Clubbercise Challenge

March 19, 2018 in Uncategorized

My niece is running the London Marathon in aid of the Shine Bright Charity which was formed in memory of her sister who sadly died at the age of 32 from breast cancer. To raise funds to run the marathon she’s organised a few events. One of these is a Clubbercise  event which she asked me to photograph. I asked her why she wanted me to photograph a sandwich. When she stopped laughing she explained that it was a dance done with glow sticks thee dancers wore colourful outfits. It sounded like a bit of fun.

I did a bit of research and wonder what I’d agreed to when I discovered it was done in semi darkness with flashing lights and fast movement. How do I photograph that? If I use flash it would kill the atmosphere. If I used an high ISO the shutter speed would still be to slow and I would end up with grainy and blurred photos.

After thinking about it for a while I decided to start off by trying a bit of a compromise. I’ll shoot fully manual with a bit of flashed bounced off the ceiling and a longish exposure to record the ambient light. This would also allow me to use a reasonable ISO speed.

The venue was the Willaston Social Club and there were about 25 ladies doing the dance or should I say aerobics. The instructor was on a relatively brightly lit stage and the ladies were on a dim dance floor lit by scrobe coloured lights. I could wander around the outside of the dance floor but found the side of the stage was the best spot. I checked with everyone that they were happy for me to take some photographs for Shine Bright and they all agreed it was OK.

I started just trying a few shots using auto ISO with the camera  set manually to 1/125 at f6.3. It gave me as ISO of 12800 which gave pretty soft and grainy photos so I quickly changed to my original  plan at set the ISO to 640, the shutter speed to about 1/4 and the aperture to f6.3. I then set the flash to 1/4 power and second curtain sync so that it would fire at the end of the exposure. This means that the sensor will record the movement then the flash will fire at the end of the exposure and hopefully capture a shape image. The aperture controls the flash exposure and the shutter speed controls the ambient light. That’s the theory anyway.  To make the flash exposure more even I chose to bounce it off the low light ceiling.

The first few exposures were way out so I controlled the exposure by either changing the ISO or the flash power until they started to look reasonable. I always shoot in RAW so I can recover some highlights and shadow detail. After some trial and error I settled on an exposure of approximately 400 ISO, 1/8 sec ant f7.1. This gave me some wacky images with movement and a sharpish figure.

The problem was that the instructor was brightly lit on the stage so it was difficult to get a picture of her and the dancers both well exposed and reasonable sharp. She wouldn’t keep still so I just had to settle for some ‘creative blur’. The only way I could get a sharp photo of her was by photographing her separately with flash which spoilt the atmosphere, but got the result.

If anyone’s ever tried this kind of photography before I’d love to know how you did it. If you’ve overcome a photographic challenge before perhaps you’d like to share it with fellow members and tell us how you did it.

PDI Annual (Jim Harrison Trophy) 2018

March 15, 2018 in Crewe PS news

Paul Hill succeeded in a clean sweep tonight by being awarded the PDI of the Year, having already won the Print of the Year two weeks ago.

The judge was Roger Evans MPAGB FBPE EFIAP from which we learned a great deal, especially in taking sports images, which is Roger’s specialism. Kath Hill gained first place with Boy Racer in the general section, Ian Whiston took first in Nature with his cheetah cubs and Paul first in mono. Roger then had to select his preferred image from the three as Print of the Year and Paul’s The Library took it.

The best PDI wins the Jim Harrison Trophy, which has been awarded since 2004 and marks a very well loved and respected member who, in his late nineties, was one of the first members to buy a digital camera. Jim lived to celebrate his centenary with us, an event marked by a gold medal awarded to him by the L&CPU.   Inset Roger (L) present the Cup to Paul Hill.

The Results can be found here



Nature and Mono Print Annual Winners

March 4, 2018 in Information

We also asked Bob Brown and John Royle to comment on their section winning prints, firstly Bob

The Waxwing was taken on the 29/12/2016 at Llandudno, B&Q car park. This was my third attempt in North Wales, in different areas. In the previous two attempts I had views of the Waxwings, unfortunately too distant to photograph. The ones on B&Q carpark we’re about 30 feet away, a flock of about 40 feeding on the berries. They tend to gorge on the berries briefly then fly off into a much taller tree to digest the berries, then fly back again after about 10 minutes.

The photo was taken on quite a bright day. I used a Canon 1D Mk1V 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4x converter.

Shutter speed 1/5000. AV f5.6. ISO 500. Exposure compensation 0. Shot in Raw format.

I did very little in Photoshop, just toned down the brightness, High pass filter to lightly sharpen. I printed the photo on my Canon IP8750.


