Welcome to our Virtual Club page! We have created this page to keep the club operational online during the Covid-19 lockdown. We will post announcements, news and new ideas and initiatives here to keep us all active whilst the season is effectively closed.


The Art of Macro Photography

SBACC's last meeting of the season was the first on Zoom - and what a way to end the 2019/2020 programme!! There had been eager anticipation for the talk and we were not disappointed. Tony, a teacher in Manchester, only took up macro photography a few years ago, but in that time has had images selected for major salons and won numerous national and international competitions. Being a teacher, his talk was well prepared, easy to understand and beautifully illustrated.

He began by explaining the equipment he used and went on to discuss his approach to macro in relation to art. Subject v beauty, pictorial quality, story- telling, originality and creativity.

Tony then went into detail about how best to secure a good image and explained about getting close to the subject, depth of field, avoidance of camera movement, the use of light, shutter speed, bokehs and post processing. Each section of his talk was accompanied by outstanding images of insects which demonstrated the points he was making. Sharp, well-exposed photographs with good shape, position and background do not happen without a lot of hard work!!! He also discussed photo-stacking as a means of ensuring sharpness throughout an image.

The evening ended with Tony illustrating his all-round skills as a photographer by showing a selection of his landscape images which included multiple exposures, light trails, long exposures and astrophotography. They were breath-taking examples of his command of the camera and left everyone spell-bound. In addition, he answered various questions posed by members through the Zoom chat facilility.

It was a very well supported and memorable evening. More can be seen of Tony's work on his website at https://www.artofmacro.com/


Challenge 14 x 3

The third of our fortnightly challenges and this time the themes were Clouds and Using Flash.
Thanks to those who took part and sent in some cracking images.

Malcolm - Bouncing Water Drop
Exposure: 105mm macro lens, 1/8000s, f/8, ISO 250. Canon Speedlite 580 EXii remote from camera.
My intention with this shot was to use a Speedlite to freeze a drop of water when it hit a bowl of water by using a fast shutter speed. The normal flash synchronisation speed for a camera is typically about 1/200s maximum. However, after a bit of research I discovered that I could set the camera and flash to work in High Speed Sync mode. This in theory should allow the flash to synchronise at the fastest shutter speed on the camera (1/8000s). The down side of using high speed sync is that effective flash range falls down to well below 1m.
I filled a glue syringe with water and secured it above the bowl of water to create a steady flow of drips. The Camera was on a tripod with a remote cable connection to the Speedlite which was placed close in to the left of the water bowl. Timing of the shutter release was very critical. I fired off about 200 shots before I captured the effect I was after! Minimal post processing to adjust contrast add a slight crop and a vignette.

Fruit Splash
Exposure : 105mm macro lens, 1/8000s, f/10, ISO 250. Canon Speedlite 580 EXii remote from camera.
For this shot I used the same setup as for the water drop shot, except in this case I dropped frozen fruit into the tumbler of water. It only took about 15 shots to get this one.
A real challenge which I discovered whilst taking these shots is getting the focus right. I didn’t quite get it right. Depth of field is very narrow close in with a macro lens. I think a lot more practice is required to improve the technique.

Trevor - This is my submission for the Flash category.
I do not like using flash so for me this a rare image, to bring up the colour and definition of the stone I used off the camera fill in flash. The down side of this is the outer view is not quite as pin sharp as i would have liked. The camera settings were ISO 400,  25mm,  f/9, 1/20 sec.
Here is my interpretation of clouds, titled "Golden Hour, Loch Tummel”. It was taken last October and is one of a set i thought i had lost. Settings - ISO 200 ,18mm, f11, 1/20sec. As you can see with all the cloud and mist it was not a good morning. I used my 18-55mm lens because it is light and for me easy to handle.

Ally - I Can See Clouds   While I was walking along with my sunglasses on I noticed that the sky looked bluer.  As I don't have a polarising filter I thought it would be interesting to see if I could take the photo through my sunglasses.  I was quite pleased with the effect it produced.
The Hand of God   When I downloaded this image onto my computer I noticed the hand - like shape.  With a few tweaks and adjustments you can really see what looks like the shape of a hand.

