Monday, 12 October 2015

Is your photo a 3-course meal or an appetiser?

  It seems so look at a photo and hit 'like' but why? What is it that makes you like a picture more than another? There are the obvious social reasons involved, but I am talking about real appreciation here. What is it that draws your attention? Are you a sucker for technical expertise and experience, because sometimes it just shines through? Do you love or hate HDR? (It seems to be that you either belong in one camp or another.) Do you like a picture that tells a story? Brings back a memory? Makes you stop, take a coffee and just look? Maybe you're just greedy and you expect a little of everything?

  As a photographer do you try to create your 'perfect' image? Do you specialise in a 'comfort' zone or do you experiment and try to push your boundaries when you are behind the camera? However you approach your photography an understanding of what makes the difference between a good photo and a great one is important and could be argued over many a pint, but understanding what it is that makes a photo work for you? That's something we all need to be able to accomplish - to look at a photo and understand what it is that makes it stand out from the crowd for you.

  A couple of favourites that I have seen recently appealed to me for completely different reasons. This first one, a landscape by photographer Bill Armsden struck a chord for me. It worked for the simple reason that it is complete. It's foreground, mid-ground and background is a full three course meal. Each one leading on to the next, guiding the 'consumer' to fulfilment; From the lobster pot, with its rope wrapped frame pointing to the boat and the boat aimed neatly at the house, each item fitting into a classic 'rule of thirds' composition. Add in the perfect combination of late summer colours and it works.
  That first choice was an unusual one for me as I am not a great landscape fan. I tend to prefer images that form part of a story or evoke emotions and this is exactly where my next choice comes in. A picture that a friend, photographer Mike Finley, has recently put up for sale at an exhibition. Entitled 'The Long Climb', it is the perfect 'snapshot' of someone's life. Who is she? Who does she represent?  What has she experienced? What was her 'Climb' and where will it end? I think the decision to show it in black and white is just perfect and the rough edge used enhances rather than detracts from the image. Her position on the steps is just perfect too. She clearly has seen a lot of life go by but there is still more to come. I would so love this to be part of a set, with a child at the lower end of the steps but that in itself would raise so many questions. Should it have colour? I would be drawn to a colourful children's dress in yellow with a large daisy print, with the rest in black and white but would have to see it to be sure. It also gives rise to the question should there be an image of a mother with her children halfway up the steps, giving a 'Three Ages of Woman' effect (á la Klimt)? Just the fact that the original image gives rise to these questions is probably enough and if the other images are staged (as they almost certainly would have to be), it would take away from the candid nature of the original shot.

   There are a whole set of wonderful images here (click on link) that I could discuss but will leave you to review and comment on below. Personally I love the cleverness of the title, "Mite Walking in Frog Valley" and the 12-18 year old entry (Just how did a 16 year old produce such a perfect example of bokeh?) But I would love to hear your comments.


Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Just a little wine...

Ok! So a little while ago I started the ‘Challenge of the Century’. The idea of this was to create a photographic challenge with a learning objective and without a strong competitive element. This seemed to meet the general feeling of the group that I have picked up over the time I have been involved with it and I hope that we can continue with this. (In fact, pretty much as I am writing this, Mal has suggested taking shots of local landmarks each month to complete 'in camera'. I love this idea but would like to alternate this with a learning challenge so that we have variation to keep it fresh – Let me know what you think.)

The inspiration for the challenge was a mixture of requests from group members for a competition, and me considering how we can cover previous topics in a fresh light for new members, and refreshing the skills of those who have covered the topic before. Around the same time, a Digital Camera World tip for achieving a ‘bokeh’ effect appeared in my news feed which ‘hit’ the mark for considering ‘depth of field’.

Link to the article here.

Definition of Bokeh:
In photography, bokeh (Originally /ˈboʊkɛ/, /ˈboʊkeɪ/ BOH-kay — also sometimes pronounced as /ˈboʊkə/ BOH-kə, Japanese: [boke]) is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens.Bokeh has been defined as "the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light".

We had a scenario set up for people to have a go at during the last meeting at Willowmere and I know that a few of you have also had a go at home. I decided that I wanted to have a go at the set up but didn’t have time on the night, so a home set up it was.

