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Newsletter, 8 January 2018

Words from the Editor

Happy New Year to you all. Time is still flying by although my Christmas was rather quiet. The Christmas dinner worked well although we were a bit packed in at the Boathouse. It is lovely to be able to get together with people just to chat.
We are already through the first half of the year’s programme and the accumulated scores for the end of year awards are beginning to build up. For those who want to accumulate a big score you need to enter the “Three of a Kind” panel competition as the points for entering that are higher than the other competitions. Last year the standard of entries for this competition was excellent. I am looking forward to seeing this year’s entries but I really do not know what I have that is good enough to form a panel of three pictures.

We have booked a stand at Newhall Mill to advertise the club again on August Bank Holiday 27th Aug 2018. We will need prints to display and help to look after the stand so could you put it in your diary please. Visits to the mill are free and there is plenty of parking space in a nearby field.

New Hall Mill

Richard wasn’t well enough to do the planned talk on “North American Capers” so we still do not know what he got up to but Malcolm stepped in with an excellent talk and demonstration of how to create Audio Visual presentations using “Picturestoexe” and “Audacity”. Mac users can use Photomagico.
AV Basics
Malcolm Imhoff
What is an AV? Essentially it is the presentation of a sequence of photographs with an accompanying soundtrack. Audio Visual presentations, or “sequences”, can range from interpreting music, poetry or song, to stories and documentaries on subjects as varied as nature, travel and tourism, topical issues or historical events. They can be humorous, educational, campaigning, inspiring or eccentric. AV is much more than "pictures to music"! AV at its best has the power to touch people’s hearts, communicate feelings and emotions, and to change people’s lives.

Malcolm wished to demonstrate one particular type of AV which he called “Photoharmony”, the setting of pictures to music.
His first piece of advice was to choose your pictures carefully. Less is more. Select the best ones. Ditch the poor ones because they stand out. Only choose one out of three similar ones. Resize them to 1920 x 1280 px to fit projectors although 1920x 1080 is accepted. The widescreen format standard is 1400x1050. Higher resolutions are pointless.
Rule 1. All pictures should be of the same size and format and need to croppped or resized. Landscape pictures work best. Including portrait shaped pictures spoils the flow of the pictures. You can use image resize for most picures.Changes in shape or size are annoying.
If you must use different shapes and sizes group the pictures to reduce the number of changes. You could also make a composite of two or three pictures on a page with a special effect using layering to blurr them into the background one by one.
Rule 2 White borders in AV do not work. It makes th AV too bright on the edges. However rules are meant to be broken so if you want to create an old photo effect you can use them.
Rule 3 Choose appropriate music but make sure that you like it because you have to listen to it over and over whilst making the AV. You should use copyright free music but you can get a license from the Institute of Amateur Photographers to use music in copyright. It is cheap to do so. Use the start and end of a piece of music and cut the middle out if it is too long. That way you do not leave people in suspense.
Rule 4 Start with a blank slide at the beginning which lasts for 3 seconds. The last picture should be a fade out.
Rule 5 Link the composition of the pictures. Don’t use automatic arrange as it produces a boring AV. Listen to the music and match changes in the images to the rhythm and emphasis of the music.
Rule 5 Change the transitions from fade to other types to concentrate the eye on what it sees but be aware that transitions can be intrusive.
Rule 6 Zooms and pans can be used to create interest. As seen on TV zoom into a face but zoom out to give a sense of scale. Avoid alternating zooming in and out. With pans don’t make them too drawn out or long. Vertical pans can look strange unless it is something like a church tower that is being shown. You can add video. That can show perspective.
Rule 7 Avoid animating inanimate objects unless you are trying to make things look comical.
Rule 8 An AV needs a beginning , a middle and an end but it doesn’t have to be chronological. Do not write “The End” on the end but you can write a few credits.
Rule 9 Titles should be kept simple. Don’t give too much information and use a good font at the top of the screen. Good names are as important for AVs as they are for prints and DPIs.
For further help and information Malcolm recommended looking at East Midlands Audio Visual Group websites which has guides and tutorials.
If you want to enter a “Photoharmony” competition then the AV needs to be 4 minutes long.

Peter Gennard
Peter stood in at the very last minute for Tony Winfield, who has unfortunately injured his back. Luckily Peter had just the right talk already prepared which had been well received at another last minute substitution at another club. Perhaps we need to change his nickname from Chopper Gennard to the Substitute Kid.
Peter Gennard
Characteristic Pose
Peter chose to do a retrospective of his work over the years. He started when black and white was the easiest way to present your prints and he is an expert at dodging and burning in the dark room.
Peter’s summary of his very definite style is to create images of light faces against dark backgrounds. As a result he is an expert at chatting up characterful people to take portraits of them and “kidnapping” them to take pictures of them under dark bridges or passages. If he takes images of people without the correct backgrounds he uses National Trust buildings for providing the type of background he needs. He also recommended St Peter’s Church in Kinver for good pictures of grave stones.
Peter keeps himself safe whilst taking photos by going out with a friend although all the people that he has taken photos of turned out to be much friendlier than their form of dress might suggest.
He is fantastic at establishing a rapport with his models. He asks them to adopt expressions on their faces which make the picture interesting and says that portraits are all about expressions.He likes to get close up to his candidates and thinks that using a telephoto lens is not the way to do it.
As we know from his former talks he goes to the Goth gatherings in Whitby Bay. These happen in the last weekends of April and October. He also recommends the Edinburgh Fringe. Steam Punks tend to gather in the Royal Mile and like being photographed. He has been to the Blakpool Punks convention but finds that a number of the people there are a bit scruffy so it is more difficult to take pictures of them.
Peter takes every opportunity when he is abroad to take portraits of interesting people and often offers a small reward for doing so. He has also taken photos at the Stow on the Wold Horse Fair where you get gypsy caravans and people who are willing to have their photo taken.
He also makes life more simple by always producing his pictures in landscape format. They are always the same size and are always mounted in black mounts. He uses Proam to print his pictures at about a £1 a time.
His success in the world of photography has come from adopting a very definite style but that doesn’t mean that he can’t take stunning pictures of other subjects such as landscapes.
Social events
Calumet has generously donated some prizes for the quiz on Friday. I am looking forward to seeing what they are.

Competition Results
4th Competition Dec 2017

1st Roped Triangle, John Cresswell
nd Global Warming, Paul Stokes
rd Elephant’s Eye View, Alan McCormick
HC Morning Mist, Alan McCormick
C Station Team, Dave Cooke
C Pinmill Jetty, John Cresswell
C Balancing the Book, Catherine Nicholls

Projected Digital Images

st Gerbera Daisies, Steve West
nd Waiting for the Off, Dave Cooke
rd Winter Walkies, Steve West
HC Out on the Town, Ian Dean
HC Snowy Outskirts, Ian Dean
HC Sundown in the 3.45, Ian Dean
C Suspicion, Catherine Nicholls
C Chilling by the Cut, Steve West
C King Approaching , Angus Spiers
C A Winter Walk, Alan McCormick
C The Need for Speed, Alan McCormick

Leader Board

1st John Cresswell
nd Paul Stokes
rd Alan McCormick
th Dave Ballantyne
1st Ian Dean
nd Catherine Nicholls
rd Dave Cooke
th John Cresswell

Photo tips and Where to use them.
Portraits are very successful in competitions but it helps if you can go to places where people are really keen to have their photos taken. Here are three places where it is easier to take good images of interesting people. You need to develop a good rapport with people and you need to get close enough to make the portrait the most important part of the picture. Make sure the background is part of the story of the picture.
Dates of interest are:

Tewkesbury Medieval Festival 14th & 15th July 2018
The Battle of Tewkesbury took place on 4 May 1471 and was the final battle in the War of The Roses between the Houses of York and Lancaster. Prince Edward was killed either during or just after the battle and is now buried in Tewkesbury Abbey.
The Battle of Tewkesbury is now fought every year with cannons firing, swords clashing and soldiers marching. Thousands of re-enactors and medieval enthusiasts from all around the world visit Tewkesbury as part of the Tewkesbury Medieval Festival. The battleground is filled with knights in armour, warriors and townsfolk in medieval dress. Many sleep in traditional tents and cook over open fires eating typical medieval food.
The Tewkesbury Medieval Festival is the largest free medieval re-enactment and fayre in Europe. Traditional medieval entertainment is provided by jugglers, musicians, dancers and jesters. The Medieval Market is full of stall holders selling everything from musical instruments to medieval style pots and pans. It is a great family day out and an insight into living history.
  • Living history camp
  • Medieval market
  • Entertainment
  • Activities for kids
  • Beer tent - ales & cider
Location: A38 Gloucester Road, Tewkesbury Entry: Free entry, small charge for parking
Gates Open: 11am to 6pm Saturday, 11am to 5pm Sunday

North Staffs and Cheshire Traction Engine Club

Klondyke Mill, Draycott in the Clay, DE6 5GZ

June Steam Party
Engines in steam, tractors, stationary engines, cars etc.
Stalls, hot and cold refreshments
Free off-road parking
2nd & 3rd June 2018
Entry £5.00/£1.