Mike N - Overlooking Paignton Samsung Mobile J5, ISO 64, F1.9,1/1936 Sec, 4mm. Centre Weighted Average
Bay of Biscay - Samsung Mobile J5, ISO 64, F1.9, 1/4213 Sec, 4mm. Centre Weighted Average.

Dave Burley - Both photos taken in Italy with my D500 using a tripod. The house is 2,000 ft above sea level. We have a terrace which faces west so we get some great sunsets. It can look as if the heavens are on fire.

Anders - The ‘Above the Clouds’ photo was taken during our flight back from Tenerife in February 2019.
We saw this interesting image when the sun was reflected on top of the clouds. iPhone7, 1/240 sec,  f/1.8, ISO 20.
Opposite Bradfords’ was taken during one of Jill’s and mine evening walks since the lock-down. It looks like an explosion just happened and debris is flying all over the place.  iPhone7, ¼ sec, f/1.8, ISO 20.

Chris D - Iris  Camera setting f4, 1/640 sec, ISO 100.
Taken with a ring flash, and cropped a little.

Mike H - The Thinker  Taken against a black background, the camera was on a tripod with a 100mm macro lens exposure iso 100, f 8, 1/250 sec, off camera flash. I set up the shot and set the exposure to let in the minimum amount of light. 250th of a second is the fastest shutter speed on my camera that allows flash sync without going to high speed sync and ISO 100 to again let in little light. I took one test shot at f5.6 and increased this to f8 as I was still exposing some of the black background. I fired the flashgun from the side in Paramount mode set to manual firstly at 100% flash and finally settling for 50% flash. All light for the exposure came from the flash gun which lit the figure only. The image was shot in raw and contrast was enhanced in post.

Stormy Evening at Austage End  Taken at 5.00pm following a stormy afternoon on a June day. The camera was handheld f11 at 1/125 sec at iso 400 and shot in raw. I increased clarity and brightness and enhanced the red and blue colour channels on a separate layer in photoshop blending the two together afterwards.



PeterAnother storm brewing in Westminster  Nikon D7100 2.5 sec, f/9.0, ISO 100, 28 mm. I did not get wet !!
Furrows in the Sky Olympus XZ1 Compact. 1/800 sec, f/7.1, ISO 100, 6 mm.

Elizabeth  I regret to say that on  most of the days when I took out my camera..............there were no clouds!!  Such has been the weather.
I did get something earlier this week and, remembering the previous challenge of angles, I bore this in mind.
When I first read the theme was "clouds" I imagined storms and spectacular cloud formations.  I  came to realise that the fluffy white clouds seen at the present time are actually very attractive!!
Canon 80D  F/16, 1/30 sec, ISO100,  Lens 24-105 at 50mm.

Back Walking at Ham Hill Taken on my Sony RX100 compact on our first dog walk to Ham Hill for 8 weeks!  AP and on camera fill in flash used.
A Break in the Cloud  Sony RX100 as close as I could get on AP, 25mm, f4, 1/100sec. I’ve been experimenting at home using natural filtering with no success, trust mother nature to oblige!

 Chris E - Up on the Hill  It was almost like the case with the ‘bird’ photo from the previous challenge in that they were a little too far away, even with my 175mm reach (350 on full frame camera).  However, when I took it into Silver Efex Pro 2 I think this low key version of the photo looks great.  It really made the clouds look dramatic and helps to elevate this photo to something special.  Taken on my Olympus Pen-F with the 45-175 lens attached. Hand held, f11, ISO 320 and 1/200s shutter speed.

Clouds 1 This image was taken on my daily walk and is of a field of Linseed which of course looked lovely in colour but I wanted the clouds to pop and achieved this more effectively with mono.  I used Lightroom and then Silver Efex Pro. Exp: 1/40 sec, f/14, focal length 82mm, ISO 100.

Clouds 2  The other day I had a weird idea of checking out what the clouds looked like if I lay down on my back and looked up!  I decided to use my wide angle lens as I felt some distortion would make an interesting concept so this is what I came up with.  I left the buildings and the trees in there to give the full feel of what I saw.  Again, I like the drama that mono achieves.  Processed in Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro. Exp: 1/160 sec, f/11, focal length 16mm, ISO 100.
EF16-35mm lens with polarising filter.


