The Landscape Group Presents ... 3 March 2021   

DG Sunbeams on NewlandsMembers of the club Landscape Group were not able to have their usual day or weekend field trips during 2020 because of the Covid restrictions. Following the rules at the time, members were able to visit scenic areas on their own or in small groups and so were still able to show their images to the rest of the club. During the evening members enjoyed seeing images and hearing some of the stories about where they were taken.
Dave Gray as leader of the group began the evening by showing his images taken on another of his treks to the Cairngorms. Climbing some of the high peaks each year, Dave has now reached the top of 269 of the Munros with only 13 still to conquer!
Dave showed us some breath-taking views of the mountain ranges, the deep valleys with the lakes and waterfalls and the wonderful scenery of the Scottish Highlands. Vast landscapes with no one else in sight Dave thinks nothing of walking 24 miles in a day. He likes to take photographs as the rays of the sun break through the clouds to light up the landscape and give the occasional rainbow. Later in the year Dave met up with some others in the group as they visited areas of Cumbria.
SW Falling Foss Waterfall
Next Sue Wadman showed some of the photographs taken as she visited areas of North Yorkshire on a walking holiday with her husband in September. Based in Whitby Sue enjoyed photographing the spectacular coastal scenery. The weather was not always kind and the sunrises and sunsets she wanted did not often materialise. Sue managed to get some interesting images including some taken of the ruins of Whitby Abbey and its scenic surroundings.
The wild unspoilt and deserted coastline around Robin Hood bay was another area that inspired and on another occasion Sue visited the spectacular Falling Foss waterfall left.
BC Rolling Mist on the Ridgeway
Local areas inspired Bridget Codrington and recently she went out to photograph nearby hills with a dusting of snow and swirling clouds. An image right shows the rolling mist over the Ridgway. Another very successful image showed Lacock Abbey across the icy river with frost on the nearby trees. Starting out early in the morning Bridget managed to catch a spectacular sunrise at Avebury.
North Dorset was another destination Bridget visited with the picturesque mill at Sturminster Newton on the River Stour and Gold Hill, Shaftsbury good subjects.
During the summer Bridget met up with some other club members and they managed to get photographs of an amazing sunrise over a field of poppies at Bratton.

After the break Robert Harvey who often organises group trips showed us a sequence of images of Porlock Marsh on the North RH Bossington Beach SomersetSomerset Coast.
Robert showed how quickly one of the highest tides of the year floods the area and how he almost got marooned on a tiny hillock. In the same area Robert photographed a sequence of images as the tide came in around the groins on Bossington Beach.
In October Robert made a return visit to the Lake district collecting images for his forthcoming book on the technique of landscape photography.
Robert showed his excellent images of well known viewpoints of Coniston Water, Lloughrigg Tarn, Buttermere and many other scenic places in the area.
Another interesting destination was Hardknott Hill Fort and Wasdale head with its ancient field system.
SH stack
Steve Hardman and his wife Helen spent some time during the summer travelling around the northern isles of Orkney and Shetland.
It is an area that both have visited many times before and Steve shared a photo of his first visit when he stayed on the very remote Island of Foula. Then it was very basic and he slept in a tent but this time they enjoyed the facilities of a converted bothy with fantastic views over the coastline and even had the luxury of wi-fi!!
Steve has taken some amazing images while in the Orkneys of Rathwick Bay and the rock stack known as the ‘Old man of Hoy’ right was one of his many interesting images of this photogenic area.

DE gateDave Eagle spent a lot of his time walking around the fields and hedgerows around his home. He decided to travel light, abandon his DSLR and just take his Fuji x100 camera with him and practice the technicalities of using such limited equipment.
The large-sensor, fixed-lens compact gave excellent results which Dave later converted to monochrome to good effect.
The area is mainly flat fields divided by broken fences and some interesting old trees. Dave was intrigued by the variety of weather-worn fence posts encountered on his walks.
The different angles and the often attached pieces of barbed wire made interesting photographs and he spent time working out how best to compose the images.
Dave was looking for footpaths and field edges that made good leading lines for his images. Detail of a gate shown left.

FC Evening Light Loughrigg TarnLast but not least Frank Collins gave an account of his visit to the Lake District in October with its fast changing dramatic skies and autumn colours.
During his visit he often met up with Robert as they visited the many beauty spots around the lakes. Frank showed images of the well known view of the Ullswater boathouse and the Loughrigg cottage.
Other scenic sites encountered on the trip were the picturesque Ashness and Slaters bridges and the forceful flow of water at Aira Force falls.
Views of the Pikes and their reflections made some delightful images. Frank's view of Lloughrigg Tarn is shown right.

Steve thanked all those who had presented their images and he hoped that group trips can be arranged when travel is allowed again later in the year. PM

 

 

 

 

Photoshop Clinic  - part 2 23 February 2021   

The club was delighted to have Ray Grace ARPS DPAGB back for a second time to give members advice about using Photoshop. Ray came to us in December and answered many queries but has come back to answer some more questions on this very comprehensive editing software.
Ray explained that as you get used to using the editing tools you get into a routine which you can apply as a first step to all your images. There are many ways of doing each task and in time you work out your own preferred method. Editing can give an image more impact by increasing the contrast and sharpen where required. Colours can be corrected and faults removed and then finally the image can be cropped if needed to give a better composition. When required there is an endless selection of editing tools to do just about whatever you need to produce an amazing image. All this can seem very difficult and confusing at first but with patience you can pick up the basics and then go on step by step to more advanced editing. In time members can get used to using the many keyboard shortcuts for the editing tools to save time.
The Zoom session was recorded so that those that were present have a chance to watch Ray's demonstrations again and practice in their own leisure.
The first question Ray answered was how to select and edit just a small section of an image. In a recent competition a judge commented that it was a good photograph of a lion's head  but the eyes should be lightened to have more imact. Ray went through his technique selecting the eyes and using a curves adjustment layer to increase the contrast.
Next Ray showed how the colour could be adjusted as the waterfall in an image had a rather blue tint and some areas were too dark. There are many Photoshop techniques to remedy these problems and Ray demonstrated his favourites. Ray showed the differences between opacity and flow when using brushes to alter areas of the image.
Other queries that Ray answered were how to remove the ‘fringing’ that can appear between areas of high contrast and also the purple fringing (chromatic aberration) that can spoil some images.
Another query was how to make a subject stand out more from the background. Ray demonstrated how to easily select the subject, invert the selection and then de-saturate or blur the background.
Ray has shown how to replace a sky on previous workshops but this time he demonstrated how a sky and also its reflection can easily be replaced.
Ray gave lots of useful tips throughout his demonstration that can save time and make editing easier. Ray also kindly sends the club his helpful information notes so that members can go through the techniques step by step at their own pace. He says ‘keep practicing’ and in the end you get to remember how to use the tools at your disposal and editing becomes easier.
Club Chairman Steve Hardman thanked Ray for sharing his expertise and for giving his time to help others. PM

Annual Landscape Projected Image Competition 16 February 2021   

Making a welcome return visit to the club was Peter Orr ARPS to give his judgement on images entered in the Annual Landscape competition. 
Peter who is an accomplished landscape photographer himself had looked through all the entries very closely and gave his thorough and well informed comments on each one. Peter said that in the first few seconds of viewing an image he wants to get an immediate impact.
MS pooleEntries for this competition must be taken within the British Isles and show 'an extensive area of natural scenery’.
There is a very fine line between editing to enhance the image and overdoing any adjustments to give an unrealistic impression. Many images in the opinion of the judge were either over or under saturated and care should be given to give an accurate rendition of the natural scene. The use of HDR (high dynamic range) was in many cases overdone giving an unnatural appearance. Peter felt that often the colour green was captured unrealistically by digital cameras and members should take care to make the green areas look more natural. Another problem often overlooked is the removal of sensor spots before the image is given very close scrutiny by a judge.
Many of the images featured the rolling Wiltshire hills on which Peter was very knowledgeable with the misty valleys and beech clumps which are very typical of the area.
Some images were from scenic areas that the Club had recently visited including the Lake District, Northumberland and the Snowden area. Interestingly some members had taken the same view at the same time with differing results.
RH conistonThe standard of entries was generally high and Peter held back 18 of the 60 images so that he could then give his final judgement on the awards and the Highly Commended’s.
Peter said that many images although of a high standard did not make his final cut but another judge might have a different opinion.
In first place and the winner of the Landscape Projected Image trophy was a seascape by Martin Stokes. Titled ‘Poole Bay Storm’ right the judge said that the image had impact and a lot of interest with a good redition of a stormy sea with a ship on the distant horizon. Very well done to Martin who also gained third place with a panoramic view titled ‘Pewsey Vale Sunrise’ below right which Peter said had good exposure and tonal range.
MS pewseyIn second place was ‘Old Man of Coniston’ left by Robert Harvey ARPS EFIAP. The light and reflections were excellent with detail in the foreground boulders. Robert also was awarded an HC for another Lake District image – this time featuring Langdale Pikes.
Four other images were awarded Highly Commended including local images of a comet over Oliver’s Castle by Caroline Wright and Frosty Trail at Barbury Castle by Dave Eagle. ‘Autumn in Elterwater’ was the subject of the image by Tony Leach and Early Sunlight, Lindisfarne was by Dave Gray.
Well done to all those who entered the projected image competition. The Landscape Print competition was unable to be held this season but hopefully will return next year.
Thanks to Gerald Clarke who for his first time hosting both the Zoom evening and dealing with the complexities of the DiCentra software to show the images. Thanks to Dave Eagle for collecting the images and putting the competition together.
Many thanks the Peter for taking the time and trouble to look over the entries and giving his advice. PM

Full results        See all the Awarded 2021 Landscape Images          

Close-Up and Macro Photography – Art & Techniques 9 February 2021   

For our latest Zoom! evening, we welcomed Adrian Davis MSc ARPS with his presentation entitled Close to Nature. Adrian is essentially a “natural history and wildlife photographer” with a particular interest in Close-up and Macro photography. The distinction between the two, he said, was that Close-up means images of anything “closer than normal”, whereas Macro refers to images in which the magnification in camera is at least 1:1
AD wasp pollen  Throughout his presentation, Adrian used his images to illustrate the point he was discussing. He said that images, too, should “tell a story”, as with his wasp pollinating a Broad Leaved Helleborine Orchid. Another consideration to take into account is how much of the frame you want to fill with your subject. In some instances, for example with butterflies, you may want to provide some context, but at other times it may be better to fill the frame. You will also need to think about how close you want to get to the subject and, therefore, which lens to use. Close-ups of crocodiles are better taken with a long lens - preferably from the other side of the river!
AD PorcelainOn the other hand, patterns on lichen or the underside of fungi may need macro lenses and extension tubes to get close enough. Adrian showed us a series of images of lichen on gravestones in a churchyard in Devon in which each shot was a more magnified image than the previous one. He also showed us a whole array of fungus images, some in woodland context and others in ultra close-up taken in studio conditions.
Adrian said his favourite lens combination was a 105mm macro lens with a 1.4 converter, which he recommended should be by the same manufacturer as the lens. He explained that a teleconverter will increase the focal length of the lens (in this case to 147mm) while extension tubes will allow you to focus closer in on the subject. He said he almost always uses a tripod and manual focus, and rarely uses flash.
Bright light can be difficult when photographing nature as it can create unwanted highlights and play havoc with colours, as Adrian showed with a pair of bluebell images. In sunlight the image had some dappled shade but a lot of bright highlights on the flowers, whereas under cloud cover, the image was much flatter overall, but the colours were rendered more accurately.
  When considering depth of field, Adrian warned that you need to decide whether you want the background blurred or in focus. He used an image of a Deathcap fungus to illustrate that the distance between the tip of the cap and the stem will be from 1-5 cm. To show this subject in focus with a blurred background would be difficult, but he showed us that, using a focus-stacking technique, you can take a series of images with slightly different focus points and blend them in software.AD stag beetle He said that, to be successful, the subject must be stationary and you must be using a tripod. As well as his Deathcap, Adrian showed us images of Bird’s Nest fungus and Butterfly eggs in which he had blended 6 or more images in this way.
Adrian’s latest work, which he calls Invisible Imaging, centres on the use of Ultraviolet light, which, it is suggested, allows us to take images of subjects as insects see them. He showed some images to illustrate this effect including flower petals with different colours under UV that appear to attract insects to the pollen; pitcher plants that accentuate drops of liquid under UV to attract their prey; brimstone butterflies that have patches of brighter yellow on their upper wings under UV that is thought to be used to attract a mate.
Adrian warned that UV photography is not for the faint-hearted as it requires extensive, and expensive, modifications to camera equipment. However, he said that it was possible to use ultraviolet fluorescence to take some interesting images. Using an ultraviolet torch in a dark room, you can take images that show hidden patterns and colours. He showed us a whole range of images taken in this way, including the flow of quinine as the tonic was poured into his gin!
After a Question and Answer session, which centred mostly on focus stacking techniques, our Chairman thanked Adrian for a fascinating presentation and the provision of a set of new techniques for us to try out during Lockdown. DF
Images © Adrian Davis MSc ARPS

