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What’s New?

Newsletter Number 23 August 2020

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Words from the editor

I do not usually write a news letter in the summer break but this year has been so unusual that there have been significant changes to what we have been doing. Our usual summer venues for photography have been cancelled and social distancing has made it difficult to get away. Some alternative activities have been organised such as walkabouts on Cannock Chase and a Pony hunt in Sutton Park. We were lucky and the ponies came to us. Our new members have been very enthusiastic in joining in these and have produced some excellent pictures.
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Paul has worked very hard to set up the weekly challenges which are intended to encourage original thinking rather than competition. Whilst only a small core of members have been involved in taking up the challenges it has allowed those involved to enter creative and sometimes humorous images. If you haven’t had a look then please do so.
The committee has been meeting via Zoom to decide on the next steps for the season and news follows about the decisions made so far for this season. We hope to run an active season whatever the circumstances this year and as a small club we may have flexibility to do things that larger clubs can’t, so read on.
The bad news is that the weekend away has been cancelled due to the high risks of socialising in a group at a hotel. We hope to encourage members to organise some day time outings instead in places where there might be good photo opportunities.
Zoom Meetings
Paul has written a guide into how to download and use Zoom. You should have received a copy of this by email and it will be installed on the technical page of the website. You can download the guide from the ‘Links & Downloads’ page
For the less technically minded, Zoom is really easy to use. If you have problems do let Paul know.

Sid Butterworth
It is with great sadness that I have to announce the death of Sid Butterworth. Sid was a supporter of several photography clubs in the area and had a long history of being quite an expert at taking beautiful pictures. We remember him for his pictures of flowers and for being collected from the meetings by his wife at half time because a whole evening would have been too much for him.
A card and a donation for a charity will be sent to his family on your behalf.

The New Season of Meetings
Our club has the advantage of being small enough to meet in the church centre and carry out social distancing. A Risk Assessment has been written the church centre and by the club which have been attached to this email and on the club web page. We ask you to read these carefully and decide whether you would be able to come to meetings on a regular basis.
You will be sent a questionnaire asking you about your preferences for continuing the club meetings.
Meanwhile the committee has decided to be cautious and run the meetings over Zoom for at least the first month until we are clearer about how infection rates respond to children going back to school and to the easing of Lockdown. As I write the news is that Birmingham has been put on a watch list due to a worrying increase in infections.
In order to use Zoom you will need to download the app onto your computer. This is free. If you want to be seen as well as heard you will need a camera on your computer. Lap tops already have one. When we run a meeting you will be sent an email containing an invitation to join the meeting. Click on the link and you will be able to see the speaker and the images. You will be sent instructions on how to use Zoom if you have never used it before.
Have a look at the programme on the web site to find out what to expect.

Membership Payment
The cost of running the club will be much lower if we go digital but we still have expenses to pay out, including expenses for some speakers, so we propose to ask members to pay a fee of £10 to allow access to the website and to allow you to enter competitions. This subscription would cover membership for as long as the meetings are held digitally. If we recommence meetings in the church centre then this sum would be deducted from the full fee for the rest of the season. The weekly digital meetings will be free thus saving you the weekly entry fee.
Payments can be made by cheque and sent to Dave Ballantyne, or you can pay by bank transfer direct to the club’s account. Details on how to do this will be sent to you separately to this newsletter.

Of the three walkabouts I organised the most successful was the Pony Hunt. We met at Streetly Gate and walked across the railway bridge past the small Bracebridge Pool. We found two ponies not far up the path and then as we walked into the area that has had its trees cleared a herd of ponies joined us to have their picture taken.
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The walkabout on Cannock Chase gave us the opportunity to take photos of Alfie and Dexter playing in a pool but the Deer Hunt proved that going on a wet day made the deer very elusive. I think it is better to go on a sunny day when the deer are being disturbed by walkers and are running about more.
If you go at the weekend go early on a sunny day to get a parking place. Park somewhere near the Glacial Boulder and walk along the track parallel to the road or go down to the Sher Brook and you will get some great shots of runners and cyclists.
The deer tend to congregate in areas near Freda’s Grave so you can park in Freda’s Grave carpark to get near that area. I have seen large herds in that area three times but not on the day of the Deer Hunt!
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Days Out
We are looking for people to volunteer to lead some days out as a substitute for the weekend away. They can be anything from a short visit to a site with good potential for photography or a more extended day out. We will have to take into account the fact that attendance at some sites will need to be booked and payed for in advance so being able to set up a diary of events would be an advantage.
Also our new members would like to speak to our more experienced members about tips on how to improve their photography.
Practical sessions out doors might be attractive to new members. Macro could be a good subject.
If you have some good ideas but do not want to organise it please let me know and I will see what we can do.

Newsletter Number 22 April 2020

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Words from the editor
In these strange times of the pandemic above all I hope you are all keeping safe. As a part of keeping you all busy the committee has been working hard to set you challenges and to keep the club going as much as possible online.
You should have received emails asking you to send in entries for the end of year Set Subject, City Life which has now been judged by Peter Gennard. The competitions for the year are now considered to be complete and the final results added up.
You should also have received an email containing an AGM report on the activities of the committee over the last year. We have asked you to send in feedback or ideas for how you would like to see the club develop when the club re opens after Lockdown. This is your chance to add activities and ideas for the following year.
We welcome Paul in his new role of Programme Secretary, a key role in the running of the club. He is already working hard to organise the calendar for the next season of meetings as well as looking after the website and all the new activities on it. Henley is also providing his support in the background as Paul gets to grips with his new job.
We still need someone to volunteer to organise the Christmas dinner and maybe to become Social Secretary.
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I hope you are enjoying the Challenges on the website. It is proving a chance to be imaginative and experimental and some of the images are humorous. Derek is obviously a biscuit eating fiend! We think that more of you might think about contributing when you run out of odd jobs to do. What is more it is encouraging for our new members to try out their skills and they are doing a good job. Well done Paul (Cook) and Derek.

I am working on Facebook as a way of communicating our skills and interests to a wider community. For those of you that use Facebook it would be helpful if you could “post” some of your favourite images on the club Facebook pages. We need a bit of an update.
Meanwhile keep experimenting and enjoying photographing whatever you can find inspiring.
Leader Boards
These are the final results for the year.
Congratulations to those below. I hope that we will have a full year of competitions next year and you will all take the opportunity to knock me off this lucky rather than skilful perch. I lay down the challenge.
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Leader Board DPIs
Leader Board Prints
1st Catherine Nicholls
2nd Alan McCormick
3rd Dave Cooke
rd Steve West
89 points
84 points
74 points
74 points
1st Catherine Nicholls
2nd Dave Cooke
3rd Paul Stokes
th Dave Ballantyne
80 points
67 points
65 points
45 points
Free Photo Processing Apps

I have been looking for some free photo processing apps for new members who do not want to commit to the expense of photoshop. So far I have found these:

The best free photo-editing software
  • GIMP. Often heralded as the best free alternative to Photoshop, GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is an open-source application that relies on a community of volunteer developers who maintain and ...
  • Paint.NET. This is a case where the apprentice becomes the master. ...
  • Photoshop Express. If the above options seem too derivative or you want more of
    that Adobe-experience without the associated price tag, Photoshop Express is another option worth considering.
    Also have a look at this link which has got tutorials on it which might be useful to you.
Meanwhile, if you become a member of the club one of the most useful guides to improving your images is to look at the tutorial on Composition. A well composed picture does not need to be processed in photoshop. The only processing skill that you may need is to be able to reduce the size of your photo file and change it to a Jpeg to load it onto the club website.

Membership is free until we start the new season. Click Here to ask for a user name and password to get access to the members’ area.

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Newsletter Number 21 March 2020

Words from the editor
When is it going to stop raining? Two really bad storms have stopped us doing a walkabout so we held a members’ meet at home to talk about camera settings. Not only did we do this but we also looked at what else the club could do for new and longer standing members that would help them to improve their photography. Some very useful ideas for future meetings emerged from the discussions and we hope to get together to work on these ideas in the future.
For those who are brave enough bad weather can produce some exceptional pictures so maybe one or two of us have got out and about to take them.
As a result of this we held a brainstorming session at the next full practical meeting and this brought forward even more ideas for activities on practical nights. We still intend to get out on a walkabout in the near future but need to wait for the weather to improve at the weekends and more technical information will be added to the members’ area of the web site in the near future.
The club has booked another exhibition day at Newhall Mill in September and will be looking at other ways of publicising the club in the future. Ideas from members are very welcome.
Dave Williamson
It is with great sorrow that we have to announce the unexpected death, after a short illness, of our longstanding member Dave Williamson. He has been a very active member of the club having been the Competition Secretary and, lately, the Social Secretary. He has arranged some excellent venues for our Christmas dinners and he and his wife Joan have been great company on our weekends away. He has loved his photography and will be sadly missed.
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Practical Evening

Members were invited to contribute activities on the evening and it became abundantly clear that we have between us enough expertise and enthusiasm to run more of these evenings.

We kicked off with the brainstorm which gave us a lot of ideas to think about. Dave Cooke presented an excellent item on how to use the clone tool and content aware on Photoshop. This revealed that there are so many ways that tasks can be done on Photoshop that it is always useful to see how other people do things even if you are an expert in your own right.

We had two AVs presented by Richard Brown and Dave Cooke on our recent weekend away visit to Puzzlewood.

Paul Stokes ran through the club website to show those who have not used it yet how it works. This particularly applied to use of the members’ only area of the site which has technical advice, links to useful websites, a competition entry page and other items useful to the members.

John Cresswell showed us some of his beautiful prints of various venues that has visited. John has a lot to teach us about how he creates such good quality prints as well as where and how to take such beautiful images.
One Man and His Van
Tony Gervis
Tony is the only speaker we have who has managed to lose his camper van completely whilst on an expedition around Canada. After he had parked it up next to a lake and gone to talk to a fellow camper It rolled down a slope and ended up submerged in the water. He was left with only the clothes he stood up in, no passport, no money and no cameras as well as no van.
Fortunately Tony has a very positive attitude to life and looked at it as a lesson in how to cope with such a disaster.
Tony, as you can guess, is quite a character with a great sense of humour. His talk showed just how intrepid he is. He showed us images of countries that most people would not be brave enough to visit. Not only that but he spent 15 weeks travelling through Europe, Turkey, Iran, Turkmenistan, Georgia, Belarus, Russia, Estonia and Ukraine.
Did you know that diesel is easy to get in theses countries and costs 8p a gallon! The people are friendly and many will have their photograph taken if you wait for them to get used to your presence. Tony was able to park his van by the side of the road and didn’t have to pay for camp sites. He travelled over 1,300 miles on potholed, dirt track roads.
During his journey he saw some wonderful buildings with beautiful tiled walls, roofs and domes. Samarkand turned out to be as beautiful as you might imagine. Remarkedly he saw and inscription on a very old madrassa ( school) saying “ Aspiration for knowledge is the duty of man and woman”. It just goes to show how culture changes over the centuries.
Tony also went to Lenin’s birth place, Red square and St Petersburg. He found out that you cannot stay in a camper van in Belarus and he had to have a guide.
Tony is definitely the bossiest speaker we have ever had so if you go to hear him speak don’t arrive late and don’t teach him how to use the door remote control. He is unique so we are looking forward to his talk on his journey through North America.

