Wednesday 29th May 2012 – Clubnight

First-off tonight was Eddie who brought his laptop and asked if I could show him exactly how to transfer photographs from his laptop to a CD.

Eddie adjusts and saves his photos in Picassa, a free utility available via Google.   Up to this point I had never used Picassa but once within its interface I found under the Create menu, an option to create a gift CD.   From here all that was necessary was to insert a blank CD, select the photos to be burned to the CD then select the option to Burn to CD.  Simples!

It appears that Picassa, as well as burning photo files, adds some run-time files and modules which allows one to have a standalone slide show.   We now have one satisfied customer.

During our usual photo critique sessions, photos of a little figurine of a kneeling man supplied by Deborah at our last studio night were viewed.  Apparently Nigel’s attention was drawn to a certain area of the photo and this followed by other ill-chosen comments created real hilarity in the room and instant sunburn for Nigel.  It didn’t end there.  Another inadvertent comment resulted in a search for oxygen for Shirley who was having a fit at the front row!

Due to other commitments, there was no blog for last Wednesday or Friday evening, but amongst our activities were sensor cleaning and photo critique.     I also ran one of the tutorial CDs showing the use of the Pen Tool in Photoshop to make an accurate selection.  I was surprised to learn that Photoshop Elements doesn’t have a pen tool option.

William showed us an AV of a recent wedding, followed by Shirley’s AV about the unsuccessful recovery and wrecking of a yacht in Groomsport harbour.   Darren had some great photos and his most striking in my opinion was of his dog and himself perched on the end of a pier at Portavoe reservoir.   A little bit of controversy followed about who’s photo it really was Darren’s because it was taken with his camera or Marks because he pushed the button.   The jury is still out…..

On Saturday 2nd June ,we will have our next Club Outing to Whitehead Railway Museum.  Full details on the club website,


Friday 18th May 2012 – Clubnight

Tonight we had an early start exploring the concept of Content Aware Fill and I brought into Photoshop Elements 10, several photographs which were on the club computer hard disk.  The command’Edit>fill>content aware” does not exist in the same manner in Elements 10 as it does in Photoshop.  Its equivalent is found unter the Spot Healing Brush.  It has a Content Aware facility.

This works by brushing over the object desired to be removed. Once the mouse button is released, it attempts to remove it and blend with the surrounding pixels.

Im the majority of cases this works well but there are occasions where it draws in some local shapes adjacent to to the selected area.   The secret seems to lie in only selecting small items and small areas at one time, for instance, removing a telephone line from a photo it is better to remove it in many small pieces rather than all at once.

Once again we watched two episodes from the photo tutorial videos brought in by Darren, the first being the subject of macro photography and the second being the use of outdoor flash to light a  subject and at the same time create a dark background.

In the first tutorial the use of extension tubes was discussed and demonstrated.  This is a cheaper option than purchasing a Macro Lens.

The second tutorial showed how to expose for ambient light then reduce its exposure by use of polariser and neutral density filters in conjunction with fill flash using umbrella reflectors.

The remainder of the evening was occupied with critique of members photos.

Wednesday 16th May 2012 – Clubnight

We had a great turnout at the clubroom tonight, 23+ members.    Darren brought along a video demonstrating the technique of “painting with light”   In this video a guy described in detail how he set up the shot and in particular, the BULB setting used in conjunction with a remote cable release to allow exposures greater than 30 seconds.

He was also equipped with one of these huge squillion-candle torches capable of attracting moths from Stranraer, to paint rocks in the foreground and the face of a small building.  All this was done at dusk against a deep blue sky.  The result was very pleasing.  Discussion on the technique followed where ordinary speedlights could be used in the same way.    The results are obviously better when there is little or no ambient light.

