Thursday, 26 February 2015

Official CVS-Cheshire East Certificate of Membership

Here is the Groups Official Membership Certificate that arrived today, for next years membership of CVS-Cheshire East.

Will now get this over  to Mel Smith our Web Page Webmaster to include somewhere on the Web Page (if she can now find room ;)

Watch this Space :)

21st Group make the local Press, yet AGAIN!

Press Article from the local Guardian Newspaper this week, 27th Feb 2015
We are being treated very well by the local Middlewich & Winsford Guardian Newspaper, with thanks to Josh, the Middlewich and Winsford Guardian Reporter.

I do provide the information when we have something worthy to report, and Josh certainly makes sure we get our nose in somewhere, even though he was not able to use any of our photos, this time around. However, with such good press I feel sure this will allow for the group to gain more members, as this never fails when we have good press relations.

NOW-How about making more of the many photos the group take when we are on outings, or even your own photos when out and about. You will see from the nice photo above by Nick Jones, and their comments, they NEED MORE FROM YOU!!!

Get your own OUT and ABOUT photos sent in to the Guardian, and they will do their level best to try and get them printed. 

Try to make sure you also tell them you are a member of the 21st Group, as this will also give us some more, much needed press, and the more press we get, means more new members.

More photos of Mid-Cheshire for use by the INDEPENDENT Free Newspaper.
You can also help the group by getting your MID-CHESHIRE photos, of anything, anywhere, on any topic, sent to myself using the group e-mail of

They have committed to myself to run a GROUP ARTICLE each month, letting the local community know who we are, what we do in Mid-Cheshire, and why!!

ALL we have to do is to get your Mid-Cheshire photos to myself, and until the Web Page takes over this task, I will then send your photos to the Newspaper EDITOR, direct. She will then use the photos in their monthly Newspaper, which will again help the group mature and gain new members.

I have had some, BUT NEARLY ENOUGH, so get out and about with your digital camera, and get these good photos to myself !!!!

This is just a fantastic opportunity for the 21st group, so please try not to waste it :)



21st Group Photography Instructional Outings for FREE!!

Photo by member Mr Ken Rane, provided for our member Monthly Photo Presentation.

WHAT is the purpose of Group Instructional Photo Outings?

Why, have we been arranging group meetings since the group commenced to operate in MARCH 2014?

Why, is it that we now can get some 20 members and family to attend such meetings? (plus,children as well).

Why, do group members do this for FREE?................... They do this so that you can :-

A) Meet in a relaxed and non pressure group with like minded people, with new and experienced photographers who use a whole range of differing digital cameras and with members that range from those having NO experience in photography, to being retired professional photographers. Members are helped by other more skilled and experienced member photographers, who just wish to do this for the pleasure and fun of helping others, and sharing the fantastic experience of learning.

B) Be taught how best to use their OWN CAMERA to make their own photographs, so much better.

C) To all capture the same shot, be it a flower, bird, countryside, woodlands etc after being told, how best to take that kind of shot, using their camera.

D) To also be able to ask members how best to take any other photograph, whilst out and about with the group, to gain even more experience and enjoy the creative art of photography.

Following the group photo outing we ask for members to provide 3 to 5 of their own "better" photos, that are quite small (less than 500K) in size, so we may take their photos and make this into a member photo presentation that is displayed when members arrive at the start of monthly meetings.

This is the time where they can themselves see how well their own photos came out, when compared to other member photos that were taken of  THE SAME TOPIC with the same camera settings. They will see, without asking any further questions, just how well they have done, compared to other members. 

They are also encouraged to make a note of members photographs and names, so if they wish to follow up they can contact members directly and ask questions, say on Facebook about the members photos / settings etc and ask how they can improve their own photos, buy discussing this in PRIVATE with the other member.


Make sure you find time to also come along to our now regular monthly SATURDAY afternoon outings.

Your own photography skills will come on in leaps and bounds, as it has for many of our newer members.

Just ASK that question that has been bugging you for ages, and did not who to ask :)

 Just ask around the group and they will tell how they enjoy the outings, and how their own photos have improved since taking part.


Tuesday, 24 February 2015

21st Group-North Wales Coach Tour-SUNDAY 17th May 2015-Update

Photo by Cliff Astles
Just a quick update to let members know what the latest position is if considering joining the trip......  
Coach is now 70% FULL.