Competition 5

Judge John Haines
John expressed his helpful comments with great sense of humour although some of his jokes were really corny. He likes VWs, but more seriously he likes people in portraits to have eye contact with the photographer.
He recommended that photographers make good use of the live view facility on the camera, if they have that, to co compose the picture before they take it. Be careful not to cut off feet or objects important to the image when you take the picture. You can’t always replace them when you work on the image afterwards.
John also pointed out that repeated cloning in photoshop can cause patterns to develop in the image and he also commented that haloes around objects, often caused by processing in Photoshop or other apps, should be removed or avoided.
1st Don’t Stand Too Close
2nd Sign of the Times
3rd On the Move
HC Spotted
HC Windermere Sunset
C Cathedral Sunburst
C Evening Catch
C Shape of Water
Alan McCormick
Richard Brown
Dave Cooke

Alan McCormick
Steve West

Richard Brown
Steve West
Steve West
1st Running in the Mist
2nd Glaslyn Estuary Autumn Evening
3rd Two Robins
HC Librarian
C Shot at Dawn
Catherine Nicholls
Paul Stokes
Catherine Nicholls
Dave Cooke
Fred Allen
Leader Board DPIs
Leader Board Prints
1st Catherine Nicholls
2nd Alan McCormick
3rd Dave Cooke
th Malcolm Imhoff
1st Catherine Nicholls
2nd Dave Cooke
3rd Paul Stokes
th Dave Ballantyne
Brain storm Ideas
These are the ideas that came up during the Brain Storming session when there was a really good discussion.
  1. Portraits – indoors and outdoors. This can be addressed by having a group session at places like Statfold where those who are interested can get together and share their expertise and then have a look at what pictures have been taken during the day to see what else can be done.
  2. Lighting/ model sessions. Model sessions indoors can involve a bit of waiting around but maybe we could have a short practical using members as models and show how to light faces. Members could be asked to limit the number of pictures they take to enable other members to have a go. Maybe we can organise a trip to Smethwick on a Monday to use their studio.
  3. Night time/low light photography.
  4. Walkabouts. Urban landscapes/ Cannock Chase/ industrial sites/ National Trust/ nature reserves/ Jet ski and motorboat clubs at Kingsbury Water Park. Statfold Barn Garden Railway. Ideas for good locations would be welcome.
  5. Set challenges with a theme once a month. No re entries. A4 size. Not mounted. Members critique as to which entries fit the brief best.
  1. Producinggoodprints.PossiblecontributorsDavidLowe,Inkexpress,John Cresswell.
  2. Photoshop skills. - Either as part of a members night, or perhaps a full night with an Adobe accredited expert. We have some really good in club expertise that could be used to increase involvement of the members and save us money.
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8. Camera skills eg Exposure Triangle. Focus, focal length, lenses and their function. - A short talk with a possible practical where members experiment with changing aperture or time or ISO. Or combine it with other short talks about technical skills.

9. Macrosessions.

10. Producing AVs.

11. Do we need so many competitions? Judges can give us a guide on how to improve our pictures but judging is very subjective with judges having preferences that affect the results that a picture gets.

12. More evening/daytime activities such as walkabouts, mid-week pub meets, at home meets to talk about or practise camera or photoshop skills.
Talks More Together Carol and Peter Cheetham
Peter is a fan of black and white images whereas Carol’s pictures were in colour. They pointed out that their pictures are not for competitions but for themselves and therefore might break some of the rules that judges expect them to follow. Peter doesn’t worry about detail in the background if it helps to tell the story.
Many of Peter’s images were produced from film but he has now converted from the dark room to digital images. This explains why he loves black and white. He went on to say that you should have plenty of contrast in tone in black and white images but coloured images you need contrasting colours.
An interesting point raised by two people taking pictures in the same place is that they see different things. One of them might turn around and see something that the other did not. Also their presentation showed how changing an image from colour to black and white, or vice versa, can have a dramatic effect on how the picture looks. This reinforces the idea of previous speakers that you should always look behind you when you are taking pictures because there might be something there that makes another good image.
Carol and Peter took us on a tour from Derbyshire to France, Ellesmere Port, York Railway museum and a 40s weekend at Crich Railway Museum to name but a few.
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Newsletter Number 20 January 2020

Words from the editor
Since the last news letter we have done a variety of things including a quiz, a technical evening and the fourth competition. New events are hurtling towards us in the form of “Three of a Kind” and “Fiddle a File”. We are expecting to see the Travelling Portfolio and have a talk by Peter Cheetham. Henley has organised another lively year for us.
We have also thanked Henley Wheadon for his long and excellent service as programme secretary. He has decided to step down from this key job. Without a programme secretary we would have no reason to meet. It’s a tricky job so we really appreciate what he has done for us over the years. Paul Stokes has taken the job on for a year so we will be looking for someone else to do it next year.
For the first time for a while we are going on a photography walkabout in Birmingham on Sunday 9th February. We will meet outside Birmingham Library at 10am. You should also look out for tutorials on photography skills in the members’ area of our website. We will soon have a new one on “Composition” and there will be more added soon. If you want a subject covered or you wish to add one yourself please let me know. It is surprising how you can learn a subject by attempting to teach it and there are always snippets of information in a tutorial that might be useful to even the most experienced photographer.

We should also welcome our new members and hope that they will enjoy the rest of the meeting season and we should thank
Wex and for their very generous donations to the prizes for the quiz.

Travelling Light
Dr Anne Sutcliffe is a very enthusiastic photographer who seems to be able find a beautiful image in places that most people would not look. She is also unusual in that she has decided to carry a light camera with minimal equipment to reduce the amount of weight she has to carry. She does not use a DSLR but a Panasonic mirrorless camera. She sets the camera up for the day before she goes out and only alters the +/_ exposure control to control exposure in different light conditions.
Anne also gave a whirlwind tour of the world starting with the Kuril Islands, the Aleutians and South America. She then took us to the Easter Islands, Cuba, South America and Hawaii. Wow!
The only problem seemed to be was that everywhere she went there was an awful lot of really wet and windy weather, so much so that we are going to ask her where she is going to be that we will avoid that place when she is there. The bears of the Aleutian Islands were very wet.
Her work is very artistic. She will interpret what is there, breaks photographic rules and says look behind you when you can’t take the picture that you want. There might be something there. When processing her images she recommends that if the picture has a lot of noise accentuate it. She produced some very beautiful “landscapes “ from a small area on a brightly coloured pool in Yellowstone National Park by focusing on a very small area on the edge of the pool where the colours and textures made a pattern.
Anne also talked about the problem of developing cataracts for photographers. She said that the worst part of the operation to remove the cataract is when the doctor cuts a plastic cover that has been stuck over the area around the eye for hygiene reasons. The very small scissors that cut a slit for access the eye seem to be very close. Apart from that the operation is painless and has very rapid results and your eyesight will be vastly improved.
If you want to see Anne’s unusual take on photography then have a look on her website.

Competition 4
Judge David Lowe
David, during his judging, gave us some very unusual hints on how to improve our images that other judges do not give. Like other judges he does not like green in pictures but he did say that the problem with woodland scenes, like those of Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean is that you cannot capture the 3D feeling that you get with hard landscapes and architecture.
He blows a whistle to make people look at him when taking pictures of people. He likes to see their eyes and he likes the people to be the centre of attraction. He is not keen on light backgrounds.
For those who want to get high marks in a competition judged by David he said that he hates steam trains, canals and canal boats. However I am sure that he would recognise a good picture whatever the content.
When processing a picture David uses masking and only processes the areas that need it. He also showed us some samples of paper that can make a difference to how your final image looks so he recommends that you try different types to see what happens.
1st Are you Looking at Me?
2nd Gold Leaf
3rd Watching the Scary Bird
HC Cathedral Courtyard
C Last Fag
C Evening Catch
Alan McCormick
Alan McCormick
Catherine Nicholls
Steve West
Dave Cooke
Paul Stokes
1st Rainbow in Slate
2nd Across the Lake
3rd Lady in Blue
HC Number One
C Cloth in Hand
Paul Stokes
Dave Ballantyne
Catherine Nicholls
Dave Cooke
Catherine Nicholls
Leader Board DPIs
Leader Board Prints
1st Catherine Nicholls
2nd Alan McCormick
3rd Steve West
th Paul Stokes
1st Catherine Nicholls
2nd Dave Ballantyne
3rd Dave Cooke
th Paul Stokes
Three of a Kind
This competition challenges our skills by requiring us to produce a panel of three images. These have to relate to each other and produce a balanced set that can tell a story, frame a landscape or draw the eye in a particular way.
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The judge, Steve Clifford, was new to us so it was very refreshing for us to hear that he believes in making constructive comments when judging. He has found that some judges are rather frank when judging and feels that this is not encouraging for less experienced and experienced photographers alike. Even judges don’t agree with other judges when it is their own work being judged.
1st Taking a Break
2nd The Dark Hedges
3rd Work in Progress
HC Troglodyte
C Alfa Study
C Woodland Walk
C Making a Splash
Catherine Nicholls
Malcolm Imhoff
Steve West
Ian Dean
Dave Cooke
Catherine Nicholls
Dave Cooke
1st Lake Como
2nd Rainy Day Blossom
3rd Waiting
HC Snowdonia Skies
C Misty Day Keep Fit
C Making a Splash
Dave Cooke
Catherine Nicholls
Dave Cooke
Paul Stokes
Catherine Nicholls
Catherine Nicholls
Leader Board DPIs
Leader Board Prints
1st Catherine Nicholls
2nd Alan McCormick
3rd Dave cooke
th Malcolm Imhoff
1st Catherine Nicholls
2nd Dave Cooke
3rd Paul Stokes
th Dave Ballantyne
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Newsletter Number 19 December 2019

Words from the editor
Happy Christmas and a brilliant New Year from all at SCPC. Here’s to another good year of producing fantastic and enjoyable photography.
All that is left to complete this year is the fourth competition. Then we are looking forward to the first meeting of 2020 on January 3
rd. This is an opportunity to bring along your favourite images of the year and show everyone why you like them. For those who want some help with improving your images or using Photoshop or Light Room then bring your lap top. For those who have expertise please consider some ideas for showing others your skills. Have you learnt something new this year that you can pass on?
Once again we have to congratulate Richard and Malcolm for winning awards for their AVs. This time there was a presentation made at the AV Charity event to Malcolm Imhoff and Richard Brown by Cemriac (Central and East Midlands Region of the Institute of Amateur Cinematographers.) Malcolm won first prize and the Jessops Rose bowl. Richards's AV won a Commendation. They are really cleaning up on the AV awards.
The AV charity event raising money for Macmillan Cancer was a huge success raising £1,500 and entertaining over a hundred people. A lot of very hard work was put into this so congratulations and thank you to all involved.
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“An Audio Visual Journey – A Colour and Music Spectacular”,
Sutton Coldfield’s own Photography Club had a rather special event in their programme last Friday, 22nd November 2019, Members of the Club staged a multi- media evening called “An Audio Visual Journey – A Colour and Music Spectacular”, all in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.
The show took place in Duke Street Church and an audience of over a hundred people were treated to an evening of top class entertainment with stunning photography and high quality sound. The evening included a fish and chip supper supplied by Walmley’s Takeaway in Walmley.
Member Malcolm Imhoff has been staging a public show in aid of Macmillan for fourteen years now, originally with his wife Maggie, and continuing after Maggie died in 2016. Malcolm is a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society and has raised thousands of pounds for Macmillan in that time.

This year’s show was a joint effort shared by four members of the Club’s Audio Visual Group, Richard Brown, Dave Cooke, and José Currant, together with a lot of help from Club members, the local Macmillan Committee, and friends from St Michaels Church, Boldmere. The programme took the audience to many different places both here and abroad, and featured the beautiful gardens of Bodnant in North Wales, a Steam Punk Festival at Blists Hill, the mountains of Scotland, a sequence about an Irish composer whose songs are well known but whose name is not, Autumn in Venice, a garden full of surprises in France, and Luton. Yes, that is where a hundred years ago the townspeople rioted and set their Town Hall on fire when the returning war veterans were excluded from the town’s lavish celebration.
By the end of the evening, thanks to the generosity of all those who were there, and also some who were not able to attend, the Club has raised £1,500 for Macmillan Cancer Support beating the £1,400 they raised last year.

Dave Cooke. Malcolm Imhoff, Jose Currant, Richard Brown.

