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Martin’s Mole (!)

August 17, 2015 in Information


I was taking a walk early one sunny morning when I came across a recently deceased mole on the path before me. As it was in perfect condition the temptation of a photo opportunity became irresistible and I was soon on my knees arranging the subject. With due reverence I placed it as if emerging from one of its hills, beneath which was later to become its final resting place. Normally a mammal’s eyes would give the game away but the mole’s eyes are just one millimetre in size and are only capable of distinguishing between light and dark, all its knowledge of its surrounding world comes from its extraordinarily sensitive whiskers.

Despite being in full sunshine I later converted the shot into a night flash image and resisted the impulse to add a pair of dark glasses. However, I did feel some guilt at not having spent a cold lengthy night of vigil but feel better that I have now confessed. Despite the  ‘Nature’ rules (subject must be alive – Ed)  there are times when deception can become just too tempting.

So if any club members have any dubious images of the creatures of Loch Ness or a Himalayan ape, the nature rules do not apply to open subject competitions. But you will need to do better than a mole in a hole.

by Martin Smith

Panoramas in Lightroom

August 16, 2015 in Information

The "raw" photos

The “raw” photos

Lightroom CC will now merge photos into a panorama or HDR image. Recently I had occasion to use this feature and was very impressed with the results.

I was using a 35mm lens (50mm equiv.) and could not get far enough away from the church I wanted to shoot. I often just choose a different framing but I decided to make use of the new Lr feature, so I took 4 or 5 shots encompassing the whole building. As you can see I didn’t do anything too technical. I might have made sure of overlap, kept the shots parallel and used manual settings to keep the exposure and focussing the same but I didn’t.

The pictures below show the originals then the completed Lr merge – done as easily as selecting the photos and telling it to make a panorama!

The Lightroom assembled picture

The Lightroom assembled picture

Of course the merging can be done with various pieces of processing software, not just Lightroom,

It has been suggested that you might use this technique in portraiture, but your subject would have to keep absolutely still!

But if you do not have a wide-angle lens available…..



Our Flickr Site

August 9, 2015 in Information


Our Flickr group page was set up by our new webmaster a few weeks ago. You will find that the photographs on there are sometimes subject to more discussion than is usual on such sites. Members are trying out new ideas, new subject areas, even new equipment! If you are thinking of joining us in September you might like to take a look and see what some of us get up to. We hope you find it interesting – and encouraging.

Photographing The Stoke Marathon – Peter Robinson

August 2, 2015 in Information


Photographing a marathon can be quite challenging. Very often they are well attended and it can be difficult to find a good spot to photograph them from. Ideally you want to find different viewpoints so your photographs don’t become similar and boring. So when I photographed the Stoke marathon last month I chose to do so in Burslem which is roughly half way around. This had several advantages for me over photographing it at the start. It was easier to get to and park and there were fewer spectators so I could wander around and use different viewpoints with ease. For flexibility I chose to use my Canon 24-105 lens which gave me options for different types of photographs. I also varied my camera setting to give a variety of effects. The light was good so I set the ISO to 320 for most of the time and I used Canon’s ‘servo’ auto focus to keep track of the runners I started off by trying my panning technique with a shutter speed of 1/125 to get a little background blur of single runners, then switched to a wider angle setting to include some spectators and the environment supporting the runners. To break things up a bit I walked around looking for a different background and found a child firing water pistol at the runners which gave me some fun shots. Then there were folk outside a pub, so I used a slow speed to blur the runners to emphasis the contrast. I think this has given me a variety of different types for marathon photographs that are more satisfying to view than just a set of similar photos.

The Five Towns Monochrome Print Competition

July 27, 2015 in Information


The Five Towns Monochrome Print Competition sounds as if it should be taking place in Stoke-on-Trent but it is, in fact, a competition between five local clubs; Crewe, Alsager, Nantwich, Sandbach and Whitchurch. We all take our monochrome seriously and this is a prestigious event, much anticipated. This year the host is Whitchurch PS and they have, as usual, engaged a highly respected judge, Margaret Salisbury to preside. The event is not until September but we are already looking at potential entries not least because some reprinting may be required.