October Steam Party

Engines in steam, tractors, stationary engines, cars, commercials etc
Stalls, hot and cold refreshments
Free off-road parking
13th & 14th October 2018
Entry £6.00/£1.50

Bonfire Party
Fire lit 7.00 pm
Display 7.30 pm
A professional pyrotechnic display, set to music with the added attraction of engines in steam.
Bar, bbq and sweet stall.       
Free off-road parking
3rd November 2018
Entry £8.00 acc. chn. free


Spetchley Park Gardens Spetchley Worcester WR5 1RS England

11 - 12 August: History Comes Alive
A fascinating family day out with battles, skirmishes and displays performed by over 650 re-enactors, and spanning eight major periods from Medieval to World War 2.

Newsletter, 7 November 2017

Words from the Editor

Doesn’t time fly. We certainly have got into the new season with a bang. I wonder if anyone got some pictures of the fireworks? Malcolm and Dave C have been successful with their AVs and we have had some interesting presentations and a practical session. The competitions are coming thick and fast. This includes the three way interclub competition between us, Aston and Erdington and North Birmingham photo clubs. We need your best pictures if we are going to get a good result out of this. We are after the W.G.Ross Trophy!
Christmas is coming up and we are booking our places for our Christmas meal at the Boathouse so if you want to be there make sure you contact Dave Williamson as soon as possible.

Dave Cooke
On Oct 20th Tricia and I visited Dublin for the Irish Photo Federation International A V cCmpetition which took place over Saturday & Sunday.
We were made most welcome and there was a strong group from England + 2 from Wales. We saw some very good AVs from Ireland (North & South), and excellent international AVs
Malcolm  Imhoff won a bronze medal for “Queen of the hills” and I was most chuffed to be awarded a certificate of merit for my “One day of history”.  The hospitality is amazing and the Guiness was terrific. No wonder Richard Brown is a regular visitor, by the way he is an Honorary Irishman Richard de Bruwn.

Dave being presented with his certificate in Ireland.

RPS National Audio-Visual Championships Sept 2017
Whilst I included the news about Richard Brown’s success in the Italian AV competition, I didn’t tell you about the club’s other national successes. Richard Brown, and Malcolm Imhoff also entered the biggest national championships in the country, the 20th RPS National AV Championships in September 2017 at Leeds. Richard won a silver medal for his AV “In Search of Christina” And Malcolm won a bronze medal for “God’s Paintbrush”. Malcolm also won a Highly Commended for “Love Will remain”, made jointly with Maggie Imhoff, and all three did very well with the audience vote for their AVs as well.

R Albright Richard Brown
RPS Vice President Robert Albright presenting a Silver Medal To Richard Brown.

Pasted Graphic 1
RPS Vice President Robert Albright presenting a Bronze Medal and a Highly Commended to Malcolm Imhoff.
Pictures courtesy of AV News.
I think we need to recognise that our club has the potential to become a real centre of excellence for producing AVs with such a successful group of club members. Not only does it give you the opportunity to tell stories, put music and commentary to your pictures but it also allows you to use the pictures that you take that would not ordinarily be suitable for print or PDI competitions. You can also do research into a subject that interests you and use pictures that other people have taken to illustrate your work ( copyright permitting).
What are your other passions, apart from photography? Have you got animals, machinery, artwork, hobbies, music, or other interests that you would like to tell the story of in an audio visual presentation? Maybe you have travelled abroad and you want to show people where you have been in an interesting way. Maybe you want to create a protest AV like the very funny one one that Richard completed about the cost of printer ink. Maybe you want to illustrate some of your favourite music?
If you want to have a go I am sure that Richard, Malcolm and Dave would be very willing to help and don’t forget FADE, our AV branch of the club.This meets informally to help members learn how to create audio visual programmes.

Talks and Pictures

Nature in Digital Pictures
Ian Andrews

Ian is a dedicated natural history photographer who specialises in taking photographs of birds and other wildlife. He must be very patient because he spends most of his time sitting in a hide waiting for the right shot. Some of his subjects like otters and dolphins proved very elusive and difficult to get good pictures of.
In order to take images of birds with unobtrusive backgrounds Ian uses a wide aperture to limit the depth of field and he takes his time to choose the right image. He uses quite a high ISO for a fast shutter speed. He uses a monopod rather than a tripod and finds a bean bag very useful for taking pictures from the car window. We were amazed to hear that he never uses RAW quality pictures and relies on jPegs
Like many dedicated wildlife photographers Ian travels extensively all over the UK but uses more easily accessed sites like Slimbridge for photographing a wide range of birds including the very rare bitterns. These are best photographed when there is ice on the water as this provides a good contrast. Slimbridge also has a vivarium for creatures like blue frogs.
Ian must have a bad experience taking photos of goats because he said they are inclined to attack if you get too close.
For those that still might have film cameras Ian announced that Kodak are re-launching Ektachrome. I wonder how popular this will become?
“The Platinum Trail”
John Cartlidge
There are some speakers that you can listen to for hours without getting bored and John is one of them. His presentation of how he got to the stage of gaining a platinum medal for entering pictures in exhibitions through FIAP, hence the p after EFIAP/p in the letters after his name (I hope I’ve got this right!), was delivered with good humour and one well used joke.
In order to get this qualification John has had to enter and gain acceptance for an enormous number of images to national and international exhibitions. The dedication to photography that this requires is huge, let alone the storage space for all the prints and equipment involved.
John presented us with a potted history of the progress he has made as a photographer over his working life. He was, as a journalist, involved in taking pictures of the Handsworth riots and reckons his best picture was of a burnt out car. He also said that as a little guy he found it easier to get to the front of the crowd to take the pictures plus it was a very frightening experience.
His hints for success in competitions were:
• Names make a picture. If you give your picture a good name that makes the judge see what the image is about it will have a positive effect on the outcome.
• Use layers to create pictures of moving objects like motorbikes. Panning the background  to use as one of the layers is a good method.
• Good places to take photos are Wiseman’s Wood on Dartmoor, the Louvre in Paris on a Sunday when it is free to enter and the Avoncroft WW11 re-enactment.
Chris, John’s wife, also deserves thanks for acting as John’s technical assistant and for supporting him in his photographic career. Her attitude is very much “If you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em”.
“Judges and Composition”
Peter Warner
I cannot possibly include all the fantastic information given to us by Peter during this presentation. Apart from everything else I can’t take notes fast enough so if you weren’t there you missed a treat.
Peter (ably assisted by his wife Sue as technical assistant) made the point “What are club competitions for?” Do they help us to improve our photography or can we do that just as well by allowing club members to run critique sessions and suggest how they might improve the images.
As a judge Peter looks at each image and comments about what he likes about the pictures and what he would do differently to make it better if it were his. He likes to view the pictures in advance and think about what he is going to say before the competition.
He awards points in the following way when judging.
Interpretation of a theme – 5 points
Creativity – 5 points
Composition and originality – 5 points
Technique -5 points
He recommended reading a technical paper by Eddy Sethna on “The Analysis of Judging” which can be found at
and quoted John Miskelly who says “You must master the rules before breaking them.”
The first thing that all photographers need to know that it isn’t the equipment that you use that makes you a good photographer. It’s the ability to “see” the picture. People can take competition winners on a phone or a compact camera.
Fancy equipment does help. Telephoto lenses help you to narrow the depth of field and create blurred backgrounds whilst wide angled lenses give a different perspective and can distort reality.
When taking pictures you need to consider light, colour, pattern, shape, abstracts, motion and view point. All of these can be used to create originality and impact if you get them right. Some of Peter’s unusual pictures were taken on the diagonal or involve supersaturated colours of multi-coloured scenes. He also uses very high or low view points and leans against lamp posts rather than using a tripod.
Places that he recommends for taking pictures are the Upton Folk Festival, where people love having their picture taken, and the Czech Republic because it is very beautiful and cheap to visit.
He gave a long list of things that judges hate but at the same time he said it is Ok to break the rules if it adds to the picture. (I’ll put the list on the notice board.)
On top of all that he illustrated his talk with stunning pictures, many of which he had taken for his own satisfaction rather than for competitions and, best of all, he is an ex Geography teacher so he knows a good landscape when he sees it.
Competition Results Competition 2
1st - Medieval Glass, John Cresswell
2nd - Sea! Eagle!, Paul Stokes
3rd - Smutty Face, Catherine Nicholls
HC - Early Morning Light, Dave Ballantyne
HC - The Coy and the Confident, Dave Ballantyne
C - Guardian, Paul Stokes  
C - The Old Mill, Dave Ballantyne
Projected Digital Images
1st - Bending Time, Catherine Nicholls
2nd - The String Section, Alan  McCormick
3rd - Museum View, Dave Cooke
HC - Winter Warmer , Paul Stokes  
HC - The Last Train Home, Paul Stokes  
C - Mountain Music, Ian Dean
C - Sun and Showers, Ian Dean
C - Coventry Cathedral Colours, John Cresswell
Leader Board