This type of image is well known to club photographers and a street in Ronda was an example not to miss; the chevron cobbling, the interesting ironwork, the uniform colour of the houses and the well at the end as our “focal point”.

I took a shot immediately of the empty street but I wanted a person walking down that road on the right. It didn’t take long before my nattily dressed guy appeared and all I needed was for him to remain the only occupant of the street and to turn right. Luck stayed with me and I got my wish!

The picture was taken with a Fujifilm 100F. This camera has a fixed 23mm lens (35mm equivalent) but there are adaptors available and I was using the wide-angle one giving 19mm. I would have preferred that the adaptor had not been on but I liked the result and the only cropping is that due to correcting the diverging verticals.

1/950 @ f8 ISO 200 19mm

With processing, there was a fair amount of divergence which was easily corrected in Lightroom. I changed the camera profile to ACROS +red filter in Lightroom and then played with black and white clipping, shadows and highlights and contrast until I was happy with the rendition of the light and dark areas.

I printed it on Pinnacle Baryta paper with my R2880 Epson printer. I think I had tried it on Oyster first but just didn’t get the density in the blacks which I was looking for.

The photograph was taken during a few days in Andalucia in May last year. I only took the 100F, two adaptors, tiny flash, batteries and charger in a very small bag. In the heat we endured I was so grateful to have little to carry whilst confident I would easily get good 20”x16” enlargements from the files.



Afon Lloer – Paul Hill BPE

March 3, 2018 in Crewe PS news, Information

We asked Paul Hill  to tell us something about taking and processing his Print of the Year, Afon Lloer and he sent us this excellent account…..

My photo was taken in March last year when I spent the weekend in Snowdonia. The weather forecast was terrible for most of the weekend (heavy rain) apart from the Saturday morning when I had a ‘window’ of dry weather till about 11am.
I arrived at Llyn Ogwen to get a photo of the boathouse (entered into the mono print league this year) then headed to the location marked with a red spot on the map below to get a photo of the mighty Tryfan mountain and the adjacent mountain range using river Afon LLoer as a lead-in to take your eye towards the mountains. This footpath leads up to a small lake (Ffynnon Lloer) but I didn’t get that far because shortly after getting this shot the rain moved in and it rained for the rest of the day.
The image was shot with my Fuji XT1 and the Samyang 12mm F2 manual focus lens probably at F11 (LR can’t display the aperture and focal length) with a 2.5s exposure. I took a number of images with various shutter-speeds but preferred the one with the milky-water.
I used a hard neutral density graduated filter (not sure which one) to hold back the brighter sky and emphasise the dark clouds. I also used a 0.9 (3 stop) and a 1.2 (4 stop) neutral density filter to reduce the shutter speed from 1/60s to 2.5s
I processed the RAW image in LR but didn’t do much to the image, I just needed to tweak the colour balance because there is usually a colour shift when using strong ND filters or when using cheaper filters. My 1.2 ND filter especially causes a noticeable colour shift.
On the Sunday it snowed heavily so I headed to Cwmorthin Quarry, where I got the other image that has done well this season, so I’m glad I didn’t cancel the weekend trip when I saw the forecast.

Print Annual: 1 Mar 2018: Geoff Reader DPAGB BPE3

March 2, 2018 in Crewe PS news

Geoff Reader kindly stepped in at quite short notice when our original judge became unavailable. Geoff gave us a very interesting evening, conducting the whole thing with a calm authority,  he was encouraging, exercised good club standards in assessing the prints and made some suggestions about how some processing problems could be tackled. It made us all look forward to Geoff’s talk, already booked for nearer the end of the season.

There was ample high quality work on offer because the prints were selected by the authors from the entries they made in the three league competitions held this year.

In the end Geoff had the three prints seen above on the print stand from which to pick his overall winner and it went to Paul Hill’s Afon Lloer. The other winners were: Bob Brown for Waxwing feeding on berries (Nature) and John Royle for The way downtown (Mono). Congratulations to all the award winners.

We are hoping to get the three authors to tell us more about how they captured these shots and processed them.

Paul Hill (R) is congratulated by Geoff Reader DPAGB BPE3


March’s Monthly Theme is Architecture

March 1, 2018 in Crewe PS news

Hello CPS Members,

I’ve chosen Architecture as the Monthly Theme for March with the redevelopment of Crewe town centre in mind. As it’s due to be demolished later in the year now is a good time to record a valuable part of Crewe’s history. The challenge is not to just take a record of the buildings, but to show how it’s part of the community. How do the buildings we see and use relate to people that use them? Can you achieve that through your photography.

