Wednesday 16th November 2011 – Clubnight – Hugh Rooney does Black and White


As a departure from our usually unstructured Wednesday evening get-togethers, we had one of our advanced club members, Hugh Rooney, volunteer to give us a talk and practical demonstration on producing high quality black and white prints.

Hugh has produced many great monochrome photographs which have done very well in competitions in the past, both in the club and in NIPA.   For the purposes of demonstration, Hugh used Adobe Lightroom as the software tool for the reason that it allowed him to show the process based on one screen.   He also made the point that users had plenty of choice in the software chosen to create the black and white images, however one thing which was common to all, was that to do the work successfully it is essential to use RAW file format instead of JPG.  As he explained, the adjustments to brightness, contrast, exposure and sharpness on a JPG image quickly leads to a deterioration of image quality.  JPG is already a lossy process where the compression process discards a lot of data.

In his demonstration on an image depicting Venice’s waterfront, conversion from RAW allowed him to manipulate the very bright and very dark areas and indeed recover detail from what looked like overexposed white areas.

This conversion process in Lightroom uses the same underlying software engine found in Adobe Elements and Adobe Camera Raw.  Hugh emphasised the point that good black and white images are normally considered to contain a full range of tones from full black to full white, however he demonstrated some typical examples where this did not necessarily hold true.  Examples were of a pelican and a masked lady in Venice.

Discussion then turned to subject of printing which covered the necessity to calibrate printers and monitors.  Printer calibration has to be carried out for each combination of paper and inks used.  In the club we have a piece of equipment specifically for doing this for windows based computers.  Unfortunately, it does no longer work with the Lion Operating System on Macs.  An upgrade to the software for this is a hefty £500, beyond the club’s reach.

Hugh brought along an extensive range of sample prints where he has experimented with various papers, some of which can be quite expensive.

Unfortunately we didn’t have time  to see any of the photos taken by the group who visited Mountstewart Gardens last Saturday.  See Mark’s post below regarding looking at them next week.  Meanwhile I urge you to take up Mark’s suggestion and take some local photos and bring them in.

David Roberts

Wednesday 19th October 2011 – Clubnight


Winter has come early.

I thought most members had opted out of the cold conditions judging by the turnout by 8.00pm, however  gradually folks started drifting in.

Paul was there first and quickly followed by Darren, both new to the club.    I spent a little bit of time explaining the virtues of RAW shooting and how he can use Faststone Image Viewer to preview and do basic adjustments.   I also explained the principles of JPG compression and demonstrated on Photoshop Elements, the effect that adjustments on JPGs had on an image.  This was shown using the Levels histogram and seeing the gaps developing as additional adjustments were made.

Darren brought his portable Hard Disk with images which we as a group carried out our usual critique.   Meanwhile Julie and the other ladies gathered in a huddle plotting what they were to do on their show on Friday Evening.   Rumour has it that its a rerun of Calendar Girls.  Vivid imaginations needed!!

Jack, whom we had missed out last Wednesday night, brought his AV, Walk in Mountstewart.   Jack slipped back into ProShow to do this with the excuse that he found the layer effects and animation  easier than in Pictures to Exe.   We were treated to a very clever exhibitions of animation with monkey statues, towers sinking into the lake and falling trees.   It was warmly appreciated by those present as he gave us a detailed explanation of how he achieved the effects.  Well done Jack,  well worth waiting for.

I took the opportunity to run my recently completed AV entitles, Cathedrals of St Petersburg.   Seeing it on the big screen, I spotted several things that I wanted to change in it.

Angus arrived with his laptop and crouched away at the back exporting his first AV onto a memory stick.  However when I attempted to run it, we found that he would have needed to include his images in the same folder with it.   It was run on Windows media player.

I advised him to download the trial version of Pictures to Exe from http://www.WNSoft.com or ww.beckhamdigital.co.uk.  Although it is a trial version it no longer had a 10 slide limit.  The only drawback is that it has a banner across the bottom of the display screen.  We can certainly live with that.   In that software he will really gain experience and create stand-alone exe files for PC.

By the end of the evening, none of the ladies had divulged the content of Friday night.   I’ll get some photos of it anyway and send some to the Spectator together with John’s blog.

Wednesday 12th October 2011 – Clubnight


As usual, the agenda for the evening was open-ended.  It was good to see a lot of our newly joined members come along to our informal Wednesday evening get-together.

For the early attenders and those not here last week, I replayed one of my Digital AVs of the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.    I had intended to show the next one about the Cathedrals of St. Petersburg, but I forgot to create a PC Exe version (I’m now moved over to Mac, but still running Pictures to Exe in virtual Windows.  I’ll have it next week.

New member, Michael was first in with his memory stick on which he had a selection of photos taken last week in sunny (really hot) Jersey in the Channel Islands.  These were taken on his Canon G12 camera and were mainly scenic landscapes of the beautiful island.   I hope he was’t offended when I suggested that his first beach scene was a ‘record shot’, one of those terms expressed regularly by competition judges.   With all his photos, there was active participation in cropping and compositional suggestions.   All of his shots were of a good standard.

Angus and Deborah arrived and brought his (her?) new Canon 1100D DSLR.   He let us see his first card-full of shots and we offered some sound advice that, as he was concentrating on some lovely subjects in Bangor’s Walled Garden, he could have achieved greater control of his depth of field by trying shooting in AV (Aperture Priority) mode and increasing the value of the F-stop, whilst keeping an eye on shutter speed.  His results look promising.

Peter treated us to a visit to Malta with  his Malta AV.   Excellent photography, although Mark suggested that he review the music.  He felt that Peter’s selection was a bit rousing for the tranquil scenes.   Whilst with Peter’s subject, the question arose on how to match music and overall show duration.  The ability to create a cutoff and fade out using Audacity was demonstrated.   Nigel queried the availability od Audacity for the Mac.  It is available and I run it.

Noel has been at the Seaplane Festival last week in Fermanagh and brought back some good photos of some of the various seaplanes in action including the Catalina which was slightly damaged in a collision with a yacht.

Tonight some people, including myself submitted PDI photos for selection on Friday for the SpanishClub/BANDCC on-line competition.   The subjects are:   Portrait, Landscape, Fine Art, Still Life, Sport, Travel, Glamour & Fashion, Open, Nature.

Jack mentioned that he had done some more work on his AV but somehow we either overlooked it or ran out of time  Sorry Jack.

During the tea-break, I demonstrated the technique of using the Clone Stamp tool in Photoshop Elements for new member, Angie.

It seems that we now need another 1/2 hour every Wednesday simply to get through everything.  Its very encouraging to me and others that we get such a turnout which easily rivals the turnout on Friday nights.   Just think, when this started only 2 or 3 of us huddled together round one small PC screen at the top of the room..

As I don’t make notes as I talk on Wednesday I apologise if I have forgotten to mention anyone who submitted photos for critique.