WCPF - DPIC Competition 2021 7 February 2021   

DPIC 2021 was a virtual affair this year, with over 360 members of Western Counties Camera Clubs joining a Zoom call to see the judging. It was gratifying that 58 clubs had submitted entries, very much on a par with previous years. This meant that as usual, we were treated to just over 1000 excellent images from all photographic genres displayed over the course of 2 DW Harehours.

For newcomers to DPIC, it is the Western Counties annual ‘Digital Projected Image Competition’. Competing clubs each submit 18 images, with limits on the number of images per author and number of Nature images allowed. Each image is scored by 3 judges who award it a mark out of 5, giving a maximum score per image of 15.

RH adderThe virtual process actually worked very well. Judging sessions had been pre-recorded and club totals already totted up, so apart from a couple of 10 minute breaks, proceedings ran pretty much continuously.

When all was done, Devizes had achieved a creditable =14th place, with an overall total of 204 points. We were towards the upper end of a tightly bunched mid-table, and just 8 more points would have moved us level with the club which came 3rd. Our congratulations go to Bristol Photographic Society who were winners with 226 points, and Dorchester, whose 215 points gained them 2nd place.

Within our entry, congratulations go to David Wilkinson for his ‘Brown Hare Sitting In Stubbles’ right, which achieved our highest individual score of 13 points. Also, congratulations to Robert Harvey for ‘Sidewinding Adder’ left, which scored 12 points including a 5 from one judge. DG


Thanks to Battle Secretary Dave Gray for organising the Devizes CC entry.   See Devizes CC full results



Wildlife Reintroductions and Conservation and Southwest Wildlife Photography 2 February 2021   

Wildlife conservationist and photographer Nick Upton made a welcome return visit to the club to give an update on some of the projects he is involved with and also a look at some of his latest projects. Since his last visit Nick has been given the Conservation Documentary Award at the Bird Photographer of the Year 2020 for his project on swifts and the work of the Bradford on Avon Swift Group.
NU 001Nick has for many years concentrated on film making and spent 20 years with the BBC on Wildlife projects, working alongside Sir David Attenborough on Trials for Life and contributing to Springwatch and other wildlife programmes. Nick follows a range of projects using his videos and photographs to help publicise the work of the various conservation organisations. Wildlife and conservation magazines regularly publish his articles and photographs.
NU sealThe Beaver introduction programme Nick told us about on his last visit continues to do well with about 30 beavers established in several locations. Several club members have since been to photograph the beavers at their release site. The project to re-introduce pine martins has done well with them now breeding in Wales and the Great Crane project has seen the return of common cranes onto the Somerset levels and other areas in the South West.
Recently Nick has been following a project to re-introduce white storks back into Britain. The Cotswold Wildlife Park has been involved and Nick has been taking photographs of the storks breeding, raising chicks and then being released into the Knepp Estate in Sussex as part of their re-wilding project. Nick will continue to follow the progress as the storks begin to nest and breed in the area after a gap of some 600 years.
Nick showed photos he has taken at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary as they treat and re-habilitate the rescued Grey Seals whose numbers have dropped dramatically in recent years. Nick followed the volunteers as they treat the injuries often sustained from getting tangled in fishing nets and then when possible release them back to the sea.
Injured bats from over the UK are often cared for by the Devon Bat Rescue group and Nick has been taking photographs to publicise the good work they do. Using various techniques including infra-red Nick shows the fast flying bats catching insects.
NU badgerMost of Nick’s work on conservation is here in the UK but recently he got involved in the work to help the endangered Siberian flying squirrel. Only a few are still to be found in the forests of Estonia where a scientist is studying their lifestyle and Nick was privileged to be able to photograph this very cute nocturnal mammal in it's natural habitat.
NU squirrelThe second half of this presentation concentrated on local projects in the South West. Because of the 2020 lockdowns Nick was unable to travel as far as usual but took the opportunity to appreciate the local wildlife.
Nick's own garden gave him the chance to notice the abundance of unusual and rare insects to be found and was able to capture unusual behaviour never photographed before. Experimenting with remote cameras, floating camera housing for underwater shots and various lenses he was able to view the wide range of mammals, birds and insects that frequent his Wiltshire garden. 
Local wildlife reserves brought him many photographic opportunities including Morgan’s Hill where he found many wild flowers and butterflies. Visiting Brown's Folly reserve, Nick observed mason bees using snail shells as nests.
A project being followed is the restoration of old dew ponds to encourage the return of great crested newts to the Pewsey Down. Photographs were shown of the work of the Sustainable Eel Group to restock rivers with the once numerous glass eels.
Always full of interesting stories, Nick gave members a fascinating evening and an insight into some of his latest projects. PM
images © Nick Upton

Annual Monochrome Competition 26 January 2021   

FC Peggys CoveThe club welcomed back Sandie Cox ARPS DPAGB AFIAP to judge the Annual Monochrome PI Competition. As usual this season the club was not able to run the Monochrome Print competition and Sandie had to give her comments and awards via Zoom. Non the less members were able to enjoy seeing all the entries and hearing the judge’s helpful comments on each one.
Sandie said that she likes to almost feel the softness of feathers or fur, the crispness of grass, the roughness of stone and always looks for good texture in the images. She looks for a full range of tones with white white’s and black black’s, detail should be visible in the lightest and darkest areas. Images should be sharp where needed and members should always look out for light in the eyes of subjects and also check there are no light spots on the edges of their images that draws the eye.
DW Oil RigsAs mainly a natural history photographer herself, Sandie said that she enjoyed looking through the wide range of subjects entered in the competition. Many misty landscape and woodland scenes, seascapes, architecture, portraits, creative and wildlife subjects were entered. There were so many strong images that some had to miss out on the list of awards but other judges might have had other ideas. Judging is always subjective and all judges have to choose the images that especially appeal most to them.
On some images Sandie gave her ideas about cropping out some areas to give a better balance to the image or to draw more attention to the subject. Some images she thought were rather ‘grey’ and needed some editing to give a wider range of tones.
Out of the 74 entries Sandie held back 22 for awards.

In first place was ‘Abandoned Oil Rig’ shown left by David Wilkinson which the judge said as taken from a good low angle, showed good textures and recession.
David will be presented with the ‘Constance Mundy Trophy’ for best Monochrome Projected Image in due course.
MS ChinookSecond place went to ‘Waiting for Business, Peggy’s Cove’ right by Frank Collins which showed a harbour scene with a waiting boat at this popular Canadian tourist attraction. Sandie said it was a strong monochrome image showing some interesting buildings.
A very different subject again was depicted in the third placed image – this time a flying helicopter. ‘RAF Chinook’ below right was an image by Martin Stokes with well caught action.

Nineteen images were awarded Highly Commended including 3 from Martin Stokes, 3 from Tim Tapley and 3 from Pam Mullings.
Special mention of Christine Ellerby whose image ‘Spiralling Navel College’ has gained her an HC in the first competition she has entered with the club so very well done to her. Also ‘Lime Avenue on a Foggy Morning’ by Bridget Codrington which the judge declared the best of the many misty woodland scenes that were entered.
Awards were given to members in all 3 sections of the club with many of them going to those in the Beginners section which was very pleasing. Well done to all those who entered.
Thanks to Sandie for all her helpful comments and for judging the competition. Thanks to Competition Secretary Dave Eagle for organising the competition and hosting the Zoom session so successfully once again. PM
Full results          All the awarded images can be seen in the Galleries

Member’s Speed Critique 19 January 2021   

DW EagleThis critique evening gives some club members the chance to show some of their images to groups of fellow members. The 'speed' aspect is that they have about 10 minutes to show and discuss their photographs.
JR Oil on WaterUsually members can meet up and have face to face discussions but this time it all had to be set up using Zoom. After some trial runs 6 members were able to present their images with the rest of the members split into 3 ‘rooms’. Sounds complicated but it all worked perfectly on the night thanks to Dave Eagle and his patience dealing with a group of ‘amateur’ presenters!
Some of those showing their images were experienced photographers and wanted some feedback others were quite new to photography and so comments from fellow members can be really helpful for presenting their images at their very best.

Sharing his ‘photographic journey’ David Wilkinson said that he first showed his early images a few years ago at a critique. Having advice and learning from his mistakes has very much helped him progress into a very competent wildlife photographer. David has learnt a lot editing skills as well as field craft which has helped him achieve some excellent images of birds, mammals and insects. An outstanding image of a White-tailed Sea Eagle shown on the right.

During the lockdown Janet Rutter had fun trying out several photographic techniques that she can do indoors. Using flowers or grasses placed on light box produced some interesting images and Janet experimented by freezing flowers in ice and floating oil on water shown left to produce some very interesting and unusual photographs.
DS steps
LC Savoy CabbageAs a newcomer to photography Graham Sawyer has concentrated on getting to know more about his camera and showed a range of his images for members to comment on. Some excellent snow scenes and other images which just needed a bit of editing to bring out the best in them. The photograph of weather-worn steps left made an interesting abstract image.

Having recently retired Lynda Croft has more time to develop her interest in photography and showed members a range of images. Landscapes and architecture are her usual interests but she recently took an unusual image of water droplets on a savoy cabbage right with good results.

Already an accomplished photographer Pete Souster presented some of his outstanding minimalistic landscapes. Pete experiments with seascapes using long exposures and likes to photograph areas of the Wiltshire countryside such as the clump of trees near Beckhampton shown below.
Pete showed us an interesting image of the Royal Crescent in Bath as well as a sunset image that was published in a photography magazine.

Members complimented Tony Leach on the excellent colours of his image of a balloon flying over Namibia below right.
Tony showed some of his landscapes as well as zebras and a stag and asked members for ideas about any improvements that might be made.


PS beckhamptonTL NamibiaAll those members showing their images for the critique said that they enjoyed the experience. As usual there were lots of ideas put forward about cropping and whether an image looked better in mono or colour but as always the final judgement has to be made by the photographers themselves.

Thanks to all those who presented their images for others to comment on. Hopefully everyone enjoyed the critiques and learned some new ideas.

