Bromsgrove Entry

October 5, 2010 Comments Off on Bromsgrove Entry

I picked the 12 images for my Bromsgrove Open National Exhibition entry tonight and posted it off to the organisers.  I pulled in a few of the newer images to give them a trial.  Walkway, Malham Reflections, Tufa, The Young Ones II, Red Deer Stag and Japanese Macaque Submerged are all new to competition, I have high hopes for some of these.


Richmond Park Red Deer

September 25, 2010 Comments Off on Richmond Park Red Deer

I do like to take opportunities which come along to allow me to have a couple of hours photography in places I don’t usually get to.  This week I was invited to speak at a conference being held at the Twickenham Rugby Ground in London. So the choice was a few shots of the ground, whist being maintained – not too spectacular, or nip over the river to Richmond and see if there was any action in the park.  It’s getting pretty close to red deer rutting season, so there was really no contest. Richmond Park it was.

Packing a business suit and a camouflage suit for the same trip is a little strange, but lets skip over that one. I arrived without incident at Twickenham and did my duty on the first day of the conference, but took an early exit from the evening meal and headed for an early night.  The alarm woke me at 5:00am, dawn wasn’t until 6:45am but I wanted to ensure I could find the deer before dawn.  The gates don’t open to vehicles until 7:00am, but pedestrians can gain access.  The plan was to walk in through a number of gates until I found a suitable herd close by. The park is 13 miles round, so it could actually prove a long job. I needed a bit of luck.

By 5:30am I was dressed and heading for the hotel exit. I think the staff had a little giggle as I strode out, dressed head to foot in woodland-pattern camo and shouldering a 500mm lens and tripod.  Never mind, on with the job. At the Richmond gate I parked up and walked into through the iron gates. Still dark, the mist was down which was exactly the conditions I wanted, but no deer close to the gate. A quick run back to the car an on towards the Sheen Gate. The same process, a quick walk in, 10 minutes looking round with no result so back out to the car. At the Roehampton gate I caught my first misty view of a few red deer.

As the light began to grow I found I was on the rugby pitch surrounded by a herd of red deer around 50 to 60 strong with two or three large stags in attendance. Unfortunately no real rutting activity yet. It maybe a couple of weeks early.   As dawn broke the gates opened and traffic started to pour through the gates. Londoners on the way to work, dog walkers, joggers, cyclists streamed through the gates.  The deer started to head off the open playing fields and wandered off towards the woodlands.  Time to move and find a concealed position and wait for the dee to come to me.

I checked the direction of the wind, watched where the deer were heading and ran back to the car. Joining the queues of traffic to enter the park and then heading for the car park at Pen Ponds I managed to skirt round the main herd. The sun was now up and burning off the mist quite well. The dog walkers were moving the deer along nicely.  I spotted three large stages heading for a wooded drinking pond and quickly found my place with a good view. Throwing a small skrim net over me and the camera I settled down to wait.  The sun was now streaming in through the low branches of the trees, lighting the bracken. The three stags walked in through the trees straight into the golden light.  The could sense something was not quite right, something or someone was there, but they couldn’t work out what it was.  They remained on the early morning light for a good 10 minutes. Here is the best of the images.

The Crusader

September 23, 2010 Comments Off on The Crusader

At the end of August I went to the Sheffield Fair, an event run over the bank holiday where lots of re-enactors put on displays of historic battles and drills from various periods of history.  These events are always good for a few portrait shots and by and large if you have a chat with the guys they will gladly pose for you.  I try to get a contact name and email from them if I can, then send them a copy of any images which turn out to be reasonable.  That way we both get something out of it.

Anyway, having been up to Dumfries and photographed Caerlaverock Castle I had the idea of combining this with some of the characters performing at Sheffield.  One group were representing Norman Knights over four centuries and it was one of these which caught my eye.  In order to make the final compilation image work I had to ensure that the light came from the same direction and was something I could work with in photoshop. I quickly checked the castle image on my iPhone, logging into my online flikr account and worked out where I needed to be positioned to take a compatible shot of the knight.  In actual fact I couldn’t get the angle I wanted, so had to think about reversing the light direction and flipping the image in photoshop.  It is actually quite easy to visualise your image when you have the iPhone and access to your stock images on-line.

