre in Croydon, I'm sure there's someone out there who can do better. Let's see them ! ]

Thursday, 10 December 2015

SPA Biennial Exhibition time

Every two years the Surrey Photographic Association puts on an Exhibition showcasing the best photos taken by the counties photographers over the last two years.

The 2016 Exhibition is held in Guildford House Gallery from the 12th March to the 1st April 2016.

This is flagship event for Surrey photographers with the best images on show getting put forward to the national PAGB competitions. Last time round over 1200 prints  and 600 PDI's were submitted. A group of judges will choose about 160 Prints and 200 PDI's for display in the Exhibition although this year there is talk of changing the selection process to allow more photos to be shown !

You can see a selection of the photos chosen for the 2014 Exhibition on the SPA website along with a brief description of the event itself. 

The closing date for the 2016 Exhibition is 31 January 2016, so, over the Christmas break it's time to think about what entries you may like to submit. 

Dave Stoneleigh has kindly volunteered to be the club's Liasion Officer for the Exhibition. This means he will compile all the entry forms (and fees) and also the physical prints.

PDIs and PDI copies of Print entries will be uploaded directly to the SPA website by the individual with an online entry form. Dave will still need to collect a second entry form (Form B) for all entries, Print or PDI.

These are some of the key dates in the process:

13 January 2016.  -  This is a Club Evening for the Where in the World Quiz but we will also have some time to discuss the submission process and get a idea of who is going to enter. If you have already uploaded your photos it is a chance to give Dave your entry forms and Prints if you have them.

20 January 2016.  -  This is a Print Competition Evening at the Club so there won't be much time for discussion but it is another chance to let Dave know you are entering and get your entry forms to him.

23 January 2016.  -  Deadline for entry forms, mounted prints and payments to be with Dave S.   Please try and get them to him before this date if possible but again, LET HIM KNOW YOU ARE ENTERING!

15 December 2015 to 31 January 2016  -  Period that SPA are accepting uploading of PDI's from entrants.

12 March 2016 - 2nd April 2016  -  Exhibition at Guildford House Gallery

It is important to stress that whilst members entering will have to upload PDI's of their images themselves, the entry forms and entry fees, along with prints MUST be entered through Dave Stoneleigh as the club's 'Liaison Officer'.   

In this respect, those considering entering should let him know so that he can let them have an entry form and answer any questions they may have.   This also allows him to know when he has received all the entries, in order that they can be passed on to the SPA, since there are various deadlines in this respect that have to meet.
If any entry fees are being paid by cheque, these will need to be made out to Dave (D.Stoneleigh) as he will have to submit one cheque to the SPA to cover all the payments.

The handover of entries and monies should be able to be done at a club evening early in the New Year (dates above) but if this presents any difficulties, contact Dave to make alternative arrangements.       Dave's email address is StoneleiD@aol.com

I know that some Photocraft members will be entering and it would be nice if others joined in and had a go but be sure to read and carefully follow the rules on the link below !  Some are slightly different to the Photocraft competitions, especially on sizes of Print and PDI. There are also special rules for the Nature category.

They can all be found here (along with the upload instructions):


Sunday, 22 November 2015

Monochrome Madness!

This week ushered in Photocraft's first Monochrome Print competition of the membership year.  A great turnout and some excellent pictures for guest judge Ian Brash to enjoy!

As a "monochrome virgin" it was really interesting for me to learn what caught the eye of our judge Ian (and what some members might have wished hadn't caught his eye!).  My key takeaway was that monochrome is not just about all the usual things like good composition, it's also about drama, dynamism and depth of lighting .. contrast seems to be key!

Curious to see some aspects of what Ian was talking about in action, I provided Ian with a copy of one of my pictures from the competition (which scored a modest 7.5 points) to see what he could do with it .. in the process he would hopefully not only elevate the quality of my picture, but also my points-winning potential for future completions!

