Stratford Photo Group: Blog en-us (C) Stratford Photo Group (Stratford Photo Group) Wed, 22 Nov 2017 16:58:00 GMT Wed, 22 Nov 2017 16:58:00 GMT Stratford Photo Group: Blog 120 80 Visit to LumeJet Stratford Photo Group members were invited to visit LumeJet, on Tuesday 7th November 2017. LumeJet are a young company based in Whitley, Coventry. They opened the factory only 2 years ago, after a period of 15 years development of a new way of printing digital images.
SPG Members during LumeJet visit © Suveena BaliSPG Members during LumeJet visit © Suveena Bali
Since digital took off, the main way of getting images printed was via inkjet systems, where coloured inks are sprayed, with great accuracy, onto specially formulated papers. There are a number of issues with this process, including the cost of inks/papers and the limitation in how small the dots can be made, to increase the resolution and fine detail of the print.

The process and technology that LumeJet have developed turns the process on its head and goes back to the days of printing on photographic paper processed in chemicals. This is a well understood, stable and cost effective process.
LumeJet’s L.Type print process recreates the care, personal attention and quality of the traditional darkroom experience for the modern age. Created with their unique, patented photonic technology, the L.Type print is ultra-high-resolution 400 PPI (Pixels Per Inch) true continuous tone, considered to be better than 4,000 dpi quality from an ink-based printer. This allows them to achieve images that truly show no digital patterning at all.
We were welcomed by Dr Trevor Elworthy, the founder and managing director of the company. He explained the various stages of development the technology had gone through. Starting with the design of the printhead, which takes a digital image, converts it to RGB light, and it then "fires" it with great accuracy onto photographic paper. Having successfully productionised the printhead, the next challenge was to build the print machine which would house it. This brought significant new engineering problems, to ensure that the printhead could be moved across the photographic paper with micron precision. All within a tightly controlled climate.
Greg, the financial director, talked about the significant investment that had gone into developing the technology and getting to the stage where they now had a complete print facility, able to take digital images and output high quality prints, to a standard significantly higher than any other system, at a reasonable price. He talked about the business case and the future marketing of the products. They are marketing it as a high end product where receiving your print or photobook is an event to be anticipated, similar to the experience of opening an iPhone® box. 

We then got to see the immaculately clean production environment, where Jordan demonstrated how the LumeJet technology was used to produce prints and photobooks in a variety of sizes, but all at outstanding quality and attention to detail.
Trevor then gave us an insight into some of their future technology plans, including details not yet released, of their next generation printhead.
Finally, the moment we had all been waiting for, Suveena Bali presented each attendee with a free A3 print, of an image they had submitted in advance, on Fuji DPII Matte stock paper. Wow! Everyone was genuinely impressed with the quality, fine detail and colour accuracy in the prints. It was definitely a "wonderful experience".
Overall SPG members were privileged to visit LumeJet and enjoyed a brilliant evening. We would like to thank the LumeJet team for their hospitality and generosity.
We wish them every success for the future.
Peter Gilbert
LumeJet visit © Michael Robertson-SmithLumeJet visit © Michael Robertson-Smith LumeJet visit © Michael Robertson-SmithLumeJet visit © Michael Robertson-Smith
LumeJet visit © Michael Robertson-SmithLumeJet visit © Michael Robertson-Smith LumeJet visit © Michael Robertson-SmithLumeJet visit © Michael Robertson-Smith
LumeJet visit © Michael Robertson-SmithLumeJet visit © Michael Robertson-Smith LumeJet visit © Michael Robertson-SmithLumeJet visit © Michael Robertson-Smith

General views of the factory during our group visit by Michael Robertson-Smith.

]]> (Stratford Photo Group) blog club l-type lumejet photography prints stratford photo group Thu, 09 Nov 2017 14:12:45 GMT
Annual Exhibition Winners
Our Annual Exhibition, held at Stratford Arts House from 13 to 31 July 2017, was again a great success.

Visitor numbers were up on last year with 126 visitors voting for their favourite print. Three of the most popular prints were from the two RPS Distinctions Panels on display. Another print in the main exhibition, "Pair of Lilac-breasted Rollers" by Mary Kirkby, got 7 votes.

Elephant Family at Sunset © Mary KirkbyElephant Family at Sunset © Mary Kirkby View over the Avon © Phil WelchView over the Avon © Phil Welch Tranquillity © Phil WelchTranquillity © Phil Welch

"Elephant Family at Sunset" by Mary Kirkby,

ARPS Panel   9 Votes

"View over the Avon" by Phil Welch.

LRPS Panel    8 Votes

"Tranquillity" by Phil Welch.

LRPS Panel    6 Votes


Visitors to the exhibition cast votes for a wide range of the prints on display:  53 of the 98 images on display received at least one vote in the “Nominate Your Favourite” poll.

Of the 53 prints receiving a vote, 10 were by members in the Beginners section and 43 in the Advanced section.

The full results can be found here.


Two visitors won a mounted copy of their favourite print in the draw.

The School Run © Stewart BandThe School Run © Stewart Band

"The School Run" by Stewart Band LRPS

was won by Bill McGillivray.


"Breather for the Crew" by Malcolm Ranieri FRPS

was won by Chris Barr.

