Wednesday 21st December 2011 – Clubnight

Well, here we are at the shortest day of the year and the temperature soared to an amazing 12 degrees after a really cold spell.   No chance of a white Christmas.   Exactly 1 year ago we were at the opposite side of the zero line, -12 degrees!!

Tonight’s blog is dedicated to Christine who showed signs of “blog withdrawal syndrome”.

There was no blog for last Friday’s competition night and she was lost for information.  Unfortunately neither John nor I  were able to get there and so far there is no writeup or photos, but I am assured that winners information and photos will be forthcoming.

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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 or  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.

Wednesday 21st September 2011 – Clubnight

Well, here we are well into September and the Autumn already.  There’s already quite a nip in the air.

Once again we had a really good turnout tonight.  Several of our visitors from last week came along and as far as I’m aware have formally joined.  A big welcome to you all.  There seemed to be a crowd around Peter Gibson of people renewing their membership and paying their subs.

It was my turn this week to be at the front and after a wee bit of adjustment after Noel’s replacement mountings for our projector, we set off with John Bennett’s Audio Visual featuring photos taken on his recent visit to Yorkshire.  One of the many great photos took my fancy   It was of a very long viaduct stretching across the countryside.  I’m sure I’ve seen it before on television.  I would love to have been there to capture it at different times of the day.   Another was of the tall span bridge over a river. (Forgotten the name of the town).

Michael once again treated us to some creepy closeups of garden spiders.  Small male and huge female with nipper type jaws and spines on her legs.  Poor little fellow didn’t stand a chance once she got her claws into him!   (Sounds familiar, eh, fellows!)

Anne showed us some of her photos taken on our recent very damp outing to Argory plus some nice macro shots of the point of her finger.

Harry has had a play with the trial version of Pictures to Exe and used his photos of the Red Arrows display team.   I commented that it was extremely well synchronised to the music plus some appropriate transitions.   When I complemented Harry and suggested to him that he should no go ahead and buy the full version of PTE,  I think I heard a lone voice mutter something about Proshow Gold from the gloom near the back of the room.

Mandy, a long time member came along to the Wednesday Club for the first time with a memory stick with Canon Raw CR2 files and a query on how to process them.    Amongst the advice given was the purchase of Adobe Photoshop Elements which with the correct Camera Raw Plugin, could solve her problem.  Harry rightly pointed out that the DPP software supplied with her camera was very able to do all the necessary post processing she might need.

I loaded her selection of photos into Lightroom and illustrated the basic principles of post processing which she can follow in Camera Raw, if she goes that way.   Indeed, Mandy’s photos straight out of the camera where excellent and needed minimal, if any, correction.

I ended the evening showing a small selection of photos taken in the Hermitage Museum and various Cathedrals in St. Petersburg, Russia.   In the coming  weeks, I’ll put together some PTE AVs on these.

I suggested that next week, members bring their cameras and some props and we can try our hand at Studio Flash.

David Roberts

Friday 12th August 2011 – Clubnight

End of another miserable damp week.

Tonight Helen brought in her laptop computer for some direct help from me on getting the Picture to Exe licence key which she bought, into the trial version which only allows 10 photos to be added to an AV.

The immediate problem was that she didn’t have the key with her, rather it resided on an email from WNsoft.  Never mind, there’s always a solution.

Thanks to Chris Roberts, I was been shown how to set up a local hotspot on my Nokia mobile phone.  I used the phone app, JoikuSpot Light (a free app) to establish the WiFi hotspot wirelessly and logged onto it from Helen’s laptop.

From there she accessed her email and copied the registration Key from her email into the clipboard memory and within PTE, went into the Buy option>Load a key.   This was pasted in and hey presto, she has a fully legitimate registered fully functioning PTE.

I commented on how slow her  computer was and after emptying the recycle bin, showed her the process of defragmentation.  Analysis of the disk showed that she had precious little disk space left for saving files and insufficient space to proceed with defragmentation.

We deleted some old files and regained some more space, however, it is the collection of photographs which was hogging the disk space.  I suggested that these should be transferred on to an external drive to clear space and provide some security.  Only then could she defragment the drive and regain some performance.

Anthony also had a trial copy of PTE and showed us magnificent shots of Utah and Monument Valley.  I used this opportunity to explain some detail of how to stretch a photo within PTE to remove black borders.  Using Anthony’s photos I went through the steps of building a slide show, adding wholly inappropriate music and simplifying the transition and dissolve times.