1st - John Cresswell, 24points
2nd - Paul Stokes, 22 points
3rd - Alan McCormick & Dave Balllantyne, 20 points
1st - Catherine Nicholls, 27 points
2nd - John Cresswell, 23 points
3rd - Dave Cooke , 16 points

3rd Competition
Judge: Paddy Ruske
Paddy who is an ex member of Fentham Photographic Society (before it changed its name to Sutton Coldfield Photography Club) started off the evening by telling us about a recent judge’s workshop that he had been on. He came up with some really good tips about what judges want to see in successful images in the future. The tips were:
Do not over whiten eyes and highlights in the eyes need to look natural.
Landscapes should not enhanced with HDR effects as it alters the lighting and makes it look wrong. Also landscapes should not be too green or too oversaturated.
Regularly photographed groups such as the Ragged Victorians are not liked as there are too many of them. This includes regularly used sites such as the Black Country Museum.
The rules on Natural History images have been tightened up to prevent people from altering the images. The original RAW image must be presented with the final print. There are also requirements to present images on either side of jPeg images.
Pictures of swans in Natural History are also not liked as they are too common.
The rules for Natural History competitions are strict and quite complicated so if you do want to enter one of these competitions read the rules before you take the pictures.
When it comes to open competitions you are free to do whatever you like to create a winning image as it is regarded as an art form.
As a judge Paddy is very constructive and positive with his remarks. Some of tips were very useful. He pointed out that you must be careful how you place hands so that they do not seem large in comparison to the rest of the body. Hands look larger when they are closer to the lens.
He also said that you need to be careful when publishing pictures of military enactments because knowledgeable viewers might be upset if the kit is not absolutely right. He also prefers enactors to be younger rather than older to reflect the correct age of the soldiers who would have been fighting at the time.
He likes the subjects of pictures to be arranged in triangles and also says that pictures being entered for European competitions should read from left to right whereas entries to Asian competitions, where the written language is read from right to left, should also read from right to left.
Paddy also talked about how to light glass. He said that the source of light should be above and in front of the camera pointing down at the subject to avoid glare on the glass. He also mentioned using “Black Light” which he did explain. If you want to know how that works then we will have to rebook him to run a practical session for us so look out for that. Alternatively I can tell you about it when you come to a meeting.

Competition 3 Results


1st - Disconnected Commuters on MCR, Dave Ballantyne
2nd - Postmill and Wheel, John Cresswell
3rd - Return at Dusk, Paul Stokes
HC - Winter Walkers, John Cresswell
HC - A man and his Engine, Catherine Nicholls
C - The Joy of the Blues, Alan McCormick
C - The Book Man, Dave Ballantyne
Projected Digital Images
1st  - The Blues Singer, Alan  McCormick
2nd - Blowing Bubbles, Bob Robertson
3rd - Vintage Look, Ian Dean
HC - Old ‘Uns Resting, Angus Spiers
HC - A Wet Start, Dave Cooke
HC - Warden’s Words, Dave Cooke
HC - Wastwater, John Cresswell
HC - New Street Commuters, Steve West
2nd Leader Board
1st  - John Cresswell, 40 points
2nd - Dave Ballantyne, 33 points
3rd - Paul Stokes, 32 points
4th - Alan McCormick, 28 points

1st - Catherine Nicholls & Ian Dean, 33 points
3rd - John Cresswell, 32 points
4th - Dave Cooke , 28 points
Photo tips
If you want to use a bean bag when you are abroad but your luggage is already over weight then buy some rice or lentils at your destination and put them in a poly bag. You can throw them away when you have finished with them, or cook them if you are self catering.

Newsletter 4, May 2017

Words from the Editor

I don’t know about you but the end of the club year seems have come on shockingly fast this year. I wasn’t ready for the first competition in September, probably because summer was too relaxing and I had been away too often. We seem to have belted through the competitions at a rate of knots far in excess of usual, and the final competition “Old Birmingham” meant dashing around at the last minute to try and get something put together.

At the same time I’ve managed to have a few ideas for next year that I would like to get done now so that I’m not in so much of a rush next September.I’ve also found that it is a good idea to keep photos that you do not think are good enough for competitions because they might come in handy as backgrounds or source material for ideas in the future.

I am also thinking about having a go at producing some AVs of the places I have been to recently. After all we do have some of the best experts on producing AVs in our club who are always willing to help. We did a bit better in the inter club competition hosted by Yardley coming second rather than last and, as I predicted, the Fiddle a File Competition was a real laugh, if somewhat brief due to the lack of entries. We did, however get to see the digital photos from the M.C.P.F portfolio which gives us a chance to see what other clubs are producing.

If anyone is interested in buying cheap lenses and cameras, even digital ones, it might be worth looking at the catalogue, online, for Winterton’s Auctioneers, Lichfield. I was amazed to see boxes of lenses, equipment and cameras of all types and ages going for a few pounds. I thought that amongst all the junk there might be some useful items that might be worth bidding for. You could always take what you wanted out and put the rest back to be auctioned again.

I’ve also found that it is a good idea to keep photos that you do not think are good enough for competitions because they might come in handy as backgrounds or source material for ideas in the future. I am also thinking about having a go at producing some AVs of the places I have been to recently. After all we do have some of the best experts on producing AVs in our club who are always willing to help.

We did a bit better in the inter club competition hosted by Yardley coming second rather than last and, as I predicted, the Fiddle a File Competition was a real laugh, if somewhat brief due to the lack of entries. We did, however get to see the digital photos from the M.C.P.F portfolio which gives us a chance to see what other clubs are producing.

If anyone is interested in buying cheap lenses and cameras, even digital ones, it might be worth looking at the catalogue, online, for Winterton’s Auctioneers, Lichfield. I was amazed to see boxes of lenses, equipment and cameras of all types and ages going for a few pounds. I thought that amongst all the junk there might be some useful items that might be worth bidding for. You could always take what you wanted out and put the rest back to be auctioned again.

After so many years of being chairman of the club Dave would like someone to take over. He and Pat have done so much for the club over the years that you may be worried that the job is too big to take on. However it is possible to split up the jobs that Dave and Pat have done and make the job of chairman less onerous than it is at the moment.

If you feel that you could do some of those jobs or volunteer to be nominated as chairperson please come to the AGM and discuss the matter. The club needs all its members to come to the AGM. Bring your new ideas for taking the club forward. It’s a lovely, friendly club which needs looking after.

We have booked a gazebo for the monthly outdoor exhibition at Newhall Mill on September 10
th. Volunteers and prints will be needed to help set up the display. This is a really good way of publicising the club to potential new members as well as an opportunity to take some good pictures. This is free publicity for the club. Entry to the mill is free and there is a car park in the field next to the mill.

Spetchley Park
12 - 13 August: History Comes Alive, 10am-5pm Saturday, 10am-4pm Sunday. A fascinating family day out with battles, skirmishes and displays performed. There will be over 650 re-enactors spanning eight major periods from Medieval to WWII. Visit the web site to check this out.
Adults £8.00, 5-16 yrs £3.00, under 5's FREE, family (2 adults & 2 children) £20.00

Talks and exhibitions
The talk on Western Australia and the Northern territories by Tony Broom proved to be both interesting and amusing. It gave us a real insight into the landscape and nature of the west coast of Australia which I have never seen before. The wild life pictures were particularly fascinating with some excellent shots of some wonderful birds, or as Tony called them, Ducks sitting on sticks. For someone who does not regard himself as a wildlife specialist he can do a pretty good job.

He also told about keeping safe in the sea. If the sharks don’t get you there are poisonous stinging jelly fish and sea going crocodiles to avoid. These are called Salties and they are much more aggressive than the fresh water crocs who tend to hide when there are humans about. The only safe places to swim seem to be inland in rivers with waterfalls that crocs can’t climb. What a shame because the sandy beaches stretch for miles.

He also told us about the incredible distances that you have to travel to get from one place to another and the very flat nature of the countryside in between hills. The talk also conveyed something of the type of lifestyle that people have in the towns and the architecture both old and new.

“Pictures wot I like” by Dave Tucker and his wife showed, not only their dedication to taking good pictures but also a wide range of interests. Landscapes, portraits, re- enactments were all part of their show. They also gave us information about good places to go for photography. One of those not mentioned before was the ragged Victorians at SS Great Britain in Bristol. The poses were so good that I have looked up the Ragged Victorians web site and found the following dates which might be of interest to you.
April 29th to May 1st : 'SS Great Britain' @ Bristol.
August 5th/6th : 'Cromford steam rally' @ Brackenfield, Nr Matlock, Derbyshire.
October 28th/29th : 'SS Great Britain' @ Bristol.
The  main web address is:

“The Big Picture” by John and Dinah Hartshorne was a fantastic way to finish the year. Above all Dave and Dinah like taking landscapes which seem generally out of fashion at the moment.