  The first thing that struck me during the whole process was how long such a simple sounding thing took! I had a bunch of grapes and always have wine around ;-) so I chose the title 'Bacchus Bokeh’ and set up a still life for the subject. I rubbed a little coconut oil on the grapes for a natural shine (I wanted to eat them later so didn’t fancy some of the alternatives) but found the length of time I took to set up the shot allowed the coconut oil to solidify by the time I got what I wanted and the shine turned dull (so don’t try that at home guys).

With a little bit of tweaking and a red light, the scene was set and I started to think about camera settings and here was the rub… this was the first time since using the DSLR that I have really needed the f2 that I used to have on my old Zenit SLR. To get the background anywhere near out of focus I had to have it on the other side of the kitchen to separate it from the subject. The best I could get is the first picture of the set (It is just cropped to tidy up the edges), where, really, the background still looks like scrunched foil. Not the effect I want, particularly as the whole idea of bokeh is to minimise the background, not create the ‘busy’ effect I achieved.

  So, based on the restrictions of my equipment I was going to have to resort to Photoshop. This then gave me more options. Before I ‘broke set’ I took an out of focus frame of the background only. The first thing I tried was selecting the subject from the original photo and placing it in in a layer above the out of focus background. This gave me the second image. Using a genuine shot as a background is useful as it avoids some of the artefacts that you can get with post processing software. It is a good idea to ensure that you match your settings as much as possible, particularly ISO so that the levels of ‘noise’ match.

  The third image has the same selection above a background which has had the PS bokeh effect applied and the fourth has the PS field blur applied.


  For my ‘two-pennith’ out of them all, I prefer the 2nd image  with the natural, out-of-focus background but although it was an interesting exercise which I recommend trying just because of

·         the way it makes you think about what you are trying to achieve

·         makes you consider what your camera is capable of

·         helps you focus (pardon the pun) on ‘depth of field’ and

·         is a great exercise for still life composition

 the image didn’t really encompass the best of bokeh. What was most fun? Trying to get the shot ‘in camera’ - a challenge which I will look for more opportunities for in the future. (Macro lens – here I come.) There’s more about bokeh in this link with some cool examples.

 And finally, here’s one of Alan’s from Alderley Edge which I particularly like and, by coincidence, there’s also another example of bokeh by a young photographer in my next blog on the award-winning images from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015, coming soon. Must stop now, there's not 'mush-room' for any more!

  Hope you like the idea of ‘Challenge of the Century’ and this blog. If you want to comment, please feel free. You may need to be on Google + to comment directly but if you want to pm me with a comment on fb I will post it for you. When commenting please remember this is about trying to improve the skills and experience of all of the group members, thank you. :-)

Now, where's that wine...

Friday, 18 September 2015


Working on getting enough funds for lots of fun things!

  The committee have had their meeting about fundraising and it was decided that besides applying for grants and funds from the CVSCE and other sources that the group would benefit if we had at least one major raffle a year with tickets available to all and a few more, regular, smaller ones for members.
  The larger raffle will require members to use any contacts they have with local businesses to get them to support our group. This time round I will be contacting Morrison's, Tesco and some of the smaller shops that are left in the town to see whether they will be able to donate a prize.  I will also try my luck with Creativelive and Udemy. Phil Tomlinson has already very kindly offered to donate a canvas print of a picture (MANY thanks Phil) and I hope that if any of you know any business that might like to donate, that you enquire to see what they might be able to offer. If we can get the prizes set up for the beginning of October we can sell tickets for the first two/three weeks in October. I can provide a standard letter requesting a donation for the raffle if you need one.
  We will also be having smaller, in-house, raffles for cakes, used photography books etc. that members have donated at some of our regular meetings.
  Some of the money raised from these activities will go towards printing costs of all-occasion cards and/or Christmas cards. The sales of which will again bring in more  funds. I will set up a few suitable sections of our Flickr group for you to put forward the images which you think are suitable for use and you do not mind be used in this manner. If your images are chosen, you will not be losing your copyright, just signing a form to agree to our printing of your image for the purpose of raising funds for the group. Your name as photographer and the groups id as a not-for-profit charity will appear on the cards. A range of pictures will be chosen, ie. a set of insect cards seems likely given the output of recent weeks.
  Please let me know if you can help with any of this. It is very important for the group.
Many thanks,
Mel Smith

Upcoming Opportunities!!

 I have so much to say...

