Monday 19th March meeting is cancelled

Hi Everyone,
Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond our control, we have to cancel tomorrow evenings meeting.
The Open Print Competition scheduled for tomorrow will now take place on the 23rd April with the AGM being rescheduled to a date to be agreed.
This will mean that the last three meetings of the season will all be competitions but it would be unfair for those people who have submitted work to cancel the competition completely.

Hope to see you all on the 26th March when Irene Froy will be our guest speaker.


Alan Lovatt


Blythe Bridge Camera Club

Cheadle CATS


The Cheadle CATS day has an introductory post earlier in this blog section.

I decided to try a system for automatically creating cut-out masks, the Hensel Freemask system. I’ve used it before for head and shoulder and product photos but not for full length. Also it is expected to be used with stationary subject matter and with the camera fixed on a tripod. Neither of these would be so today. Basically the radio trigger first sets off the lighting that is on the subject and then a second exposure is made which is just the background lighting. The Mask Integrator software, once setup, automatically takes the two exposures and creates a cut-out mask clip path mask. Background replacement can be done automatically with the software. It is a bit like Greenscreen but no colour fringing or disappearing to worry about. This is the sort of thing that I cannot try out on paid photography work so opportunities like this enable me to see how things go. Unfortunately, once at Cheadle Academy, setting up things didn’t go as quickly as usual. The result was my not being able to just take a few test shots whilst tethered to a computer to check how it was or wasn’t working. It wasn’t therefore until I got home that I was able to do a run-through of the system using the photographs. My not using a tripod was a bit of an issue, I needed to nudge the background layer into the correct place and this was different for each image. More of an issue was my not having black flags up to block any unwanted light from the background falling on the subject foreground. I had some with me but setup time and then individual repositioning based on the subject/s size was not possible in the time that we had. The biggest problem though was the floor. I ended up having to tidy this up from the processed file and this does not work as well as using the raw file. In the end the method actually took me much longer to produce the images. The upside was that the saturation and clarity in the images was better due to the subject lighting not being mixed up with the background lighting. When using a blown white background contrast and saturation loss is not unusual, particularly when the extra light from the sides is not flagged off. Oh well, we learn from our mistakes, hopefully. For me, my hope of being able to use this system for quick blown white background images at events is at an end. Upper body photographs, yes, fine, it works. Full length and it doesn’t, or at least the way I was using it.

Wendy also had a white background setup, pretty much the same as at the Camera Club session earlier in the week. Not surprisingly the intention was to get images to cut out and then use in composites,




We then stayed on to take some of the performance.

Studio style practical evening February 2018

The studio style Practical evening was, as ever, a bit of a frantic blur for me. From the moment Alan picked me up to the final unloading of the equipment back at home, everything was just ‘go’. The two setups were, intentionally quite different. Classical head and shoulders portrait and blown white full length.
For the portrait setup a Hensel ExpertD 500 was fitted with a white Hensel beauty dish ( ACW ). This was on a Manfrotto boom stand to enable it to be directly above the sitter. The background was a Lastolite ‘Smoke’ collapsible with two black backgrounds for flagging off reflected light. This background was lit with another Hensel ExpertD head, this time fitted with a background reflector. To lift the shadows under the chin a Lastolite triflector was used. I’d prefer to use a single reflector or another flash head but the triflector was the simplest ‘quick’ option. The problem with the triflector is that sometimes you can see a reflection of the three panels.

By David Hulme

How sharp is too sharp ?

100% crop into the previous photo. No special sharpening. You can also see the reflection of the three panels of the Triflector.


The second setup used was for a blown white background. This is NOT ‘high-key’. For this some older Hensel Expert Pro 500 flash heads were used. The key light was a Westcott 7’ silver umbrella with a diffusion sock. This gives a large and relatively even light source. This is not as forgiving as a soft box but quicker and a lot cheaper than a 7’ Octabox. The background was a Lastolite HiLight with 2 flash heads used to get the blown white background. With this setup you need to not get too close to the background or wrap-around light will lead to lost detail.

Both setups were set to ISO 100, F8. For those with cameras that have a base ISO of 200 they needed to use an aperture of F11. Shutter speed was determined by the trigger being used and the camera’s flash sync speed. This exposure was determined by metering the setups. Get it ‘right’ and you can do white clothing against a white background.
The models, Bella and Chris, definitely met my expectation in terms of the clothing sets, looks and posing. They were also very calm and patient, just right for the type of evening that it was. Both from the positive comments that people made about them and the way those who wanted to engage did so I know that they did a good job for something that is not easy to do.
Another thing that will not necessarily be easy is the judging of the next few competitions. I anticipate that there will be quite a few entries from the evening. Some images that I’ve seen have been very different creations compared to those that the rest of us will have. I don’t think you need to guess whose those are…………..

By Wendy Irwin

Bring on next year’s one, or maybe people would like two such sessions.

Open PDI competition – February 2018

Our judge for the evening was Graham Walton DPAGB.


1st Stonechat Alastair Gorton
2nd Coniston Pier Ian Smith
3rd Three Shires Head Alastair Gorton
Highly commended Crested Grebe David Hulme
Highly commended Packhorse bridge at Three Shires Head Alastair Gorton
Highly commended Mercaderes meeting Ian Smith
Commended Old Havana rooftops Ian Smith
Commended Hovering Gannett Alastair Gorton


1st  Blea Tarn outfall David Slade
2nd Alone with a friend Jim Stupples
3rd Cottons Wendy Irwin
Highly commended Morning mist at Llyn Crafnant Paul Way
Highly commended Tree past its prime David Slade
Commended Angela Lewis through the water splash Paul Way
Commended Davide Givgliano Tyco BMW Paul Way









Member user details and galleries

If you received an email earlier this week you would know that the hosting for this website has been changed due to 1 & 1 wanting to hike up the price to £71 pa. I have uploaded most of the website and most of it is now as it was. This is my third evening on the matter.


Member galleries

I had started to update some galleries to a ‘masonary’ style – images fitting together like a mosaic. These gallery styles have, at the moment been lost. I still have the images and these galleries will be restored.

Member logins

Unfortunately these have not transferred. I will endeavour to set people up again from the details I have in the emails I get when someone registers. This will not include the password that you used. I will have to give you a new password that you can then change at your leisure.


I will probably not be doing any of this until net week, I need some sleep and to get images from Sunday & Monday night processed before the next batches from this weekend.

AV competition – 29/01/18

For a few years the number of entries for this competition had been disappointing. This year the number of entries were up, 12 in total, although there were only 5 entrants. The scope of the entry ranged from slideshows of photographs to music through to full audio-visual presentations with narration and a story.

Some of the entries were about a ‘day out’, some about inspirations and some reminiscing. There was even a sing-a-long entry !. I didn’t know if ‘audience participation’ was within the remit of an AV. However, it did work and it also provided some simple fun. Given how seriously competitions seem to be being taken at the moment I wanted to get in some light-hearted fun. It wasn’t placed but I enjoyed eating the meatballs, excepting the one that rolled down the garden ………….!

We also had possibly the shortest entry with ‘Work in progress’. Sometimes the impact of what you are trying to say is greater if the message is succinct and to the point.

Feedback given by our AV Guru, Jeff, was welcomed, encouraging and on-point.

The judging was voting by the members using a voting slip. The result was delayed due to the need for a re-count.

After the break Jeff shared some other AVs with us from other competitions.


Place Title Photographer
1st What’s it all about?  Jeff Mansell
2nd Hidden treasure  Christine Lovatt
3rd Trains: sights and sound  Ian Smith