If you wish to go on the trip please make sure you In-Box myself on Facebook, or use the Group e-mail of to book your seats...............NOW!!


Sunday, 22 February 2015

MARCH 2015-Member Photo Presentation-Early Reminder

Photo by Cliff Astles
Taken this morning 22/02/15 at about 7.30 am.

Just thought I would put this up as a nice sunny morning photo reminder, for those that were not lucky enough to get up and about before the RAIN, HAIL, SNOW & RAIN finally came to Cheshire, and probably to spoil most peoples day :(

Having decided to have this months topic of  SUNRISE and SUNSETS I then added another topic of SPRING FLOWERS.

Therefore, for the doubters for getting any photos with sunshine or any kind, I thought this would show other members that there is a sun out there. There are ALSO many Crocus, Snowdrops, and in fact many other Spring Flowers around to get that SPECIAL shot for our member presentations.

PLEASE, get your photos to me fairly quickly (less than 500 K in size, please) as when we have many HUNDREDS, as we did last month, it does take a little time to get these sorted, and placed with members names into a MS PowerPoint Presentation.

This one was POST Processed using PICASA3 from Google, which I do rate highly as quick and easy way to improve your photos, with Photo Post Processing Software, and to add any special effects ( Photo boarders on this one only) as below. ...............Photo by Cliff Astles.

Friday, 20 February 2015

NEW-North Wales Group Photo Tour-Sunday 17th May 2015.

Group "Instructional Photo Outing" with family, friends & Guests
Sunday MAY 17th 2015 from Middlewich at 9.00am-return to Middlewich, about 8.00 / 9.00 pm

One of the best photography days out from our Mid-Cheshire homes is a FULL days visit to North Wales.
It is just a wonderful day out for all of the family, with some fantastic photo opportunities, no matter what you like to shoot, as you can see from photos above, and Andy Boardmans one of the lake at Llanberris, looking back to the Llanberris Pass.

It can ALL be done quite easily with our very own group organised coach tour, using one of our local Coach Tour operators. It is a long day out, stopping on the outward journey at the many local beauty spots, taking lunch (or take your own packed lunch which makes better use of the time).

From Middlewich at say 9.00 am, and then making our way to Llangollen, but stopping at the Pontcysyllte Aquaduct, just before Llangollen from a short stop for photos. Then Llangollen for an hours photos, on to Betws-y-Coed, for similar short stop for photos, water falls passing through the town etc.

Proceed to Chapel Gurig and along the road to Llanberris Pass, my photo of the rocks / stream running along the Llanberris Pass, turning round at Llanberris Lake, Andy Boardmans photo above, and head back to Middlewich, via the same route, or perhaps head back towards the A55 at Conway Castle ( NOT STOPPING on return leg as it will be TOO LATE), and back via the A55 to Chester & Middlewich.

This would be a GREAT GROUP SHORT WORLD TOUR of North Wales, with like minded people all wanting to have a good friendly fun & family day out, and taking of a "few" photos, so we may look back and remember the trip for many years.

With now confirmed prices of £ 15.00 for Adults and £ 7.50 for children, this must be one of the cheapest ways to get in some much needed photography experience in just one day, with HELP from group members to ensure we all get some GREAT photos.

Please e-mail your booking needs for adults and children via the group e-mail at

I will be looking at taking a booked seat deposit of 50% of the total per booking (non returnable when I have reserved the coach). PLEASE let me know how many seats adult and children you require to be booked, ASAP, as more than 30% of the total available have already been reserved.

The full cost of the trip will required to be paid to myself or Barbara, NO LATER, than the end of April, and will be collected (as we did the Canal Boat trip) at monthly meetings (cheque to pay 21st Century Technology & Camera Group).
If you need my address then please message me on fb.

People that had previously said YES wish to go, also need to re-confirm to me, as the original list was ONLY to judge provisional interest. The trip is now ON for REAL, so make sure you let me know SOON how many seats you wish to book


Thanks for your continuing interest.

Cliff Astles

Photo by Cliff Astles-Llanberris Pass-Photo is quite a large file. BUT, if you manage to get a copy from the photo try and BLOW it up quite big, and search for the THREE lady "rock climbers". I thought they were the feathered kind, but my binoculars told me a different story. Answers in my In-Box Please.

Let's get your photos on our site!

