November 2017

Club Nights in Focus 30th November
Visit by Vale Camera Club
To night we welcomed members of Vale Camera Club for not one but three excellent presentations. The first was given by Gerald Harbour who took us on a trip down memory lane mostly showing pictures of steam locomotives in all their glory. It was entertaining, informative and full of useful tips. For example, when taking pictures of engines in full steam choose an upward incline as the engine will show more steam when working hard rather than when coasting. It’s also better to take the images in colder weather. As we have quite a few train enthusiasts in the club this proved to a very popular topic.
I think we all smiled when we saw Thomas the Tank Engine resting at a local station ready to move on and rescue some unfortunate rolling stock that had encountered difficulties further up-line! We also marvelled at some images of model trains some which were hard to distinguish between the real thing!
The next presentation by Terry Verrinder was also about models – but of a different kind and came with a ‘health warning’- it was primarily about photographing glamour models many of whom were naked. Nudity is not everyone’s cup of tea, and rarely seen at camera clubs these days – so it did make a change. It also challenged us to think about the role the human body has in ‘art’.  
Our final presentation by Nick Thornton was a travelogue consisting of still images and AV’s taking us across all 5 continents  – including some locations not often visited by tourists. Nick uses AV not just to record memories but also because its an excellent way to show off images which of necessity have had to be taken quickly or perhaps in less than ideal conditions. Whilst this is undoubtedly true Nick’s photography was of a very high standard. 
Throughout the evening there were lively question and answer sessions and plenty of opportunity to ‘talk photography’ with kindred spirits.  Many of us, I think, were left envious that all three photographers had found a comfortable niche to take some excellent photography. We are grateful to Nic Craddock and the Vale for putting on an excellent evening and look forward to their next visit.

Club Nights in Focus 23rd November
Presentation by Keith Sharples CPAGB, BPE*** ‘Pictures As I See Them’ 
Another excellent club night during which Keith Sharples CPAGB, BPE3*** took us through a series of mixed genre print images and explained why, and how, he took them – but with a twist. The audience were invited to judge and score a sample of them very much along the lines used to judge salons. This proved to be both challenging and good fun. Like our speaker last week Keith explained how he first constructed images in his imagination and set about reproducing them.

Keith emphasised the importance using suitable print media to get best results. His preference being Spectrum papers for whom he is an ambassador.
As the evening unfolded the complexity of the image discussed increased from being almost minimalistic to being full on. Several of them were architectural in nature with clean lines to emphasise shape and form.
After the break Keith displayed images of a different kind including a lot of seascapes as well as some wild life photography. Most of these were painterly in nature characterised by soft colours and gentle colour tones. In between there were some striking monos some of which he described as ‘marmite pictures’ – you either love or hate them.
Keith is a keen fan of photoshop and encouraged members to be creative and not to be shy of using layers and layer masks to obtain a particular effect. 
Interestingly hardly any of his photos were taken with a tripod not because he does not regard them as being necessary but because his style of photography often meant that they unsuitable in his chosen environment – especially during re-enactment or street photography.  
Almost all of Keith’s images were strong compositionally (those that weren’t were specifically included to highlight weakness in an image). This perhaps is unsurprising as Keith, who judges competitions himself, rates composition above technical competence. There’s little point he said in taking a technically correct image if it is then let down by poor composition. The other important element to Keith in a photograph is that it must either tells a story or conveys emotion connecting the viewer with the photographer which is perhaps one reason why Keith is drawn toward -re-enactment photography. 
Another fascinating feature of the evening was comparing how differently the same image appears when printed on different print media which provoked an interesting discussion about the part profiles play in faithfully reproducing the image taken.
Keith also introduced us to various locations and events where it is possible to take pleasing but different images. We are grateful to Keith for joining us on his first ever trip to Cardiff Camera Club,  and for a talk that very much fitted into the club’s aim to help club members’ take their photography to the next level. We look forward to further visits from Keith in the future.

Club Nights in Focus – 16th November 2017
In the making – a presentation by Gareth Martin AWPF,CPAGB.
The 25 club members present this evening were treated to a masterclass on photography which reminded many of those present of Ansell Adams assertion that ‘photographs are not taken but made’.  
Gareth shared a huge range of images with us – digital and prints alike. In doing so he teased us with the question what would make this image better – should I shouldn’t I [make this change or not].
In some ways several the images shown to us were rather ordinary, or more accurately of ordinary things.  
Gareth was however able to tweak them in such a way as to make them extra-ordinary. Perhaps somewhat unusually his prints were relatively small in size but mounted on full size mount-board – a technique which somehow gave added emphasis to the overall effect.  
What Gareth did so effectively was to demonstrate the different stages involved in transforming an image taken straight from camera to its final edit. His approach was rarely haphazard or even experimental but rather a calculated incremental approach to achieving an image (or style of image) that had formed in his imagination.  This might involve him in going from colour to black and white and then to sepia;  or using various effects such adding or increasing the grain, or adding artificial mist to provide context and atmosphere.
Against the rules you might think, Gareth also liked to over saturate an image (or part of an image), or desaturate them so they look washed out and have misty painterly feel. 

