Member’s Evening 1 Feb 2018

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.


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February’s Monthly Theme is Still Life

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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70th Anniversary Exhibition

Today (Saturday 27 January) we set up our small exhibition in Crewe Library. It is small scale but we cannot find a venue in the Crewe area to hang 100 framed prints. Small, but beautifully marked, it shows work from everyone currently entering our competitions and more. Do take a look, we hope you enjoy it and if you want to get more involved with photography why not come along to one of our meetings?


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Print 3 2018 – Our last print league competition of the season 25 January

Garden Display by John Royle. colour section winner

Les Hitchcock ARPS was our judge for the evening and he made a first rate job of it. His approach was lively and supportive – which was particularly brave of him in the circumstances – he had had a fall in the car park and yet had the professional spirit to continue, not just unheeding but with a warm enthusiam..

His assessments were fair and he showed appreciation of s wide range of types of photography. It was particularly refreshing to hear a judge display some knowledge of natural history too.

It all made for s very enjoyable evening and I am sure Les will be paying us a return visit soon.

Good to have a chance to show one of my own images for a change; Garden Display was the winner in the colour (General) section.  The picture had been carefully crafted with a lot of attention to colour and the symmetry and the regularity of the brickwork. I remember toning down the white marks on pot on the left of the bottom row which was attracting the attention at bit too much. Can you spot the “mistake” I had to leave in?

It was a great selection of pictures, displaying the members wide range of interests and high level of skill. The results are here.


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Great Success for Crewe PS in Great British Cup

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

Crewe PS has entered the Great British Cup every year since its inception and we have often been rewarded with some good successes, especially in the Nature category. We have just heard that our results in the open section (Small Clubs) this year is our best ever, with not just third place overall but a silver medal for one of our members. The marks are out of 15 and 8 of our images scored 12 or more with Martin’s getting a 14, one of the highest scores in the competition. What is more, one of the judges (Richard Spurdens) selected Martin’s picture for his Judges Silver Medal.

Well done to all those whose work was selected and especially Martin and Wallace Baxter (who gained a 13). For all scores, see our results page.


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Crewe PS v Alsager CC 18 January 2018


Judge Conor Molloy ARPS CPAGB presents the trophy to our treasurer Sharon Barton.

Both clubs had submitted a  superb set of images and our victory was a narrow one of 10 marks (507 to 517). At half-time after the prints had been judged, we had a lead of just 3 marks. Could we hold that lead with 30 projections to go? When we had more photos held back for the higher awards than Alsager there was always a chance that things would turn out in our favour – and they did.

But a victory is not all that it is about; it is such a delight to have our friends from Alsager over to see what sort of work they are doing at present. We also had the pleasure of seeing one of our members, Ralph Browes, get the best image in both the projections and prints. One of those photos is our Image of the Week.

All credit to the Crewe team for putting on a great show. Sharon operated the computer and projector absolutely faultlessly (she stepped into the job at the last minute). Dave Lucas helped with print presentation with his usual consummate skill.

Thanks also to my fellow selectors;Dave Barton, Dolores Williams and Ian Whiston and, of course all those members whose superlative work gave us the edge over our talented friends.

It seemed fitting to ask Sharon to accept the trophy on our behalf.

But what of next year?

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The ‘Battle of Nantwich’ 27th. January

On Saturday 27th.January, Nantwich will commemorate the English Civil War battle of Nantwich which took place in 1644. Nantwich was a Parliamentarian strong hold in Cheshire and was besieged by Lord Byron’s Royalist forces. Every yearhundreds of the Sealed Knot re-enactors from all over the country invade Nantwich in their civil war uniforms and arsenal.

I’m a veteran of the event myself, not as a re-enactor, but as a photographer. I’ve seen it grow from a small group of soldiers who stood around the square for an hour to the big event it is today. These days activities start in the morning before the troops arrive with Morris Dancers and singers entertaining the crowds. I enjoy talking to the knowledgeable Sealed Knot to learn about the history and way of life during the Civil War. Then I’ll watch the troops do their drill and engage in a mock battle.

It’s always been quite a challenge to photograph the event due to the large number of people there and the distracting backgrounds.  If you get there mid morning you’ll be able to warm up photographing the Morris Dancers. They’re a friendly bunch who enjoy actively dancing and like to pose for portraits as well. I liked to try using a variety of shutter speeds to capture them sharp and also get some blurry movement. Around midday the Nantwich Players Theatre will put on a short performance in the square where a scandrell  is found guilty and marched down the stocks in Pillory Street where the children throw lettuce at him.