So after 20 mixtures of work in Photoshop (using the Nik plugin), Ian managed to turn this ..

Into this ..

Quite a difference I think you will agree!  Plenty more drama and atmosphere, and the relief of the mountains shows much more depth now .. definitely worth more than 7.5 points now!

So (as if I didn't already know it) it seems I still have much to learn! Note to self: get some lessons in Photoshop and look into this Nik plugin .. it could the key to that elusive 10!!!!

Thanks again to Ian for the impromptu demo, and see you all next week .. Mark

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Lights! Camera! Action!

October saw the first of this year's workshop evenings, with members being encouraged to bring their camera's in for some hands-on practice of portrait and still-life photography.

Under the expert guidance of Dave C and Lynne W, members learnt how much difference a flash can make, and had more fun with toy dinosaurs than they probably should have!

A fun and informative evening: bring on those competition-winning still life and portrait pictures!

Monday, 2 November 2015

Need any mounts for the next print competition?

This is just a reminder to get your order in for print mounts if you plan to enter the next competition - Monochrome Print Competition 1, 18th November. All details of how to order can be found by hitting the 'Mount Cutting Service' button in the Members' Area of the site.

If you can decide what you want, I can let you have them the week before at the 11th November meeting.

If they will be printed borderless (i.e. printed to the edge of the paper) let me know and I will cut the window slightly smaller to make it easier to tape the edges of the print to the back of the mount.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Smartphone Photography

Sometimes, us members of the camera club world treat the humble smartphone camera as a second class device .. a gimmick not good for much more than those over-posed selfies, a poor relation to our real cameras, and something that is not capable of producing any real artistic content. 

Well done to Mark B for putting together last weeks talk on smartphone cameras to put the record straight. 

Mark brought us bang up to date showing a few examples of what can be achieved. There was a brief explanation of the technology, followed by examples of what can be achieved, as demonstrated by some stunning pictures from the 2014 Mobile Photography Awards.

Attention then turned to club member's photographs, with a Just-for-Fun competition which had some surprisingly good entries .. yes, it looks like there are some of us who already use our smartphone cameras for serious photography. Seven members contributed up to 6 photos each, with the competition being won by Dave C. 

It just goes to show that once the photographers skill and planning get engaged, the results can go beyond the apparent limitations of the device used to capture the image!

A £100 prize has been offered by Mark B to the first person that manages to score a 10 for a Smartphone picture (taken and processed on the phone) this membership year.  So get those phones out and start snapping :-)

Monday, 26 October 2015

SPA Competition Success!

Saturday 17th October saw the arrival of the annual SPA Individual Entry Print & PDI Competition, where members of SPA-affiliated clubs have the opportunity to enter up to two pictures each in four competition sections (Open Print, Nature Print, Open PDI and Nature PDI).

This year Photocraft was present in full force, with 6 members participating – a  great turnout considering the relatively small size of our club. Here are four of our members waiting nervously for proceedings to kick off :-)

Proving that size really doesn’t matter and that quality is absolutely more important than quantity, Photocraft snatched two out of four wins, with Mandy B winning the Nature PDI and Dave S winning the Open PDI.  Extra congratulations to Dave S for not only winning, but doing it by securing the only 15 (top marks) of the event.

In addition to the two wins (a better performance than any of the other 24 clubs present ;-) SPA competition virgins Mark B and Aodan H came within 1 point of victory in the Open Print completion with these pictures 

 .. it all bodes well for future competition success!

A great afternoon out and a fantastic opportunity to enjoy some superb photography from our fellow SPA club members.  Bring on the 2016 competition!! J

Thursday, 15 October 2015

All you ever wanted to know ...

Club evening presented by Aodan.

Not quite all you ever wanted to know about photography, but a fantastic start! 

Last night members were treated to a questions and answer session organised and hosted by Aodan. Ably supported by some of the club's more experienced members, Aodan provided answers to questions registered by members in advance (often with the support of photographs taken specifically to illustrate the point or technique being discussed).  