The photos underneath the main photo on the Website's Home Page are just quickly used stock photos from the web provider's (WIX) library.

We would like all of the photos on the website to be created by members of the group.

With that in mind we would like for members to provide for the Web Page a selection of still life photos that represent the following themes (links), as below.

Upcoming events
Previous events

Please, let us have these as soon as possible so we can incorporate YOUR photos in the next update that is done by Melody.

These can be sent direct to Melody Smith, using the Group Facebook Page.



News about the website! A message from the Webmaster (Mel Smith)

As part of the move to the website, the details of the next meetings and assignments are going to be displayed on the website rather than on the blog. There will be a link to the correct website page on the Facebook events page, but we hope that as you use the website more you will get used to where to find it.

The intention is that, whenever possible, the information will be available on the 19th of the month. Occasionally, when there is a special event, such as the North Wales Tour, this will appear early to allow for booking time.

Consequently, the 19th of each month will be the date on which to expect updates to the website. There will be other updates of course, including those which happen automatically. At the moment these include the blog page (which is updated from Cliff’s Google + linked Blogger account) and the Twitter/Facebook feed (which is an automatic feed from the group’s Twitter and fb accounts).

We are looking into the use of a group Flickr account to update the gallery, provide the members’ photos for the slideshow and a source for the Independent newspaper to view and select photos for publication. The logistics of this is being considered by Brian and me at the moment. If you want to share any information can you please message me direct then I don’t risk missing the information on on the fb feed. This will all be officially proposed and discussed once we know it is a viable option. 

This is important, as we need to establish procedures for any members who can’t (or don’t want to) take up this option.  It is an important move for the group as it will reduce the amount of effort for both the organisers of the group and all of the members (No more re-sizing! Hooray!!)

So that all of the members are aware, there are two other major changes about to be dealt with on the website:

1)      The blog

At the moment comments are difficult to post because of the way the blog is distributed. I have started research into this and believe I have a solution. When this is in place (soon) I will inform you all. All members are welcome to submit a blog on a topic which they feel will benefit the group. Please contact Cliff to do this. It will involve you sending a Word (or compatible word processing) document containing the blog to him via email. Only expected submissions from known sources will be opened to avoid viruses etc.

2)      The forum

The forum has had two issues which we want to ensure are solved before we continue to use this particular application. Firstly, not all of the member sign in information was provided to us so we couldn’t identify who was joining the forum. This was an error in the application and we have recently been informed that they have solved the problem but I have not tested it to my satisfaction yet.

The second, and the more serious issue, was that it linked to member’s fb information automatically which potentially displayed far too much information to the wide world of the Internet. As the group does not want to be responsible for this we need to find a solution. Again, as soon as I have then we will let you know. We would like to use the forum as a means to provide Mal’s  photography Q&A (and more).

Mel Smith (Webmaster)

21st GROUP-Focuses on Supporting the Community with Technology & Digital Camera Help.

Article in the INDEPENDENT Local Newspaper-FEB 2015

Hopefully, first of many press items featuring the 21st Century Technology & Camera Group.

Not 100% correct (would love to have 100 members at the group meetings :) ), but close enough.

This will give the group it's FIRST of many I am told!!

Our member photos will be featured each month with another write up of what we have done, and are doing for the local community with photos taken by our many members. Photos need to be sent to myself at first (requested on the previous BLOG), and then later if members continue to help the paper with more photos of  MID-Cheshire, they will continue to help the group with marketing of what we are doing, each month.

We will be changing the way we help the INDEPENDENT with photos, when Melody has completed her evaluation of software packages, in the near future. But, what we are dong now is AOK until, Mel's evaluation has been concluded.

Member Photos for the MARCH Group Meeting Presentation-Updated.

Cheshire Sunrise over the River Dane Valley.  Photo by Cliff Astles

Cheshire Sunset-Warmingham Lane-Middlewich- 
 Photo by Cliff Astles
Close-Up of  Flower-Crete-Greece
Photo by Cliff Astles


MARCH Group Photo Topic is SUNRISE / SUNSET (Anywhere)


Have added SPRING FLOWERS in CLOSE-UP to this months group topic as to get good early and late shots of the Sun is not easy, in the month of  FEBRUARY. 

However, for the shots you do manage, please let me have your photos early, so I can prepare the photo presentation in good time,using the new Group Laptop for the first time.

