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Photonews Celebrating the Postal Photographic Club and its Members

DRONE PHOTOGRAPHY SPECIAL

Winter 2018


PENING

SHOT

Dawn over Rhuddlan Golf Course by Richard Walliker To tie in with this issues special drone feature our opening shot comes from a set of images Richard produced for a potential 2019 calendar to raise funds for a couple of local good causes on behalf of his local golf club.


Photonews Celebrating the Postal Photographic Club and its Members

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Postal Photo Developments

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Rubber Tramping

Dave Whenham An update on the goings-on at PPC HQ

Maxwell Law Tales and images of a year on the road

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Outdoor Photography Magazine

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From the Webmaster

David Ridley LRPS David gives his thoughts on this high-profile magazine

Graham Dean An update from the world of the web

Drone Special Feature

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Tales of a Dronie Richard Walliker Richard takes us through some projects unlocked by his love of aerial photography

THE Drones & UK Law DRONE Dave Whenham CODE What rules and regulations do pilots have to follow?

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Classic Cameras

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In The Lightroom

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Twenty Questions (or less...)

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There’s Nothing New To Photograph

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Comparing Formatts

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Head and Shoulders Above the Rest

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International Competitions and the Enthusiast Photographer

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In Balance - Eric’s Corner

Geoff Leah A trip back to 1988 with the Nikon F4.

Eric Ladbury The final part of Eric’s tutorial series - this time with tips for managing the exporting of your images.

Rodney Marsh Get to know Rodney, a fairly recent new recruit to the PPC, and member of IC8 and IC11.

David Ridley LRPS Is there really anything new under the sun?

Kieran Metcalfe Nope, it’s not a typo - Kieran reviews two versions of the Formatt-Hitech Filter System.

David Ridley LRPS David discusses the benefits of an elevated position.

John Pattison

400ft (120m)

D on’t fly near airports or airfields Remember to stay below 400ft (120m) O bserve your drone at all times – stay 150ft (50m) away from people and property Never fly near aircraft Enjoy responsibly

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Some Anniversary Thoughts Dave Whenham After a year of flying, Dave tells us what he’s learnt

Eric Ladbury During a recent illness, Eric spent some time in his archives, revisiting some photographs.


POSTAL PHOTO DEVELOPMENTS News and Updates from PPC General Secretary, Dave Whenham Greetings from West Yorkshire! It is as ever a huge pleasure to welcome you to another issue of Photonews with its usual eclectic mix of items from our own very talented membership. The usual suspects are represented here of course although we also have a couple of new contributors this issue together with someone in the 20 Questions hot seat after last issues disappointment. Those of you who were at the Rally would have seen a couple of my prints in the TE taken with a drone camera including a panel of four that achieved a Certificate of Merit. Fellow drone enthusiast Richard Walliker has joined forces with me this issue to bring you a small feature on these relatively new additions to the photographers’ kit bag which we hope will be of interest.

PPC General Secretary As you will all know I have been privileged to serve as PPC General Secretary for the last two years. However, I shall be stepping down from this very important position at the end of February 2019 to concentrate my energies on producing Photonews and bringing the next incarnation of our very successful online circles software into service. I have thoroughly enjoyed serving the membership in this capacity, but the reality is that I have only one pair of hands, so something had to give. As I say I will continue to edit and produce Photonews alongside Kieran and will continue to manage the online circles at least until the new software is bedded in.

everyone present to send one image from the weekend for Photonews – so if you attended please can you send me an image at your earliest convenience and I will do a small feature in the Spring issue. Don’t just nod and think “I’ll do it later” – do it now. I will wait for you! Done? Thank you! Our guest speakers this year were Jill Bunting and John Smith, two of the country’s foremost AV practitioners who entertained us on the Saturday evening and even managed to slip in a short software tutorial too without changing the relaxed and entertaining mood. I will include a few notes on audio visual in the next issue which may be of interest to some of you. If you can’t wait though head over to www.avnews.org. uk for some useful links.

From the end of February, Sally Anderson will add the General Secretary duties to her current role as Membership Secretary and I am sure you will all join me in wishing her well in her new responsibilities. From the next issue Postal Photo Developments will be written by Sally so this is my last offering in this slot. I may well add a short editorial each issue however, if only to thank our contributors, but we shall see!

2018 Rally – Plas tan y Bwlch We had one of our biggest ever attendances at this year’s Annual Rally and it was great to see several new faces too. I missed a trick when I formally closed the rally by not asking

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Postal Photo Developments - Dave Whenham


We usually get several notes of appreciation from members following the Rally, but this year saw far more than usual, and the consensus certainly seemed to be that everyone enjoyed the weekend despite Storm Callum forcing us to tweak the usual schedule. Next year’s Rally will be in Sunny Somerset and Roger has promised Amanda and myself glorious weather for our journey south!

2018 Committee Meeting There were new faces at the committee meeting too which in a break with tradition, and in response to the forecasted storm, was held on the Saturday morning. I haven’t yet issued the formal minutes but despite a very full agenda there is very little of immediate import to pass on. Subscription levels remain frozen, and the subscription renewal notice should have come out from me around 1st December so if you’ve not seen it yet please check your Spam/Junk folder or get in touch with me.

have decided to mothball the current forum until such time as there is a clamouring for such a facility. Whilst a few members definitely got pleasure and enjoyment from the forum it was so under-used that Clive was spending more time maintaining it each month than members were in using it. If you have the desire and energy to relaunch a forum do get in touch however as we are only mothballing the facility not killing it off for good.

Finally So, that about wraps up my final Postal Photo Developments. The accompanying image this time around is, in keeping with the special feature, an aerial view of the house and grounds at Plas tan y Bwlch. Until the next issue, stay safe and stay creative! Dave Whenham

The continuing success of our online Circles has been causing the PDI Founders Cup entry to get progressively larger and thereby less manageable over the last few years and there was much debate about this topic at the meeting. The general consensus was that it was not yet time to make changes although it is clear we will need to reconsider this next year. A victim of our own success as one committee member remarked. The changes made to the Annual Competition (the TE) last year worked well and the overall standard of images on display at the Rally was excellent. There will be no changes made for the 2019 competitions so look out for the invitation from Sally in early June next year. Following a recommendation from Clive Piggott, our Forum Manager, we

Postal Photo Developments - Dave Whenham

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In the adapted safe box in the rear garage of our motorhome was camera kit including my Canon 600mm prime, along with tandem, trailer and generator. Packing the van took a while longer than expected, as Marion was working right up to the day before we moved out in the van, and just when I began to pack a Firecrest appeared in the garden. After about 4 hours of waiting and trying to get a shot packing recommenced, and the pic of a Firecrest is testimony to my sense of priority. The abiding memory is of driving away from the house we had lived in together and seeing our neighbours faces as we pulled out on the road, the road to where? Destinations were partly by chance, partly by choice, and I discovered that living the dream came down to some planning, some luck and chance. The bonus of living on the road in a van was that the garden was the world before you, and neighbours, although temporary, became friends that lasted. In the first year we spent time on the Orkney Islands, Scotland, Lancashire and Wales before migrating to Portugal in the winter. In Orkney, having joined the bird sighting internet group, I began to spend time with locals, even giving a presentation in a local school. Free camping overlooking the sea from the Sands of Wright was just wonderful, and we came to talk about Orkney as the land of the big sky. Scotland was great for wildlife and landscapes, and in this first set of images, the focus has been on Orkney, the Grampians and some of the west coast, mostly taken between three and six years back with a Canon 1d mk iii, then a mk iv and finally a 1dx.

RUBBER TRAMPING In the film, Into the Wild, there were two ways to wander. Those who travelled by foot were leather tramps, and those who travelled by vehicle were rubber tramps. In February 2011 I finished full time work in NHS mental health. At easter that year my partner quit teaching, we sold possessions or gave them away, and downsized from house to motorhome. I sold my V dub camper after 10 years service (sold by chance at a car boot sale) and bought a 7.6 metre Hymer that was our new home. We agreed to give it a year, booked craft fairs to sell images and hand crafts, and began life on the road. We became rubber tramps.

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A ‘taste’ of rubber tramping was great. Memories include reversing the van to overhang the loch close to the Ring of Brogdar, so that we could gaze out of the bedroom window to the water below. Then one time on Orkney, when we pulled into a lay-by behind a bird hide. Whilst I was in the company of three other birders watching Hen Harrier, the smell of freshly baked scones wafted in through the door from the van. Talk about envy as the scones were shared. There won’t be enough images here to do Orkney justice, but having first visited when I was teenager, and been back on ten occasions, its a privilege to spend months in a place on earth that you love. By way of introduction, and not a selfie, my travelling partner took this image on our first trip to Iberia.

Rubber Tramping - Maxwell Law


Firecrest in the garden on our final day in our house

Puffins on Papay. I found my way to Papa Westray, and arranged a lift to the north of the island to save carrying kit a mile and a half. Jan who picked me up from the ferry explained she was going to be busy and handed me the keys to her car. Drop me off she said and call in later for a brew and cake. It occurred to me that details like insurance or driving off with her car were irrelevant on an island with few roads and a population of 70. As I walked around the north cliffs these three puffins appeared before me and despite being quite a novice with some of the new digital camera settings, an aperture of f8 was purely by chance and was enough to secure some depth. Puffins don’t nest on Papay, and therefore these visitors were surrounded by local flora rather than muddy burrows which sort of helped with the image. Rubber Tramping - Maxwell Law

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Gannet dive in Scapa Flow. My friend joined me whilst Marion was away, and we were both keen to discover the Island birds. Only thing was that we were ‘wild camping’ above the beach on South Ronaldsay, when winds of 100mph came across the Islands. We hunkered down behind a sand bank and sat it out for 36 hours. When we did move the waves were still breaking over the Churchill Barriers, and we saw a Gannet by the old shipwrecks. We parked and walked to the beaches, and more Gannets arrived, peppering the sea (fish had moved to calmer waters in the storm). It was one of those occasions when the scattergun approach with a lens reach of 840mm resulted in about 4 useable shots from 1000. They were difficult to track! Arctic Tern on South Ronaldsay, Orkney. I noted these elegant birds that migrate further than any other, as they were nesting in a beach colony. A long walk and I achieved a position where the birds flew over our heads when approaching the nest sites. Lying between beach boulders and being vigilant both not to be seen by the birds or disturb them, I was able to track them above my head with the heavy camera and lens squashing my face. The adults call to their young as they approach, bringing in the sand eels which does give us photographers (toggers) advance warning, helping to lock the focus onto the bird. A bit of a twist in the crop, and use of black and white processing earned this image the pic of the week accolade on birdguides, which is not easily earned. Hen Harriers of Orkney (Facing Page) These ground hunting birds of prey are in great danger of becoming absent from England and Wales. Despite RSPB conservation efforts, guarding nests around the clock (volunteers living in campers in nest areas) the last breeding pair in England (Forest of Bowland) lost the male last year due to persecution. Gamekeepers kill them to preserve Grouse that are bred to be shot. Orkney not only has no Grouse shooting on its moorland, but it is also relatively ground predator free (there are no foxes). Its an ideal environment for ground nesting birds including Hen Harrier, Curlew and other waders. Short Eared Owl also breed widely and feed on the extra large Orkney voles! The Harriers are still difficult to capture with the long lens, and you need to remain unseen. The male I found actually found me at the same time whilst I was photographing a Willow Warbler, hence it gave me the eye. The other privilege is to witness a food pass as seen here, albeit with mighty crop. Some may say they are schedule 1 birds, but at all times I strive not to be seen or disturb the birds, some taken using camouflage, others from the vehicle or hides on reserves.