..or as Dave W might put it, "She can 'narf talk, that Mel." :-)

I was so pleased with the way the meeting went on Wednesday, particularly the sort of discussion that was going on and the feedback from the audience was very welcome. It is so important for the group to be exactly that, a group! People with an interest to get more out of their photography and technology, who want to work together to help each other do exactly that.

  As a relief from all of my chatter, there were a couple of tutorials and practicals aimed at helping you get ready for the next photo outing and hone your 'camera settings' skills. Mal has very kindly written a few comments about the evening which can be found here. (Links to the two tutorials are also available on this page too.) The practical activities are something that I feel we should do more of and your feedback seemed to indicate that you agree with this which is great.

  During the evening I mentioned a lot of outings and opportunities that were coming up for the group. The next outing which Dave is currently arranging, should be an opportunity to photograph radio controlled models. Date to be announced ASAP.

  There is also the potential of going down Woods Mine at Alderley Edge. Alan and I went down there a couple of weeks ago (sans camera so can only provide a couple of phone shots I'm afraid) but there were a couple of interesting 'waterfalls' where the copper deposits have left beautiful green and blue trails on the rocks and a large cavern where we can do some light painting.
When I mentioned this the interest was good so I will now go ahead and start making arrangements. I am suggesting the afternoon of Saturday 14th November as the first Saturday in the month (which we usually do) will clash with fireworks events. The price is £6 a head and I will need the money when you put your name down for the event. I will start collecting from confirmation of the date. This outing, as indeed any other, will also be made available to Middlewich Photographers. Money will be refunded if the club has to cancel the event due to lack of interest. If somebody doesn't turn up then the fee will usually be forfeited depending on circumstances. Certainly any cost to the group will have to be deducted. Myself or Kyla will also investigate the chance of a warm fire and snacks in the Wizard afterwards.

  On the subject of light painting, I believe that Bill Armsden is going to do a local walk about in Middlewich one night in the autumn with the intention of doing some lightpainting so when I find out a date I will let you know. I know that everyone who went last year had a great time and loved their photos afterwards.

In December, we will be looking at 'light on skin' at Willowmere Meeting and our outing will be the Christmas meal.

The final opportunity is that Ian Hill Smith has invited any member of the group to consider showing their photos for sale in his Artspace. Phil Tomlinson kindly gave us more information on this and has a service where you can get your photos printed for this purpose (and other forms of display). I suggest that he is one of your first ports of call if you want to check your image is of the right technical quality to print. (How about a blog on it Phil? - hint, hint :-) )

Like I said, lots of opportunities, lots of chatter!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Battle of Middlewich 1643-Member Photos

Photo by Cliff Astles.........Royalist troops line up, ready for battle, at the Battle of Nantwich 1643

Next weekend, May Bank Holiday Weekend, will see troops line up in similar order, to re-enact the Battle for Middlewich.

I feel sure that many of our group will be out and about with their cameras taking similar photos of the action. If this is the case please, make sure you get your best photos (large Jpeg ), to the local Guardian Series of newspapers , where there is every possibility that some  of our members photos will be used by the paper.

The Guardian Newspaper Group have been very good in publishing a number of articles about the success of our group, and as they have today requested from myself some photos, I thought many of you would also wish to do this for them as well.



Tuesday, 19 May 2015

North Wales Group Photo Outing-Post Visit-Report.

Betws-y-Coed-From the rocks under the bridge, as river Llugwy passes under the road.

Another most enjoyable trip was undertaken by members of the group on Sunday 17th May, and in spite of the rather cloudy start and the odd spot of rain as we went over the Llanberis Pass, it was a good photography day, being cloudy, but nice and clear for most of the time.

We managed to take a number of photography stops starting at the aquaduct at Pontcysyllte, the waterfalls on the river Conway, and Betws-y-Coed, to a late afternoon stop at the small stream along the Llanberis Pass.

With the rain now beginning to be a problem for clear photos, and being early evening time, we decided to call it a day stopping at the lake in Llanberis for a few last minute shots, as the weather had improved sufficiently to get shots of the lake and back along the Llanberis Pass.

Great to see members getting together and having a good time, whilst being able to gain even more experience, photographing differing places of interest. A selection of photos by members taking part can be seen on the group Facebook page, and also very many more on the group FLICKR account link, on the web page:-( .