Breather for the Crew © Malcolm RanieriBreather for the Crew © Malcolm Ranieri


Stewart Band visited Bill and his wife Barbara who live in Wendover.

They are professional musicians and enjoy visiting Stratford and going to the theatre.

Bill said he had never won anything in a draw before, so perhaps his luck had now changed.


Chris Barr (left) and Malcolm Ranieri (right)

Malcolm Ranieri went to Avon Support Ltd to present his print to Chris Barr.

Chris had visited the exhibition on a photographic walk around Stratford with Graham from Avon Support.


]]> (Stratford Photo Group) annual exhibition blog club photography prints results stratford photo group Sun, 10 Sep 2017 14:00:49 GMT
New SPG season starts soon….. Welford CC v Alcester & Ragley CC 12-08-2017Welford CC v Alcester & Ragley CC 12-08-2017

It’s not long now until the start of the new season at Stratford Photo Group. We hope you have had a happy and productive summer out with your camera.

Our first meeting is on 5th September and you get a chance to show what you’ve been up to, please bring up to 6 images on a usb stick and you can tell us all about them.

The workshop on 12th September, is a new adventure for SPG, giving new and existing members the opportunity to bring their camera to the club and get some advice on settings from experienced members. There’ll also be information about the club and this year’s programme.

This season we will be bringing some new and exciting speakers to SPG, starting with Harish Chavda, on 19th September, a professional sports photographer from Birmingham. Harish will show some of his images from athletics, boxing, equestrian, rugby, water sports etc. and from venues including the Olympics. He will also give some hints and tips on how you can improve your sports photography.

Following on from the successful visit to Permajet last March, you will have the opportunity to visit Lumejet on 7th November. For those who attend not only will you get an introduction to their innovative and high quality L.type printing process and a visit around their factory, but also a free personal print (of one of your images) printed up to A3 size.

We will continue to have the usual mix of fortnightly workshops at Wellesbourne (Thursday afternoons) and Merit competitions, with the first one starting in October.

This year we will have a new Christmas celebration evening (19th December) which will include a new themed image event. We’ll publish more details of this soon.

For full details of this year’s programme please visit the monthly programme pages or download the summary pdf file for a view of the whole year’s programme.

So, whether you are a potential new member or a returner from last year we look forward to welcoming you to SPG starting on Tuesday 5th September at Bishopton Community Centre.


Peter Gilbert

Programme Secretary, Stratford Photo Group

]]> (Stratford Photo Group) blog club photography programme Sat, 26 Aug 2017 09:56:46 GMT
I’m not a natural history photographer! by Dick Prior I’m not a natural history photographer but I do enjoy my photography and will have a go at any photography challenge (at least once!). I’m not the most patient of people so the idea of sitting in a hide waiting for hours for the right picture to present itself goes very much against the grain. However, when we get a long spell of dry sunny weather that coincides with a time when there are a lot of flowers out, the opportunity is too good to turn down.

I started entering International Photo Exhibitions in 2007 (RPS International Projected Images Exhibition). In that time I have had in excess of 2000 acceptances with over 350 different images.  Just 70 of these have been with 14 ‘Nature’ pictures – 3 birds, 9 insects, 1 fungus and 1 mammal.

My approach is simple. I go armed with one of the most advanced DSLR’s as regards sharpness and noise reduction, a Nikon D810, and don’t use a tripod (except for the 1 toadstool picture). As the D810 is so good on ‘noise’, I use this to let me hand hold all my insect pictures. Typically I’ve used shutter speeds between 1/250 and 1/500 to minimise camera shake and freeze any motion, and apertures of f16 or f22 to maximise the depth of field. At f22 and a distance of 30cm you get about 1cm of depth of field. The D810 will give almost noiseless images up to ISO 3200 and, using the noise reduction features of Camera Raw, will produce good results at a further 2-3 stops. In fine sunny weather this lets me get 70% of my pictures at under ISO 6400. Coupled with this is my trusty Tamron SP90 macro lens which will produce 1:1 images (ie image on sensor is the same size as the object being photographed) at a good level of quality. The design has remained largely unchanged since 2000 and is my 2nd oldest lens having been fitted to 3 of my previous bodies. It is ‘basic’, no VR/IS, slow Auto Focus and a maximum aperture of f2.8 but a minimum one of f40. There are a lot of these out there on the 2nd hand market and you can pick up good examples at around £250 and older ones a lot cheaper (£400 new on Amazon). Image quality, as can be seen from my pictures, is good, but according to the media not the best. It is worth also pointing out that the trend these days is to use longer focal lengths (105mm to 140mm) and lenses with some form of vibration reduction for macro work. Another point also is that it makes a good portrait lens as well.

My hunting ground starts outside my front door where the butterflies and hover flies gather on my Buddleia. This year I’ve photographed a Comma, Painted Ladies and Red Admirals.

Comma Painted Lady Red Admiral

There are also many different hover flies and, having spent a lot of time on Google Images, I’ve found very few bees other than solitary Bumble and Carder bees but the hover flies do mimic their stinging relatives and just recently I’ve managed to get a shot of a Hornet Mimic Hover Fly.