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Rubber Tramping - Maxwell Law


Rubber Tramping - Maxwell Law

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Something different. There are several burial tombs on Orkney, along with the oldest dwellings in Europe. Some such as Maes Howe are visitor attractions, whilst others such as this one require a bit of walking and finding. This one had a 20 foot long tunnel entrance and the old torch outside had no batteries. Having crawled inside there is no way of seeing the walls or knowing what space is around you. Having used a phone torch I wedged the camera on delayed shutter and 30 second exposure. I then sat in the tiniest ray of light, as still as possible. As I said, something different.

Cairn Gorm. Moving down to Cairn Gorm, we walked to the summit twice in search of Ptarmigan, which were very skittish. There are times when the long lens can compact a landscape, and I was grateful for the two hill walkers.

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Rubber Tramping - Maxwell Law


Crested Tit. Loch Morlich is a great place to camp, with plenty to see. There were Dippers, Cresties, Otters, Red Squirrel and Red Dear and Mountain Hare to be seen along with glorious scenery. I post one image, an iconic bird of the forest, the Crested Tit.

Red Throated Diver. This one has to be in here. When I first picked up the readers digest book of british birds, I saw an illustration of the Red Throated Diver, and I thought they have to be kidding! How can that bird be found in Britain? It took until I was 40 years old to finally find one, and then later it became a prime quest to photograph one. This was from the van window on the west coast in Sutherland.

Rubber Tramping - Maxwell Law

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Buachaille Etive Mor (BEM). We stopped at the bottom end of Glen Coe, walking, cycling and even taking a stroll up Ben Nevis. We were waiting for the right morning, to get up the hill before sunrise, and just once it happened perfectly. Sligachan. The perfectly formed mountain, which was the first to be measured and used as a baseline for all geographical mapping of high peaks. We stopped for 3 days wild camping on the shores of Loch Ranch in the company of midges, waiting for the cloud to clear. When it did this image was the result. I had hopes raised when I was potentially offered ÂŁ3000 for exclusive use by a financial company to advertise their product. Hopes completely dashed when they chose an alternative image. That would have been a handy sum.

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Rubber Tramping - Maxwell Law


The Strontium Wreck The penultimate image in this first series, the Strontium Wreck. It is to be found on the back road down the west side of the water from Fort William to Strontian. It was pouring with rain. and it was my obsession with taking a pic a day (been doing that for 8 years) that got me out of the van to take this image.

Wedding day on Papa Westerly. Having decided for many reasons we (Marion and I) were going to marry, we remembered that Jan on Papay was the registrar as well as firefighter, taxi driver and carer on the island. It was her 1st wedding in 4 years, and our friends who were our witnesses decided to join us and make it a double wedding on a beach. The islanders made us so welcome, they opened the hostel hall, opened the corner cupboard which was the Island bar, and shook the magic white powder on the floor. They arrived with instruments from accordion to fiddle to jews harp, and we had a ceildh. We were stripping the willow with many islanders making it a night to remember. Marion thanked someone for making us so welcome, and she replied that she was so pleased that out of all of our travels, we chose Papay for our wedding.

Rubber Tramping - Maxwell Law

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OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHY MAGAZINE A review by David Ridley Along with many others I read a few photographic publications over a month and alongside the RPS magazine I receive I also take a couple of titles on subscription, one of them being ‘Outdoor Photography’ which is the one I look forward to dropping through the letter box the most. The first obvious thing that is noticeable is that the cover shot isn’t plastered over with a list of contents and/or trade names whilst the actual magazine doesn’t carry excessive advertising. Sure, the title on the cover is present and the obligatory bar code but in the main one can see most of the cover photograph, which I think is rather refreshing these days! At around 112 pages in the main it covers landscape, wildlife, nature & adventure which are usually outdoor activities for the photographer although I dare say that some of us will photograph flowers, insects etc., in a controlled environment but will usually have been outdoors to collect our specimens even if only to a florist for a few flowers. The Features & Opinion section is the area for interesting interviews of varying lengths, featuring photographers from all over the world who are producing work that’s not always orthodox or in the mainstream, but always interesting and well written. The accompanying photographs I find a joy to view and they convey a quality that I’ve come to expect combined with the obvious commitment of the individual photographers featured in their chosen area. The Learning Zone features guides on ‘how to’ covering many different topics all based outdoors, naturally. I always find the featured information informative & interesting. There is a Nature Zone covering outdoors in the wild from home & abroad and normally contains information on what are currently seasonal subjects and also a section on where the top sites are, and when, to see certain activities eg. salmon spawning. The Location Guide is a regular feature that I consider will be of great interest to anyone looking for places to take shots of the great outdoors in the UK. Each location featured contains a brief description together with how to get there, what to shoot, best time of day, other nearby locations, nearby place(s) for accommodation, food and drink and also the Ordnance Survey Map reference number all of which is accompanied by

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a photograph from the viewpoint. The piece of editorial on ‘how to get there’ gives directions from the nearest town or village advising which road to take from there & giving that initial road number followed by any further directions needed, where the nearest place to park is and most importantly once you leave the car the ‘access rating’ on foot on the basis of 1 to 5. One being very easy (almost get out the car & you’re there) and Five being the most difficult. This Location Guide which is usually 4 or 5 double sided pages is worth saving, even if the rest of the magazine is eventually discarded and could build up into a very worthwhile reference. In my opinion the Location Guide section is superb! Also found within this guide are normally one or two of the locations that are covered in more detail under the sub-heading of ‘Viewpoint(s) of the Month’. A real little gem of information! Gear Zone features a selection of the latest outdoor kit and usually a more in-depth test of a new/recent camera and/or lens. Regulars covers Newsroom which is a selection of outdoor and/or conservation stories, whilst Out There features ‘book of the month’ and other current titles. The Big View features the latest exhibitions and talks. Your OP has a Readers Gallery showing a pick of the month readers’ images and Social Hub which is a page devoted to reader’s views and opinions, essentially a selection of reader’s letters. The Your OP section also features competition winners together with details of the next challenge, whilst the last page of the magazine entitled Where in the World invites readers to identify the location of an image with the chance of winning a prize each month. All in all I find the whole magazine an absorbing read and can recommend others who haven’t done so to give it a try. Whilst not all newsagents & retailers with a newsagent section stock this quality publication it’s well worth hunting it down and of course one can always purchase directly from the publishers by way of subscription at an advantageous price. I understand that subscription options are either advance purchase of 12 or 24 issues or by direct debit payable on a 6 or 12 issue basis, however, confirmation of this and further details of subscriptions can be had by visiting thegmcgroup.com.

Outdoor Photography Magazine - David Ridley LRPS


From the Webmaster Our website continues to be a source of new members (slightly down on last year – but it remains a useful recruitment tool). One of the pieces of information provided by our website host is a list of how people found our site (referring sites). The search engine Google is top of the list of referring sites, others during the last month have been links from 3 clubs: Ilkley CC, Darwen CC and Altrincham & Hale PS. If you are a member of a “physical” camera club – it would be great if you could talk to whoever manages the site to see if they would include a link to the Postal Photographic Club site (we’d be more than happy to reciprocate).

The way Google’s algorithms rank websites in its search pages remains a mystery – but using links to a website from other pages to rank sites was Google’s the original unique feature that helped it overtake earlier search engines. The criteria for ranking over the years has become more sophisticated – but the more links to a web page, the higher it is likely to feature in a Google search – so if your club links to us (and we in turn link to them) both are likely to benefit.

From the Webmaster - Graham Dean

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TALES OF A DRONIE

(HOPEFULLY NOT TO BE A SHORT-LIVED ADVENTURE!)

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Tales of a Dronie - Richard Walliker


A few years ago a new kid arrived in the seemingly already overloaded world of technology and gadgets, a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) as a domestically available quadcopter or Drone. The first quadcopter was the Omnichen 2 invented in 1920 by Etienne Omnichen. This craft made 1000 successful flights and flew a recorded distance of 360 meters (1181.1 feet). This is a height which can be achieved by the relatively tiny quadcopter of today. Mine can achieve a lot higher. I remember falling in line with the others who had a completely negative view of such a device. Well that was around 6 years ago and for a long time I didn’t really consider it as a serious option and certainly didn’t think it could have a place in my world of photography. So, what changed! Firstly, I am 68 and I keep telling myself that it’s just a number! At my age perhaps it was time to dip my toe into a new possibilities that looked like adding an exciting new element to my photographic How many times have I wanted to get new perspectives of well trodden paths most especially when trying to capture landscape imagery? So, I saw the world of the UAV as being an opportunity to both do something different (well, I mean different for me at least), and hopefully have some fun into the bargain. Then there was my friend Dave Whenham. Dave dipped his toe into the world of drones a year or so ago and through his blog I understood that there was a lot to be gained from a tool that allowed to achieve new perspectives. In the autumn of 2017 we met at dawn for some photography at Llanddwyn Island on Anglesey and Dave had brought his DJI Mavic Pro. I was amazed at how it seemed to be so easily controlled, but most importantly seeing the images taken at such different perspectives, a button somewhere inside me switched on. The only problem was that I was finding carrying my traditional camera gear difficult and although I had moved to a lighter system with great success, I didn’t want to burden my arthritic shoulders by investing in extra weight. The Mavic Pro was physically quite large and weighed in at 750 grams. It would be difficult to fit all that one needed on a photo jaunt into a single backpack, let alone cope with the extra weight. Then, in 2017 DJI launched the Mavic Air weighing in at 350 grams and would fit in a jacket pocket if required. With a few batteries and its controller it certainly fitted in my camera bag along with a camera and a few lenses. So, the journey began. The most important promise I made to myself was that I would be a cautious and responsible drone user. The very first thing was to acquaint myself with both the law and the Drone Codes issued by the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) and NATS (National Air Traffic Control). I embarked on a training course and took out public liability insurance. The Drone world is fairly heavy with errant owners and in fact it’s probably best that I bought my Drone now! More about this aspect later, so let’s get down to my Drone journey so far and why it gives me the pleasure that my drone gives me. I had only just started to get used to all the technical aspects when an opportunity arrived. A friend had been asked by the Lady Captain of my local golf club if we could provide eight images of the golf course for mounting and framing which would be her main prizes on Lady Captain Day. I gave up golf ten years ago and returned to serious photography, frankly I was a useless golfer. Whether I’m a better photographer than a golfer is open to debate! My friend told her I’d just bought a drone and this excited them as it would give a different perspective. Imagine how much it would have cost some years ago to hire a helicopter. I was reluctant, but was given the opportunity of a trial run on a glorious, warm spring evening. I was pleased with results from my first serious flight.