Special thanks to David Eagle who sorted out all the technology needed, so that we could all join in the discussion from our own homes. PM

 

 

Bird Photography Simplified 12 January 2021   

This presentation was a first for Devizes Camera Club, we welcomed a photographer from overseas to our Zoom! meeting. Glenn Bartley joined us from Victoria, Vancouver Island, Canada.
GB Pic1For those of us who had browsed his website, we knew we would be listening to an expert. Glenn is an award winning bird photographer, particularly known for his hummingbird portfolio. Fascinated by these “mesmerising birds” since childhood, Glenn has spent months, over the years, in the rain forests of Ecuador and Costa Rica developing and honing his skills. He his a regular contributor to magazines and journals, and has published a number of his own books.
Glenn started by talking about his approach to capturing images, in particular the 7 elements of a great bird photo: Exposure, Light, Composition, Sharpness, Perch, Background and Pose.
GB Pic2He said it is important to balance the exposure and avoid images such as a dark bird against a bright sky. Use your histogram, he urged, and “expose to the right”. He said that, although Manual exposure is best in some situations, he uses AV most of the time and dials in exposure compensation as required. Glenn prefers to work in natural light, but the quality of the light is important. He gave us a great tip, suggesting that it is only worth taking photos if your shadow is longer than you are tall - otherwise the light will be too harsh. He said that bright overcast conditions are great, especially in the Tropics, giving you more shooting time and flexibility of composition. However, images may appear a bit flat out of the camera and will need more post-processing time. Using flash is useful, especially for fill-in purposes, but you need to learn how to control the power and you should get the flashgun off the camera. He showed how the use of flash with the right mode and power can help to freeze the action, particularly of hovering hummingbirds.
Key composition issues for bird photography, Glenn suggested, include the orientation of an image, which will depend on the shape and pose of the subject. And he suggested leaving some space around the subject to allow for some cropping in post-processing. For wildlife images, Glenn confirmed, sharpness is all about the eyes and the factors required to achieve sharpness include using a tripod, good quality lenses with stabilisation and an appropriate shutter speed. But he warned us not to over prioritise sharpness as its not the only factor in achieving a good image.
Glenn pointed out that a good perch for the subject can be essential for a great shot, whether it is about finding a branch in the wild that a bird keeps returning to or a set-up in your back garden. While a messy, distracting background is to be avoided, Glenn warned against getting too hung up on blurred backgrounds as the inclusion of some environment can be important. The pose of the bird is also important, he said, and should always include eye contact with the subject.
Having sorted out all these elements, Glenn then talked about finding an x-factor that will really make an image stand out. He provided a long list of things to watch out for including birds feeding, especially with prey, birds mating, birds with chicks, birds in bad weather or any sort of action shot.
GB Bird PhotographyIn the second part of his presentation, Glenn talked about the research that he does before going on a trip. He likes to find out where birds are located for which he recommended ebird.org which provides information on sightings. He familiarises himself with bird calls (xenacanto app) and other peoples trip reports (cloudbirders website). In the field, he advocated keeping it simple, only taking the equipment you need, setting realistic goals and taking your time to get set-up correctly.
When building a portfolio, Glenn emphasised the importance of defining your goals with regard to species diversity and styles of images. During post-processing, on your calibrated screen, he recommended targeting the deletion of at least 90% of the images taken. Becoming picky about your images will make you a better photographer, he said. He also recommended establishing your own workflow, using basic techniques, and building your skills over time. He encouraged us to share our work with others through websites, social media and email.
Glenn finished off by talking about the sort of gear you need for successful bird photography. In answer to questions from the audience about his basic camera set-up, he said that he starts with AV, f5.6 and an ISO setting depending on the available light. He generally uses Evaluative Metering with AV and checks his histogram to see whether any exposure compensation is needed.
Throughout his presentation, Glenn showed us some stunning images to illustrate points he was making. His website at glennbartley.com is full of amazing images of birds from the various countries he has visited. Despite having spent considerable time in countries such as Ecuador and Brazil, when asked which country he would most want to return to, Glenn unhesitatingly said - “Colombia”
A thoroughly interesting and comprehensive evening was enthusiastically applauded by the audience. DF

 

Projected Image League 5 January 2021   

RH SunflowersThe first club competition of 2021 was rather different this time – not only a virtual competition as we have become used to, but instead of members all using pencil & paper to vote it was all very cleverly done with a click on our own screen and some clever software!
Members are asked to score each set entered out of ten taking into account how they look as a set of 5 images, the quality of each image and how well they all the images fit the set title.
There were 54 sets entered altogether from 18 members who were each required to enter 3 sets. Frank Collins set out the guidelines and a demo set was shown so that members could try out the on line voting system. It was suggested that it would take an exceptional set to warrant the top score of 10 but none the less several sets achieved this high score. Thumbnails of the whole set were shown and then each of the 5 separate images then members had to give their own score. After members had voted for each set the results were shown and we could see the range of votes. It was interesting to note that scores for some sets ranged from 4 up to 10 showing a big difference in how members regarded those sets and how very much opinions can vary!
DW hareThere was a large range of subjects entered with as usual wildlife and landscape photographs dominating but there were also some rather unusual subjects that members had dreamed up. Who would have thought images of padlocked gates, traffic lights, heirlooms, or vintage car steering wheels could make such interesting sets! We also had pilots waving from aircraft, laughing animals, slices of fruit and even ‘slightly flighty’ portraits.
Members gave their points out of 10 for each of the sets except their own and the scores were averaged – then each entrants 3 scores were added to give the results.
For the third time in a row Robert Harvey ARPS EFIAP won the competition and the Hewitt Cup, this time with landscape images of the Cornish coast, Savernake forest and Wiltshire fields. One of the images from the set showing a field of sunflowers of is shown above.
SH gannetIn second place with delightful images of hares and red squirrels as well as autumn scenes was David Wilkinson. Third place went to Club Chairman Steve Hardman with images of the isle of Skye, monkeys and gannets.
Peter Souster, Pam Mullings and Dave Gray were awarded Highly Commended for their sets.
The individual set with the highest score was ‘Hares’ by David Wikinson, ‘Just White’ by Pam Mullings was second favourite and the set ‘Red Squirrels’ by Gill Cardy FRPS DPAGB EFIAP was placed third.
It takes a lot of time and trouble to find all the images and put 3 sets together so many thanks to members who entered.
Another very succesful and interesting evening showing the great talents of club members.

Very special thanks to David Eagle who not only collected up and put together all 54 sets for the competition but also sorted out so successfully the software that allowed the scores and results to be shown so well. Thanks also the Frank Collins, David Wilkinson and Gerald Clarke who verified the scores. PM

See the top sets as scored by members

Christmas Lights 2020  
SW xmas lights
A few club members went out recently and took photos of the Christmas lights in their area and added them to an Album on the DCC Facebook. Mostly festive street scenes, but some members came up with a few different ideas as well.

BC xmas lightsOne of the images with the most likes was by Sue Wadman and showed the attractive lit up tree in Devizes Market Place. right

Another photo was a rather topical 'sign of the times' by Bridget Codrington showing  the Social Distancing sign and all the clutter in the lit up Marlborough High Street. left

Other images in the album were by Helena Chambers, Richard Blackbourne, Pam Mullings, Jennifer Skjoldbro and you can see them all by going to our DCC Facebook.






Christmas Knock-out Competition 15 December 2020   

The club’s usual Christmas Knock-out looked a little different this year but nevertheless we were still able to have Santa as Master of Ceremonies as usual even though we were all sitting in our own homes to see him!
TT Red KiteDW hare2Due to the wonders of technology we were still able to view the 128 images entered by members.
In this competition two of the randomly selected images are shown on their screens side by side and members vote for their favourite of the two. One image is knocked out and the image with most votes then goes on to the next round.
Several members had cleverly worked out how the competition could be run this year using Zoom and everyone was very impressed how well it all worked on the night. Usually Santa has to count raised hands in a darkened room but this time at the click of a mouse the result came up after each pair of images shown.
Anyway all was ready for the fun to begin with all the usual rough justice along the way.

No different to usual was the occasional injustice as 2 images came up by the same photographer and one had to go. Also how do you choose between a cute animal, a superb landscape, fantastic close up or something a bit different. Everyone was impressed by all the superb images entered but sadly many very good images were eventually knocked out. Only once did Santa have to choose his favourite when the votes were equal for each of the two images and that came up in the semi-final.
SW Rutter Force
Anyway we had to make up our minds on each image so round by round images got eliminated down to eight and the finally the last four images that survived all 6 rounds.

DE BoathouseThis year the favourite with most votes in the final round was a portrait of a Hare by David Wilkinson. In second place was a Red Kite by Tim Tapley then third was ‘Rutter Force’ right a riverside mill by Sue Wadman. In fourth place was The Boathouse, Ullswater left by David Evans. Very well done to the winners who all received Amazon vouchers.

Thanks to all those who entered the competition.
Thanks to Dave Gray for his work displaying the images in pairs, eliminating the losers and shuffling the images between rounds.
Thanks to Dave Eagle for setting up the voting process and passing the results on to Santa to read out. Also many thanks to Santa alias Frank Collins for making it such a fun evening even though we could not meet up together this year and share some Christmas goodies.PM


Hoping all our members have as good a winter break as they can possibly manage and that they can look forward to the next virtual club meeting on 5 January 2021.

Photoshop Clinic 8 December 2020   

The club was pleased to welcome back a former club member, Ray Grace ARPS DPAGB to give members advice about solving Photoshop problems and demonstrating new techniques.
Members were asked to send in their Photoshop queries so Ray went through them one by one giving his expert advice.
One of the questions put to Ray was how to develop a working system to edit your images.
As Ray explained there are often many ways to use the many tools available in Photoshop and in time everyone develops their own techniques which is why any advice given may vary.
There were several queries about the best ways to select part of an image and apply it to another image and Ray demonstrated some of the many ways that a selection can be made. If the outline is fairly simple, then there are quick selection tools in Photoshop that can do a pretty good job. If the part of the image to be selected is more complex then the use of several tools and mask layers may be required but with time and practice you can learn the skills.
Among the other queries were ‘how and why to use layers’ and Ray explained about the many types that can be used such as adjustment or mask layers. Using layers means that your original image is left untouched and that any adjustments are on separate layers that can be re-edited at any time. The image can be saved and any layers preserved as a PSD or Tiff image.
Some of the queries required quite complex answers such as the use of luminosity panels and using selective clarity using Camera Raw. Another rather complex subject was on the use of ‘smart objects’. Ray explained how to focus stack in PS and showed how his set of images taken at different focus points can be cleverly aligned and then auto blended to give an image sharp from front to back.
Simpler questions for Ray to answer were ‘how to add a border’ or ‘how to add a vignette’
Many photographers gain information from the many videos available on line which explain in detail how to do different tasks. Just type in your question and you will get many answers. Take time to practice and it will become much easier and you will work out from all the options the methods that you prefer. Also don’t get too stuck in your ways but take time to experiment with the many editing tools at your disposal. Ray kindly said that he would send members his information sheets on various topics for those who want more details.
There were too many queries for Ray to answer in one session so there will be another chance in February.
Steve Hardman thanked Ray and said that it had been a fascinating evening about a massive topic and hopefully all those watching will have learned something. Thanks were given to Dave Eagle for setting up the Zoom session.
There were too many queries for Ray to answer in one session so there will be another chance in February. Photoshop is a very big learning curve! PM