Hornet Mimic Hover Fly


Down by the River Dene there are areas of meadow as well as areas which are mowed once a year by the Environment Agency. Here there are plenty of meadow flowers at this time of the year to attract insects. Right now there are a lot of red soldier beetles which Google tells me are common, veracious predators of other similar sized insects. They are often found as mating pairs and as a result are also known as the Hogweed Bonking Beetle. They can be found on flowers such as thistles and are quite photogenic.

Soldier Beetle Soldier Beetle


Also found here are many varieties of butterflies which, in the warm weather, are quite difficult to get good pictures of but I’ve managed to get some snaps of Skippers, Gatekeepers and Ringlets.

Small Skipper Gatekeeper Ringlet

Other small insects I’ve managed to get pictures of are shield bugs, and the bright, iridescent green, thick legged flower beetles.

Shield Bug Male Thick Legged Flower Beetle


Also the recent rise in the number of Harlequin Ladybirds can be seen. These are Asian in origin and have a large variation in appearance. They were introduced in Europe as a biological means of controlling aphids, something they are very good at, however they do seem to be replacing indigenous ladybirds at the same time.

Harlequin Ladybird Harlequin Ladybird


We see in photography a lot of natural history pictures of large mammals and birds but perhaps not so many pictures at the macro end of the range. Composition is always a challenge, and these days, has become a key feature with Nature images in exhibitions. Certainly you will learn a lot about depth of field and composition by having a go at macro photography.


]]> (Stratford Photo Group) blog club field trip macro nature photography stratford photo group Wed, 12 Jul 2017 20:32:59 GMT
SPG Win in Interclub Competition with Banbury Camera Club 08 May 2017 The annual interclub print competition between Stratford Photo Group and Banbury Camera Club took place yesterday evening, hosted by Banbury, at their excellent facilities at Chenderit School in Middleton Cheney.

From left to right: Naomi Saul, Andrew Spackman and Stewart Band.

Twenty four prints were submitted by each club, to be judged by Naomi Saul.

The overall standard was high, and by the interval Banbury were narrowly ahead by 203 marks to 200, with "I'm Watching" by Diana Gamble (BCC) and "Conflict or Courting" by Chris Baldwin (BCC) getting the top marks of 20.

The standard was raised even higher in the second half, with no less than four prints being awarded top marks: "Breather for the Crew" by Malcolm Ranieri (SPG), "Alpha Male Gelada Baboon with Females" by Mary Kirkby (SPG), "Let me up" by Chris Baldwin (BCC) and "Suckling Baby Elephant" by Mary Kirkby (SPG).

The contest was tight right to the end, with Stratford Photo Group finally coming out winners by 413 marks to 399.

Andrew Spackman (Banbury Chairman) thanked the judge, Naomi Saul, for her fair and comprehensive comments, and said that it had been an enjoyable evening. The score was now one all, and it was all to play for next time.

Stewart Band replied for the visitors and thanked the judge for her fine adjudicating and the Banbury club for their hospitality.

The full results can be found here.


]]> (Stratford Photo Group) banbury camera club blog club competition photography stratford photo group Tue, 09 May 2017 10:19:08 GMT
Photography in Oakley Wood 2017 by Dick Prior Bluebells in Oakley Wood:

Oakley Wood 2 © Dick PriorOakley Wood 2 © Dick Prior There are a number of areas in Oakley Wood to photograph the bluebells but one of the best of them is the area around what is known as ‘The Fort’.

Time of Day/Lighting

All kinds of light have their advantage here but strong contrasty light is perhaps the most difficult to manage. Soft light is more straight forward.


Take a tripod. I’m not a great user of tripods but here, where accurate focusing and control of the depth of field are important aspects, a tripod or camera support will be very useful.

Lens Choice

Wide angle – will give you a large swathe of the bluebell carpet but at the same time may reduce their impact.

Telezoom – Shortens the perspective and will give the impression of lots more flowers than there are.

Macro – Best choice for showing individual flowers.

Oakley Wood 5 © Dick PriorOakley Wood 5 © Dick Prior Fisheye – Gives a ‘different’ perspective and an unusual viewpoint.

You can get interesting results with almost any lens but on the whole, close up lenses used to isolate individual flowers works well.


It is not a ‘point and shoot’ exercise. The challenge is to get a simple uncluttered composition. ‘Tidying up’ is acceptable so long as no extra damage results. Try different angles and try to compare high and low viewpoints. The best pictures will be the ones that are a bit different from the obvious.


Shoot in RAW and ‘shoot to the right ie. Make sure you are getting good detail in the dark areas. Be careful to not overexpose as this will result in loss of information in the burnt out areas.

White Balance

Modern cameras work well in ‘Auto White Balance’ and contrary to common belief amongst some less enlightened judges, the colour will vary from pale violet through blue to strong purples. However, if there is strong sunlight setting the white balance to ‘sunny’ will help to keep the colour ‘true’.

Get Creative

Change the viewpoint regularly. Try moving the camera vertically or horizontally whilst shooting at low speed (try 1/8th to 1/15th sec).

Don’t forget that other things are going on in the wood at the same time so don’t miss opportunities because you are too engrossed in bluebells.

The gallery with members' photos of the wood is here.

Details of the outdoor field trip workshop on Sunday 30th. April 2017 at 11:00 am is here.