Tales of a Dronie - Richard Walliker

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Tales of a Dronie - Richard Walliker


Tales of a Dronie - Richard Walliker

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After two shoots eight images were selected, five from the drone and three ground images from my Fuji X-T2. The first issue is that the drone had a tiny sensor similar to that found in a smart phone. At 12MP which from a dSLR or my Fuji this would have been fine, but as the request was three images, 1st, 2nd and 3rd place were to be 20 x 16 inch I needed to look at how I could upsize for printing. This was in fact easier than I thought as I had already got a much underused On1 software suite which contains “Resize”, many years ago this was known as “Genuine Fractals”. The images produced from the Drone was 4056x3040px (RAW and JPEG). So, I first enlarged the image to 6000x4000px and printed out a full size A3+ print. I was amazed at the quality and definition and certainly with some more work acceptable. The one area was blocked pixels causing for example trees to look a bit like broccoli! I overcame this in Photoshop by using post processing trickery. I was good to go. All except one of the images were printed by myself, the largest print (20x12 ins) exceeded my printers capabilities and was outsourced. I was delighted to see my images professionally mounted and framed.

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Tales of a Dronie - Richard Walliker


As a result of this I have been asked by so many members of the club for copies and to undertake a project for the Golf Club over the four seasons. In addition they would like to promote the club with table mats, mugs etc. Whilst I am delighted to be asked, I have absolutely no interest in making money out of photography and in any event I do not have a commercial drone licence. So my work was to be at the cost of my materials and a donation made to a charity of my choice. This way I see it as a win, win and win again situation. I get to enjoy the opportunity of using my drone, the club gets their promotional media and a charity benefits too.

Beyond the golf course. Of course a drone allows opportunities to capture images in extraordinary ways. It doesn’t always have to be from hundreds of feet above either. How often has one been on a location and wished to get that bit higher or wanted rid of an obstruction? I hope these images demonstrate how an almost impossible angle can be achieved without falling or drowning! Taken in the Lake District in the Duddon Valley access to the bridge was impossible, so the drone was employed.

Tales of a Dronie - Richard Walliker

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Some other examples. I have had a great amount of pleasure using the drone, but the future looks like a stormy ride! Earlier I stated that the one single most important promise I made myself, was that I would be a cautious and responsible drone user. A rogue element of drone owners are wholly responsible for the CAA and UKGOV deciding to take serious steps in terms of legislation. The problem is that anyone can buy a drone, unbox it and just fly and some use drones for illicit purposes. This is a worry for all conscientious drone users. I’m fearing that my journey may well be short lived as new legislation may add an increasing burden. Also, the introduction of FINS, or Flight Information and Notification System. This means users would have to prepare and log pre flight intentions, so no more spontaneous take offs! Also, far more “no fly zones” are sure to be introduced. The USA and Germany to mention just two are screwing down their airspace to a point where it just ain’t worth having a Drone! I am just hoping that my journey doesn’t end with my drone becoming an expensive ornament on the mantelpiece. Hopefully, both Dave and I will look forward to many years of enjoyment being Dronies! Below are a few of the DJI Mavic Air specifications. Also a few details of the Drone Cods and future law which must be adhered to.

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Tales of a Dronie - Richard Walliker


Tales of a Dronie - Richard Walliker

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Some facts and figures. Max Speed: 42.5 miles per hour Max Operating Distance: 2 miles Max Service Ceiling: 5000 metres. Flash Memory: 8 GB Supported Flash Memory Cards: microSD Class 10 or UHS-I Max Supported Capacity: 128 GB LENS: Field of View: 85°, 35 mm Format Equivalent: 24 mm. Aperture: f/2.8. Shooting Range: 0.5 m to ∞ DIGITAL CAMERA Sensor Resolution:

12 megapixels

Image Sensor Type:

CMOS

Capture Formats:

MOV (MPEG-4 AVC/H.264), MP4 (MPEG-4 AVC/H.264)

Still Image Formats: JPEG RAW

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Video Recorder Resolutions:

1280 x 720 (720p), 1920 x 1080 (1080p), 2720 x 1530, 3840 x 2160 (2160p)

Frame Rate:

30 frames per second

Still Image Resolutions:

4056 x 2280, 4056 x 3040

Tales of a Dronie - Richard Walliker


DRONES & UK LAW As Richard mentioned in his article, there is considerable doubt amongst amateur drone photographers at present about the longevity of this nascent hobby. Legislation expected in 2019 has the potential to price the amateur out of the market if onerous testing and expensive licensing requirements end up as one of the consequences. Of course, this is the “doomsday” scenario, but the uncertainty is causing some amateurs to put off further investment in kit until there is some clarity. Drone technology has the potential to bring big benefits to both British businesses and the wider public with of course the potential for increased tax revenues for the UK government. As far as we can gauge at present, the Department for Transport appears to be committed to accessible online testing as a way of helping drone users to comply with the law and responsible owners will be hoping that accessible means financially affordable as well as easily accessed online. In the meantime, the government announced new stop-gap laws earlier this year for drone operators restricting how high they can fly their craft — 400ft — and prohibiting the devices from being flown within 1km of an airport boundary. The measures were already written into the guidance for UK drone flyers and for most fliers of DJI drones for example the software they used to operate their drone already restricted flights accordingly, but the requirements became written into UK law on July 30.

THE DRONE CODE 400ft (120m)

D on’t fly near airports or airfields Remember to stay below 400ft (120m) O bserve your drone at all times – stay 150ft (50m) away from people and property Never fly near aircraft Enjoy responsibly

The government says the new rules are intended to enhance safety, including the safety of passengers of aircraft — given a year-on-year increase in reports of drone incidents involving aircraft. It says there were 93 such incidents reported in the country last year, up from 71 the year before. Responsible drone owners have been observing such limitations for some time but as ever the behaviour of the minority, who will no doubt continue to flout the limits, has an effect on everyone. At least now however there is legislative recourse for those caught flouting the rules which is something responsible flyers will welcome. So, the UK’s existing Drone Code (which was issued in 2016 and is reproduced here) already warns operators to restrict drone flights to 400ft and to stay “well away” from airports and aircraft and those measures are now being baked into law, via an amendment to the 2016 Air Navigation Order. UK drone users who flout the new height and airport boundary restrictions face being charged with recklessly or negligently

Drones & UK Law - Dave Whenham

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THE DRONE CODE

acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft or any person in an aircraft — which carries a penalty of up to five years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.

For further information please visit dronesafe.uk Drone Blue C: 86 M: 08 Y: 0 K: 0

BE DRONE SAFE Always keep your drone in sight

Drone Green C: 28 M: 0 Y: 100 K: 0

It’s against the law to fly your drone over 400ft (120m) 400ft (120m)

This means you can see and avoid other things while flying

This reduces the likelihood of a conflict with manned aircraft

BE DRONE AWARE Every time you fly your drone you must follow the manufacturer’s instructions

Keep the right distance from people and property 150m

50m

Keep your drone, and the people around you, safe

People and properties – 150ft (50m) Crowds and built up areas – 500ft (150m) and don’t overfly

BE DRONE LEGAL You are responsible for each flight

Stay well away from aircraft, airports and airfields It is against the law to fly your drone within 1km of an airport or airfield boundary

Legal responsibility lies with you Failure to fly responsibly could result in criminal prosecution

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30th July 2018.

If your drone endangers the safety of an aircraft it is a criminal offence and you could go to prison for five years

Drones & UK Law - Dave Whenham

The UK Dronecode is published by the Civil Aviation Authority to assist drone users in flying safely.

A full drone bill is expected at some point in 2019. A requirement for owners of drones weighing 250 grams or more to register with the Civil Aviation Authority and for drone pilots to take an online safety test are two of the most often cited expectations for the new legislation. It has been suggested that users who fail to register their drone or sit the competency tests could face fines of up to £1,000. Granting police more powers to ground drones to prevent unsafe or criminal usage is also something that has been suggested will be incorporated into the forthcoming legislation. It is anticipated that any new requirements will come into force from November 30th 2019, although there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the proposals. The vast majority of drone pilots fly safely and responsibly, and the UK government, aviation authorities and drone manufacturers do all seem to agree on the need to work together to ensure all drone pilots know basic safety rules whilst not killing off an increasingly popular hobby and a potentially profitable income stream; we all know how prone photographers are to upgrading kit! Drones definitely open up some exciting possibilities for the amateur photographer as we’ve tried to show in the small “drone special” but they must be used responsibly.


SOME ANNIVERSARY THOUGHTS The first anniversary of my Mavic Pro drone purchase passed a few months ago (as I type this), and I got to thinking about what I’d learnt. Incidentally, if you’ve been following recent product launches mine is the original Mavic Pro, the newer Pro2 is apparently a big step up in image quality. In truth much of the learning has come in the last six months as I was not well enough to take the drone out over the winter months and prior to that I was still really nervous about the whole flying a camera thing. But practice is really paying off and even the quality of my images has improved considerably. I am first and foremost a photographer, so, what does this photographer take from his first year flying?

90 feet above the weir at Cromwell Bottom on the River Calder with the damage done by the floods a couple of years ago still very evident. A one-second exposure, courtesy of the 10-stop Freewell ND filter.

Some Anniversary Thoughts - Dave Whenham

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Hovering around six feet above the beach at Newborough. Sometimes exposing to the right means that you still have to leave the shadows as silhouettes!

Importantly …

Exposure is critical

Get used to flying it; to taking off, landing and generally moving about the sky. If you are a first-time flyer, then forget about photography for a few flights. Yes, it will be hard to do and a little frustrating, but practise flying in all directions, squares, circles, backwards, forwards, side-to-side. Get to instinctively know when pushing right on the stick will move the craft left and when it will move it right – it’s easy to forget especially if things go a little awry. The one time I crashed (see below) was exactly due to that confusion. With the drone pointing towards me and drifting to my left towards the trees I instinctively pushed the stick right to take evasive action. Except this was the wrong thing to do as it took the drone to ITS right and directly into the branches I was trying to avoid. I always try to watch the drone too when manoeuvring rather than the screen as I can more quickly spot if its drifting in the wrong direction.

The Mavic Pro has a much smaller sensor than many enthusiast photographers will be used to and therefore has less tolerance to noise. Indeed, whilst the stated ISO range is 100-1600 I rarely move it from 100 and indeed I’ve not seen many bloggers or vloggers suggesting using the higher ISO. These days with live histograms on most cameras it is relatively straightforward to “shoot to the right” and the Mavic Pro is no exception. I have the histogram up on the screen at all times and watch it carefully. I aim to keep the graph pushed as far over to the right on the screen without “clipping” into the highlights.

Needless to say, I didn’t follow this course of action (to be fair no one suggested it) but in hindsight waiting just a little longer to take photographs would have meant better pictures from the start and a more comfortable flying experience. Do as I say not as I did might be another way of putting it!

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Exposing to the right (ETTR) is a well-used photographic technique and means adjusting the exposure of an image as high as possible at base ISO (without causing unwanted saturation) to collect the maximum amount of light and thus get the optimum performance out of the digital image sensor. It is easier to pull down exposure in post-production than to pull detail out of the shadows. With the tiny 12mp sensor on the Mavic Pro I want to start with as much detail captured right from the start, hence ETTR and RAW (DNG) capture is my go-to approach.

