Sunday, December 27, 2015

Tygerberg Photographic Society - November 2015

The last monthly meeting for 2015. This is the meeting where the Society's AGM takes place before the viewing of the images. The images are then judged by three senior members of the society, and an average score is allocated. No comments are made due to time constraints.

The set subject for the month was "Night photography", defined as anything photographed after the sun goes down and before it rises the next morning. Which gives one quite a bit of leeway.

For my print, I decided on an image taken during our holiday to Namibia earlier this year. We loved our short stay in Swakopmund, and the evening we spent taking images of the jetty was memorable indeed. Gold rating.

For the digital entry, I chose an image taken at the Durbanville Hills Winery. This is the pathway from the parking area leading up to the Winery. Silver rating.

In the Open print section, my image was a "stack" of five different photos of a selection of wild oats collected from a nearby field. I was able to set up a decent black background to make the subject stand out nicely. I really love this shot - it's simple and "delicate"! It received a Gold rating.

For the Open digital entry, I decided on an experimental image that was taken from Van Riebeeckstrand, where the sunset was "panned". Maybe not the most exciting of images, but it was worth a try - I quite like the "lined" effect that is created by the panning motion.

And so we move on to the 2016 challenges, after the completion of my second year with the Society. It's been a fabulous two years and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those involved at the Society, plus all the guest judges that have given up their time for us, for all the help and support over the period. It has been invaluable!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Tygerberg Photographic Society - October 2015

So - one step forward, two steps back! No Gold ratings at all this month - just four Silvers.

The set subject for the month was "Sport". The definition being "Sports people in action. Images must depict an active pastime or recreation involving physical exertion and/or skill that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often of a competitive nature. The level of sport can range from children playing a sport to the Olympic Games."

I somehow don't think that the definition was shown to our guest judge for the evening, who very kindly filled in at the last moment. His understanding of Sport images (being a subset of Photojournalism) is that the newsworthiness of the image is more important that the image quality. So a photo of a Springbok rugby player scoring a try would rate higher than the same image of a school player scoring a try. Because of this, I thought that there were a number of images (mine not included, by the way), that deserved a higher score than they did get, mainly because as far as the judge was concerned, the "audience" at the event would have been small. Other than that, I must say I enjoy the way he judges images, even though he's very strict and doesn't give out points easily. But one does learn a lot from him.

So - to my particular photos. For the set subject, print category, I chose a photo of some bicycle riders enjoying themselves during the "One tonner" cycle race that took place in October. I just loved the way these folk were enjoying themselves.

For the set subject, digital section I used a photo taken earlier in the year at the Lipton Cup Yacht Race. I thought that it depicts very clearly just how congested and competitive a yacht race can be. It's one of my favourite images taken on the day.

And so onto the Open category, where I submitted two digital entries. The first was just a small piece of Fynbos (I have no clue what the proper name is for the plant) that I found at the Durbanville Nature Reserve. It's very simple, but I find the image peaceful and appealing.

The final image is also one of my all-time favourites. I just love "negative space" on a photo. To me it highlights the main topic, but I must say that I thought that the judge wouldn't like this one. But I was wrong, and it scored the same as the other three entries.

So maybe not the greatest results score-wise, but a good evening nonetheless. Now for the next round on Wednesday evening!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Tygerberg Photographic Society - September 2015

Still not great results, but an improvement over August! September's entries ended up with two Gold ratings, and two Silver ratings.

The set subject for the month was "Scapes - all kinds". 

For my print entry, I decided to use a scene from the Meerendal Wine Farm that I took earlier this year for the "Sunrise/Sunset" competition. It really was a stunning morning, and came up really nicely in printed form. And it received a Gold rating. Here it is:

Our Namibian trip in June again came to my rescue when selecting an image for the Set subject digital section. This was taken at The "Dune 45" location outside Sesriem, and is one of my favourites from the trip. The judge also liked it and gave it a Gold.

For the Open section, I entered two of my personal favourite images, both taken some time ago. I didn't think they would get Gold ratings (although I thought maybe the cherries had a chance), but like them and decided to take a chance and see what the judge thought. Both received Silver ratings and I guess I'm happy with that.

It's obvious which of the images is the cherries one, but the other I titled "Scattered thoughts abstract". I just love the different vibrant colours and patterns, and in a weird way find it very pleasing and peaceful! It was taken through the windscreen at an automated carwash!

Tygerberg Photographic Society - August 2015

Well - July was always going to be a hard act to follow, and so it proved. The set subject for the month was Nature or Wildlife, with no manipulation of images allowed.

As usual, please click on the images for the large versions.

