Peter Flower

This being Focal Points Newsletter No. 100 I have taken the opportunity at this significant milestone point to look back at my history of reporting society events. Some of the highlights are detailed in a special report that appears later in this Newsletter. On a general note I should say that my involvement in editing and reporting goes back way beyond the introduction of our web-based Newsletter. As a very long-term member I recall the days when newsletters were prepared on typewriters (those things we used before word processors!) and were produced using offset litho printing or photocopying.

Unfortunately my records are limited to relatively recent years of the web-based news, plus just a few copies of the printed newsletters from about 1998/9. However, these are sufficient to remind me of the progress that the society has made and the significance of the transition from film-based to digital photography.

Viewing the current status, I am encouraged by the appearance of new faces at our regular Monday events as well as the general level of attendance. Credit for this is due to the efforts of the new committee and a number of initiatives that have attracted new members. Although I am not a member of the committee I have been one in the past, so I am aware of the work involved and debt that we owe them for the successful organisation and running of events. It was not my intention in compiling these notes to comment on individuals, but recent incidents have highlighted the way in which problems were successfully resolved. With two successive week's events (6th and 13th November) Paul Renaut was faced with cancellation of speaker/judge at short notice. In both instances he was able to arrange alternatives. Fortuitously, we benefited in both cases. Heather Angel gave us a splendid illustrated talk resulting from her numerous visits to China and the judge, Roger Mendham, made excellent appraisals of the images entered into the second PDI competition.

Match-a-PDI Competition with Dorking – 23 October 2017

Report by Peter Flower

This competition with Dorking has become a regular fixture on our programme, with the event venue alternating between us. The selection of 50 images to take to Dorking for this event involved Irek Burakowski, Pete Welch, Phil Johns, Mark Thomas, Jill and myself. We had to whittle our selection down from well over a hundred that had been submitted by members for consideration. Having made our choice the images were numbered and prepared on the laptop ready for the event. However, just days beforehand we were advised by Dorking that 60 images were required. Fortunately we had held our 'Should I, Shouldn't I ?' event in the meantime in which a number of excellent images appeared. It was decided to add the ten images from ones shown on that evening.

On the evening Pete and Phil took care of the choice of selections and responding matches images to display, whilst Irek operated the projection process. The three were all new to the event which involves careful strategy for success, but rose to the challenge on the evening and operated very professionally.

The Dorking team were not quite as well organised early on and there was a significant hiatus, considerably more than the allowed 30 seconds, to get their first image projected. However, this original hiccup was overcome and the competition then ran smoothly with both teams battling for matches and best images. Paul Graber LRPS, judge, responded with apt humour to the audience’s good-natured banter and challenge over the claimed matches and his choices of the better of the matched images. The event was very well attended by Reigate members, which gave us a combined loud voice when it came to protests to the judge! As usual, Dorking laid on a splendid range of sandwiches and cakes plus tea and coffee during the mid-evening break. The competition was closely fought but we came out with a win of just two points.

Some of our images which won points, either by being best or unmatched, are shown below -

Annual Exhibition – Community Centre, Reigate – 28 October 2017

Report from Colin Hodsdon

Photos by Peter Flower

Here are just a few details about Saturday’s Exhibition for the newsletter. There was an increase this year in visitors to the exhibition of about 25% compared to last year. It’s difficult to be accurate, but using the completed favourite print voting slips, there were 95 in total. In addition, there were several visitors who didn’t take part in the vote.

The public vote for the favourite print was won by Dave Lyon (13 votes) with his image called ‘Standing Firm’. In second place with 12 votes was ‘One among a crowd’ by Paul Renaut. Tony Peacock came third with 10 votes, ‘Red Squirrel Feeding’.

John Fisher’s Portrait Studio attracted two customers for one single and one group portrait. Also, several prints and sets of cards were sold during the day.

