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Ian Whiston EFIAP

June 28, 2016 in Crewe PS news, Information


We all know that in our midst we have an extremely successful club photographer; Ian Whiston.

He has now gained his EFIAP, which needs 250 acceptances in competitions in 20 different countries and 30 salons using 50 different images. This is a career-long achievement for many but Ian has achieved it in just a few years, so successful are his nature pictures. Not that Ian is new to club photography, he has been a member of MCCC for many years but only in the last few years has he taken to entering national and international competitions and joining Crewe PS.

His rapid rise through the awards schemes is illustrated by the image above which we last used only three years ago. Gone is the CPAGB, superseded by the DPAGB, gone is the BPE 2 crown award, replaced by a 5 crown (March 2016) and between 2013 and the present he gained the AFIAP and now EFIAP.

Ian has also been a judge for many years but is now on the PAGB list which means that he is not only called on to judge regionally but nationally and internationally

Part of Ian’s success is the meticulous way he prepares his images, but while this helps any image it will not produce international winners by itself, you need arresting, exciting, breath-taking image capture too and also  to make the effort to get yourself out there and in place to take the photographs. The latter Ian achieves partly by going on safari and he is just about to take his fourteenth! Ian-on-Safari

But “being there” is only part of the equation. All nature photographers know that field craft is essential to capture the really great picture – to understand the behaviour of your quarry. Ian is a pastmaster at this now, he seems to know every lion and cheetah in his part of Africa personally and far from benefitting from the set-ups where the photographers are virtually buying the pictures Ian is well-respected nationwide as a safari guide and expert.

So, hearty congratulations to Ian on this great achievement but I think we at Crewe should also be very grateful for having Ian as a member – not just because of his successes but because he is always prepared to pass on his knowledge and experience to the rest of us, and not all high flyers are willing to do that.




The Ron Smith Cup 2016

May 9, 2016 in Crewe PS news, Information


Ron Smith is an honorary member of ours who had a long career in teaching photography in London before moving into our area to retire. He continued to teach an extremely popular U3A class until ill-health forced him to stop but he can claim to have taught photography for over 60 years. In the 1970s he was awarded the RPS Hood Medal for service to photographic education.

He used to give us a lecture annually and it was the most eagerly anticipated event of the year. His deadpan humour, immense knowledge and once hilarious and then moving anecdotes which peppered his talks had us absolutely transfixed.

Ron donated a cup which he said should be awarded each year to a member displaying ”creativity” in their work. Sadly Ron can no longer attend meetings and it falls to us to decide who should get the award. Our deep respect for Ron makes us take the task very seriously and you can be sure that it is not awarded lightly.

Clearly part of our creativity is innate but it is shaped by our experience too and we felt that nobody can lay more claim to broadening our appreciation of photographic art than Ian McNab, whose enthusiasm for post-modern photography and his lucid explanation of the work of many of its exponents has helped us to understand it, appreciate it and give us more confidence in self-expression.


Paul Gallagher at RPS DIG 1/5/16

May 4, 2016 in Information

Some of us went to talks by Paul Gallagher on processing and printing. Here are some notes I made during the two talks, which I thought might be of interest.

Paul uses Adobe Camera Raw (ADR) and Photoshop (Ps). ACR is functionally the same as Lightroom. He works largely in mono.
Starting in ACR….

  1. Don’t change colour temp or tint until later.
  2. Use Highlights and shadows first.
  3. Set black and white points.
  4. Don’t touch contrast yet, use clarity first.
  5. Early on, particularly before sharpening, correct CA (chromatic aberration) but
  6. Don’t use lens profiles unless really needed.
  7. Sharpen (a little) – keep radius low <1 and use the Masking slider to limit the areas sharpened.
  8. Now export to Ps
  9. Lasso tool to select areas for adjustment and then use Curves tool to adjust. This method would also be used round the edges of the picture rather than applying a standard vignette which Paul thinks is a crude tool, narrowing the viewers vision of the picture. Darken by pulling down the whites in curves.
  10. Use shift/alt/control C to make a copy layer to go back into ACR to make any further adjustments.
  11. Back to Ps for smart sharpen with blurring set to Lens Blur rather than Gaussian.
  12. Any further burning in to be done at 1%
  13. Use 360ppi for printing (Epson) and use Advanced Black & White on Epson printers for best mono.

