Sharing the Light Opening

“Sharing the Light” will run at aratoi:Wairarapa Museum of Art and History, from last night through to September 18th.

The opening on Friday evening went very well and was again very well attended.

There was a very good reception for the club’s photographs, demonstrated by the fact that about a quarter of the images were bought on the night.  That is a really good result.

Fungi (Selected)

Fungi by Anne Nelson

Wheat Harvesting (Selected)

Wheat Harvesting by Bruce Kirk

Hohepa Mutu (Selected)

Hohepa Mutu by Greg Ball

Thrift Box (Selected)

Thrift Box by Lisa Nelson

The inspired layout of the photographs, by aratoi‘s Adrian Jackman, has set off the exhibition superbly.  A fine collaboration.

In addition, a slideshow of club competition entries since the last exhibition, plus submissions for the exhibition that were not selected for printing is running on a big monitor in the gallery.

There is great viewing all round. Continue to encourage friends, family, and other acquantainces to visit the show.


— Tim McMahon



Portfolio ‘Competition’

At the November meeting the Portfolios are due to be presented.

Recently your committee agreed on the following Portfolio Instructions

What is a Portfolio?

Your syllabus says…

“The portfolio is an opportunity to showcase your skills by using a selection of your images to tell us something around a single idea, unifying theme or style.”

  • Portfolios will be made of printed images only.
  • The minimum number of images in your portfolio will be 6 and the maximum number of images is 8.
  • Only one entry per member is allowed.
  • Images must be mounted on the backing board which will be provided to members at no cost to them.
  • Images will be directly mounted to the surface.
  • The Backing Board is sized 1189cm X 841cm.
  • Images can be of any size as long as they all fit when mounted on one side of the single piece of backing board provided.
  • When mounting the images members should consider that the order and placement of their images affects how well a viewer or judge may interpret the idea or theme.

Note: For those members who would like to give the idea a try, but do not have access to quality printers, or who are not sure how to prepare an image for printing; please ask a committee member for assistance. We intend to run a ‘printing’ workshop in mid-year.

— Peter McNeur, President

Onwards and Upwards

2017 has started with a bang (and a lot of rain)

Club membership is now up to 60.  This is the highest number the club has ever had at any one time.

Maggie Mabon psyche

psyche by Maggie Mabon—Projim from Shades of Grey

The regular meeting and ‘competition’ cycle has been going for three months.  Entries for the competitions can be seen on the Gallery pages.

We have been very fortunate to again have had very fine judges/commentators for our competitions.

The reason we go to trouble to get good commentators for our competitions is that their comments and critique help us all to think about what makes and what mars a good photograph.  Sandra McNabb (Fascinating Reflections), Michele Usher (Shades of Grey), and Nick Servian (Architecture) have all been superb.

There have been two themes coming through all judges’ comments:

  • there have been some stunning entries;  without doubt the standard of photography in our club continues to rise;
  • the route to further improvement is around composition:  careful thought about what your image is about, and therefore how to emphasise that meaning, and eliminate or avoid competing elements.


Mark Beatty - Inception—Projim

Mark Beatty: Inception—Projim from Buildings and Architecture

We have been running workshops for newer members covering both technical issues about camera use and making good images.  We’ll continue those workshops and rerun them whenever there is demand.

A couple of judges have encouraged members to print their work.  “A photograph is not a photograph unless it’s printed.”

We intend to hold a workshop or workshops on how to take the next step and make satisfying prints — especially in view of the facts that our end-of-year portfolio competition, and our 2018 Exhibition are to be print only.


*The title image is ‘Tentacles’ by Rebecca Kempton from our Fascinating Reflections competition.

First Competition of the New Year

Our first club competition was on the theme of ‘Water’.

Once again the quality of the images entered demonstrate ust what a talented bunch of photographers we are.

The quality of the photographs entered made judging hard:  it always is, but this even more so.  Before the comments were made we revisited the judging criteria, so everyone present knew what the judges are asked to look for.  Judge for the night (yours truly), also explained that in terms of the ‘idea’:

  • I am looking for photographs that are not just ‘of’ water, or just have water in them, but …
    • photographs that draw attention to some characteristic or something else about water, or
    • photographs that express another idea altogether but which only work because of the way water is used in their composition. 

Both of the winning images expressed the latter idea beautifully.

The winning projected digital image “A Single Tear” entered by Michele Usher.  It is the featured image above.  The judge noted:

“Superb. Although the smallest element in the picture, the water drop is clearly the subject and what this image is about. Beautiful detail. Fantastic colour contrast of the secondary element (the scarlet petals) and the green negative space.”