Projected Image Competition (Print 1) 1 December 2020   

DE Power PerformanceThis competition should have been the first print competition of the year but because of restrictions it had to be changed to Projected Images with the judge giving his comments and the results to members using Zoom. The judge was John Taylor who said that he was fairly new to judging and he said that he felt that his comments should helpful, supportive and positive. He felt that club photography should be fun and not taken too seriously. John said that the images entered were very interesting and that it is not easy to judge one image against another when there was such a wide range of subjects. In many cases John gave his views about cropping parts of the image which he felt were unnecessary and detracted from the image. Some images John said that in his opinion were rather cluttered and the main subject not obvious and that he preferred the rather simpler images. He looked for good composition often with leading lines that guided the eye to the subject.
Starting with the 33 entries in the Beginners section the judge gave his detailed comments on each one. John went ‘wow’ when he came to ‘Power Performance’ by David Evans. That image really shows the power of the jet aircraft in flight and the lighting is excellent and he awarded it a well-deserved first place. Another image by David also impressed the judge – this time a portrait of a young lady titled ‘Feather in my Hat’. The eyes engaged with the photographer and there was great detail so it was awarded second place.
A delightfully simple image by Megan Boardman gained third place in the section. The early morning start rewarded the photographer with an excellent image titled ‘Cygnet in Early Morning Light’ with good detail in the feathers and a very nice reflection. Two photographs of fungi by Tony Leach gained Highly Commended. A very simple shot taken in Iceland by Lynda Croft and a Puma by Penny Clarke also gained HC’s.
PS Portland BillNext came the Intermediate section with a seascape catching the judges eye. ‘Portland Bill Sunrise’ by Pete Souster was a stunning shot with the sea crashing on the rocks and the lighthouse to draw he eye and the judge gave it first place. Another seascape by Pete this time a monochrome also impressed with its simplicity so ‘Silver Seas’ was places third.
Second place went to an image of a colourful fungi by David Eagle. The judge said that David’s ‘Fly Agaric with Climbing Rope’ was well seen with good lighting. Finally, a close up of a rat by Steve Hardman titled ‘Unwelcome Visitor’ was awarded an HC.
SW One Tree HillAfter a short break the judge went on to comment on the entries in the Advanced section. Again simple but effective images caught John’s eye with ‘One Tree Hill’ by Sue Wadman awarded first place. There were just 3 elements – a tree, blue sky and a ploughed field. The judge said it was very well balanced with the tree on the thirds and a good lead in line. Sue also impressed with ‘Peeping out of the Fog’ this time an early morning shot with a good balance between the spire of a church and a group of trees. Sue also did well with her image of one of the statues on Crosby beach with a delightful sky and it gained an HC.
In third Place was ‘Hadrians Wall’ by Dave Gray which the judge said was taken from just the right viewpoint. The eye follows the line of the wall towards the distant hills and the sky. Highly commended’s were awarded to Frank Collins, Tim Tapley LRPS and Pam Mullings.
Congratulations to all.
Chairman Steve Hardman summed up saying the club had a very talented bunch of photographers. He thanked the judge for his comments and said that the ‘crop tool’ was an important aid to improving the balance of images. PM
Competition results         All the awarded images can be seen in the Galleries

'Show and Tell' 24 November 2020   

GC ElterwaterMembers were invited to send in some of their images so that they could explain where and why they took the photograph and ask fellow members for comments.Ten club members sent in some of their images and asked for suggestions about any improvements that could be made. The idea was mainly to review members landscape images taken during the year but there were also some other types of image that members sought opinions on. Would the image look better with some areas cropped or would the image display better as a monochrome image? There was a discussion about how far to take HDR to improve the image or can it go too far and look unrealistic?
MB woodsOf course member’s opinions differed so this brought about some interesting debate and maybe this gave the photographers some new ideas. It is good to get the views of others  but in the end it is a matter of personal taste and the photographers have to decide themselves how best to present their images.

Many of the photographs featured the lovely autumn colours including a selection from Megan Boardman who has been exploring local woods and looking for interesting compositions amongst the trees. Also looking out for the colours found on the trees was Marlis Rawlins who made visits to several areas to find interesting viewpoints.
Frank Collins showed some of his images taken recently on the Cornish coast and explained that the lighting conditions were often not ideal. Also in some cases he would have preffered to have taken the image at a different time of day if it had been possible. 
Some well-lit fungi images taken by Tony Leach on a photography course were discussed and he also showed some impressive landscapes taken in the Lake District.
TL Kimmeridge
Gill Cardy FRPS DPAGB EFIAP showed some of her landscapes taken on her travels in the past to Spain, the Outer Hebrides and an obliging Egyptian Goose posing for her in South Africa.
Tim Tapley LRPS usually specialises in close up images of local wildlife but wanted to see what members thought of several of his landscapes which he had almost forgotten about. A colourful view of the river in Bath, a ‘surprised’ castle in France, the Caen Hill locks and a pastoral scene of sheep with Edington Priory in the background.
Gerald Clarke showed some of the images taken on a photography course using light painting to illuminate features at night and an image taken on the Dorset coast.

Bridget Codrington asked for member’s views on several images including a Dorset river scene featuring a ruined mill with members giving some ideas on cropping. Interesting images were shown by Lynda Croft including a still life that she had set up.
Robert Harvey ARPS EFIAP had of course been out and about during the summer and had some interesting images to show including one of Clevedon Pier and images taken on a visit to the Lake District.
Probably some of the images shown during the evening will appear in club competitions so members can then hear the views of the judges.
Steve Hardman summed up the evening saying it had been an interesting debate and it confirmed how good the club member’s images are.
Thanks was given to those who put up their images for comment and to Dave Eagle for running the Zoom meeting. PM

 Images: Westwoods by Megan Boardman   Elterwater by Tony Leach   Kimmeredge Bay, Dorset  by Gerald Clarke

From Camera to Print 17 November 2020   

In our latest Zoom! meeting, Tim Jones from Fotospeed gave us a presentation entitled From Camera to Print. Tim started by telling us a bit about his photographic journey, including working with hard rock bands around Europe followed by many years doing assignments involving schools, weddings, portraiture and product placement. He then explained that he wanted to talk about the 3 foundations of printing - the camera, the computer and the printer.
Taking a picture with a camera is clearly the photographic starting point for creating a printed image. While it is important to try and get the image right in the camera, there is also much debate about whether to take RAW or JPG images. In Tim’s view, RAW images are best as they will provide a higher level of data which can be used during the print preparation process. For the same reason, he advocated using the AdobeRGB colour space in the camera rather than sRGB.
Having obtained an image for printing, Tim explained that colour management is important for ensuring that the print is as you want it. He said that colour management is about consistency of colour rather than accuracy and as we all see colours differently, we need to make sure the colours we present are consistent. So we need to generate profiles for our screens and for each printer/paper configuration that we use.
Screen profiles, he said, are generated using a calibration tool such as the Datacolor Spyder and printer/paper profiles can be created with the help of organisations like Fotospeed. This involves making a print of a calibration chart, posting it to Fotospeed who scan the print using software to compare it against International Colour Consortium (ICC) standards to create the profile, which is then returned to the user.
Having received the profiles they need to be loaded into the computer according to instructions available from Fotospeed’s website. Tim explained the process of selecting the appropriate profiles, and other options, at the time of printing to ensure the results are as required. He also pointed out that the choice of paper type, while being very personal, can make a difference to the impact of the image. To illustrate this, Tim showed us a range of images and explained what paper he would choose to print them on.
Following an extensive question and answer session, our Chairman thanked Tim for a very interesting and informative evening. DF

Open Projected Image Competition No 2 10 November 2020   

MB ShakingThe second Open Projected Image competition of the season was judged using Zoomby Robert Phelps from Bristol.
Robert has not judged Devizes CC images before but said that he was impressed by the high standard of competition entries particularly in the Beginners Section. He said that it is sometimes difficult for judges when they have to compare images with technical excellence against those with perhaps, some technical flaws but with much greater emotive interest. Robert commented that many of the otherwise well taken landscapes needed a point of interest somewhere in the image to give a focal point.
Starting with the 36 Beginners entries Robert commented on the good points and then where needed gave his ideas on where the image could have been improved. Often it was too much uninteresting foreground which could have been cropped or the background could have been more muted.
It was ‘Shaking it off’ right - an unusual image by Megan Boardman which particularly impressed the judge who awarded it first place. Robert said that the flow of water droplets as the duck shook its head was very well captured.
In second place was a delightful still life by Bridget Codrington entitled ‘Afternoon Tea’ – the judge said that the arrangement of objects, the lighting and focus all worked very well. Robert commented on the third placed image ‘White-tailed Eagle by Hilary Tapley saying that it was a dramatic capture with the subject well placed in the frame. The judge awarded Highly Commended to nine of the Beginners images.

SH gannetNext images in the Intermediate Section were shown with an impressive image ‘Gannet’ left by Steve Hardman gaining first place. The judge said that it was a dramatic, detailed close up of the flying bird with the wings on the diagonal adding interest.
Second place went to a subtle coloured, minimalistic landscape by new member Pete Souster. Swanage old pier is a very popular subject TT Harvestmanfor photographic competitions and Pete’s version titled ‘Stillness’ was awarded 3rd place. Martin Stokes was awarded an HC for his impressive panoramic landscape'Celestial Heavens'

After a refreshment break Robert continued with his comments.
The Advanced Section had a range of subjects including many stunning landscapes and impressive nature images. An extreme macro shot of an arachnid titled ‘Harvestman’ right impressed the judge and he awarded it first place. The image by Tim Tapley showed in great detail the body of this tiny creature.
A small white dog featured in the second placed image by Robert Harvey ARPS EFIAP. Titled ‘Bewildered’ the dog was photographed in front of an interesting gothic- looking doorway. Third place went to a creative image ‘Delicate Beauty’ by Pam Mullings portraying white Camellia’s. Seven other images were awarded Highly Commended.

Summing up club chairman Steve Hardman thanked members for sending in such a stunning array of images for the competition.
Thanks to Robert for giving his helpful comments and opinions on the images and thanks to the Competition Secretaries for running the competition.
Congratulations to all. PM
All the results             See all of the awarded images in the Galleries

 

 

 

Up Your Photography 3 November 2020   

Club members had a very entertaining and informative evening when Phil Savoie gave us an excellent presentation on how to get the very best out of your photographs.
PS beePhil describes himself as a biologist, photographer and filmmaker and his dream came true when as a photography obsessed, field biologist he joined the BBC Natural History Unit based in Bristol. He was able to photograph wildlife subjects around the world and has amazing stories to tell about his time filming for ‘Planet Earth’ and making his own wildlife films.
Living in a beautiful part of wales Phil enjoys photographing the local scenery and wildlife as well as a range of different genres and showed some excellent monochrome portraits, sports shots, panoramic landscapes and even some astro-photography.
Keen to help others get the most from their photography Phil maintains that a photo needs to tell a story and emotionally engage the viewer. He suggests focusing on subjects of personal interest and be prepared for any photo opportunities.
PS astroPhil says plan ahead, compose the image and stick around as the image can often change in minutes. Take time and try to show a fresh point of view and try out new ideas.
Photographers should have projects and Phil has many of his own which he works on for years aiming to get the ‘perfect shot’. We were shown some of the images taken of swallows as they dived about catching insects. Another project he works on is the life of bees and macro shots of them collecting nectar. Members were amazed at the extreme close ups where even the hooks on grains of pollen used to attach to the hair on a bee can be seen. Another project is the night sky with impressive images of the milky way with ruined castles in the foreground. When photographing at night let your eyes get used to the darkness and you will see more.

PS titPhil says it is very important to get as near eye level with your subject so in most cases get down low. Use depth of field to direct the viewers eye to the main subject. Check that the background compliments the subject. Study the pattern of behaviour of wildlife subjects and get to know your subject really well. Set up your camera, set the manual focus and wait for often repeated actions. The blue tit repeatedly came to the same branch with insects and Phil was able to get very detailed close ups that even showed the hairs on the insects legs.
 Phil has a great knowledge of the technical side of photography and has worked out in great detail how to get the very best images from his range of lenses. Phil often makes up his own contraptions to enable him to get just the image he is striving for and he shared lots of the tips and tricks that he uses.
Be creative, experiment and enjoy your photography!