Topics of discussion ranged from Bokeh (who knew there was even such a thing, let alone good and bad Bokeh!) through to removing dust from your camera sensor .. we even managed to get a pot of Vaseline into the conversation at one point (all in the interests of photography of course!) 

Plenty of interactive and interesting dialogue meant that we didn't get through all of the questions, so more to follow! A great evening :-)

Monday, 12 October 2015

And we'll see that one again .... - Print Competition No. 1

Judge: David Harford LRPS

Congrats to Philip and Mandy for their wins in this weeks competition.

Extra kudos for Mandy, also, who got Brian's £20 spot prize for a score of 10 with a photograph taken on the Chatham/Whitstable day trip last year. 

The title of this post are those words you always want to hear when your photo comes up. Those are also judge's words captured when I took this photo above on my new phone. Is this the way forward or just another gimmick? Only time will tell. Either way, the technology still doesn't allow me to play the clip on anything but my phone.

Later this week we have the Q&A session compere'd by Aodan

Then a reminder for our smartphone competition evening on 21 Oct. Let's  get your photos to Mark, see his recent email for details. 

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

PhotoCraft Mount Cutting Service

Hopefully everyone is now aware of the new mount-cutting service available to PhotoCraft members - all details are in the Members' Area of the website including a simple method for fixing your print to the mount. The mounts are cut on a commercial quality mount-cutter so you can be sure they will be as good as you could get elsewhere.

Buying custom mounts for your pictures from commercial sources is expensive and a hassle. If you cut your own mounts, you will know that it is still a hassle and not easy to make a decent job of it. So forget all that and give yourself more time to concentrate on getting your pictures right by using our new fast and hassle-free service. You will make life easier for yourself and at the same time be contributing to club funds where all profits are destined.

The use of cropping in editing software is often underestimated; it is one of the most powerful tools in your armoury for readjusting the balance of a composition. If you are in the habit of buying pre-cut mounts from photographic or art suppliers, consider the advantages of having a custom mount that suits your picture. Don't compromise the effectiveness of your image by forcing it to fit the aspect ratio of a pre-cut mount.

In addition to a standard window mount, if you have a picture you are especially pleased with, we are offering the option of cutting a double mount which can look really cool. These use more materials and take longer to prepare so cost more.

Single mount

 Double mount

Prices to PhotoCraft members:
One single mount £4
A batch of 3 single mounts £10
One double mount £7

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Stall at the Corner Gallery

Thanks to everyone who turned up at the stall by Corner Gallery in Carshalton Beeches on Saturday. It turned out to be another successful day promoting the club. We may even get a few members from it.

Thanks also to Jackie at the Corner Gallery (http://www.corner-gallery.com/index.htm) for letting us pitch in the front garden. (As it turns out, the current exhibition is by Simon Fairless who also uses photography in his artworks).

Here's some more photos from the day.

Photocraft Calendar

I've had a few enquiries recently about the calendar but not many photos so I thought I'll send out a note to refresh the idea.

The concept is that we take pictures locally every month and post them to a central area so that they can be compiled later into a twelve month calendar.

I've now arranged a web address (via Dropbox) where the photos can be posted.

Please use a file name in the following format "Month Initials Title.jpg". For example, I have just added the file "August AH RiverWandle.jpg"

If you type the following into your web browser, just follow the instructions to upload the file.


I will send out a link later that enables you to see the other files in the folder.

Here's some guidelines for choosing photos:
  1. Identifiable local features wherever possible
  2. Local events/festivals are also good but being careful about having individual recognisable faces rather than crowd/group type scenes
  3. Something to identify the season.
  4. Something to make people feel good
  5. Something immediately eye catching
  6. Sharp,( at least somewhere in the photo)
  7. Orientation: Landscape
  8. Jpg only, preferably sized 1024 pixels across. (This size is for the first pass "selection phase" only, a hi-res version 2000pixels across will be needed later, if chosen.).
  9. Process enough to make your photo stand out but there will be another chance to fine tune if you photo is selected.