Chris E - Red Kite Silhouette.  I was out on my walk at the weekend and walked past a runner at a safe distance who saw that I had a camera and remarked that there was a Red Kite circling ahead....I looked down and replied “I don’t have the right lens.....”  I looked up and thought no chance with my 12-40mm lens but I thought boy, doesn’t that sky look interesting so I took a shot (f7.1).  Yes, the bird is quite small but what a sky... and because of that and some work in post (Lightroom and Silver EfEx Pro 2) I think I just get away with this silhouetted shot.

Say Ahh!  I tried a subject other than a tulip and this was the result.  The petals (to me) all look a little like tongues, hence the title.  This was taken on a tripod, 50mm macro at f20 ish with flash and a flash bender.  It was middle of the day so it was great that the background came out black!  Very minor work in Lightroom and Colour EfEx Pro 4.

Brian H - With no builders around the Jackdaws are nesting in the eaves.  Panasonic DMC G5. iso 160,1/640 at f11

Borage, but where’s the Pimms? - Panasonic DMC G5, iso160, 1/500 at f8


Challenge 14 x 2

Our second challenge since going virtual, and the fabulous images keep on coming!

Our first theme was changing the colour of the car, thanks to Ally for the image of the Porche.

The second theme was 'Angles in Composition'.

Chris D - Slimelight was taken after dark, with the aid of a torch, F8, 1/60 sec, ISO 800. The change of colour was done by isolating the vehicle with the 'quick selection' tool. Then 'Enhance', Adjust colour', 'Replace colour’.

Peter - No Prizes.  Obviously a bottle of Gin, taken from above with a light under the bottle.  There was a little left in the bottle at the time!! Canon 5D Mk iv, Sigma 105 @105,  ISO 100,   f/5,   1/15 sec. Some cropping and minor LR adjustment. Tripod used.

Jay in Free Fall!  Not really, just leaving it's perch.  Canon 5D Mk iv, Canon 70 - 200 @ 145,   ISO 200,   f/5.6,   1/800 sec. Quite a big crop and minor LR adjustments. Tripod used  

Malcolm - Car Paint Job.  Created in PS from the original. Colour selection tool used to create a layer mask which was then modified with a brush tool to correct the problem areas. Hue/Saturation, Color Balance, Vibrance and levels layers used to finish the conversion. Used LR to create final tweaks to colour balance. The final step was to use Analog Efex Pro 2 to add a selective background blur.

Five Past Three.  A busy afternoon in Sherborne. Taken on a Samsung smartphone at road level to create an unusual angle. 13mm equivalent focal length, 1/1600s, f/2.2, ISO 50.  Basic edits in LR and converted to monochrome with Silver Efex Pro 2. A quick edit in PS to reveal the clock face in colour by masking the B&W layer on top of the colour layer.

Pam -  Rusty Rain Drop. No surprise that this was taken in the rain!  I’ve noticed raindrops on these metal bird seed holders before and thought about photographing them.  I wanted to get the reflection of the window in the droplet to be in focus and concentrate on this.  I used my 100mm macro lens on a tripod. 1/60 sec at f11, ISO800.

Mike N - Car Paint Job. Imaging has never been my thing, and of an opinion that a photo should “capture a moment in time”. However, I felt I ought to give this one a go. Initially I tried using the “Quick Selection Tool”, but soon restarted using the “Lasso Tool”. I then used Enhance > Adjust Colour > Replace Colour, using the eyedropper to select the shade of red I wanted to swap, and with what colour. This process was repeated until all shades of red in the car had been suitably swapped. Finally, I cloned back the bottom of the post box (as seen through the Porsche’s windscreen), and the rear number plate to their original colours. Not the wildest of colour choice I must admit. I’m sure there will be some super spray jobs done by more proficient members.