Members very much enjoyed the humorous presentation from this great character who clearly enjoys sharing his passions and skills with others. PM

See Phil's website for amazing images


Smartphone photography - more than just a camera on a phone 27th October 2020   

JL reflectionOn Tuesday 27th October, Jeanette Lendon gave us a presentation over Zoom entitled Smartphone Photography. This was very much a session for those who want to do more than take selfies and pictures of their food. Indeed she showed us images detailing how she uses her smart phone for corporate and commercial assignment as well as for her own pleasure.
Initially a primary school teacher, Jeanette retrained as a photographer in the early noughties and spent 13 years doing corporate and commercial work, initially using a DSLR. In 2015, when the iPhone 6 was released and she saw advertising billboards with images taken with it, she reassessed her views on phone cameras and started using hers more and more. Having seen Lara Jade’s images on the Cheap Camera Challenge (DigitalRev TV) and David Loftus showing food photographs taken with a smart phone, she attended an exhibition at Waddesdon Manor where Nick Knight was presenting smartphone images taken in his rose garden. She entered 2020 Rankin on Sky Arts and was short listed for both the show and Rankin’s book. And she entered the Urban Photo Race and came 3rd despite being the only photographer using a smartphone.
So, Jeanette started by showing us how to control exposures when using the camera’s phone app by touching the screen and moving her finger up or down. She repeatedly came back to this technique, saying that reducing the exposure helps to bring out colours in the image.
For close-ups, she recommended slowly bringing the camera closer to the subject and letting the camera work out the focus. Example images of this technique included a spider, a moth, fungus and a snail. For the snail, she had turned the camera upside down and rested it on the ground to get to the same level as the snail’s head. She also mentioned that clip-on lenses can be purchased very cheaply which can be used to get extreme close-ups, as in her image of a snowflake.
Jeanette showed us several wonderful images of reflections taken around London and shared her technique with us. She recommended finding some water, such as a river or puddle, or make your own puddle from your water bottle! Turn your camera upside down and rest it on the water, compose your image and shoot. One great reflection image of St Pancras station (right) was taken using this technique but on a shiny black cafe table top instead of water. She also showed us a vertical reflection taken by placing her camera against a window.
To take a long exposure, Jeanette suggested switching on “live” which will take a 2 sec video which can be used for various effects. Having kept still for 2 seconds to take the picture, swipe up on the image to view the effects and go to the end to view the “long exposure”. She illustrated the outcome showing a shot of a water feature in London.
At the end of her presentation, Jeanette showed us a series of images that she called London Lockdown. These included empty trains and stations, a closed skate park on the South Bank, deserted streets including Westminster Bridge, The Strand and Trafalgar Square, and Covent Garden and the Millennium Bridge without a soul in sight.
To round off the evening, Jeanette did a live demonstration of how to edit smartphone images using the Snapseed app which was eagerly followed and raised a number of questions.
After a further question and answer discussion, our Chairman, Steve, thanked Jeanette for a very entertaining and informative evening and there was general agreement and applause from the audience. DF

 

Nature Competition 2020 20 October 2020   

RH adderRalph Snook ARPS DPAGB EFIAP/b was welcomed back to the club where he has judged competitions many times before. Ralph said he always looked forward to seeing all the nature entries as the standard was always very high. This makes it difficult for him to judge as he has to make tough decisions and leave many excellent images out of the awards.
There were 62 entries from all 3 competition sections so well done to all especially those in the Beginners section. The print section of the Annual Nature competition could not be held this year so members could send in 4 digital entries instead of the usual 3. 
DW Hare Ralph gave his usual helpful comments to point out the good and bad points in each image. Focus is extremely important for nature subjects and in some cases Ralph pointed out where a wing on a flying bird or insect was not quite in focus. Nature photography is difficult anyway so there is usually not much time to check everything at the time! Over sharpening and noise in the background were other issues that marked images down. Ralph said that some entries were ‘pictorial’ and would have done better in an Open competition as he was judging mostly on the nature content.
After giving his comments and holding 19 images back he finally gave the results.

Not surprisingly first place went to ‘Sidewinder Adder’ by Robert Harvey ARPS EFIAP and Ralph commented it was an excellent image and he had already awarded it a gold medal in another competition. The limited tonal range perfectly camouflaged the snake in the desert sand with the eyes in sharp focus. Robert also gained 3rd place with a sharp macro image titled ‘Tortoise Shieldbugs’ - the colours were good with a muted background. Well done also to Robert for Highly Commended’s for ‘Barn Owl in Flight’ and a different version of his ‘Verreaux’s Sifaka’.
A delightful image by David Wilkinson was awarded second place. The judge said the colours in ‘Brown Hare sitting in Stubble’ blended perfectly and it was an excellent capture. David also was awarded 2 HC’s for images featuring an emperor dragonfly and great - spotted woodpeckers.
The judge awarded Tim Tapley 3 HC’s for his well taken close up’s of insects and Martin Stokes impressed with his Black-backed Gull and Puffin both taken on Skomer.
Insects were the chosen subjects of Sue Wadman’s 2 awarded images as was the Peacock butterfly by David Fraser. A hare was the subject in David Eagle’s image and a roe deer by Richard Atkinson being all awarded HC’s. The only wild flower to win an award was an unusual view of a Burnt Tip Orchid by Dave Gray. The close up of a young goldfinch by David Evans completed the list of the 16 images awarded an HC.
Many congratulations to all and thanks to all those who entered.

Club Chairman Steve Hardman thanked Ralph for his judging and for giving such helpful comments. Steve said he was blown away by the quality of the entries and the club was lucky to have such talented photoraphers.
Thanks to Competition Secretary David Eagle for organising the entries and for running the evening using Zoom. PM

Full list of results      All the awarded images can be seen in the Galleries.          Members can log in to see the 20-21 points tables

Photographing Wiltshire 13 October 2020   

RH cherhillClub members and visitors were enthralled by the presentation by fellow member Robert Harvey  BA ARPS EFIAP MCIWEM CSci CEnv. which was based on his latest book ‘Photographing Wiltshire.’
Robert was commissioned by the publishing company ‘fotoVue’ to write and illustrate the Wiltshire edition of the series of books which give information on the photographic opportunities to be found in the county. Lavishly illustrated with over 500 superb images with all the technical information and details of location make this book a must for photographers who live in or are visiting the area.
RH CanalRobert said that he started researching the county when he moved here 20 years ago. The rolling chalk hills, meandering river valleys, ancient woodlands, quaint villages and of course the wealth of ancient monuments all gave him endless photographic opportunities. From well-known attractions such as Stonehenge and Avebury to little known gems that Robert has himself discovered.
Robert has researched in great depth the geology, history and natural history of the county. The wealth of natural habitats gives endless photographic possibilities with some of the best bluebell woods in the country to rare snakeshead fritillaries, impressive fields of poppies, chalk downland flowers and wildflower meadows. A wide variety of flora and fauna can be found in the counties diverse habitats.
RH beechesFrom ancient tracks to modern roads, canals, rivers and the railway have all been explored by Robert giving us new ideas. The wealth of interesting villages and towns make the county a haven for photography. The county has so many quirky features such as the chalk cut horses, the unusual follies and monuments and even the crop circles that the county is famous for!
The book is full of comprehensive information on how to find the best viewpoints, the best time of day, the best season and even the best days to take the most impressive photographs. In one instance there are only two short periods in a year when the rising sun lines up with the Caen hill flight of locks so photographers taking his advice, get to the exact spot to take the image.
Robert advises making use of frost, snow or mist to enhance the landmarks, look out for interesting skies to add interest to a landscape. Using night skies can give a different take on familiar structures and buildings.
What a wonderful county we have with such inspirational locations – whether its grand country houses and gardens, churches and monastic buildings or the wider landscapes with the hilltop beech clumps and ancient monuments. Robert’s images make us realise why he loves his adopted county so much!
Summing up, the club chairman Steve Hardman said what an astonishing amount of detail was in the book and it makes one want to go out and explore more of the county.
Thanks to Robert for giving us such an entertaining, inspiring and thought provoking evening. PM
See the website to obtain your copy of Robert's book.
Images © Robert Harvey

Following the Herds 7 October 2020   

SM cheetahsThe club was delighted to welcome Sue Morris who is a professional photographer from Hampshire. Sue explained to members using Zoom, that to pay the bills she photographs weddings and portraits but her real passion is wildlife – especially big cats.
After a visit to Alaska and taking with her a fairly basic camera, Sue decided to take her photography more seriously and got hooked on wildlife photography. Sue has won many prestigious awards since and had many of her wildlife images published.
The presentation this evening concentrated on photographs taken on her many visits to Tanzania and the Serengeti National Park area.
On one of her first visits she managed to follow a female cheetah and her four young cubs for several days and became very attached to this very special family. On returning the next year she was delighted to find the whole family were still in the area and thriving. Sue showed us the many wonderful images she took as the cubs played together, the mother brought in food and told of the tough life that cheetahs have in the wild. It’s interesting to witness the circle of life as hyenas and vultures are quick to finish any remains from the kill.
The visits were made in the dry season so the herds of wildebeest have gone and there is very little game for the resident cats to hunt. The grass is golden at that time which gives the images a very pleasing subdued colour palette. There were some impressive portrait shots showing the deep orange eyes of the cheetahs. Other cats also featured with some impressive big maned male lions, playful lion cubs and family groups. Sue was lucky to have many encounters with the elusive leopards and captured some amazing images. She also showed a selection of elephant images with their family groups and the playful youngsters.
Sue showed us some photos of other African animals and birds to see if club members could identify them. Many of the club members have also travelled to that area so it was nice to see again the variety of photogenic subjects to be found there.
Sue advised getting as low as possible when photographing animals so that you can have eye level contact when possible. Cameras have to be set up quickly and be ready for the action which can happen very suddenly. Lighting cannot be controlled so photography can be difficult when the light is low. Sue uses a bean bag to support her camera as a tripod is not practical in a vehicle.
Africa is a country you can easily fall in love with and want to return time and time again.
Steve Hardman thanked Sue and said that her presentation showed her passion for the big cats. The images were stunning even when the lighting had been difficult. PM