Dick Prior

]]> (Stratford Photo Group) Oakley Wood blog bluebells club field trip photography stratford photo group workshop Thu, 27 Apr 2017 18:59:24 GMT
MidPhot Awards for Mary Kirkby Mary Kirkby was recently presented with the David Moore Trophy for the Best Mammal Print in MidPhot 2017, for her picture of "Alpha Male Gelada Baboon with Females".

Here Mary is being presented with the David Moore trophy by MCPF Immediate Past-President Ian Bailey.

Mary seen here holding her winning image and trophy, also won MCPF Ribbons for "Lion Brothers" and "Hyena with Baby Warthog Kill". In addition she got a further four acceptances.

Well done Mary!

Other SPG photographers with acceptances were Dick Prior with three Mono and three Colour prints, and Stewart Band with one Mono print.

]]> (Stratford Photo Group) David Moore Trophy Mary Kirkby blog club competition mcpf photography prints stratford photo group Thu, 13 Apr 2017 13:52:27 GMT
Malcolm's Annual Treasure Hunt Competition Malcolm's Annual Treasure Hunt Competition was judged on 4th April 2017. The challenge for this year's competition was to produce a series of twelve images, all taken within the space of one day; one 24 hour period from midnight to midnight. Full rules can be found here.

Turnout this year was high, with no less than thirteen entries being received. The competition was close with all entrants meeting the criteria and producing high quality selections.

Malcolm viewed the entries during an entertaining evening and said that three were very close in his opinion, but the deserving winner was Dick Prior with his selection taken on December 31st 2016 in and around Aldeburgh and Southwold.

4 Aldeburgh beach © Dick Prior4 Aldeburgh beach © Dick Prior Malcolm presented Dick with the coveted gold and silver trophy to be held for one year. Dick's winning set of images can be seen here.

]]> (Stratford Photo Group) blog club competition photography stratford photo group treasure hunt Thu, 13 Apr 2017 13:25:55 GMT
Why not start the New Year by taking your interest in Photography a step further? This year, at Stratford Photo Group, we have a new training programme aimed at new and less experienced photographers. You will be able to get help understanding your camera and how to improve your photo taking skills. In addition you can learn how to edit your images to make them look their best.

Starting at our first meeting of the year at Bishopton Community Centre, on Tuesday 10th January 2017, we have our Merit 2 Prints competition. This gives members the opportunity to show off their best images and get feedback from a professionally qualified judge. The following week (17th January) we have the Merit 2 Projected images competition which is the same except it’s projected rather than printed images.

On 24th January 2017, we welcome Peter Preece, an acclaimed Wildlife Photographer to the club to give his talk “Every picture tells a  story”. As well as seeing his stunning pictures you can also pick up some hints and tips on how to take them yourself.

In the following months we have talks from two Fellows of the Royal Photographic Society (Anne Sutcliffe and Margaret Salisbury); workshops on RAW conversion, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and choosing photo papers and field trips to photograph the Birmingham canals, the fungi at Oakley Woods and the orchids at Ettington. The culmination of our year is the Annual Cups Competition in May and the Exhibition at the Stratford Artshouse in the summer.

If you’re free on a Thursday afternoon, we have a series of fortnightly meetings at Wellesbourne Village Hall which give you the opportunity to get feedback on your images and learn photo editing techniques.

We are a friendly club, with a mix of different photographic interests and you’ll find we are happy to help you with your hobby.

If you are interested why not come and join us on a Tuesday evening at Bishopton Community Centre and see if this is for you? Details can be found here. You can find full details of our Programme here.

Happy New Year from Stratford Photo Group.

]]> (Stratford Photo Group) blog club photography stratford photo group Sat, 07 Jan 2017 16:52:27 GMT
Members Workshop Evening 13 December 2016 The well attended workshop evening on Tuesday 13 December was held in two parts.

Before the break, Michael Robertson-Smith gave us some insights into the various ways to process images without using Photoshop. He started off with the free program Gimp, showing how it could do most of the usual things one would expect from Photoshop, but for free.

He moved on to demonstrate Corel PaintShop Pro X8. The latest version is Corel PaintShop Pro X9 which currently costs £59.99

Finally he demonstrated the use of ON1 Photo 10 to produce creative images. The process is explained in this tutorial.

ON1 Photo Raw 2017 is available from at a price of $99.99

After the break Derek Wood gave us an introduction to Audio Visual techniques with his demonstration of the use of PicturesToExe software to produce a short AV about Lacock.

He described the various ways that images can be dissolved into one another and the critical timing techniques involved. He also introduced us to the complex art of laying down sound tracks and fading in and out in time with the images.

Questions were asked about copyright issues, particularly the use of pre-recorded music to provide sound tracks.

It appears that this can be a complicated area and further information can be found from:

Photographic Alliance of Great Britain (PAGB)


The Film and Video Institute


David P Howard


]]> (Stratford Photo Group) AV blog club photography processing raw stratford photo group Fri, 16 Dec 2016 15:38:39 GMT
Interclub Battle SPG vs Evesham vs Studley 15 Nov 2016 The annual 3-way battle between SPG, Evesham and Studley took place at Bishopton Clubhouse on Tuesday 15 November 2016.

There was a good turn out from all three clubs, and the atmosphere was buzzing and friendly.

