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Photo critique workshop


I was delighted to receive a message from Jean Hoyle earlier this weekend, asking if this appreciation could be added to the website. 

‘On Thursday eight of us met for Daan’s ‘Photo Critique’ workshop. I hadn’t signed up for it initially but when I heard that some members hadn’t been able to make the date, I asked if I could attend and was really glad that I did.

Daan had prepared notes for us to take home and had made changes to the 2 images we had been asked to send him so that we could see a ‘before and after.’ He started by sharing with us the qualities of a good image and then used these statements in each of the submitted photos.

What impressed me was how Daan had made changes to each image, to transform them from something you might discard into one that was clearly worth keeping. He showed us how to look more critically at our photos to see the potential in them and to select part of an image, sometimes to better effect rather than the whole. He told us he had only spent a couple of minutes on each image to produce the changes but they would need to be improved further. He has the skills to do this so these are the photoshop skills I need to practice and improve as Daan didn’t give us the altered images!!  He had worked very hard before the evening to prepare an excellent workshop.

I am very pleased I decided to attend and look forward to other events that he is leading. I know they will be good.

Thank you Daan.’

What Jean says reflects the level of preparation I have seen put into the planning of the workshops for this season: I look forward to many more similar comments as more members participate. Feel free to add your own comments here.

London Walk

Last Sunday 21 Members made their way to London for a walk along the South Bank. This was the fourth of what seems to have become an annual event led by the professional guide, Ian Swankie.

We started at London Bridge Station alongside The Shard and ended up two hours later outside Tate Modern, passing many interesting and historic sites along the way including Guys Hospital, Borough Market, Southwark Cathedral, the Golden Hind, the Clink prison, the Globe theatre and many historic pubs. At the hospital we learned about the old operating theatre where an expert surgeon could perform an amputation in less than one minute without an anaesthetic, the operating theatre being tucked away within the building to mask the screams! Outside the Clink museum there was a metal cage (complete with skeleton) where prisoners would be suspended to starve to death. Amongst the pubs we passed was The Anchor, which was formerly a brothel (controlled by the Bishop of Winchester) and where Samuel Pepys had watched and written about the Great Fire of London in 1666.

We have now come to know Ian quite well and his great knowledge and sense of humour make these walks really enjoyable. The audio guides that Ian has used for the past two years are a great help, allowing us to hear his commentary while wandering around to take photos.  After the walk a number of us explored the new extension to Tate Modern with its viewing gallery on the tenth floor giving wonderful views across London. Ian would like to see photos we have taken, so if you have any that you would like to share, please email them to me.

I have already made a booking with Ian for Sunday 6th August next year, so put the date in your dairies now! The route for the walk hasn’t been decided yet so, if you have any suggestions, please let me know.

The Shard
The Shard
Outside The Anchor
Outside The Anchor
London from the New Tate Modern viewing gallery
London from the New Tate Modern viewing gallery
Guys Hospital & The Shard
Guys Hospital & The Shard


Leo at Ascot – Update

Following Leo’s fine photo of Prince Charles and The Duchess of Cornwall in the previous blog he has sent me some more photos taken this year during Royal Ascot.

If you have tried to take this sort of photo of the carriage procession you will know how difficult it is to grab good photos as the procession flashes by. Given that Leo now has limited mobility it makes these images all the more impressive.

_MG_2652_MG_2380 _MG_2577








Leo goes to Ascot

Many members will know that for many years Leo has attended  Royal Ascot for the purpose of taking photographs of the Royal Family usually in carriages before they enter the racecourse for the famous carriage drive. Several of his images have been entered in club competitions in earlier seasons.

In spite of limited mobility Leo was there again, three times, this year with Maureen of course.

Leo is proud to have taken this photograph of Prince Charles and The Duchess of Cornwall on Saturday in Windsor Great Park just as the carriages emerged on their way to the racecourse.

They both seem to be looking and smiling directly at Leo.