If anyone else who attended thinks we need to add anything please let me know.

L&CPU Annual Individuals’ Competition 2016

March 10, 2016 in Information

The L&CU competition which we entered in February was the CLUB ANNUAL, but next we have the ANNUAL INDIVIDUALS’ competition where you as members select your own work to enter. It is a chance to see how your work does in front of three PAGB judges compared to work entered by members of all the other (c.100) clubs in the Union.

Work entered might be selected for the L&CPU exhibition, the folios and also to represent the L&CPU in the PAGB Annual Inter-Club Competitions – if this happens you will feel very honoured but your prints will be lost to you for over 12 mths and nearly two years in the case of a PAGB selection. Other prints are returned sometime during the summer break.

It is for PDIs and prints and the categories, rules etc are just the same as for our own competitions. What you enter is entirely up to you, but do remember that you are up against the whole Federation and you may only want to use your very best work. You do NOT have to make a full entry in any particular section – you could enter just one image if you wish. The entries must not have been used in this competition before.

All work is marked out of 15 and there are commendations and medals on offer for the best work.

The judging is on 7/8 May, entries have to be made as PDIs (yes, PDIs of prints too) and they will be required by 10th April, a Dropbox File Request will be set up soon. The final date for handing in the prints themselves is at the competition with Nantwich on 14th April.

Here are the rules for the L&CPU Annual Individuals’ Competition.

Repairing Old Photographs – George Steele LRPS CPAGB BPE 2*

February 12, 2016 in Crewe PS news, Information

Family photographs, lovingly passed around, kept in wallets, displayed in bright light, often end up in a parlous state, faded, cracked, creased and stained. Digital photography of course provides the possibility of recovery and repair, and with patience and skill they can even look better that they did originally.

George has acquired great skill over the years in doing this restoration work and he showed us examples of different kinds of repair. These techniques of scanning, tonal adjustment and cloning can, of course, be applied to any photograph and remarkable things like making cars, telegraph poles and even buildings disappear with a bit of careful cloning can be of great interest commercially, though some would frown at the excessive use of the technique in our competition pictures (it is expressly forbidden in nature photographs).

George showed a remarkable way of cleaning up noise in a digital image using the LAB channels in Photoshop. Much software is available to help clean up noise but this seemed remarkably effective in the example he chose. With the image in Photoshop he displayed the LAB channels (Image>Mode>LAB colour) and then used “Dust and scratches” to both the A and the B channels. I am sure some of us will be trying this technique on our own work very soon, so watch this space!

Crewe PS Take A Bath – 21 Jan 2016 – Peter Robinson & John Royle

January 21, 2016 in Crewe PS news, Information


Crewe PS are pleased to support the local history societies by helping with their photography and today two of us were recording some details of Crewe Swimming Pool, known to all as the Baths, which is shortly to be supplanted by the Life Style Centre.

There was much civic pride in the Baths when they opened in 1937 and many Crewe people will have fond memories of school swimming lessons, galas, competitions, enjoying a soak in the private baths or even first meeting their future life partner there.

The baths will close in March, but there may be some open sessions to give people a last chance to view it. A poignant time it will be; with the empty pool looking forlorn, but an unmissable one too for many local people.

We may also get the chance for a more general photo session. Today we recorded the laundry with its belt driven washing machine, spinner and mangle. The drying cabinet was fascinating, with massive pull-out racks on rails, the whole contraption resembling the way that paintings are stored in gallery archives.

There is an excellent booklet by Barbara Billup about the early history of the Baths online here.

The shaft driven washing machine

The shaft driven washing machine

Not strong room doors, but the drying cabinet.

Not strong room doors, but the drying cabinet.

Many thanks to the staff at Crewe Swimming Pool who were exceptionally helpful and kind.

Tough Mudder Event

September 12, 2015 in Information


Here is a shot of our club members after a meeting! Well, OK, maybe not.