Colin added the following message -

I just wanted to send a quick message to express my thanks to everyone who helped with the Annual Exhibition on Friday and Saturday. In particular, many thanks to those members of the ‘hanging’ committee, Carol and Steve, who sorted all the prints into matching pairs; to Peter, Jill, Louise and Paul for storing and delivering all our display boards; for all the efforts of the helpers who gave up their time on Friday to set up the exhibition, and all the stewards who did a great job meeting and greeting our visitors on Saturday. Whilst we weren’t inundated with customers wanting their portraits taken, thanks to John, Paul and Stephen for putting together a very professional-looking studio ready and prepared for all customers. Special thanks to Mark for the loan of his TV and for setting-up the PDI display, and to Peter Tucker for his unstinting work in putting together and distributing all the publicity across the various media outlets, as well as delivering the posters and leaflets to many of the local businesses and to shoppers up and down Reigate High Street.

Panel Competition – 30 October 2017 – Judging by the audience

Report by Peter Flower

The challenge was to present three images on a single theme, either as PDIs or a set of prints. The PDIs were projected in a sequence, firstly the three individual images and then as the complete panel. These were viewed by the audience in the first half of the evening. The prints were placed on the large display panel so that they could be viewed during the mid-evening break. Voting then took place. The winners in each category were -


1. Rust by Stephen Hewes

2. Custom Car by Stephen Hewes

3. Courage by Nick Rogers


1. Abstract (Staircase) by Jill Flower

2. War by Stephen Hewes

3. Cyclists by John Fisher

The winning panels are shown below.

© Stephen Hewes - Rust

© Jill Flower - Abstract

Sony a7R III


On 25 October 2017 Sony announced this latest addition to its alpha full-frame range of cameras. This follows on fairly shortly after the introduction of the a9 in April 2017. The new model has many improved features over the a7R II, which was introduced in June 2015, together with some that came with the a9. As an example, there is Eye autofocus that is twice as fast as before, similar to the speed of the a9, five-axis in-body stabilization with 5.5 stop range, 15 stop dynamic range, 10 frames per second, electronic and focal plane shutter, 399 phase detect /425 contrast AF points – utilising almost the whole frame size, rear screen touch autofocus and many other advanced features.

As mentioned in my previous report (Newsletter 99) the camera can use pixel shift technology to render extremely high definition (still) images, at 169.6 megapixels. I should state that this process is not exclusive to Sony. The Olympus E-M5 II is a an example of a model using similar technology that enables photographers interested in shooting high resolution imagery for landscapes, architecture or studio product photography to achieve this aim. However, starting with a 20 megapixel sensor, this camera yields a 40 megapixel JPEG image. Bearing in mind the vast difference in size between the micro 4/3 sensor of the Olympus and the full-frame one of the Sony it will be realised which can potentially provide the superior image. Elsewhere in this Newsletter I report on the newly introduced Panasonic G9 camera. In many respects this is very similar to the Olympus, utilising a 20 megapixel micro 4/3 sensor. However, in this case it is able to provide an 80 megapixel image, twice that of the Olympus.

From the specification it will be seen that Sony is adopting a very aggressive marketing stance against its immediate rivals with full-frame cameras. In the year to date five new full-frame cameras have been released, with just single models from Leica (M10), Canon (EOS 6D III) and Nikon (D850). In the same time Sony released the a9 and a7R III.

Note: Since writing the above report two additional items of interest about this camera have been released. On 17 November Sony issued the following notice (translated from the original Japanese, and edited by me). 'Thank you very much for your patronage of Sony products. 'The digital single lens reflex camera "α 7 R III" has received orders exceeding our expectations greatly. Reservations up to the release date will be delivered in order by early December. We will do our utmost to respond to customer's requests as much as possible, so please wait for a while.'

Time magazine has just named it one of its Top 10 Gadgets of 2017, and crowned it "one of the best mirrorless cameras ever made."

Nikon – continued problems


In Newsletter 91 I reported an announcement by Nikon in February 2017 officially cancelling the potential introduction of the new DL series cameras. There was also bad news on the company's financial results, and reported intention to cut 1000 jobs, or 10% of its domestic workforce, over the next two to three years. Its camera sales had dropped 30% in the last three years. There now follows even more bad news.

