Robertshaw Trophy – Macclesfield CC 28 October 2019

The Robertshaw is a PDI competition between 5 local clubs; ourselves, Leek PC, Blythe Bridge CC, Holmes Chapel and Macclesfield. Martin Smith sent this note following the 2019 event last night…

“We achieved a respectable third place in the Robertshaw, the same as last year.


1st – Leek  – 212 (8 held back), 2nd – Blythe Bridge – 209 (8 held back), 3rd – Crewe – 207 (6 held back), 4th – Macclesfield – 206 (6 held back), 5th – Holmes Chapel – 191 (3 held back)


Our image scores:


20 Cheetah Siblings with Mum (Ian Whiston)  20 Parallel Bars (Wallace Baxter) 18 Fishing Heron (Ian Whiston) 18 No Bones Broken (Ray Hill) 18 Vega Terron View (Stephen Coyne) 17 Alert Spaniel (Paul Hill) 17 Windermere Reflection (Paul Hill) 16 MP (Dolores Williams) 16 Muscular Mike (Peter Robinson) 16 The Last Pass (Peter Bainbridge) 16 Special Detective (Kath Hill) 15 Wet (Dolores Williams)


The judge had a lot to say but very little criticism about any, so the smallest fault was critical. Hardly any of ours where faulted at all so it was down to subject, content and personal preference.

He awarded four images with a 20 and two of them were ours.

There was a very high percentage (30%) of very good nature images so our only two from Ian had much to compete with.

I would add that Leek PC are a large and successful club, whilst Blythe Bridge are riding high at the moment too, so this ia a very respectable result and Martin and his team did a very good job of selecting and managing the entry – well done! We will put the scoresheets up when we get them from Macclesfield CC – JR

The L&CPU Novice Cup 2019

Our entry for the third Novice Cup has now been processed and the prints are labelled and ready for presentation at the event on Sunday 20th October. Tickets are still available if you want to join the delegates at the venue in Eccles. Full details are here.

The event has the aim of getting those who have not so far embarked on the process of gaining photographic distinctions fully informed of what is involved, at least in the PAGB distinctions.

PAGB Awards

I went to the L&CPU Mentoring Advisory Day last Sunday with Paul Hill and Bob Brown and we met Stephen Coyne there in Eccles. Stephen wants to achieve his DPAGB and the rest of us are aiming for the CPAGB. The audience was limited to 37 photographers who had to register before the event. Photographers aiming for a CPAGB had submitted 10 photographs and those after a DPABG submitted 15. There was no charge, not even for the coffee and biscuits!

The event was overseen by Christine Widdall and 5 other experienced and highly qualified photographers supported her. They were Gwen and Phil Charnock, Adrian and Jane Lines and Terry Donnelly.

Jane started by explaining what awards were available, CPAGB, DPAGB and the MPAGB and how the scores were achieved. This was followed by examples of successful images that had gained their author an award. Then we got down to the business of the mock adjudication.

The 6 judges viewed each image until all of them had given it a mark out of 5. If the total mark was 20 or other it had qualified for a CPAGB panel, but 24 was the aim. So the total of the 6 would need to be over 200 for them to achieve the award.

The work I submitted for a CPAGB would just scrape through with 201, Paul had a good pass score and Bob fell a bit short, but we all know what we need to do. The standard for the DAPGB which Stephen entered was exceptional and he fell a little short, but could see why.

After the images had been scored the judges explained how some of the border line images could be improved to increase their score. It was an excellent event which was very well run and professional. We all benefited from the advice and it was an eye opener to the standard of work expected. We all agreed that it was incredible that an event like this was ‘free’. Plus, of course 6 experienced photographers giving advice and guidance.

I’m sure some more of our members would be interested in achieving an award. If there’s enough interest we could work together to encourage each other to work towards it. Members who have already achieved one may like to offer some advice to those working towards it. Don’t forget the L&CPU have a mentoring scheme where your images can be assessed by one of the judges.

L&CPU Awards & Exhibition Opening: 6 July 2019

Leigh Spinners Mill is a fascinating place, the history of which is being saved from extinction by 50 volunteers. It houses still the two massive steam engines which always powered the mill. Named the “Mayor” and “Mayoress” they gleam, green and impressive at the base of the engine hall, a tribute to the dedication of the team of restorers. It is also becoming a vibrant centre for the local community and for the next month, a super home for the L&CPU annual exhibition.

This afternoon the lofty engine hall and its resident green monsters formed a backdrop to the presentation of certificates and medals earned in the L&CPU competitions this year. Crewe members know that we did well as a team in the club competitions and that Ian Whiston was the winner in the PDI Nature section of the Individuals Competition and Ian was with me to receive his awards. He is seen above with the L&CPU President Ian Aldcroft.

The Individuals’ competition had over 1,000 prints and 2,400 PDI entries and some 150 of the best prints can be seen in the exhibition in another part of the building. Featuring work by members Wallace Baxter, Ray Hill and Kath Hill it looks really splendid and a tribute to the careful crafting of the authors.

PAGB awards were also made to L&CPU Club members who had gained APMs this year. These are the CPAGB, DPAGB and MPAGB awards which are made by assessing work that you submit at the two or three occasions during the year. The L&CPU run a mentoring scheme to help you to choose the work you submit and this process, organised by Christine Widdall, has seen a  100% success rate from candidates in recent assessments.

You can look at the Mill here. Don’t be alarmed by the fact that the website says that it is only open for two hours per week! That is just for guided visits to view the engines etc, the community centre, where you will find the exhibition, is open from 9am until 5pm every day of the week.