Some Anniversary Thoughts - Dave Whenham


Nail the composition

Size matters when shooting with a tiny 12mp sensor

Here is one very good reason why you want to learn to fly and position the drone with as much accuracy as possible. You only have a relatively small file to play with; 3992 x 2992 pixels (typically giving a 23mb file) compared for example to my Fuji mirrorless camera’s 6000 x 3376 (48mb) or my Nikon D800E’s 7360 x 4912 (72mb). Having to crop into the file throws away precious pixels and of course if you then need to enlarge the image for printing you are further degrading the image quality. Try to get composition spot-on to avoid cropping later. Be patient, rotate the drone and take it higher/lower, left/right, back/forward as needed to really get the framing as near to your vision as possible. Swiping up on the display screen to temporarily remove all the data and information displayed upon it can help and don’t forget to check the corners of the screen too. There is no doubt that in this situation the iPad screen beats my iPhone but that’s a discussion for another day.

9 frame panorama, DJI Mavic Pro at 65 feet above the River Calder at Cromwell Bottom

Do keep this in perspective though, I recently printed an image from the drone at A3 and was blown away by the quality. A bit mushy sometimes in the corners but fabulous in the middle of the frame. For small prints and on-screen usage, the files can take some tight cropping but to my mind it makes total sense to maximise every pixel available and careful composition at the time is a huge help in this regard.

Exercise restraint When processing your images (I shoot RAW and process in Adobe Camera Raw) try to avoid pushing the sliders too far – less is definitely more and over-zealous use of the sliders will seriously degrade the image very quickly in my experience (remember small sensor). Once again, getting the exposure right and nailing the composition also help here. I have found that skies generally need some gentle noise reduction, but again don’t go overboard and if you are able to do so I would suggest just selectively de-noising the sky and not the more detailed parts of the image which can quickly turn to mush.

Some Anniversary Thoughts - Dave Whenham

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75 feet up – Newborough Beach

Height isn’t everything You don’t have to shoot everything from 400 feet up! Just because you can doesn’t mean you always have to. I have included height information in the image captions and you will see there are successful compositions shot from 65 feet up for example and even from head height. Be open to shooting each scene from different angles and differing heights. I will often take the drone to 400 feet and then slowly bring it down tweaking the composition and taking a series of different images as I drop back down to around 80 feet. Other times I will watch the screen as I slowly rise into the air looking for the optimal point at which the composition seems complete. There is no zoom lens on the Mavic Pro I use (although a zoom version has just been released along with the aforementioned Pro 2 with its larger sensor) so, just like using your feet to “zoom” a prime lens on your stills camera, you need to use the joysticks to “zoom” around the composition with the drone.

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Some Anniversary Thoughts - Dave Whenham

Of course, I’m not saying don’t take it up – 390 feet


This was one of half a dozen frames that I took as I brought the drone down from 400 feet to eventually place the two trees centrally at 140 feet. Blackley, West Yorkshire.

The hardware Whilst I’m not intending to review the hardware some comments are pertinent as the choices you make here can have a big bearing on success or failure. Let’s start with what for me makes the whole process workable – the viewing screen. The Mavic Pro doesn’t have a screen supplied with the controller, so I purchased an Android smartphone to fulfil this function. Turns out that this was not

my smartest choice as the minute I plugged the “smartphone” into the Mavic controller it went “Oh, goody! A big battery!” and proceeded to draw power from the controller. Unsure as to whether this was normal or not, or indeed if it was expected, I decided to change and use an iPad mini instead. I figured the bigger screen would make it easier to read the display so parted with a few more hard-earned pennies to buy the small iPad and a sunshade to keep the glare off the screen. This worked much better apart from one niggle, it kept sending

Some Anniversary Thoughts - Dave Whenham

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Ringstone Reservoir. It can be a little disconcerting putting the drone up into mist for it to temporarily disappear but it gives an angle I could not get otherwise.

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Some Anniversary Thoughts - Dave Whenham


out a warning message that it was running low on memory even though I was only running the DJI app. Nervous that this might cause me to lose sight and/or control of the drone I switched to using my iPhone whilst I investigated. Long story short – I never did get around to investigating and now simply use my iPhone. The only compromise is that if I’m going to be out all day I take a power bank to top the phone up for normal use if required after flying the drone although to date I haven’t needed to use it. I put the phone in Airplane mode whilst using the drone to prevent calls or messages interfering with the flight. I need to wear my reading glasses AND my distance glasses simultaneously however; the former on the end of my nose to view the screen and controller and the latter above them so I can maintain line of sight with the drone. I must look slightly odd, but such is old age. Flying the drone and keeping it safe in the air was always going to be my biggest concern and I have to say I’m very glad I opted for a premium model as I quickly got to grips with the basics and whilst I was in no hurry to step out of beginner mode when I did take the plunge I was pleasantly surprised. If in doubt, I can let go of the joysticks and the drone will hover where it is until I get myself sorted! The requirement to maintain line of sight means that under my control the drone never gets remotely close to the maximum distances it can technically achieve but I cannot see why people want to fly their expensive kit in places where they cannot see it. As already mentioned, I have crashed the drone once, in Snowdonia, on the first occasion when I had someone with me whilst I flew the drone. Thankfully it was less than twenty feet off the ground and the branches I flew it into helped cushion the fall. I had the drone pointing towards me which means that right on the controller means go left as far as the drone is concerned. A mistake I make very rarely now but still, no harm done apart from a few scratches to the drone and a dent to my pride. So, whilst flying the drone is still an adrenalin-fuelled experience I do now feel confident in flying the machine and am starting to produce some pleasing results, particularly with still images which I capture using the DNG raw mode and process in Photoshop. I have found that I need to apply sharpening and clarity a little more aggressively than I am used to and that I

have to be extra careful with regards to noise in the image. I usually take the drone out early in the day and have not yet shot extensively in the brighter part of the day but when I have I find the files a lot cleaner, especially with the sun behind the drone.

Conclusion So, I have made good progress with flying, have settled on using my iPhone as a screen and am starting to get some good still images from the drone. Whilst there is still some work to do with image quality, or perhaps more accurately consistency, I am now producing usable and pleasing images from every flight. I’ve a few other things to mention, including my experiences with filters shooting panoramas and the various built-in shooting options but will leave those for another day. To recap my conclusions from this exercise, learn the basics (flying), remember to squeeze as much from the little sensor as you can and exercise restraint when sat at the computer. This is one purchase I have never regretted for a single moment.

Some Anniversary Thoughts - Dave Whenham

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Classic Cameras 1988’s Nikon F4 is the subject of Geoff’s reflection for this instalment Type: 24x36 reflex camera with built-in light meter, autofocus, and interchangeable finder Film speed range: 25 to 5000 ISO (DX), 6 to 6400 (non-DX) Shutter speed range: 30 to 1/8000 sec., B and T Shutter: Vertical travel focal plane type, leaves made of carbon-fibre­reinforced epoxy resin and aluminium Flash synchronisation: Hotshoe contact and cable connection, 1/250 sec. electronic flash sync Motor drive coupling: Built-in motor First production date: December 1988 Weight: 3 lb. 1.4 oz. (1400 g) with batteries This professional autofocus reflex camera with a builtin motor drive has a wide variety of features. Exposure modes include aperture priority, shutter speed priority, programmed and high-speed programmed automatic, and manual, for which there’s a scale in 1/3-stop increments for precise control of exposure compensation. The camera also hasan exposure memory lock button, an LCD display in the viewfinder which shows the shutter speed, aperture, frame number, exposure compensation scale, selected metering system (matrix, spot, or centre-weighted), and an additional direct-reading aperture scale. Synchronisation of the flash between 30 seconds and 1/250 second is possible, flash control and autofocus are assisted by special Nikon flash units even in low light conditions, and the camera also has matrix­metered fill-in flash, a flash ready light, and a screw-in flash cable socket. Other features include manual focusing, autofocus with focus priority and shutter release priority, and an electronic range and focusing aid with an LED display. The built-in motor drive can shoot 4 frames per second continuously at the CH setting, a slower

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rate continuously at the CL setting, and single frame at the S setting. Operation is very quiet at the CS setting. Both automatic and manual film rewind are possible, the standard HP finder with Brite View screen is interchangeable with three other types, the focusing screen is interchangeable, viewfinder dioptre is adjustable, and the camera has a mirror lock-up, a 100% viewfinder image, a self-timer with a diode display, a viewfinder blind, a stop-down button, and a viewfinder illumination button. The mount accepts pre-Al Nikkors, and the MB-20 standard battery pack supplied with the camera uses economical standard batteries rather than a lithium block. Serial numbers begin with 2000201.

Nikon F4s This is the designation of the F4 when it’s supplied with the more powerful MB-21 battery pack, which allows a continuous exposure rate of over 5 frames per second using ordinary batteries or NiCad cells. This version has a vertical shutter release and an LED battery check but is otherwise identical to the F4.

Classic Cameras - Geoff Leah


In the Lightroom: Setting up the Transfer and Resizing of Images Part three of Eric Ladbury’s Lightroom Tutorial Moving and resizing files to suit various criteria to assorted and multiple destinations with a couple of basic moves and no headaches as to calculations or dragging sizing images physically. Is sounds to good to be true I know, but after using this method for over ten years now, I can safely say it IS that simple.

Setting up Preferences in the Dialog Box To view the options just click on the Export Button or shortcut [[Ctrl+Shift+E]] at bottom left of the Library module (window) only, [see fig. 13 label A], this opens a huge dialogue box, the view here is an enlarged version (normally the slider in the margin needs to be used to see all the window). Go to the top of to Export To: [see label B] don’t confuse this with the similar line below, click this window with TEXT in and a dropdown menu appears with a box with a tick appearing  alongside one line - this is the current selection, [see fig. 14 blue box A]. Selected is usually the Hard drive line, if not, simply click on Hard Drive line and the box closes to show that as selected as the picked option. Below there are several wide grey bars with a  or  Bar Title (closed or open) and the name of the section contained.

Export Location Lets start at the top bar : Export location [see fig. 13 label B]&[fig. 14 blue box B]. Clicking the solid black arrow (or anywhere in the grey bar), toggles the state; whether it is open or closed, we need it open. Go to the Export To: making sure it is open by click on the arrow at the right end or in the bar [see label C] & [fig. 14 blue box C], this displays a dialog box. The usual option is Specific Folder - if not, click on that line  and the dialog box closes automatically with the selected choice in view. Next goto the choose… box and click, this displays a standard window in which to search for the required folder destination, do this, or create a new folder of choice, this is displayed in the box right of Folder. When happy click select [[Folder Button]] bottom of the window, and the choice made appears in the line below, changing from greyed-out to the selected destination [see label D] . The small box  Put in Subfolder [see label E], if left blank will leave the destination as at “D” above, however place a tick in the box  and the greyed out

Untitled Export changes to black lettering. Placing the cursor in the window highlights Untitled Export showing it is active; begin typing in a TITLE for the subfolder, e.g. “Sea Front”, this will automatically create a new folder in the selected one. The box below  Add to This Catalog [see label F], also blank I advise putting a tick click in it as this saves having to do the job manually later. The remaining two lines (add to Stack & Existing Files) I have yet to find a need for.