Competition 1 Open Projected Images 29 September 2020   

PC EgretThe first competition of the season was judged by John Hudson ARPS SPSA DPAGB ASPS who is a freelance photographer from Bristol and has won many photographic awards. He was introduced by David Wilkinson who said it was a great privilege to welcome him to the club.
As it has to be nowadays the competition had to be shown using Zoom. The club is grateful to Dave Eagle as Competition Secretary who has to not only juggle with the DiCentra software to show the images but is also the host for the Zoom meeting.
This is John’s first time judging for Devizes CC and he explained that judging photographs is very much a personal view. After going through the positives and negatives for each image the final awards go to the images that meant something to him or those that told a story he liked. John gave a detailed critique of each image pointing out the good points – then there came the ‘but’ when he said what improvements could have been made to improve the image. Often it was some cropping of unwanted areas or else the background was too distracting. The comments are a great help for members in order to try to avoid similar problems when they enter competitions in future.
MS ForestThe Beginners section is for new members who have not entered club competitions before even though many of them might be quite experienced photographers. Starting with the 20 entries in the section the judge explained in great detail what he liked about each image and then the improvements that could have been made. Flower and nature images appealed to him most with a stunning image of birds awarded first place. John said that ‘Western Cattle Egret’ right by Penny Clarke was an image that he wished he had taken! The lighting on the bird was excellent and the movement well captured so very well done to Penny.
Second place went to a macro shot ‘Hoverfly on Scabious’ by Hilary Tapley and third place to ‘Summer Flowers’ by Bridget Codrington. Images by Hilary and Bridget were also awarded Highly Commended as were images by Jennifer Skjoldbro and Helena Chambers. (see full list below)
Only nine entries in the Intermediate section with Martin Stokes taking first place with a beautiful forest scene. The judge commented that ‘Forest Trail’ left was 'an image to die for’ - the light on the trees, the lead in and the foxgloves to add a bit of colour was wonderful. Dave Eagle was awarded both second and third places with a landscape titled ‘Lone Tree, Babbacombe’ and an unusual close up of seaweed and pebbles titled ‘Fresh from the Sea'.
RA FishingAfter the break was the biggest section with 30 entries. The Advanced group are those that have worked their way up through the sections and the judge expects to see ‘perfection’.
The image that caught John’s eye for first place was ‘Fishing for Crabs’ right by Richard Atkinson AFIAP. It was a rather unusual image and John chose it because it told a story with lots of people enjoying the seaside and concentrating on the fishing.
Second place went to a delightful image ‘Goldfinch amongst the Hawthorn Berries’, the judge said it may be ‘a bird on a stick’ but in this case it was a well caught image with a good uncluttered background.
John remarked that there were many really good landscapes entered in the section that it was difficult to judge. Third place went to what John felt was the best landscape and that was ‘Franschhoek Valley’ a pleasing view over a lake by David Fraser. Ten other images were awarded highly Commended – see full list below.
Summing up David Willkinson said many congratulations to all those with awards and he thanked the judge for giving his very detailed critique.
A ‘virtual’ competition did not have quite the same ending as our usual face to face meetings when we can applaud the winners but nevertheless it was good to be able to run the first competition of the 2020-2021 season! PM
Full results             All the awarded images can be seen in the Galleries

Sports Photography 22 September 2020   

Nicki Douglas-Lee is a professional photographer based in Devizes and gave the club a Zoom presentation showing the various sports events that she photographs both locally and further afield.
Nicki explained that it is not easy being a professional sports photographer and it requires knowledge of each sport, dedication, commitment and often long hours!
With any type of photography, you need to get to know as much as you can about the subject in order to capture the best images. Nicki herself has had experience of many sports and has played rugby, canoed, been involved in equestrian sports and has her own motor bike so has first-hand knowledge of a wide range of sports.
Starting with a local annual event, Nicki showed images of the Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race which she has photographed for a number of years. She showed images of individuals and pairs that take part and being a portrait photographer as well, that helps her capture expressions and the concentration on participants faces.
Nicki’s sports photographs are often published in local and national and international publications. Usually there is a very short turnaround so editing has to be kept to the minimum.
Knowing the sports well, she can often anticipate what might happen and capture the moment which may be good look of triumph or it can be bad moment such as a capsized boat or a fall from a horse.
Local ladies and men’s rugby matches are well portrayed showing the action and sheer determination on the faces. Nicki captures the dramatic action and the essence of the game and the interaction between players.
Next Nicki showed us some of the equine events that she photographs starting with horse trials where dramatic images can be captured as the horses negotiate the fences and water jumps. The superb looking horses used for racing and eventing make wonderful images and often the special harmony between horse and rider is portrayed. Nicki says it is all about observation – get in the right place and wait for just the right moment to press the shutter.
Next Nicki showed images of a different type of horse power – this time with wheels! Trail riding where riders have to slowly negotiate a very difficult course over rough terrain and then the fastest sport – drag racing where the bikes and cars can go at 300 mph and you need a very high shutter speed to catch the action! Seeing the variety of specially enhanced vehicles that take part and some very atmospheric night shots was amazing.
To go onto the track, you need special permission and insurance but good photographs can be obtained from behind the barriers. See Santa Pod Raceway for events if you would like to have a go yourself.
Thank you Nicki for giving such an interesting insight into taking images of the sporting world and you have probably inspired others to have a go themselves. PM

Southern Iceland 15 September 2020   

LW roadThe club was pleased to welcome Leigh Woolford AWPF EFIAP DPAGB BPE3 HonFWPF to give a presentation using Zoom of his photographs taken on his many visits to this land of ice and fire. The journey he showed was from the town of Keflavik in the West on the coast road to Hofn towards the West. Using photos’ videos and maps Leigh gave facts in great detail about this amazing country. Iceland is the most sparsely populated country in Europe, the roads are almost empty so driving is a joy and many of the most scenic areas can be viewed from the roadside.

LW monoAs soon as you land near Reykjavik you become aware of the geo-thermal activity in the area with the massive power plat and the thermal pools. After a short look at some of the impressive sculpture and buildings in the capital city Leigh set us off on a photographic journey along the south coast road.
Leigh showed us images of amazing waterfalls often with rainbows over, massive geysers spewing steam into the air and the largest glacier in Europe. Leigh said the weather could change in an instant and it was often raining and overcast so many of his images conveyed the moody nature of the country by being shown in monochrome.

Many images were shown of the impressive basalt rock stacks and cliffs taken in all directions from the black sand beaches in the area. There were many views of a much photographed, photogenic church near Hellnar set against the dramatic coast.

LW BeachAs the glaciers reach the coast large chunks of ice break off and float on the lagoons. In the right light the ice can take on beautiful blue hues and reflect the colours of the sky. Leigh showed many photos of the ice as it was washed up on the black sand beaches giving dramatic contrasting tones. The air is clean and unpolluted so amazingly clear photographs can be taken of the mountain ranges and glaciers in the distance. The sea is often very rough and Leigh showed images of the waves breaking over the rocky shoreline.
Leigh was lucky enough to see a really impressive show of the Northern Lights on one of his many visits.
As a change from the many landscapes Leigh showed images of the Icelandic horses with their thick coats and long manes to protect them from the severe winter cold.
Leigh was thanked by chairman Steve Hardman for showing us the diverse landscapes in this hot, cold, and beautiful country. Steve said it made him want to revisit this amazing area. PM
Images © Leigh Woolford

Working with Textures  8 September 2020   

JL GolosoUsing Zoom, Jane Lazenby BA(hons) fine art, CPAGB, LRPS, LMPA, BPE3*, EFIAP, ASEA, QTFE(2)was able to give the club a detailed insight from her home in Yorkshire, into how she transforms her images. Jane started her career as a painter but found that she became more and more interested in photography and the techniques that allowed her to be creative.
With a passion for horses she found that her enhanced images were very popular and did very well in photographic competitions and gained many distinctions. She now uses photography for her creativity looking for romance, intrigue and originality in her images.
JL gilded creaturesMany of her images showed amazing spirited horses that appeared to be wild and free but Jane let us see the original photographs that showed the handler, fences and other clutter in the background. Very cleverly the original image has been changed using textures that gave the image a Fine Art look. The difference between the images as taken strait out of the camera and then the versions she had enhanced was amazing. Unwanted backgrounds were removed and the whole image blended to give a painterly appearance and an overall consistency of colour.

Jane explained that textures are simply photographs that are overlaid over the original image and by using various blending techniques can transform an image. You can easily make your own textures by photographing subjects such as old stone, concrete, rusty metal, peeling paint or anything else that you might find useful. Canvas or old paper texture can give an ordinary image the look of an oil or watercolour painting. The texture chosen can make or break an image and change the mood entirely. A soft texture can give a photograph of a model an ethereal feeling but the same image with a rather more rugged texture can make it look quite menacing.
JL dogAfter the break Jane did some live editing showing in great detail how she achieves the effects.
Jane has kindly made some free videos available from her website so that you can follow step by step.
Demonstrating on a landscape image she showed how a texture can change the mood and colours.
Using ‘Photoshop’ Jane showed us the infinite range of blend modes and said her favourites were Soft Light, Screen and Multiply, but to try out other variants as they can give many different effects depending on the original image.
Jane showed how the cluttered background of a dog image right was transformed by painting it a suitable colour and then adding a complimentary texture.

Images enhanced using these techniques can be entered in Open and Creative club competitions so maybe members might like to have a go and rescue some good images that formerly would have ended up in the bin and make them amazing!

Frank thanked Jane for the fascinating insight into how a good image can be enhanced and changed into something really special. PM    Images © Jane Lazenby

 

 

Seeing the Light – 25 Years of Landscape and Nature Photography Techniques 1 September 2020   

Guy Edwardes 1Our 2020/21 season started with a bang on Tuesday 1st September with the welcome return of Guy Edwardes with his latest presentation entitled Seeing the Light. Despite still having to conduct our meeting's over Zoom!,
Guy set his stall out saying he had over 300 images to get through so directed us to his website for background on his photography career.
Guy started in his native Dorset with images including Colmer’s Hill, Corfe Castle and Sturminster Mill. Showing a picture of Man O’ War Bay in winter, he explained that he doesn’t use graduated filters now, preferring to take 7 bracketed images and blending them in Lightroom. An image of Durdle Door in the snow, taken with a fish-eye lens demonstrated his technique with this lens of setting the horizon in the centre to reduce distortion at the edges.
Some wide field astro photography images followed including Kimmeridge Bay, Dorchester Hill and Portland Bill. Guy explained the use of a (relatively) cheap Star Tracker to enable shots to be taken at lower ISO and aperture settings to improve the quality and structure of his photos.Guy showed us a number of images taken from a drone which helped to place the subjects in their surroundings. These included Old Harry Rocks and several Iron Age Hill Forts.
Guy Edwardes 2Some photos taken in the New Forest were followed by images in Cornwall and the Brecon Beacons. Guy recommended the Magic Seaweed App to obtain information about storms and wave heights, demonstrated in pictures of Longships Lighthouse and Portcawl. Showing landscapes in the Brecon Beacons, he explained how he uses Live View and the DOF button to achieve hyperlocal focusing.
Then on to Northumberland with images of Northern Lights and Sycamore Gap, Dunstanburgh Castle and St Mary’s Lighthouse. And then to Scotland including images at Glencoe, Etive More and various locations on the Isle of Skye and the Outer Hebrides. Many of these images demonstrated his use of slower shutter speeds to show the movement of water and to create additional drama.
After a breathtaking race around a range of world-wide locations, including Namibia, Iceland, Finland Tuscany, Provence and Slovenia, where Guy has led photography workshops, we paused for a cup of tea and a break before the second half focusing on Wildlife.
Guy Edwardes 3Starting in Costa Rica, Guy’s favourite wildlife location, he showed us a range of stunning images including frogs humming birds and bats. He described the range of equipment he uses from head torches, Godox flash units, soft boxes and snoots, to water pumps, reflection pools and a range of artificial backgrounds to achieve images focusing on the wildlife without too much of a cluttered background.
Many images were taken with very long lenses and extenders. Guy is aware that people have difficulty with achieving sharp images with such a combination and recommended using LensAlign to calibrate cameras, lenses and extenders for improved focusing and sharper images.
He also talked about the difficulties of photographing animals in the gloom of the forest canopy with high ISO, fast shutter speeds and wide apertures leading to excessive noise. He recommended using Topaz Denoise AI in post-processing to remove noise and enhance detail.
We saw lions and zebra in Africa; red foxes, red-crowned cranes and sea-eagles in Japan; snowy owls in Canada; pelicans in Greece; and golden eagles and griffon vultures in Bulgaria. Guy described which lenses he uses in which situations and how he approaches post-processing on his return. He often has little time for post-processing so he has to be very disciplined when assessing the 20-40,000 images he has, reviewing shots in groups, choosing one to check and deleting all but the best.
Guy finished by talking about his approach to macro photography, showing amazing images of spiders and fungi. With a macro lens and extension tube fitted, he uses the in-camera focus stacking facility to take lots of images with slightly different focus points and then blend them using Helicon Focus software. For example, an insect image from 25 shots at f/5.6 in 10 seconds resulted in an image that was sharp from front to back of the insect with a diffused background.
This was a wonderful, fast-paced presentation with so many high-class images it is impossible to do it justice in this article. After a question and answer session, Steve Hardman thanked Guy for a great evening and many comments from members backed up this sentiment. DF
Images © Guy Edwardes

Summer Social Event 29 August 2020   

GC Summer SocialFollowing days of inclement weather, on the 29th August a good day was forecast which allowed 12 of us to meet at St Mary’s Church at Calstone for the Annual Summer Social. Having only seen each other over zoom since lockdown it was particularly lovely to meet everyone in person again. After a brief catch up in the car park where we were able to obtain a copy of his new book (Photographing Wiltshire), Robert Harvey our organizer for the day, led the group to Calstone Combes.