Dinah’s interest in piers shows that you can take some absolute stunners of some of the piers around the UK. She believes in simplicity and uses Nik Effex to process her pictures. She showed several pictures of Boscombe pier in Norfolk.

John’s pictures of Iceland were beautiful, moody and different, but what made them extra special was printing them as big pictures with no surrounding mounts apart from a white border. His tips for taking pictures in Iceland were to beware of enormous tidal and wave surges on the beach. Also you should use a tripod with spikes on when taking pictures on permafrost. That will stop your tripod moving during long exposures.

John uses metallic paper for printing infrared prints and pure white paper for black and white. He says that PF lustre paper doesn’t scratch so easily as gloss and is therefore better for prints that are going to be shown at talks and exhibitions.

When taking pictures for panels he plans in advance what he is going to take. One excellent example of this was the panel of the Old Chevrolet which looked like a suit of armour with arms.

John uses tide tables for taking pictures on the Thames and beaches and Photographer’s Empheris to work out where the light is coming from in any part of the country.

It was also lovely to welcome so many members of Trinity Photography Club who had come as guests to see John and Dinah’s first showing of their new collection of prints.

Fiddle a File
This was a fun evening as expected with the difficulty of the pictures presented as source material encouraging members to come up with some really original ideas.

Richard admits to using about 45 layers to place suits of armour across the battlements of a castle. Dave Cooke decided to barbecue some re-enactors from Blists Hill. The castle was turned into a pub and someone produced a very cheeky speech bubble outside the Irish pub. Malcolm and Dave created two AVs which raised a laugh.

Set Subject Competition “Old Birmingham”
Judged by Peter Clark this competition proves to have been quite a challenge to those who participated. However there were some excellent and novel ideas presented and Peter had to take his time when deciding who to choose as winners.

Judging both the set subject and deciding on the prints and DPI of the year is quite a task for the appointed judge as it means looking through a lot of pictures and making some very fast decisions. Many thanks are due to Peter and to judges who have done the job this year and in the past.

Set Subject Results - Prints:

1st – Monuments to the Past – Alan McCormick
2nd – Last One Standing – Alan McCormick
3rd – Broad Street Bridge – Dave Cooke

Highly Commended – Moseley Baths in Peril – John Cresswell
Commended – Newhall Mill – Dave Ballantyne
Commended – Old Pubs in Birmingham – Dave Cooke
Commended – Old Town Hall, Handsworth – Henley Wheadon

Set Subject Results – DPI’s:

1st – Newman’s Coffin Museum – Bob Robertson
1st – Newman’s Coffin Museum – Bob Robertson
2nd – Birmingham Narrow Boat  Dave Cooke
3rd – Gas Street Moorings – John Cresswell

Highly Commended – Survivor – Ian Dean
Commended – Remaining Few – Dave Cooke
Commended – Terminus – Ian Dean
Commended - 19th--20th—21st – Paul Stokes
Commended – Aston Hall – Steve West

Image Of The Year:

Print – He’s Forgotten The Words – Alan McCormick
DPI – Street Player – Ian Dean

Competitions  Final Scores (1st, 2nd & 3rd) - Prints:

1st – Dave Cooke – 93 pts
2nd – Alan McCormick – 87 pts
3rd – Dave Ballantyne – 73 pts

Competitions  Final Scores (1st, 2nd & 3rd) – DPI’s:

1st – Catherine Nicholls – 85 pts
2nd – Ian Dean – 81 pts
3rd – John Cresswell – 80 pts

Once again we have sent pictures to Smethwick PS for possible inclusion in the Photofolio. We had two PDIs in last year. Hopefully we will get some more in again this year. The club visit will be in June on a date yet to be organised.

If you have never been to see the exhibition because you need a lift or you don’t know where it is held call me using the number on the 2017 programme and I will see what I can arrange.

Studio Night

On Friday March the 10th We held “An Evening with Tony Rabin Photography” Enjoying Tony's insights into studio portraiture and an innovative lighting set-up with a model.
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Newsletter 3, March 2017

Words from the Editor

After one bout of rather nasty bronchitis, a week in Cornwall, a computer crash and redecorating the lounge I haven’t had a lot of time to write a newsletter since November. No wonder I feel out of touch. I missed the SCPC Club Supper but I note that from the pictures that Peter Gennard had a good time. And those that were able to go looked as though the event was a good one. Click here to see the Social Events Page for pictures!

I was told that the Travelling Portfolio went well because everyone was invited to critique the prints. As this took all evening no one saw the PDIs so we have them in reserve to show another time. I shall look forward to that.

We haven’t done too well in the inter club competitions but the standard of some of the pictures that beat us were very good and very suited to the tastes of the judges.
I was absolutely blown away by the standard of the prints in the Three of a Kind competition. I would even go as far as to say that they would look lovely on the wall of my hall.
I do not know if anyone will miss the leader board that I usually do but the writing on one of the print entry forms was difficult to read so the points for that competition haven’t come to me yet. Maybe the names of the entrants and the prints should be printed rather than in hand writing?
Thanks to those who sent in pictures for FAF 2017. I would have liked a few more to choose from so I hope that you will find them to your satisfaction. For those who do not enter FAF it enormous fun and a great way to learn about how to use Photoshop or any other app that allows you to manipulate pictures.

We have booked a gazebo for the monthly outdoor exhibition at Newhall Mill on September 10th. Volunteers and prints will be needed to help set up the display. This is a really good way of publicising the club to potential new members as well as an opportunity to take some good pictures.
Dave C took some really good pictures at the Spetchley Re-enactment last year and recommends it as a place to go in the summer break.
12 - 13 August: History Comes Alive, 10am-5pm Saturday, 10am-4pm Sunday. A fascinating family day out with battles, skirmishes and displays performed by over 650 re-enactors, and spanning eight major periods from Medieval to WWII.
Adults £8.00, 5-16 yrs £3.00, under 5's FREE, family (2 adults & 2 children) £20.00

Judge’s Tips
If you look back through old newsletters you will find that I have given a summary of the tips that judges give whilst judging competitions. Many of the tips are the same from judge to judge but I am still trying to pick out anything new that I have not mentioned before. This is also aimed at the less experienced members of the club (like me) who need to find out what makes a good competition picture.
Borders seem to raise a few issues with some judges liking borders that have a colour related to the print. The width of the border is important. It must not be too wide as it distracts from the picture and it must be a uniform width. Some judges do not seem to like borders but then again it depends if the border adds something to the presentation of the image.
Eyes in people, animals and birds are an ever recurring topic for judges. Two very sharply focused eyes in portraits of people and animals seem to be essential. Judges do not like closed eyes and sun glasses (even if that is part of the story the picture is telling).
Vignetting has to be subtle. They are liked because they draw the eye back into the picture. White vignettes seem to less popular with some judges.
Backgrounds to PDIs produced some interesting comments. The use of textured backgrounds or subtle treatments of the original picture seem to be liked but as usual the background must not detract from the picture.
Once again some judges raised the idea that too much green is a problem. I wonder what they would say if the theme for the end of year competition was Green?
Story telling is a real favourite amongst judges and getting in close to your subject. Simple pictures, to the point of starkness are really well liked and anything that is different or an attempt at a new idea. Judges see the same old thing over and over again. This has two effects. The judges begin to develop a rather rigid taste for what they think is a good competition picture and get bored with seeing the same old thing over and over again.
As usual judges do not like highlights near the edges of pictures, or distracting spots, objects or clutter in pictures.
Pictures that were very successful in interclub competitions are often studio pictures set up by Smethwick Photography Club. Large clubs can afford to book very experienced models. Smethick has facilities which any one can use on a Monday evening. There is a session run for people from any club. You can go along with your lap top, your questions, your photographic problems and get advice and help from the very experienced photographers who might be there that night. There is a small fee. You can also get help using the studio, the backgrounds and the lighting.  There is a bar and tea and coffee.
One issue that has arisen as a result of Graham Walton’s comments on our pictures is that processing pictures often produces haloes around objects. He says that you need to get rid of these by magnifying the picture and then cloning them out.
Graham made his judging criteria very clear at the beginning of the competition. He is looking for correct exposure, sharpness where relevant, story, emotion, inventive lighting and if possible, something unique. He wants to see something of the photographer in the picture, an individual style maybe or a hint of the personality of the photographer.