File Naming [see the blue boxed section in fig.13] Open, as previous the bar if not open already visible [see label G] this section can be left out if you only have a low volume of slides to copy around your computer system; however I strongly recommend using this as it does a couple of exercises which are a) helpful to locate a picture by its name, and b) give the slide a recognisable name, saving a task later when it may not be so easy.

In the Lightroom: Setting up the Transfer and Resizing of Images - Eric Ladbury

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Begin by placing a tick in  Rename To: [see fig. 14 blue box D] and in the box to its right click to choose the appropriate line from the dropdown menu; I often use Custom Name or Filename, the former for general use where I may alter the given name to the slide to fit the use it is being put to, the latter where I need to relate to the applied actions to the image when I am simply storing in a holding folder elsewhere on my system - such as “Nik sep” to remind me the image has undergone mono work in Nik). Selecting either of these will require a further input of a title for the piece, such as, My Derbyshire Landscape this will then appear in the metadata as such. A tip: when I have to input information in the title line of a file (image) metadata, like for my local club, requires my name + 1, a preferred order of use separated by an underscore _ , followed by the actual name of the image, therefore I have a location for this clubs submissions with an set which reads 1_ERIC LADBURY_AND_ see the next line and [see label I] [see blue boxes E to H]. The resulting filename would be 1_ERIC LADBURY_AND_ My Derbyshire Landscape The highlighted is the completed title but I already have the first half in place when I bring up this preset (more later), so all I add each time I send a picture to this location for storage on my system is an actual title. Also I often pre copy the original title I have give a slide so a simple cut (copy [[ Ctrl + C ]]), and insert (paste [[ Ctrl + V ]]) from the metadata information at the top stack. A sample of your chosen text is displayed below along with the file setting chosen. To the right, greyed out, is Start Number. This is used if Filename – Sequence is chosen and by default starts at 1 but can be easily typed over to begin with whatever number you desire. Beneath this is Extensions: box click to show options available, usually lowercase [see box J]. BLUE pointer is dragged to the right-hand end and the figure in the box reads 100.

Video I at present don’t use this as my Passion is stills imagery. If you need to know more ask a movie buff…

File Setting These are important for an Image Format [see box K] needs to conform with the destination requirements of where you intend to use the picture, and this works in conjunction with the Color Space [see box L] often a specific colour space is requested in competition rules or publications requirements therefore these need to be set accordingly; for an example most web and club uses are at jpeg format and sRGB (this setting should give the best colour rendition on the Web). Note the Quality: slider should be the highest the image can accept, and these days that is usually 100%, so make sure the

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Next, the  Limit File Size To: box needs a click (tick) to activate the window, and apply any limits if there’s a need to keep the file size below a certain level. Occasionally competitions and magazines impose limitations on file sizes. By putting their limit (typing the figures) into the box right, this will automatically prevent over-sizing overriding all other settings which are made elsewhere.

Image Sizing [see the red boxed section in fig.13] This is one of the most useful and time saving parts of this whole tutorial, it is quick to apply and essential to make speedy brainless changes to image sizes and without any maths being applied by your input, so once put in place for

In the Lightroom: Setting up the Transfer and Resizing of Images - Eric Ladbury


each destination of your images it you never need to fill-out this information again. Except of course if a new delivery point is required with different criteria, but if the new destination is the same overall in settings as one already in use then select that preset, and just alter the location desired (similar to the operation at Export Location). Starting the input, by placing a tick click in the  Resize to Fit: [see label M] this activates the section. Usually when sending in comp entries or to publications etc, they request either a maximum dimension for the picture being supplied or the resolution to be set (see below). To keep any image within these constraints just type in these figures into the W: (width) and H: (height) default settings could be 1400x1050 [see label N], note these are maximum sizes and LR will set the restrict the longest max either width or height and adjust the other measurement to keep the ratio correct to the original; so if one side falls short of a full amount it will be calculated and set accordingly. The arrow right of pixels opens a selection menu of either, pixels, in (inch), or cm (centimetre). The arrow to the right end of the box opens a dropdown menu displaying the options available [see expanded box N]. The most useful is probably the top line as described above. Another important fact is this is a COPY so the original you are sizing from stays as its initial sizes were. The greyed out  Don’t Enlarge obviously restricts the sizing to no more than the original is, which I personally have not enforced.

to keep the bottom line All Metadata, active with the two “Remove” boxes ticked.

Watermarking My own preference is not to apply a water mark to any image I send out into the world, as from experience if some wants to pinch my picture they will steal it whatever and take the watermark with it, and to be honest I find it a turnoff when viewing images anywhere which display any kind of overprinting or writing across the picture, its up to you. If you find the wish is to apply a mark then click in the box  Watermark: [see label Q] then in the greyed out box to the right and from the two either Simple Copyright Watermark which uses the one we set up in the first part of this series of tutorials with a © symbol, or choose Edit Watermarks… which brings up a new window, allowing many options including text or graphics and where in the image to place the mark - I will not go into the detail of these options here.

Post-Processing

Final bit in this section, Resolution: and a black box with figures inside [see label O]. This could be governed by the use the image is being put to; the rules of a competition for example. Swipe the numbers and over type the new requirements, when there is a stipulation for the maximum. To change from Imperial to Metric click inside the box pixels per inch/cm and select the required scale.

This section gives the opportunity to take the image into another program either in Adobe, or a plug-in such as Nik (DxO), or to any attached program in your computer providing it is compatible. In the dropdown menu [see label R] I choose the default Do nothing as I usually change to another program during working in Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop on the fly using my own created shortcut keys for the purpose. However if there is a need to switch the list has all available on your machine, so select the line required. The only oddity being line Open in Other Application… When selected, this option opens the standard operating window to locate any folder within the computer.

Output Sharpening

DO NOT PRESS the EXPORT BUTTON YET!!!

To activate place a tick by a click in the box  Sharpen For: then both Screen and Amount, can be selected with a click in either to show dropdown menus. Choose from Screen, Matte Paper or Glossy paper, and/or Low, Standard or High. My own selections rarely change from Screen and Standard, unless printing in which case I don’t use LR settings.

THERE’S ONE IMPORTANT TASK TO PERFORM BEFORE AN IMAGE IS EXPORTED (transferred). -----ooOoo-----

Metadata There is a single dropdown menu right of Include: [see label P]. The first two options (Copyright Only, and Copyright & Contact Info Only) if selected prevent any changes to the three boxes below. However, the other options do allow this as the scope of the information they will include covers these extra items. All Except Camera Raw Info, All Except Camera & Camera Raw Info and All Metadata, allowing the removal of the various sections of personal info and Keywords. I tend

To make it worthwhile doing this big piece of work, saving this information as a preset, which can be used many times over for quick and easy movement of images to this folder and ready for use at a new sizing and/or file setting. Go to the ADD button [SEE PURPLE LABEL “X”] to the left side above my red NOTE click to reveal a New Preset dialog window. In the Preset Name: field, type in a meaningful name e.g. my camera club, making certain the Folder: field below shows User Presets (if not select it from the dropdown menu). When happy click the Create button and the preset should now appear in the  User Presets section above, see [User Presets BOX “Y”]. The next occasion there’s a need to resize and transfer a picture simply select this preset and confirm it is the correct one then just click the Export button right at the bottom [SEE RED BOX “S”].

In the Lightroom: Setting up the Transfer and Resizing of Images - Eric Ladbury

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Rodney Marsh In Twenty Questions (or less...) Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background Born in 1944 in the small Lancashire mining town of Skelmersdale I left school at 15 and worked as an engineering apprentice, Design Draughtsman and Production Engineer before going to university at the age of 28 for 2 years. I then spent 30 years teaching mechanical engineering in higher education before retiring at the age of 60. Married in 1971, in addition to Skelmersdale, I have lived in Chorley for 3 years, Durham for 3 years and Ilkley for 39 years. My wife passed away almost 7 years ago. Since that sad period of my life, and up until this year, I have spent my time travelling alone to warmer climes over the winter months and living near Milton Keynes when I am back in the UK.

I have two grown up sons living in the south of England and working in London and a daughter who lives and works in Norway. Four grandchildren bring a lot of joy to my life and live video technology is a wonderful way to speak every week. This year I married a very nice Thai lady and, when we are in Thailand, we live in her family village rather than choosing to live in an expat community. I am learning to read and write in Thai and to play the guitar as an additional stimulus for my brain. For 25 years I have performed the Beijing 24 Step Short Form of Thai Chi exercise, plus other Chi Kung routines.

How long have you been a photographer ? I bought my first SLR camera, a Nikon FE, with a couple of lenses in 1984. That I would define as the beginning of my serious photographic journey. Prior to that I had little by way of quantifiable experience that could be used to describe myself as a photographer. When I was a kid my family had a box camera that took a roll of 12 exposure film. I remember occasionally using it but also recall that it often took 12 months or more to finish off the film ready for processing through the local chemist.

How did you get started in the hobby ? Unlike most photographers who I read about I have nobody in the family, or any friends, or any educational involvement with photography which I could have used to ignite a spark of interest in photography as a hobby. That is until I went to work at Dunlop Tyre Co as a Production

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Rodney Marsh in Twenty Questions (or less...)


during my 20 year membership. With about 8 top quality external lecturers per year that accumulates to over 120 different lecturers (my maths is ok, it’s just that some came more than once) showing their work, explaining a technique or demonstrating a process. Of all these wonderful amateur photographers I shall mention just one, www.hughmilsomphotography.co.uk. His work is delicate, soft, simple, minimalistic and definitely inspired me to try a new approach. He also has a very pleasant unassuming presentation style.

Which other photographers do you admire and why ?

Engineer at the age of 24. There I met a very interesting and competent engineer who was a refugee from the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956. Zoltan was interested in many things and made lots of gadgets and security systems for his home. He was also interested in photography and we used to lunch together every day and chat about current affairs, technology, science, and of course photography. I credit Zoltan as the person who opened my mind to photography as a hobby. After 12 months or so I bought a cheap camera, made behind the Iron Curtain, from Zoltan for a couple of quid and additionally purchased a Weston light meter locally for (I think) £5. Add to that a £2 basic photography book and I was on my way. I remember finding it quite difficult at first because the camera did not possess any auto exposure facility. So I had to learn the relationship between shutter speed, f stop and film speed in order to get a good exposure. I recall my default position being ISO100, f11 and 1/125. Like most things, once you know how to do it, it is easy. That would be about 1970 but it was still another 14 years before I bought the Nikon FE and my hobby really became more intense.

I could produce a volume on this subject, but selecting just a few, I would have to include: (a) Ansel Adams (1902 to 1984). What a wonderful landscape photographer who produced his best work in the period before the digital age. He also developed (with Fred Archer) the zonal system for guaranteeing correct exposure. Adams is credited with saying “Landscape photography is the supreme test of a photographer – and often the supreme disappointment”. How true ! (b) Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004). The master of candid photography he pioneered what we now call street photography. And he took family shots as a kid on a box Brownie. Eureka, I have something in common with the great master ! (c) Steve McCurry (1950-date). His famous photo

What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos ? I wish I had known about the terrific value there is in being a member of a camera club, then I would have joined Ilkley Camera Club ten years before I actually did. There is so much to gain from mixing with other more experienced and more knowledgeable photographers which makes the membership fee really good value.

