Tagged: improve photography

10th December 2015 – On Skies & ROC Round Two

Skies, can’t live with them, can’t live without them, indicates some of the difficulty that the greatest source of light on the planet can present to photographers and may explain why some retreat on a more or less permanent basis to a studio where these things can be controlled. That, however is not the fate of the landscaper, the wedding photographer, the took-the-camera-on-holiday snapper, well, anyone who takes a photograph of, or in, the great outdoors. Pretty much everyone, then.


Dynamic range is the problem, luminance, the ability of a sensor to reproduce the extremes of blacks and whites in a photograph and everything in between. The human eye/brain combo has a dynamic range of 10-14 f-stops, about 1/1,000,000,000 times the faintest light to that of the of our local star in the middle of a bright and sunny day. DXO give the highest dynamic range of any commercially available DSLR at 14.8 stops. So how can that be a problem? Most modern DSLR’s and CSC’s appear to be within that 10-14 stop range so can emulate the human brain. Yes and no. The question is where the average that you are metering for lies in that range. Your camera does not possess the same dynamic processing capabilities as your brain which constantly adjusts to available light levels (and has been several million years in the development in doing so). What we see in an image is the capture of a moment. It is fixed. The exif data tells you that. What we see with our eyes is dynamically adjusted to what we “know” and changes constantly. In our brains the “shutter” is always rolling, not fixed.


That expectation can be shown in an image with a high dynamic range (that’s a clue) but necessarily arranged around the average the light meter has constructed or the camera instructed by the photographer. Those f-stops in the range have captured the information, we just need to rebalance the image to our expectations. That was the subject of our last meeting and Gerry Painter, Mark O’Grady and Nick Hale gave us some valuable leads on how, with some contributions from the floor, using both Adobe (Elements, Lightroom and Photoshop) and Smart Photo Editor how we can use that inbuilt dynamic range to our own advantage; and yes the same applies to JPEG and to RAW, just not in equal measure.


Broadly the latitude in a JPEG is plus or minus 2 stops over the “correctly” exposed average. With RAW that moves to approximately +/-3 stops. What the sensor can see, approximately, and what the eye can see, is not the same as the sensor records in straight numbers. There are a number of solutions that are available including HDR either from a single or multiple frames plus the various trips that we were shown using the tools available in the photo editing suites and we mentioned above. A single HDR image taken pushed to reveal the highlights and so then back to the original and push to the shadows then combine the three to cover a greater range is one way but if the range needs to be extended further then three separate shots can be used. To get the best out of this will usually require dedicated software such as Luminance HDR, which is free, or Photomatics or any number of similarly capable software, to blend the images into one.

There are, of course, other factors to consider, especially if you are blending two images, especially the quality/temperature of the light needing to match to make things convincing. That is convincing, not accurate – see the discussions of this over the last two posts. This was shown to be relatively straightforward, what doesn’t match between two images really stands out rather clearly and it is down to being a little critical of the outcome. Does this look as if it is one image, or does it look like more than one image crammed together. The hit and hopes do tend to stand out. As ever it is a matter of personal taste. It’s your photograph, what are you happy with?


Which brings us to round 2 of the ROC. Paul McCloskey was our judge and thanks to him for his insights and reflections on the night. The number of images commended was the highest to date and reflects not just a growth in quality but also one in diversity. The club moves from strength to strength. There was some conversation about what Paul saw and what some in the audience saw differently, as ever when we compare and contrast each other’s work, but that is both a good and necessary thing. The story we think we are sending out won’t always be the story that other’s think we are telling, and that can open us to other opportunities.


Results are as follows, those marked No Image Available mean exactly that. There was no image in the cloud folder for them.


Digital Print Images


Highly Commended

Beauty and the Beast

Mark O’Grady

No Image Available


The Vessel

Simon Caplan


The Beast

Mark O’Grady

No Image Available



Garage Sale

Rob Heslop

No Image Available







Chris Harvey



Centre of Attention

Chris Harvey

Print_The Centre Of Attention_307N


The Big Bang Theory

Ian Coombs

Print_ The Big Bang Theory_233

Digital Images

Highly Commended

Who Needs a Parrot?

Debbi Griffin

01-Who needs a parrot-220


Eddie House

01_Flintlock Pistol_233


Top Note

Ian Coombs

Top Note

Butterfly With No Name

Julia Simone

01_butterfly with no name_242



It’s a Bird

Pauline Ewins

Is it a bird

Brecon Beacons – Falls

Steve Hallam



Sorry I’m Late

Julie Kaye

02_sorry I'm late_295n

The Greek Goddess Ariadne

Jo Gilbert

02_The Greek Goddess Ariadne _299


Julia Simone




3rd Vetran

Julie Coombs



Coming Through

Martin Ethrington

2nd_Coming Through


Past Times

Gary Butler



Congratulations everybody, a fine showing.


