New season underway
The aim of the the first meeting of the new year was to review and select the club's entries for two external competitions, the Bradford Abbas Shield and the Kingswood Salver. We ran through members' submissions for both competitions, but we opted to concentrate our efforts this evening on selections for the Bradford Abbas Shield. The theme for this is "Energy"; not the easiest of subjects, as we discovered!
Deliberations were led by Jim Eastaugh, our resident WCPF approved judge. The images submitted were whittled down to the sixteen required, eight to be prints and eight to be projected.
The picture to the right has nothing to do with any of this (we didn't want to reveal our hand too early), but we had to have something to accompany this piece! This is "Swanage" by Paul Dyer.
WCPF competition entries
The season's second meeting took place on September 25. We met to view entries from recent WCPF competitions. These included the 2013 Members' Exhibition and the digital projected image competition (dpic).
There were far too many images to view in one evening, so we had to be selective in what we saw. The range of photographs was extensive and of a high standard, from straightforward nature pictures to complex multi-image composite creations. The latter, to this viewer's eye at least, are more a form of digital art than traditional photography, but the skill required to create them can't be denied.
It's interesting to note that some photographers' names appeared repeatedly during our viewing. Those names were often associated with a particular style of photography, be it birds, or underwater, or composites, etc etc. Those individuals clearly specialised in a particular area of photography, which got me thinking; should we at Wincanton specialise to improve our photography, or do we get more enjoyment from casting our subject matter net more widely? Food for thought.
It was also clear from what we saw that many of the photographers represented spend an awful lot of time and money equipping themselves and putting themselves in the right place at the right time to get their shots. It's true to say, I think, that good photographs don't usually come easily.
As Wincanton had no representation in the WCPF Members' Exhibition this year, the photo accompanying this piece is Amanda White's "Little abandoned house on the prairie" - an entry from the exhibition two or three years ago.
John Tilsley visited the club on October 9 to deliver a masterclass on the topic of image critique. This was clearly a keenly anticipated and popular subject as there was, I think, 100% turnout of the membership.
The idea was that each member provide a couple of their photos, either prints or projected versions, for John to view. The photographer would provide a short commentary on the image, explaining why they took the photo and perhaps expressing where they felt the image was strong or why it didn't quite work. The aim was to give some context to what we were seeing.
John would then offer a critique of the picture indicating why he felt it had or hadn't worked, giving compositional advice or technical tips; whatever was appropriate for the image being viewed. He encouraged us to respond to his comments. The ideas weren't his alone; he was keen to generate some debate. This led to discussions, amongst other things, about composition, cropping, cloning, the use of graduated neutral density filters (both on-camera and in software), the use and control of light, lighting conditions, making use of differing weather conditions, exposure, dodging and burning, histograms and raw vs jpeg. That's a wide range of topics to cover, and exactly what we had hoped for.
The two photos to the right, "Frosted trees" by Chris Stovell and "Smokin'" by Ian Wallis, were two of John's favourite images on the night.
Your correspondent certainly went home feeling that he had benefited from the evening. The feedback I've had so far shows that other members feel the same, and that this would be an exercise worth repeating in the future. Many thanks to John for his instructive and insightful comments.
Bradford Abbas Shield
October 22 saw us travel to Bradford Abbas to defend the Bradford Abbas Shield; we were keen to mount a good defence of our prize in this multi-club competition. The theme was "Energy". Roger Lush writes:
There were five of us in attendance to witness Sherborne Bradford Abbas (SBA) win the Bradford Abbas Shield for, believe it or not, the very first time. Sadly, from our point of view at least, this meant that Wincanton had to relinquish the trophy.
The judge was none other than John Tilsley. He was in good form and was forthright with his opinions on the photographs submitted. He was quite strict with any image he considered didn't meet the theme of "Energy" and marked down any such picture.
There were only three clubs involved this year, SBA, Wincanton and Yeovil, instead of the usual five. The other two dropped out, temporarily we hope.