Talks and exhibitions
“Every picture tells a story” by Louise Hill was a brilliant example of how to take pictures that do well in competitions. They are also good to look at. The title of the talk gives away the point that she was trying to make and this reflects one of the most often recurring judge’s comments. Louise also said that judges are fallible and subjective!
Louise works for Permajet and spends a lot of time away taking photographs, especially on remote islands with abundant wildlife. She also takes people on photography courses and gives good advice on how to avoid being dive bombed by birds. She likes pictures with people in but does not like too much processing of pictures, especially skies.
“It rained in Namibia” by Simon Palmer prove to be a very different kind of photography. Simon specialises in horse and wildlife pictures and has a long history as a professional photographer. But this talk was specifically about wildlife in Namibia and his work with Africat..He takes pictures that he likes rather than for competitions.
He spoke about the need to educate the local people about the human/animal conflict and the need to take action to conserve environments and animals in danger. The charity have fitted radio collars to elephants. These track them and send texts to warn of very fast movement or stillness. They then know if an elephant is running away from poachers or has been killed. Each collar costs £3000.
He showed some stunning pictures of leopards, cheetahs, lions and other animals as well recounting stories about times when he had got a bit too close to danger for comfort. We now know how to tell the difference between leopards and cheetahs. Cheetahs have a distinct tear line under each eye. He also told that us that it possible to tame cheetahs and some people keep them as pets. This is not possible with other large cats.
He was concerned about petting zoos where visitors are encouraged to stroke wild animals who are being kept in captivity solely to make money. The animals are then taken to be shot for sport.
Simon sells pictures of the animals and gives part of the fee back to the nature reserves in Namibia. He will also give his fee for giving our talk to the wildlife charities in Namibia.
A link to his site:

“Fade Assortment” AV’s SCPC has a reputation for achieving real success in the AV world with Richard Brown, Malcolm Imhoff and Dave Cooke producing some of the best AVs in the country. Richard and Malcolm have gained their FRPS qualifications through presenting their AVs. Richard is giving a talk in Cardiff to the South Wales Audio Visual Group in April. If you want to get involved with producing your own AVs you can some of the best advice available in your own club! Once again the presentation showed us the variety of themes that you can create with an AV from Richard’s humorous take on the cost of printer inks to Dave’s AV on traction engines. You can incorporate beautiful music, interesting commentary, bird sound, art work, other people’s pictures, historical documents, videos, animations and anything which enhances the presentation. You are only limited by your imagination and creativity. One of the advantages of producing an AV is that you can use pictures that cannot be entered for competitions. That means all those hundreds of pictures that didn’t quite work have a use. What better way of making your own record of family celebrations or holidays that can be shown on a TV, lap top, tablet or phone? There is also the advantage that it is a cheap hobby with no printing costs.
If you want to have a go then you need to download a program called Picturestoexe to deal with the pictures and Audacity to deal with the sound files. I’m going to have a go and maybe I’ll pop along to the Fade meetings when I’ve got something to get some help with. If you want to find out more go to
http://www.rps.org/special-interest-groups/audio-visual/about. You can also see examples on this site including one by Malcolm Imhoff called “Giant Steps”.

  • Fiddle a File
  • Why do it?
  • - It makes you investigate tools in photoshop or other photo processing programs that you wouldn’t necessarily use.
  • - It develops your photo processing skills.
  • - It encourages you to use your imagination.
  • - You can create amusing or artistic images.
  • - It is a fun activity that is not so competitive and serious as the other competitions.
  • - No other club does it as far as I know but they think that it is a good idea.

Newsletter 2, November 2016

Words from the Editor
I don’t know if it is just me but the speed with which competitions come up between September and Christmas always takes me by surprise. No sooner than I have got one lot of pictures ready than I have to start work on the next lot, as well as trying to sort out the problem of printers that have either broken or do not do what I expect them to do.
I have also been trying to capture some decent photographs of the magnificent autumn colours that we are seeing this year. This has proved to be a learning experience, not only in the use of my camera, but also in where to go and at what time of day. I have also learned how much time and effort the speakers that show their work to us must spend in order to put a talk together. I’m beginning to wonder if they spend any time at home at all.
I’ve also enjoyed yet another excellent weekend away with the club to the Somerset Levels and would like to thank Ian and Barbara for arranging excellent accommodation and places to dine as well some lovely and very photogenic places to visit. Wells and Stourhead are both beautiful and interesting.

I have put a copy of an article about photography and the Law on the noticeboard and there is a summary and a web link further on in this newsletter.
I have also had a lovely email from Lynne Holland which I have put on the notice board as it is addressed to you all.

Leader Board Competition 2
Print competition
Dave Cooke
Alan McCormick   John Cresswell
Dave Ballantyne Syd Butterworth Catherine Nicholls
DPI competition
John Cresswell
Dave Cooke
Ian Dean
Angus Spiers     Steve West

Leader board Competition 3
Print competition
Dave Cooke
Alan McCormick   D Ballantyne
Catherine Nicholls  John Cresswell
DPI competition
D Cooke  C Nicholls
J Cresswell
Ian Dean

(All of these are subject to checking by someone who can add up better than me.)

Judge’s Tips
Our second judge this year was Barbara Lawton. It is very encouraging for us ladies to have a female judge or speaker because photography does seem to be a bit biased towards male participation.
Barbara is very clear about what she thinks makes a good photograph. She is looking for pictures that tell a story and, if possible, stir the emotions. Unusual subjects and innovative ideas also score well for her plus all the usual things that judges like and recognise as skill.
It seems that landscapes only do well if they are exceptional with something about them that makes them out of the ordinary.

Talks and exhibitions
Astrophotography Alan Ledbury
I didn’t think this talk would be so useful to me as I do not want to take photographs of the stars. However, Alan is a natural teacher and was able to explain the workings of different types of camera, from phone cameras to DSLRs so clearly that I learned much more than I expected. He also explained very clearly how to adapt cameras to take good photos of objects in space and the best locations to do so. If you want to know where the darkest, least light polluted places are he recommended buying the “Philips Dark Skies Map” which shows areas of heavy light pollution.
Another useful tip was to make a temporary “tripod” or stand for your camera by filling a bag with sand. This means that you can avoid carrying heavy bean bags in your luggage when flying. He also suggested using a bottle of water to a tripod to steady it when taking pictures that need absolutely still cameras.
He also told us that buying a cheap 70mm telescope (£140) would mean that it will probably be made of plastic. This makes it light and so it will flap about making it impossible to take good pictures of stars. If you are keen to take this up as a hobby he recommended buying a Vixen 8” Computer controlled, motorized model second hand. You would expect to pay about £1000 for it.
Another suprising tip was that you can attach webcams to telescopes by unscrewing the front and screwing it to the telescope. Web cams cover a small area so can be used to create a fantastic amount of detail. Apparently bar code scanners work as well.
Proper astronomy cameras have to have a cooling system to avoid infrared heat affecting the internal computer and showing up on the picture. With a DSLR you can adapt the camera by replacing the lens with an adapted steel pipe and a 90 degree adaptor. The fewer lenses the light has to pass through the better as they cause flare. Also Canon EOS cameras are really good for taking photographs of the sky because they have rotating live view screens. Live view can also be seen if you plug your camera into a lap top and use WiFi.
Cameras can be adapted to absorb more light but this has to be done by a professional. The colour and infrared filters have to be removed but you can create colour pictures by using colour filters and taking multiple pictures of the object you want to photograph. You need to take hundreds of pictures of the same object in black and white then a few pictures using the coloured filters to create the colours. Alan recommended using a “stacking” app to process the pictures automatically.
Above all you must use special filters to take photos of the sun to prevent eye and camera damage.
If you want to learn more then Walsall Astronomy Club has open days and goes to Barr Beacon as a group to take photographs on clear nights.
Weekend Away
Once again we had a lot of fun on the annual weekend away which, this year, took place in the Somerset Levels near Wells. We had a fantastic and friendly welcome from the staff at Doublegate Farm in Lower Godney. The welcoming tea/coffee and cake were a really good introduction to a lovely place to stay. It even had a games room with a full sized snooker table, table tennis, children’s toys galore, books and loads more things to keep everybody occupied. We soon found out who had spent his youth playing snooker but it took hours for the first, non scoring game to finish.
The nearby pub is a very interesting place. The décor ranges from toy robots to cartoon posters, National Express posters, stuffed animals and dolls. It is really eccentric. The food is prepared in a proper chef’s kitchen and is really good. It is really lively with a disc jockey of character as you can see in the picture below. It’s a great place if you like dancing as they clear the floor later in the evening. You can also fill your own glasses with cider from barrels opposite the bar.

Ian with the DJ


We also ate in the Pheasant Inn not far away. This serves great pub food in huge quantities. Those of us that had belly pork had a piece of meat the size of a Sunday joint.