Closing dates for entries is on the first Tuesday of the following month.
  • June, July, August or September photos emailed by 6 Oct
  • October photos emailed by 3 Nov
  • November photos emailed by 1 Dec
  • December photos emailed by 5 Jan

Saturday, 19 September 2015

PDI Competition No.1

Judge: Darren Pullman

That was an enjoyable start to the season with a wealth of images on show, a dam burst of images being stored up over the summer. 

Our judge was exercising the full breadth of marks from 5 to 10+ which drew a few gasps to start with but things soon settled down. The comments as always helpful, here's a few I picked up, I'm sure others will have more. 

Some numbers from the evening:
  • 3 is the magic number (items in a photo)
  • Take 5 shots in a row (slightly varying composition and borders)
  • And talking of borders, 1 pixel is plenty for a border key line (but sometimes 2 pixels is OK. And use the colour to accentuate one of you 3 items.) 
And whatever you do keep that horizon horizontal !

Well done to our winners, Martin Wilkins and Mandy Byatt. 

Level 1 - Winner and Runners-up 

Level 2 - Winner and Runners-up

Monday, 31 August 2015

Photocraft Camera Club in Surrey Directories


Be sure to take a look at this month’s edition of the free local directory as Photocraft is featured in a full page editorial in both the Carshalton Beeches and Wallington editions.  Hand delivered to almost 9,000 homes, this is a real win for our publicity campaign.

If you don't receive a copy, you should soon be able to see the online version at http://www.surreydirectories.com .

Croydon Photograhy Forum - Meeting 2

If you can't wait for the start of the new Photocraft season, why not drop in to the Croydon Photography Forum this Thursday. This is a new group set up to foster collaboration between photographers from in and around Croydon. 

This month Lee has lined up Gavin Freeborn who will talk on his career to date and his experience working as a photographer in the music and arts scene.


Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Autumn Programme, September 2015.

Eagerly awaited, the new Autumn Programme is here. 

Your committee have put their heads together to come up with a few new ways of organising the evenings. There's some of the old regulars like the competitions and external lecturers but also some new ideas like the camera phone evening and the refreshed club evening.

You'll just have to come along to see how it all works out !

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Croydon Photography Forum

We've just had news that Lee from Lenses of Croydon Meetup is starting a new monthly Forum. It starts this Thursday with a talk by award winning people and lifestyle photographer Gary John Norman.


Sunday, 26 July 2015

Photocraft at the Carshalton Lavender Fair

Thanks to all who turned up and made this a most enjoyable day (and thanks to those who also volunteered for the Sunday).

We've talked to quite a few interested camera owners and raised a bit of money on the side to go towards speakers for next year.

The trailblazers on the morning shift

... and the afternoon reinforcements


Saturday, 25 July 2015

Next years committee

We also had what must count as one of the liveliest AGMs we've had at the club in a number of years.

We've got a new look committee with plenty of ideas, if only half of them come to fruition it'll be an interesting year next year.

Good Luck to the new committee, let's give them all our support:

Chairman: Mark B
Treasurer: Brenda P
Secretary: Aodan H
Committee Members: Jane D, Dave C.

The new programme will be coming out soon but before then, to keep you busy over the summer, there is our long-term calendar project. A fresh round of photos will be collected at the end of each month so with the June photos are already in, let's get snapping now for the last few days in July. Detail are on a separate post.

Also, at the end of July we have a stall at the Carshalton Lavender Harvest Fair at the Oaks Way allotments. Mark will send round details on a separate email.


2014-2015 Competition Results

We've completed another year of competitions and had the photo of the year competition.

Thanks to everyone for sending in their photos, not just for the end of year competition but over the whole year. I hope everybody has got something from the year and come away a better photographer.

