Friday, 26 May 2017

Field trip to Carshalton 25 May 2017

A phantom photographer was seen loitering in Carshalton Wednesday evening identifiable only by his shadow cast by the setting sun. Who was it??? The first person to come up with who took this spooky photo gets an extra biscuit at teatime next week.

(N.B. Click on pictures to enlarge them)
The advantage of being in a group pointing your cameras at everything and everyone is that passers-by assume you are a bit cranky and take little notice. Try to do it on your own and people think you're some kind of pervert. So it was all very relaxed and enjoyable wandering around Carshalton ponds and The Grove snapping what took our fancy in the beautiful evening light.

I tried some slow exposures using a Big Stopper filter I bought on eBay, only to find most of them came out blurred however careful I was with the focusing. Closer examination of the pictures showed it wasn't the focus but camera shake. If you don't know what camera shake does, take a look at the enlarged inset in this picture.

Notice the smeary doubling appearance indicating movement of the camera during exposure. Either the ground was shaking or it was the flimsy tripod bought for a couple of quid in a charity shop.

Since posting this Blog, Aodan has suggested the problem may have been due to leaving Image Stabilisation (IS) on. Canon recommends switching IS off when using a tripod, especially with older lenses, as it can confuse the system and make the image jump about. Thanks for keeping that one under your hat Mark :o)

Disenchanted, I went for minimalism and nailed it, don't you think, with this uplifting shot of a hole in a wall?

Then Mark appeared, a master of long exposures honed on the Northern Lights, to show me how Big Stopping should be done using Lee filters and a carbon fibre tripod. Not on the cheap then! Watch and learn Diddy, watch and learn...

His photo of the waterfall in The Grove is a real stunner.

And this one across the ponds shows how moving traffic just disappears if the exposure is long enough - in this case 95 seconds.

Mandy homed straight in on the wildlife capturing this shot of a heron sweeping along the river.

As the light faded, we all drifted towards The Greyhound for a drink and a congenial chat, rounding off a very pleasant (and for some, hopefully, rewarding) evening taking pictures.

The evening was marked by the return of an old friend, Aodan, back today and at last from his eighteen months in South Korea. He looked none the worse after the long flight once he had reacquainted himself with the flavour of English beer. Welcome back Aodan, we missed you.

No doubt you are all now rifling through the pictures you put into our competitions this season to find the best two to put into our Print and PDI of the Year competitions next week.

Adhering to the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid!), we will not be asking you to resize your PDI entries to take best advantage of the higher resolution of the new club projector. We will stick with the 1024 x 768 pixel limits. Next year, however, the maximum dimensions will change to 1440 wide x 1080 high.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

17 May 2017 | Monochrome competition No 4

This week saw the final of this year’s monochrome competition. Chris Carrick prevailed in the beginner’s group with his image Concept Car:

Concept Car - Chris Carrick

In the advanced group, there were two marks of 10 awarded, with Mark Bulle’s shot Tranquility pipping Dave Stoneleigh’s Window Light to the top: 

Tranquillity - Mark Bulle
Window Light - Dave Stoneleigh

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

10 May 2017 | “The Mind’s Eye” – Paul Sanders

This Wednesday, Paul Sanders came to talk about his journey from the high pressure world of being the Times’ picture editor to a landscape photographer.

The talk was peppered with many of Paul’s excellent photos (for examples, head over to as he explained his progress through photography.

Pertinent points from the evening included:

You need to have your own style. Not everyone can even get close to replicating the styles of the greats like Joe Cornish – why try?

Don’t take the same photos as everyone else. Find your own view point. Find your own angle. Make the shot (at risk of sounding like a million and one episodes of the X-Factor) your own.

Slow down. Life is hectic, noisy and fast. It’s difficult to concentrate when you’re trying to do too many things at once. Concentrate on the photo. Concentrate on the view. Take the shot. You’ll end up with better images.