Another key feature of Gareth’s work is that most of the images on show were taken on his local patch in Wales on various highways and bye ways, and in urban environments. Whereas most of us would not find such places photographically appealing Gareth’s eye for the potential in an in image seem to have no no bounds.   
Interestingly Gareth talked us through several images that had done exceptionally well in club competitions, battles and in international salons whereas sometimes the very same image had done rather badly elsewhere. As Gareth explained it is inevitable in photography there will be occasions when a judge might not like your style but what matters most is that you done justice to the image taken, and made it as good as it can be. 
There is no doubt that the club were treated to something different this evening helped no end by by Gareth’s laid back presentational style which was full of humour and amusing anecdotes.  No wonder the evening ran over time.  

Club Nights in Focus – November 2017
Converting Colour to Mono – a joint presentation. 9th November
Using Serif Affinity: Tonight two experienced club members put together a very useful presentation on converting colour images to mono. Why? well partly because members had requested it, and partly because later in the year the club will be holding a mono competition for which all are now better prepared! 
The first presentation demonstrated how best to convert colour to mono using the much acclaimed Serif Affinity program; which most people accept does virtually everything that Photoshop can do but at a much lower cost (currently a one off payment of a little over £50). 
We were carefully introduced to Serif’s basic interface and then swiftly moved on to look in more depth at different mono conversion modes. Whilst it is possible to do a simple one click conversion to mono we were shown how to change the tonal values of the blacks, whites and greys by modifying the RGB (red, green and blue) channels simply by moving a few sliders.
The resulting change was striking and allows for a much more creative approach. Having mastered – well nearly mastered – this technique we then moved on to further refinement using the HSL (Hues, Saturation and Luminance) adjustment layer. The results were very impressive and much appreciated by members present.
Click this link to see a short (3 minute) Affinity tutorial of what we covered
Click this link if you to explore other Serif tutorials
Serif Affinity is available for Mac and Windows users on 10 days free trial period. Try before you buy; download when you have a bit of free time and work through some of the tutorials – you wont be disappointed. 
Using the Nik Collection:
Our second presentation was a demonstration of how to do a mono conversion using the Efex Pro Nik plugin. This plugin is completely free and is used by many club photographers. In some ways it goes beyond the approach taken by Affinity. It is available as stand alone plugin for Lightroom, Elements and Photoshop Users.  
The learning curve maybe a little steep for some beginners but it is well worth persevering with. What it does exceptionally well is to recreate the textures found on developed film and add it to a digital file. It also offers several presets which when clicked give an immediate on screen demonstration of their impact.
You can find out more about nik collection here and here as well some excellent tutorials
We are very grateful to Dave and Trevor for demonstrating two different but complimentary techniques. What we learnt from this is that in photography there a rarely an ‘only’ way to improve one’s technique and creative skill. Thankfully we are not constrained by the ‘one size fits all’ approach – there are many different ways (even within single programmes) to achieve similar objectives. As with all technology it is generally better to take an incremental approach. Start of with what you feel comfortable with, and then as you develop, try something a bit more challenging and you will soon reach the next level.
Affinity and the Nik Collection are undoubtedly part of this process why not give them a try? 
If perhaps you are looking to do more mono photography take a look at this months featured mono gallery for some inspiration, and for some competition ideas.

Presentation on Wildlife in Kenya, 2nd November 2017
Another very interesting presentation when we welcomed Glyn and Pam Edmunds to the club for a talk on the inhabitants of Ol Pejeta  Wildlife Conservancy – a 90,000-acre ‘not-for-profit’ wildlife conservancy in Central Kenya’s. 
Glyn describes himself as a semi-professional photographer and has visited Ol Pejetas many times. As an official photographer to the project he also has access to most areas of the conservancy.  He clearly spends a great deal of time driving across the Conservancy stopping to take photos when it is safe too do so, usually through the windows of his vehicle. 
The Ol Pejeta reserve is particularly famous as a rhino reserve and also for a sustainable cattle herding project which now numbers 6000 head of cattle. 
Glyn explained a little about the equipment he uses preferring a 70-300 mm lens or a 70-500 lenses mounted on a Cannon Camera – sometimes with a teleconverter. Usually he prefers to shoot using Aperture priority at F8 or f11 in raw. The main difficulty he finds is compensating for bright sunny day as this can easily result in burnt highlights. 
Many of the images shown were of bird-life small, medium and large animals; and some exotics. We also saw some large cats, and various types of cloven hoofed animals including cattle, two species of zebra, and antelopes, numerous pachyderms (primarily elephant and rhinoceros), different species of jackals, a few reptiles, as well as several raptors including the beautiful Fish Eagle.  
We learnt something of their nature, courting habits, rearing patterns, play fighting, and mutually beneficial behaviour and fight for survival hostile environments.
What set this presentation apart from others was that we were able see images of many different species not of which happily co-exist with each other. It was also apparent from the questions asked from the floor that this talk was very popular and that the audience appreciated Glyn’s passion for photography, his commitment to wildlife photography, and knowledge of African wildlife in particular.