“Welcome to Paradise”
Tony Broom
We have only had time to have one talk since the last news letter. Tony gave us a blow by blow of his tour through the islands of Hawaii from Kauai to the main island of Hawaii. His talk was a comprehensive description of the beautiful sights and places of the islands. It ended with some pictures of the current volcanic action taking place in Hawaii.
Any one wishing to go to Hawaii will have had a really good view of what they will see and experience when they get there. Tony put a lot of effort into his talk.
Competition 3
This competition was a new venture for the club as the judges were the members of the club. Doing this can be difficult as setting up a voting system for all attending can be quite complicated. It was decided to have two or three judges chosen from members who had not entered the section to be judged and for them to choose the six top entries. They allocated the commended and highly commended images and then there was a membership vote for the top three places.
Opportunities for commenting on the images were given and an opportunity to learn just how difficult it is to speak in public and decide who the winners should be. This is a really good way of gaining experience in assessing competition images. It was successful enough for us to do it again next year.
Competition 3 Results
1st Ghostly
2nd Busy in the Rain
3rd Whiskers
HC God’s Light
C Memorial Window
C Work of Art
Richard Brown
Catherine Nicholls
Catherine Nicholls
Malcolm Imhoff
John Cresswell
Richard Brown
1st Amsterdam Evening
2nd Sunset Storm
3rd Who’s This, Fido?
HC Consulting The Map
C A Clash of Styles
C Crochet
Paul Stokes
Dave Ballantyne
Dave Ballantyne
Paul Stokes

Catherine Nicholls
Catherine Nicholls
Leader Board DPIs
Leader Board Prints
1st Catherine Nicholls
2nd Malcolm Imhoff
3rd Richard Brown
rd Alan McCormick
1st Dave Cooke
1st Catherine Nicholls
3rd Dave Ballantyne
Interclub Competition
SCPC versus Aston and Erdington
Judge Graham Walton
One of the best ways of finding out what is going on in other clubs in the way of photography is to have an interclub competition. It allows to find out how the standard of our photography compares with that of other clubs.
Graham Walton is a very experienced judge who gives lots of good advice when judging. His criteria for success reflect the common popular qualities of a good image such as the use of leading lines, dark edges to the image, use of the rules of thirds and lack of distracting items such as bright spots, buttons and jewellery. Portraits and studio work are highly regarded amongst judges.
As expected the standard of A and E’s photography was high and once again they beat us, and by a wider margin than we would like. This has laid down a challenge for next year when we need to look at the type of pictures that do well in these competitions and take some of them ourselves. Studio work often does very well.
Well done A and E. We look forward to the challenge next year.
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Newsletter Number 18 November 2019

Words from the editor
You may have noticed that I started this newsletter in October and it is now November. Life is still moving so fast that I haven’t had time to write the rest. So here goes. This is what has happened to our club since September.
Once again, we have to congratulate Richard Brown and Malcolm Imhoff for winning medals in AV competitions. Richard has won a bronze medal for his AV, “A Place of Shadows” in the Irish Federation International AV Competition, Dublin. Malcolm has won a bronze medal for “Love Remains” in the Garbagnate International AV Festival, Milan.
They have also both won Highly Commended for AVs in the National AV Championships in Leeds
These are very prestigious competitions that show how good Richard and Malcolm are at creating imaginative and beautiful audio-visual presentations so if you want to learn how to do one come along to the club and meet them.
We have had another club competition, an interclub competition, interesting talks, a weekend away in the Wye Valley, and an exhibition in the Community Library in Shenstone.
Weekend Away.
This year’s weekend away took place in the Wye Valley. The hotel was in sight of Goodrich Castle and not far from Symond’s Yat and the Forest of Dean. It provided an excellent opportunity to take photographs despite the awful weather and we were able to spend quality time chatting and getting to know each other. The food was good too.
We visited Puzzle Wood, a mysterious maze through moss covered limestone gullies used as a film set in many well known films such as Star Wars.
Unfortunately we missed the canoeing/ kayaking competition on the rapids at Symond’s Yat East due to the dangerous conditions on the river. We are already looking forward to next year’s trip away. Thanks to Ian and Barbara for their research and getting things arranged each year.
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Dinner at “The Inn on the Wye”
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Puzzle Wood
John Cresswell
Seeking the Perfect Picture.
John is a very well respected member of the club who has a natural artistic eye for generating beautiful photographs wherever they are. He is also a skilled technician.
He started the talk with a demonstration of how he cuts mounts and then went on to give us further about how to produce images with more depth. He uses matte paper rather than gloss. Portrait white paper also gives some of his pictures a lot of punch.
He takes pictures of anything that interests him and does not stick to a single subject or style. He rarely goes in for minimalist pictures. John has visited a very wide range of locations and is very good at finding pictures in places that most people would walk past.
He says that curves are great for building a picture and believes in creating a good image in the camera rather than using Photoshop. He does refine his pictures in Photoshop and makes sure that he uses the right paper to show the images at their best.
I am often amazed at the high definition and richness of colours in his pictures and would love to be able to do the same.

Fred Davies
Travelling Light
Fred started his talk by passing on his knowledge about what kind of camera you need in order to produce good digitally projected images. He points out that you do not need a camera that uses more than 24 mega pixels to create a DPI because they have to be reduced in size anyway. That means that most modern cameras are quite capable of producing a very high standard of projected image.
He talked about the kit he takes when venturing out to take pictures. Being well prepared for all weathers is essential and, because Fred concentrates on landscapes, he always takes a tripod. He uses a polarised filter for water and graduated filters for dealing with bright skies. Wide angled lenses are useful for landscapes.
Fred has a very particular style of taking pictures. He mainly works in black and white. Like many good photographers he advocates doing as much in the camera to produce a good image. Unusually he uses histograms to ensure that his pictures are biased towards the lighter end of the spectrum and then uses layers in Photoshop to darken or process parts of his pictures. This is unusual as many photographers advocate a degree of underexposure rather than overexposure because you can always recover detail from dark areas in Photoshop.
He finds storm lighting is a very effective. The Golden Hour when the sun is low in the sky to produce wonderful texture and shapes in a landscape. As with many photographers he takes pictures in the early morning. He places something in the foreground to give depth.
Fred believes that people are becoming difficult to photograph in this country so he chooses places like markets where people are busy doing stuff and are not aware of you. It’s a good idea to stand in a doorway to shelter from rain and take pictures of people going past.
During his talk Fred passed on a lot of useful technical information that some speakers do not tell us so not only did we see some lovely images but we learnt a lot as well.

Bob and Sue Moore
Moore and Moore Digital Prints
We were very pleased to welcome both Bob and Sue to our club because their photography skills are outstanding and Bob is very keen to pass on his skills and knowledge to other people.
Bob does all the talking and Sue backs him up with details about where the pictures were taken. She is the one with the good memory. Bob started by telling us about the paper he uses. These are Permajet FB Gold Silk and Monogold plus occasional use of Royale and Distinction. He showed us how the use of different types of paper can affect the finished image. Distinction is a cold paper whilst Gold Silk is warm. He does not like textured papers.
Bob also advises us to learn to use our printers properly and use Photoshop to correct the aberrations thrown up by cameras such as showing skin up as redder than it should be. The colours a camera sees are often wrong.
The size of monitor that Bob and Sue recommend for use are the biggest that you can afford because you can see your images in great detail. They also need to be profiled correctly.
Bob told us how he sets up his camera in most situations. He always uses Auto ISO. He uses the minimum shutter speed for the lens he is using and automatic central point focus. He points the central point at the point he wants in focus, presses the shutter half way to hold the focus point and then moves the camera to point at the view that is to be included in the picture. He does not use flash or long lenses. His people pictures do not show smiley faces because they look posed. He talks to his models and has a laugh and a joke with them but above all he has the nerve to be cheeky and ask them to move to positions where he can get a well lit shot against a good background.
Bob and Sue are very widely travelled and have a camper van which has taken them across Europe to Georgia and Morocco. They started their display with wonderfully moody pictures of Yellowstone National Park and moved through pictures of the Alps, Georgia, Goa, Blists Hill, the Black country Museum, Beamish and Tyseley Railway Museum.
They do not have a favourite type of picture which makes their talks all the more interesting. Their philosophy is, ”See the picture before you take it. Don’t take pictures if the conditions are rubbish and if you do not enjoy taking pictures then don’t bother”. They say go to places where you know you can take good pictures and at a time of day that gives mood and texture to a picture.
They also showed pictures taken in Ethiopia in conjunction with Orbis UK. Orbis has a flying eye hospital and does amazing work in Africa operating on adults and children with serious eye conditions. Bob and Sue’s pictures show in great detail the work that the doctors do and how much their service is needed.
Competition 2 Results
1st What Did She Say?
2nd Powells Pool
3rd Exploring Digbeth
HC Which House Was It?
HC Who is paying the Bill?
HC Sandy Peak
HC Squirrel Alert
C Non Entrée
C On Infinity Bridge
C Pas de Deux
Catherine Nicholls
Paul Stokes
Georgie Hughes
Georgie Hughes
Dave Cooke
Dave Cooke
Paul Stokes

Dave Cooke
John Cresswell
Alan McCormick
1st Iron Horse
2nd Google Maps Say We Are Lost
3rd Down and Out
HC Foggy Sunday Walk
HC Lavender Meander
HC Keeping Cromer Clean
C Summers Day
C Drinking Song
C Euphoria
Dave Cooke
Dave Ballantyne

Catherine Nicholls
Georgie Hughes
Dave Cooke
John Cresswell
Dave Cooke
Alan McCormick

Alan McCormick
Leader Board DPIs
Leader Board Prints
1st Catherine Nicholls
2nd Alan McCormick
3rd Dave Cooke Georgie Hughes Malcolm Imhoff
1st Dave Cooke
2nd Catherine Nicholls Georgie Hughes
4th John Cresswell
Interclub Competition
SCPC versus Great Barr PS Judge Peter Siviter
Interclub competitions are very useful for seeing the photographs of a wider range of people than usual. It also adds a bit of excitement to the proceedings as we all like to win.
This competition also gives us an insight to the type of images preferred by judges as they often tell us what they do or do not like or give us hints on what they would do to improve a picture.
Peter does not like snap shots which makes me wonder if he also means grab shots where you see something and have to make a very quick shot to take an interesting picture. Or does he mean what some photographers call a record shot which is not particularly inspiring?
He likes to use a polariser to show skies as navy blue rather a lighter colour but he also said that you achieve this effect in Photoshop. He told us to talk to people when taking pictures of them and to go to places where people want their picture taken, such as re-enactments or living museums. He prefers portraits rather than full length pictures of people and proved this by giving very high marks to a lovely printed portrait entered by Richard Johnson, a member of Great Barr PS.
The best DPI was entered by Georgina Hughes, a lovely picture called “Drawn into the Fog”. It was very interesting to see that pictures that did very well in other competitions, including some that got firsts were given very low marks by Peter which just goes to show that judging photographic competitions is very subjective and is the reason why many experienced photographers say that they take pictures for their own pleasure and not for judges.
Whilst SCPC won the Print section of the competition by one mark they lost out to Great Barr in the DPI competition by nineteen marks and Great Barr won the competition over all. Well done Great Barr. We look forward to the rematch next year.

Newsletter Number 17 September 2019

Words from the editor
Once again we have started the year at a run with an informal evening, a talk from Warren Alani, a competition judged by Paddy Ruske and a gazebo at Newhall Mill to show off our club achievements to the public.
We are also preparing for the exhibition of our pictures at Shenstone library during the month of October. The images will be mounted and framed and will be up for sale with the intention of raising some money for the community run library.
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Our weekend away at Symond’s Yat is coming up soon so we will be enjoying ourselves eating out and maybe taking some photos.

Our programme manager has drawn up a very busy year of talks, competitions, social events and competitions that old and new members can look forward to and all of this can be seen on our new website at
Whilst the newsletter will continue to be published in the open area of the new website we now have a new members’ area which can only be accessed by members. The competition entry page will be moved to the members’ only area soon. Members will also have access to technical notes, links and downloads, and information about external competitions. Other members’ only topics may be added as the site evolves and some very useful technical advice will be added as members make more contributions.
Fade (the AV Group of SCPC) is putting on a charity evening at 7.30pm, at Duke Street Church, Sutton Coldfield on Friday 22nd November in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. The group are putting on a display of audio visual presentations and there will be a fish and chip supper. The cost is £15.00 per person. You need to take your own drinks. If you want to know more e-mail to book tickets. You need to do so quickly because the evening has been fully booked in the past. A poster of event can be seen on our website.
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Newhall Mill
The club put on a display at Newhall Mill for the second time. We were worried about the weather but despite the rain we managed to keep relatively dry and met a lot of very interesting people. Keep your fingers crossed that some of them were interested enough to join the club as new members.
Our chairman managed to snaffle the last bacon roll from one of the stalls which was selling all sorts of goodies. No wonder he looks so pleased in this picture.
Seeing is Believing.
Our first talk and show of images was given by Warren Alani and was an excellent start to the season. Warren takes pictures that he likes and not necessarily for competitions which means that the images he showed were very diverse and gave us a lot of information about how to get some amazing photographs.
His main hint was “Look at what other successful photographers produce but be inspired rather than copy”.
He divided his photographs into sections devoted to different topics the first of which was architecture. His advice was to go for unusual views and interesting angles. He also takes pictures from above looking down. Including people in the image gives a sense of scale.
BMX, tennis and athletics pictures also made up some of the sections. Warren goes for images that show facial expressions when people are making a real effort to do things like hitting a ball or long jumping. He gets himself onto the arena or very close to the action in the right place to se their faces. He gets a media pass to get to these positions. Long jumpers tend to close their eyes when they land in the sand so catch them when they are still in the air and catching BMX bikes in the air is also more exciting.
Warren generally doesn’t believe in manipulating pictures but did transfer his amazing photos of clowns onto different backgrounds to achieve some interesting and humorous results.