Bob Train LRPS CPAGB judged the competition, and provided a good level of thoughtful comment and constructive criticism throughout.

The evening started with the Print competition. Eight images from each club were presented, a total of twenty four. Only two photos gained the full 20 marks, Memories of Passing Strangers by Dick Prior for SPG, and Ashok Mocked by His Sister by Paul Jay for Evesham.

At the end of the print section the scores were close with Evesham ahead on 144, closely followed by SPG on 142 and Studley on 134.

A break for coffee and biscuits allowed lively conversation between members of the three clubs.


Whoops © Peter Harris - HCWhoops © Peter Harris - HC


The evening was completed with the Digital Projected Images competition. Again eight images from each club were projected, a total of twenty four. This time three images were awarded top marks of 20, Whoops by Peter Harris of SPG, Walking The Dog by John Kellett of Evesham, and Clean Sweep by Mary Kirkby of SPG.

The results were again very close with Evesham just ahead on 142, followed by SPG on 140 and Studley on 138. This sealed Evesham's victory with the final combined scores of Evesham first with 286, SPG second with 282 and Studley third with 272.

Stewart Band on behalf of SPG congratulated Evesham on their win, and thanked them and Studley for their contribution to an entertaining evening. He also thanked Bob Train for his impartial and competent judging.


David P Howard


]]> (Stratford Photo Group) blog club competition evesham photography prints stratford photo group studley Fri, 18 Nov 2016 11:00:19 GMT
Fungi Walk in Oakley Woods 6th November 2016 Six intrepid members made their way to Oakley Woods, on a cold but sunny November morning, on a Fungi Walk.

Led by Dick Prior, the group comprising Stewart Band, Ken Bound, John Hobson, David Howard and Derek Walton set out with a variety of cameras and macro lenses, tripods, flash units, reflectors and lights to capture the delights of the local flora.

Although the weather, being recently quite dry, was not too promising for promoting fungi growth, quite a few interesting specimens were found. With the help of David's folding secateurs to remove brambles, and some general "gardening", several clumps were exposed to allow tripod access.

Fungi in Oakley Woods 5 © Dick PriorFungi in Oakley Woods 5 © Dick Prior The members generally were a bit rusty as to the detailed workings of some of their equipment, particularly setting up tripods for low level work, but with some help and encouragement from the others, gear was set up, and an orderly queue formed for the choice spot.

Several different techniques were employed including the use of ambient light, single and multiple flash units, ring flash, reflector cards and led light units.

Fungi in Oakley Woods 3 © Dick PriorFungi in Oakley Woods 3 © Dick Prior

All participants managed to take some good shots and they all contributed to the photo gallery.


by David Howard



]]> (Stratford Photo Group) Sun, 06 Nov 2016 16:26:24 GMT
Mono Interest Group Presentation The Mono Interest Group showed a variety of projected images at the Club meeting on Tuesday 25th. October 2016.  Of particular interest to the audience were the range of conversion processes used and the different images resulting from four members converting each other’s RAW files.

From three bracketed landscape images, the following interpretations were presented along with a description of the processes employed:


Lightroom 6 Corel PaintShop Pro X9 ON1 Photo 10

Capture 1 Pro

Silver Efex Pro


Here is a list of the software used on the images shown during the session:


Photoshop Elements 11

Latest version is Elements 15

Costs £64.81  Free Trial

Photoshop CC

Costs £102.30/year  Free Trial

Bundled with Lightroom 6

Lightroom 6

Costs £102.30/year  Free Trial

Bundled with Photoshop CC

Silver Efex Pro

Nik Collection is Free

Corel PaintShop Pro X9

Costs £47.99  Free Trial

Capture 1 Pro 9

Costs Euro 279 + VAT

ON1 Photo 10

Latest version is ON1 RAW

Costs $119.99  Free Trial

HDR Projects 2

Costs $69.00  Free Trial

Free download available

Photomatix 5.1.3  (HDR)

Costs £72.00  Free Trial


If you are interested in exploring any of these software programmes, let me know at the next meeting and I will put you in touch with a user.

Michael Robertson-Smith

]]> (Stratford Photo Group) blog club monochrome photography stratford photo group Sat, 29 Oct 2016 15:30:17 GMT
Stratford Photo Group: A Personal View by Michael Robertson-Smith D750 My photographic journey started in the early ‘60s when my mother gave me her No. 1 Pocket Kodak, which I still have. I purchased an Olympus OM1 in 1973 and a succession of Olympus point and shoot cameras followed.  I went digital with a Nikon Coolpix 4500 in 2002 and was a happy snapper for years.  Having acquired a decent DSLR in September 2014, I spent three months getting to grips with the basics (so many buttons!) and then I joined SPG in January 2015 as a beginner with the intention of improving my photography.

As I start my third season as a member of SPG, having won the Harding Trophy for the most points gained in last season’s internal Merit, Panels and Annual Cups competitions and now in the advanced section, I am pleased with my progress:  my photography has certainly become more focused and I am finding my metier but still have much room for improvement.  A number of my images feature on the website.

