Wednesday 12th September 2012 Clubnight

Well, here we are again,  into the new season of meetings of our club.

It has been pleasantly pleasing that we have had such good attendances throughout the summer season.  Wednesday evenings, in particular, were well supported with up to 36 members in the clubroom.

The summer outings were well attended also, although I was not able to attend them all.  What has amazed me is that throughout the summer we have had potential new members turning up at the clubroom, keen to join.    Maybe the notice on our website that last season’s membership had to be closed due to oversubscription had something to do with it.

Tonight we had two new potential members attend, Colin and Geoff.  Welcome.   Isn’t it amazing how many people were clamouring to find Peter Gibson and stuff a cheque into his hands to ensure a place.

Tonight was led initially by Mark with the first of his scheduled presentations on how to prepare an Audio Visual show.    His first session dealt with the sizing of files for use in the AV.   He talked about the various formats, 4:3, 3:2, 16:9 and 16:10 which was the preferred format because in the clubroom we display using an HD projector, so sizing to 1980 x 1200 shows best here and also on modern widescreen TVs.  Mark showed a Barry Beckham video which explained formats.

Mark also discussed and demonstrated the optimum file size needed for AV work.  A 360kb image looked identical to a 2.5MB image on screen.  An AV made withthe former  size images puts less stress on the displaying computer.

After tea (thanks Helen for supplying the milk), I spent the rest of the evening until after 10.30pm, displaying and critiquing member’s photos.

Friday 1st June 2012 – Clubnight

Lower than normal turnout tonight, but who can blame anyone for spending a warm evening doing thing other than polishing each other’s egos in our clubroom!

I was somewhat prepared for this eventuality and brought a couple of Audio Visual shows which had been made several years ago and which some of the newer members may not have seen.

First off was a taste of Switzerland and its beautiful spotless countryside and streets.  The must surely be  a lesson here for some of our locals.   Dropping litter is VERBOTEN!     I became acutely aware and permanently cured of littering many years ago when I dropped a finished apple but onto the adjacent grass verge.  You know how it it – that will be eaten by the birds.   No sooner did the apple butt hit the ground than shoulder was tapped by a rather stern local woman muttering in German and expressly pointer her finger at the offending article.   I can tell you, this was the ultimate humiliation required to enact a permanent cure and I lifted the butt and put it in my pocket until I came to a waste bin.   If only we had the gusts to do this locally.   Anyway, I digress…..

The next one was a tour around the Italian Dolomites.    By now it must have been obvious to all that I love mountain scenery.

Darren showed us another in the tutorial series on photography about panning shooting at motocross type events.

Final briefing on Saturday’s club outing to the Railway Society  of Ireland’s premises at Whitehead  was given.


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 25th April 2012 – Clubnight

It was a cold stormy night on Wednesday but it was encouraging to see about 38 members face the weather and attend.

As is normal for a Wednesday evening there was no set agenda.  It wasn’t long before memory sticks started to appear at the computer.  Everyone seemed content for the first half hour to stand around and chat, in fact I had to make a call for  all to be seated.

From there, the first offering was a great Audio Visual by Noel Maitland comprised of photos recently taken on a short break in Fermanagh.  I thought that the accompanying music was very well chosen to suit the theme of the images.

Having not seen Davy Cooper for some time, he appeared this evening and with his usual flair, offered an AV which I understand was produced some considerable time ago on the format of a spoof 35mm slide show complete with Kodak slide mounts.  It comprised of a quantity of old scanned holiday photographs linked by a great ‘toff’ voiceover.  The outcome was hilarious and this certainly warmed up the group for the next offerings.

Congratulations were given to all those who did so well in receiving Cup  awards and certificates, specifically Trevor Reid, Photographer of the Year, and also to May Carvill who went home with her arms full of cups and certificates.

The remainder of the evening was spent reviewing and critique of photos.  Friday night is our annual Post Mortem evening where the judge of the Exhibition Competition will give us feedback on the prints and PDIs submitted.

Wednesday 22nd February 2012 – Clubnight

One of my objectives tonight was to show Angus and others how to clean the camera sensor.   Some of Angus’ photos displayed a large dust bunny in the frame.