Of course this doesn’t mean you just need to focus on Crewe town centre. The theme is open to all architecture, new and old. It’s how you photograph it that’s important. There’s a lot more to it than just documenting the building. Consider the lighting angle and environment. A big problem with photographing builds is their shape. They rarely fit comfortably into the format of most camera view finders. It’s too easy to encounter converging verticals or long low buildings that are a sliver in the frame.  How would you handle that? Would crop it to a letter box format or have a large foreground or sky? Would you get up close and use a wide angle lens?

Think about what you want to say about the subject do you want to emphasise it’s old character or modern facade?  The lens and angle you choose can have a big bearing on that. I like to get in close twisting a wide angle lens for some wacky results. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea though. It’s a personal thing.  Just take a picture that pleases you and them share it with fellow members.



Silver Medal for Martin McGing (Feb 2018)

February 15, 2018 in Crewe PS news

Martin’s capture of a moment of poise has won a silver medal in the Great British Cup 2018


We were very proud indeed to learn that Martin’s image Balance & Co-ordination had won a judge’s silver medal in the PAGB 2018 Great British Cup. Some 57 clubs took part in this national competition and Martin’s was one of just three such medal’s awarded.

Gaining awards in the competition is not new to Crewe PS, Ian Whiston has been very highly placed several times and won the Nature Photographer of the Year in one event, but this is the first time the club has such success with open section images.

Martin is one of our most successful members bringing his consummate skills to sports photography now in addition to his portraiture work.

Well done indeed! Here is to next year!

Martin McGing (L) receives his PAGB silver medal from our Chairman, John Royle

8 Feb 2018 – Stephen Lewis

February 9, 2018 in Crewe PS news

Stephen Lewis ( presented us with one of the most interesting evenings we have experienced at CPS.

He simply talked about his photographs of Iceland but he conveyed brilliantly well the deeply considered way he approached photography. His pictures were pre- planned, pre-visualised to some degree but often he had come across things which he used to make his pictures. His pictures were arrangements of shapes, textures. tones. He started in close, rather than looking at a whole scene (looking for vistas, in the writer’s opinion, is one of the big mistakes in landscape photography). He studied his subject for a long time before setting up his camera.

Edward Weston said something to the effect that compositional rules come from good photographs and not the reverse. Stephen bore this out. It is the arrangement of shapes, texture, tones in your pictures – in a comprehensible or pleasing way.

The evening was such a breath of fresh air, a blessed relief from the doctrine that we all go for the approach that begs favour from those who take a surface view of works.

The travel company that Stephen mentioned is only just down the road, in Woore.

Member’s Evening 1 Feb 2018

February 2, 2018 in Crewe PS news

Martin Smith’s talk told us a lot about astro-photography but came with a warning – for photographing individual planets and other celestial objects even the most sophisticated gear will not get you anywhere near the quality likely to impress club judges! We always enjoy Martin’s engaging and relaxed style of presentation and this talk, beautifully illustrated with photos taken by the Hubble telescope, was no exception.

Then we had an AV by Peter Robinson, our secretary and webmaster. Peter has recently taken his second trip to Morocco and he had stitched together very nicely a host of shots which just burst with colour and life – how boring is a walk down our typical high street compared to the soucks in Marrakech! Peter had done a great job and I found the sound especially well done, where he had mixed Morrocan style music with natural sounds and commentary. Well done Peter.

Finally John Royle brought us back to Earth with a few technical points about changes to the competition rules, and rendition of detail in nature shots. He told me that he would also like to have included an item on cropping and enlargement, but time did not permit.

Good to see Steven Pepper visiting and one poptential new member, Carl. Carl told me that he will be trying hard to get to the next meeting because he is planning a trip round the entire coast of Iceland by motorcycle.


February’s Monthly Theme is Still Life

January 31, 2018 in Uncategorized

Inspired by this George Franks’ talk a few weeks ago on Still Life photography I’ve decided to give you the chance to show what you can do. George showed us how to cheaply build up a set using simple lighting and home made accessories. You don’t have to spend a lot of money and have expensive equipment to get some great still life photos. You just need some creative ideas and basic knowledge of lighting, exposure, composition and controlling depth of field.

George showed us how to photograph a bottle of wine with table lamp and a couple of flashguns. He used light modifiers made out of Pringle tubes turning them into a snoot, softbox and a grid to control the light. He didn’t use an exposure meter. He adjusted his exposure by judging his histogram and camera’s screen. He set his camera and budget flashguns to manual and kept changing the settings and positions until he was happy. Digital photography makes this possible and a lot easier than it once was.

Of course you don’t have to use artificial lights at all. Diffused window light can give a wonderful soft even light but is less controllable. You’ll probably need a reflector to bounce some light back into the shadows.

The weather hasn’t been too good so it’s a good time to enjoy your hobby indoors. Now it’s your turn to experiment with creative lighting and share your photos with fellow members for us all to learn from.


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