I’d hate to be a judge. Partly because I wouldn’t feel confident or competent at judging other peoples’ photos, but mainly because I couldn’t stand the silence of it. It’s not considered PC to interrupt a judge. After all, the reason we invite external judges is to get an impartial assessment and it would not be right to say anything that might bias their opinion (although I own to unbuttoning my little rosebud when I’ve thought a comment was completely off track).

But giving a talk to club members is different. If nobody in the audience says anything, either you have failed to engage their interest, or you have covered the topic so comprehensively that no one can think of anything to ask. Fortunately, that didn’t happen and there were so many questions and comments that it was a struggle for both of us to get what we had planned to say into the time available.

There is little point in revisiting here the two topics I talked about (Image File Types, and Actions in PhotoShop) because all you need to remind you is a copy of the PhotoCraft Photography Basics disc. This has been updated to Version 5 which now includes the slide-show for Image File Types, plus a detailed information sheet on how to use and write Actions. It also has copies of Actions files that you can import into PhotoShop or Elements and use to prepare your images for the club’s PDI competitions.

I don’t have Elements so was not able to test the Action files written for this software. If you use Elements, please could you try loading the Action files and let me know whether they work OK?

Dave S demonstrated how to add a vignette to a picture and recommended having it on a layer so that you can adjust its density using the Opacity slider. He also demonstrated how to use the Cloning tool to get rid of unwanted picture elements or to take emphasis off parts of an image by cloning from the vignette.


 Vignetted plus keyline

He also showed how adding a subtle vignette to a picture of Banstead Woods gave the picture depth and magically brought it alive. For larger unwanted patches, we saw how to make a feathered copy from one part of the image and drag it onto the offending area.

I find the Healing tool generally more useful than the Cloning tool but it depends on what you are trying to do. The Cloning tool simply copies pixels from the sampled area to the target area. The Healing tool does the same except it also samples from around the target area and matches the texture, lighting, transparency and shading of the sampled pixels to the pixels being healed. It only goes wrong if you try to heal something too close to a picture element that differs a lot from the patch you want to heal. Both tools take practice to use effectively.

Dave concluded by showing us one of his photographic collages. It must have had about 30 layers that transformed a shot of a horse and carriage taken on a wet day in Bruges to a picture of a tram moving through the night on a foggy day in London. The driver started life as a portly ‘re-enactment’ policeman who had to be slimmed down, his helmet replaced with a soldier’s hat and his buttons replaced from a military tunic. Even the tramlines were drawn in. The resulting picture was totally convincing. But is it photography? Or art? Search me!

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