Whilst doing the cleaning I explained the process with those present.

The extent of dust spotting can be determined by setting the camera to F16 or above and focus to manual.  Now take a photo of clear blue sky or a plain white surface.   Zooming in all the way on the finished image on the LCD screen and methodically inspecting the whole surface will reveal the extent of spotting.   Remember that dust spots at the top of the frame are actually at the bottom of the sensor.

Firstly, I explained that whilst most modern DSLRs have a special sensor vibration system built in which operates at either startup and/or shutdown, this doesn’t always remove persistent dust. Continue reading

Wednesday 1st February 2012 – Clubnight

Good turnout as usual tonight.  My first session was with Paul who brought along his Compaq Pressario laptop to get some guidance on the use of Photoshop.

After a few minutes, it became obvious that this laptop didn’t have the horsepower to drive a resource hungry application such as Photoshop.  Upon reflection with Paul, we agreed that Faststone Image viewer was more than adequate for his current needs and far less demanding on his PC.

To get things started, Alan McMorris supplied a hard disk with current and past NIPA photo entries, including beginners group.

Whilst there were a substantial number of excellent images on view, there were a number of HDR effect images which in my opinion and some others had been over manipulated.  I think this is probably one of the reasons that some judges in competitions treat HDR with distain.  HDR is great, where its is needed and not ‘over-cooked’.     Also there was quite a bit of evidence of considerable manipulation in Photoshop, particularly in images of models, to make them look unreal or commercial art type.  There again, this is only my personal opinion.    Part of the object of showing the images was to give our members a view of what other clubs were submitting and what we might have to do to raise our game. Continue reading

Friday 4th November 2011 – Clubnight – Mark Allen’s Travel Photography

From Normandy to Norway and from New Zealand to Alaska – during the course of a couple of hours Mark Allen indulged in a spectacular spell of globetrotting to entertain the members and guests of Bangor and North Down Camera Club last weekend. And although the subject of his presentation was travel photography, Mark nevertheless indulged himself and delighted his audience by nipping off on quite a few interesting little tangents along the way. He began by recalling his early experiences behind the lens – including the time his father bought him his first camera. Mark promptly took it to Tollymore Forest Park for a picnic – and left it there!

Recovering from minor hiccups like this, as a teenager he went on to secure some close-up images of the Queen- at the same time securing a terse comment from Prince Philip about his uninvited proximity to the royal personages. The Belfast Telegraph filled a page with the pictures Mark took that day.

Later the exigencies of being a husband and a father meant that his hobby took a back seat for a time- for quite a few years in fact until he joined Bangor Camera Club five years ago. Since then he has won the coveted Photographer of the Year competition on two occasions and has served a spell as Chairman of the club.

Angela Shannon enjoying one of Catherine Allen’s Cupcakes

Always a lover of travelling Mark has been able to combine this with his interest in photography and most of his trips have provided some memorable images. In fact so impressed has he been with some of the venues that his wife and he have returned to the same locations on more than one occasion to add even more dramatic captures to his bulging portfolio. A few years ago he became interested in producing audio-visual displays of his work and he approached the new medium with enthusiasm and insight. In fact one of his first efforts, a record of a cruise into the Arctic Circle won first prize in the Northern Ireland Audio-Visual Festival. He has since gone on to offer advice and comments on audio-visual presentation to interested members of the club. In fact,given his knowledge and expertise with computers mark is generally in demand for all sorts of digitally based help and assistance.

Visual records of some of his holidays then brightened the gloom of the encroaching winter evening as he took us, through his lens to the snow-bound majesty of Yellowstone National Park in the grip of winter and then to the stunning fissures of the Antelope Slot Canyon where the walls of the gorges had been blasted clean and smooth by a natural sandstorm. A trip across northern Canada by train was followed by a cruise through the Alaskan glaciers and from there, via digital projection a high speed flight to Normandy before forsaking the Northern Hemisphere for the mountains of New Zealand in an invigorating Google Earth odyssey viewed through the polished glass of one man’s camera lens.

John Bennett