Competition 1
Judge Paddy Ruske
Paddy gave us some really good clues as to what judges are looking for in competition winning pictures. Judges who see a lot of images during the year become very aware of what the new trends in photography are and what is becoming old hat and lacking in originality.
Paddy also has strong likes and dislikes when judging images but made it clear that he judges the images by quality. He finds images of Steam Punks, Goths, Ragged Victorians have appeared rather too often for them to be original and different so those images need to be exceptional to gain his praise. Pictures of Cuba, nudes and Punk are also seen as going out of favour whilst pattern pictures from the high street seem to be in fashion.
Paddy also told us that judging standards are constantly being updated and reviewed by the PAGB and gave us a few tips on what we need to do to keep up with this. For example, Judges must now take into account the relationship between the title of the picture and its content. Judges must look out for excessive whitening of the eyes. This is because eyes are not naturally white but have colour running through them. They tend to be very pale blue or magenta. Judges tend not to like greens. Some camera processors (Nikons) have a bias towards acid green colours and care needs to be taken when processing these images to tone this down.
Paddy made the point that in international competitions judges only get five seconds to look at images so those with instant impact are more likely to do well. Even in club competitions this attribute also helps striking images to be more successful than those that need to be looked at for a long to appreciate their content.
Several of the images he judged broke the common rules of photography. Having four people or objects in the picture or a horizon halfway up the picture would usually prevent the image from doing well but rules can be broken to produce something striking.
His advice for success in competitions is produce something unusual and different that the judges haven’t seen before.
Competition 1 Results
1st Dill
2nd Candle Light
rd Orange Branch
HC Nature Takes its Course
HC Windswept
C The Rabble
C Reflections
C Misty Malverns
Catherine Nicholls
Malcolm Imhoff
Dave Williamson
Alan McCormick
Alan McCormick
Dave Cooke
Bob Roberts
Malcolm Imhoff
1st Who’s Watching Who
2nd Staircase to Heaven
3rd Steam Punk Study
HC Woolacombe Beach Huts
HC Lost to the Rhythm
C Polperro
C Curves and Compass
Georgie Hughes
Catherine Nicholls
Dave Cooke
John Cresswell
Alan McCormick
Dave Ballantyne
John Cresswell
Leader Board DPIs
Leader Board Prints
1st Malcolm Imhoff
2nd Alan McCormick / Catherine Nicholls
1st Georgie Hughes
2nd John Cresswell /Catherine Nicholls
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Fuji XT 3 Camera
Kate Nicholls
I have decided to venture into the world of mirrorless cameras so, having done some research on the internet for reviews and prices, I decided to go to Jessops to have a hands on look at one. As the price there was equivalent to the lowest I had seen on the net I bought a Fuji XT 3 plus an 18-55 lens and a wide angled 10-24 lens. An ultra-violet filter was thrown in for free and five vouchers for canvasses which are going towards prizes for the club quiz next year. Jessops have also promised to give us five £10 vouchers for the quiz as well. Well done Jessops! Also I prefer buying from real shops because you can go back to ask for help if something goes wrong.
Using a new camera of a different make to the one you are used to using takes time but there are a few things about a Fuji that feel like learning a different language, especially for a technophobe like me. For example Iso is referred to as the sensitivity. The aperture adjustment is on the lens rather than the camera body. This actually makes more sense because you see the effect of changing the aperture in the view finder or the screen and Iso is about sensitivity to light.
There are some features which make it very easy to change settings rapidly like a toggle stick placed where your thumb is to change the position of the point of focus. I’m still coming to grips with the number of different ways that you can make adjustments especially as it is easy to do that by accident.
The images seem to be really good quality but I was shocked to find that the RAW files are not compatible with Photoshop and you have to download an app to adapt them to Light room. I have managed to do this but it didn’t work in the way I expected it to. If you want to
know what I did you need to look on the website in the Technical section of the members’ area. Meanwhile I am really pleased with the pictures that I took at Newhall Mill. They are really sharp and the camera is really fast at taking them.
If anyone has some useful hints on helping me get used to this camera I would love to hear from you.

Newsletter number 16, May 2019

Words from the editor
Another season of meetings has come to an end and it is time to get out and about to take more photos for the new season in September.
Change is in the air as we have new members of the committee settling in and new members required in the future. We are developing links with other photography clubs through a Midlands photography club co-operative to be known as the “CCC” being set up by Beacon Photography Club and club members have been asked what type of sessions they would like the club to provide. All new ideas are welcome so if you haven’t had your say yet let me know what you would like the club to provide. How about some monthly activities such as evening walkabouts to take photos and meet up in a pub afterwards?
Don’t forget that we have booked a gazebo at Newhall Mill on 22nd September to publicize the club and we need to get leaflets and posters out to people before September to spread the news about our friendly club.

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What a lovely surprise!
Dave Cooke

I have attended many A G M’s at our photographic club over the years, but 2019 was rather special. The committee decided to update one of the trophy awards. The best P D I image of the year, awarded by the judge at the final annual competition of the year.
A new silver cup is to be awarded and called “The Patricia Cooke Cup”. Pat would have been impressed and honoured. Pat started taking slides in the Olympus OM days and took part in competitions and won quite a few. Pat changed to Digital only when her Olympus developed a shutter fault and was expensive to repair.
I wasn’t interested in this new digital (as I had Olympus bodies, motor drives, 4/5 lenses closeups etc, etc) But when Pat stated showing me what she had just taken when we were out and about. (I would have to wait at least a week to see my results) So then I joined the Digital movement.

Thanks to all The Members for this memory of Pat/Trisha, we have spent so many happy hours engrossed in our fantastic hobby of ours. Made loads of friends, visited so many interesting places.
Photography has been such a huge part of our life. The family all appreciate the kind thoughts that have been expressed.
Thanks again Dave Cooke

PS. Congratulations to Richard Brown as the first recipient of “The Patricia Cooke Cup"
End of Year Results
As a tribute to the valuable contribution to the club made over forty years a new trophy has been named after Patricia Cooke. The Trophy has been awarded for the first time to Richard Brown for the DPI of the year.
Congratulations to this year’s competition winners which were as follows:

  • The Pat Cooke Trophy for DPI of the Year – Richard Brown – The Oiler
  • Print of the Year – Martin James – Mobile Addiction
  • Prints competition. Overall Winner – John Cresswell
  • DPI’s competition. Overall Winner – Ian Dean

Club Activities Survey
Thank you to those who filled in the survey. It revealed some interesting offers for providing activities. John Cresswell has offered to do a talk/demonstration on cutting mounts.
Dave Ballantyne has suggested doing a demonstration on lighting using fixed lights rather than flash. As an ex TV camera man Dave would like to show us the effects on the subject of moving lights around.
Richard Brown has offered to lead an early evening walk along the canals in Birmingham and can advise us on suitable places to go. Kate Nicholls is going to investigate somewhere local to go on another evening walk, possibly in the Shenstone area.
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Kate has also been shown how to take long exposure pictures of whirling lights in the dark so she is willing to have another go at that. She has fire eating brands which she is prepared to use as well as various coloured light sources. (Did you know she is a fully trained fire eater so watch you don’t upset her. She can breathe fire!)
Requests for activities include work shops on Photoshop and Lightroom, street photography using time lapse, a group visit to a zoo or a nature park and studio work with still life and a model.

Other clubs have monthly meetups in pubs or peoples’ homes on a different night to the main club night, either as a base for a walk or a get together that does not cost anything to hire a room.
Maybe there is also some scope for tackling different areas of photography such as wildlife, portraiture, use of filters and lenses. This could involve visits to the hides in Kingsbury Water Park. It might also need the use of long lenses which are a bit of a commitment and cost for some of us.
If you have any more ideas or would like to suggest a venue for an activity’s meet then please let me know and I will try and set it up.
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Caravan and Camping Club Photography Meets

For those who have a camper van, a caravan or are prepared to camp going to Caravan and Camping Photography Club meets is an excellent opportunity to meet other photographers and visit new places to take photographs. The members are very friendly and keen to pass on their knowledge and expertise in matters relating to photography and camping
At the end of April I went on a meet in a very pretty village called Yelden near Bedford. The campsite was on a field next to the village hall which was open for us to use for tea breaks and presentations given by some of the participants. The weather was not too good but the dramatic skies provided a moody atmosphere to landscape photographs.
It was wonderful to hear two cuckoos having a singing competition in the mornings as well as thrushes and dunnocks singing their heads off. Later on in the day two light aircraft put on a really scary display of acrobatics in the sky right over us. Both of them were flying upwards vertically until they stalled, tumbling over and swooping towards the ground before regaining control again. Apparently they were practising for an assessment of their abilities.

Talks were given on photo-astronomy and the equipment needed to take images of the galaxies and stars in the night sky. We were also shown a Journey to America and a diary style talk on travelling from Calais to Lake Geneva using “aires” which are areas in French towns and beside roads where camper vans and caravans can stop over night for free.
During Sunday I took the opportunity to go to Paxton Pits, a nature reserve near St Neots. I took the risk of chatting up a group of interesting looking bird watchers (Bob Moore style) having a picnic by a very nice little volunteer run cafe at the site. It’s a small world. They turned out to be members of a Sutton Coldfield bird watching club and there was a whole coach load of them. You might even recognise some of them.
The following day I went to the Shuttleworth Aircraft Museum and witnessed another impromptu display of airplane acrobatics as well as the really interesting Shuttleworth Collection which has flying machines dating back to the 1840s.
I’m looking forward to the next meet at Brailes in the Cotswolds and hope to take some good photos and enjoy good company.


Infrared and Ireland. Keith Burgoyne

If you think you know what infrared photographs look like then you need to think again because Keith has some very interesting techniques that he uses when processing his

images. He says that “If you have a feeling for photography then people looking at your photo will feel the same about the image you have taken”.
He takes a very diverse range of photographs. He admits to taking a lot of rubbish before he gets to the good ones. This something that we all admit to. He also believes that the less you have to do to an image the better. Simplicity is the key to a good photograph.
His talk displayed images of the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland. There are a lot of ruined houses in Ireland that are very photogenic. Keith’s pictures have a pastel style which is produced by softening the images using clarity in Photoshop. The infrared images start out pink and Keith has to use channels in Photoshop to produce a black and white image. However, Keith’s images often have subtle variations of pink and green which make beautiful images with a distinctive style that would grace many people’s walls, which is not something that you could say about all photography.

Zoo Photography Talvinder Chohan

Talvinder is a professional photographer with a predominating interest in big cats. He has access to zoos at times of day when the public are not around which makes it easier for him to take photos of the animals. He also likes days when the weather is miserable because it keeps the public away. He puts a bin bag over his camera to protect it from the weather.
On quiet days the animal will focus on him and spend time looking towards him. He spends so much time with some of the animals that they recognise and come over to the edge of the cage to communicate in a catlike way with him.
He takes his best photos in the winter when the sun is low in the sky. Also cats tend to be active in the early morning and asleep by lunchtime. Feeding time is also a good time to get good images.
To cope with fences and glass between him and the animals he explained several useful techniques. Firstly, he always puts his camera right up to the glass and keeps it pointing at right angles to the glass to avoid reflections. To avoid getting fencing in the picture he can pan with a moving animal. This blurs out the fencing. He has a problem at Twycross because the fences are too thick to do this.
One thing that became clear from his talk is that big cats have much in common with house cats and you can often predict their behaviour. There are also differences. For example, he says that big cats always yawn three times, so if you want to catch them showing their teeth you have a little time to get you camera pointing in the right direction before the second and third yawn.
Above all he says that you have to slow down and relax to get good images. He uses a central focus point to get the eyes in focus and tracking. With striped animals you can get some good abstract shots.
His next idea is to take pictures of people looking at the animals. We might be able to do this as well.