From my perspective, SPG is a deep well of expertise that is freely and enthusiastically given if requested. Whether it is advice on camera settings, composition, technique or processing images, there is at least one member able and willing to help.  All one needs to do is ask!  For me, the most useful learning comes from putting up images at the internal competitions, on the online SPG-Critique Forum (a Google Group for registered SPG members) and the Wellesbourne workshops.  It is through these interactions that I have been able to gauge which members I turn to for specific advice and whose advice I value:  these colleagues know who they are.  The wide range of external speakers is also a great source of inspiration.

Photography is, however, a very individual pursuit in terms of subject, composition and treatment and, whilst we all aspire to technical competence, artistic content is an expression of personal vision.  Consequently, my stunning image, perhaps lauded by family and friends, may not resonate as strongly with other SPG members or judges who have a more developed critiquing ability!  Nevertheless, I will continue to put up images and invite comments because there is always something to be learnt from the observations of members and judges.

I enjoy the camaraderie and social element to SPG as well:  meeting like-minded enthusiasts on club nights to talk about our diverse photographic interests is rewarding and sparks ideas for kit, locations, software and images.  It’s a truism but, to get the most out of membership of SPG, you need to be an active participant in the club’s activities and seek to influence the club’s programme so that it supports your personal objectives.  After all, it is the members and their aspirations that make SPG what it is:  the best small club in the Midlands.

Michael Robertson-Smith

]]> (Stratford Photo Group) blog club photography stratford photo group Thu, 01 Sep 2016 09:54:46 GMT
Annual Photographic Exhibition 2016 - Visitors' Favourite Image

Congratulations to Mary Kirkby, winner of the Visitors’ Favourite Image with her striking print Clean Sweep and to Derek Wood, who came second with Sunbeams.

The winner of the draw for the winning print was Carolin Valle from Girona in Catalonia, Spain.  A mounted and signed print has been sent to Carolin who is delighted to have won.

Our thanks to all the visitors to our first exhibition at the ArtsHouse in Stratford-upon-Avon, particularly those who participated in selecting their favourite print.  We are also indebted to the ArtsHouse staff for their enthusiastic help and support.


Michael Robertson-Smith





]]> (Stratford Photo Group) Artshouse blog club exhibition photography prints stratford photo group Thu, 01 Sep 2016 09:14:38 GMT
Memories of Passing Strangers by Dick Prior ‘Memories of Passing Strangers’

Welsh International 2016 FIAP Gold Medal for Best Picture in the Experimental Section

The Welsh international is one of the biggest international photo exhibitions in the country. Although the full statistics are not yet available, each year the experimental/creative section has seen over 1500 images from over 400 people from more than 50 countries. To get the award for best in section represents my highest achievement so far in exhibition photography.

Memories of Passing Strangers © Dick PriorMemories of Passing Strangers © Dick Prior


The story of the picture is quite a long one. The original picture was part of a series taken during a project I was doing in 2012. The basic idea behind the project was to express my feelings about being a lone observer in a crowd and so I deliberately set about taking slow shutter speed pictures of people moving against plain backgrounds in busy places. The purpose of the slow shutter was to show the individuals without identifying features, whilst keeping enough information for the viewer to see some purpose in their actions. In 2012/3 I used 4 out of 160 exposures from visits to the British Museum taken in January and July, to enter Internationals and National BPE exhibitions. Between them they gained 10 international acceptances and 17 in BPE before I moved on to other creative projects.

In December having gained EFIAP/b I worked out that I needed 50 new, quality pictures to progress to EFIAP Silver. Consequently, I spent a lot of spare time going through my back catalogue re–examining the pictures from 2012. So 42 months after taking the pictures, I found a further 12 that I felt had potential and amongst these was ‘Memories of Passing Strangers’.

Technical Issues: The original picture was taken in the central court of the British Museum on 19 July 2012, with a Nikon D300 (DX) body mounted on a small camera support and triggered remotely. The lens used was a Sigma 12-24mm at 24 mm, 1/8th second at f29, ISO100.

It was not actually processed until December 2015. Much of the processing was in Camera Raw. The background was a pale yellow and the ambient light was green (from the glass roof) so the first adjustment was to the white balance. I used the white balance tool selecting the wall and this rendered the background in grey. Next I increased the exposure by 2 stops and the vibrance and saturation by +15 and +23 respectively.

The image was then opened in Photoshop where I used the sponge tool to selectively increase the saturation of the colours in the clothes and then the sharpen tool. The final adjustment was to selectively apply a 4 pixel Gaussian blur to remove any unwanted ‘artefacts’ in the picture. It was then cropped square and saved.

Much of the ‘creativity’ was in the taking stage and as explained above, most of the processing was in Camera Raw but this does fit into the ‘Altered Reality’ (aka Creative or Experimental) sections of exhibitions? However, there are not a lot of creative sections around and so this year it also got entered in Open Colour sections as well. Before the Welsh Salon, it had gained 8 acceptances with higher marks in Creative sections than in Open Colour. When it came to the Welsh Salon it gained 15/15. This would not be the only picture to get the top mark as a 15 indicates it should receive an award. There will be about 10 awards in the section and most of these would also get the top mark but the winner is selected by agreement of the 3 judges.

Perhaps the main lesson that comes from this is ‘be very careful about what you send to the recycle bin’. You should note that as you become more experienced and develop both a better ‘eye’ for a picture and more advanced Photoshop skills, pictures that were previously beyond help suddenly have potential.