The Pheasant Inn

Well what about photography you might ask? We spent Saturday in Wells where there is a very interesting market and lots of characters in the street. The Medieval street and the cathedral are really photogenic and some fantastic pictures were taken.
On Sunday we went to Stourhead, a National Trust property well known by photographers, for the landscaped gardens with temples, grottos and fantastic views across the lake. Some of the pictures have already appeared in the competitions.
If you want to go away for few days taking photos then we all recommend Wells and the area around it.
Photography and the Law
Steve has sent me a link for advice on the legal aspects of taking photographs in public places. The link is:
This is a long article but I thought I would pick out a few points that would be useful to know.
Knowing your rights
Taking photos in some sensitive places may cause security guards to come and tell you to stop taking photos. Whilst they might be able to do this on private property such as shopping centres they do not have the right to confiscate any of your equipment, or to demand that you delete your images. Only the police can seize your equipment or demand that you delete your pictures, and only if you are under arrest. They can also stop and search you only if they suspect that you are in possession of items that might be used to commit a crime.
Also security guards cannot stop you from taking photos on public property. If they try to remove you they are committing and offense.
You can legally photograph private property whilst standing on public property but you need to respect personal privacy.
At public events you should put your camera away if asked by staff. It is legitimate for them to ask you to leave if you refuse to do so.
You do not need special permission to photograph children in a public place (as long as the pictures are not intended for commercial or illegal purposes) but you should seek permission from parents or guardians.
Taking pictures in mosques, temples or churches or other religious sites can be contentious so be sensitive.
Be careful not to obstruct paths and roadways.
Be careful with captions where people are concerned, especially if your picture is likely to be posted on a web site. (It is my personal view that you also need to be sensitive when making comments about people in photographs. What would you say about them if they could hear you?)
You do not need permission to take pictures of people if you are standing on public property unless they are doing something that might be considered as private. If you intend to sell the pictures then you must obtain a model release.
Most shopping centres, parks, stations and churches are privately owned. You can be asked to leave and you can be removed using reasonable force if you refuse to go.
Taking flash photos and using a tripod on station platforms is not normally permitted. You may need a permit for taking pictures at an airport. Shooting airside or near security gates is not a good idea.
Some public monuments are protected by by-laws preventing images of them from being sold for commercial use. Street signs, logos and public artworks are protected by copyright law. You need to obtain permission from the copyright owner if you intend to sell your pictures.
Avoid taking pictures of sensitive buildings such as military bases, nuclear power stations and government buildings. You might be asked to explain yourself if you linger too long near the Houses of Parliament. This a particular sensitive issue for plane spotters in foreign countries.
I hope that is useful. I intend to get some cards made to give to people when I take photos of them, especially if they might want a copy sent to them.

Printing Tips
There will be more to follow in the next news letter but this tip is so useful I thought would include it in this issue. To get pure black and white prints on a six ink cartridge printer you can tell the printer to print the picture as text on plain paper. You will need to lighten the picture if it is dark or darken it if it is light to get maximum detail in the dark or light areas but it gets rid of the colour cast caused by the printer using all the colour inks to produce black.

Open Day

Photos (by Steve West) from our open day held on the 1st of October 2016

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Newsletter 1, October 2016

Words from the Editor

Welcome to the start of a new season and our new name and logo. I hope you had a good summer and took lots of great photos. On the one hand the time has flown by and on the other it seems like ages since the last club meeting.
Over the summer members of the club have been working hard to complete the changeover of the club name and website, and lots of effort has been put in to advertise the Open Day on October 1st. People have already begun to express interest in the activities of the club so we hope that we will attract some new members.
Meanwhile Dave Cooke was wondering if his and Pat’s lifetime honorary membership applied now that we have changed our club name. After all the hard work and commitment they have put into the club and the work that that they are continuing to do they thoroughly deserve to be honorary members of SCPC. All Dave has to do is remember to say SCPC instead of FPS when he introduces the meetings.
I am looking forward to another really good season of meetings and I hope to improve my photography. I would like to say thank you to all those who work hard to make it possible.


Trophy Presentation
Alan McCormick was not able to attend the AGM so he has been presented with his two Print trophies in the summer at home, together with two engraved glasses, the last presentation from FPS.

The theme for the end of year competition is “Old Birmingham”.
A small loss was made by the club last year so it was deemed necessary to put up the membership fees to £25 annual fee and £3 per session plus £4 for visitors.
It was also decided that guests could make two visits before being asked to pay a membership fee.
It was also decided that it was important to attract new members. This was to be done by renaming the club as Sutton Coldfield Photography Club, which better reflects the location of the club and to hold an Open Day on October 1st 2016.

New Website

Our new Sutton Coldfield Photography Club website is here!

You can find the new website at suttonphoto.club or www.suttonphoto.club It is best viewed using the Firefox, Google Chrome or Safari web browsers and also works well on smartphones and tablets.

The welcome page has been specifically designed to encourage prospective new members to visit a club meeting. I was personally thrilled when we had our first new membership enquiry through the site on the day after the website was launched.

A feature of the website is the members’ gallery page. Clicking on any image on this page will open the image and display it in a slide show format complete with a caption and credit for the author. The idea behind this page is for members to send their work for inclusion on it. This is a non-competitive activity within SCPC so please send in even your most experimental work. Images for the page should be 640 x 480 (or 48 x 640) pixels @ 72 ppi. If your image does not crop to these proportions please send it to me anyway and I will mount it onto a black background in the same way as the images already on the page. I plan to maintain the page at around a couple of dozen images, with the most recent at the top of the page. Please send your images to me at paulhstokes@me.com

The website also features an improved upload page for digital competition entries and a recent winner’s page which displays images at the full size of the browser window. Please send me digital images of your winning prints for inclusion on this page. Digital winners will be sent to me by the Competition Secretary.

No website is ever finished so please contact me with any suggestions you may have for improving our club website.

Paul Stokes
Vice Chair

Entering DPI Competitions

Please rename file before submission to include Your Name%Image Title.jpg
(e.g. Joe Bloggs%Sunset.jpg This is then ready for our new Judging and Projecting programme also please advise the number of times the image has been submitted in internal competitions with email entries.
Entries - Each internal competition allows a maximum of three entries in both prints and projected images. Prints should be brought on the competition night and titles added to the appropriate entry list. Projected images should be entered as email attachments and must be with the Internal Competitions Secretary one week before the competition date. Email entries should currently be sent to suttoncomps@gmail.com
Alternatively images can be handed to the Internal Competition Secretary, on CD, flash drive or memory card one week before the competition date. Label with name for return.

Regards Dave C

Weekend Away

We are booked in at Doublegate Farm, Lower Godney, Wells, BA5 1RZ.

To avoid the problems experienced last year, please note that Kate, Paul, Martin, Beryl, Pat and Roy are in the main house. Pat, Dave, Barb and myself are in the riverside rooms.
Our Friday evening meal will be at The Sheppey Inn, just next door to where we are staying (staggering distance). It's a bit quirky but the food comes highly recommended.
Our Saturday evening meal will be at The Pheasant, a lovely Pub/Restaurant not too far from our accommodation (approx. 5 miles - Postcode: BA5 1LQ).
I will be contacting The Pheasant as I think we may need to give them our food choices prior to the day; I will let you know.
Whilst we are away I propose the following as great places for us all to visit:
Wells Cathedral
Stourhead (National Trust)
I am sure you will have some more to add to the list and if anyone has any other ideas, please let me know.
Ian Dean

Camera Repairs
I have been given this contact address for a company that does camera repairs. It may be useful to some of you.

Regional Repair Centre

Digital Ramblings Sept 9th

Paddy Ruske, the first lecturer of the year gave a very interesting talk which gave a huge amount of really good tips about photography. I thought that those who were not at the talk might be interested to read about them.
His first topic was how to photograph sports activities and how to earn money whist doing it.
He found it difficult to take good photos of bowlers and the bowls they were rolling so he concentrated on the bowlers themselves. As a result of this he was asked to take photos to give players feedback on their technique and for this he was paid a decent sum of money.

When taking pictures of cyclo-cross he uses a telephoto lens, rather than a wide angle lens, in order to cut out the white tape used to mark out the track. Cyclists also wear crazy helmets which make for very lively and interesting portraits. He used a tent to provide a white background and put a helmet on a sports car bonnet to achieve a rather startling effect.
He also found that sportsmen are often very keen to buy copies of pictures taken of themselves. This particularly applies at small rugby matches where the clubs and players are prepared to buy them for £10 to £20 each. The best pictures are taken when the players are covered in mud. Both action and portrait pictures are easier to take because you can get much closer to the players at a small club. For action pictures you should always get the ball in the shot.
For his second subject, Landscapes, Paddy told us that farmers in Italy will invite you into their house to socialise with them if they see you taking photos of their land.

He also told us about some of his experimental photography using an upside down model aircraft against a sky picture. This fooled some of the judges until one noticed there was no pilot in the cockpit.
Paddy has also experimented with glycerine mixed with ink and water to get abstract shapes and mirror images and told us that when taking pictures of glass you should reduce the amount of light by 50%.
Finally he told us about his experiments with a homemade pinhole camera. He used a 5.5 minute exposure and produced an interesting image.
Paddy was thanked for his out of the ordinary and very interesting talk.