Who has influenced your photography the most ? Much of the influence on my photography has come from the excellent external lecturers who visited Ilkley Camera Club

Rodney Marsh in Twenty Questions (or less...)

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of the Afghan girl with the green eyes (National Geographic 1985) fascinates me every time I see it. He once said “One can look at a still image and make up your own story of what that picture means”. That sums up photography perfectly for me. (d) Vivien Maier (1926-2009). What an amazing story ! A true amateur street photographer who could have become famous through her work but chose to hide it away. In 1959-60 she took a trip around the world on her own, but is more famous for the photographs she took in the USA when she would walk the streets with her camera on her day off from her work as a nanny. Her total collection was almost lost forever, only to be discover in 2007 by a guy who bought it as a job lot in an auction.

How long have you been involved with PCC ? I am relatively new to PPC having joined in December 2017. I am a member of two circles; IC8 (Mono) and IC11 (Open). The first time I came across PPC was several years ago when it popped up through an internet search. I remember being interested in the concept at that time but for some long forgotten reason didn’t follow it through. During 2016 and 2017 I was very inactive as a photographer and had totally lost my motivation. I dropped out of my camera club and left my photography gear in a drawer. At the end of 2017 I remembered learning about PPC all those years earlier and how it was internet based. I saw PPC as a means to reignite my passion from my winter base overseas, which I am pleased to say seems to have happened because I am taking more photos and again enjoying post processing.

Are there any types of photographic genres you specialise in ? Without doubt I am a street photographer and I like to document social history. Travelling to new locations and walking around with my camera really gives me a buzz. One never knows what is round the next corner. To quote Steve McCurry “the best pictures are the ones that tell a story and take us on a journey.” I love to photograph people because fundamentally we are all the same but our culture and religious backgrounds mould us into very different beings, which is something I like to celebrate through photographs. I also love to produce what I call fine art photographs which sometimes start as a table top image.

Are there any fads or fashions in photography you particularly like/dislike? Every photograph has three characteristics, contrast, detail and colour.

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Rodney Marsh in Twenty Questions (or less...)


But a photograph is simply a 2D version of a 3D subject. The use of post processing software wisely can modify the above three characteristics so as to produce an outstanding image with a real sense of the original 3D features. Overdo it and one produces, what I call “HDR on steroids”. This is where lines, contours, marks and creases on, for example a face, are heavily exaggerated through the use of HDR techniques. It has become a very common practice to use “HDR on steroids” which impresses me little. I also dislike masochistic photography which seems more popular now and delight in showing simulations of blood, guts, torture and pain. My final gripe is about the very popular trend of creating fairy tale photographs, which include strange unnatural elements like for example, unicorns, mermaids, a human body with an animal head. These are also successful in photography competitions, but are simply not my cup of tea. Ending on a positive note, I do like fine art photography where a photographic image is made to look like a delicate painting.

Film or Digital? Definitely digital by a mile. Once we had a choice beyond film I took to the new technology like a duck to water. Film undoubtedly gave exceptionally good quality images but it was relatively expensive and cumbersome when it came to preparing and viewing slides. Digital is so easy in this regard, the image quality is wonderful now and it is easy to “rattle off”

hundreds of images without feeling the immediate cost, edit them the same evening and then enjoy a slide show on the laptop. For me wet processing was a chore, long winded, dark, smelly and consumed or disrupted too much space in the house. Whereas the digital era required only the equivalent of a desk top area (or less), lights on, no need for water on tap, comfortable, easy control of the image, processing is there to see and results are more predictable. From the moment I bought a film scanner I was transformed from an admiring bystander to a passionate photographer. Digital without a doubt for me.

What equipment do you currently use? I try to keep my equipment collection to a manageable size and just enough for my needs. Currently I use a Canon 5D Mk 2 camera body and Canon lenses, a 17-40 EF 1:4 L USM wide angle zoom lens, a 70–200 EF 1:2.8 L IS USM zoom lens and a 100 EF 1:208 USM macro lens. I also have a Manfrotto tripod and two lens mounted filters (ND and polarizing). Each lens is protected by a UV filter. I also have a Canon Speedlight 550 EX flash. Post processing is done using Photoshop CS6 and a 2013 version of Topaz plug in filters.

Among the gadgets you own, is there something that you wish you hadn’t bought ? I no longer have any gadgets, but in my Nikon days I bought a holder which fitted on the front of the lens. In the holder

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one could fit Cokin filters, some of which were useful but many others just gimmicks. I was glad to get shut of the lot when I had a clear out in 2016.

What has been your favourite camera over the years ? Without a doubt my current camera, Canon 5D Mk 2, because of its full frame sensor as well as the quality of the image. It has been a great camera to use over the past 8 or 9 years. My previous cameras were, Nikon FE (1984) which revealed a major problem whilst I was on business in China in 1989. Only one of my seven rolls of film contained any images after development. Contax 167MT (1992) had wonderful optics. Minolta Dimage 7 (2002) was a bridge camera and my entry into fully digital photography. This was an expensive camera at the time which I sold after I bought a Canon 10D in 2004. I converted the 10D into a pinhole camera after I bought the 5D Mk 2 in 2009.

What is your best photographic achievement ? Around the time my wife was very ill, and after she passed away, I used photography as a distraction and as a means of keeping busy. Over the 3 years between 2013 and 2016 I threw myself into photography and entered competitions and exhibitions all over the world via the internet. All that effort and commitment resulted in a number of awards and distinctions coming my way; AFIAP, followed by EFIAP, CPAGB, BPE3* plus medals, ribbons and certificates; all of which were fun at the time but mean little to me now. Some of the images used for these exhibitions where also successful in competitions at my camera club and at the annual Yorkshire Photography Union exhibition.

What do you like best about your hobby ? Without a doubt, it is the end result. Whether the final image is as taken in the camera, or is the result of a lot of post processing work, an end result where one can be really pleased with the final image truly is reward enough.

If you could go anywhere in the world to take photographs, where would it be? Definitely India, or some part of it. India has been on my radar for a long time but never quite reached the top of my list.

If you could pass on just one tip about photography to a newcomer what would it be ? When I was a young man I had probably taken not much more than 100 photographs by the age of 24. A modern 24 year old will have taken thousands of images on their phone and tablet based technology and have developed different ideas of what

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a good image should look like. My advice would be “if you want to stand out from the rest you need to develop a unique style and perform consistently to a very high standard so as to be recognised and appreciated. Unless fashions change this will likely mean that you need to upgrade to a camera which gives you more control and learn the basic relationship between aperture, shutter speed and film speed. Only that way will you have control over the end product and have real creativity within your grasp�.

Photographically what do you think is in store for you over the next five years?

Rodney Marsh in Twenty Questions (or less...)


To start with no more exhibition work and pursuit of distinctions. That is a thing of the past. Also maybe an upgrade on my camera body to Mk 5 when it is released. Definitely travelling to new places and revisiting old. I have Norway, France, Burma and Malaysia booked already. In my plan is Australia, India and a return to Japan. Since joining PCC I have regained my motivation for photography and have recently joined New City Photographic Society in Milton Keynes and re-joined Ilkley Camera Club where I shall be entering their club competition from a distance.

What motivates you to continue taking photographs ? I guess it’s the desire to document the places I have visited. I find if I go somewhere and come home without any pictures of the place and its people; then it’s as though I hadn’t been. So my desire to travel compels me to record my experience as photographic images and to work on them in the evening when I am back home. I can’t just survive on memories, I need photographic back up to authenticate the journey.

Do you have any ongoing projects you would like to share with members? I have a project to photograph the mobile shops that are quite prevalent in Thailand. There are many which are just a motor cycle and sidecar, whilst others are conversions of old cars (eg Morris Minor, VW camper van etc) which can be driven to a location and then opened up into a beautifully presented café, perfume shop, kitchen of a steak restaurant etc. They are beautifully done and a collection of images showing the work involved and evidencing the end result would be very satisfying. Footnote: The opinions expressed in answering these questions are my own and I have no wish to offend anybody who has a different view.

Rodney Marsh in Twenty Questions (or less...)

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I shan’t comment on all of images included with my profile, but would like to highlight just one image for the benefit of any new photographers who are sensitive to critiques and what they think is a poor make from members of the circles. Hellifield Harness Racing is my most successful image and holds three of my personal records. I always use this image if I am looking for a monochrome competition or exhibition entry. In total I have used it over 60 times and have achieved over 50 exhibition acceptances (my record highest number of acceptances for one image) plus additional camera club based competition successes. So I guess I slipped into a frame of mind where I expected the image would be accepted in an exhibition if I submitted it.

subjective and no matter how successful an image, there is always somebody who is not going to like it. The only important thing is that “you� as the photographer like the image. Other opinions are worth listening to and can be helpful, but can also be ignored. Take pictures for yourself and not for other people.

Ninety percent of the time the marking system used for exhibitions involves 3 judges who award a mark between 1 and 5 for each image. So the maximum mark available to every image is 15 and the minimum is 3. Usually this monochrome image scored between 12 and 14. It is one of only a handful of my images to score 14 so it shares my record high score. My failed entries have scored in the range 7 to 11. But this monochrome image is also the only image to score less than 7, holding my record low with the minimum score of 3 when submitted to a Malaysian exhibition. So it goes to show that photography, being an art, is totally

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Rodney Marsh in Twenty Questions (or less...)


There’s Nothing New To Photograph! David Ridley’s thoughts on whether everything has been done before A short while ago I was talking photography with a fellow photographer over a pint when he said ‘You know, there’s nothing new to photograph, it’s all been done before!’ The conversation didn’t continue down this avenue for long (thankfully) but it later got me thinking if he had a point? Well the answer is YES and NO! He’s certainly right that all the landmarks, classic views, buildings of note and other structures etc., in both the UK and worldwide have indeed been captured as an image by countless photographers, both professionals and amateurs. Looking at the UK alone who hasn’t seen a photograph or other artwork depicting say The Tower of London, London Bridge, Edinburgh Castle, The Forth Bridge, Stonehenge, Blackpool Tower, the cities of Oxford and Cambridge as well as all those numerous castles in Wales together with countless more classic gems. That’s before even thinking of the lesser but still well-known locations in our own areas? When I consider my own region, there are much visited areas and structures which are known to almost all those living in the North East but perhaps to a lesser extent outside the North East, and naturally good local knowledge of any area normally applies to those who live in and around a particular part of the UK. In my case my mind immediately goes to Lindisfarne, the Farne Islands, Alnwick Castle (The Duke of Northumberland’s Home), the Northumberland coast dotted with numerous castles and photogenic fishing villages, St. Mary’s Island, the Border Town of Berwick upon Tweed, Cheviot Hills, Newcastleupon-Tyne, the Tyne Bridges and so on, as well as many lesser known places that are equally worth a visit. Yes, even I have seen it all, or at least visited the classic viewpoints, and along with many other photographers have recorded a lot of images of the area in which I live as no doubt many other photographers have done likewise in their own locality. So, what’s to be done to create some originality if indeed originality is what you’re looking for? What can be

photographed that hasn’t been done before? Well, one could take some classic views in different lighting conditions and/or one could look for different angles/viewpoints at varying times of year of the well-known, perhaps try different techniques like blurring water if it’s part of the scene or maybe just visit early or late in the day to capture the effects of different lighting, but of course the results would still be of the well-known no matter where you reside, although that’s not to say it couldn’t still prove worthwhile and satisfying to come away with the images you take! However, I consider that to attain something more original it’s necessary to widen horizons and think about what makes an image that little bit different. There are many types of photography that are well established that can produce ‘a one-off image’ that can’t be replicated even if a certain style is copied. Of these types of established photography Street Photography immediately springs to mind as the easiest and most widely available to all who wish to pursue it and for those who go looking for candid shots of our fellow human beings (and perhaps animals as well) who pass by will surely be rewarded with original and hopefully striking results! So, is there a need to do much more than go to a spot we are familiar with and take up a position, wait and then point and shoot? Well of course some excellent results have come from doing just that, but I believe there’s a bit more to it.