The above will be added to later with member photos from our planned group photo outing, which is yet to be decided, when Brian Roberts provides information to me of his local searches for suitable spots to visit.

Additionally, to help to make the INDEPENDENT local free-sheet paper group photo feature GREAT!! make sure you get out and about in Mid - Cheshire and send your photos in to myself, so we may have your own photos published.


Thursday, 19 February 2015

Group Photos used in the INDEPENDENT Local Mid Cheshire Newspaper.

Photo by Ken Rane-River Dane in November-Croxton Lane Bridge, Middlewich-Cheshire.

Wonderful opportunity for members of the 21st Century Technology & Camera Group.

The Independent News Editor is planning to have a feature article on Mid-Cheshire each month. The article will contain photos taken by group members of beauty spots, interesting buildings and other features that have been taken in and around Mid-Cheshire.

The first pictures for this have already been sent to myself, and I have sent these on-wards for publication in the next issue of the Independent.

This new idea for the paper will publish photos by members, provided each photo is:-

A JPEG file type, of ideally between 4 or 5 megabyte in size

Has a photo identifier, ie where taken of what, by whom, with a suitable photo CAPTION.

Photos should, until we have this fully operational in the Group Web Page, be sent to myself, via the group  e-mail at 

I will then do a compilation set of these photos and get these to the Editor of the Independent paper, in time for each months article and photographs, with the details as above for photos selected for use that month.

This is a GREAT opportunity for all the groups members to start to look around for good photo spots and buildings, and hopefully, your photos will feature in the papers feature articles on Mid-Cheshire.

The article will mention that photos have been provided by the 21st Century Technology & Camera Group, which as you all know is quite invaluable when it comes to group marketing, in order to get more members interested in being part of what we do together in the group.

DON'T miss this opportunity, they do NOT come along too often :)


Member-Mid-Cheshire photos for the INDEPENDENT Free Sheet

Photo by Cliff Astles-Middlewich St Michaels & All Angles Church window.

YOUR Quality photos of Mid Cheshire

Further to last nights Group Meeting comments at the Willowmere-Middlewich, I have again been requested by the INDEPENDENT local Free Sheet, to provide for them some recent, quality member photos of Mid-Cheshire. 

Would you please get any you would wish to be used to me ASAP, FULL SIZE JPEGS, so I can get them over to my contact to try and get some published in support of the groups activities in the next issue of the paper.


Wednesday, 18 February 2015

How to transfer large files.

We are currently considering using flickr for our website gallery and to share the monthly photos with the group at meetings. This should simplify things for everyone, more of this to be discussed soon. However, as mentioned in his latest post, Cliff requires the full resolution versions of some of your photos. I suggest you use WeTransfer ( ).

This website allows you to transfer large (upto 2 Gb) files from one email to another. You fill in the details on the page and then upload the files. Cliff will get an email and he will be able to download the files. You do not need to sign up for the paid service 'WeTransfer plus' if you have more than 2 Gb to send in multiple files, just send them in 2 batches.

You may get asked about cookies. I can reassure you that I have been using this site for years and have had no issues with spam etc. (It does use Google analytics I believe, but then so does almost every site these days and no data provided through that is personally connected to you.)

Hope this makes things easier,

Member Update-WANTED-Group member photos of Mid-Cheshire / Cheshire.

Photo by Cliff Astles.

Original photo from Holly Holy Day-Nantwich-2015. Post processed using LR4/PICASA3. SEPIA Finish.

Local FREE paper the INDEPENDENT covering Mid-Cheshire, has expressed interest in being provided with Group Member photos from our FREE "Instructional Photo Outings" and any of  YOUR OWN Colour or Black & White shots taken whilst you are out and about in Mid-Cheshire, or even further afield, but ONLY Cheshire please.

They are planning on doing a new feature article about the our Group, what the aims of the group are, and our recent success in gaining so many new members etc.

They also wish to have a follow-up each month on the group progress / outings etc,  and have requested that photos taken by the group, would help them (and us :) ) to gain an excellent marketing opportunity for the group.

Therefore, to get this moving we need to help ourselves, and the INDEPENDENT, by providing them with photos of Mid Cheshire, and Cheshire which would be used to promote the groups activities to a far bigger audience in Cheshire, and for the paper a continuing updated set of quality photos of our Cheshire, towns and villages.