The damage was done in the prints round with SBA getting three scores of 20 to Wincanton's single top mark - "Sherborne Fireworks", the author of which is at present unclear. (We'd be delighted if the photographer could make him/herself known!)
Wincanton did rally in the digital projected images, again with just a single 20 point image. This was Ian Wallis' "Fire-eaters", seen on the home page. We were clear winners in the round, but by insufficient margin to regain the ground lost in the prints. In the end we had to settle for second place.
We thank the SBA club for once again hosting a very enjoyable evening.
November 6 was the date of our first Open competition of the season. We had a good turnout of members, with a fair number of prints and a very good number of projected images for our judge, Richard Vale, to assess.
We got off to a late start which put a bit of pressure on Richard to get through all the images before 10pm, and he didn't let us down. His concise comments enabled us to finish before the building caretaker arrived to lock up after us.
One print and three projected images attracted a maximum score: Jim Eastaugh's print "Mellow fruitfulness", and the projected photos of Amanda White with "A taste of autumn", Lachlan Fraser with "Callanish stones", and Rob Cochran with "Clear for take off".
Click on the image to the right to go to the gallery showing all the entries in the competition.
From Delhi to Darjeeling
This was an illustrated talk by Eddy and Pam Lane about their experiences on a photographic tour of northern India. Pam ran the computer and projector, with Eddy doing the commentary.
Their tour started in Delhi, and we were treated to plenty of street scenes portraying the seemingly organised chaos of daily life in India. We moved on from there to Agra where the star of the show was, of course, the Taj Mahal. However, as well as the classic views, we were shown some interesting shots taken from the far side of the river behind the Taj. This gave us a less well known take on an iconic location.
From there the tour moved to Kolkata (formerly Calcutta); it's amazing how many Raj era buildings remain, disused and utterly dilapidated. After Kolkata came an ascent to Darjeeling, in the foothills of the Himalayas, via the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway - now a UN World Heritage Site (photo right courtesy Eddy Lane). This entails an ascent of about 8000 feet in 80 miles on a narrow gauge railway, the locomotive being a small steam engine built in Britain in the early 20th century - a treat for lovers of steam trains! Of course, you can't go to Darjeeling without thinking of tea so we were also treated to some images taken on a tea plantation.
Thanks go to Eddy and Pam for a very interesting talk. The thing that struck me most about their photos of the Indians was that there seemed to be none of the suspicion or hostility towards photographers that often occurs in Britain these days. A sign of the times perhaps!
We met on Wednesday, December 4 for an evening of practical photography.
Members brought along a number of props; we had sea shells, teasels, eggs, empty sardine cans, old cameras, pebbles, even a petrified sea urchin, as well as various backdrops. The aim was to take still life photographs with a minimum of lighting equipment. Jim Eastaugh experimented with a set-up of cardboard, a sea shell and a joss stick, in an effort to get a smoky effect. A group of members photographed a sardine can filled with sea shells. The results of all the activity in the room will no doubt be seen in one of our future ‘Open’ competitions. How many different versions of three teasels in a glass a judge can deliberate on will be interesting to see! All in all the evening was deemed to have been an enjoyable success.
(Report by Roger Lush)
For the last few years at this time our competition secretary, Roger Lush, has produced a quiz with a photographic theme to entertain us, and this year was no exception. On December 18 a good number of us braved an evening of foul weather to take part. It takes more than gale force winds and driving rain to keep our membership at home!
Soon it was heads down, pen and paper ready and brows furrowed to answer the questions. These were displayed as a slide show, with 25 seconds to answer before the next one appeared. There were 50 questions altogether, spilt into five categories, including general photographic knowledge, history, theory, technical and spot-the-photographer (hover your mouse over the photos to identify the photographers shown to the right). You had to know your Herschel from your Niepce and your f stop from your full stop! There was also a clever soundtrack of tunes with a photographic title or theme.