What a big difference in quality of shot and perspective is now being shown by members of the group, with some member shots, I would consider,  surely good enough to go into photo magazines. The group is obviously making a big difference to our members’ photography and understanding of their cameras. Great to see, and it can only get better.

The next group photo outing will take place at BUNBURY MILL, on Saturday afternoon 30th May, from 2.00 till 4.00 pm. ( £3.50 entrance fee, payable on entrance, parking free). Make sure you make this next photo outing day, so that you can gain even more experience using your own camera, with a group of sociable, like-minded members.


Saturday, 16 May 2015

June Group Meeting-AGM-Plus.

Monthly Group Member Meeting-Wednesday 24th June-2015-7.00 till 9.00pm

The meeting in June will commence at 7.00 pm PROMPT, with the first groups Annual General Meeting, followed by the normal break for refreshments at 8.00 pm.

There will be NO-CHARGES for attendance at the group AGM.

Member’s, will have the opportunity to meet the group committee and ask any further questions they may have about the group, and help by providing any suggestions to improve or enhance the present ways in which the group operates.

We would like as many members to attend the meeting as is possible, to ensure we have everyone’s input to what is being planned by the group, and that any input provided enhances the current format, to ensure this continues successfully into the future.

This will be the last monthly group meeting at the Willowmere-Middlewich, before the Summer break in July and August, re-starting in September, date TBA. However, we plan to have a number of local instructional photo outings during July and August. Watch the group Web Site ( for details of these increasingly popular outings.

Following the group meeting we plan to have a curry meal at a local Middlewich restaurant where all are invited. Members wanting to attend the meal should make contact with Cliff Astles, using the group e-mail of

Number of seats / places may well be limited at the restaurant, so please make sure you book early, requesting number of places required. Members will be required to pay for their own food and drinks.

Cliff Astles

Group Chairman.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

North Wales Photo Outing Update-Plus.

General Group Membership Update-Thursday 14th May 2015.

North Wales Photo Outing. Sunday 17th May-2015-Meet at 9.00 am- leave at 9.30 PROMPT!!!

    A) There is a Fun Fair on the proposed car park and meeting place, so we will now be meeting on the SALINAE Centre car park, at the same time. The SALINAE car park is opposite Middlewich Town Library, on Lewin Street. Go through the towns traffic lights on the road to Sandbach, the Library is on the right hand side, 400 yards from the traffic lights. Turn LEFT next by the small DIY Centre, the car park is on your left, and also at the rear. WE WILL ALL MEET AT THE REAR CAR PARK. 

We will then make sure we all have each driver’s mobile numbers (emergencies and  any other reason) and then commence the journey going by Nantwich Road in Middlewich, then Wrexham, to Llangollen, but calling at the first photo spot of where the Llangollen canal crosses the river called the PONT CYCLLTE Aquaduct, then through Llangollen to Betws-y-Coed for more photos, stopping on the main car park in the town.

Having had our fill of photos at Betws-y-Coed, we will go via Chapel Curig, to the Llanberris Pass. We will stop a number of times along these roads when we reach a number of photo spots indicated to me via a North Wales photographer.

As we have quite a long journey it is considered that packed lunches may be best, as we do not at this time, envisage stopping for any long time (this may change as the day progresses). A tripod will be useful, if you have one to use. It is likely there will be many stops for a quick toilet.

There are a few places still available, so anyone wanting to go on the trip needs to make arrangements by making your wish to go on the trip known on the groups FB site. People with cars will make contact via FB to fill up the places in their cars.

Bunbury Mill Photo Outing-Saturday May 30th-2015.

     B)The photo trip to Bunbury Mill carries a minimum charge of £ 40.00 (this is a special trip, organised for group members only, on a Saturday afternoon, hence the minimum charge). Trip info can be found on the Web Site Blog Page. Member charge is £ 3.50 per person, payable on admission.


Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Member photos-Marketing & Press.

Winter Sunrise-Over the old ICI Lime Beds-Middlewich-Cheshire.

Group use of member photos for Marketing and Press.

It is now some time since we asked group members for their permission for the group to use any of their photos submitted for use in order to create marketing and press interest. With the recent move to Flickr by the group to better display photos, I thought it was worth mentioning again.

We would obviously wish to continue to use member photos, but ONLY if members have no objection to them being used in this way. Therefore, would members not wishing for their photos to be used, please let me know via e-mail, so I do not make any mistakes.