The winning print also used water in a very clever way.

Jan Abernethy - 360 Sea of Tranquility copy copy

Jan Abernethy: Sea of Tranquility

The judge’s notes say:

Here, the water is equal element with the paddler. The use of sihouetting downplays the paddler to a contrasting shape. Beautifully simple composition all about the interplay between the hoizontal lines of the wavelets and the ski, and the up and down of the paddler and paddle. Beautifully sharp. Lovely print.

As you will see from the galleries page there were many other amazing photographs.

Anne Nelson In a forest — Projim

Anne Nelson: In a forest — Projim

John Rhodes: Dettifoss, Iceland — Projim

John Rhodes: Dettifoss, Iceland — Projim

This image by John Rhodes was perhaps the best photograph in telling a story ‘about’ water.  You can nearly feel the power of the fall — accentuated by the use of the fast shutter speed to capture the detail, and the sense of awe created by the way the onlookers are placed in the frame.




Rebecca Kempton Misty falls — Projim

Rebecca Kempton: Misty falls — Projim

A couple of photographers had used neutral density filters to increase exposure times slowing water movement.  This technique  can make stunning images like this one by Rebecca Kempton.  However, the judge felt, rightly or wrongly, that the whole purpose of the very long exposure technique is to disguise the ‘wateriness’ of the water and to render it into silken softness.  This works beautifully when the silken flow is contrasted with the hardness of its surroundings:  rocks or hard shadows, for example, but may not have been the best choice when the subject was ‘water’.  One or two of these shots could well have been winners in an ‘open’ competition.

In general, both the in-camera photography and the post-processing of the images were excellent.

One or two photos were softish suggesting focus issues.  If you’re shooting static objects, using a tripod and live view makes accurate focus child’s play.   Using a wide aperture, to cause shallow depth of field and consequent out of focus backgrounds, works really well to highlight eyes in portraiture.  However, the technique is less successful in landscape photography, and particularly where you want to highlight a whole body of water like a fountain.  You can get the front of the fountain in focus but the water at the back soft, or vice versa.  f/8 is a good choice for fountains!  This link, suggested by Bruce Kirk, demonstrates the idea quite well.

Two or three otherwise wonderful photographs were marred by distracting sensor-dust spots (so easily removed in Post-processing).  Hint: look carefully around the edges of the frame and into clear mono-tonal areas like skies.  Landscape textures in a couple of otherwise interesting images were somewhat spoiled by what seemed to have been over aggressive noise reduction and/or sharpening.  Hint:  when you’re applying sharpening or noise reduction, zoom in to view critical parts of your image at 100%.

All-in-all this was a great competition, and I thoroughly enjoyed reviewing the entries.

Pond Light

Greg Arnold: Pond Light — Print


— Tim McMahon





The results are in! Celebrating Fine Photography

Club Champions

Subsequent to the final competition, all competition winning entries were sent to an external judge whose task was to identify the best print and best projected image of the year.

The Mike Field Trophy for Print of the Year was awarded to Peter McNeur for his print Millau which won the ‘Structure’ competition.

Millau by Peter McNeur — Print WINNER

Millau by Peter McNeur — Print of the Year

The Marden Colour Cup for Projected Image of the Year goes to Michele Usher for her portrait Caught in the Light.

Caught the light by Michele Usher — Projim WINNER

Caught in the light by Michele Usher — Projected Image of the Year

The Wairarapa Camera Club Cup for Projected Image Champion of the Year, for the member who gained the greatest total points for the top 9 of their projected images entered in at least five competitions, goes to Jan Abernethy.

The Winery by Jan Abernethy — Projim WINNER

The Winery by Jan Abernethy — Projim WINNER – Structure Competition

The Wairarapa Camera Club Cup for Print Champion of the Year, for the member who gained the greatest total points for the top 9 of their prints entered in at least five competitions, goes to Rebecca Kempton.

River Skies by Rebecca Kempton — Print WINNER

River Skies by Rebecca Kempton — Print WINNER – Panorama Competition

Congratulations to our winners.  We have had many fantastic photographs entered this year.  The trophies for our champions will be presented at the club’s end of year lunch, Saturday 14 novemeber, at the Tin Hut.