At tea break I put a proposition to Anthony that with his great selection of worldwide travel photos he had the material for a whole evening presentation within the formalised Friday Evening Programme.  I will contact Gerry about this.

Christine produced her little AV in which raised some hilarity.  Somehow she homed in on me with candid shots.  I think this was in retaliation of us spoiling her pussy shot at Argory (see previous post).

Nigel had visited the Walled garden and wildflower garden adjacent to Bangor Castle and produced beautiful macro shots including raindrops.   Well done Nigel.

Finally, Harry produced some fine photos of guide dogs taken in a Gym with the handler working out.

We are going to need some person(s) to ‘lead’ the evenings in just over a weeks time when I go on holiday.   I’m pretty sure we have many quite capable people who could fulfil that role as well as make tea and coffee.

Wednesday 10th August 2011 – Clubnight

Tonight we seemed to launch straight into the critique of members photos.  I showed some of the photos taken kast Saturday at the Argory.  Mark kindly acted as MC for this evening.

Angus and his mum, Deborah returned from their holiday in Turkey with a great tan and some great photos, some of which Deborah quickly claimed were hers.   Amongst the shots were memorable photos of Ephasus and the ruins of that once great city.  Brought back memories for me of my visit there last year.

Alli, submitted a selection of her photos and was well complemented on them.

Mark took the opportunity to show us his reworked audio visual of the Arctic trip and described how he had reduced the file size from 70+ Mb down to 15Mb.    As well as this he changed the aspect ratio of his photos from 16:9 to 16:10.

This naturally gave rise to the question, Why 16:10?    He loaded up photoshop and used a landscape format photograph.  He then set the crop tool to 16:9 ratio and it them became clear that cropping like this left 2 largish areas above and below the photo cut off.  He then reset the crop tool to 16:10 and showed a similar crop. This time there was much less picture loss at the top and bottom.

Julie showed us her Argory photos where she had wandered off in the rain.  Alan’s shots were excellent and I particularly liked the ones taken down at the river showing two boats.

Previous member Ray McCurry has kindly donated a bundle of CD/DVDs gathered up from issues of photo magazines to the club’s resources.   There was a good uptake of folk borrowing these.   Shirley claimed the free clapper board also donated by Ray.

Once again the clock beat us.   We never seem to be able to finish at 10pm.    Mark finally reminded the members of the proposed Pictures to Exe (and ProShow also) workshops held either on a Saturday or Sunday.   We would need a minimum number of people to attend these free workshop sessions, so if you are interested, please let either Mark or me know.


Audio Visual Full Day Summer School

David and I have discussed arranging a full day Summer school for members interested in Audio Visuals.  We were thinking of running it on a Saturday, but Sunday may also be considered.  Our favourite software is Picture To Exe (PTE) and we will be using it to demonstrate the steps involved, on the big screen. However; if you have bought ProShow and don’t want to buy PTE , you are most welcome,  I know ProShow fairly well and will able to help you follow along. If you have a MacBook and feel left out, please talk to me and I can help you get Windows to work on your Mac.

To help you prepare, to participate you MUST have:

  • A laptop running Windows
  • PTE or ProShow installed
  • Faststone Image Resizer (free) installed
  • An image editing programme, that can crop to a ratio, e.g., Photoshop, PS Elements, Lightroom, Aperture, Gimp (free), Capture NX, etc.
  • A folder containing the full size jpgs that you want to use. You should have at least 50-60 photos, however the AV will probably only include around 30-40.
  • A music library with plenty of suitable music. Visit Asda or Tescos and buy a multi CD pack of type of music you would like to use.  Classical music works very well for most photo AV’s and these can be bought for as little as £5.
If you don’t own a laptop, ask around to see if you can borrow one, although the software mentioned above will have to be installed. David and I both have laptops that we may be persuaded to lend them out for the day.
We intend to cover:
  • Preparation of photos, resizing to ratios 16:9 or 16:10 and then saving them to a suitable file size for the AV
  • AV basics – adding images, music and creating a slideshow
  • AV intermediate – customising slides for titles, subtle pan and zoom effects
  • AV advanced – synchronising music to slides, photo harmony and flow
At the end of the course we show everyones work on the big screen, so we will be strongly suggesting that your AV should run for less than 5 minutes. (4 to 5 minutes long is, in my experience, just about right.)
Have I missed anything out?  All ideas and suggestions at this early stage are most welcome!
BUT before David and I progress this any further, we need to know how many members would be interested in attending such a course. This will not be a mickey mouse event!  I am sure you know, that if David and I are going to do this, we will spend a lot of time preparing a most professional course.