This request for your best shots from our outings and when roaming free yourself, are initially required to be sent via the Group e-mail ( ) to myself. I will then select 10 to 20 to be sent to the INDEPENDENT free paper each month, leaving the final selection down to the paper, to compliment the monthly group feature article.

When we have finalised how we plan to have photos presented and displayed in the Group Web Page, we will then change this method of getting photos to myself, and then onward to the INDEPENDENT paper.

However, until that time please let me have your own "better shots" in FULL RESOLUTION, with who took the photo, where the photos was taken, when, and a two or three word CAPTION.

I will then hold all photos on my own Home PC in a specific Member Gallery for the INDEPENDENT.

This to me looks to be a fantastic opportunity for group members to show off your own newly found photography skills and creativity, and to show others great photos of our beautiful County of Cheshire.

Therefore, please get your cameras clicking away, and your shots to myself, so we can not only show our Cheshire community just what we have show of Cheshire, but will also act as a magnet for the group, to stimulate other residents to join our exciting, enthusiastic, and quickly growing group.



Tuesday, 17 February 2015

21st Group TRAINING LAPTOP Purchased for Member-Photography & Technology Training.

Wave your FLAGS HIGH!

21st Group now have a Laptop & Large TV Screen Monitor / Photo & Business Software

Yesterday-Monday 16th February will go down as a major milestone for members of the group. 

The group now own a NEW High Specification HP Laptop, which is currently being set up and properly configured by a Group Sponsor Company, Amita UK Ltd, of Middlewich Cheshire.

On completion of this work the Laptop will be made available to the group. The Laptop will be used at Group Monthly Meetings by members wishing to brush up their skills using the latest Photo Post Processing / Business Software, or used to present to the group, using the projector and large screen.

This will help to reduce the need for the continued use of members personal technical equipment at meetings, and more importantly will provide the group with a new training facility, using the latest photography and business software.

Plans are being made to also use the laptop at other times to help members with any One to One, and small groups training at the Willowmere, either over weekends or at other nights using Willowmere.

Watch this space for more details of the training plans over the next few weeks, when these have been fully thought through and details finalised.

The laptop and other technical equipment yet to be purchased, has ONLY been enabled by Grants provided by both Middlewich Town Council and Cheshire East Council. 

More GRANT and local SPONSOR funding is still required by the group.

Grants will always be a task worth completing by the group, but help from local sponsors will also be sought by the group over the next few months and years to ensure the groups continued progress.

Cliff Astles

Friday, 13 February 2015

GROUP AGM- 1st Group AGM will take place. March / April 2015.

Photo by Cliff Astles Visit to group by Middlewich Mayor. Mr Paul Edwards & Consort, Mrs Sonya Edwards

Recently all members have been contacted by Mrs Melody Smith using the Group Web Page and the new membership software, we will be using to register members. Members who are already registered will have received confirmation by email. New subscribers will receive email confirmation on registering. If you have not had an email you are NOT registered.

I would like to think that all members who have either not registered, would please do so at the earliest so we can have a full and complete list of members.

IF, by some admin error you have not been contacted by Melody would you please make sure you make contact with her and provide the necessary requested information. There is a link (
 ) on the fb page to enable you to add your details personally. All members are required to do this. If you are reading our fb group page you are considered to be a member.

There is also a Member Registration document on the group Facebook Page which can be printed off and handed in when next you attend a monthly meeting, or photo outing.

Additionally and part of the conditions for the Group to remain part of CVS-Cheshire East is that the Group has a formal list of members, contactable via e-mail (these days, or by telephone) so that in emergencies, or for group EVENT cancellations or days out, all members can be made contact with, and advised of changes.

It is also necessary for members to be contactable when notice is given of the Groups intention to hold the Group AGM, so that members can attend the AGM, place votes for any changes etc.

The main topics for a formal Group AGM are as below.

To hear the Chairman's Report
Thank Committee Members for their services to the group.
To present the Group Accounts
To elect new committee members if necessary.
To allow for other group members and non members to present "any other business" & ask questions.

Please help by ensuring your membership has been correctly registered.


13th  Februry 2015

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Group Photography Training for those who wish for MORE!!