For the "Open print" section, I chose a photograph of a Strelitzia flower, very kindly given to me by one of the neighbours in my suburb. This was the only image of the four submitted that received a Gold rating. Here it is:

The judge made the comment that if one was going to use water to enhance the image (which I did), one should make sure that the whole flower has droplets. They were there, but droplets on vertical sections are just not as obvious as those on the horizontal sections.

For the "Set Subject print" section, I submitted a photograph taken at Kirstenbosch, using a neutral density filter to create a milky water effect. The judge thought that the image contained too many distractions, and it received a silver rating.

The two digital submissions also only received silver ratings. Unfortunately I was full of 'flu when the meeting took place, and as I felt my coughing was disturbing everyone, I left during the break. So I didn't get to hear the judge's comments on the images.

For the "Open digital" section, I submitted a photograph taken near Jonkershoek in Stellenbosch, on the grounds that house the Postcard Cafe. I have driven past the area many times without going inside the grounds, and it was thanks to a TPS outing that I was introduced to the area - absolutely beautiful!

Finally, for the "Set Subject digital" section, I chose a photo from our recent Namibian trip. The vast and barren area really fascinated me, and I thought this image was typical of the area.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The 2015 Lipton Challenge Cup Yacht Race

Undoubtedly one of my highlights of the year was being given the opportunity to take some close-up photographs at the start of the 2015 Lipton Challenge Cup.

The Challenge is an annual event, and was hosted this year by the Royal Cape Yacht Club. This is because they were the winners of the event last year. For anyone who may be interested, detailed information about the event can be found here.

The challenge takes place over a number of days. This year it started on Sunday 12 July, and finished on Friday 17 July. I'm excited to report that RCYC again won the Challenge, which means (I think) that next year's event will also be hosted in Cape Town.

I sent the Yacht Club an email asking if they could recommend a good vantage point for me to take photographs of the race, and I was blown away when their Marketing Manager offered me a place on the photographers' boat! I could hardly believe my luck - the only stipulation was that I had to be at the club nice and early - which was the easy part!

On the day of the start, the weather was perfect - windy and with rough seas sporting three-metre swells (though on the boat they felt more like ten-metre swells!). It was rough out there, especially for someone like myself who hasn't ventured out to sea for many a year. But it was really worth the effort. A magical day full of fun and learning, spent with lovely people, and in a great environment.

I took tons of photos, many ruined by the sudden movements of the boat, and many ruined simply by lack of technique at that stage. But there are still too many good images not to share, and I thought I would try my hand at putting together a video made up of the images, rather than post each of them individually. So while the quality of the photos has suffered a little bit, I thought they came out ok in the end. Hope you enjoy.

Note: After finishing this post, I see that the video size on the blog page is quite small. You can view a slightly larger version on Youtube, by clicking here.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Kirstenbosch visit - 29 July 2015

Jacqui and I spent a few hours wandering around Kirstenbosch Gardens yesterday. Such a beautiful place with the added bonus of Tuesdays being free entry for senior citizens.

A new Kirstenbosch Photographic competition has been launched recently. Details can be found here:  Always worth a shot!

Here are some of the images from the trip yesterday. Clicking on the images brings up the large files.



Friday, July 24, 2015

Tygerberg Photographic Society - July 2015

Finally! After months of trying, July was the first month as a 3-star photographer where all four photos received Gold ratings! Plus a winner's spot in the Open Print category (the first time ever that one of my photos has won a category), and a runner-up spot in the Set Subject Print category. What a month!

I must say, however, that I put in much more effort this month than normal, plus I had some great help from some great people:

  • Starting off with Liza Feldtmann and the rest of the team at Taleni Africa, who made our very first Namibian holiday a reality - the winning image came from that trip. 
  • Marie Stinnes, Marketing Manager at the Royal Cape Yacht Club, who was incredibly helpful and organised a spot for me on the photographers' boat on Day 1 of the 2015 Lipton Cup (the runner-up image came from that trip). 
  • Brenton Geach, the pro photographer on the boat, whose help and tips were utilised for the photos taken at the start of this year's Berg River Canoe marathon. 
  • The owner/manager of Hortus Wrought Iron (on the corner of Vissershoek and Malanshoogte Roads), who allowed me access to the premises and staff at their Blacksmith's works. 
  • And last, but not least, to my wife Jacqui, for all the help and support with all of the different projects.