July’s Monthly Theme is ‘Emotion’

I’ve decided to make the Monthly Theme for July a bit more challenging. Previous themes may have been too easy for some members so the theme of Emotion will test your imagination and photographic skill a bit more. Not that photographs that portray an emotion need to be technically perfect. The idea is to create an atmosphere or felling that the viewer can relate to. It could be a brief moment or happiness or sadness. It could be anger or fear. We see scenes like this regularly, but they can be difficult to capture as they may only last in a brief moment in time. Your mission to capture such a moment and share it with your fellow members. Good luck!
PS Whether you wish to join in or not it’s worth viewing the video about photographing emotion that I’ve noted at the head of the post.

Portrait Competitions, 4 April 2019

There was much interesting debate a while back on our Forums about what constitutes a portrait. We never agreed, but I think the debate informed our indecision! For the purposes of our two portrait competitions this year we kept to adopting the Taylor-Wessing Portrait Prize definition of a portrait being about a person – a nice, open definition which permits both character studies and the more purely descriptive as well as the experimental.

Our 37 PDI portraits vying for the Howard Edwards Trophy and the 13 prints in the Maurice Ashwin came under the scrutiny of Tillman Kleinhans, justly one of the most popular judges on the circuit. Tillman is a delight to listen to drawing you in to look at the work in the same way he does, frequently making you realise the subconscious effect of details you had not realised were there. It is all a world away from a catalog of dreary negativity.

Tillman had no easy job, with so many really good photographs in the line-up. The quality was a tribute to the strong standard of work in the club. There were one or two more experimental ones, always good to see, but the majority were what you might call traditional studies.

In the end Dolores Williams dominated the PDIs with a first and second place. It is great to have Dolores entering work again, she has that special quality in a portraitist of drawing out that something extra in her model; capturing a feeling of the person rather than a mere likeness. Then she tops it all by processing her work to bring out its strengths.

The hidden battle in the competition was over who would be Photographer of the Year, with the best three scoring images being the last contribution to the total scores. Peter Robinson and Wallace Baxter were pretty close before this event but Peter managed, in the end, to pull ahead with good scores for one of his jaunty shots of King Charles(!) and a beautiful mono PDI called (prosaically) “Muscular Mike” and a crisp print called “Army Photographer” (who was holding an immaculate rangefinder Contax).

Before ending I must mention someone who has progressed so well this year it is heart-warming to see – Keith Mulliner. Keith did really well in this competition, with a 19 for “The Eyes” but all year we have seen strong work from Keith and I wonder what 2020 will bring.

Romania: John Morton 29 November 2018

A relaxed style and a peppering of dry humour made John’s talk especially enjoyable. It was always bound to be interesting because we all know that he has an intimate knowledge of Romania, gleaned from numerous visits and inspired by a genuine love of the place.

Haunted forest glades, the shock of bears rummaging in suburban rubbish, the inscrutable road signs, empty petrol stations, ‘Will o’the Wisp’ alight, relics of Vlad the Impaler, colourful street art; were all to be seen in this travelogue with a difference.

John started with an apology, for his photographs. He meant that they were not exhibition quality. Thank goodness! The lifeless perfection that sometimes means would not have conveyed the truth, sparkle and colour these shots did.

A memorable evening.

Meeting 22 November 2018

Tonight’s meeting was particularly enjoyable in being relaxed and informal. With three or four table-top set ups everyone had the opportunity to turn their cameras on something! I am sure everyone learned a lot about their cameras and how they worked with flash and how a lighting set up can have a marked effect on the look of the image. All manner of accessories were brought along and everyone was so busily engaged we lost track of time. Carl finished off the evening with an excellent run down on the OnOne software; a very skilled presentation fitted into the remaing meeting time perfectly.

Thanks to Carl and Peter (whose idea it was) and to others who brought in eqiupment for us to use. A great evening.

(The shot above was a trial of a ring LED lighting attachment by Kaiser, together with two small supplementary lights. It incidentally illustrates how poor the internet is at conveying image quality – the lack of depth of field hardly shows!)


17 November 2018 – L&CPU PDI KO

This popular competition was supported by 39 clubs this year, which meant that only the first 4 images from each entry were used. The judge, one of my favourites, John Cartlidge, was presented with the 156 images and knocked out about half of them in each round, giving his reasons in each case. So, the longer your work stays in, the better your score.

We lost nothing in the first round, a sign that we stood a good chance of success. The first image to fall was Guitarist by Peter Robinson in round 2, but confidence was growing as the remainder would get at least 9 points and place us in midfield. As it happened we only lost Stephen’s Halong Bay in R3. Dolores’s MP stood until round 5 and Ian’s Cheetah shot stayed in until the penultimate round, gaining us 6 more ponts – we must have done well.

Indeed we had! When the results flashed up we had 5th place, ahead of clubs like Chorley, who have over 100 members and usually lead the field in events like this. Poulton-le-Fylde won, after a tie-break with Southport. Bury and South Manchester were the other two clubs ahead of us.

The full results will be available later.

Thanks to our selection team, lead by Martin Smith, who did a great job; but of course well done to our members who gave them such excellent material to choose from.

The new season and an exhibition

We are now a couple of meetings into the new season and have an exhibition mounted in Crewe Library, so a good time to take stock.

Self-help and the society of other enthusiasts are probably the most valuable features of any club and that has been underlined in the last two weeks when we have looked together at some of the best club prints from the region and heard three talks from members about their recent work.

The discussions which arose have been an invaluable help to us all. Our faith in the internet as a source of information is justifiable but, as a member commented last year, “I just learned more in five minutes about [subject] from [another member] than I have in years”.

We hope you will take a look at our exhibition. It shows the variety of work our members undertake – that bit is always up to you, of course – but if you feel inspired to find out more just come to a meeting!

Remember that printing is a special thing that we don’t all do – many are happy with electronic images, the things that everyone knows from social media etc, but we want to do it all that little bit better.