Summer Calendar
A calendar of interesting summer events has been put on the website. Events where it easy to meet up are Ashdown, the Klondyke steam event and Spetchley Park which are in a more restricted space. Please note that dogs are not allowed in Spetchley Park.
The Upton Blues Festival and Tewkesbury are enormous sites so it is more difficult to meet people. Papplewick has restricted parking nearby so you must arrive early to park near the pump house.
Try out this easy way of mounting DPI images
Just open this file in Photoshop, place your image (.psd, .jpg, .tiff, .dng, .NEF etc.), choose your preferred background colour, and "Save for web".
Click here to download the Photoshop file complete with full instructions.

Newsletter number 15, February 2019

Words from the editor
Happy New Year. Time goes fast when you are enjoying yourself and we have already had some really good meetings this year plus one interclub competition.
Unfortunately, the year has also started with the sad news of the death of Tricia Cooke. Trish or Pat, as some of us call her, was a very treasured and long standing member of the club who has played a very major part in running it in the past. Along with Dave, her husband, Sutton Coldfield Photography Club (formerly known as Fentham Photographic Society) she helped it to became a very dynamic and friendly club.
Tricia Cooke
In 1976, a small photographic society in Great Barr was closing down. About eight members of that club decided that they would like to continue being members somewhere else and cast around other societies in North Birmingham that they might like to join.
They decided on Fentham PS and in the years that followed, practically all of that small group served on the committee and many of them became Chairman.
Over time, most of them have drifted away for one reason or another. But two have remained: Tricia and Dave Cooke. They have been the backbone of Fentham PS for the last four decades and continue to be so. Their dedication to the society has been extraordinary.
They have both been long standing committee members and have both served as Chairman. They are scarcely ever known to miss a meeting or entering a club competition. They have been involved in organising every exhibition, workshop and event, attended practically every social gathering, outing, weekend away and supported other activities such as the Digital Group and the Audio Visual Group, often hosting meetings at their home.
In short, in the best Blackpool rock tradition, if you were to cut them in half, they would have ‘Fentham Photographic Society’ written right through them.

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Just before Christmas 2015, the Fentham committee unanimously decided that Tricia and Dave should be made Honorary Members.
This is a very special distinction. The only other honorary member Fentham has ever had was founder member Bill Dowding, who was awarded that accolade at the club’s 21st birthday party in 1988.
The award was presented at Fentham’s annual Celebration Supper evening on 22nd January 2016. Secretary Richard Brown was pleased to present gifts and a certificate to Tricia and Dave to recognise and celebrate their forty years of commitment and enthusiasm for Fentham Photographic Society.

They have continued, in difficult times, to support the club under its new name of Sutton Coldfield Photography Club. Tricia will be sorely missed by all.
Wildlife garden Paddy Ruske
Paddy is a keen wildlife photographer to the extent that he is making a very valuable contribution to the study of moths that visit his garden.
He is concerned that 40% of open space in towns is lost to concreting over front gardens so he has created a wildlife garden to attract wildlife, and in particular, insects such as moths. He says that the Midlands is the best location for studying moths because of the overlap between southern and northern habitats.
In order to attract wildlife he has laid out a gravel path. Insects like gravel because they can live in the spaces it creates. He has planted wildflowers like campion and native daffodils and says that many charities give away packets of wild flower seeds. He allows nettles and brambles to grow and also has a wildlife pond for frogs and newts. Frogs are provided with broken flower pots to live in. The sparrows have a tower box on the wall of the house. There is a wood pile and he provides homes for bees. He also has a stack of pallets with straw and pots in between to make a layered insect home.
In order to study the moths he uses moth traps at night but he warns that you may have to notify the police about these as neighbours might think that there is something strange going on next door or in the woods.
He uses a camera with a remote control. He takes the photos whilst he is sitting in his lounge looking at the garden through his window. He puts twigs on a table plus a log, uses a water reflector in front. He provides an artificial background painted on woodchip paper and attracts the birds with food behind the log.
His real secret to success is his £35.00 Fuji Finepix S8000fd bridge camera with a macro button which he bought on the web. It has super macro which means he doesn’t have to zoom and therefore doesn’t scare the birds or insects.
Paddy has found that taking pictures of wild life is a good way of making friends in your street because people are interested in your pictures. They also become interested in increasing wild life habitats in their gardens.
As for the wild life itself even the mice have got used to the camera being in front of their face and, if you cover your face with the camera, deer will accept you as a tripod.
Moths can be attracted with pheromones. You can buy these or you can fill an old sock with mashed banana and wine to hang up outside.
Paddy can give you advice on photographing bats (you need a licence) and the possibility of red squirrels being introduced to Cannock Chase plus much more.

A guide to long exposure daylight photography. David Lowe
Photographers and the competition judges are always looking for something different so this talk and demonstration was really inspiring. David takes images with exposures of several minutes in daylight using extra dense filters. Why does he do this? The answer is not only to get unusual pictures but also to get rid of clouds in windows and to make a busy place look empty.
David has sent us the technical notes and with his permission we have added them to the club website for you to read so I do not need to write my usual notes of hints and tips.
Extra information that is not on David’s tips might also be useful. For example you can make a high density filter from welder’s glass by bluing it to the ring of an unused filter that has had its glass taken out. David also showed us that you can change the effect of the picture by using different types of paper.
He recommended Salford Quays in Manchester as an excellent place to take images and had also used Normanton Church in Rutland Water as a subject.
Finally he said that you do not need to waste money by buying the range of filters recommended in photography magazines. If you have a very dense filter you can increase the amount of time taken to expose the photo rather than mess about changing filters.
Notes from David Lowe's talk can be downloaded here•••

Interclub Competition
Great Barr/ SCPC
We came second in this competition but we saw some excellent prints and PDIs from both clubs. It is always a good thing to see the type of images that other clubs produce and as always Great Barr were very generous with their welcome and plenty of tea and biscuits. Maybe we need to take note of the type of images that judges give high marks to so that we can win next year! Studio portraits always seem to do well.
Three related images Competition.
This competition is aimed at increasing the skills of members at producing a panel of three pictures that are related to each other. This is more difficult than you might think. Each set has to have a definite link without being part of the same image. The lighting, colour and tone of the images should match especially on the outer two and of course the image must be something that is a little bit different to attract the judge’s eye.
It is often easy to match two pictures but trying to get three to match each other is can be very difficult. The best way to do it is to set out on a photography session with creating a panel in mind. Producing three print panels and three DPI panels is a lot of work. I’m going to take my own advice for next year.
1st, Kate Nicholls - Woodland Impressions
2nd, John Cresswell - Old Moseley baths
3rd, Kate Nicholls - Model Sketches
HC, Paul Stokes - Winter Wonder Woodland
HC, Dave Ballantyne - Mud in Your Eye
C, Georgina Hughes - Pushing the Boundary
C, John Cresswell - Circle Flats
1st, Dave Cooke - Three Fruit a Day
2nd, Kate Nicholls - Abandoned
3rd, Dave Cooke - Three in a Frame
HC, Georgina Hughes - Mirrored Reflections
HC, Dave Cooke - Send in the Clowns
HC, Pauls Stokes - Going for the Big Finish
HC, Richard Brown - Heavy Traffic
C, John Cresswell - Kings Cross
C, Steve West - Remember - Remember
C, Ian Dean - Reflective Moments
Shenstone Community Library
In order to publicise our group I went to Shenstone Library to enter a photography competition that the club was invited to participate in. Whilst there I discussed the possibility of a link up with the library to publicise our club to people who live near enough to us to come along to our meetings.
The library has a gallery with a professional hanging system that is used to display art work of local schools and artists. I discussed with Gillean Yeo the idea that we might participate in showing our work in the gallery.
As a result Gillean has booked us in to do this in October for four weeks. There is a charge for doing this and there are some conditions that we have to follow if we wish to take up the booking.
The gallery costs £15 per week to hire for the whole group. The images must be made available to sell and should be framed as this makes them more likely to sell. The library will charge 20% of any sales. The money raised is put towards the cost of running the library which is run by the community and is completely self funding. Gillean says that the price of the framed pictures should be a minimum of £15 in order for the seller to make a profit depending on the cost of framing and, if possible, no more than £20. However Gillean does recognize that you might want to charge more. Frames can be hired for a £1 for the duration of the display if you do not want to go to the expense of buying them but will need to be replaced if the picture is sold. These frames were bought from Ikea.
The main objective of the library is to provide an attractive and happy environment for its users rather than to sell the pictures. Gillean hopes that all contributors to the exhibitions are happy to see their work displayed and are happy to be part of the organisation for a while.

If you want to see what the library has to offer look up the opening times and go there for coffee and cake in the very nice coffee shop.
Thank you to all those who have shown an interest in this. Gillean is delighted.
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Newsletter number 14, October 2018

Words from the editor
The brisk pace of the meeting season continues with an excellent set of talks and another competition. The club has been off on its annual weekend away to Cheshire. I’ve taken up the opportunity to catch up on visiting some interesting places after a summer of family duties. With another competition coming up soon it easy to get through a lot of images in a very short time but meeting deadlines can be fun and encourage you to improve your photography.

I would like to ask anyone who reads this newsletter, and finds it useful, to contribute an article for inclusion in future issues. I am sure that you can all share something interesting as we all have different skills and knowledge. Do you know some interesting places to visit? Have you got some skills that you are willing to pass on? Have you got some interesting or funny tales to tell? If so send them to me to include.
Karon has sent us this web link to some stunning photos. I’m jealous because two of the images were taken in West Cornwall which is the place I have been visiting on a regular basis.

I have had an email asking if anyone has a use for a black and white enlarger. If you want it please contact me through the website.

Competition 2
Judge John Cartlidge
The great thing about John is his sense of humour. Not only that but he passes on some great tips about how to improve your images whilst judging. We spent most of the evening laughing at his stories.
Results competition 2
Martin James 1st
Alan McCormick 2nd
John Cresswell 3rd
Paul Stokes HC
Catherine Nicholls HC
Dave Cooke HC
Georgina Hughes C
Catherine Nicholls C
Alan McCormick C
John Cresswell 1st
John Cresswell 2nd
Catherine Nicholls 3rd
Steve West HC
Steve West HC
Richard Brown HC
Ian Dean C
Ian Dean C
Georgina Hughes C
John Cresswell C
Leader Board
Alan McCormick 1st
David Ballantyne 2nd
John Cresswell 3rd
Dave Cooke 4th
John Cresswell 1st
Ian Dean 2nd
Steve West 3rd
Richard Brown 4th
Peter Warner
“My Photographic Journey”
Peter’s theme was to show the journey had made in his photographic career and he made a start by showing us a really beautiful old bellows camera that used glass plates. This old camera was a work of art in itself and a beautiful piece of engineering and woodwork. When asked to guess who had made it we were very surprised to find out that it was that it had a label on it saying “Boots the Chemists”.
He then showed us a fold out Brownie camera that may have evoked memories of past photography for some.
Peter showed us a range of images illustrating his photography over the years including some excellent ones using a technique that seems to be coming into fashion. This technique is called Contra - Jour and involves taking pictures against the light. This can produce some very atmospheric images. Here is a useful link with some great images.
Peter then went on to explain that he was now concentrating on producing audio visual presentations. Not only does this help you to tell stories, it also allows you to interpret other people’s art and make it your own. He also regards it as a way to make money out if you are willing to make promotional AVs for companies. He said it that some people charge as much as £3,000.
He was a bit nervous of showing his AVs in the presence of Richard Brown who has just won the most prestigious prize in the country for his AV “In Search of Christina”. Peter regards Richard as the world champion of AV makers.
Peter then went on to show his AVs which showed how much progress he has made in creating AVs. Peter showed an evocative AV called “Soldiers of the Great War” set to newly composed music by Tom Wells.
Richard had better look out.
Peter’s big tip was about how to convert old fashioned slides to digital images. He finds the converters that you can buy very slow so he set up a system that involves a macro lens, a light box and a piece of card with a hole cut in it the size of the colour slide. He sets the slide up in the hole over the light box, puts his camera onto a tripod looking down at the slide and takes a digital image of it.