On 30 October 2017 the Nikon board of directors announced plans to close Nikon Imaging (China) Co., LTD (NIC) - a subsidiary based in Wuxi City, Jiangsu, China, where NIC employed some 2,500 workers at a factory that produced compact digital cameras and DSLR lenses. The closure, says Nikon, is due to "the rise of smartphones" and the "rapidly shrinking" compact camera market. This does not mark the end of Nikon cameras in China. According to Nikkei, Nikon controls 30% of the digital camera market there, and Nikon itself says it will "continue pro-actively developing business and services in China." This move is simply in keeping with a harsh reality that the smartphone has killed the entry-level compact camera market.

The bad news did not end there. On 6 November 2017 Nikon announced that it had decided to end the sale of cameras, lenses and photographic accessories in the Brazilian market, currently marketed exclusively through its e-commerce arm, the Nikon Store. This would be effective from December 31st, 2017. The company's other business segments, including customer service and technical assistance, would continue to operate normally.

Leica camera introductions

Peter Flower

Leica products are renowned for their quality and understandably have enjoyed a loyal following by serious photographers ever since the introduction of the Leica I at the 1925 Leipzig Spring Fair. During most of this time the company concentrated on the production of solid, but compact, 35mm cameras and quality optics. However, in relatively recent times it seems to be introducing products which do not stick to their core values. There have been numerous examples of this. In June 2003 Leica announced the development of a clip-on digital back that would turn the R9 (or its predecessor, the R8) from a film into a digital camera. After a two-year waiting period, the Digita-Modul-R (Leica order number 14439) finally became available in June 2005. Unfortunately this concept, which looked attractive on paper, failed to live up to expectations and was fairly quickly dropped.

So-called 'Specials' have also been a feature of Leica's attempts to boost sales. A particularly weird example was the Leica X ' Edition Moncler' that we reported on in Newsletter 64. It had leather trim in blue, white and red, reminiscent of the French flag, but was developed in collaboration with Italian fashion label Moncler.

Leica has relied upon a partnership with Panasonic to badge-engineer (sometimes with slight modifications) a range of compact cameras. This has been to the advantage of both companies in that Panasonic cameras often feature lenses with the Leica brand name. However, a more recent example of a similar practice involved the adaptation of the Fujifilm instax Mini 90 camera to produce the Leica SOFORT.

The diversion from core values continues, as evidenced by the following reports.

Leica SOFORT LimoLand


This was announced as the first special edition of their versatile instant camera, the Leica SOFORT. The camera’s front and rear panels are embellished (?) with the vibrant graphics of "Mr Limo" – the logo of the LimoLand fashion label established by French-Italian photographer, entrepreneur and art collector Jean Pigozzi in 2007. The price is £330. This makes interesting reading. The Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 is available at £119. The Leica SOFORT is £230 (was £250) at Park Cameras, so the benefit of owning the special edition costs just an extra £211 over that of the Fuji. Some mark-up!

Leica Thambar-M f/2.2 lens


On 17 October 2017 Leica announced that it would produce a replica of the Thambar-M 1:2.2/90, a portrait lens from 1935, that was famous for exceptional spherical aberration which created extremely soft images. The Thambar-M would be an accurate reproduction of the original lens, only this time around in the M mount instead of the L screw mount.

The lens features a 20-bladed iris that produces round, out-of-focus highlights, and only four elements arranged in three groups. Its softness comes about through uncorrected spherical aberrations that are more obvious when the lens is used wide open, and which can be emphasized via the use of an included centre spot filter that prevents axial light passing through the construction. With the light from the centre of the lens blocked, the majority of image recording light comes from the edges where the aberration is at its strongest. The lens will be available mid-November at Park Cameras for £5095.

Note: 'Thambar' originates from the Greek word for "blurred" or "out-of-focus".

Examples of the variety of effects that can be achieved with this lens are available on the site of Thorsten Overgaard. It will be necessary to scroll down quite a distance on this site because it contains examples of photographs taken with a range of Leica lenses.


The following image is just one of many that Overgaard shows.

The text with the picture 'My daughter Robin Isabella von Overgaard. Leica M 240 with Leica 90mm Thambar f/2.2 at f/3.2 with the soft centre spot filter. "That is beautiful," was her reply.'