Lighten up. Is there really the need to carry all those cameras and lenses and the other associated paraphernalia (see this post)? Is it possible to use one camera and one lens to do everything you need to? Your back will thank you, long term…

Get the picture right first time. When you’re dealing with exposures measured in the minutes (thank you Lee), it makes complete sense to get the picture as close to perfect in camera as you possibly can. It also saves on the time in front of the computer in post-processing

The evening was thoroughly thought provoking – Paul had judged his audience perfectly and his talk was definitely, for me, one of the highlights of the year. Absolutely fascinating. 

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

3 May | Camera discussion evening

What camera do you own? Why did you buy it? Does it do what you want it to do? More importantly, do you LIKE it?

Those were the questions raised at this week’s evening, where a number of members brought in their kit and explained the rationale behind the choices they made. From full frames, to APS-C, Micro Four Thirds, “bridge” cameras, all the way down to the humble “point and shoot” cameras.

Unsurprisingly, the reasons for choosing their cameras were manifold – the need for big pixels for night shots of the Aurora Borealis; the unwillingness to carry around a heavy SLR and associated lenses; the wish to step “up” from a point and shoot to something a little more capable.

Apart from one account of a hastily bought point and shoot (soon replaced with something more suitable), the broad consensus is that the cameras we have do exactly what we want them to – they were selected with care after research. It’s understandable – cameras don’t come cheap. 

Interchangeable lenses, whilst a necessity for some, are an unnecessary burden to others. Why change lenses, when you have a zoom that runs from 20mm-200mm? Why use a wide-angle lens when Lightroom will stitch panoramic shots together for you?

Furthermore, the cameras are certainly not the be-all and end-all. When you buy a camera – you need to consider the accessories that go with it. What lenses do you buy? Do you even need to buy lenses? So the hottest discussion of the evening was not about the cameras themselves, but what came with them. Some of us just needed a pocket to pop the little Panasonics in. Others lugged around a massive holdall with lenses, torches, batteries and filters in it. What bag do you get? How big does it need to be? Are flaps a good thing or not? Should it be flowery? Do you mind a camera strap emblazoned with the manufacturer’s name on it? Most importantly, when you’re out and about for the day, do you have room for your sandwiches?

Monday, 1 May 2017

26 April 2017 | Open Print Competition No. 4

The final print competition of the year drew around on Wednesday and with a number of members within a hair’s breadth of each other, the evening crackled with anticipation.

The evening was judged by David Mendus and saw a slew of top marks.

In the beginner’s class, Chris Carrick saw nothing selfish in walking away with a perfect 30 from his three stunning images.

In the advanced class, there was a 4 way tie for first place. In the end, Mandy Byatt’s Starling Iridescence was judged to be the overall winner and pipped the others to the plus:

Starling Iridescence - Mandy Byatt
A special mention must this week be given to the wonders that can be worked with Photoshop. Dave Stoneleigh entered and was rewarded handsomely for his two prints – Strawberry Painter and West Ham Tram. Whereas Strawberry Painter was noted to be very obviously worked on in Photoshop, West Ham Tram blurred the lines sufficiently to put doubt in David Mendus’ mind: 

Strawberry Painter - Dave Stoneleigh
West Ham Tram - Dave Stoneleigh
David Pelling guiltily entered his take on Constable’s The Hay Wain – Flatford Mill playing host to a heinously “dropped” bottle of Coke. Even though the bottle was neatly added post-production, it was deemed to be in a non-optimal position for maximum effect: 

A splash of red - David Pelling

Mark smoothly walked away with his second 10 of the season for his excellently shot and undoctored Ice Water Droplet, although his night image - Light Entertainment was thought to be a little too worked upon. Perhaps a little Photoshopping may have been necessary to bump those marks up a little? Ahem. 

Ice water droplet - Mark Bulle

Light Entertainment (and new, furry friend) - Mark Bulle