Individual Trophies

At the end of the final competition of the year (Structure: November), our President Peter McNeur, presented trophies to the winners of specific competitions:

The Desgranges Memorial Trophy for best Portrait Print, went to Rebecca Kempton, for Harriet

Harriet by Rebecca Kempton — Print WINNER

Harriet by Rebecca Kempton — Print WINNER

The Kodak Trophy for best Portrait Projected Image, went to Michele Usher for Caught in the Light

Caught the light by Michele Usher — Projim WINNER

Caught in the light by Michele Usher — Projim WINNER

The National Wildlife Centre Trophy for Natural History Print, to Greg Arnold for Summer Harvest

Summer Harvest by Greg Arnold — Print WINNER

Summer Harvest by Greg Arnold — Print WINNER

The Nola Wright Trophy for Natural History Projected Image, to Jan Abernethy for Purple Beauty

Purple Beauty by Jan Abernethy — Projim WINNER

Purple Beauty by Jan Abernethy — Projim WINNER

Masters Trophy for Landscape Print, to Tim McMahon for West Wanaka Winter

West Wanaka Winter by Tim McMahon — Print WINNER

West Wanaka Winter by Tim McMahon — Print WINNER

Mabson Memorial Trophy for Landscape Projected Image, to Stewart Watson for Huge Waves Little People

Huge Waves little people by Stewart Watson — Projim WINNER

Huge Waves little people by Stewart Watson — Projim WINNER

2015 Committee Elections

Tuesday 4 August is our AGM.

Among other things at the AGM, we elect the club’s committee.

The committee consists of: President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Competition Secretary, and three other members, one of whom would normally be the Past President (ex officio).

The current President is standing dwn from the positon as required under our rules, and the current Secretary has indicated that he wishes to stand down.

To avoid the situation where people turn up at meetings and get ambushed into taking a role they don’t feel able to do, our rules require formal nominations, and an indication of willingness from  nominees, ahead of the AGM.

Nominations for for the committee are to be forwarded to the club secretary before July 14 2015.

Nomination forms will be available at the July meeting, or may be downloaded here.



February 2015 “Feather/s” Competition

Greg Arnold Feather Print WINNER

The judge for the Feather/s Competition was Geoff Walker.  Geoff talked briefly on his life as a photographer and his Adobe certification.  He also discussed the work of Julieanne Kost, who is a Principal Digital Imaging Evangelist for Adobe Systems from the USA.  She will be at the PSNZ National Convention this year in Tauranga from 29 April – 3 May. For the first competition of the year there were 16 prints and 30 projected images. The entries will be on our Gallery page shortly. Greg Arnold was the best print winner with his beautiful image of a wood shaving (pictured above).  Geoff discussed whether the image actually fitted into the category and his final opinion was, yes.  This image was the last print Geoff looked at and as soon as he saw it, he just knew it was the winner. In my opinion (Jan), Greg definitely thought out of the box on this one, very creative indeed and well done Greg, a really lovely image. Best projected image went to Anne Nelson for her “Repose” black and white image of a swan. This image also stood out to Geoff.  Well done Anne.


Geoff commented on a great turn out of members and the improved standards of the clubs photography since he last judged a competition.  His overall comment was that members had put a lot of thought into making the photos and he was impressed by the standard of the entries. Some constructive judging comments from Geoff were:

  • In both digital and prints, some images were too tightly cropped and there was not enough space around the image.
  • Some images looked over sharpened and pixelated.
  • Focus should be on the subject ie: feather rather than another part of the image.
  • Some of the “lighter feather” images that had dark backgrounds – the backgrounds were not dark enough to make the image pop, therefore this made the images a bit flat! He suggested underexposing so the background gets darker and the subject stands out more.
  • Geoff is a firm believer in giving your image a title; this is part of entering the competitions, in his opinion.
  • Some images could have done with some tidy ups of strands of feathers sticking out but as he said, he was being fussy! He demonstrated removing some strands so we could see the difference.

At the end of the night Geoff talked about his time in Uganda and the photographic projects he is involved in over there. It was great to have Geoff come, talk and judge our competition. I hope you all enjoyed him in sharing his photographic knowledge with us. Geoff said that if anyone at the club wants to ask Adobe questions feel free to contact him Fred Wotton is our Panorama speaker, the workshop will be at the clubrooms 3rd March 7.30pm. The Panorama competition will be on 11th April.   — Jan Abernethy

Club Oscars Awards, 2014

A month ago we held the annual club awards at the Masterton ‘Cossie Club’.

After a pleasant buffet-style ‘Christmas Dinner’, Kevin Morgan, the club’s 2014 competition secretary, announced the recipients of this year’s awards.  Here they are:

Years Results 2014Once again, as a club I feel we should congratulate ourselves.  There are some wonderful photographs among the winners, representative of an improving overall standard in the club.