When the exam was over we broke for coffee, mince pies and chocolate biscuits, kindly provided by TonyCole and Les Kimberley. Then it was time for the answers.
At this point your correspondent must admit to a surfeit of competitive spirit after challenging one of the answers a little too enthusiastically! Sorry Roger!
Anyway, when the scores were tallied Rob Cochran was revealed as the winner, with Les Kimberley taking the runner-up spot on the toss of a coin after a three-way tie for second place. Both members were rewarded with prizes of photography books kindly donated by Roger Lush and Lachlan Fraser.
Special thanks go to Roger for the time and effort put in to compiling the quiz. He might wish he hadn't done such a good job because we're already looking forward to another one next year...
Oh, and just to round off the evening nicely, the awful weather had abated by the time we left for home.
We wish all our readers a merry Christmas and a happy new year. We're already looking forward to our first meeting of 2014, and to another year of photographic endeavour.
Our first meeting of the new year, on January 8, was also our first competition of the year. The theme was "Shapes". This gave plenty of scope for members to exercise their imagination. Our judge for the evening, Mil Chimley, had a wide variety and a large number of images to assess. On this occasion there were more than twice as many projected images as there were prints.
Overall Mil felt that all the images presented to her met the brief, although some only marginally so. Some of us had produced monochrome images, but it was felt that, with one notable exception, none of these were enhanced by the black and white conversion. Three mambers scored a maximum 20 points; in the prints Jim Eastaugh with "A circle of light" (the first photo assessed, which set a high standard for all the subsequent pictures to match) and Tony Cole with "Royal shadows" were the successful members. In the projected section it was Amanda White with "Circles of light", which was also Mil's favourite image of the evening.
Members can view the gallery by clicking on one of the image to the right and entering their user name and password. General access will be provided after our competition on this theme with Gillingham. We don't want to give away all our secrets and give them a sneak preview at this stage!
Audio Visual evening
January 22 saw us meet for an evening of audio visual entertainment.
We started off with a tutorial explaining some of the basic principles to bear in mind when putting together a collection of images with a soundtrack. A clear idea of what you want to convey to your audience, be it mood, emotion, or just information, may well determine the choice of music or commentary. A high level of organisation will make it easier to assemble the final product.
After that it was on with the show. Jim Eastaugh produced a botanically themed journey in the Alps. Then we saw an interesting piece from Lachlan Fraser about the production of Harris tweed in the Hebrides. Andrew de Mora delivered a paean to the old dovecote in Bruton, Amanda White showed us a haunting collection of abandoned houses and cars in Nova Scota, and the evening was rounded off with Roger Lush's quirky and amusing tour of boot scrapers in Castle Cary. Yes, really!
Perhaps a few more members will be encouraged to have a go at AV presentations after seeing these tonight.
Where is it?
On Feb 5 we met to find out which member had the best knowledge of our local area.
Each member submitted five photos, all of which had to taken within a radius of ten miles of Wincanton town centre. The locations also had to be accessible to the public; it would be all to easy otherwise to enter photos that nobody would have any chance of recognising.
A entertaining evening ensued. We were treated to an array of images covering a pretty large portion of our local patch, with some cunning angles used to disguise the location. Bruton probably had more entries than anywhere else, and Wincanton was quite well represented too. As you might expect Stourhead featured more than once. Henstridge, Charlton Musgrave and Compton Pauncefoot had one image each, and there were more from small villages whose identities escape me now, as they did on the night.
Your correspondent must confess to embarrassment at his appalling lack of ability to identify the location of just about every place presented, and came a convincing last in the contest. I must get out more, and buying a local guide book would probably be a good idea too!
Others did rather better, I'm glad to say. It was a close run thing but at the end of the evening the king of local geographical knowledge was Jim Eastaugh, with Tony Cole and Mike Anthony close behind. Well done Jim - please may I book a guided tour or two of the Blackmore Vale with you before next year's contest?