The group has been able to gain many more members by using photos in this way, and we will continue to use them in the future.  Additionally, it is in the group’s future interest to gain more members and I would like to think that members will continue to send photos to any of the local papers, as they continue to request local photos to be submitted to them, where a mention of the group would not go amiss.


Photo Topic Reminder for MAY 2015.

Photo by Cliff Astles-River Wheelock from the Bridge on Forge Mill Lane-Warmingham-Cheshire.

Member photos-May Group Meeting-Willowmere-Middlewich.


Make sure you use your own and the group FLICKR Galleries to place your photos on-line, and to make them available to be sorted and placed into a photo presentation.

The quality of Flickr for photo presentation is allowing for some GREAT member photos to be shown, and is so very much better for the group to use than just using Facebook.


Friday, 1 May 2015

Group members working together.

Photo by Paul Macready
Photo by Paul Macready

Group members, working together to improve their photography.

One of the main objectives when initially forming the Group was for the more skilled members to offer help, and give guidance to other members, who were just, perhaps starting to use a digital camera, and wanting to get up to speed quickly. We believe we have achieved this in no short measure, with many new to photography, quickly creating photos of merit.

It was very satisfying therefore to see recently, that Paul Macready (using his excellent photos above) was helping member Donna, to also try to achieve a similar quality photo by providing photo settings and other advice, for her future use when presented with a similar photo opportunity.

With the move from placing group photos on Facebook, to members now  using Flickr, we can not only now see members photos in much better quality, but Flickr also provides all of the  technical information regarding photo settings for members to see for themselves, so they may use the information in order  to improve their own photo skills. A BIG step forward for the group members. 

The group continues to grow with new members and the more conversations that take place of this nature, the better and stronger the group becomes. Thanks to members like Paul, Mal Wetton, Brian Roberts, and others that help in this way, we are achieving one of our main goals with the group.

Getting members to shoot quality photos, all of the time J


Two pictures (see wingtips) are to show what happens when you use a shutter speed of  1/640 sec. 
Heron............ slight blur at the wing tips), which does give a nice motion effect, that you may wish to have?

Seagull...........when you use a much higher shutter speed (1/2000 sec). The wing tips are quite clear, with no motion to speak of.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Bunbury Mill-Group Instructional Photo Outing.

Bunbury Water Mill-Bunbury-Cheshire

Instructional Group Photo Outing-Update

I have received formal notification for the group to visit Bunbury Mill, for a photo outing on Saturday 30th MAY 2015. 2.00 till 4 / 4.30.

This is quite an extraordinary opportunity for the group, and I have added this extra visit in MAY as I am not too sure how many can make the North Wales trip on Sunday 17th May.

Bunbury Mill is run today by a local group of volunteers, much like our group, and they are prepared to open the Mill for our group for a full afternoon at a time when they are not normally open to visitors. We will be provided with a 45/50 min’s guided tour of the Mill and shown it’s operations, with the water wheel operating as it would have when it was operational. The cost per member will be £ 3.50 each, paid when at the venue.

We would like to make this a great local photo outing, so please try to make sure you attend, as there is a minimum charge for the group of £ 40.00 for this special open day.

You will need to use flash for some of your indoor shots, as it is quite dark in many of the most interesting places. A tripod will also be useful. There is a Mill pond with ducks as well as many different spring flowers and a visitor centre. (This may not be open).

NOTE: - Access to some of the floors, as you would expect, is via some steep stairs, but has also has been made user friendly for disabled access. However, loads to see and photo anyhow, as both inside and outside is just full of history, and in my view a photo opportunity not to be missed.


Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Bunbury Mill-Cheshire-Potential Visit- Saturday 30th May-2 / 4.00 pm.

Bunbury Mill-Cheshire.

Potential Instructional Group Photo Outing

Just to give advance notification to the group I have requested that they will allow for the group to visit  Bunbury Mill, for a photo outing on Saturday 30th MAY 2015. 2.00 till 4 / 4.30

I will confirm this to members as soon as they have said AOK.

This is quite an extraordinary opportunity for the group, and have added this extra visit in MAY as I am not too sure how many can make the Wales trip on Sunday 17th May.