The troops will march from Malbank School down Welsh Row around 1pm into the church square and wait to be inspected doing their drill. There’s also a wreath laying ceremony to remember everyone that died during the battle. The troops will be there for about 30 minutes and you’ll have an opportunity to photograph them. It gets very busy with many spectators and photographers at this time. Of course, the way you photograph the event depends on what type of pictures you want. I always like to get a general view of a line of soldiers using a wide angle lens, with the church in the background, but it can be difficult to get without spectators in. Then with a longer lens look out for some of the many characters there who make great portraits. Using a wide aperture can help diffuse the background. Also keep an eye out for when the regiments doing their drill as you can get some good photos looking down the pikes or barrels. Don’t forget to focus on the eyes.

After the drill the soldiers will march down to the Mill Field by the River Weaver to re-enact a mock battle. They will engage with cannon fire, muskets and pikes to gain territory. Due to the camber of the land slopping to the river, it can be difficult to see if you’re not on the front row so it’s a good idea to get there early to get a good spot. It’s probably best to use a lens in the range of 70-200mm as the action could be across the field or closer too. They also have a secondary barrier that you’ll need to photograph over. Be prepared for the loud bangs the cannons make when they’re fired. Trying to capture the moment of them firing is difficult so you could try a rapid fire technique. It’s good to take a variety of photographs of the flag wavers, the drummers, the musketeers and the pikemen in combat. Sometimes smoke drifts over the scene which adds to the atmosphere.

I’ve found this schedule of the days events:

RedShift Stage – Town Square – 10am – 1.30pm

10.15am – Sinead D’abreu-Hayling

11.00am – Nantwich Young Voices

11.30am – Tim Lee

11.55am – Nantwich Players Theatre

12.45pm – Sealed Knot troops leave Malbank School to parade along Welsh Row

1.00pm – Troops arrive into Town Centre

1.15pm – Wreath laying ceremony at War Memorial

1.30pm – Troops parade to Mill Island to battle

Nantwich Museum – 10am – 12.30pm

10.00am – Civil War tour

10.30 – 11.30am  – Musketry demonstration with Sealed Knot

11.30 – 12.30pm – 17th Century music from Forlorne Hope

Mill Island – 1.45 – 3pm

​​1.40pm – Troops arrive

1.50pm – Artillery Demo (BIG BANGS!)

2.00pm – Battle reenactment begins

Around Town – 10am – 12.30pm

Mollies / Plough Witches / Street entertainers

Doomsday Morris Dancers


Good Shooting, Peter

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January’s Monthly Theme is Shadows

Happy New Year everyone. Are you looking for a New Years’ resolution? How about submitting a photograph to our Monthly theme. Start this month by showing us how you can photograph shadows to create dramatic photographs. Members can then give constructive feed back which will benefit us all and improve our photography.

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L&CPU Folios 7 December 2017

We had a very rewarding discussion based around  the L&CPU Folio C last night. These included tips from Paul Hill on photographing landscapes including the Milky Way and from Ian Whiston about checking your commercial monochrome printing and effectively darkening areas in a photo which are too bright and lacking in detail.

John talked about what to do with nature images which may not satisfy the new FIAP rules and how the L&CPU and PAGB are checking entries in their competitions for duplicates.

We went on the review the highest scoring images in this season’s competition with a view to use in the Great British Cup.

John demonstrated the cropping guide in Lightroom and then finally showed a selection of images from Flickr which he thought illustrated some powerful features of street photography; arrangement of figures, echo, perspective tricks, colour harmony and wit.

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Alan Challinor Trophy 2017

This year Crewe PS hosted the competition, which pays homage to the quality monochrome prints which have always been the mainstay of photographic. Monochrome was regarded by all as the only medium for serious photography until probably the 70s when improved chemistry and the work of photographers like William Eggleston gave colour prints more credence. Although colour was difficult to process some club workers feared it taking the place of their beloved monochrome. One such person was Alan Challinor, who created this competition to help to keep mono alive.

Although we are grateful to Alan (who died in 1991) for giving us the chance to show off our printing skills he need not have feared the demise of mono, which is alive and well, thriving even, in every sphere of photography.

Five local clubs compete (Alsager CC, Crewe PS, Mid-Cheshire CC, Nantwich CC and Sandbach PS) and the competition is referred to as the Five Towns Monochrome Print Competition.

On Thursday night (30 Nov 2017) the highly respected judge Jane Lines MPAGB LRPS BPE5 presided over the competition and kept to the spirit of it in paying particular attention to print quality. A quality print is, of course, of little interest if what it shows us is doesn’t capture the heart and mind and Jane seemed to find the right balance as she commented on the pictures.

In the end Alsager CC and Nantwich PS tied for first place and that had me scurrying for the rule book to check that Nantwich could be declared the winners because they had also won the Best Print Award.

Above you can see Jane making the presentation of the Best Print trophy to David Luker and the print itself; Underneath the Arches.

The full results can be seen HERE 

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