There's Nothing New To Photograph - David Ridley LRPS

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When visiting anywhere including those places that provide those classic structures and viewpoints it would be a good idea to always have in mind that taking candid shots as well is a second string to the bow and to develop an instinct for this activity. How can this instinct be honed? For those of us old enough to remember, at home and at school we were at an early age taught road safety in the form of the ‘Kerb Drill’ that went STOP, LOOK, LISTEN. LOOK RIGHT, LOOK LEFT AND THEN RIGHT AGAIN! Perhaps this piece of good advice may prove a worthwhile starting point for taking candid shots? There is a need to give some time to this activity by staying in a chosen place for a while and as the saying goes ‘watch the world go by’ keeping an eye on all the movement of others but ready to fire the shutter in an instant which of course means the camera needs to be permanently switched on with you

continuously training it on subjects you pick out as likely to do something or give a certain glance that may just provide you with the type of expression or activity that will yield something different. Now this may seem obvious and for anyone who doubts this I would ask if they have ever observed in person or seen a TV programme where the police are parked up in their patrol car in a position where they are simply looking at what’s happening around them from their chosen vantage point and are doing exactly the same exercise in observation that we can do, albeit for a different reason. Any photographer looking to get candid images should I think seriously consider this tactic in order to increase his or her chances of capturing a worthwhile original image be they out and about in a town or in the countryside at the time. I don’t however from a photographic point of view recommend sitting in your car as what you may wish to snap may be obstructed by parts of the car interior which would prove to be somewhat frustrating. Simply park the car, get out with camera in hand, and choose your spot to photograph from and you never know there may just be a fellow photographer doing similar you could get chatting to and let him or her know all about PPC maybe handing them one of those nice new ‘business cards’ the club now has!

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There's Nothing New To Photograph - David Ridley LRPS


There are many other subjects in the traditional areas of photography that can produce ‘one offs’ and the list of these is just too big to go into here but a few obvious ones are portraits, animals, birds, insects, athletics, cycle racing, flowers, Close-ups etc., etc. Now also consider the exciting digital age we live in ... we already manipulate images in order to improve colours, change them to monochrome, tone them, re-size them, alter the saturation, sharpen them, add borders, remove spots and blemishes and other tweaks that our software allows. So, with all this technology at our finger tips why not try producing some original artwork alongside the more traditional activities? This type of image is very much trial and error as not all subjects provide pleasing results, but if you don’t try, you’ll never know! It’s likely you may already have some images that could prove suitable for this application but if not don’t fear because in the main static items, photographed both outdoors and indoors, usually provide the most suitable starting point, the list of which together with the availability of such subject matter is incalculable and although trial and error plays a great part as does imagination! You could start by taking a few shots of artistic sculptures, glass ware, earthen ware, fruit and vegetables, flowers and small detail on almost any other items.

available to enhance such images which I do believe should end up being printed because for me only viewing the finished result on a computer screen can’t do them justice. Once into this fascinating activity it can become addictive especially in the long winter days, but it could also end up providing a third string to the bow. There’s nothing new to photograph, it’s all been done before ... You must be kidding!!

Great, you’ve now sorted some images to play around with! What’s next? Well that very much depends on the software you’ve got. In most software a good starting point is using the sliders in the extreme and layering any effects that you like and think may have further potential by adding more effects one on top of another whilst remembering after adding each additional layer it is likely that an adjustment to the overall density may be required. Another way to experiment is to try the same technique but this time using any pre-sets you have one on top of another maybe combined with the more extreme use of the adjustment sliders. I personally think that the free downloads of the Nik software have the best potential for achieving original artwork as the effects that can be attained are virtually limitless and once you have artwork you’re happy with, this software can provide artistic borders that can be adjusted randomly. Perhaps one could consider this as a form of Fine Art? I personally think of it more as Heavy Art due to the more extreme manipulation required and the bold resulting images! There you have it! Remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that art work produced with any medium is unlikely to be to everyone’s taste just like any traditional photograph also isn’t necessarily to everyone’s taste! So why not give it a go, because you don’t go out every day with your camera ... do you? These days the line dividing photography and art is much more blurred and for the photographer who produces artistic offerings there is an array of ‘art papers,’

There's Nothing New To Photograph - David Ridley LRPS

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Lone tree on Derwent water Taken recently using the FIrecrest Holder, 3 Stop Grad and 6 Stop Full ND

Comparing Formatts Kieran Metcalfe reviews two versions of the Formatt-Hitech filter system. 48

Comparing Formatts - Kieran Metcalfe


I prefer to shoot landscape photography in the main, primarily as I have a dread of telling a model what to do, no idea how to set up lights (as the dodgy product shots in this article will show!), but mainly as I love the space and quiet of being outdoors. Long-exposure photography takes that to an extreme with shots taking anything from a few seconds to a handful of minutes. When I was first setting out and looking for a filter system, a photographer whose work I respect and admire recommended Formatt-Hitech to me as a brand to buy into, so I duly did. This is not an article comparing the different brands - although I am sure that might well be worth exploring. Rather, this is an account of my experiences with the two filter holders from this one company. Similarities between the older holder and other systems may make this helpful for people using LEE and others. Formatt-Hitech are a British company, based in Wales, and although recently acquired by Kenko-Tokina have retained a good amount of autonomy in their operations. While global trade is a great thing, I was very interested to find a UK company with products rivalling the global superpowers of LEE and NiSi, especially with their Firecrest glass filter range. I first started out with Formatt-Hitech’s ‘Aluminium Filter Holder Starter Kit’, modelled very much in line with the LEE Filters system. This was a great starting point, but I recently upgraded to their new “Firecrest” holder system. The 100mm filters are compatible with both holder systems (indeed other manufacturer’s filters will also fit) and this article is a review of the Firecrest Holder in comparison to the more basic one based on my experiences of using them both.

The ‘old’ style, aluminium holder, step-up ring with attachment screws for a polarising filter on the front When using a Full ND filter for a longer exposure - especially an extreme one, such as 10- or 16-stops - light leaks can become an issue. To work around that, the Formatt-Hitech system (and LEE too, I believe) are supplied with foam gaskets which are stuck to the filter glass. Not ideal, but a necessary evil with this holder design.

The New ‘Firecrest’ Holder: Now we turn our attention to the Formatt-Hitech Firecrest Holder system to weigh up the pros and cons.

The Old version So, as a starting point, a description of the older basic aluminium holder. This is very similar to the LEE holder, and probably some of the other brands too. Sporting 3 filter slots, this holder attaches to the lens by means of a step-up ring. A brass screw on the side of the holder then locks the holder to the ring. Rotating the holder needs the screw to be loosened, which does introduce the possibility of it not being fully tightened again - with potentially expensive consequences! A key addition to ND filter sets is a polarising filter - on this style of holder, the polariser is typically attached on the very front, meaning it needs to be large (around 105mm) to prevent it being visible in the frame, and therefore a very expensive accessory. It also then requires the whole holder to be attached to the lens just to use the Polariser - unless you have also forked out for screw-in CPL filters for each of your lens thread sizes.

1) Less slots but more protection To start on a negative - the Firecrest holder only has two filter slots. However, I’ve never needed more than that in fairness, but it’s worth mentioning. Crucially though, the reason for this is one of the holder’s key features: Vastly improved light-leak protection. The holder comes with a two-part outer case which clips around the back panel and the filters, sealing them off from incoming light except through the front where you want it! In addition, there is a built-in gasket around the rear opening, so your Full ND no longer needs a foam one attached to the glass. Not having a gasket attached to the filter is a great upgrade. Despite having purchased specific wide angle rings for the old holder the gaskets were still often visible in the image. This is great for sealing the holder off when using a square ND. But what about rectangular graduated filters? This is one of

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the innovative features of the holder. The outer case has two interchangeable blanking plates - the normal one is solid, but the kit ships with a pair of slotted plates. This allows you to retain the light leak protection and be able to slide a grad filter through the holder. 2) Mounting & Built-in Polariser Attaching the holder to the lens is uses a very cleverly thought-out set of ‘rotating holder rings’. As with any filter system, a step-up ring screws into the lens thread to give a consistent size for the holder itself. There are two excellent upgrades here though: Firstly, the holder attaches to the step-up right with a robust spring-loaded clip. This means quick and secure attachment, while allowing the holder to rotate freely without needing to loosen anything.

The newer Firecrest holder, with removable light-leak protection caps.