Want to make this a GREAT local visit so please make sure you try to attend. You will need to use flash for some of your indoor shots, as it is quite dark in places. A tripod will also be useful at times. There is a Mill pond with ducks as well as flowers and a visitor centre. Cost will be £ 3.50 per person.

NOTE :- Access to some of the floors, as you would expect, is via some steep stairs. However, loads to photo anyhow, as both inside and outside is just full of history.


Sunday, 19 April 2015

Bunbury Water Powered Mill-Photo Outing Opportunity

Bunbury-Working-Water Powered-Corn Mill

Previously recommended by Brian Roberts, I was today in the vicinity of Bunbury Mill, Bunbury-Cheshire, and finding it open, went to investigate the potential of using this excellent working Mill, for an instructional photo outing for the group.

Meeting with one of the volunteers I explained what we would wish to do as a group, and he was very keen to help us out, and gave myself a quick look around to view the potential.

He was prepared to open the Mill for the group to visit on a Saturday afternoon (they are not normally open on a Saturday afternoon), when we have made the proper arrangements with them. It would only cost £ 3.50 per person for a 45 / 50 mins official guided tour of the Mill, and after that time we could then spend all afternoon taking whatever photos we wished.

There is also a visitor centre, that serves tea / coffee and a cake etc, but that would be extra. However, there are NO parking fees, and is just up from a set of staircase locks, also at Bunbury, on the Shropshire Union Canal, which we could visit after the Mill tour, should the weather be kind to us. It will only take some 20 / 30 mins for most of the group to travel to Bunbury, so looks to be a good place to visit.

Additionally, as it is 90% inside for photos, even if the weather is not too good, we could still do most of the photography, as well as seeing some very important Cheshire countryside history brought back to life, in a very striking and personal way, as the volunteers do dress up in clothes of the era, and for a short while you feel as though you are back in the 1800’s. What a place to take some great photos, so would hope for a good number of members to take up this opportunity to take some excellent historical photos.


Thursday, 16 April 2015

Flash Photography Presentation by Owen Lloyd

Flash Photography by Owen Lloyd

Last evening the group were again delighted with the presentation by Owen Lloyd, of Owen Lloyd Photography, who provided not just another great presentation, but with the amount of photography gear he brought with him in support of his presentation, we could have set up a full photography shop and studio.
Owen’s presentation took members on a very interesting journey from the basics of Flash photography, to using all kinds of studio lighting, and also covered many other topics where the use of the many types of studio lighting made photography a real art form.

Owen has almost become a key associate member of the group with his various photography presentations he has provided, and he assures me there are many more to come from him, and others in the future. Next month (Wednesday May 13th Willowmere-Middlewich-7.00 till 9.30) we will be entertained by a work colleague of Owen’s, who will be speaking about the latest mobile phone cameras, and where this type of photography is heading in the future.

Interested? You may wish to check out the group web site ( for more information on how to join this friendly community group, of like minded technology and digital camera members.

The group also have free monthly instructional photo outings, which are very well attended, with both male and female members taking part. It is not unusual for the group to have 15 to 20 members attending these very popular outings. Make sure you are not missing out!!

Cliff Astles

North Wales-Group Photo Outing.

Photo by Cliff Astles-Llanberis Pass & Stream
North Wales Coach Tour-Sunday 17th May 2015..........Cancelled

Due to lack of members planning to go on this Coach Tour we have had to cancel :(

Members who have paid for the trip will be re-reimbursed when next at a group meeting at the Willowmere-Middlewich.


A number of members are still planning to go on the trip by using their own cars, and a number also have SPARE SEATS available for members who would wish to take these up!!!

It is therefore suggested that members using their own transport, but with spare seats available for other members, should make this information known to members via the Group Facebook page.



It is suggested that members, wishing to take up these spare seats will need to make contact with the person directly, via the Group FB page to make arrangements with the person providing the transport. It is up to individual members to make their own transport arrangements.

Suggested Plan of Action.

A)    Members with transport place their seats available info onto the 21st Group Facebook Page.

B)     Members wanting to take up these spare seats make contact with the member using the FB messaging services to arrange to use the spare places.

C)     When the spare seats have been taken up by members, the car owners should delete their information from the Group Facebook Page (or tell me to do this for them).

D)    This way the trip will hopefully take place. One exception. We will NOT be stopping at Llangollen. Parking of cars on a SUNDAY is useless in the town, and we would never get a number of cars to be able to park close by each other.