Photo by Cliff Astles. Testing out my recent gift of a NOKIA Lumina phone, with Carl Zeiss Lens, Camera.21st Group members enjoying a night of the recent 365 days of Photograpahy @ TATTON HALL.
Presentation and Photos by Mark Willaimson, one of Cheshires better know North West, & UK Professional Photographers, now based in Knutsford, Cheshire.

I may have confused (which is not unusual for me, these days :( ) members of the of the 21st Century Technology & Camera Group with my recent POLL regarding ADDITIONAL photography training for members wishing to progress more rapidly, then they feel they are doing.

I have been approached by a number of members wishing to obtain more specific photography training (using their own camera), as although attending our group meetings, most of the time, but for work related and other reasons do not get to use their new skills either quick enough, or for as long a time as they would wish.

Therefore, as we are about to purchase a new laptop for the 21st group, and for a small sum, we can have the CRAFT ROOM at the Willowmere in the evenings and Sundays to use for more in depth and more camera related training, with members who wish to do this, and pay a small amount for so doing.

I have considered it would be making more use of the Group Laptop and Group Member Skills, to help these members who wish to have more ONE to ONE or small group photography training more often.

Therefore, to gauge the level of interest for this more concentrated training, which is member requested, what we should charge members for so doing at prices they can afford to pay, which would indeed make much more use of the group laptop, so I put out the previous POLL.

What perhaps was not made clear by the POLL was that monthly group meetings with both internal and external presenters will continue as normal, with both photography related presenters, and later some measure of related technical training for photo post processing and other related topics, and also subjects requested by members, as long as these are in keeping with what we are about.

Viz, Member requested photography training, would be in addition to the normal and FREE to members, the monthly "Instructional Photo Outings" which are so very popular, and a GREAT help to attendees.

Myself, and at least one other member has expressed interest to do this training with members, and no doubt when it becomes operational, there will be more member volunteers, to make this work even better.

As a guide to costs to be charged to members. Costs of doing something along the same lines, but NOT photography related as such, are done by Age UK would be some :-

£50.00 for a home visit. No time specified, but must assume a one hour session at home.

£ 10.00 for One to One on Computers, on the vary basics of computing and the Internet. Perhaps 30 mins ?
can't see this being done for £ 10.00 per hour, but this could be true.

£ 10.00 for attendance in a small group session (as proposed). This could well be for ONE HOUR.

Therefore, the prices that I was suggesting are somewhat less than a fully blown national charity is charging.

I would need to confirm these prices as it is not to clear on their web page if the "sessions" are for 30 mins, or 60 mins. So we will have to assume they are for 60 mins.

I will put up the POLL again to gauge members reaction and interest when members have had time to read this at their leisure and can react to the revised POLL with the more information provided.

Comments / reaction for ALL to see can be placed on the group Facebook Page.

Or if you are interested in helping other members with training as above, just in-box myself and we can plan the way ahead together.

It is intended that the Group Laptop (when purchased) will be made available at the monthly group meetings for members to use for personal training, or being shown more detailed information by a suitably qualified member.

The newly purchased 32inch HD TV will also be connected and used as the laptop monitor using the Laptop HDMI Connection, with a suitable cable, so members can also view what is going on with the training.

Persons using this high value group asset, will always have a qualified member around to make sure it is not being incorrectly used.

It will NOT be connected to the Internet, as yet until Willowmere has their own WIFI connection.

Hope that the above helps.


We NEED YOUR Photos-Group Photo Presentation-Feb Meeting.

Barbara Astles, Getting to grip's with a Blue Eagle? at Peckforton Castle-Instructional Photo Outing

Member Update-Member Photo Presentation for FEB 18th Group Meeting

Members, the CUT-OFF date and time for photos from our photo trip to Peckforton Castle is fast approaching, so please make sure you find time to process your own selection of 10 photos, no bigger than 500K in file size, so we can have a good presentation of these wonderful Bird of Prey at the next group meeting. Some of the shots provided by members this time are quite STUNNING, so need more :)


I already have a large number of member photos, but we can still have more!!

Topic for this months photos is still "GHOST" pictures from around Cheshire, plus Peckforton, and of course any of your own photos of our local feathered friends.


Wednesday, 11 February 2015



Three cheers for the NEW A5 Marketing Brochure, for General Group Marketing.

The new general group marketing A5 (small) brochure has today arrived, all 2,500 of them!