The picture above is one of my favourites from last season. It has the look of a classic landscape, the pine tree, people, creamtone treatment all contribute to that. It also typifies the Norfolk landscape – it was taken at Wiveton Hall near Cley and looks out to sea over salt marshes whose flatness is emphasised by the mid-ground vegetation. What many notice first though is the way in which the cloud above the tree echoes  its shape. A combination of waiting and moving position was needed to get that but of course it was sheer luck that nature helped to complete a pleasant composition by sending the cloud along! Should I have waited until the cloud formed a diagonal with the tree and man?

Will this be in the Five Towns? You will have to wait and see.


July 4, 2015 in Information

Technically, perhaps the most trying issue with digital photography is achieving adequate sharpness in our pictures. This item is not a review of this big subject but a note about somethings you may wish to explore for yourselves.

Firstly, something for all cameras. I have Michael Frye’s book on using Lightroom in Landscape photography and I find him of good judgement about quality. The other day he blogged about a new piece of software (PICCURE+) for sharpening and it is worth looking at . You will notice that the results are worthwhile are not out-of-this-world, you will never, never be able to get detail which is simply not there in the first place – all you can do is improve the deception! Duncan Fawkes is trialling this software too and I’ll keep you up-dated on it. Meanwhile, a trial version is available free of charge.

Some of us are particularly interested in Fujifilm X processing and recently Ian McNab passed on an successful idea which came from Peter Bridgewood* about using the Detail slider in Lightroom to improve sharpness in X trans raw files. We are now moving on with this issue. Part of the problem is the interpretation of the raw file in the first place since Fuji X sensors have a less regular pattern of colour sensitivity (to overcome Moiré pattern problems)  and this seems to have defeated Adobe somewhat; Lightroom and Photoshop are not getting the very best out of the raw files. People recognise, however,  that Lr and Ps offer such advantages in every other aspect of processing that they are happy to continue using them as the backbone of their workflow. Ian has now been looking at using an alternative raw converter and has had a lot of success with Iridient Developer. There is a tendency for a rather “water colour effect” in the softer areas of Fuji files and Iridient seems noticeably better at dealing with this. Unfortuneately for we poor Windows folk Iridient is only available for Apple machines! There is other software on the market though – such as Capture One – and if you try any of these please let us know the outcome.

Peter Bridgewood has looked at Lightroom CC with regard to processing Fuji files and it seems there is nothing new on interpretation but there are a number of changes which definitely help (plus at least one piece of advice about noise control).

I am looking at image enlargement and re-sizing as a way to improve image appearance and will pass on my findings when I have some positive advice.

As I have said there is no substitute for lens quality but we can improve sharpness in many ways; I am thinking of avoiding camera shake, choosing lens aperture carefully, getting the exposure right, focussing correctly, things we can discuss during our meetings.

Perhaps the best advice is to not overdo the processing – over-sharpening is always easy to see, giving a harsh, unpleasant look with artefacts such as “haloes” round edges – all far worse than a soft image was in the first place! Some guidelines: Doug Chinnery recommends only taking the Clarity (not a sharpening tool but contributing to harshness if over-used) slider up to 20 on colour pictures, with the radius below 1.0 in the Detail panel. A good tip came from  Ian Whiston – apply sharpening, but at the slightest sign of an “effect”, back off. Remember too that selective sharpening may suit your image.

Peter Bridgewood has looked at Lightroom CC with regard to processing Fuji files and this new version offers a number of changes which definitely help.

*In case you missed it the advice was to turn the Detail slider up to 100, especially on high-ISO pictures. It works but don’t expect miracles!


No Right Turn – Paul Hill

June 28, 2015 in Information


No Right Turn by Paul Hill was one of the 2015 season favourites. It is not a pretty picture, in fact Tillman Kleinhans, when he judged it said that it frightened him. It does me too.

That is the great thing about it; it is sinister, puzzling, a bit surreal. You notice more and more features as you keep looking; the “bat-man” back to the seat, the figure about to rise from it, is he going to pursue the man and the dog? The street sign; does it have a hidden meaning? The bike tracks pull you in to the more distant figure.