Here is one of the series of original images of the knight. Yoy can see I’ve also tried to isolate him from any complex background, making it easy to extract him and place him alongside my castle.

Doesn’t look too promising does it?   Well, with a little bit of photoshop magic, and a good few hours playing around with it I think I finally came up with a workable result.  First I prepared the castle image by blurring the image, replicating the effect of a shallow depth of field. Next I placed the image of the knight on a second layer and flipped him to suit the lighting conditions. (The one I used was a slightly different angled original to the thumbnail above). After that it was a case of making the colour of the light match using adjustment layers and tones.

So here is the result …. I’ve called it ‘The Crusader’ and I’ve given it its first run out in competition in the Guernsey Open Exhibition. Lets see what the judges think.

Havant National Open Exhibition Entry

August 21, 2010 Comments Off on Havant National Open Exhibition Entry

I received an email just the other day reminding me to enter the Havant National.  A little bit short notice as the closing date is 4th September, but pulled an entry together today and used the new online entry form. Pretty easy to use and much quicker than the old CD and postal entry method.  Well done Havant Camera Club, I wish the other exhibitions would go this route.

Anyway, onto the entry.  It is a while since I entered Havant, so I have a good choice of images to choose from. I’ve decided to go with the following:

PDI Open Section
Yorkshire Lime, a new piece as yet untried in any exhibition
Herringfleet Mist, an oldie but goody. Probably on one of its last outings
Look for Gold, another well used image, but worth another try
Rip Tide, always seams to do reasonably well

PDI Nature Section
Common Blue Butterflies Mating, another new one, testing the waters
Green-veined White, again something new for me. Not sure this one is upto scratch, so an experiment
Young Japanese Macaque,  a banker
Group Snooze, should be a solid entry

So we will know in a week or two.  I’m still in need of nine acceptances for the British Photographic Exhibitions 4 crown award and now have twenty four images submitted. I hope that I don’t need the Havant entry, but they are always a backup.

Back on the Competition Trail

August 2, 2010 Comments Off on Back on the Competition Trail

Summer is over, or at least the competition circuit has started again. Either way I’m back on the chase for points.  This week its the Great Barr Photographic Society Open Exhibition, a ‘National’ level competition.  It feels like a long time since I sent in an entry, though to be honest its probably only a few short weeks. I’m still in need of thirteen more acceptances for the ‘British Photography Exhibitions 4 Crown Award’ which is obtained by getting 200 acceptances at National level.

So, onto the Great Barr entry … I missed this exhibition last year, so I have a few ‘oldies’ to try and a few new, untried works too. A good mixture, hopefully.  I have great hopes for the butterflies ‘Common Blues Mating’ taken just yesterday near Sherwood Forest and ‘Young Japanese Macaque’ a good old tried and tested favourite which scored 14/15 at the recent National Club Championships.

Mono PDI
Third Age of Man
Station Master
The Wagoneer

Colour PDI
Saltwick Bay Storm
The Young Ones
Spurn Defences II

Nature PDI
Common Blues Mating
Japanese Macaque in Onsen
Blackbird on Hawthorn
Young Japanese Macaque

Creative PDI
The Andrews Sisters
The Moorings
Sea Thrift
Clearance Sale

PAGB Inter-Club Plate Competition Results

July 18, 2010 Comments Off on PAGB Inter-Club Plate Competition Results

PAGB Plate Scores

Worksop & District PS

Dundee CC 103
Paisley Colour PC 101
Chorley PS 100
Princess Risborough PS 99
Breckland Imaging Group 99
Oldham PS 99
Gwynfa CC 99
Northallerton CC 98
Tamworth PC 97
Beaumaris & Menai Bridge CC 97
Bristol PS 97
Merville-Newtonbabbey PC 96
Tenby & District 96
Sunderland PA 94
Southampton CC 94
Stocksbridge PS 94
Dorchester CC 94
Kirkbymoorside CC 93
Tonbridge Camera Club 91
Clay Cross PS 91
Hayling Island CC 91
Dwyafor CC 90
Harrow Camera Club 89
Exmouth PG 89
Dorking CC 88
Maidstone CC 84
Capel CC 80
Carrickfergus CC 77