Many of the trophies have been donated by past distinguished members of the club, as you can tell from their names.  No doubt, the donors hoped that the cups and trophies would provide an incentive for current members to continue to improve their their photography.   The continually rising standard of monthly entries suggests that we  are achieving this goal.  Excellent!

The awarding of the trophies not only rewards current good practitioners, but remembers photographers of the past.  Each trophy, as is the way with these things, records the names of all previous holders.  Many members have come and gone from the club during its existence.  The trophies ensure that not all of the names will be forgotten.  The trophies provide an insight into the history of the club, even if the names that appear are only those who were good enough, or lucky enough, to persuade a judge on a particular night, that their image was better than a number of other equally worthy images.

One of our projects for the new year will be to upload all of the past trophy and cup winners to a page on the web so that all members, rather than only the current holders, may be able to look at this piece of our history.

As in 2013, Kevin noted that there were a number of trophies not awarded because our programme had not included the appropriate categories:  for example there are trophies for sports action, portraits, and natural history that weren’t awarded this year.

The themes on the syllabus are, of course, dictated by members’ interests.  Not by the existence of the trophies.  Next year’s syllabus is even more removed from the trophy list which will be interesting.  Perhaps there is a case for re-purposing the trophies.  If you have any suggestions the committee would like to hear from you.  A ‘Reply’ to this post would do!



Random Thoughts before Xmas

Over the past year this news column has more than occasionally touched on the subjects of what makes a good photograph, and how we learn to become better photographers.

We can learn a lot by looking at,  thinking about, and trying to copy aspects of, the work of other really good photographers.  Those of us who are not ‘natural artists’ probably need help in how to look at others’ photographs in order to work out what they did and why.

A way to make progress is to receive, and think about, good criticism of our own photographs from someone who knows photography.  Our camera club competitions are supposed to offer that opportunity.  In this vein, I found this  recent blog post by Wellington photographer Peti Morgan very interesting.  It’s very well worth a read.

As 25th December gets nearer, lots of photographers I know start dropping hints about bits of gear or kit that would really make them better photographers, not to mention much nicer people!

My lovely wife bought us for Xmas, a fantastic photography book.*  It is called Spirit of the South and features the landscape photographs made in the South Island by Andris Apse.  The beautifully laid out book is divided into a few sections, each introduced by some text written by an invited guest — one of whom is former All Black, Anton Oliver.

Andris Apse is one of New Zealand’s best landscape photographers (if not THE best)  and the photographs are simply stunning.  As a wanna-be landscaper I alternate between being inspired by these magnificent photographs, and being depressed because I know there’s not a single image in my collection that comes anywhere near these.  On the optimistic side, I’ve already gleaned a few things that Apse does that we could all copy:  low angled light, and perseverance!  Here are a couple of gems from his introduction:

Sometimes I have been lucky and stumbled on to a good photograph, but looking back on them now I find them to be superficial.  It is like a fleeting glimpse of a handsome face that might be good-looking but there is no feeling past that superficial first impression, whereas if you get to know someone, study their moods, look at their features in different lighting and plan a portrait, the result is much more satisfying.

… At times I walk (in Fiordland National Park) for a week and do not even get the camera out, but when I discover what I think is the perfect viewpoint, it is then a matter of waiting for my previsualised weather conditions.  Sometimes I visit that spot ten times in anticipation, only to be disappointed.  On the rare occasion when all the elements fall into place, there is nothing more exhilarating.

If you like landscape photography, leave a hint about this book.  It is a great Xmas present!

By the way, who wants to come with me to Kupe’s Sail down near Ngawi?  There’s a fantastic photograph waiting to be made when the sea is running nicely and the evening sun is just at the right angle.  We’ll probably have to go back and back again and again and again, until we strike it just right!

For those of us hoping that that piece of gear under the Xmas tree will make all the difference, Andris Apse has this to say:

I believe that a good photographer will produce quality images regardless of the camera system.  It has been proved time and time again that it is the creative eye that produces outstanding results, not the camera.

In the words of the famous Armenian-Canadian portrait photographer Yousuf Karsh: ‘Look and think before opening the shutter.  The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera.’

I hope everyone is planning a good break and will have a great Xmas.  There are lots of photos to be made.  Don’t forget ‘Feathers’ for the first meeting of 2015.



* Xmas came early here, along with a brand new grandson in London.  How about that?