17 December Meeting SCHOOL IS CLOSED. REPAIR TO THE UPSTAIRS OF THE LANGTON COURT ON LANGTON COURT ROAD. Bring something festive to eat and lots and lots of prints of any size – it will be fun.



Next meeting at the School: January 7th 2016 – Chairman Maurice has the floor. Read up on your Little Red Books …


Summer Programme 2013

Here we go the information that you’ve all been waiting for. I’ve finally been able to get most of the information about our summer programme of meetings. As you know we used to have a Summer Break the same as a the majority of Camera Clubs across the country. For the last 3 years we have decided not to have the time off but instead to hold meetings that were heavily geared towards teaching & explaining the basics of Photography for our members.

Different this year

This year we are doing things slightly differently. We are still having our Summer Tuition but the meetings are being split into two distinct parts. The first half of each meeting will be aimed at beginners and after the tea break we will get more in depth and cover more advanced techniques.

Summer Progamme:

6 June



  • AV/TV/ISO Basics


  • Manual Mode
  • How to expose
  • Techniques
    • Motion Blur
    • panning
    • noise
    • long exposure
    • using the flash to freeze movement
    • second curtain flash

13 June

Lens & Focus


  • Lens Choice
  • Lens Compression
  • Focus Modes
  • ImageStabilisation /VibrationReduction


  • Hyper Focal Distance
  • Chromatic Aberration & how to remove in editing
  • Extension tubes
  • Macro Demo

 20 June



  • Composition Rules
  • Leading Lines
  • Triangles


  • Q&A session (we need you to take an active part in this section of the meeting. All you have to do is think of a question about photography that you would love an answer to.  Kev has promised he can answer every single one of them and will buy a pint for you if he can’t answer your question! (parts of this may be an outright lie, I leave it up to you to figure out which parts).

27 June

Histogram & Metering


  • Histogram Basics
  • Metering Basics
  • Modes


  • Expose to the Right
  • Filters
  • Graduated Filters
  • Calculating Stops

4 July



  • From import to basic processing


  • Halo Removal
  • Focus Stacking
  • (it says on my list) 45 minutes of Kev. Good luck with that Kev! 😉

11 July


Photo shoot. Bring your camera’s you WILL need them. We are going to have several sets of studio lights (I think there will be 4) set up around the room and you will have the opportunity to use them to take pictures of models which will be there.

18 July

Road Trip

A trip out to Priddy Pool a site of special scientific interest. If you want to try your hand at Landscape, macro or just want to practice your photography this is your chance. Map showing the location of Priddy Pool car park. Parking is free (at least it was last time I was there). Meeting times & car sharing will be sorted out closer to the date.

25 July


We want to hear from you if you have a specific editing technique you would like to learn and we will do our best to show you how its done. It doesn’t matter if its something simple (everyone has to start somewhere) or complicated. We will do our best to show you how to do it but if it is a complicated technique we would love to have a bit of advanced notice.

1 August


Unfortunately at the moment I do not have any details on what is planned for this night, I will fill this space in as soon as I find out.

8 August

Another Road Trip!

Bristol Balloon Fiesta. We are planning a trip to the Balloon Fiesta. You can either pay & park in the grounds or find somewhere else to park & walk in. More details on where to meet up and times will be announced closer to the date.

15 August

Mini Lectures

Short 15-30 minute talks by club members on what they like to photograph, techniques they use and anything to do with Photography.

22 August

Guest Speaker

I’ve not been told who it is so its going to be as much of a surprise to me as it is you. Obviously if I find out I will let you all know.

29 August

Another mystery night

No idea what’s planned. Will let you know soon as I do.

Bokeh – what is it?

Bokeh is one of those words that have newcomers to photography scratching their heads! Their confusion is made worse by the way that the word is misused by many authors and bloggers who should know better.

The Japanese word “bokeh” is usually pronounced with bo as in bone and ke as in Kenneth, with equal stress on either syllable.  It is often defined as the way a lens renders out-of-focus points of light. In general, some lenses render it in a more pleasing way than others.