At present I have what I consider 3 of my best pictures on the wall at home, this one will join them. These are not my most successful but are ones that represent my ‘style’ of photography.


Dick Prior

]]> (Stratford Photo Group) Dick Prior FIAP FIAP Gold Medal Welsh International 2016 best picture blog club competition photography stratford photo group Sat, 13 Aug 2016 11:20:47 GMT
Can you take the LRPS Challenge? by Dick Prior What is the challenge?

You have just 10 pictures to prove that you are a competent and skilled photographer.

Avon near the RST © Dick PriorAvon near the RST © Dick Prior

How does this differ from normal club photography?

With these 10 pictures you need to show variety in both approach and technique but not necessarily in subject matter. Nevertheless a variety of subjects makes it easier to demonstrate different techniques and repeating similar types of images will count against you.

At the same time the panel is expected to show creativity (personal input) and high technical standard. Overprocessing such as oversharpening, obvious HDR or careless montaging will count against you.

As you have to demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of your subject and an ability in a range of photo skills, it is well that you set about composing your image with this in mind.

What are the criteria of competence?

These are divided up into 5 areas.


Editing, selecting and sequencing to show a variety of approaches within a cohesive display. Repetition of similar images should be avoided.

Camera technique.

Choice of viewpoint and lighting appropriate to the subject. Suitable and accurate focus and exposure. Suitable depth of field. Choice of appropriate shutter speeds. Highlight and shadow detail, density and correct colour rendition.

Processing technique.

Absence of processing faults. Appropriate choice of materials for the subject. Evidence of tonal control. Good image finishing. Attention to masking and colour management.

Visual awareness.

An understanding of light and its effect on mood and texture. Composition, design and cropping of images. Appropriate use of masking and manipulation. Awareness of appropriate backgrounds and viewpoints.


Show personal input, and an understanding and empathy with the subject. Show communication of mood, ideas and narrative as appropriate. Selection of the appropriate medium to assist communication. Show evidence of imagination and creativity, and ability to capture the decisive moment.

Are any of these more important than the others?

Short answer is no and your panel will fail if you fail to meet any one of these criteria. However, it is fair to say that some are more commonly failed than others.

Is there a check list of must do items?

No, but remember variety, variety, variety.

The best advice is to plan what you are going to use before you start. You may have most of your 10 images ‘in the bank’ but remember these also have to fit together in a balanced panel as well so in reality you will almost certainly need far more than 10 pictures (maybe as many as 30).

Below is a list of some items that you could keep in mind at the planning stage:


Placing your point of interest on the intersection of two thirds worked for the Greeks in 500BCE and still is very effective. However sometimes a central position is ‘strong’ and often useful in portraits;


High or low as a change from 5 feet 8 inches above the ground will add impact.

Depth of field.

Shoot wide open to deliberately blur background and show that you are in control of DOF.

Shutter speed.

Use high speed to freeze the action or slow speed to emphasise movement.


Try and shoot when the light is interesting, which is rarely in the middle of the day, so try mornings and late afternoon and evenings.


Don’t forget the rules of quality and composition. It’s not a good picture just because it’s a puffin or colourful flower.

Think about an ‘appropriate’ mono. It’s important to realise that monochrome is not just a picture without colour. The absence of colour should enhance the impact of the picture rather than diminish it.

Do I have to go somewhere ‘special’ to get my pictures?

In the words of Saint Margaret No, No, No! We have an ideal venue on our doorstep. Here are 10 pictures I took over a period of a couple of hours recently. They are not a panel yet, but it does show you do not need to go far to get your pictures. Do this a few times and you will have your panel.

What do I do when I’ve got my pictures?

Take the pleasure in having achieved 10 pictures that demonstrate that you are a good photographer and go on the RPS website and book an advisory day.


]]> (Stratford Photo Group) LRPS blog club panel photography stratford photo group Thu, 30 Jun 2016 13:58:17 GMT
Annual General Meeting and Award Ceremony Stratford Photo Group’s Annual General Meeting and Award Ceremony took place at the club house on the evening of 7th June 2016.

Annual Awards 2016 © David P HowardAnnual Awards 2016 © David P Howard

Cup Winners, L-R, Michael Robertson-Smith, Mary Kirkby, Dick Prior, Stewart Band, Doug Watson.


The Chairman, Stewart Band reported that the club was in good health in terms of its Programme, Technology, Website and a core of Enthusiastic Members.

He went on to say about his Chairmanship, that he started the year with an aim to build on the strong foundation that he inherited from Dick's Chairmanship, and set an objective to attract more members at all levels. That would enhance the club's financial position thereby enabling a more ambitious programme, an annual exhibition to be staged, and positioning Stratford as a Centre for Photographic Excellence.

He noted that the club and its members had many competition successes to their credit. He thanked all the hard working members of the committee for their efforts and dedication over the previous season. He commented that we had had a good run of success on the photographic excellence objective but less success on recruiting and retaining new members.

Stewart said that the committee had acknowledged the issue, and had a plan to encourage beginners to join and improve their photography. This included transfer of several of the Thursday afternoon, Wellesbourne workshop / critique sessions to the clubhouse on unoccupied Tuesday evenings, where sessions would be run by both Dick and other Committee and Club members. There would be more field trips and the introduction of a Mentoring Programme. The website had been improved to better convey the benefits of club membership to prospective members, and publicity had been increased.