Acknowledgement to Thorsten Overgaard

Leica Q Silver


In addition to the black and titanium grey editions this camera is now available in silver. Its technical specifications are identical to those of its black and titanium grey counterparts. The top plate and the baseplate are silver anodised and the rear shell has the refined look of classic black paint. The characteristic high-grip pattern of the black leather trim has been maintained. The control elements on the top plate are finished in silver. The engraved model name is filled in black. The focal length figure on the lens and parts of the distance scale are in red.

The price for the Silver edition at £3770 is at a premium compared to the Black edition at £3549

Panasonic G9 camera


On 8 November 2017 Panasonic announced the latest addition to its G range cameras. This is a completely new design that is aimed to appeal to professional photographers, providing many of the advanced features required, but at the same time in a much lighter body than that of competing DSLR cameras. A noticeable feature, which will be obvious from the images above, is the inclusion of a large top-panel Status LCD monitor. The G9 boasts outstanding mobility with ultra-high-speed response. It adopts many of the features from the GH5 and GX8, such as 20 megapixel sensor, in-body stabilisation (but with record claimed 6.5 stops of compensation with or without Dual I.S.2.0 compatible Lumix lenses), fully articulating screen and high viewfinder resolution at 3.68 MP. The high-speed, high-precision autofocus with DFD technology can achieve focus in 0.04 sec. There are no less than 225 focus points. Burst shooting can obtain speeds of 20 fps (AFC mode) or up to 60 fps (AFS mode). No blackouts occur even in high-speed burst shooting. The camera has a double SD Memory Card slot, compatible with the high-speed, high-capacity UHS-II. Another feature, as mentioned in my previous comments about the Sony a7R III and Olympus E-M5 II, is provision of a High Resolution mode that provides 80-megapixel equivalent images in JPEG /RAW formats produced in-camera. The Panasonic system actually takes 8 pictures, shifting the sensor with half-pixel movement. The total time taken will depend upon the shutter speed chosen. The electronic shutter is used, with a range from 1 second per frame up to the maximum 1/32,000th shutter speed. It is reported that the in-camera processing, from 8 images to 1, takes about 2 seconds (RAW and JPEG).

This new model is priced at £1499 (body only) at Park Cameras with first deliveries anticipated in January 2018.

Leica DG Elmarit 200mm f/2.8 OIS lens (with 1.4x teleconverter)

At the same time Panasonic announced this new compact high-speed telephoto lens. With its equivalent focal length of 400mm (extended to 560mm with the included teleconverter) this is aimed at professional and serious photographers to give hand-held capability to capture birds and other animals, plus fast-moving sports action. There will also be available, at extra cost, a 2x converter that will provide the equivalent of 800mm at f/5.6.

The lens and included 1.4x teleconverter are priced at £2699.

Exploring Natural China – 6 November 2017 – Heather Angel

Report by Peter Flower

Heather Angel is a multi award winning wildlife photographer who communicates her enthusiasm for photographing the natural world via her books, exhibitions and workshops. We were very fortunate that she was able to visit us on this date, at fairly short notice, due to the intended speaker not be able to attend. In the event her attendance provided us with excellent entertainment, talking about China and presenting a wealth of superb photographs from the more remote parts of that country.

Heather's interests are in all subjects to do with nature, whether it be the scenery and landscape, the animals, birds and insects that inhabit it, or the flora and fauna. As a result we were provided with a wide variety of photographic subjects together with a commentary about her experiences of travel in many different regions of the country. She explained that her first trip to China had been in 1984. Since that time there had been no less than 31 trips to the country, with 6 of these occurring within one year.

Although it is a large country, for those who have not visited China it is difficult to imagine the variety of scenery and the resulting diversity of wild life. For many of us the first thought would be of the panda bear. Heather showed these charming images, including one enjoying a slide down a snow-covered slope and another playing 'king of the castle' in a tree fork.

© Heather Angel

The following grouping of tiger images shows them in very contrasting moods.

© Heather Angel

In addition to the wild life Heather was enchanted by the scenery. The following images show the very distinctive domed landscape that surrounds some of the waterways. Also shown is one of the traditional fishermen, working from a raft.