John Cresswell
As a member of SCPC John has had the opportunity to do six presentations for us over the years. He has put a huge amount of effort into showing us images from his collection that he has never shown us before and boy was it worth it!
John takes a wide variety of image types, everything from landscapes to portraits, architecture to pattern and more. He also showed us images that he created when he used film and slides and showed us very clearly how he uses his imagination to create photographs that are also works of art. His opening line was “It is all art. You need to use your imagination.”
One of the most suprising images was a black and white picture that needed to be entered a competition titled “Red Hats”. In order to create an image with red in it in days when he did not use colour film. He took an image of a model wearing a stylish hat and coat, developed it in black and white and then covered the hat and the coat in red felt. He then, very artistically, drew the folds and shape of the hat and coat onto the felt creating a very touchy-feely image that did very well in a competition.
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White Water Fun
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Katherine Docks Colour
There are many images in John’s current collection that absolutely stand out as memorable, and stunning; pictures that show just what you can do if you go looking. John spends a lot of time visiting urban and rural areas. He regularly goes to Birmingham city centre and has visited Coventry Cathedral to create competition winning pictures. He has travelled widely around the country to many of the popular places that many photographers go to and looks on the internet to get some ideas for places to visit and images to look for, but wherever he goes he has a talent for taking images that capture something unique. He has taken some wonderful pictures of Moseley swimming baths.
His collection of pictures is really interesting because of the variety of subjects and because he likes to have a bit of a laugh.
He has been asked to do his presentation at other local clubs so if you weren’t able to see this one try and go to another one. It really is worth it.
Places to Visit

I’ve been trying to catch up on my photography in the last few weeks so I was fortunate enough to find a 1940’s re-enactment at Papplewick Pumping Station, north of Nottingham last weekend. This pumping station was recently featured on Country File.
The building is beautiful on the outside but the interior is really ornate with painted columns and well polished double beam engines that are regularly steamed up. Not only that, there are other buildings with active steam engines on the site that are worth a look.
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Weekend away

This year Ian arranged for us to visit Cheshire. We stayed in two excellent B&Bs not far from Chester. Our first trip out was to Quarry Bank Mill. The adventure began by trying to navigate our way around Manchester Airport but when we got there we found a very interesting building with a huge amount of working machines to see. We also visited the Anderton Boat lift at the end of the day but decided to go back in the morning for a quick visit because the visitor centre was closed.
We didn’t intend to stay long at the boat lift but spent a lot longer there due to the presence of a steam tug boat moored up on the canal. This boat was only there because the cruise it was supposed to be on was cancelled because of a damaged lock. It is called Daniel Adamson and it is 15
th on the register of National Historic Ships along with the Cutty Sark. It is affectionately known as Danny and used to tow barges loaded with cargo. It was recently featured on Great canal Journeys with Pater West and Prunella Scales
The boat was originally converted to transport business men up the ship canal in rather more luxurious conditions than usually found on a tug. A luxurious Art Deco Lounge with a bar has been lovingly restored using original panels from contemporary ships.
The engine room is on full display as are all parts of the boat.
It took us so long looking around the tug that we only had time to look around the gardens at Dunham Massey. This is a place I would like to go back to but not on a weekend as the place was so busy that there were traffic jams on all routes leading to the site. The car park is enormous and being a National Trust member is really worthwhile when you consider the high cost of visiting such places these days.
Of course the highlight of the weekend is going out to eat in the evenings. As usual Ian had chosen two excellent restaurants, The Hanging Gate pub and the Fishpool Inn. The service at the Fishpool Inn was really efficient and friendly considering the number of covers it deals with on a Saturday. The food was good too.
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Ian in action
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Some of the group at the Fishpool Inn
Inkexpress is a local company that has a special interest in providing supplies for Epson printers . They also supply printers and paper as well as a variety of inks for use in the printers. They can convert printers for use with continuous ink supply from bottles and can service your printer for you as well.
I recently took my Epson 1500W to them to be checked out and serviced because I hadn’t been getting very good results with my prints. They did a test print a found that there was nothing wrong with it and then gave me some information about what might be going wrong.
They also told me that these printers are highly regarded and are difficult to get hold of as they are no longer made. They could even put me in touch with someone who was prepared to buy one at a very good price, higher than the one I paid for it!
They continued to let me know that, rather than buying an upgraded Epson printer with several shades of black ink from them, I could get one from Amazon at a cheaper price.
I bought some print paper from their own range, went home and printed some much better prints which got a highly commended and commended in the second competition.
Now I do not know what you think but I was really pleased that the two young men who run this company are really committed to providing an excellent and very helpful service to their customers. If I had had taken my printer anywhere else I would have had to pay for a service that was not needed.
The print papers that they supply, whilst limited in range, are reasonably priced and of excellent quality. Buying their inks will save you a lot of money.
Several of our members have used them and are very pleased that they did so, if you have an Epson printer, or you are thinking of getting one, I can highly recommend them. They also deal with other makes of printers as well.

Ten tips for stunning images
  1. Keep it simple Think about what should be included within the image frame, and more importantly, what shouldn’t. Exclude anything that doesn’t make the composition stronger.
  2. Make sure that you change your position to open up space between important objects so that they don’t overlap.
  3. Get close with wide angle lenses. This can make even small objects look much larger and more prominent in the composition.
  4. When you’ve found the perfect subject or composition, wait for the ‘decisive moment’ that creates maximum visual energy.
  5. Too much balance in a composition is boring whilst too much energy is chaotic. Try to find a mix between these two extremes.
  6. Create a visual progression A progression of multiple visual elements from the bottom to the top can encourage the viewer’s eye to travel deeper into the composition.
  7. Opposing visual elements create energy in a composition. Look for lines or shapes that tilt or point in opposite directions, encouraging the viewer to study multiple parts of the composition.
  8. Diagonal lines, and diagonal visual relationships, bring energy to a composition. When appropriate, change your position to skew shapes diagonally.
  9. Look for simple, bold and dynamic shapes such as triangles, s shapes or circles to form the basis of your compositions.
  10. Include additional objects between you and your subject to create depth and enhance visual interest.

For those who want to see our pictures on Flickr, or add pictures to it, please use this link.

Newsletter number 13, September 2018

Words from the editor

We have made a brisk start to the new season of meetings with a stall at Newhall Mill, a really interesting talk by Colin Walls of Beacon Photography Club, a competition judged by Ken Hudson and a natural history photography talk by Barbara Lawton. Each guest or judge has given us really useful comments about how to improve our photography and everyone has had the chance to have their images seen by the members and a judge.

This weekend is the annual trip away. Well done Ian Dean for choosing another interesting venue and accommodation. This year we are going to an area near Chester. We need some good pictures to show at our “Ten Minutes of Fame“ talks by members, in February.

Click on this link to see an interesting Article from BBC Technology

Mirrorless cameras: Photography's new decisive moment

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Kate Nicholls
We also have another major success to report. Richard Brown has won the RPS Grand Prix Trophy, RPS Gold Medal, Silver Salver and Pictures to Exe Licence Key for an audio visual presentation titled “In Search of Christina”. This very prestigious competition took place in Cheltenham but at the same time Richard had entered another competition in France, the “Epinal Coupe de Europe Trophy”. He won the trophy for that as well.
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Malcolm Imhoff also won a ribbon at the Cheltenham competition.

Welcome also to our new members.
We hope to provide with an interesting year that encourages you to develop your photography skills and make new friends in the process.

Why join a small photography Club like us?
This is for anyone who reads the newsletter on our website and is thinking of joining a photography club for the first time.
When you join a small club you are much more likely to be able to display your images on a regular basis. You may not want to enter competitions but this is a way of having an expert talk to you about your image in a constructive way. Also you have more chance of doing well because you are not competing against so many people with international recognition for their photography and it is less intimidating.
You do not have to show your pictures as prints. You can show them as digital images. You do not have to have fancy camera. The best camera is the one you have with you at the time. Mobile phones can take competition winning pictures.
In large clubs where a lot of images are shown in each competition the judges have only a very short time to look at each image. They do not have the time to make constructive comments about each picture and you may never find out what their criteria are.
You have more time during talks to ask questions. Speakers might introduce you to places that are great for taking good photos. They will tell you about their tricks and skills for taking images of anything from a butterfly to a skyscraper. Some will concentrate on portraits. Others will tell you how to take pictures of fast moving sporting events or slow moving stars.
Something that is particular to Sutton Coldfield Photography club is that we have some leading experts in making audio visual presentations of images who are willing to pass on their skills. Our AV offshoot is called FADE and meets on a different night to the main club. If you want to know more look for our web site at An example of our work is the 'Town trail' AV produced for Sutton Coldfield Civic Society. You can view this on the AV section of our website.
We are also open to suggestions on how we can help you to learn new skills. We are a friendly club which welcomes new members and would like to see you and your photography whatever level you are at. Maybe you have some skills that you can show us or you would like to set up new activities that interest you and take the club in a new direction.
Whatever your reason for joining we would like to see you. Come along to The Methodist Church Centre, South Parade, Sutton Coldfield on most Fridays. Look at our website for our programme of events.

Competition 1
Friday 21st September saw our first print and PDI competition of the season. The judge was our good friend Ken Hudson from North Birmingham PS. Ken gave very positive comments on the entries in his usual easy-going style. He was very encouraging to members to ‘do something different’ especially appreciating unusual styles, and formats such square and extreme letterbox compositions. Ken seemed to like pictures that told a story and where the author had a clear grasp of the idea they wanted to portray. There was an excellent entry in terms of both quantity and quality and our new Chairman, Alan was very complimentary and said that it augured well for the coming year. It was great to see our newest member Georgina Hughes entering both sections and gaining a commended award in her very first competition.
Leader Board

Dave Ballantyne - 1st
Alan McCormick - 2nd
John Cresswell - 3rd
Ian Dean - 1st
John Cresswell - 2nd
Steve West - 2nd
Richard Brown - 4th
“Drawing with Light “by Colin Walls.
Colin is a very experienced photographer of 40 years and has been working with clubs for 20 years. He only produces digital images and uses RAW to capture all the detail when taking pictures. He likes to take pictures that he sees rather than make or create pictures and he likes to keep things simple. He believes that you can find pictures to take wherever you happen to be. Look for strong diagonals, contrast and textures.
Text in pictures is a no no because it attracts the eye and incomplete text is a really big distraction. Red attracts the eye so use it carefully. Logos are acceptable because they are processed by a different part of the brain.
Colin likes patterns and will take pictures of chains or objects like peas and beans. He takes images of infinity pictures, for example a picture of a crowd of sea lions with no edge to limit what you are looking at.
When taking pictures you can get rid of people by using a long exposure and a neutral density filter, or just wait until the frame has cleared. If you do want to take pictures of people they do not notice mobile phones but make sure that the image is sharp. You do not need bright sunlight for portraiture. It makes exposure difficult. If photographing someone willing to be a model you need to interact with them.
Colin also likes taking pictures of parts of things and says how little of an animal can you photograph whist still getting a good picture.
He takes pictures of objects against the sun but reminded us that you can damage the eye looking at the sun through a lens. (The technique has a name but I didn’t catch what it was. Whilst researching the answer I found this really useful website:
Colin also showed us some really interesting pictures of silhouettes which made me think about trying it myself. His talk was really inspiring and a little bit different. There were lots of good ideas to try out. He suggested topics such as “Old and New”, and “Steps”. This could involve ladders, dancing, footsteps, staircases and …… well use your imagination. That’s what it is all about.
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Kate Nicholls
Barbara Lawton’s talk “What Next” started with an explanation of why Barbara became a photographer of Natural History. She had wanted to be a botanical illustrator but found that it was easier to take photographs of natural history than to paint it.
She has pursued a policy of taking photographs of wildlife within a two hour journey of her home. She doesn’t need to go on international journeys and she does not believe in taking pictures of captive animals and birds. She advised that the welfare of the subject is vital. You should not move things and you need to be patient when flowers are being moved by the wind.
Barbara started by showing us images of flowers and told us where she had taken them. She went to Attingham Park for snowdrops, Hershaw Abbey for aconites and Monkswood for wood anemones. Yoxall has a good display of bluebells and fritillaries can be found at Winterbourne Botanical Gardens.
Barbara focuses manually a third of a way into the subject to get a good depth of field and uses a depth of field preview button on her camera to check that she has got it right. Bright but overcast weather is best for flowers. Taking pictures of white or yellow flowers if difficult so you have to expose for the lightest part of the image to capture the detail. Pictures should contain patterns and textures. Backgrounds should be out of focus when you take the photo. You are not expected to photoshop natural history pictures although you may remove minor blemishes or distractions. The picture must be framed up correctly when you take it.
There is a code of practice published by the RPS.
She gave us many more sites for taking pictures of grass snakes, butterflies, birds and red squirrels. The best subject to experiment with camera settings is fungi because they do not move and you can use a white card as a reflector to increase the amount of light during a long exposure.
Above all Barbara showed us that you do not have to travel the world to get interesting and beautiful pictures. You might only have to go out into your garden or just down the road to get a stunning picture of wildlife.