Competition: Ups and downs
This was a tricky subject. However, members made a good effort to produce images that interpreted the theme in imaginative ways.
The judge, Brian Tarling, had a wide variety of images to assess, ranging from urban architecture, through rural scenes and on to abstract concepts.
The best scoring photographs on the night were Andrew de Mora's dpi "What goes up must come down", and Tony Cole's print, "Well, that's the up bit...", both of which were awarded a maximum 20 points.
Those two pictures, and all the others from the competition, can be seen now by members in a gallery via the members only page. General access will be available after our inter-club competition with Shaftesbury in April.
Show and tell
Les Kimberley writes:
The purpose of the evening was to share our experiences of success and problems when taking photographs and to explain how we achieved various effects
Lachlan Fraser began by giving us a tutorial in how to add snow to a photograph using Photoshop. The result is very convincing but there are quite a few stages to go through in order to achieve it. This is definitely one to remember when making Christmas cards.
Les Kimberley followed with some photographs which had been cropped to different formats; why stick to what your sensor provides? We also discussed various ways of compensating for pixel burnout and how to deal with the more limited dynamic range of the digital sensor (yes, old fashioned films were superior in this respect). Les also provided several images which had been made using the drawing and sketching tools in Photoshop
Roger Lush, as if on cue from Les’s concerns about burned out parts of images, then gave a demonstration showing how to handle RAW images in a way which provided a better dynamic range and a more pleasing photograph. This involved making three versions of the original file and merging them to show highlights, mid tones and shadows (before and after versions shown right).
We then had a discussion about various file formats and their pros and cons.
Jim Eastaugh, the master of desktop photography, showed us how he used a cardboard box and a paper cone to produce a very striking image of a spot lit cockle shell. This again involved the use of layers, selections, desaturation and other tools to produce an intriguing result.
Andrew de Mora continued the dynamic range discussion by showing us an image he had produced at Stourhead by taking three shots at different exposures and combining them in Photomerge. The result showed a high dynamic range and produced a striking image.
Tony Cole demonstrated how to clone out of the picture people who spoiled the foreground of his photograph of skiers in the French Alps. Finally, Sandi Myles showed us some of her images and explained how she had adjusted them to emphasise and sharpen the subject.
Shapes competition v Gillingham
Lachlan Fraser writes:
Members of Wincanton Camera Club were hosted by the Gillingham Photo Group for the annual inter-club competition. This year the subject was 'Shapes' and a number of imaginative interpretations was put forward to judge Rob Barron, who gave a detailed and helpful critique of each image.
The first part of the evening was for prints. Wincanton sailed into the lead with 170 points against 156 scored by Gillingham. After a welcome break, the projected images were judged. Gillingham managed to close the points gap slightly, but not enough to overtake Wincanton who won with 326 points against Gillingham's 305.
Thanks to Gillingham for hosting an enjoyable evening.
We met on April 2 for our last club competition of the season. There was an Open theme; anything went! Our judge for the evening was Huw Alban from Warminster CC, who we thank for his insightful and constructive comments.
There was a wide variety of subjects on show; we ranged from landscapes to portraits to detail studies, with one or two quirky images which raised a few chuckles from the audience.
As usual, we assessed the prints first. Fewer members seem to be producing prints, so there were only twelve of these. Rob Cochran was more surprised than anyone to find both his entries, "Rose petals" and "St. Simon and St. Jude", scoring a maximum 20 points. Lachlan Fraser's "Autumn in Swaledale" prompted Huw to say that he now wanted to visit that area in autumn himself.
After the usual coffee break we moved on to the projected image, of which there were 32. Three entries garnered the maximum 20 points here, Amanda White's "Rural beauty" , Rob Cochran's "War on washing" and Lachlan Fraser's "Ribblehead viaduct".
The gallery of all the entries can be seen by clicking on either of the images to the right.