These are the results, congratulations to our winners.

First the photo "league" trophy winners were:

Projected Digital Image

Level 1 winner - Graham A
Level 2 winner - Dave C


Level 1 winner - Graham A
Level 2 winner - David S

Monochrome Prints

There was no level 1 (this year)
Level 2 winner - Mandy B

Then the one-off Photo of the Year competition :

Projected Digital Image

Dawn bus  by Dave C

Blackthorn on the Heath  by Mandy B
High roller  by Dave C


Hill top  by David S

Bury yourself  by Aodan H
Shanks pony  by Howard C

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Photos from the park

Here's a selection of the photos presented last week as a result of Photocraft's trip to Beddington Park.

It's always interesting to see how we can all walk on the same route but the result can be to such a diverse range of photos.

Monday, 25 May 2015

New version of PhotoCraft disc now available!

A new version of the disc (Version 3) with a collection of presentations on photography given to the club is now available. Several new talks have been added since the last version was issued some years ago.

The disc now has the following slide shows covering many aspects of our art:

1. Using your camera basics 1
2. Using your camera basics 2
3. Colour management
4. Photo Critique
5. Composing pictures
6. Influential Photographers
7. Perplexed about Pixels?
8. Sharpening basics
9. PhotoShop Layers and Masks (handout)
10. Macrophotography
11. Coping with Contrast

The talks start with the absolute basics of each topic and build from there. So whether you consider yourself a beginner or advanced, you should find something interesting here.

The disc is available to club members only. If you want a copy (in exchange for a donation of £5 to club funds), please ask David P.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Beddington Park Field Trip

The annual field trip to Beddington Park was held last Wednesday with the customary drink afterwards in The Grange. The weather gods were good to us this year with a clear sky letting us get the most of the light.

Note, we will be looking at the photos this Wednesday 20th May. (This is a change to the programme, the AGM will now be held on the 3rd June.)

Photocraft at large in Beddington Park

If photo walkabouts are your thing then why not sign up for Brian's coach trip to the Historic Dockyard in Dunstable and Whitstable on Sunday 7th June. Time is running out to book a place, so see Brian at this weeks meeting. 

Monday, 4 May 2015

Life is a bowl of cherries - the ballot results

It got a bit rushed near the end of our "bowl of cherries" evening so I'll repeat the results of the votes on here.

Before I do so, let me thank everyone who submitted photos, contributed to the discussion and of course did the voting. Here is a sample of the diverse range of images entered on night. Who would have known "tabletop" could mean so many things to different people.

First vote was based on "first impact" 3-sec run through. Total (71 votes cast)

3rd place (4 votes)
Floating Gerbera

2nd place (5 votes)
On the beach

1st place (7 votes)

The second vote was taken after each person had a chance to present their photo and answer any questions. (Total 39 votes cast)

3rd place (3 votes)

2nd place (5 votes)

1st place (7votes)

Congratulations to Lynne W (Cityscape), Mark B (Vase), and David P (Euphorbia) for their first places.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Life is a bowl of cherries - change to description

A quick change to the programme description of next weeks meeting. 

 29 April 2015 – Life is just a bowl of cherries Or anything else you can photograph on a tabletop. Have a go at still life or tabletop photography and send to photocraftwallington@gmail.com by 7pm on Tuesday.

Rather than bringing the photos on the evening, can you send the photos in advance to photocraftwallington@gmail.com

A max of 6 photos per person (but 1 or 2 is fine also). Jpegs only. 

If you send them by 7pm on Tuesday I will compile them and randomise them for presentation and make a summary sheet so we can have a just-for-fun vote to get the most popular photos on the evening.

Remember this doesn't count as a competition so you can enter rough work and still modify your photos for a proper judged competition later. 