Newsletter number 12, June 2018

Words from the Editor

I don’t usually write newsletters over the summer because I’ve not got any meetings to write about but it is raining, I’m waiting for a delivery, I’m bored with housework and there are a couple of things that people have sent me that they would like put into a newsletter. So here goes.


Richard has had a significant birthday and Malcolm sent me a picture of the magnificent cake made by Dave’s daughter Diane. It is all edible, even the slides that feature photos taken by Richard, and a light shines from the projector. Happy birthday Richard.
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For sale
Item for sale is a Manfrotto MH293A3-RC1. This is a compact head with a single control arm for pan and tilt. Perfect fit on the Benbo tripod which I originally had it fitted to. 
Lightweight with a quick release base that fixes to your camera. Condition is excellent. 
I’m asking £40 for it and £50 for the tripod but I’ll sell the pair for £80 if someone wants both. 
Contact Steve West at
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This is a photo of a similar tripod with a different head.
I am amazed that nobody seems to know about this place, especially as it is so local. I went there recently to do a charity ukulele concert and was very impressed with what was available to see, travel about on and take photos of.
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Statfold Barn Railway is a narrow gauge “garden” railway with miniature steam engines, and a museum of narrow gauge engines that is located very close to Tamworth. The “garden” is a bit of a misnomer as the track extends into the nearby fields. It is mainly set up for the use of enthusiasts but it does have open days. You can buy tickets from the web site but you have to apply at least a week beforehand.
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The next event is on the 9th June and this has been named as a photographer’s day in some of the publicity material. Have a look on the web site for other open days.

Newsletter number 11 May 2018

Words from the Editor

We have come to the end of another season of meetings again and there is some excellent news. We have won an interclub competition between us South Birmingham Photography Club and Yardley. Also Richard has won another international competition for his AV, “In Search of Christine”. He has received a FIAP gold medal from Port Elizabeth Camera Club in South Africa. Congratulations Richard.
I would also like to welcome our new chairman, Alan McCormick and thank Paul Stokes, the retiring chairman for the work he has done over the last year. We also have to thank Richard for the work he has done over a very long period as secretary to the club as he has stood down this year and been replaced by me. I will have to be more efficient from now on.
Well done to those who have won the trophies this year and thanks to Dave Cooke for getting the wine glasses inscribed.
Meanwhile for those of you who do not know what the letters FIAP stand for (just like me) it means Federation Interrnationale l’Art Photographic and whilst I’m at it making myself more knowledgeable, PAGB stands for The Photographic Alliance of Great Britain. For those who knew this and understand what they do, remember some of us haven’t ventured this far into the world of photography and there are still a lot of terms that established photographers use that we do not yet understand. For example I am still not entirely sure what a stop is. I know I use them but I am not sure of the exact definition. Maybe I should ask someone or look it up on the web or maybe it is an opportunity to have an in club practical session where we teach other what we know. Perhaps you could make some suggestions as to what you would like to be covered.
Error Corrections. I dropped a couple of clangers in the last news letter. The date of the club display at Newhall Mill is August 27th, the bank holiday. We will need prints and help from members in order to set up a display. Also we need to obtain some more vertical display boards to mount the pictures on.
The second error was the dates of the Spetchley History Comes Alive, Re enactment this is on the 11
th and 12th August, ie Saturday and Sunday. I will go on the Sunday.
Times are,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.
Adults £8.00, 5-16 yrs £3.00, under 5's FREE, family (2 adults & 2 children) £20.00
Other Reminders
Upton Blues Festival 20
th to 22nd July. This is free but you can camp overnight. Paul has already booked and Alan has taken winning pictures there in past years.
Tewkesbury 14
th to 15th July. Especially good for those who wish to purchase Medieval armour, costumes and furniture. This is also free but you will be asked to donate towards the running costs and car parking has to be paid for.
I will be going to a steam rally at Statfold Barn near Tamworth on 12
th and 13th May. I will be playing my ukulele with Go Ukulele Crazy at 12.30pm on the Sunday. This looks like an interesting event for those of you who like narrow gauge steam engines. You need to check if you can get tickets at the door as they do not accept bookings on line in the week before the event. Also children under 10 cannot go for safety reasons. There are other events during the year if you are interested.

Steampunk Weekend
Blists Hill Victorian Town
23 Jun 2018 – 24 Jun 2018
Dave Cooke says that the price for OAPs to attend this is £14.00. Looks like a good opportunity to get some Chopper Gennard type of pictures.
Saturday’s event will run continuously from 10am to 10pm, while on Sunday the Festival is open from 10am to 4.30pm. Annual Passports will be valid for the weekend or tickets for each day can be purchased on the gate priced at £19.75 adults, £14 for 60 plus and £12 for children under 16; under 5s free.

More places to get good images.
If anyone wants to contribute interesting items to the news letter please send them to me. Have you been to interesting places where you took good photographs? Have you learned anything that you are willing to pass on to others.
For example John Cresswell seems to get to some really interesting places and takes some stunning pictures so I asked him to suggest some good locations. Here they are.
Prescott Speed Hill Climb Sun July 14
th. 80th Anniversary and Buggatti Festival. He says that it is quite expensive but looking at the ticket prices it is cheaper to book on line.
Papplewick Pumping Station. Look on the web for special events and steam days.

Bumble Hole canal bridges at Netherton Junction.
Black Country Boating Festival 14
th to 16th Sept. Free
The key to taking good pictures seems to be being able to get out and about. Some of the best displays and talks this year have been from people who travelled around the world but you can still get some good images locally.
Have really good summer and take lots of photos. You never know we might win another interclub competition next year but it takes team work.

Newsletter number 10 April 2018

Words from the Editor

It is a longer time than usual since I wrote a newsletter. This is partly because we have missed a couple of sessions due to Easter and the snow but also because I’ve been off gallivanting with my camper van. More about this later.
The best news for this news letter is that we have won an interclub competition! This is something that we have not done for a while. Well done to those who contributed the images which allowed us to do this. Keep up the good work so that we can have a go at beating Aston and Erdington next year.
The club has ended its meetings year with the final competition the theme of which was “Motion”. This was followed by the competition for the best print and DPI. We have to thank Peter Gennard for being so quick and efficient at judging so many images in one evening and for being patient with the technical hitch experienced when looking at the DPIs for the best image of the year.  
Meanwhile, it is the AGM coming up in a week’s time. The questions are will you be there and what issues do you wish to raise for inclusion in the club’s activities next year? What are you willing to do for the club that will help to keep the club going as an active and expanding group? What do you need the club to do for you?
Would you be prepared to take a group of people to a site or place that you have visited to get good images? Have you got some expertise to pass on to other people?
Please get thinking. It is your club so it needs to do things that help you.

We have booked a gazebo for the monthly outdoor exhibition at Newhall Mill on Monday 27th of August. 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.
Can anyone supply some extra display boards so that we can create a really good display under the gazebo? They need to be self supporting as it could be windy on the day.  Do you know anyone that would lend us some?

Competition Results

Interclub competition April 6th
On Friday 6th April, five intrepid SCPC members ventured over to Hall Green for the annual three-way inter-club with South Birmingham PS and Yardley PS. There was an excellent and varied entry in both sections from all three clubs this year. Judge Roger Parry from Smethwick PS was on good form and gave very positive comments, though never failing to point out improvements which could be made. Being a leading portrait worker, his comments on the portraiture entries were of particular interest. Among his observations were not to crop portrait pictures too tightly, to have lighting with some modelling rather than too flat and the desirability for the model to show some animation or interaction with the photographer rather than looking too posed.
At the break, the print scores were South Birmingham 131, Yardley 120 and SCPC 133. Although Yardley romped home in the PDIs with SCPC second, we still came out the overall winners by three points on 260 with South Birmingham and Yardley tying for second place on 257. A rare victory for Sutton in this 3-way competition, so congratulations to all the members whose work was shown. Overall it was a very enjoyable evening and a great opportunity to socialise with members of the other clubs. Let’s hope we can successfully defend the title on our home ground next year!
Richard Brown

Fiddle a File competition
As promised this was amusing as usual with members producing some interesting images that showed off the skills of the members in using Photoshop and other software for manipulating digital images.
John Haines judged with great humour and felt very sorry for one of the characters used in the images who seemed to be being berated on a regular basis by his wife.
The images ranged from the weird and wonderful to comic book and poster style images with some more realistic images thrown in in between.
Well done to all those who took the time to contribute to this competition. It is a great opportunity to learn new skills when using Photoshop.

1st Red, black and Blue - Dave Cooke
2nd Action Bot - Paul Stokes
3rd Aliens Incoming - Dave Ballantyne
HC Final Destination - Paul Stokes
C Cartoon Villain - Paul Stokes
1st Cyborg - Paul Stokes
2nd Hot Rod - Steve West
3rd Post Apocalypse - Richard Brown
HC Ghost Train - Paul Stokes
C End of the Road - Paul Stokes
Don’t Look Round - Richard Brown
5th Competition

1st Tewkesbury Mill - John Cresswell
2nd Shoreline Ripples - Alan McCormick
3rd Church Close Rye - Paul Stokes
HC Drop in if you are passing - Paul Stokes
No Band Today - Alan McCormick
C Old passes between the New - Dave Ballantyne
I’m Lost - Dave Ballantyne
1st Capitulation - Bob Roberts
2nd Lily Pad - Alan McCormick
3rd Day Dreamer - Alan McCormick
HC Old Scrap Wall - Dave Cooke
Porth Nanven Sunset - Catherine Nicholls
The Golden Hour - Alan McCormick
C Pulsitilla Alpina - Malcolm Imhoff
The Visit - Ian Dean
Selfie Time - Steve West
New Street Commuters - Steve West
Set Subject: Motion

1st Street Dancers - Alan McCormick
2nd Water Ballet - Alan McCormick
3rd Spin at the Fair - John Cresswell
HC A Dangerous Place to Stand - Catherine Nicholls
Stormy Weather - Catherine Nicholls
C Pistyll Gain - John Cresswell                               
1st Spin - Steve West   
2nd Firework Feathers - John Cresswell
3rd Water Dog - Catherine Nicholls
HC Urban Motion - Steve West
Spinning Wheel - Bob Robertson
C  5.25x6 - Dave Cooke
Proceed with Caution - Ian Dean                                                      

Accumulated Scores for the Year

John Cresswell 109
Alan McCormick 90
Paul Stokes 68
Catherine Nicholls 66
Dave Ballantyne 65
Dave Cooke 62
Fred Allen 18
Henley Wheadon 6
Richard Brown 6
Sid Butterworth 6

Catherine Nicholls 86
Dave Cooke 84
Ian Dean 82
John Cresswell 77
Steve West 74
Alan McCormick 65
Richard Brown 61
Paul Stokes 57
Bob Robertson 52
Angus Spiers 33
Dave Williamson 14
Joe Bromage 8
Malcolm Imhoff 8


Light is Everything
Bill Allsopp

There are some talks that are so helpful that I wish I could write fast enough to get every detail and this was one of them. I’ve done my best for those of you who could not be there but if you get a chance to listen to Bill do take the opportunity.
Bill started out by introducing us to the images of Leonard Misonne. He is a Belgian photographer who joined the Pictorialist Movement with his images of landscapes resembling paintings. His images used diffused foggy atmospheres highlighted by dramatic skies. The scenes are taken with the light in front of the camera and low in the sky. You can find these images at: They are really worth a look.

Bill used the mantra Wait, Create, Use, Give Up, but it depends on having the right light.
He advised “Always have a camera with you because you see potential images where ever you go.” His first tips were to create interesting shadows using blinds. He also said that good photographs of glass objects can be taken in a supported black  board box with a hole cut under the glass. The light source should be put under the hole in a bucket and shone through the glass. This avoids unwanted reflections on the glass. He also said “Keep backgrounds simple and do not take photos of old people in harsh light as it shows up their wrinkles. Look for shadows and use bright, overcast light for plants.” He then went on to talk about different types of light and how to use it. These are brief notes which probably miss out a lot of useful detail.

Artificial Light
Take a photo of a white card to assess what colour your artificial light source is producing, then replace it with the subject.
Kitchen foil can produce an interesting background.
Against the light outside.
Start before dawn. Make sure the sun is behind a tree or a cloud. Bracket your pictures and try to pick a misty morning. A useful photographer to look at is Andre Kersetz.

