Wednesday 10th October 2012 – Clubnight

Another excellent turnout tonight.

We welcomed a gentleman by the name of Glen whom I met a couple of Fridays ago at the Newtownards Traction Engine Club.

As promised, the early part of the evening was dedicated to instruction on mount cutting and practice for two of our new members, Geoff and Stevie.  They both brought along a mount board and some A4 sized prints.   By the end of the session both had become competent in cutting mounts.

Mark then took over the session and gave a great practical demonstration of Snapseed to do local adjustments to photographs, i.e. brightness, contrast, sharpness, local focussing and vignettes.   This piece of software is available for iPad and iPhone for about £2.99  .    There is an Apple Mac version for £13.99 and also a Windows version available.  An android version will soon be available too. Continue reading

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.

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 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 21st March 2012 – Clubnight

Nigel has circulated members requesting that we restrict the number of images for critique strictly to 6, thereby allowing adequate time for detailed critique.   He also suggested that we make use of our Lightroom and Photoshop software to not only view the images but also to demonstrate the correction techniques actually being used.  The plan as of today is to upgrade Lightroom to version 4.

The plan for tonight was for all those who took photographs of little Eva during our Studio Night, to bring them along and show them to her and her mother Luci.   Unfortunately due to domestic commitments, Luci and Eva couldn’t attend.

We did however copy all the photos from the memory sticks into one folder on the computer for critique.   Big mistake!  Identifying the author of the various shots resulted in poor Angus (who couldn’t be  here either) being associated with another member’s  Canon 1100D photos.

Still, we managed and it was noted that the quality of images supplied was excellent.  Eva made a super model with very clear skin and bright eyes and posed as a person being advanced for her tender years.  Some people thought that the red colour of the stool was not right compared with the bright red trousers.   I think they were right.  I wonder if it would sell on E**y. Continue reading