Secondly, the rotating ring also contains a screw thread for the 82mm Firecrest Polariser. This means that the polariser is the nearest element to the lens, meaning it can be much smaller and therefore less expensive. The holder has a small wheel which then rotates the polariser independently of the holder. To top it off, the polarising filter comes included in the price of the holder - rather than paying £200 for a polariser and mount for the front of the holder. An added bonus here is that the polariser can therefore be attached to the lens without the rest of the holder. Admittedly, at 82mm it’s very likely that your lens hood then won’t fit, so it’s not a completely practical replacement for screw-in CPLs, but it does allow one polariser to fit all your lenses (as long as you have the step up rings for them - the kit ships with 77mm, 72mm and 67mm rings and other sizes are available). 3) Price and Value for Money

End caps come with solid plates, as well as slotted alternatives to allow longer grad filters to be fitted

One of the big considerations is price. I bought the old-style starter kit 18 months ago (aluminium holder, with 3 resin filters) for £120. The new Firecrest holder retails for around £150, but you get a fair amount of kit in the pack: • • • • • • •

Step-up ring with detachable polarising filter

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Filter Holder with outer case 1 pair of solid blanking plates 1 pair of slotted blanking plates 82mm rotating ring with 77mm, 72mm & 67mm step-up rings Firecrest 82mm Polariser Allen Key Carry Case

Although there are no ND filters included, the 3 that came with the old style holder, being resin, aren’t ones I would use too often. They are easily scratched, and not as neutral in colour as the more expensive glass ones - especially when you stack a Grad with a full ND. However, filter kits (including the holder and two or more firecrest filters are available, starting at £270). Comparing Formatts - Kieran Metcalfe


Autumn Fall FIrecrest Holder and 6 Stop ND Comparing Formatts - Kieran Metcalfe

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Higgar Tor from Carl Wark FIrecrest Holder and 3 Stop Grad (the image referred to in the article’s conclusion)

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Comparing Formatts - Kieran Metcalfe


Conclusion: I have found the new Firecrest system to be a truly innovative and very well thought-out update to the more common design of the older version. The built-in polariser is a fantastic addition, especially given that purchasing just a polariser for the old system costs as much as the entire new holder system. Other manufacturers are producing more complex holders now too - I have seen Benro’s offering which sports a wheel for ‘the most accurate positioning of your Grad filter’. To be frank, compared to the features on the firecrest holder, that felt rather like a gimmick - I have found pushing with my fingers to be a perfectly accurate method for my needs! But, before I close a glowing report, I have found a couple of small niggles with the system. Firstly, as it’s a more complex holder system, there can be a lot of pieces to add and remove to change the setup you’re using. The outer case provides excellent protection when it’s all set up, but there was an evening where I was shooting a lovely golden-hour Long Exposure with a 3-Stop Grad in front of the 6-Stop ND. The light suddenly caught the clouds and I wanted a normal version of the scene (included on the facing page). To do this, I had to remove the holder, extricate the Grad, detach the outer case and remove the 6 Stop - you can’t easily get the square filters out without dismantling everything. I didn’t bother putting the outer case back on - I just chucked the 3 stop grad back in and remounted it. It took a minute or so, and I almost missed the light. It’s only caused a problem on this one occasion, but the superior features have led to a little more complexity. You just need to weigh up what shots you want to take, and whether you might need to change the setup.

Polariser and ring attached to the lens

I’ve also recently had the retaining screw in the attachment clip work itself loose. Fortunately the tiny screw didn’t fall right out, but it did mean the holder slipped off in my hand. An Allen Key is supplied with the holder, so it’s an easy maintenance job and means I now keep an eye on it. Overall though, I would thoroughly recommend the FormattHitech Firecrest Holder to anyone who uses 100mm filters (of any brand), especially if you’re considering getting a polariser attachment for your current holder. I’m also a huge fan of the Firecrest filter range itself - I have 6- and 10-stop Full ND filters, and a 3 stop soft edge grad. They’re incredibly neutral in colour and great quality - but maybe I’ll review those in the future (especially if anyone cares to lend me some rival ones to give a fair comparison). The whole system fully mounted with a grad filter inserted

Comparing Formatts - Kieran Metcalfe

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Head and Shoulders Above the Rest David Ridley’s perspective on getting a different, umm, perspective... The choice of viewpoint from which to take a photograph can be limited and challenging on occasions, and for various reasons over the years I’ve often had to settle for what I considered to be second or even third best position for myself to stand and/or where I could set up a tripod. Now it’s not always physically possible to stand exactly where I would wish for a multiple of reasons which may include being in a dangerous spot, being on private land without permission or perhaps in a prohibited area etc., but usually I find that in the main a position slightly away from my desired spot can prove OK in many instances. However, when it comes to a large obstruction directly in front of my desired view, for example a fence, hedge, a crowd of people or maybe I find I’m standing in a dip all of which scenarios present a different challenge, then my answer to circumventing this problem is to use a small two step stepladder or a light weight plastic folding cracket which gives me a one step boost in height. I do find my plastic cracket is not as solid as I would wish and I’m considering a DIY project (sometime, maybe never) to make myself a wooden one that would be solid and of course of a height of my choosing. Normally I don’t carry the stepladder in the car unless I know I’ll definitely need it although the cracket (which doesn’t take up much space & is of the folding variety) lives in the boot. Even in this age where my main camera has a tilting screen I find on occasions it’s still difficult to manoeuvre the camera’s view over an obstacle depending on how much obstruction the obstacle is causing me. When deploying either the ladder or the cracket I’m always aware of my obligations to others and naturally to the law (ignorance of the law is not an excuse) regarding causing an obstruction on a public highway, which includes pavements

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but may also apply to some privately owned areas to which the public have access by payment or not, together with being mindful of privacy laws and also my own safety as I don’t want anyone to bump into me & knock me off! I apply common sense at all times and when possible, I enlist another adult of sound constitution to stand beside me so that he or she can monitor any person, vehicle or animal that may pass nearby and of course is also there to steady me if necessary. I have read about some railway enthusiasts who employ the use of stepladders to overcome the problem of high fences when they wish to photograph a train or an area that is obscured, and of course that means they avoid any trespassing whilst still photographing from a public place. Occasionally I’ve noticed when the press covers a major event and they are in a confined space meaning they are several deep behind each other, some of those at and towards the rear are on stepladders or other height enhancing platforms. So, whilst there is nothing new about gaining some height whilst taking photos the purchase of a suitable support that is kept specifically for that purpose could almost be considered as a photographic accessory! EDITORS NOTE: “Cracket” is a colloquial term used throughout the North East of England for a small stool. The cracket was used in the mining industry to support a miner’s head whilst he was lying down hewing coal and minerals from narrow seams underground.

Head and Shoulders Above the Rest - David Ridley LRPS


International Competitions and the Enthusiast Photographer John Pattison reflects on his experience in an international photography competition I recently entered a single image into a worldwide International Competition, not with any preconceived hope that the image would do well but simply for the wider viewpoint of the audience and judges if the image were to proceed through to that stage. It is the first International competition I have entered. The competition - 35Awards - for which further details can be found at https://2018.35awards. com is open to submissions into various categories and has several stages of voting including peer voting at the first stage by other contestants within the category entered. The first stage voting for the main contest has been recently completed and results issued to contestants. I also entered the same image into a PPC online circle round and it was interesting to see that the PPC circle members and the international community appear to have diametrically opposed viewpoints. In the first round of the international competition the image scored 26% favoured image out of 200 viewings in comparison to another image in the category. However, in the circle round the same image came 8th out of 9 viewings with various negative comments contributing to its relative low score. I would also note that recent similar disparities have occurred for another PPC members image which won an award in a different international competition Is this therefore a time for reflection and consideration for all in PPC that members should enter their respective work into international or national competitions to obtain let’s say a more nuanced informed opinion of their work and not simply keeping to the rather routine comments and scoring that is in my opinion prevalent in the context of Photographic Club competitions. Even with Club external judges there are biases that unfortunately cannot be avoided, whereas a committee of judges from different countries or different photographic genres is less likely to demonstrate the same since a collective decision is required. This is not to say that all is fair and

square in these competitions either far from it as repeatedly noted in the photographic press when ‘stretching’ of the competition rules to put it mildly is denounced after an award has been made, which is especially relevant in the Natural History competitions. Thoughts on this from other PPC members would be welcomed. For my entry in 35Awards, I’m interested to see how far my image will progress, it has now passed into the next round of judging having achieved the minimum requirement to move onwards, which result was unexpected given the thousands of entries from around the world into the category. IMAGE: ‘Rascal’ - Fujifilm X-T20, 56 mm, 1/320s, f/1.2 , ISO 200

International Competitions and the Enthusiast Photographer - John Pattison

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In Balance... Whilst recovering from a recent sudden illness with the added complications of an unknown virus (the specialist doctor’s words not mine), I was drooling over some of my less recent, but not used images. The main reason for this casual activity being, I had withdrawal symptoms of not being able to physically get on my feet and explore the world beyond my sickbay window with a camera. The next best thing to taking new and exciting images in my opinion, is viewing images by other photographers and perusing my own past efforts in this genre, and it also brings back many memories of pleasing and interesting visits to a great variety of destinations over the past few years. It is, I feel, a question of life balance, to be able to indulge in one’s hobbies or passions, luxuriating in all the recorded pictures and the time span covered.

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As I gained more strength and was better able to concentrate on detail and gather opinions of my own past imagery, I realised there was more potential in some of these recently captured pictures than first imagined. To the extent I was indulging more and more with mentally correcting and/or adjusting the contents of various shots. One outstanding point which continually reoccurred was the fact of balance within the frame; perhaps inspired by the balance of life generally as my sickness receded. Therefore, in my mind the balance pictorially within the image can take several forms in the photographic frame. The obvious is the physical presence of shapes, like in the guy fishing in Llandudno Bay, North Wales; the angler alone with two rods would be OK, but not outstandingly strong. However, a further frame taken in the sequence did show a couple seated in camp chairs further along the beach, now there was a balance and the addition of the two ladies seeming to chat to each other, also giving rise to the title “What’s He Caught Now?” This

Eric's Corner


Eric’s

shows a balance of true “mass” in the relative size of the two elements although of unequal size in their relative placement, they balance each other over this pivotal placement.

C ne r or

The butterfly picture “Large Tree Nymph” has the balance displayed in a different way, namely the powerful vertical solid stalk in opposition to the more delicate construction of the butterfly . By placing the stalk well over to the left quarter of the frame this allows the triangular shape of the much lighter (weight), yet of a similar area, the two elements also balance within the frame. In addition there is the use of “negative space” around the fly, giving the feeling of a certain amount of freedom of movement for the Nymph to use.

The fantasy image “X marks the Spot”, is quite a different balancing act, as here the created image from four repeated sections of a smaller area of an original shot being now a symmetrical perfect shape, does convey equal billing for the four quarters. The repetition is the secret to the form presented, and the strong diagonal of the silver chain kind of emphasises this by questioning the quarters with the introduction of a powerful diagonal through the picture. The abstract colours created may not be your cup of tea, but the thought behind this abstraction was to throw the viewer “off balance” with no green (of the grass), to use as a reference, but introduce a blue tone not being at all recognisable as lawn beneath a wooden bridge! Just what is your balance like, artistically and physically? Does it add up to a new approach to the composition of an image or will the picture still simply “record” the scene as found? It’s still in the balance, but I find the thoughts fascinating. See you next time around the corner, Eric.

Opposite: What’s He Caught Now? ~ I don’t think the angler and the couple of ladies were connected in anyway but by careful adjustment of angle of view they seem to be now, in my view (finder) anyway.

Top: “X” Marks the Spot ~ an abstract contrived to give contrasting shapes within the same frame. I often experiment with multiple images and changes of tone or colour, some work others don’t appeal to other artists or myself, but it’s all part of the journey. Bottom: Large Tree Nymph ~ when capturing a natural history subject, after the initial grab shot (especially if the subject is new to me), providing the beast has not flown I will begin to explore the more artistic compositions available. Eric's Corner

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Photonews Celebrating the Postal Photographic Club and its Members Photonews is published four times per year. All rights reserved. All materials copyright The Postal Photographic Club and/or their respective authors. Any opinion or statement expressed by the author of any article published in this magazine does not necessarily reflect the views of The Postal Photographic Club, the editor or its members.

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Eric's Corner

Photonews - Winter 2018  

Celebrating the PPC and its members. This issue contains the usual eclectic mix of articles penned by PPC members and includes a drone-photo...

Photonews - Winter 2018  

Celebrating the PPC and its members. This issue contains the usual eclectic mix of articles penned by PPC members and includes a drone-photo...

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