© Heather Angel

Heather explained that her visits had included some where she had been with a group of other travellers, as well as ones where she had moved around with just a driver and interpreter/guide. Her comments about the lack of awareness by drivers of the photographer's priorities will ring a bell with many of us. Especially due to the language difficulties it was not always easy to explain that a particular roadside view was of interest and required a halt for photographs to be taken. However, she had learnt that the command 'STOP' seemed to be effective, whatever the country!

It is not possible within this brief report to cover all the aspects of Heather's talk, but the following collages give some flavour of the images that attracted her attention.

© Heather Angel

The animal in the centre is a Golden snub nosed monkey

© Heather Angel

Summing up, Heather presented us with photographs representing a wide range of subjects, accompanied by a commentary of fascinating facts about the wilder parts of China. She provided an excellent evening's entertainment.

More images by Heather and information about her tuition can be found at the following web sites -



Veteran Car Run – 5 November 2017

Peter Flower

The prospect of about 400 pre-1905 cars passing through Reigate for the first time in 63 years gave added impetus for members to get up early to witness this event. The change to the traditional route was due to water mains works in Brixton. Ironically, due to similar work starting in the London Road just south of the station, the route was further modified at the last moment. It had been intended that the cars would come down Reigate Hill, over the railway crossing and past the Town Hall in Castlefield Road. Instead, a diversion was arranged via Raglan Road, out to Wray Common, and then south down Croydon Road to join the A25 main road to Redhill.

Jill and I initially went to the top of Reigate Hill, to the Junction 8 cafe where we enjoyed the brightly lit autumnal views, and cups of coffee. We had in mind walking down to the road level and taking some iconic shots of the veteran cars coming underneath the pedestrian bridge. Stephen Hewes had the same idea, but when he came up from this viewpoint and joined us on the bridge it was obvious that this concept was doomed to failure. Due to the low sun at this time of day the road cutting underneath the bridge was in deep shadow and conditions far too contrasty. As a result we decided to park up at Stephen's house, walk across the common, and into Raglan Road. There we met up with several other members, including Don and Jo Morley. We were aware that other members were viewing from other points on the route.

A small selection of photos from members who were present -

Photographs – Stephen Hewes (1) Tony Peacock (2-6) Jill Flower (7-9)

Photographs – Ian Hunt (1-5) Pete Welch (6-7) Peter Flower (8-9)

Looking Back

Peter Flower

On the occasion of Newsletter No. 100 I wanted to look back on the history of reports on the society's events. My involvement goes much further back than that associated with the internet. At the end of the last century (!) the society had a printed newsletter, called 'Vision', for which I produced the title heading.

At this time the reports were typed on a conventional typewriter, and in order to get larger text it was necessary to use Letraset. This was used as the basis for the heading. Because a number of us, including Phil Duplock, David Thorpe and myself, worked at the London Country Bus offices we were able to take advantage of its offset litho printing facilities to produce the magazine. In addition to the limitations of typing it was difficult to include genuine photographs, so the heading page often included my hand-drawn images like this example of the new Nikon SVC QV digital camera for the March 1991 edition.

In addition to general reports on the society activities there were a number of special feature items.

These included From the Top (Chairman's comments), Diary (event details), Techniques, Editorial and Review (for reports on events). Perhaps one of the most memorable was the item 'Frame 36' (remember this was in the days of film!) which was the forerunner of today's 'And finally . . '

I still have a few editions of 'Vision' from 1998/9 which, being in the time of film, contain articles which present a very different picture of photography to that which we now enjoy in the digital age.

I came across a lone copy of a Newsletter from January 2002. It was obvious that the newsletter had gone into decline at this stage. It comprised just a single double-sided A4 photocopied sheet containing programme highlights for the next two months and a humorous photograph (for readers but not the airline!) of a Saudi Arabian jumbo jet which had run off the end of the runway whilst taxiing. There was another touch of humour in a notice at the bottom of Page 1. 'Disclaimer – Any deliberate mistakes with this newsletter are the responsibility of the Editor, all other mistakes are the responsibility of someone else'.

Reverting to the present day, I should say that the number 100 for the current 'Focal Points Newsletter' is not strictly true. In my file system the term 'Newsletter' starts at No. 61. This followed on from files called 'Random Report' (from 11 March 2010 onwards) numbered 1 to 60 which were also published as newsletters. However, there were even older files, labelled 'Newsprep', that were complete newsletters. The earliest that I still have is dated 21 May 2008, so the Newsletter has a longer history than is indicated by the number.