Leader Board
Print competition
1st Dave Cooke
2nd Malcolm Imhoff
3rd Alan McCormick
4th Syd Butterworth John Cresswell
DPI competition
1st John Cresswell
2nd Malcolm Imhoff
3rd Angus Speirs Bob Robertson
4th Dave Cooke Ian dean

Judge’s Tips

We can learn a lot from judges about how to improve our pictures as well as the type of picture that can do well in competitions so I have decided to put in some of the really good tips from each competition during the season.

  • Many judges are unsure about or do not like the printed word to appear in pictures.
  • Portraits should tell you something about the person.
  • Portraits are often cut out and put against a different background. This may be one of those things that is getting a bit old hat for some judges.
  • Borders need to be chosen to enhance the picture in some way.
  • Simple pictures without clutter often do very well.
  • Animals must have the right number of legs and must not be chopped off at the feet or anywhere else. Well lit head shots with sharp detail, especially around the eyes, often do well.
  • Statues and other examples of art work are not considered to be a good subject but sometimes the photographer may use them in an unusual way to gain an artistic effect.
  • Judges see many pictures and know what is good but they get a bit bored with the same old thing all the time. Going for an unusual view or object often gets good results.
  • Judges have lots of personal preferences and often joke about them. They may use them to explain why they pass over a picture. However they will over ride these preferences for a really good picture when they see it.

Reclaim Photography Festival 2017

Submissions are now being invited for Reclaim photography Festival 2017. The festival will include responses to our open call: Reclaiming Our cultural Landscapes, through our one-day event across seven regional venues in print, digital and projected image format on Saturday 6 May 2017.We will also be offering photography workshops, gallery exhibitions and professional opportunities for young people and emerging artists.
Prints from the event will be auctioned to raise money for St Basil’s, who work with young people age 16-25 to prevent youth homelessness.
Reclaiming Our Cultural Landscapes
Cultural landscapes are an important part of our past, present and future. They help to provide us with a deeper understanding of the world. We are therefore looking for images that represent landscapes which have been influenced or shaped by human involvement, whether through cultural events or by individual personalities. In reclaiming our understanding of our cultural landscapes, we hope to explore our sense of self, our evolving relationship with our communities, and the continuity of our communal heritage.
Participants are encouraged to respond to this theme through the use of archive material, analogue, digital and mobile photography. We hope to attract 1000 images which will incorporate both traditional and contemporary approaches in the form of:
  • portraiture;
  • landscape photography – coastal, rural or urban;
  • still-life photography - objects or the natural world; o documentary photography;
  • photo journalism;
  • and experimental imagery.

There is no entry fee and no competition.
  • Submit entries online at: www.reclaimphotographyfestival.org .
  • We will print 600 images, alongside 400 images presented in digital and projected image format.
  • Individual entrants will be notified of their print ID numbers and allocated venue by email.
  • Student and photography member groups will be notified by email, via their institutions or organisations, with details of their print ID numbers and allocated venue.
For more details about our Festival programme and volunteer opportunities, contact us at:
www.reclaimphotographyfestival.org . Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
A copy of the full document is posted on the club notice board.

Camera tips

Avoiding Camera Shake
When shooting hand-held images you can avoid blurring caused by camera shake by using a shutter speed roughly equivalent to the reciprocal of the focal length you are using. If you are using a 100mm focal length then you can take a sharp hand-held shot at a shutter speed of 1/100th of a second or faster. If you are using a 35mm focal length then 1/35th of a second is safe, and so on.
Modern cameras may include stabilizing technologies, either in the lens or linked to the sensor. These will help to avoid blurring when a camera is hand-held. There is no clear advantage to one system over the other but the stabilisation system should be turned off when you are using a tripod and the camera is guaranteed to be still. The stabilisation system may be confused by this and will attempt to compensate causing the shot to be blurred.

Free Online Photo editor

It might be worth having a look at Pixir Editor. pixir.com/editor It is similar to Photoshop Elements but doesn’t take up any space on your computer and won’t cost you a penny. It produces Photoshop quality results without the hefty price tag. The disadvantage is that some of the screen is taken up by adverts.
News Archive

Fentham Photographic Society

Newsletter 6  April 2016

Words from the editor.
Well I’ve been off on adventure, an epic journey through Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam so I feel that I’m a bit behind with the news. I’m going to make some AVs of the pictures when I get some time.
The interclub competition between South Birmingham, Yardley and Fentham sounded very close with only one point between the three clubs. Once again pictures that did well in club competitions did not do so well in the interclub confirming just how subjective the judging process is. As several speakers have said it is a good idea to take pictures that you like rather than trying to please the judges.
Brian Dowdall gave an interesting and wide ranging talk on his photos starting with his first competition entry and showing his most favourite picture, the portrait of a little girl resembling the portrait of “A Girl with a Pearl Earring”. It is rewarding for the less experienced photographers amongst us to know that Brian has only taken up photography relatively recently and has made rapid progress in gaining recognition by other photographers.
Karon Deakin has found a free photo processing add on to photoshop which you might like to try. It is called the Google Nik Collection. When it is downloaded it automatically adds itself to the filter section of Photoshop and works a bit like Topaz.
An Old Post Reinstated
It has been decided to reinstate the position of Vice Chairman on the club committee. This is intended to allow someone to shadow Dave Cooke in what may be his last year as chairman due to family commitments. Members are asked to think about nominations for the AGM which will be on Friday May 6th. Thanks to Dave for doing so much for the club for so long.
5th Print and PDI Competiton
Judge: Tony Broom, CPAGB
Tony is a judge well known to Fentham, in fact he was the judge when Fentham won the Interclub competition with Great Barr back in October last year.
As the judging progressed Tony expressed a liking for strong contrast and indicated he also considered compositional strength in an image very important. He was not over keen on ‘Photoshop’ worked files although would not reject them altogether if the image is good enough. His other dislikes included centre of frame horizons and black and white shots without good blacks. He also felt that black and white is difficult in projected images, often lacking contrast with blacks tending to look grey.
Print Results
The Very Best Dave Cooke
Dandelion Seed Heads John Cresswell
Autumn Evening in Montpazier Paul Stokes
Highly Commended:                                      
Going Home Dave Ballantyne
Autumn Glade Dave Cooke

Third Place:                                                        
Tropical Martin James
Second Place:                                                   
Beckford Spiral John Cresswell
First Place:                                                         
Modern Day Dandy Catherine Nicholls
Digital Projected
Lottie Richard Brown
Antique Rose Catherine Nicholls
Highly Commended:                                      
Autumn Glow John Cresswel
Taxi Rank Ian Dean
Spot the Spot Catherine Nicholls
Valentine Bob Robertson
Cityscape Bob Robertson
Dave Ballantyne  4th March 2016
Fiddle a File competition
As usuaI this competition was run to stimulate creative thinking and to encourage people to experiment with Photoshop and other programs but I don’t think I can remember a FAF that has provided so many laughs. The subject matter proved quite challenging and lead to some very creative ideas with the motorbike rider doing some very strange things.
The new section for AVs only had one entry but that was “fall about funny” with an ending based on the Goons.
I think that the low entry numbers is a bit of a shame as I learn a lot about Photoshop every time I start messing about with the pictures. I expect the committee would like to know your views on what would encourage you to enter. I think I would need a lot more time with the pictures in advance if I was to create an AV and less experienced members might like some objects that are easier to cut out and move.
If you have an opinion on what would encourage you to enter next year let someone on the committee know of your ideas or maybe you would like to submit a picture to be used in the competition.
1st   Age of Steam                              Paul Stokes
2nd Work in Progress                          Martin James
3rd 46443                                             Dave Cooke
HC Ellie                                               Dave Ballantyne
C  All comer’s Obstacle Race                Dave Ballantyne
C The Model Shop                              Martin James
1st The great Escape                       Steve West
2nd Through the Woods                  Kate Nicholls
3rd Hiding in the Woods                  Kate Nicholls
“He’s Fallen in the Water”             Malcolm Imhoff
Inter club Competition
3 way Inter Club with Yardley South Birmingham And Fentham Judged by John Cartlidge
Final scores were
Prints - Yardley    125 South Birmingham 137 And Fentham 121
PDI’s - Yardley     125 South Birmingham 114 And Fentham 130
Totals - Yardley   250 South Birmingham 251 And Fentham 251
3 best marks in our PDIs were
John Creswell Wollacombe Beach Huts 20
Ian Dean Taxi Rank 19
Lace Kate Nicholls 15
Best in Prints
John Creswell   Beckford Spiral 20
John Creswell White Bentley Detail 20
Alan McCormick Feelin’the Blues 15
Days Out in the Summer
Over the summer the club meets up a couple of times at local events to take photographs. Two venues that are regularly used are:
The Upton Blues festival. 15th -17th July 2016 in and around the streets of Upton on Severn with stages and music sessions all around the town.
There is an enormous camp site where Alan McCormick usually parks his mobile home. If you want a parking place near the town centre you have to go early in the morning. Alan takes his best pictures at night when the stages are lit. If you are short you need to take a stool to stand on and a telephoto lens.
We don’t usually meet up as a group here because the event is over several days and is so big but you might bump into somebody from the club.
Ashdown re- enactment 
War Time in the Vale 18th to 19th June 2016
The days out will be announced at the AGM and everyone is informed by e-mail afterwards. If you have any good ideas let the committee know as soon as possible so that we can tell everyone in advance.
October Weekend Away
Ian Dean has been busy finding a suitable B&B/ hotel for the members to stay in. The venue this year is the Mendips at a place called Lower Godney near Wells.
Doublegate Farm, Lower Godney, near Wells, Somerset.  You can view on their web site for full details.
Rooms are approximately £80 - £85 pn. (single £60 pn)
Places are limited so you need to get in touch with Ian very quickly to find out if there are any rooms left.
There is no set programme of events on these weekends but we usually get to visit some really photogenic places and do a lot of good eating, drinking and socialising.
Wells Cathedral is wonderful and has an unusual set of arches to support the tower. Some of Harry Potter was filmed there. There is a moat around the Bishop’s Palace which has a bell for the swans to ring when they are hungry.