E)     PLEASE take packed lunches / drinks as food is quite expensive in the area, and we are not planning to stop long at places, unless we are taking photos, or visiting toilets L

F)      Meet at the TOWN HALL (was Civic Hall) Middlewich at 9.00 am, Sunday 17th May. We will be leaving as soon as all of the cars are full, or 9.30 pm latest.

Hope these new arrangements work as the group have been looking forward to the photo outing for some time.


Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Middlewich Town Council-MFAB Festival-Photo Request.

Photo by Cliff Astles-Middlewich Folk & Boat Festival-Town Wharf

Middlewich Town Council Photo Request

The 21st Century Technology and Camera Group have been approached by Middlewich Town Council  (Mr Dave requesting that the group may wish to help them by providing photos they may take over the weekend in June, when they hold the Middlewich Folk & Boat Festival.

Photo’s requested from members could be used in future years to promote the event and when provided members should state that the photos are to be used for Press and Marketing, as deemed necessary by MTC and are free of any copyright.

This is something I would like to think that members may wish to do for the Town Council, who have in the past helped the group get started by providing financial assistance in the form of a grant last year. It is also something that members have suggested as a group photo outing previously, so it looks like our photos could be put to good use both with the Group Flickr Gallery, and by helping to promote the fantastic event and photo opportunity for the group.

Photos provided should be suitable to be used to promote the event, and can cover ALL topics, and no bigger than 5 Mb and in JPEG format. Attach your photos to an e-mail to Dave Thompson, as above, and state they are from a member of our group and are free from copyright.


Sunday, 12 April 2015

April Group Meeting Reminder

Photo taken on the group’s visit to Queens Park, Crewe.

APRIL Group Meeting-WILLOWMERE-MIDDLEWICH-Wednesday 15th April 2015.

Reminder, for members (and guests) that the next 21st Group Meeting is this NEXT WEDNESDAY, and will feature a presentation and  a practical demonstration by Owen Lloyd, of Owen Lloyd Photography. 

This month’s presentation will be about the use of FLASH in photography, and where and when this is best used to improve your photos and to stop motion in action shots.

Cliff Astles

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Queens Park Crewe-Instructional Photo Outing

Instructional Photo Outing-Queens Park-Crewe-Cheshire-April 11 2015

I would like to thank members for an excellent group turn-out, yet again, for the latest photo outing at Queens Park Crewe. The morning’s rain had cleared by the time we arrived, and although it was cold and a tad windy to start with, it soon cleared and the day was a very good day for photos.
Not quite as many flying birds as I had anticipated, but as this is the time for the male birds to strut their stuff, there were many of the male Canadian Geese doing just that, and making their presence well know to the other male geese. There were plenty of other photo opportunities, in particular this year’s crop of spring flowers and with a total of 16 members on the photo outing, these photo outings are still proving to be very popular, with numbers attending growing all the time.
Member photos taken during the visit will no doubt be soon available for all to view, on the Group Web Site Flickr Galleries.

Cliff Astles

Saturday 11th April 2015.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Queens Park Crewe-Instructional Photo Outing

Photo by Cliff Astles-Sunrise along Warmingham Lane-Middlewich

Instructional Photo Outing-Queens Park-Crewe-Cheshire

Just a reminder for members that the next Group Photo Outing will be taking place TOMORROW!!

Meeting at the Cafe' at the centre of Queens Park, for 2.00 pm, so we may then proceed around the park to get some more shots for inclusion in the Members Group Photo Presentation, next Wednesday 15th April.

Looks like the weather will also be kind to us, yet again, with forecast of some rain in the morning to make for clear photos, and loads of sunshine during the afternoon. Are we lucky or not? :)

Looking forward to seeing you all again, and the day looks to be a tad warmer than when at Marbury Park.

There will be a number of skilled members on hand to help our newer members get the best photos, using their own cameras, and answering your questions on photography and technology.

Cliff Astles

Friday, 3 April 2015

Tags and Titles!

HI everyone,

 Hope you are all enjoying the wonderful Easter weather!

I just thought I would take some time during the rain to discuss a couple of points in the use of Flickr.