The Chairman concluded by saying the next challenge for the club was to make a success of the forthcoming Exhibition at The Arts House 18th July- 1st August which coincided with the club’s 70th year.

After the AGM business was concluded, Stewart presented the Cups and Awards to all those members who had excelled in the various competitions throughout the year.

Read the minutes of the AGM here.

]]> (Stratford Photo Group) AGM blog club competition cups photography stratford photo group Tue, 14 Jun 2016 09:57:52 GMT
Mary Kirkby - My Photographic Journey When I retired, my main occupations, apart from my job which I loved, had been housework, gardening and anything outdoors, I decided now was the time for a new challenge and a new hobby.  My husband suggested photography to fit in with my love of nature and the outdoors and bought me my first camera….a basic Nikon D40.  This was to be the beginning of my journey into photography.  I had no computer skills as such and being an idealist, the images I took with the camera were to be my final photographs…..anything produced on a computer were not true photographs in my opinion!  My next step was to find a camera club, and a friend who was already a member of one, took me along with her. And so began my learning curve. 

Mary Kirkby Article ImageMary Kirkby Article Image

The club was, in essence, a small non-competitive social club but with the occasional visiting speaker and workshops. But it did not offer me the tuition and the challenge to progress which I was after.  Another friend found Stratford Photo Group (SPG) on the internet. He had past experience of larger photographic clubs, which he found could be unwelcoming and unsympathetic to beginners. Nevertheless we went along as prospective members and immediately were made to feel very welcome. We joined the beginners section the following week. That was three years ago and I haven’t looked back since!  The club was delighted to learn that my special interest was Wildlife as this broadened even further the scope of membership interest which already covered a wide sphere of photography from mono to creative colour. At this time I also succumbed to my wanderlust and began travelling - especially to Africa, my second home. This offered wonderful opportunities to photograph wildlife.  Leopard and Cub © Mary Kirkby - HCLeopard and Cub © Mary Kirkby - HC

SPG meet on three out of four Tuesdays a month. I found their programme very much suited me as a complete beginner, giving me every encouragement to progress. This was the challenge I was looking for to improve my photography when I saw the standard offered by other members!   Although the club membership is predominantly male I have never felt intimidated by this - quite the contrary. I have received every encouragement from the Chairman, Members of the Committee and Advanced Section. I have been able to discuss freely my inhibitions regarding my lack of photographic skills and basic knowledge of the digital camera with all the buttons and what they did!   I feared it would be embarrassing to admit my confusion regarding my lack of understanding of ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed and their relationship with each other.  I need not have feared as I found I was not the only unknowledgeable beginner!

A valuable contribution to my progress was the critique sessions where members are encouraged to ask other member’s opinions and advice on images they have taken. Also the club competitions themselves where work is shown to visiting judges who give advice and encouragement on how to improve the style or composition of photographs put before them. It was some time before I had the courage to participate in a competition but what I learned about my own skills and the advice I received on how I could improve those skills has been immensely valuable to me. 

A natural progression on my photographic journey, having begun it with Nature and Wildlife, is to explore taking images of the people and the places I visit so expanding my ability to see ‘outside the box’.  Joining a camera club has enabled me to capture the picture I see in my mind. It has given me a working knowledge and the practical skills to capture that special image.

A Clean Sweep © Mary Kirkby - 1stA Clean Sweep © Mary Kirkby - 1st While I have not compromised my purist approach to photography, another part of my learning curve has been to recognise when and where to use the tools that Lightroom and to a lesser degree Photoshop have to offer. This I have also learned during my membership of SPG.

Joining SPG has given me the knowledge and confidence to share my work in National and International competitions with growing success. While the Club gives every encouragement to participate in these competitions there is absolutely no pressure to do so. Belonging to a club not only gives the opportunity to learn and expand on an interest, but also gives the enjoyment of being with like minded people; it is immensely rewarding.  I am certainly thoroughly enjoying my new challenge and my new hobby!!

Mary Kirkby

]]> (Stratford Photo Group) beginners blog club photography stratford photo group Tue, 24 May 2016 11:56:33 GMT
Malcolm's Treasure Hunt evening Tuesday 26th April 2016 was Malcolm's Treasure Hunt evening when club photographers brought their eight DPI images on themes of Malcolm's choosing.

This year's themes were: Dereliction, Canal Scene, City/Urban Landscape, Winter, Insect Portrait, Classic Car/Lorry/Bus/Motorcycle, Steam on Road or Rail, Sport In Action.

Competition was fierce, accompanied by the traditional barracking from the audience. Malcolm noted that most photographers had successfully interpreted the themes and that the standard was high.

After some deliberation, commenting that any one of five or six entries could have won, Malcolm gave the nod to David P Howard.

David P Howard with Treasure Hunt trophyDavid P Howard with Treasure Hunt trophy

David was presented with the coveted and valuable Gold and Silver Trophy, to be held for twelve months.

David's winning entries can be seen here.

]]> (Stratford Photo Group) blog club competition photography stratford photo group treasure hunt Wed, 27 Apr 2016 10:27:43 GMT