Right - now to the photos. The first is really one of my all-time favourites - a photo of the power lines in the Namib Desert, not that far from Walvis Bay. A simple shot, but very powerful. This was my entry for the Open Print category:

From there we move to the set subject for the month - Photojournalism. Normally newsworthy subjects don't make for the greatest prints, so I was looking for a subject that I would be happy to print out and frame. A search for things to do in Cape Town in July brought up, amongst other things, this year's Lipton Cup Yacht Race, which was hosted by the Royal Cape Yacht Club, and the Berg River Canoe Marathon. Both to me had scenic as well as newsworthy possibilities. 

So I emailed the RCYC, and received a fantastic response from them, and specifically from Marie Stinnes, their Marketing Manager. She said that if I got there early enough, she was sure she would be able to get me onto the photographers' boat. So I did, and she did! What an experience! The swells were around the three-metre mark, the wind was strong, and it was freezing! We set off at around 10h00 (even though the race was only scheduled to start an hour later), and once out of Cape Town harbour, were subjected to the swells. It was really hectic out there and seasickness-wise proved too much for one of the others who had joined us, so the captain returned to shore to drop him off! That trip back and then out again at speed was one I won't forget in a hurry! Anyway, spent the next few hours shooting away, amidst hanging on for dear life while the captain, Henk, tried to manoeuvre the boat into favourable positions for photos. gave me a whole new respect for smallish boats on the high seas! I took lots of shots, a great deal of which didn't come out well, and only learnt the secrets for this type of situation from Brenton while on our way back after finishing shooting. Am now really looking forward to trying again!

But I made use of those secrets for the Canoe Marathon! Jacqui and I went out to Paarl about a week before the event, just to suss out which lens(es) I would take, and also to find decent vantage points. We met a really nice gentleman who runs a guest house in the area, and he was most helpful with information about what happened at the start. So I was all set - or so I thought! On the morning of the start of the race, I decided to have a final look at the BRCM website - no real reason, just good fortune! Because I then found out that the start of the race had been moved from Paarl (not enough water in the river there) to Hermon! Just as well we had risen early! So after a quick breakfast and hurried shower we set off for Hermon. Passing through Malmesbury at 08h30, the temperature was reading 1º Centigrade!!! Luckily it was a little warmer (4-5º C) in Hermon, but still cold enough! We spent some time rushing around to try and find new decent vantage points, and I was quite pleased that the start of the race had been put back to 10h00, instead of 09h30 - gave me just that little extra time to move across the bridge to the opposite bank of the river.

Getting good shots proved to be quite a challenge. The starts (there were three different categories with 5-minute intervals between starts) were incredibly fast - one minute the canoeists were there, the next they were gone!), so I was really pleased that all my camera settings had been pre-planned and pre-set (thank you Brenton!)! 

And then finally to the Blacksmith's shop. I have seen the sign many times while driving along Vissershok Road, and finally decided to bite the bullet and go and see what went on there. I spoke to the owner/manager, and while he seemed a little dubious, he eventually decided it was ok for me to walk around and take some photos. I think I spent about 30 minutes there, and found the place fascinating. As with all metal shops, it's a truly hard and difficult working environment, but it produces some spectacular products. This is my pick of the various images:

And that's it for July! August now presents a really difficult challenge to equal or better those results!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Tygerberg Photographic Society - June 2015

At last some success again! After two dismal months, the submissions this month produced three Golds and one Silver rating.

The set subject for the month was "Architecture/Abandoned buildings". For the print entry I submitted a photo of the Swakopmund jetty - a photo that I really like. It was taken one evening just as the mist was about to come in and it's got a bit of a surreal feel to it. It's called "Reaching out".

For the digital entry, a photo taken from the top of the restaurant (it can be seen at the end of the jetty above), looking back into the town of Swakopmund was the choice, but this image only received a Silver rating. What I enjoy about the photo is the strength and power displayed, but understand that it's not nearly in the same class as the photo above. This one is named "Looking back".

For the open section, I chose one of my favourite images from our recent Namibian holiday. It's of a dune very close to Dune 45 as Sossusvlei, and features some lovely flowing lines. It also highlights the huge contrasts that are to be found in the area. Not surprisingly, the photo is named "Contrasts".

For the final open submission, I decided to submit a stacked macro image of a Bougenvilla. I thought more images were involved, but looking back I see that only three different shots were used to combine for the final image. The stacking process is used to ensure that all parts of the subject are in focus. It is named "Vibrant".

Now for next month's challenge!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Tygerberg Photographic Society - May 2015

And I thought last month was bad!!! Four entries this month, and not one gold rating!