I wonder if it was because Camilla recognised him and remembered that Leo was, in fact, a guest at her previous marriage ceremony to Andrew Parker Bowles who was Leo’s neighbour when they both lived in Portobello Road, Notting Hill.

Superb photo, Leo. Let us see some more please.


Transit of Mercury Photography

Peter Walmsley has sent us details of this event that took place on 9th May. 

Inspired by the astrophotography talk earlier in the year, club members may be interested in my first attempt at capturing the recent transit of Mercury across the Sun.

The first thing is safety in such circumstances and a trawl of the various websites revealed that solar filters are expensive. There’s a shortcut though which is to buy some solar film and make one’s own filter from it.

This came in at £10 from Thousand Oaks Optical through Amazon.

Mercury was passing over the Sun between about 12.30pm and 7.40pm on 9th May. I happened to be up in Glasgow for the occasion where, unusually, there were completely clear skies. Less so unfortunately for those in Surrey.

A few test shots the day before showed that the 1/100,000 light transmission of the filter was resulting in speeds of only about 1/20s at f8 and ISO 200. This was through a 400mm lens with teleconverter giving 550mm focal length. A tripod was in order but on the day I had to make do with a combination of hand holding and resting on a fence. For extra safety, one uses live view rather than looking through the viewfinder just in case the filter becomes dislodged or suffers damage. This is also the best way to focus: zoom in on live view and focus by eye on the screen, though even so, focussing was the most tricky part of the operation.

Transit of Mercury Peter Walmsley crop_3

I managed to get some shots at about 3.30 pm and 6.30 pm and one of the latter is shown. A large sunspot can be seen in the upper half of the star and the spot lower down is Mercury. I could be sure that the lower spot was the planet as the 3.30 pm shot showed the blob much earlier in its transit. Overall, it was disappointing that a sharper view of Mercury could not be achieved, but then handholding a 550mm lens at 1/40s (ISO 400) was never going to be easy and Mercury is such a tiny planet too.

If anyone has other experiences, I’d be interested to hear.


[ by Mark W ]


I guess big apologies for last night’s painful presentation on layers. The plan was supposed to be whizz through the slides just to leave you with some background and then get stuck into Photoshop itself to demo the real thing for most of the time. Unfortunately we had problems with Charles’ computer being unable to recognise the projector. Don’t know if that was a graphics driver issue or Win10 issue, but the computer would just not play with the projector.

That meant we switched to using the club laptop, which was all fine to show the presentation on the projector, but unfortunately does not have Photoshop loaded. So I was left a little bit time-filling and making do with it all from the slides.

Anyways, here is the presentation.

(Here is a direct link to the Adobe pages I copied some text from on page 3.)

The presentation includes the image I was going to use to illustrate layers. As I mentioned yesterday, the shot was actually bracketed, and there was some HDR processing involved also (both a tone-map and fusion blend). The main thing to show though was the use of layers.

Here is the 0EV from the bracket-set (i.e. the correct exposure as measure by the camera), all was shot as raw and this is just a default Adobe Camera Raw processing, exported out to sRGB JPEG. I have not done any white-balance correction here.

Here then is the actual image I entered to last year’s PDI round 1. The image scored 10.
Bell Harry Tower (1498)

See the difference – that’s all done by layer-based processing (aside from the crop/rotate which is done in Lightroom after).

Here are some screen grabs from PS CC of what I would have talked through last night if the computer would have played ball (the layers panel is down the bottom right and you can see how I have labelled and grouped the layers… I always do that so I can remember what each does; I did not do any relabelling for last night’s demo – this is my actual psd working file from a year ago):
03-09-2015 08-10-19

03-09-2015 08-14-20

The PSD has 22 layers. Most of the work is really done in adjustment layers with various masks to selectively re-tone all the ceiling woodwork and correct the different colour casts you naturally get in interior shots where there is a mix of natural daylight and artificial lighting.