Chairman Tony Cole writes:
The Sackville Exchange evening, at which the club considers and marks the digitally projected images sent to us by the Canadian club, created a great deal of interesting discussion. Amanda White, who is still a member of the Wincanton Camera Club despite living in Nova Scotia, is also a member of the Sackville Club.
Sackville's 20 images varied considerably and this was reflected in the marks (out of ten) awarded. The most popular entry was of a sailing ship at anchor in the morning mist (right, below). The comment was made that a bird (a diver, we think) floating on the water, although small, helped to make the picture. In the past the images submitted by Sackville have been of scenes close to home but this year there was one photograph taken in New York and a lake scene possibly taken in Italy. The images submitted by Sackville were not titled and I was not alone in thinking that a title providing some information on the subject matter would have been of interest.
We await the views of the Sackville members on the 20 images which they have received from us.
Photos to the right reproduced courtesy of Sackville Camera Club.
The second half of the evening gave us the opportunity to view some of the 1,400-odd entries in the WCPF's 2014, Digitally Projected Image Competition. That's a lot of images to assess in one sitting; those judges must have some staying-power!
Ups and downs competition v Shaftesbury
April 30 was the date for our competition with Shaftesbury Camera Club on the theme of "Ups and downs". We offer our thanks to our judge for the evening, John Tilsley of Dorchester Camera Club. As always, his comments were perceptive and constructive.
After a slight hiatus with our prints (summed up as "Where are they"?), we kicked off with the projected images (pi). This occupied us fully up to the tea interval. Rather than having 10 prints and 10 pi per club, this time, after a request from Shaftesbury, the split was 5 prints and 15 pi. John felt that the photos were technically pretty good, but there were one or two that stretched the interpretation of the ups and downs theme. Those images lost a point or two because of it. He also stressed that the viewer shouldn't need to see the title of an image to recognise the up and down element of it. At the interval, Wincanton had built up a narrow lead of 8 points.
After coffee, tea and biscuits it was time for the prints and, happily, ours were now present and correct. This part of the contest was pretty evenly matched. When the judging was complete and the sums were done, we were pleased to find that we had increased our lead by 1 point. The competition ended with Wincanton on 351 points and Shaftesbury on 342.
Our star turn of the evening was Jim Eastaugh who took maximum points with three of his photos. He wasn't alone in the top marks department; Tony Cole was there too, and there were also three maximums amongst Shaftesbury's entries.
This was a very enjoyable evening, and we thank the Shaftesbury membership for helping to make it so by turning up in such good numbers. We look forward to a rematch in two years time!
Jim Eastaugh writes:
Our AGM was held on 14th May, with election of the committee for 2014/15 and presentation of the annual awards, followed by the annual Print Panel competition.
After the reports from the Officers, which reported a successful year for the club with sound finances, the new committee was elected. The only difference from last year was the retirement of Rob Cochran as webmaster and his replacement by Andrew de Mora. A special vote of thanks was recorded for all Rob’s work in setting up and maintaining the club’s website which we consider to be amongst the best in the area.
There are two annual awards, one for projected images and one for prints. The awards go to the photographers who have accumulated the highest scores in the competitions held throughout the year. The Secretary’s Shield (for projected images) went to Amanda White, who now lives in Nova Scotia but has remained a corresponding member. She is much missed as a highly regarded photographer and a delightful personality. As is traditional at awards ceremonies when the recipient cannot be present, Amanda's award was graciously accepted on her behalf by another member. The LF Folkes Cup (for prints) went to Jim Eastaugh, our Life Vice-Chairman, who was able to accept his award in person (photo above right).
After the business of the AGM, the annual Print Panel competition was held, with panels 4ft by 2ft to be filled with as many or as few photographs as the entrants wished. There were five entries with a wide variety of themes and the winner of the competition was selected by votes cast by the members present. Tony Cole’s panel entitled ‘Reaching for the Sky’ was declared the winner and he was presented with The Chairman’s Plate by Roger Lush (photo right).