Interestingly, an early report of a Practical Evening on 31 March 2008 read as follows - 'This was a very successful evening, with three members providing practical 'mini-workshops'. The event started with the first outing of our newly-acquired digital projector, obtained with lottery funding. The demonstration by Dave Lyons was also an opportunity for him to show image manipulation using some of the Photoshop facilities. This gave rise to a great deal of interest with members, who asked a great number of questions, and were seen making copious notes !'

However, as reported in Newsletter 84, this was not the first time that digital images were shown at one of our evening events. Using a projector which was borrowed for the evening from Legal & General, where Jill was working at that time, I ran a quiz in which members were asked to identify the authors of various iconic photographs from the past. The date is not certain, but I photographed the images on 15 May 2003. In the same Newsletter I reported on one of the last major events to feature film photography. This was the Chatham Challenge of 14 July 2007, organised by Don Morley.

With the introduction of publication on the web site the Newsletter has gone from strength to strength. As I reported in the July Newsletter the comprehensive nature and extent of reporting in this Newsletter far exceeds that of most other camera clubs or societies. Almost every talk and event is reported upon. In addition there are regular updates on new equipment as it is released and comments on general trends in the photographic world. In this respect the contributions by Techman on technical matters from June 2012 onwards have been invaluable. The mix of subject matter appears to be a popular one. In July I reported that the number of hits on the Newsletter from issue No. 60 of 7 May 2014 up to that time totalled over 35,000. The latest count at 23 November shows a total of well over 41,000. I don't know where all this readership comes from, but I can claim that it is world-wide. I have at least one loyal reader, an ex-member, in Sydney, Australia!

In addition to the reports on events and photographic subjects generally, it has always been the aim to make the Newsletter comment entertaining. In this respect I will just mention two of the fictitious items that appeared. These were April Fool items. Readers can refer back to Newsletter 69 when someone called David Benson wrote on the subject of an exciting new camera to be called the Avril Uno. Further back in time, in Newsletter 36, there was another spoof camera announcement. Because this Newsletter is no longer accessible I have include the full text below. It should be stressed that the opening information, strange as it may seem, was actually fact-based. This can be verified by Googling 'Astalift' which is currently for sale!

'What Next? (Exclusive)

Report by Peter Flower

Regular readers of these columns will recall an earlier report related to the financial troubles of Olympus. These originated from some very dubious financial practices that were brought to public attention by former CEO Michael Woodford. One of the more astounding matters involved was revealed in a quote from Woodford “There were $800 million in payments to buy companies making face cream and Tupperware. What the hell were we doing paying $800 million for these companies?”

Maybe that wasn't so mad! It is now revealed that Fujifilm has launched a range of anti-ageing skin care products. These are based on the technology designed to make film last longer. The range of products, under the 'Astalift' brand name, is already available in Japan and China and will go on sale in Europe from February. The products are said to take advantage of comprehensive research over many years into development of photosensitised materials, including findings related to collagen, anti-oxidisation technology and nanotechnology.

This expansion of company activities into seemingly unrelated fields is gaining momentum. In this exclusive report I can reveal that a company renowned for its skin-care products is shortly to enter the camera market. Max Factor, renowned for its cosmetic products, is the company involved. It will be producing a camera that has a unique facility, not previously featured on models from the established camera makers. This has a mode that automatically (in-camera) removes wrinkles and skin blemishes from the recorded image. It is reckoned that this will make it widely popular, especially with female photographers. However, gentlemen will be pleased to know that this mode can be switched off so that they will retain their rugged, manly features.

A representative of the company explained the difficulty of deciding a name for the camera. It was intended to follow the current trend of prefixing the product name with an 'i' which would have resulted in the camera being named 'i-Max' (with 'i' standing for imaging) before it was realised that the similar brand name IMAX belonged to the large-screen cinema chain. Other names rejected were iMF (i Max Factor) that could have been confused with IMF (International Monetary Fund) and MAXi that might remind people of an unfortunate model from the defunct British Leyland motor company. In the end 'Factor 1' was chosen as the model name and the new product is due to go on sale on 1 April 2012.