(sorry, I couldn't find any cherries this time of year, this is the best I could find)

On the night there will be 2 rounds:

Round 1

There will be 2 quick run-throughs of all the photos (about 3 secs on each photo) 

Each person will get 3 voting slips to mark the number of their 3 favourite photos, (each vote gets equal weighting). I will make up a summary sheet to remind people of the photo numbers. Please, no voting for your own photos.

Drop the votes in the ballot box.

Round 2

There will be slower discussion-type run through where each person gets a chance to talk about their photos and answer any questions.

At the end of the discussion, each person gets another 3 voting slips to vote again. The result might be different when people get more time to view the photo or get to learn more about the photos. 

The top 3 photos in each vote will get a ... 
wait for it

A special clap of appreciation from the room.


Thursday, 16 April 2015

SCOLA Photographic Competition 2015

This is just to further promote the SCOLA competition Lynne has emailed details to you recently. And to let you know, in case you didn't, that it was won last year by a PhotoCraft member (David P). If he can win it, anyone can, and with a first prize of £100, it's worth a quick trawl through your archives.
The theme last year was something like 'Secret corners of Sutton' and the winning image was of The Hermitage, a folly in the grounds of Carshalton Water Tower.
The trophy you may win is an impressive block of acrylic with bits of old cameras embedded in it on a wooden plinth and weighing in at - well, the kitchen scales which can handle up to 3 Kg just went EEEEEEEE.
The eggcup is for scale, so make sure your mantelpiece is firmly fixed to the wall.
This year's theme is 'Faces of Sutton', so why not give it a try?

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Print Competition No 3

Judge: Don Morley

In camera or in processing ?

The age old question, which was always there but it has really come to the fore in the last few years given the sophistication of the processing software now available. 

I felt a certain amount of sympathy with the judge this week. How could he choose between the two final photos. We had been through the comments on each photo, some were graded, some (quite a few) were "held back".  We then got the next round of grading and we were down to two photos. 

And they were like chalk and cheese, how could a judge make any rational reasoned decision.

One photo was heavenly scene, a solitary hilltop with a well placed clump of tress surrounded on all round sides by white wispy clouds. A Straight from a painters imagination, there was nothing out of place, and maybe more critically absolutely nothing the judge could deduct even a fraction of a point for. The work of an artist at the top of their game.

The other photo was a more definitely more down to earth, a black and white portrayal of Conwy waterfall surrounded by woods and mossy rocks. Everything sat together well in the composition, the exposure and printing was absolutely perfect in every part of the photo, from the pure white and the pure black and every shade in between. A true reflection of the photographers art.

At this stage both had ten points but which one deserved the ten plus ????

I swear I could see the judge changing his mind three of four times as he lingered in front of the easel containing both prints. 

After an age, the judge went for the hilltop, an ex professional photographer who doesn't have any of his photos hanging in his house, he said he would consider putting this photo on his wall. 

It didn't seem important, in the end, who won and I think congratulations are due to both photographers, Dave S and Dave P for bringing us their photos.

I'm sorry for not mentioning the other photos shown this evening, and there were quite few. Special mention should go to John O and Mark B who took the spoils in the Level 1 competition which as it turns out was another colour vs black and white decision the judge had to make. This time though, the black and white won. 

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Perplexed about Pixels?

Had a word with David P about his talk on 25th February. He said, OK, at the end of the day, all we are interested in is the big picture and how it looks. But understanding how pixels actually work to build your picture, and what happens when you apply editing tools, can give you a level of understanding that will open doors in digital photography you never realised existed.
The talk assumes you know nothing, so if you do know stuff, please bear with...
He  will describe what a pixel is, what editing does to it, how big they are or can be, and how to change their size to suit your purpose. Includes when to and when not to Resample, and what Interpolation and Pixelation mean. Also the difference between image resolution and image sharpness, and that between ppi and dpi.
Finally, how to sharpen your pictures.

You know you want to know all this. Questions and polite interruptions welcome. No handouts, but if anyone would like a copy of the presentation (PowerPoint) to revisit later, just bring a memory stick along with you.