The set subject for the month was "Movement". I spent quite a lot of time trying to think of something different to use which would depict or demonstrate movement. Eventually I chose two items from our home, the first one being my main guitar. I spent quite some time setting up the shoot and then again editing the final image. This was the choice for my print entry. Here it is, and named "Vibrating G-string":

I love its simplicity, the shapes and angles, and the clean lines of the image, but the judge didn't, and the shot scored a silver rating.

For my digital submission, I chose to try and capture the movement of the pendulum inside an old clock that had been awarded during the second world war to my grandfather on my Mom's side. The clock is still going strong, and made a really interesting subject. Well - at least I thought so! But again, the judge didn't. In fact it took him at least a full minute to see the pendulum! The image was titled "A split second", as it was taken with a shutter speed of 0,6 seconds. A silver rating followed. See what you think:

For the open section, I knew I was taking a chance. Personally I love both these images, but realise they aren't everyone's cup of tea. The first was taken at the beach at Van Riebeeckstrand, in front of our flat. Jacqui and I were sitting on the balcony on a warm and sunny day, when all of a sudden the infamous West Coast mist decided to make an appearance! There were people on the beach enjoying the sunshine, and they were really caught unawares. I rushed downstairs with my camera, and was able to take this image of a couple who were to pack up and leave about two minutes after I had taken the shot. My thanks to my wife, Jacqui, for the title (which I thought was really amusing) - "Umbrellas in the mist".

And finally to the dog of the evening! According to the judge, the image had no focal point, was just a record shot, and had little merit, and so he gave it a bronze rating. But I still love the image! Some of what the judge had to say might be correct, but for me it's still special, and is just simply about the gorgeous light - the light in the sky and on the trees. Which is why I titled it "Thunderstorm lighting". It was taken from our patio during a thunderstorm and here it is:

So - another poor evening - three silvers and a bronze. Seven points out of a possible twelve. But I suppose it could have been worse!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Tygerberg Photographic Society - April 2015

Wow! Talk about total carnage!!! It's been a while since a judge has dished out so many poor scores for a competition evening. And it was the first meeting I have attended where a number of images received a "No rating" award. Oh well - time to pull the socks up and try and catch up next month!

The set subject for April was "Panning" - the art of capturing the effect of motion while using a moving camera. It's not my favourite type of photo, but it was a good learning opportunity - and a real challenge! I tried to get some inspiration from images already on the internet, but most are shots that have been done again and again before, and I wanted something different.

So Jacqui and I set off one Saturday morning to take some shots of one of our beautiful nieces, Bianca. I am really grateful to her for agreeing to give up some of her weekend time to help me out. What I was wanting to achieve was a panning image of her on a swing. Well - it proved incredibly more difficult than I expected. The time period between focusing on the subject at the top of the arc, and then following it through to the end of the arc is very short. In addition, there were things like poles getting in the way, and to top it all the panning motion was in a curve instead of in a straight line. So while the idea was different, the end result didn't quite match up to expectations. 

I was able to get a number of shots which I liked, but unfortunately in all of the photos, there was not enough of the subject in focus. So I decided not to use them for the competition. In the end that proved to be a wise decision, as the judge would have had a field day marking the images down! But, it was fabulous spending some quality time with Bianca, though I'm sure she would have had woken with some stiff arm and leg muscles on the Sunday morning!

After packing up and dropping Bianca off at her home, Jacqui and I then took a trip out to Zone 7, to attempt to capture a more conventional panning subject. I submitted this image in the Set Subject Digital category, and received a silver rating for it. Apparently not enough of the main subject was in focus!

From there it was off for a lovely lunch at Durbanville Hills (we hadn't been there for ages, but will be back again as they now seem to have their house in order - the food was delicious!), and on our way home Jacqui noticed that there was action at the Durbanville Race Course. So we made our way there and spent some of the afternoon with a couple of beers trying to get some more images. 

For me, the time spent earlier with Bianca was really beneficial, and from what I had learned while with her and then at Zone 7, I thought I ended up with some reasonably good images. I entered this one in the Set Subject print category, and while I only received a silver rating for it, it was placed as runner-up to the winning image! 

I had more luck in the Open category, where my photo of the White Butterfly Bush (a macro stack of four images) received a gold rating. The mono Winter 2014 image received a silver - the judge said that there was too much water in the foreground, and some of the image should have been cropped off. For my particular taste, that would have made the image unbalanced, and would have cut off the reflection of the reeds, so I still prefer it the way it is!

And that was April at the TPS. Onwards and upwards towards May!

As mentioned in previous blog post, please click on the images for the large view.

2020 Holiday - Last days

Day 3 - Wednesday We woke to a very pleasant, though cold, morning. We again had breakfast outside on the patio, and were treated to the (we...