Mention of fun items brings me back to Frame 36 plus And finally . . .. Perhaps one of my favourite items in Frame 36 was a comment about a particularly polluted lake in Russia (sadly I have forgotten the name). It was said that if you accidentally dropped your camera in the lake, when you retrieved it the film would already be developed! My favourite 'And finally' has to be the image which came from Markku Pajunen, a photographer living in Espoo, Finland, which appeared at the end of Newsletter 74. I contacted Markku by email to obtain his permission to publish this in our Newsletter and am glad to say that he agreed.

Waste Disposal © Copyright Markku Pajunen

Using Lightroom - 20 November 2017 - John Retter

Report by Peter Flower

John Fisher introduced this evening's speaker who was both a friend and fellow Member of the Royal Automobile Club. John Retter explained that the object of the talk was to show his own method of using the Lightroom facilities to catalogue and edit his images, but also perhaps to give some guidance on the way in which its features might be used by members of the audience.

As indicated on his web site, he is attracted to motor racing by its sense of speed, action and excitement. He sets out to produce exceptional pictures which capture the essence of motor sport within a still photograph. His efforts are concentrated primarily upon photographing historic sports and GT cars, although he does cover a growing range of motor sports activities. Just a couple of typical images are shown below.

© John Retter - Goodwood 75th Members Meeting & Silverstone International May 2017

John began the talk by showing how he used the Library features. He explained that he took literally hundreds of photographs at each event and so it was important to be able to file and index them in such a way that they could be easily accessed. Because he marketed his pictures to magazines, PR agencies and individual car owners he attempted to photograph every car involved and to make certain that images were identified to a specific event. In this way he could respond rapidly to any request for specific images.

The images were recorded in groupings that utilised a cascading method, based on event locale and date. In this way any possible confusion between, say, an event at Goodwood or Silverstone, and between 2016 and 2017, would not become confused. In order to enhance any search he also made use of key words and star ratings for each image. He explained his method of using the star rating system, which he was able to apply at a very high rate when doing an initial assessment of each picture's quality. He used a one-star rating for images that he was likely to discard and 3 or 4 for better quality ones. As a final process he would refine the 4-star images to decide if they merited the full 5-star rating.

In the second part of his talk John discussed his use of Lightroom editing features. He was asked if he used RAW image capture, but explained that he normally took JPEG images in-camera. The reason was that this would normally give adequate image quality; also that because of the number of images taken the RAW files would take up too much space on cards or his (already large) hard disk system on his PC. There could be a problem with banding in blue skies but most of his shots were taken at an angle that avoided sky in the image area. He would normally only switch to RAW recording in difficult lighting conditions, when this would give him greater ability to recover fuller dynamic range.

He said that he normally relied on the editing features of Lightroom, but that he would resort to the more comprehensive facilities of Photoshop when necessary. Many examples of his editing techniques were shown. Just a few are referred to in the following notes.

A popular technique, to isolate the car from the background, was to use the lasso tool to circle the car and then apply some modification to the surrounding area. This could be used to adjust the background brightness, or even to apply an artificial blur to give a sense of movement. This was the technique applied to the following image.

© John Retter

Adjusting brightness and contrast was dealt with by two methods that John demonstrated with the next two pictures. The first image is of a Ferrari in a Concours d'Elegance, set against the backdrop of a stately home. As can be seen from the shadow areas around the car the exposure was set to show the car in the best light. This meant that the house in the background was overexposed. John used a graduated filter to correct this situation.

© John Retter

The following image was taken at this year's Veteran Car Run. Whereas modern cars have all-enveloping bodywork the veteran ones have a skeletal chassis, suspension and wheels that create dark shadow areas underneath, in direct contrast to the often bright body colours, shiny lamps and radiators. On this occasion there was particularly bright and low winter sunlight that further exacerbated the problem. John had used brightness and contrast adjustments to combat this. The level of correction is objective, but John was happy with this result.