Flat Light.
This is very useful for portraits in the street. Reduce the content. Use a long lens to get rid of the background and lie down to take pictures of flowers. Carry a plastic bag with you to lie on. Daffodils that are wet with rain are a good subject.

Cross light.
This is a good source of shadows, especially for buildings.
Mixed lighting.
Eg.daylight plus artificial, reflected light. Avoid shadows from flash by bouncing light.

The rule is 500/focal length =max exposure to avoid star trails. Use a torch to light objects or buildings that you want in the picture. Use a high ISO but get the exposure right to avoid noise.

These images need to be taken in sunlight for them to work.
Finally his advice on mounts is “The darker the picture the darker the mount should be.
Dave Tucker on HDR
Dave took on the difficult task of explaining the skills needed when using High Definition Range software on Photoshop. He covered some very useful skills on how to use HDR to enhance images by taking multiple images and using multiple merge techniques.
He also recommended ON1 as an app that does much the same job as photoshop but only costs a one off fee rather than being rented. It can also be put on five computers and run at the same time. He says that it does things much faster than photoshop and is a great time saver when you are working on a high number of images.
You need to ask me for the discount code if you wish to purchase it. This is valid until the end of June.

Places to get good photos in the Summer

Tewkesbury Medieval Festival 14th -15th July
There are lots of events throughout the town as well as the Medieval Market and the re-enactment itself. You can buy all sorts of Medieval armour and weapons, clothes and furniture. Re-enactors travel from all over the country and from France to be involved. There are puppet shows involving dragons and it is all free. You are asked for donations. You do have to pay for parking.

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. Dogs are not allowed on site.
Adults £8.00, 5-16 yrs £3.00, under 5's FREE, family (2 adults & 2 children) £20.00
Several members went to this meeting last year and took some excellent pictures which have been successful in competitions.

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:
Just one warning about the Ragged Victorians, they are a bit anti photo club due to too much use by keen photographers.
Since buying my camper van I have been on a few adventures but the best one so far has been a stay at the camp site at Brown Moss Nature Reserve, near Whitchurch in Shropshire, with the Caravan and Camping Club Photography group. Despite the dreadful weather of the previous few days we did manage to get onto the field, although I had to be towed off.
The theme for the long weekend was pictures of nature taken over the weekend but the trouble was that Brown Moss was very brown and the wildlife was largely difficult to see due to the number of dogs being exercised there. Even so I managed a few interesting images and it is a great place for taken pictures of dogs having fun.
Bob Moore, a well known local photographer, lead the workshops and put on a display of his and his wife Sue’s lovely prints. Bob and Sue also volunteered to take some of us around Blists Hill Museum to show us how to get good images. As a result, I managed to learn some new techniques for getting good images and got some good material for next year’s competitions.
My welcome to the club was friendly and I was able to get advice from some excellent photographers that I have not met before.
The funniest event of the weekend was when a photographer spent ages stalking an unusual pink bird in a tree but when he looked at the image it turned out to be a child’s pink dummy hung on a twig. I think the image is called “The Pink Dum Tit”. It was still a really good image that would probably win competitions.
My next adventure will be Sharpness. Are there any other campers who are likely to be there?


Newsletter, 9 January 2018

Words from the Editor

I said it last year and I’m going to say it again what a stunning group of panels have been produced for our annual “Three of a Kind” competition this year. This competition produces sets of images that really enhance each other by being in a set of three. We also had some very innovative images with unusual mounts and thought provoking subjects.
We are now looking forward to our annual fun competition “Fiddle a File” which is unique to our club and which is designed to help us develop our skills using Photoshop and other photo processing software. It is the competition that produces the most laughs during the year but it can be very difficult to produce imaginative images using the pictures we are given to change. The first time I did it I turned the colours and textures of a wooden door into a face wearing a top hat. Somebody very kindly told me I had a sick mind. Well actually it was more of an accident especially as it looked just like a dinosaur when turned on its side.
Stacks Image 1233

This picture has been fiddled. I call it “Ghost Train”.

Once again Richard and Malcolm have been successful with their entries for the Midlands Counties Audio Visual Championships or Midphot AV which took place in Burton on Trent on 27
th January. Malcolm won M.C.P.F Ribbons for “Whispers Linger” and “Love Will Remain”. Richard won the Tom Prince Memorial Trophy and M.C.P.F Medal for “In Search of Christina”. He also won the Martin Fry Trophy for the audience vote for the same AV.
Well done to both as putting together an AV takes hours of work.
Richard has been on the holiday he won in Italy and has begun to show some of the pictures he took whilst he was there. Lake Garda is very photogenic place so maybe if you can win prizes like that we all ought to have a go at producing an AV and entering it for competitions.

On Friday January 26th we welcomed back one of our regular visitors; Patrick Hickey with his talk “For the Want of a Title”. Patrick is a member of both Aston and Erdington PS and Smethwick PS and a well known exhibitor in national and international exhibitions. He showed a wide variety of projected images, broken down into themed groups and explained in detail how each picture came to be taken. Although we saw subjects ranging from landscapes, urban environments and even a few nature shots, the predominant theme was portraiture. Patrick is very much at home in the studio and likes to create most of his pictures in the camera, though he does do a few montage type images in Photoshop when the mood takes him. He emphasised that to get good pictures of models planning is essential. Thinking about props, lighting and backgrounds in advance contributes very much to the final success of the pictures. Particularly intriguing were the long exposure shots where the model was sometimes moving and sometimes still, which gave a dream-like quality. All in all, a most interesting talk which contained much inspiration for anyone aspiring to get involved in studio photography.
Written by Richard Brown

Social events
If you didn’t come to the quiz you missed the opportunity to win some excellent prizes donated by Calumet. The winners chose from a camera bag, a tripod, remote camera flash controls, photo paper and other things. Well done to the chairman for devising an interesting set of questions that were educational as well as varied.
For example did you know that there is a blue plaque to Emma Barton in Hartopp Road? As part of
their new house on the Four Oaks Park Estate, George and Emma Barton ensured that it should include a dark room. Emma had already begun taking pictures when they lived in Wishaw, and by the time they moved in to their new house with their four young children in 1900, she was already making a name for herself as a photographer. In 1903 Emma Barton was awarded the Royal Photographic Society Medal, the most prestigious award in the world for photography! Wow
Her work was published in
Sunlight and Shadow: The Photographs of Emma Barton 1872-1938.
This blue plaque was the first one to be put up in Sutton Coldfield.
Information and photographs relating to Emma Barton are held in the reference section of Sutton Library.
Does anyone else know any other interesting facts about Sutton that relate to photography?
Many people have asked why we haven’t run our annual “Judges and Speakers dinner” this year. It has been missed as we were the only club to do such a thing to say thank you to all our highly valued visitors. If you want us to run it again next year we need your support in setting it up, providing the food and attending. It is a good occasion to get to know the people who come to speak to us or judge our competitions and it provides them with the opportunity to chat to each other on a social basis.

We need to publicise the club to let people know that we exist, when we meet and what we do. We can do this by putting up posters in local community centres, shops, libraries, people’s work canteens or any other suitable place you can think of.
If you live near somewhere that has a community noticeboard could you take responsibility for putting up posters or distributing leaflets on a regular basis. Some shops change the posters on their notice boards every few weeks so if you go there on a regular basis you can ensure that our poster is regularly replaced.

Three of a Kind Competition
Entering panels of pictures is hard work, especially if you enter all six of the possible entries. Finding three images that form a balanced unit is a great skill but boy is it worth it. Something happens when you get it right. The three images together enhance each other and the final result can be so much better than one picture by itself.
The competition was also helped by the positive and humorous judging style of John Hartshorne. As well as being well known to many members of the club his enthusiasm for encouraging people to improve their skills and knowledge in photography shines through in the way he judges. He seemed to be very impressed with the quality of the panels produced this year.

Competition Results
1st Old Moseley Baths John Cresswell
nd Chapterhouse Vaulting John Cresswell
rd The Race Alan McCormick
HC Steam Giants Dave Cooke
Birmingham Painted Bricks Dave Cooke
C Graffitti Alan McCormick
Ballboys John Cresswell
Rock On Dave Ballantyne
Be My Valentine Catherine Nicholls
Aldbourne Cottages Richard Brown

1st Stained Glass Detail Dave Cooke
nd Holy Light Richard Brown
rd Into Battle Dave Cooke
HC Slipway 2 Catherine Nicholls
Sunset on the Rocks Catherine Nicholls
C Big Steam Catherine Nicholls
Irish Arches Richard Brown
Cutty Sark Rigging John Cresswell

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

Photo tips and how to use them.
Whilst on one of my regular visits to Penzance I saw a photo very similar to the one I took of a wreck on the beach in Mount’s Bay. Apart from the fact that the picture was taken on a sunny day I was wondering why St Michael’s Mount looked so much bigger in the image. I also noticed the same effect when people were taking similar pictures of the Super Moon that occurred recently so I’ve had to do a bit of research to extend my knowledge of the way lenses work.
More experienced photographers probably know this already but for us relative newcomers this is what I found out.
Objects shot close to a wide angled lens look larger relative to more distant objects. Distant objects look small and further away. Telephoto distortion can be seen in images shot from a distance using a long lens focus. These lenses have a narrower field of view than a normal lens and therefore closer objects are abnormally small and more distant objects are abnormally large. Distances are compressed.
Taking pictures with a wide angled lens can allow you to get nearer to your subject, but this lens can foreshorten or distort an object. Taking a picture of a long nosed dog will produce a picture with a very large nose relative to its face. Do the same thing with a lens with a narrower angle of view and the nose appears to be smaller relative to the face.
This effect explains why shots taken with a telephoto lens of the Super Moon show an enormous moon relative to the horizon.
Some experts say that you can obtain a similar effect by cropping a wide angle picture to contain the same content as a picture taken with a telephoto lens whilst standing in the same position thus proving that the effect is an optical illusion.
Now I have a problem because I now have to take some pictures of my friend’s dog to prove my theory. The additional problem will be to get the depth of field right so that the whole face is in focus. If I succeed the pictures will appear below.
Well Pearl wouldn’t stay still so this isn’t a brilliant picture. It was taken very close to with a wide angled lens, (an SP 10-24mm 1:3.5-45).

Stacks Image 1237
This was taken with an AF 70-300mm 1:4-5.6 telemacro from further away, but as you can see it is difficult to see the effect. Her nose does seem more in proportion with her face.
Stacks Image 1241
So I did the same thing with some satsumas which are much better behaved.
This was taken with the wide angled lens.
Stacks Image 1249
 This was taken from further away with the telephoto lens.
Stacks Image 1253
As you can see the satsuma at the back is the same width as the one at the front. I haven’t moved them.
My conclusion is that if you take pictures with a wide angled lens close to the subject the background is smaller in relation to the subject. If you take the picture with a telephoto lens from further away, then the background looks bigger in relation to the subject. The narrower the field of the lens the more this optical illusion comes into play.
Small cameras with non detachable lenses and phone cameras will have wide angle lenses. So if you take pictures close to someone's face it will make their nose look big! Stand back to lessen the effect.
I’ll try this out when I go to Mount’s Bay again but meanwhile if anyone wants to add more technical details to my rather basic understanding I would be pleased.
Stacks Image 1257
People come to a photography club hoping to learn how to do things with their cameras. How about some of the club members contributing some articles about things that they have discovered about the way their cameras work? The newsletter is a good place to demonstrate what we know or what we found out when taking pictures.  Are there some experiments or demonstrations that we can set up on practical evenings to help people with their photography?
Club Activities
Is there something that you can do to widen the activities that go on with club?
Could we set up some days out in very local places during the year where small groups go out and take photos of places that some of you know about which are a good source?
Let us know what you think. It’s your club so you can decide what you want from it.

Christmas Dinner

Sixteen of our members enjoyed a Dinner at the The Boat House in Sutton Park, in December 2017.
Happy snappers all!

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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.
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.

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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 rquoted 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. 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 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.

“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.
  • 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.

Annual Club Supper

Friends of the club and members enjoyed an evening of great food and conversation on the 20th of January 2017.

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Christmas Dinner

Twelve of our members enjoyed a Dinner at the Old School House at Weeford in December 2016 . Every course was perfect!

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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 or 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

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
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

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: .
  • 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: . 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. 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.
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:
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.
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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.
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'Sam in Red' by Richard Brown FRPS

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