GC Grasshopper Here Robert gave us a brief history on the formation of the Combes and we set forth up the slopes towards the end of Calstone Down to try and find one of Britain’s rarest insects the Wart-Biter Cricket.

The Wart-Biter appears to be very allusive but other grasshoppers, spiders and a variety of blue butterflies were much in evidence. We even spotted a green lizard but it was too quick to identify and too shy to have it’s photograph taken.

With a morning’s photography under our belts we sat and had our picnic catching up on where people had been out photographing and what they had been doing since lockdown.
GC Adonis Blue
After lunch a few left due to other commitments but the majority stayed and started climbing a more sheltered hill looking for blue butterflies. With the weather now a bit cloudier, bringing with it more wind, a game of hide and seek commenced and I think that the butterflies won.

Back at St Mary’s Church we had a quick look around the inside of the church, which is very pretty with its barreled ceiling.

Final goodbyes were said with everyone looking forward to seeing each other for our greatly anticipated zoom meeting with Guy Edwards on Tuesday. PC

Images by Gerald Clarke - Top Calstone Combes  Right- Grasshopper  Left- Adonis Blue Butterfly



Nature and Macro - 'Show and Tell' 25 August 2020   

HC woodsThis was the 7th and final Zoom session of the club’s summer season.
Many thanks to Frank Collins for organising such interesting topics and next week we start our full programme for the 2020-2021 season. Thanks also to David Eagle for hosting the Zoom meetings which helped members keep in contact with each other.
This evening was an opportunity for members to share and discuss some of their own recent Nature and Macro images and get feedback from other Club members.
Many members had used the lockdown as a chance to spend some time trying out new cameras, lenses and extension tubes and it was also a time when many members tried out some new ideas. The difficult task of capturing insects in flight was the aim of some of the members and they showed some amazing close-up images.
60 images were shown from 13 club members with a diverse range of insect, bird, mammal and flower photographs.
Helena Chambers summed up how many of us had been feeling when she showed an image of woodland flowers - right. 

"This is my favorite image from the Lockdown months, not because it is photographically brilliant, but for it's therapeutic value at the time of taking it. One month into Lockdown, and I heard we could drive a short distance to go for a local walk, so I went to a local wood to catch the end of the bluebell season. I re-live the overwhelming sense of freedom tranquility and peace I experienced when I look at this photo, after 4 weeks of solitary living, and walking the streets for exercise. Everything was wrong about it! I had the macro lens on, 45mm, on F5.6, so depth of field was too narrow, the composition was tricky as there was so much going on, and hard to pinpoint a subject, and the light was poor as it was overcast and dull. I spent 2 glorious hours there before returning to my confinement, but happy in the knowledge I could return here every day if I so wished. "

GC budFlowers were an interest for Gina Gordon and she showed some really well beautiful images including an Agapanthus just as it emerged from its bud -left

Marlis Rawlings had spent some of her time experimenting with encasing flowers in iceand photographing them as they gradually thawed - right

MR ice flowersTim Tapley showed some really detailed close-ups of insects and a Zebra Spider was particularly striking. Also into close-ups was Gill Cardy who had spent many hours patiently watching the insects that came to her pond.

Birds were an interest for David Fraser with images of woodpeckers, pheasants and a sparrowhawk that posed nicely for him.

Wildlife of all sorts had caught David Wilkinson’s eye with a delightful image of a deer and young and lots of insects that came to his newly dug pond as well as some interesting birds.

Robert Harvey showed some excellent unusual images including a Marbled White butterfly against a full moon and a view up through his meadow flowers using a fish-eye lens. Richard Jones had been experimenting with new lenses and Megan Boardman said had been taking images of insects for the first time.

David Eagle showed us an excellent image of a hare and also a deer as it looked up in a golden field of rape. Brian Appleby had several wildlife images to show and I also spent a lot of time in the garden discovering lots of insects I had not really noticed before.

Thanks to all who showed their photos and made a really successful evening to end the summer season of meetings. PM

The Southampton International Exhibition 2020 11 August 2020   

RH verreauxThe club was given the special opportunity to see the accepted and awarded images from the 107th Southampton International Exhibition of Photography which is organised by Southampton Camera Club. Entries were open to any photographer, amateur or professional, who lives anywhere in the world. The competition was judged in earlier in the year and usually there are a number of roadshows organised to show the awarded images, the exhibition and the award ceremony but due to the pandemic these had to be cancelled. Luckily they were able to hold the judging in February and get the catalogue printed before the lockdown.
Sue Dunham CPAGB APAGB, chairman and organiser of the digital roadshows has been involved with the event for the last 17 years. Using Zoom, Sue was able to give members an interesting insight into all the work involved sorting over 5,000 entries digital and print entries from 45 different countries!
Entries are divided into 6 Categories – Open print and PDI, Nature print and PDI, Mono print and Landscape PDI.
Sue recalled the difficulties sorting out entry forms wrongly completed, translation problems and even entries from photographers on the banned list - these are photographers who have been caught cheating by not following the rules or even entering other photographer’s images as their own!

RH valeClive Rathband FRPS FPSSAEFIAP DPAGB and Joan Ryder Rathband FRPS FPSSA AFIAP DPAGB, both members of Devizes CC were invited to be judges for the Nature Print and PDI’s and also the Landscape PDI’s. Clive and Joan were able to give their comments on the judging and remarked how well Southampton CC organised the Salon. Clive said it was interesting seeing the images from so many different countries. A new innovation is the use of drones which can give very different landscape views not seen before.
Sue explained how the salon type judging works with each of the 3 judges having just a few seconds to decide whether to award 2,3,4 or 5 points. No titles or authors are shown so the images need to have impact or have something special about them for the higher points to be given. The 3 judges scores are then added so that those over 11 points gained an acceptance. The top scores are then looked at again, this time with more time to decide on the awards and winners in each category. A range of awards are given - medals, ribbons and certificates of merit as well as awards for special subjects within each category. Camera technology has moved on making it easier to take good photographs but the standard of entries has soared making it a great achievement to gain an award.
As with all judging it is subjective and judges all have their preferences.
Devizes club member, Robert Harvey ARPS EFIAP entered the competition and gained 5 acceptances so very well done to him.
Frank Collins thanked Sue for sharing the images and for giving a little insight into what goes on behind the scenes and all the work it entails. Members were reminded that they could send in their Salon acceptances and awards and compete for the club Ryder Rathband Trophy. PM
Images © Robert Harvey - 'Sunrise, Vale of Pewsey' and 'Verreaux's Sifaka'

The Art of Travel Photography by Chris Upton 28 July 2020   

CU santoriniThrough the use of technology, travel photographer Chris Upton was able to give his presentation from his home in Nottinghamshire. The lockdown has resulted in the use of Zoom for virtual meetings so that we can enjoy presentations from those speakers normally too far away to visit us for a normal club evening.
Although travel is very much restricted for the time being, a good number of members and guests very much enjoyed hearing Chris’s information and tips on how to prepare for a photographic trip – whether that is a family holiday or a specific photographic trip.
Starting with the planning, Chris said do as much research as you can before you go, plan the locations and the images you would like to take to make the best use of your time away.
Organise and pack your kit carefully and check that you have everything you need. Chris emphasised that you should get to know your camera really well before you go so that you instantly know what settings are best in a variety of situations.
CU schoolLandscapes can show the iconic views and give a flavour of the country you are visiting but also consider photographing the local people. Close-up portraits of interesting characters make good images but showing some of the background gives context. Learning a few words in the local language can help engage with people.
Chris showed us a large selection of his images excellent taken at trips around the world, amazing landscapes, iconic buildings, chaotic street scenes and interesting portraits. He explained what had appealed to him about the images - how he set up his equipment and some of the settings he used. He gave lots of very useful tips about how to take the best photographs during your trip.
Chris said that travel photography is all about what we see – not what we have come to see.
Follow your plans but also be flexible the weather is sometimes against you and the sunset you planned did not happen. If it rains look out for interesting reflections. Seek out unusual details, look up or try different angles. Keep it simple and avoid background distractions.
Arrive early at your destination so that you can pick the best spot. Check before you press the shutter that the framing is correct and gives the subject some breathing space and check that the subject is exactly symmetrical if appropriate.
Try to capture the atmosphere of the area. Look out for festivals or local customs for some interesting subjects. Use a tripod when possible but nowadays the image stabilisation allows you to take excellent images hand held.
Hopefully when travel restrictions are lifted everyone can put Chris’s useful tips into practice!
Chris was thanked for a fascinating evening which showed the considerable planning involved in a successful photographic trip. PM
Images © Chris Upton  Chris Upton's website

'The Power of Personal Projects' 14 July 2020   

On 14th July, Glyn Dewis joined us on Zoom! to give his presentation on The Power of Personal Projects.
Glyn told us he started as a Photoshop retoucher in TV before moving on to take his own photos. Early advice he received as a photographer was a) if you don’t know what to photograph, then photograph everything and b) set yourself photographic projects.
Having a love of wildlife, Glyn began taking photos of animals, mostly in zoos and wildlife parks. He would then use his knowledge of Photoshop to recreate the images to show the animals in a different context, for example his images of elephants at water holes. An encounter at Monkey World with an ape that had experienced a particularly hard life led Glyn to appreciate the power of facial expressions, as seen in his image of the ape.
After seeing the film Dad’s Army, he contacted the Oxfordshire Re-enactment Group and, with their help and enthusiasm, started learning how to photograph people in uniform. Using these contacts, he contributed images to a book for a church group showing individuals with photos of themselves as young children in wartime.
This experience led Glyn to decide that he wanted to take images of British veterans of the Second World War in their homes as a full time project. So he started what became his 39-45 Portraits Project and his images can be seen on his website. 
Glyn talked us through his encounters and the stories behind the people in his photographs. The Horsa glider pilot who landed in at Pegasus Bridge in Normandy on D-Day; the 90 year old lady who, at 18, had been a radio operator in Normandy with SOE; the 99 year old who had become the youngest spitfire pilot during the Battle of Britain; to name just a few.
Glyn also talked about how he sets his subjects at ease in front of the camera, uses a remote release and silent shutter with a steady light so that the subject is not always aware of photos being taken. This was particularly useful, he said, when photographing a veteran who still suffered from PTSD after a shell landed at his feet before exploding. He also presented a short video to show how to set up lights to create a Rembrandt effect.
During the second part of his presentation, Glyn talked us through a number of Photoshop techniques, including how to create and use Look-up Tables, how to use sharpening selectively, and how to select and replace a sky. Glyn kindly provide links to his websites, Facebook and YouTube channels for his galleries and tutorial sessions which have since been made available to DCC members in a recent email.
In thanking Glyn for a wonderful presentation, Frank paid tribute to Glyn’s obvious passion for his project and the people and stories behind his images. Comments were heard on Zoom! such as “fantastic evening” and “inspirational” as everyone chimed in with their thanks to Glyn. DF