© John Retter

The following example does not show a car of any sort! The image was used to illustrate another technique, to eliminate a distracting element in the picture. As any judge might comment 'My eye goes straight to that distracting yellow board in the background. Any advanced worker should have dealt with that!' Surprisingly, although John showed a technique, using colour sliders, to eliminate this problem the image which I captured from his web site still shows this anomaly. I have use a different method in Elements to deal with this.

© John Retter

The subject of post-editing images can be quite confusing, given that applications such as Lightroom and Photoshop have a bewildering array of facilities. There can be a multitude of options to achieve a certain end result. However, John's straightforward presentation was invaluable for the likes of myself who have a minimal understanding of this subject. It was obvious from the number of questions from the audience that his talk aroused a great deal of interest. There could have been many more, but our own John had to call time as we were in danger of overrunning our time in the hall. This has to be one of the most successful talks that we have had on the subject.

This is the link to John's web site where you can view a wide variety of his images.


Leica CL camera


Earlier in this Newsletter Peter referred to Leica's departure from its core values in respect of some recent announcements and I gave details of some latest releases in October. I am happy to report that, with the announcement on 21 November, the company has now introduced a model that is in keeping with the expectations of loyal Leica enthusiasts and owners.

The CL is the latest in its series of APS-C L-mount cameras. Its main features are a 24 megapixel sensor, 10 fps continuous shooting and 4K/30p video capture. Compared to the TL2 the CL offers more conventional handling, including twin exposure dials, physical buttons for menu and playback, and a 4-way controller. It also features a high-resolution 2.36 million-dot EVF built in. (The TL2 had an optional electronic viewfinder which could be articulated for horizontal or vertical viewing) Despite the more traditional ergonomics the CL's rear LCD is touch-sensitive and supports swipe gestures for image navigation and mode switching. Launched alongside this model is a new Elmarit-TL 18mm f/2.8 pancake lens (Just 20.5mm/0.8in in depth and weighing no more than 80 grams). Similar, but much smaller than that of the Panasonic G9 mentioned above, there is also a top-panel status screen (as shown in the image above). The inclusion of this, together with more conventional controls than on the TL2, would seem to be aimed at photographers who are used to this method of working.

With the introduction of this model Leica is pointing to its heritage. To quote from the Leica website - 'Some people say that if Oskar Barnack were to build a camera today, it would have the APS-C format. The new Leica CL is the deliberate transfer of traditional values from patience, persistence and craftsmanship into the fast and modern world we live in. A companion. So compact and discrete that it fits in every hand and finds a place in every heart.' This message is accompanied by the following image.

The following two items are for the benefit of new members -

Purchase of items from Amazon – On the Home page of the society web site you will find an item Amazon Link. (At the bottom of the list on the right-hand side). If you intend purchasing any item from Amazon it will benefit the society if you use this link to access the Amazon ordering system. The actual order process is not different in any way, but the fact that the access is made via our web site results in a small commission being credited to us.

Mentoring scheme – New members may not be aware of this service, although it can also be of benefit to existing ones. Modern cameras have become so much more complicated and it is not necessarily easy to familiarise yourself with all the controls and features by reading the lengthy instruction manual (or web-based PDF file). The chances are that another member will be familiar with handling the same model or a similar one from the same maker. Advice can also be made on more generalised subjects, such as the techniques for action photography, use of flash or studio lights, macro and close-ups, controlling depth of field and post-processing of images in Photoshop or similar applications. The service is provided on a one-to-one basis with just a nominal charge to society funds. Further information on this service can be obtained from John Fisher. (Contact details in the Who's Who list on the Programme or accessible through the Club Mentoring Programme page on the web site)

And finally . . . . . . .

A very special wedding photograph! Americans, Tim and Kylie, were disappointed by their original Long Beach wedding photographs, largely due to bad weather. Two years later they set out for a remarrying ceremony with photographer Nick Falangas to the Trolltunga, a rock formation that juts out 700 metres above Lake Ringedal (about 1100 metres above sea level) in Norway. The route to this involves a 27 kilometre long round-trip from the nearest parking facilities. Their hike took them 14 hours in total.

Acknowledgement to Nick Falangas (image from DPReview site)

Nick Falangas is a professional photographer, half of the husband and wife duo that make up Priscila Valentina Photography.