PAGB Inter-club Championship Plate Winners

July 17, 2010 § 2 Comments

Worksop Photographic Society, my local club have just returned from a fantastic day out at Warwick University where they came away with the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain (PAGB) Inter-Club Championship Plate.  Before any club can enter the  PAGB Inter-Club Championships they have to win or come second in their regional federation inter club championships. The club can then go on to represent the federation at national level at Warwick.  Worksop have represented the North East Midlands eight times in the last nine years.   This year we were joined by our friends at Clay Cross Photographic Society.

Each time we have been to Warwick we have been beaten by the large clubs, but usually putting up a good fight to end up around 10th place. This time we decided on a different tactic.

The format of the day is all clubs, 37 this year, enter two rounds of images with just the top eight clubs going on to battle out for the honours for the ‘cup’.  These top eight are usually the big hitters, Wigan 10, Smethick, Beyond Group ….. the Premiership leaders in other words.  The clubs who don’t make the last eight then play off for a separate competition called ‘The Plate’. This competition is run using eight images, only four of which can be carried forward from the first round.

So, the scene is set…. In the very first round we played our second choice images and scored 80, a nice lowish score near the bottom of the range, followed by a second round score of 91. Much better and very close to the bottom end of the ‘top eight’. This gave us a safe seat in the Plate but allowed us to work out if any of the images we had already played were worth keeping for the Plate competition.  Two images scores 13 out of 15 and were therefore held over.  We swapped out all the images which scored 12 and under for our best images, choosing the ones we thought the three judges would score highest based on what we had seen in the earlier rounds.

We estimated that if we averaged 12 per image we might be in with a chance. This was an underestimate as we were later to find out.  The 8 images were presented to the judges and scored two 12’s, four 13’s and two 14’s. An average of 13 for a total of 104.  As the points were awarded we were concious that many clubs appeared to have scored lower with their replacement images, because of our strategy we increased our score.

As the club results were read out in catalogue order we waited for our score …. ‘Worksop 104’ … and waited as each club name was read, only three other clubs came over the 100 barrier and as the last few names and scores were read out we knew the Plate was ours.  The second place in the plate went with a score of 103, so it was closer than we originally estimated.

What a day, tension, tactics and some silverware to come home with. Perfect!  Well done Worksop!

Stuart Dobson has just sent me the scores, which are interesting reading:

Round 1 images:

  1. Break Away 11/15
  2. Geisha 9/15
  3. Bombing Range Donna Nook 10/15
  4. Watching 10/15
  5. The Speaker 11/15
  6. The Photographer 9/15
  7. Geyser Eruption 10/15
  8. C37 Flypast 10/15

Total 80 marks

Round 2 images:

  1. Winter’s Grip 11/15
  2. Wattled Plover Feeding 13/15
  3. Snipe Calling in Habitat 11/15
  4. The Young Ones 12/15
  5. Sea Pinks 9/15
  6. Gargoyle Gecko Escapes 11/15
  7. Winter Tree 11/15
  8. Castlerigg Dawn 13/15

Total 91 marks

We carried forward Wattled Plover Feeding and Castlerigg Dawn into the Plate competition.

Plate images:

  1. Wattled Plover Feeding 13/15
  2. Castlerigg Dawn 14/15
  3. Turpin & Co 12/15
  4. Bumped 13/15
  5. Macaque Young 14/15
  6. In the Grip of Winter 13/15
  7. Powering Through 13/15
  8. Herringfleet Mist 12/15

Total 104 marks

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