Polina Plotnikova FRPS EFIAP – 'Starting from a Blank Canvas' 30 June 2020   

Polina Plotnikova 1602 9110 22The club was delighted to have a Zoom presentation by multi award winning photographer Polina Plotnikova. Steve Hardman introduced her by saying she was a picture maker rather than a picture taker in that she starts with a blank canvas with an idea in her mind and then finds and arranges the subjects to create the image.
Polina showed images from some of the artists and photographers that inspire her. An example was the simple white backgrounds of the flower paintings by Pierre-Joseph Redouté which inspired the superb ‘White on White’ images. Another example were classical Flemish artists whose images depicted flowers, fruit and insects on dark backgrounds and Polina showed us her superb photographic versions.
Polina was recently made a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society with her panel of flower images titled ‘Past Perfect’ which very cleverly showed the beauty of the colours and forms as they aged. She explained it was not as easy as just taking images of dead flowers – she looked for the interesting shapes and textures as they decomposed and the best ways to depict them.
Her favourite photography subjects are flowers and still life as she says she is a ‘control freak’ and these subjects do not move about and she can arrange them to get exactly the appearance required. The overall composition, background, colour scheme and lighting are all very carefully thought out beforehand.
PP 1
We were shown how the subject is set up in her studio, the lighting carefully arranged and the camera setup so that she can see the camera image on a computer screen. Everything is perfected before she takes usually just one photograph. Just a minute adjustment makes all the difference and Polina takes great care over every tiny detail. Every part of the image has to be correct – the colours must blend and the viewers eye must flow around the arrangement.
Polina experiments with different lenses that can give her the image she has in mind. The Lensbaby is a favourite as the area of focus can be adjusted and soft focus can give an ethereal effect. Another technique is ‘Dancing Flowers’ where an in focus image is combined with deliberate camera movement. Most effects are taken in camera although occasionally she uses textures in post processing to give the required effect.
After the break Polina showed the work of some of the historical artists that inspire her still life photographs.
She visualises her images and then goes about finding exactly the right objects that fit her vision.Every object has to be just the right shape, size and colour to fit perfectly into the envisaged still life setting. Every part of the arrangement must harmonise and be adjusted to show to prefection.
Great care is taken with the lighting the background and the arrangement of all the props. Every object is important for the composition – anything misplaced can ruin the composition.
Members were impressed by the quality of her images and the dedication that goes into them.
Steve thanked Polina for her absolutely fascinating and inspirational insight into her approach to photography and members showed their appreciation with many messages of appreciation. Maybe members will be inspired to try out some flower and still life photography for themselves. PM

Images © Polina Plotnikova   See more images on Polina's website

Mark Pain - Award Winning Sports Photography at the Olympics and Beyond 16 June 2020   

In the second of our Zoom! Summer Programme, Devizes Camera Club welcomed Mark Pain to deliver a presentation on Sports Photography. A Nikon Ambassador, Mark is a multi-award winning sports photographer, having won the Sports Photographer of the Year Awards in 2005 and 2011. He covers a wide range of sports including football and rugby World Cups, golf Ryder Cups and athletics World Championships. He has also been involved in 4 Olympic Games, winning the Olympic Photographer of the Year award from British Airways in 2012.
MP 1Splitting his presentation into two halves covering his day-to-day activities in the first and images from the Olympics in the second half, Mark emphasised the need to be prepared before the event from a physical, technical and mental standpoint. Several of his stories associated with the images demonstrated the hard work he puts in to preparing and planning for capturing fleeting moments in the sports he attends.
Mark started by showing us an audio-visual entitled Capturing the Moment. This was a compilation of stunning sporting images taken during the course of his work, covering a full range of sports including footballers celebrating goals; rugby players at the moment before touchdown; the start of the Epsom Derby; a bobsleigh racing past a mother and child in St Moritz.
One particular image was of Tiger Woods at the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor in 2010 (see inset). Mark told us how Tiger was struggling in the heavy rain and had hit his drive way left into the rough. The marshals formed the crowd into an arc around him with the cameramen further forward encroaching on Tiger’s eyeline. Tiger then shanked his shot and the ball flew straight at Mark, hitting his camera on the front of the lens and dropping to his feet. Mark was also struggling with his camera equipment in the rain, but, having pre-focused his camera on Tiger’s head, using back-button focusing, setting his desired aperture, shutter speed and ISO, he was able to get the shot without the camera trying to focus on the ball.
During the break, Mark was asked what his favourite sport was. He said that he didn’t really have a favourite, but that he learnt about manual focusing shooting basketball in Kingston with his first camera at the age of 14. He had also enjoyed photographing table tennis in Bracknell during his youth.
MP 2During the second half, Mark talked enthusiastically about his love of photographing at the Olympics. Again, he showed us an audio-visual compilation of wonderful images as an introduction, and he told us not to give up on the picture you want and to keep going back till you get it right.
He told us how it took him 3 days of trying to get an image of a relay runner through the heat haze of the Olympic flame. How he took 4 days to get the picture he wanted of a paralympian table tennis player about to serve. And how, having failed to get a place on the photographers’ podium, he retrieved his 400mm lens and x2 converter, found a place in the crowd, pre-focused his camera and waited for Zara Phillips to lean forward to receive her silver medal from her mother, Princess Anne. He said that he just could not have got a picture like that from the photographers’ podium as he would have been looking at the back of Princess Anne’s head.
Asked what his favourite image was, Mark said that his image of a diver at the Beijing Olympics would have to be his choice (see inset). The photographers had been given seats at the 10m level (the height of the board) but the backgrounds were too messy and distracting. But this guy, who didn’t towel himself dry between dives, always had the spray of water as he tumbled through the air. So, Mark went back early the following day to see if he could photograph during the practice session. He got access to the VIP seats with a perfect view of his subject. As it was early, the auditorium lights had not been switched on which meant the background was dark with no distractions. The result is a fabulous image that is obvious reward for perseverance.
Final messages form Mark were to remember to check all your camera setting, especially when moving from one environment to another. He also said that we shouldn’t be afraid to fail as long as we work out what we did wrong and learn for next time.
Chairman Steve was effusive in his thanks, as always, saying that he had been blown away by the many of the images and had learnt a number of techniques to try out in the future. DF
images © Mark Pain


An evening of Photoshop Tuition with Clive and Joan Ryder Rathband 2 June 2020   

Image1Members were welcomed to the first of the DCC Summer bonus meetings and this one was to be a special masterclass by Clive and Joan Ryder Rathband on the use of Photoshop. Clive and Joan are both Fellows of the Royal Photographic Society and give frequent tutorials and lectures.
Nearly 40 members logged in to the meeting including some invited visitors from South Africa
Joan began the tutorial by saying that if members only learn one little thing during the evening then it will all be worthwhile! It was to be a practical hands-on in-depth demonstration of some of the Photoshop editing techniques that Clive and Joan use.
First of all, the six images chosen for the demonstration from the recent club battle which Clive and Joan judged were shown. Joan explained that she would show her method of making them ‘glow’ by using adjustment layers and the very comprehensive tools in PS. 
Joan said that the latest version of Photoshop has amazing features and was well worth the monthly charge.
After opening the image in PS then you should always remember to duplicate it before starting ant editing so that the original is always safe.
Every image is different but Joan said that she always starts by using ‘curves’ on an adjustment layer as the histogram can be carefully tweaked to increase the contrast. Go slowly and make changes bit by bit and don’t panic if anything looks wrong because you can always go back.
Using more adjustment layers and masks, areas of the image can be enhanced as needed, colours can become more saturated, using dodge and burn tools and using a soft brush, areas can be lightened or darkened. Use the opacity slider to reduce any effects if needed. Using overlays, you can further adjust the image using soft or hard light blend modes. Skies can become more defined and features made more prominent. Experiment and see the differences.
Image2










Shown are the images before any editing and how they 'glow' after editing

Take your time and use your eye to decide how far the image needs to be enhanced.
After all the adjustments the image can be sharpened but do make sure not to overdo it or halos and pale lines will appear around edges.
Always edit in colour even if you intend to convert the image to black and white. Further adjustments may be needed to enhance the contrast in monochrome images.
Finally, Joan advised members to never flatten edited images so that at any time you can go back and do further changes if required. You can look back at your original image to see the difference the editing has made.
Joan did say that there was a lot to take in during an evening especially if you had not used Photoshop before but members should repeat the process over and over to gain confidence. With a lot of repetition, members will find their preferred method and it will become much easier.
Many thanks to those whose images were edited by Joan and Clive for the tutorial. They were impressed and said that their images appeared much improved. Although, as Joan said it is up to the photographer to decide exactly how their final image should appear.
Several members had questions about using layers in PS which Joan answered. Many had not used the software before and others asked about the best way to sharpen an image. A member asked how to show 2 images side by side for comparison – Joan has since found that you click Windows/ arrange/choose - this may be useful to know.

Members thanked Clive and Joan for showing them how their images could be brought to life using the tools in Photoshop 2000.
Steve Hardman thanked Joan and Clive for the huge amount of work they had done editing the images and that it was a very worthwhile evening.
Thanks to David Eagle for hosting the meeting. Members - do log in to see the interesting speakers that the club has arranged for the next couple of months. PM
Members concentrate at home watching the tutorial on Zoom!

Image3

Annual General Meeting 19 May 2020   

The club AGM was rather different this year as members could not actually meet face to face as usual but had to meet up in a rather different 'virtual' world.
Club Chairman Steve Hardman said that it had been quite a year in many ways being busier than ever with a myriad of changes and problems, none of which could have been foreseen in September.
The club took the decision not to hold club evenings at the Sports Club from March 17, before the Covid 19 lockdown was eventually forced upon the club. At this stage it was becoming clear that it would be some time before we could meet in person again, so the committee looked at a way that we could continue the programme with ‘virtual’ meetings. The committee thought it was a good idea so, after some trials, the club has been using Zoom for competitions and speaker presentations and it has proved very popular. Using the new technical knowhow the club hopes to be able to provide “hybrid” meetings in future whereby those members who cannot attend in person can still see the evening’s
proceedings. How things will pan out during the next year is not certain, but the club is in a good position to move forward.

There were just two resolutions for members to vote on, the first proposed greater clarity of General Competition Rule 1.2 over what is and is not permissible when including other people’s ‘art’ within an image entered for competition. The resolution was unanimously approved and images submitted for competition must be entirely the work of the photographer and in composite images royalty free image banks and clipart, are not permitted. See the competition rules.

The second resolution of the evening was to clarify the charge made for Zoom meetings. Up until now members could voluntarily contribute the £2-50 charge usually paid for meetings. To maintain the quality of our programme, it is important that all attendees pay the on-the-night charge. The fees are an important revenue stream for the club, which over the year pays for our visiting speakers and judges. The vast majority of members voted to pay the charge but there was a great deal of discussion about how and when the fees could be collected whether they attend in person or via an internet meeting service such as Zoom. The club treasurer and committee will decide the best way forward.

The election of officers followed with only a couple of changes from the previous committee. Lynda Croft will take over as club treasurer and Gerald Clarke will take on the joint role of Competition secretary together with David Eagle and David Wilkinson. The full list can be seen in About Us.

Steve announced that virtual meetings will be held fortnightly during the summer.
Programme Secretary Frank Collins has  managed to very quickly find interesting topics and presenters to lead the meetings so members are very much looking forward to those. See the Programme for details.
 logo300
The club committee decided to ask members to submit ideas for a new club logo and 2 designs were put forward for a vote. The chosen design is by Pam Mullings and is a take on the glass elements in a lens and can be used on club information whenever required.

David Eagle was thanked for all his work setting up the Zoom meetings and also congratulated on his move from Beginners to the Intermediate section. Also congratulated were Sue Wadman and David Wilkinson who move up to the Advanced section.

Finally, the club was not able to present the members with their trophies in the usual way so we will very much look forward to holding that event at a future date. See the list of 2019-2020 trophy winners. PM