OK, so what do we mean by “pleasing”? Well, you can easily spot “bad” bokeh. The out-of-focus areas of a picture will have a feeling that could be described as gritty, clumpy or wiry. These areas tend to draw the eye and detract from the picture, especially if they contain bright highlights or are in the foreground. Have a look at this or this. Warning – some of them may hurt the eyes.

“Good” bokeh on the other hand is often described as smooth or creamy. There is little to distract the eye from the parts of the image that are in focus. Out of focus highlights will be rendered smoothly without harsh edges. Often they will be circular, but will sometimes be a polygon whose number of sides depends on the lens diaphragm (frequently seven or nine-sided). Try some random examples – this or this or this.

The real problem with bad bokeh is that once you are aware of it, it draws the eye and can’t be ignored.

How can I get better bokeh?

There are articles and even books that imply that you can control bokeh. You can’t. What you can control is depth of focus, and anyone who has been on the Reflex beginner’s course will know how you can do that:

  • Lens aperture
  • Distance from the camera to the subject
  • Distance from the subject to the background

If you are aware of the rules and are still suffering from bad bokeh, what can you do about it? Use a different lens! There are some well-known rules of thumb:

  • Prime lenses usually give better bokeh than zoom lenses. Some zooms are really good for bokeh, but they tend to be large and expensive.
  • So called superzooms (with a zoom ratio of 10x or so) will generally have bad bokeh.
  • Very wide aperture lenses (e.g. F/1.2) can sometimes render very strange bokeh when wide open. They usually improve when stopped down but that rather destroys the point of them!
  • You usually get what you pay for. Cheap primes like the well-known brand 50mm F/1.8 lenses often have poor bokeh. That’s not to say they are not worth buying but it’s worth bearing in mind.
  • Mirror lenses have disastrously bad bokeh: highlights are rendered as bright doughnuts!

As always with rules of thumb, there will be exceptions…


Practical Night – Editing Your Images

Practical Night

After last weeks very successful night of editing and with you all now, hopefully, thinking of different ways to edit your own images we are going to continue with a Practical Night where you get to edit your own images with the help of other club members if you want it. So what we would like you to do is to bring your laptops and make sure you have some images on them that you would like help with the editing. If you don’t own a laptop or can’t bring it with you for some reason, don’t worry, there will be at least 1 spare laptop for people to use and I’m sure that at least some of the people who do bring laptops won’t mind you having a go at editing the images on them. Also if you don’t have a laptop you can still bring your own images in on a memory stick. The volunteer editors from last week will be available for advice or help if you want it. Or you can just give it a go yourself.

Creative Round of the Reflex Open Competition

This Thursday, 31st January, is the final entry date for the Creative Round of the ROC. Please ensure that if you are entering PRINTS you also hand in a digital copy of the print.

Ready, Steady, Edit

A photograph of a yacht sailing into fog entitled into the unknown by mark stone photographer used on the Reflex Camera Club Website to illustrate the Ready, steady, edit meeting

Into the unknown by Mark Stone

This Thursday we are trying something we’ve never done before. But we need you to help out! We need you to Dropbox or eMail images into the club that you would like someone to edit for you. You can send in JPG’s or raw files it doesn’t matter which.

The aim of the meeting is to try and show you various ways an image can be edited.

A raw unprocessed version of Into the unknown by Mark Stone used on the Reflex Camera Club website to illustrate the ready, steady, edit, meeting

Raw unprocessed image

we are going to do that is by using your own images and having someone else edit them! You may not be sure or may have already decided on the best look for one of your photographs. But what will another club member think of it? Will they edit it in a totally different way. Maybe you never even considered that it could be turned monochrome. Maybe you didn’t think a grunge look would suit it. Well hopefully our group of volunteer editors will give you some ideas for you to try out when you next edit your photographs.

Quite a few of you may recognise the two images on this Blog post. They are from exactly the same raw file! The vertical portrait one is a jpg copy (A raw file was just too big to put onto this website) of the original raw file. The larger image at the top of this post is the finished image. Now would you have deleted the original from the back of your camera when you looked after taking it? Or would you have waited until you got home and seen if anything could be rescued from it on the computer? We’re trying to make you think that there may be more to your pictures than you are currently seeing, that there may be more to them than you think. Don’t just discard an image you think isn’t good as soon as you see it on the camera screen. Take it home and look at it. You may just get something you like.