Member Bob Brown last year presented us with a real winner entitled “Official Photographer” taken at the Tough Mudders race held at Cholmondeley Castle. The photo above, he tells us, is a team shot taken after the event. The team are stationed in Norway but represent six nationalities and include some top brass too! The course is 11.2 miles, has 29 obstacles, with names like Cage Crawl, Hangin’ Tough, Island Hoppiing, Mud Mile, Arctic Enema. As Bob has shown, a great event to shoot.

The event this year is on the 12/13 September weekend.

Shooting Eventing by Martin McGing

September 4, 2015 in Information


One of the benefits of being a member of a photographic club is you have the opportunity to see a wide variety of work which can inspire you to venture out and try something new.  Over the past two seasons I have seen some excellent eventing images and earlier this year I decided that I would try my hand at horse event photography.  I soon realised that these events are taking place most weekends and quite a few are literally on our doorstep.  My personal preference is photographing competitors on the cross-country course.  Water jumps are quite popular and you can get some good action shots.  I typically walk the cross country course looking for jumps that have a clean background with the sun over my shoulder.  I try to vary my shots so that some include the location and some are tightly framed.  During one event we were walking the course and we heard that Zara Phillips had started the cross country course, I looked at the fence that was within easy reach and to be truthful it did not really meet my criteria!  I did not have time to walk/run to a another fence (these horses are typically travelling at 25 mph) so I stayed put and hoped for the best.

Beautiful Bokeh

August 24, 2015 in Information

This lovely shot of a Pied Wagtail by Bob Brown illustrates how good bokeh is favoured in a nature shot, picking out the subject clearly.

This lovely shot of a Pied Wagtail by Bob Brown illustrates how good bokeh is favoured in a nature shot, picking out the subject clearly. A 500mm lens with 1.4x converter was used, giving 700mm and a very small depth of field.

Bob’s picture illustrates very well how a blurred background can help to make your subject “stand out”; it is a favourite technique of nature and portrait photographers especially. A lens which produces a lovely even background blurring is said to have “good bokeh” (we didn’t have a word for it, so borrowed from the Japanese). All other things being equal bokeh is improved by bigger apertures and longer lenses. This is something to watch out for in switching from a full-frame DSLR to a smaller format mirrorless system, as many are doing. You will need to go for faster lenses to get the same bokeh.

Why? Well, a 23mm lens on a Fuji X camera is said to be equivalent to about 35mm on a full frame camera such as the Canon 5D III; the angle of view is the same (your picture covers the same area). But the 23mm at any given aperture will give a less blurred background than the 35mm because its depth of field is greater. To blur the background to a similar degree you will need a larger aperture. This is why the top Fuji lenses tend to be f1.2, 1.7 etc, where the Canon lenses are often content with f2.8. (Bigger apertures put the price and weight up).

A quick look at any depth of field calculator will illustrate this. For example;

Fuji Pro-1 (1.5x crop) with 23mm at f2.8 focussed at 20 ft; everything from 12ft to 57ft is suitably sharp (Depth of field of 45 ft)

Canon 5D III (full-frame) with 35mm lens at f2.8 focussed at 20ft; everything from 14ft to 34.5 ft is suitably sharp (Depth of field 20.5 ft).

You would need to open up the Fuji lens to f1.8 to get the same depth of field, or bokeh.

So this is why the wedding photographer who switched from Nikon 70-200 f2.8 (full frame) to a (roughly equivalent) 50-150mm f2.8 on a Fujifilm camera posted a video declaring that the bokeh on the Fuji lens was poor. It isn’t, it’s physics.


Ray Hill

August 24, 2015 in Information


MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: This week with our lead item we are returning to celebrating last season’s successes. Here we see Ray Hill with some of the nature prints which won him the nature print league trophy last season. Ray’s skills are not confined to nature photos, in his many travels he turns his lens to landscapes too and we could equally as well filled this picture with landscapes and event pictures. We eagerly anticipate Ray’s (and Kath’s) new work next season, it is always exciting and ever improving in quality too. Both Ray and Kath are also members of Mid-Cheshire CC where Ray is also chairman. We featured Kath’s work a few weeks ago – it can be seen, like all front page items, on our NEWS page.

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