As I mentioned yesterday, my workflow starts and ends in Lightroom (and I work in ProPhotoRGB and 16-bits throughout to get maximum colour gamut and dynamic range granularity, at least in my master files, though for PDI submission we use sRGB and JPEG which is 8-bits). I have used LR to do the final crop/rotate and export to sRGB JPEG for the PDI entry. I am a member of Adobe’s Creative Cloud Photography Plan and today use Photoshop CC 2015 and Lightroom CC 2015, though I have been using Photoshop since CS5 and LR since LR2.

I mentioned yesterday also how I use the Google Nik Collection very often in my processing – specifically Color Efex, as well as Silver Efex and Output Sharpener (which I blend back selectively). I do use the others also, but not so often. For Color Efex I typically use Detail Extractor and Tonal Contrast.

The Nik Collection is excellent value I think, and as I was trying to recall yesterday in my time-filling, Google acquired the independent Nik when they bought out Nik for its Snapseed mobile image processing and sharing product as a counter-play to Facebook just having acquired Instagram. Google has updated the Nik Collection since and has so far maintained it well (I believe Sergey Brin (co-founder of Google) is a keen amateur photographer).

It’s a by-the-by, but my own MacBook Pro laptop died two weeks ago (at 6 years-old, its graphics chip was out-of-date anyways), and a new one is on order, with a delivery date of yesterday… and that was what I was hoping to use for the demo. As it stands, I think I now get it next Monday. Humph.

PS : forgot to mention it above, but here’s a great (but detailed) description of what layer blend modes actually do:
Photoshop Blend Modes Explained


Visit to Menin Gate

This past weekend, a group of club members attended a ceremony at the Menin Gate, Ypres, Belgium.  Bill Moncur has sent me his own excellent report, which I am happy to post.

Although I had been to the Menin Gate Ceremony many years ago it was a revelation to me once again to see the amazing crowd of visitors that attend the evening ceremony, every evening – yes, every evening  – at 8pm.

The lane of parked Tourist buses must have stretched for at least a quarter of a mile.

There was a full pipe band in attendance in addition to the four buglers, always supplied by the local Fire Brigade. Many representatives were present from large organisations as well as individuals.

I was surprised – and indeed honoured – to be asked by Niall and Roger to lead the Camberley Photo Club Wreath Laying Party made up of myself, Jean (who had a relative’s name on the wall behind us) and of course, Niall.

 I think all went well although my knees did creak a bit at point of ‘step off’. We completed the circuit successfully. No doubt all faults will be revealed by the photos taken by Club Members.

All-in-all, a most successful expedition, aided and abetted with the superb weather, and of course, Full Marks to Niall, whose show it was!

Yours aye,


Niall is also sending a report that I can add later. Meanwhile, here are some photos sent by Carol Drew.







If anyone has some further photos from this trip, please forward them to me and I will add them to this post.

Evening visit to Frimhurst House

The 'Dorset Coast Express', photographed on the way to the pub
The ‘Dorset Coast Express’, photographed on the way to the pub
Leo shows he can wave at the same time as taking a group photo
Leo shows he can wave at the same time as taking a group photo
Why is Winnie the Pooh wearing a skull Mask?
Why is Winnie the Pooh wearing a skull Mask?

A big ‘thank you’ to Alan for arranging the visit to Frimhurst House on Wednesday evening.  I must admit that I didn’t even know that the house existed, but was fascinated to hear from one of the curators about the good work they do for families in distress.  The large and rambling house had some interesting rooms to view inside and extensive grounds to explore outside, including a thriving vegetable garden bounded by an amazing wall with curved bays.  In the past when the house was privately owned it had hosted various guests including Rita Hayworth!

On the way to a pub in Frimley green a few of us waited by the railway line to watch the steam train ‘The Dorset Coast Express’ go by on its way back to London.

This was the last summer outing before the start of next season, so I look forward to seeing everyone at the Welcome Back evening on September 3rd………I wonder what Charles has in store for us?!