They will be available at coffee / tea break for members to take 10 off -per person (or more if members wish to have more) to give out to, family, friends and work colleges to make sure we get the message out to as many new potential members as possible.

They will also be distributed to many local libraries, what's on in Cheshire etc, and other similar places to help with our groups awareness in Cheshire campaign to recruit members to the group.

More members, means more financial security and makes the group  more future proof. 

It also means we are helping the local community get to grips with today's home and work place technology, creating a friendly and welcoming environment for residents of all ages to learn and help others to understand technology, and how to get the best from their own digital camera, mobile phone cameras, and much much more.

Money to pay for the brochures / project was from the Cheshire East and Middlewich Town Council's GRANT for community groups awarded to the group in 2014. We will continue to apply for such grants, and others in the future.


Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Getting best use of the group laptop

Exciting news!  We are about to buy the laptop to aid training for the group. We need to be clear on the benefits of this laptop and how it can be put to ‘best use’. In order to do this we need your input.

This is very important!........and is costing the group a great deal of the hard earned GRANT Funds.

It is envisaged that the laptop will have two main functions plus a few options to be considered:

  • Firstly to provide a means to present information to the group at the regular monthly meetings. Until now we have relied on the use of members’ and guest speakers’ own computers.

  • Secondly, the laptop will be loaded with software including, image processing software, MS Office Suite and other  packages which would beneficial to the members of the group. 
  • The purpose of this will be to enable training on the use of this software to the group through both the monthly meetings and, potentially, on a 1 to 1 or 1 to a smaller group as required. This is the area which we need most input from members as it is important for us to understand what features of training will be of most use and how we can provide this.
  • Providing Internet connectivity for occasions where it is available for accessing and training on using on-line resources. There are also on-line training resources that could be used such as YouTube features. The provision of ‘interface software’ to allow the connection of other hardware such as tablets, phones etc is also under consideration for future ideas the group is considering.
  • With the point above in mind, the group will also have to install, and keep updated, anti-virus software. This will have a recurring annual cost.
  • The laptop will also be the primary storage place for the administration files of the group. These will be in a separate section from the 'member' section and will be passworded. The password will only be shared with those who need access for administrator duties.

With all of these points in mind , we will put out a poll to gather information in the near future. This would be a good opportunity to test the mailing system that the group has set up recently. With this in mind, here is  a link to enrol on our members’ list on Mail-Chimp which is the package we are using to provide this service.

It is VERY IMPORTANT that each group member enroll on this as this will be our primary list of members to maintain our charity status. It will be used so we may reach ALL members, at the same time, should we need to cancel or postpone a meeting, event or photo outing, at the last minute.

ALL members must be on this list, so we need you to make sure you all register.

Your data is safe and this particular software package, which is used by government departments,  is set up to ensure that we follow both data protection and ‘spamming’ rules about storing and using data.


So many improvements, so little time!

Onward and upward,

Cliff Astles,    Mel Smith

Things are developing!

 Nice sequence of shots of the Indian ( Hawk ?) Owl coming in the get his chicken leg from Barbara.

Update for Members of the 21st Century Technology & Camera Group that were out Saturday 7th February, at Peckforton Castle testing out their new found skills with their cameras. 

I am still POST Processing shots taken at Peckforton Castle, and will be using PICASA3 (FREE!!!) for the JPEGS, and Lightroom 4 for the RAW images
This will be a great test to use both photo post processing software packages and then compare a few of the end results. 

Still "Horses for Courses" as I have found out over the many years I have been taking photographs, both paid and up-paid for the post processed photos.

So still a very long way to go today and into next week, with my post processing, but with the quality of the Birds of Prey close up images, using my latest 50 mm Prime Lens, I will this time really enjoy the post processing, for a change :)

Have just completed the sequence above using PICASA3 (first) with the JPEG images and these are not too bad for JPEGS. I quite like this sequence of photos, so have placed these up for others in the group to view. More later.

I am now looking forward to completing the same shots using Lightroom 4 with some of the better close up images, as no doubt using Lightroom SHOULD / will make my better images, a "tad" better than using PICASA3.

A REALLY enjoyable day out for all the group, and a tad cold at the top of Peckforton Hills, but good for the soul and our members photography experience.

Quite funny, to see that the Wives of Cheshire, or is it Cheshire Wives, also enjoy the Castle and setting, on Monday night. 