Flickr, like Facebook and various blogs etc. has a ‘tag' feature. With tags you can add information to a picture or blog that may help you group or organise your photos (or blogs) when you want to view or share them.  For instance, if you want to view all of the group blogs that are about photo outings then you can search the website blog page by typing ‘photo outing’  (without quotes) in the search box. This works because we add a tag for photo outing on all of the blogs about photo outings. (There are several different tags we use in addition to this one, feel free to investigate – I will be adding ‘Flickr’ to all of the ones about Flickr, including this one).

In Flickr, you can edit your tags on individual photos by clicking on the photo and then selecting ‘add tags’ which is displayed under the photo.  You can edit the tags on a group of photos by selecting the group (ie. go into an album ) and click on ‘edit’,  then ‘batch edit’ and finally, ‘add tags’ . Either way, at this point you will have the opportunity to enter the tags you want to add, separating each different tag by a comma eg. photo outing, cliff astles, photo opportunity. This would be useful to identify your pictures by a particular topic ie. sunset or Christmas so you can easily find the ones you want.

We would like members of the group to tag their photos for the monthly slideshows  by adding a tag with the month and year the slideshow is for ie. March 2015. You might also like to add the topic although this is not necessary for the photo to be included in the slideshow, the month and year is.  The date taken, which is part of the EXIF data is not a suitable substitute as we could pick up other photos which are not for the slideshow.


It would also be useful for you to add meaningful titles to your pictures as the title is displayed prominently on Flickr. Also, it adds another dimension to the photo if you can get creative with the title, particularly if it provides a connotation for the photo.

Happy Flickring,

Mel Smith

PS. I have added this as a discussion in the members’ only group on Flickr so that you can add comments on this topic.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Flickr-Now being used for Group Photos

Photo by Cliff Astles-Business end of a Pirhanna Fish

Member Use of the new Group Flickr Photo Galleries
Great to see that many of our group members are signing on to Flickr, and creating a personal account for use of their own photos, and are then adding photos themselves onto the group Flickr account for the three topics for APRIL's member photo presentation.

You will no doubt see for yourselves that the presentation, clarity and facilities for the use of photos using Flickr, are so much better for the group than when we were using Facebook.

Hopefully, more members will do the same, so that we have plenty of photos for APRIL, and loads of time to get the photo presentations compiled using the new group Flickr accounts.

Topics for this month’s member presentation are:-

Still Life
Family Pets
Queens Park, Crewe.

We will progressively be making more use of the Group Web Site, with less activity on Facebook, so members need to start to use the Web Site as the main group activity and information centre.


Thursday 2 April 2015.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

North Wales Photography Coach Tour

Photo by Cliff Astles-Swallow Falls-Betw's-y-Coed-North Wales

21st Century Technology & Camera Group

North Wales Photography Coach Tour-
Sunday May 17th 2015

A full day photography tour of North Wales has been planned by the group. We have a number of seats left on the coach, and we are now making these available for interested people to join us. 

Cost is only £15.00 per person, from 9.00 am until 8.00 / 9.00 pm.

Interested ? Then please use the group e-mail of to find out more information and book your places.

You can also view more details using the group web site at and the group BLOG information.

Final payment for the places booked will be Wednesday April 15th 2015.

You can also call Cliff Astles on 07971 136360 for information and to book places.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Photography Coach Tour-North Wales

Photo by Cliff Astles-Swallow Falls-Betws-y-Coed-North Wales

North Wales Photography Coach Tour-Sunday May 17th-2015
This is the last request for group members (particularly for our newer members) who would wish to attend this day out for the group, to confirm to myself they would like to go. The coach will take 38 passengers, and currently we only have 24 confirmed bookings with a number of members paying in full, for the trip.

More fuller details of the day can be found on the Web Site BLOG pages.

Who...........................21st Century Technology & Camera Group Outing.
What..........................Photography Group Coach Tour.
When.........................Sunday 17th May from Middlewich Town Hall Car Park
Times.........................Leaving at 9.00 am & arriving back between 8 and 9.00 pm.
Costs.........................Cost per person is only £15.00.

There is a toilet on board the bus and we have had prepared (by a North Wales Photographer) an itinerary for the day, with places to stop to get the best photos from the journey.

Please CONFIRM your intention to go on the trip........ASAP if you wish to join us on the trip, and also let me know of the number of seats required. Members can bring with them guests and children, costs as above.

Monies will be finally collected on the night of the group meeting on Wednesday 15th April at the Willowmere-Middlewich.


28th March 2015.