This picture “works” at every level but above all it keeps us interested, which is a feature of all great photographs.

When Paul joined us a few years back he took natural history pictures, then landscapes appeared, all successful. He is now exploring street photography with the same success. You can find more of his pictures in our galleries and also at

CPS Member Spotlight: Ian Whiston DPAGB BPE4* AFIAP

June 14, 2015 in Information


In 1982 Ian joined Mid Cheshire Camera Club. He honed all the usual club photography skills to a high standard and was successful in their competitions. He became their competition secretary and was a judge with the L&CPU, but it was not until about 2007 (about the time he also became a Crewe PS) that he started to enter photos he had taken on African safaris into national and international competitions. A newspaper reporter would call it “bursting on the scene”, such was his success. He started with the BPE competitions (national) and in 2012 the FIAP competitions (international), picking up CPAGB and DPAGB along the way. He now has 124 awards and is only a few points away from BPE 5 and EFIAP. It often takes a whole career to achieve a tally like this in competitions.  All this has, of course, not escaped attention, and he is now being invited to judge national and international competitions himself. He embarks later this year on his 14th safari.

Like many club members Ian is always pleased to share his knowledge and help others and to have his experience on tap is a great asset to both of his clubs. Above Ian holds his 2015 Crewe PS awards and is surrounded by some of the shots which he used in Crewe to earn them.

The Glade by Tom Seaton

June 13, 2015 in Information


The Glade by Tom Seaton is one of the most memorable photos to appear in our competitions for many years and I invite you to enjoy it all over again.

The overall impression is, of course, of streaming, bright light. In club photography we have an irrational fear of “burning out” highlights. This picture thrives on them.

We delight in detail, Tom provides it with the white inflorescences which occupy the centre diagonal of the picture. This diagonal works against the general slope of the trees.

That slope is a big element in the appeal of this image. It starts with the tree nearest us, which we only partially see, running across adjacent edges (a powerful position), this establishes a feel to the picture whilst only occupying a small area of it. We then pass into the main area, where trees gently criss-cross, this is so much more interesting and pleasing than a uniform pattern. Yet it doesn’t jar.

The general flow of the image though is all towards the top left and the bright, bright light.

It is redolent of morning light; awakening, optimism, promise. It resonates.

The critique of “Glade” first appeared as a single item, an extension of the front page item which read….

Tom Seaton has been a committee member of CPS since the early 80s and secretary for many years. His knowledge and wisdom contribute a great deal to the effective management of the club and, together with his wife Mary (competition secretary for many years) a foundation for the club.

This year Tom was honoured with the Chairman’s Choice award. This award seeks to draw attention to one particular person each year, to highlight their achievements. In Tom’s case his service as secretary would be more than enough to warrant it, but he also never fails to delight us with his very individual, elemental and arresting images.

He thoroughly enjoys his photography and that shines through when he is called on to thank the speaker or judge at the end of a meeting; his sprightly remarks always improve our perception of what has happened!


Shooting Moto-X by Martin McGing

June 7, 2015 in Information

Martin McGing tells us about his first experience in photographing Moto X - he planned things well!

Martin McGing tells us about his first experience in photographing Moto X – he planned things well!

For anybody interested in motor sport photography a good way to start is to go along to a local club event. The internet is a great source of information – dates, locations, etc.

I had been considering sports photography for some time and finally took the plunge and went along to an event. I arrived early and made myself known to the clerk of the course, who told me where I could and could not go. Arriving early enabled me to walk the course, so I could choose my locations, no distracting background, angle of shot that would enable an even exposure etc. Prior to the actual racing, there were several practice sessions. This was great for observing the action and pre-visualising the point at which I was actually going to take my images. I soon realised with the amount of dust and dirt being thrown up, I would only be able to get the lead riders and then would have to wait for the dust to settle. I also took the opportunity to talk to the marshals, who told me which riders to look out for. I had a very enjoyable morning and I think I have some memorable images.

I think one at least  is worth entering into next season’s competition. For the technically minded, my Canon 7D camera settings were, manual 1/1000, f2.8 auto ISO, centre spot metering, centre focus point, servo mode and my lens 70-200. Yes, I was close to the action

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