By this time quite an array of memory sticks appeared at the computer desk and we worked our way through them all.  The one exception was that I overlooked Darren’s set.  We’ll see his first on Friday.   William has had some difficulty over the weeks transferring photos from his Mac to memory stick, but he succeeded this time.  He brought along his selection of shots of Kayleigh and Kirsty, our models from a number of weeks ago.  the group assessed his results and we showed a little judicious cropping to enhance the photos.  Maybe his efforts to soften the complexions of the girls were slightly overdone, nevertheless, it was an excellent effort.

Noel showed us an AV of his collection of Gate photos followed by several very interesting shots of the Strangford experimental turbine which had its blades raised for maintenance. Continue reading

Wednesday 9th & Friday 11th May 2012 – Clubnight

Now that the formal meetings season has ended with the AGM, we are continuing to meet on Wednesday and Friday evenings as usual except that Friday nights will take on the same format as Wednesdays throughout the summer period until the new season commences in September.

Wednesday, being the second one in the month was our usual Studio Night and the suggested theme was Still Life.  Members came equipped with various props ranging from carved wooden ornaments to a stainless steel sugar bowl, cream jug and a larger stainless steel jug.   Deborah brought a small crouching figurine. Darren brought along a low white table which served as a great base for the props.

Edwards stainless steel proved to be tricky to light properly without burned out highlights.  Gerry Coe kindly came round and assisted in guiding us in the use of reflectors and positioning the speedlight and umbrella.   We decided to use speedlight flash tonight to emulate the sort of setup which members can achieve at home with relatively inexpensive equipment.   New member, Olivia was give guidance on camera settings before she tackled the crouching figurine. Continue reading

Saturday 5th May 2012 – Club outing to Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh

This was the first of our organised Summer Club outings which take place on the first Saturday of the summer months and saw us visiting the Ulster American Folk Park just outside Omagh, Co Tyrone.

Unlike the previous outing several years ago when it was quite wet, we were blessed with a pleasant spring day, that is, after the rather sharp nip in the air when we first arrived.   There was a magnificent turnout with 26 attending,

The normal proceedings of part-taking in scones, jam, tea and coffee was adhered to as soon as the group had assembled but i know of two younger ones who scoffed their packed lunch at this point and had to be subsequently fed at the cafe when the real lunchtime arrived! Continue reading

Friday 4th May 2012 – Annual General Meeting

Chairman Harry Watson and Secretary Henry Doggart

The members listened to a succession of very positive reports at the Annual General meeting on Friday. The outgoing  Chairman,Nigel Snell thanked all the office bearers for their hard work during the year and noted that the membership numbers had risen yet again to seventy eight.

Peter Gibson, the Treasurer reported a healthy financial position while the Competition Secretary, Alan McMorris noted that an increasing number of younger members were entering and winning the club competitions. The inter-club battles with Dublin and Spain again offered a good opportunity to display the club’s work on a wider stage.

David Roberts,the Webmaster reported a healthy interest worldwide in the club website with over five hundred hits a month now recorded while Noel Maitland , in his role as Facilities Manager was happy with the support he had received in the general upkeep of the premises. Congratulations were extended to Gerry Coe (Club President) on his successful exhibits, particularly in the Royal Ulster Academy and to Ray Magill on his appointment as President of the Northern Ireland Photographic Association.

The committee for 2012-2013 is;  Chairman,Harry Watson : Vice Chairman,Peter Gibson: Treasurer,Peter Gibson:  Assistant Treasurer ,Ray Magill:  Secretary,Henry Doggart:  Exhibition Secretary,Alan McMorris:  Competition Secretary, Alan Hartley:  Assistant Competition Secretaries ,Julie Campbell,Bobby Peacock:  Facilities Manager, Noel Maitland:  Webmaster, David Roberts: NIPA Representative,Alan McMorris:  Information Officer, John Bennett:  Child Protection Officer: Shirley Graham.

The formal weekly meetings resume in September but the clubhouse is still open on Friday evenings for tutorials and informal workshops. The monthly club outings continue throughout the summer.

John Bennett