But I bet they paid a small fortune to spend time at Peckforton, but nicer for the Group as we got it FREE :)

Monday, 9 February 2015

Member Update following PECKFORTON CASTLE. Group Photo Outing-Saturday 7th February 2015.

Photo by Mal Wetton-GHOST IMAGES for FEB 2015 member photo presentation.

Photo Cliff Astles-Any photos of our feathered friends for the Feb 2015 member photo presentation

Photo Cliff Astles- Any photos from Peckforton-Birds either STATIC or FLYING.

Following an extremely good afternoon at Peckforton Castle, Cheshire, members have already provided to me probably the best response to date,  for member photos from a photo day out.

Have now completed the first part of the Group Members Photo Presentation for the Group Monthly evening of WEDNESDAY 18th FEBRUARY, BUT still have PLENTY of ROOM for MORE PHOTOS. Please get these to me ASAP.

NEXT Saturday evening being the CUT OFF time for photos to me, so I have time to include them into the presentation, without ANY pressure to complete :(

TOPIC REMINDER for FEB :- GHOST pictures, as per the sample below. Peckforton Castle photos, plus if you did not manage to make the day out, ANY you have of our FEATHERED FRIENDS, birds from anywhere, land, lakes, gardens etc

Still LOADS of space left in the MS PowerPoint Presentation for more photos,  just as long as you keep photos sent to myself 500K in size, or less. 250 K size is OK as well.

Why do we have this kind of photo display at meetings, with peoples names against their photos ?

We have had this from the beginning of the group and is intended for members to view their own photos, from either group outings, or the group topic for the month. By doing this members can compare their own photos with other member photos and see just how well they are progressing, when the Monthly Topic is the same for all. Also, when out on photo outings, we are also looking to get the same kind of shots, without it being a COMPETITION.

e.g. At Peckforton we were looking for photos of STATIC BIRDS, plus BIRDS FLYING. The subject was the same BIRDS, but the camera settings were different for the two different "poses".

BUT, apart from individual photos which members also wish to take, we were ALL looking at taking the same photos, with the same or very similar camera settings. That is the teaching / training aspect of our photo outings.

Our group is all about members learning how best to use their own cameras, and at the same time getting FREE help from other members to improve as well, along with the technology for all other aspects of placing photos onto the Internet, of which there is a lot to learn.

With the NEW Web Page Gallery Photos (when Melody has completed her work on the Member Gallery Photo Albums), it is being planned that you will be able to run your computer mouse OVER each photo, and see the members camera settings for each photo, when provided by the member. You can then use this technical camera info to try out the same camera settings with your own camera, to hopefully get the same results, and improve your own photos, in your own time.

ie NO PRESSURE from ANYONE :) Just enjoy your photography, whilst taking many more photos as you do so and you will improve, very quickly.

IF in doubt about any aspect of photography (until the Web Page Forum is available) you can either place your question onto the groups Facebook Page, or send a message to MAL WETTON or myself with the requested info, and we will try and answer any query as quickly as possible.

REMEMBER Questions NOT ASKED can NEVER be answered :) :) :)

Cliff Astles

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Group Visit to Peckforton Castle-Cheshire- Birds of Prey Photo Outing.

WOW-WOW-WOW.... What a truly FANTASTIC way to spend a Saturday afternoon with the 21st Century Technology & Camera Group. 

We had some 20 people turn up for quite a chilly afternoon at PECKFORTON CASTLE (well it is quite high above the Cheshire plain wink emoticon).
I took some 350 photos, yet to be properly viewed and post processed, but I have NEVER EVER had the opportunity to be up close and personal with birds that normally live in the wilds, in various parts of the world. Must be one of the BEST PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES for camera lovers EVER.
The bird handler was most experienced, very knowledgeable and made it very easy for Barbara to enjoy her outing with wild birds that she has waited for, for a very long time.
The GROUP will no doubt be going to this wonderful place for photos at any time, but with the BIRDS.JUST WONDERFUL and so real.
Here are a few of the ones I took for others to enjoy, and I now look forward to seeing the TOP TEN of all the members who took time out to have just ANOTHER GREAT DAY OUT with the 21st Group smile emoticon smile emoticon smile emoticon
Thanks to everyone that turned up, and hope you have now thawed out smile emoticon

Looks like SUNDAY is now BIRDS of PREY Processing Day :) :) :)