 Photo Competition
I received this email which I thought might interest some of you.

Hi Fentham Photo Club
I'm getting in touch about Millennium Hotels' Through the Lens photography competition.
This year we’re aiming to celebrate all of the things that make Britain beautiful. UK entrants will all be in with a chance of winning £5000 worth of top of the range camera equipment
We'd love any of your talented photographer members to enter the competition, so please do let them know about it and feel free to share on your website.
Let me know if you have any questions,
James Brown
Senior Outreach Specialist
The Varnish Works, 3 Bravingtons Walk,
King's Cross, London, N1 9AJ
+44 (0)20 3326 6205- DDI
+44 (0)20 7253 7000

For Sale
Item is a Fuji WL-FXS6 Wide Angle Converter Lens. This is designed to fit on the front of a lens and reduce its focal length by a factor of 0.8, therefore an 18mm lens would become a 14.4mm lens.
It has a 58mm screw thread as it was originally bought for my Fuji S9500 bridge camera, but I will be including a 58-52mm step ring which allows it to fit any lens with a 52mm screw thread (such as the Nikon 18-55 lens, which I've been using it on for over 5 years). Other step rings can be bought for a couple of quid to suit other threads. I believe that Canon 18-55 lenses have a 58mm thread so no adapter required.
Being Fuji the optical quality is great, and as long as you adapt it to a lens with a thread smaller than 58mm there is no vignetting. I've taken lots of my pictures over the years with this lens. Condition is great, no dust or scratches.
Reason for sale is I am now buying a 10-20 lens so I don't need it anymore. Cost £70 originally, but will sell for £40. Comes with original box, soft pouch, front and rear caps, and 58-52mm step ring.
Great low cost option for landscapes and interiors, and miles better than most of the cheap Chinese ones sold on Amazon.
Steve West
Photo Challenges

How about taking on some more photo challenges to widen your skills? Here are some suggestions.
A plate of food in the style of Ansel Adams.
Pick your favourite Bond theme and illustrate it.
Something black against a black background.
Open a magazine and recreate the first image that you come across.
Shoot an object that is only partly in the frame.
Shoot the shadow of something made of glass.
Shoot a portrait in the style of a well-known photographer.
Interpret the phrase “ As different as chalk and cheese”.

Display Calibration

Fentham now owns a ColorMunki Display calibration device which members can borrow to calibrate monitors and projectors. Loan fee is £10 refundable deposit and £2 per week. Contact Martin James to arrange collection and return: mjj3000@virginmedia.com
Information on use can be found on the X-Rite website:
Pasted Graphic
An unusual AV Show!
Members were treated to an AV show with a difference at the end of February when magic lantern 'professor' Peter Spencer entertained us with his show "The Golden Age of the Magic Lantern". Peter showed a fascinating variety of slides on different subjects including characters as diverse as the Duke of Wellington and Bonzo the Wonder Dog! His wife Pat provided the musical and sound effects accompaniment and encouraged the audience to join in. Although the couple live in Bearwood, they were on familiar territory as Peter is a former minister at St. Barnabas Parish Church in Erdington. All in all, it proved a most educational evening and showed that even in these days of mobile devices and the internet, a technology that is several hundred years old can still capture the imagination of an audience.
Pasted Graphic
Dave Ballantyne LRPS
Congratulations to our hard-working Treasurer Dave Ballantyne, who gained his Licentiate membership of the Royal Photographic Society recently with a panel of prints.
dave LRPS 400
Peter Lamb
Long standing member Peter Lamb sadly passed away in August 2014. He joined the club around about the time we moved to Stockland Green Leisure Centre in 1990. He stepped in as Programme Secretary at short notice and held that job with distinction or over ten years, making many friends among our regular lecturers and judges.
A local lad, he was born and lived his whole life in Erdington. Ill health prevented him from attending the club in the last few years, but we were delighted that he was able to attend the Celebration Supper in 2011 to mark the move to our new room in Sutton Coldfield. Our condolences to his wife Joyce who was also a Fentham member and their daughter Elaine.
Chairman Dave Cooke with Peter in 2011
Christmas Card Fundraising
We decided that instead of exchanging members Christmas cards this year, we would donate the money saved to charity. Several members had cause to use the services of the new QE Hospital during 2012, so we decided that their patient's charity would benefit.
Studio Evening, 2nd November 2012
Continuing our long established tradition of practical evenings, we enjoyed a most instructive evening at Tony Rabin Photography in Appleby Magna. About twenty members were in attendance for Tony's excellent demonstration of lighting techniques.
Digital Photo Day 2011
Our second Digital Photo Day, held on Saturday 10th September, was a great success with lots of old friends and new visitors dropping by.
dpd_2011_selection dpd_2011_general

dpd_2011_pres1 dpd_2011_pres2

Surprise for Fentham's Secretary
At the start of the club meeting on Friday 20th November, Richard Brown had a 'This Is Your Life' moment when Peter Brown ARPS DPAGB HonPAGB from Leicester, who is a past President of the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain, surprised him with his very own 'Red Book'.
The occasion was to present Richard with the Award for Meritorious Service of the PAGB in recognition of his lecturing and judging at photographic societies during the past thirty years.
L to R. Peter Brown; Richard with his APAGB certificate and Dave Cooke, Chairman of Fentham P.S. Photo by Vic Palmer.

Fentham in the press... feature article in the Sutton Coldfield Observer
Reporter Hannah Greaves interviewed FPS Secretary Richard Brown at the end of February and we had an excellent publicity write-up for both the club and the Digital Imaging Group in the March 13th edition of the Sutton Coldfield Observer.
Sutton Ob 400

Display in Erdington Library
The following members had prints on show as part of the club's publicity display in Erdington Library between the 1st and the 15th of December: Alan McCormick, Dave Cooke, Tricia Cooke, Dave Williamson, Peter Horton, Martin James, Ken Hoare and Richard Brown.

MCPF Photofolio 2008
Fentham member Richard Brown FRPS had his picture 'Gower Ponies' selected in the projected digital image category, to be shown as part of the Portfolio which will tour around the Midlands clubs throughout 2008-09.

Print of the Year
At the final competition of the season, judge Peter Clark FRPS EFIAP/p selected 'Amarilis' by Ken Hoare as the best print from all of the previous award winners this year.

First lecture of the 2007-08 season
Our good friend and frequent visitor Peter Gennard M.FIAP, E.FIAP/p from Smethwick PS, gave us his talk "PG Tips, From Film to Digital", illustrated with his excellent black & white and colour prints. A great way to start off the new season.
Peter with a couple of prints illustrating just two of his many and varied photographic interests: portraiture and nature.

Studio Still Life Evening 2.11.07
Two excellent shots by Dave Cooke from our first practical night of the year.
Garlic and Mushrooms

Studio Evening
One of the evenings on last season's programme saw the clubroom filled with lights, backgrounds and props for another successful practical evening of still life photography.
studio_clubroom2_300 studio_clubroom3_300

studio_clubroom4_300 oranges_300

Club visit to the Smethwick International Exhibition 2007
This superb exhibition which has been running for about thirty years, attracts entries from all over the world.
Pat, Dave and Ken meet up with Ray Dowding, who founded Fentham PS back in 1967, at the Smethwick Exhibition.

Success in the Mid-Phot Audio Visual Competition 2007
Fentham member Richard Brown took first place at the annual Midlands AV Competition held at Braunstone near Leicester. He also won a medal for the most popular sequence with the audience for his production 'The Picasso of the Pier'.
Richard being presented with the winner's trophy by Wendy Outram, President of the Midland Counties Photographic Federation along with judges Keith Brown FRPS left, and Ken Doney LRPS.
Studio night at Lichfield
About a dozen members attended a club evening at Rob Mason's studio to photograph a delightful young model, Sam.
studio_sam_300 henley_ken_300

'Sam in Red' by Richard Brown FRPS