Critique Night

A photograph by kevin Spiers of Durdle door to demonstrate critique night at Reflex Camera Club

Durdle Door by Kevin Spiers

Don’t be afraid of Critique

You may remember somewhere in the mists of time, well OK not quite that long ago, we started the season with a critique night. We’re about half way through the season now so we thought we’d invite you all to send in some pictures either via Dropbox or email or even by bringing them in on a stick to the meeting and we’d see how you’ve progressed. You should never be afraid of asking someone what they honestly think of your photographs. Remember it’s their point of view and everyone sees things differently. A picture you love, someone else will hate. If you look hard enough you can find a fault in any image but rather than looking at it as a fault why not see it as a suggestion on how you could improve the photo. The same goes for seeing the good parts of an image, unless of course its selective colour (anyone who creates them needs to seek psychiatric help immediately to avoid permanent brain damage) then you should just hit delete or burn it if its a print! Anyway back to being serious. Bring in some images, let everyone look at them and get some constructive comments on how you might improve your images. Don’t bring in your best most amazing pictures. Instead bring in the ones that you think don’t quite work but your not exactly sure why. Those are the ones you’ll learn from.

New Year New Project

Priddy a different Tree, part of a Project by Mark Stone

Priddy a different Tree, part of a Project by Mark Stone

So 2012 has gone and we are in a brand new year. What does it hold for you photographically? Are you just going to continue as you have been? Are you going to step up and try to improve? Many photographers take on a project or attempt new things at the start of a new year. I guess its part of the New Year Resolution idea. To try and better yourself. So just what can you do to try and improve your photography?


How about starting a 365 project? What’s that? It simply means you take a photograph a day every day for 365 days! Sounds like hard work? Well to be honest it is but there are lots of people that do complete them. Some people make them even harder by only doing self-portraits and creating elaborate shoots. Others simply take a picture of anything and use that as their image of the day. There are lots of groups on Flickr dedicated to this type of project.

365 Days Project, 365 Days of Self Portraits, 365 around the house and the list could go on and on but here’s the search page for 365 on Flickr.

52 Weeks

For those of you that find the thought of creating a picture per day daunting how about 1 per week? There are many who prefer or only have the time for a picture a week. Although just like the 365 projects these can take up quite a bit of your time. There are a similar set of choices for this project as well, you can choose to do only self-portraits, have a different theme per week or just do what you feel like at the time. Again there are a huge selection of groups to be found on Flickr. Some let you know the themes weeks in advance such as the LensProToGo52 Week Photo Project others tell you the theme at the beginning of the week or you can choose a theme to run through the whole series of 52 images the choice is yours. I’ve provided a link to search results on Flickr for the 52 weeks projects here.


If the thought of tying yourself down to taking a photo on a schedule doesn’t appeal to you how about starting a project of your own? One popular project that not only helps improve your photography but  your confidence in talking to & taking pictures of complete strangers is the 100 Strangers Project. If you decide to do this then obviously you have to take 100 pictures of total strangers and yes that means you walk up to someone on the street and talk to them ask them if its ok to take their picture and spend a few minutes getting to know them, trying to get them to relax a little so that they are at ease in front of your camera. Of course you can make up your own project such as documenting a particular area or whatever you want. To get you pointed in the right direction here are the results of a Google search for Photography Projects


You might think projects & challenges are pretty much the same but I’d have to disagree. To my mind a project is something long term, something you keep going back to and adding more work to over a period of time. Whereas a challenge is something short, something to get your teeth into and have a result in a fairly short time. So what would I consider a challenge? Well how about fitting a fixed length lens to your camera (or taping the lens to a fixed focal length if you only have telezoom lenses) and setting it to manual focus at 3 feet! Then just walk around and take pictures. It’ll certainly make you think hard about your composition and subject matter! Or how about going up to the local phone box and trying to take as many different pictures of it as possible? Or do that with a tree in the park. Want more suggestions for a challenge? Here are the Google results for Photography Challenges.

Why Bother?

Hopefully the thought of taking on a project or challenge appeals to you. If it does fantastic go out and get started right now! If your sat there thinking “why should I bother?”, maybe you just need a little shove to get you going. Start talking about it at club meetings, see what others think and the more you talk about it the more likely you’ll think “yeah let’s do it”. Now you may have noticed I haven’t really given you lots of information in this post. Well that’s because I work on the theory that if you really want to know something and have a desire to learn about it then you will put the effort in to finding out what you need to get started and do it. I’ll rarely hand you the answer on a plate and say there I’ve done it for you so you don’t have to. Sometimes I might not really have a choice but I would prefer you to spend a little effort discovering what you can do for yourselves. Trust me if you figure it out on your own you’ll be a lot happier and your confidence will get a boost. So please go ahead research these types of things and try them out. You never know you might just enjoy it.