Bubbles Galore   ISO : 400 Lens: EF24mm F2.8 IS USM F5.6 at 1/6 sec Aperture Priority Handheld – Natural lighting.  At first I thought this was going to be a relatively easy choice (I recalled at age 15 laying on my back to take photos looking up trees). However, whilst doing the washing up yesterday morning, I noticed all the colours, sizes and shapes in the myriad of bubbles. So, with the camera at the ready I ran a clean bowl of soapy water. I found the best angle to be overhead, as it gave a good degree of sharpness and avoided most DOF problems. I think it’s worked, but had to rely on a dense group of bubbles to be the focal point of interest placed on a “third”. My problem when post processing this image was in realising I had stopped processing and was just staring at thousands of bubbles…!

Wendy - Life on the Edge.  Settings were ISO200 f16 1/40th sec in dappled sunlight on my Olympus E-M1 mk II, using the 12-40mm lens. The exposure was adjusted, cropped and converted to black and white in L/R.

Elizabeth - Car Paint Job.  This is the result of seeing Sarah's exciting image involving "Twirls".  I have had tremendous fun with this (loads of tutorials on YouTube) and applied it to the car.   I also experimented with layers (don't faint), selection using the pen tool and changing colours.  Text was also touched on but I haven't got the hang of warping it.  Still..............another time.  Saw a tutorial about changing wheels so gave the car two new wheel rims.

Angles.  Here, the lesson learnt was less the photography than using my tripod!!!!  I have always known I can contort it into endless levels, including very low down, but have never actually done it.  In order to photograph the book I had to get to grips (ha ha) with the tripod..............so more knowledge acquired.  

I thoroughly enjoyed messing around and look forward to learning what the next challenge will involve.

Trevor - This is a picture I took last year of the V@A Dundee, its angular construction is quiet unique. It was shot on ISO200, 18mm,  f/8,  1/100 sec.

Fo - Car Paint Job. I hand erased the background and then played with tone, contrast, saturation etc until I got the desired effect. I'm afraid I'm a terrible one for not recording what I do as I'm playing with images.

Breakfast down under and Out with the Old. Both set ups taken from under my kitchen table. I had to clean the underside before I began as my grandson enjoys walking under it and trying to get the things from on top. I had to use lights as my kitchen was very dark. Both were taken on iso 650 at f4 at 1/60. It was hard to get the right amount of dof to separate the background from the subjects whilst also dealing with reflections.

Roger - Silver bowl (made by my father) Canon EOS 550D Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 lens Exposure 0.8 sec f/22 ISO 100.  Focal length 65mm.  Daylight, with diffuser screen, reflector, and tripod, against dark velvet background.

The Poacher (made by my paternal grandfather).  Canon EOS 550D Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 lens Exposure 0.6 sec f/22 ISO 100Focal length 105mm.  Daylight, with diffuser screen, small white spotlight (to illuminate the face), and tripod, against velvet background.

Sarah - Car Paint Job.  Failed miserable on the brief for this one!  I got so carried away with 'deconstructing' the Porche, I ran out of time to change the colour!  Bit of selecting and adding as another layer and changing the angle on the bumper and some use of the warp tool.  Added some rust using the paintbrush and then sharpening it. Holes on window were selected using the lasso tool and then darkening the inside.

Out of the Dark. I tried to get the feeling of depth by getting down low and getting the right depth of field.  Canon 60D, Sigma 105 lens, focal length 105mm, F18, Iso 100. Cropped and put through Nik Silver Effex Pro.




Challenge 14

The first of our Virtual Challenges looks to have been a success with plenty of support.

The themes were 'What I saw on my Walk' and 'Homes and Gardens'.

Look out for the next one which will be coming up shortly!

Some members included info about their images and they are attached below.

Mike Hermann:

Bluebell on my Walk -

1/400th sec, f2.8, ISO125, 100mm macro lens.

Bluebells and Primroses on my Walk -

1/1600th sec, f2.8, ISO 125, 100mm macro lens.

These two images were taken during my constitutional walk. They were taken at around 4.30pm when the sun was no longer too high and as I was near woodland, there were some long shadows. I was lying flat in the grass, so totally illegal as we are not allowed to lie down during lockdown, but it does give me the sort of angle I prefer!


I have a small project to photograph insects in flight, which requires a shutter speed of 1/1000 sec or faster for most.  This is possible with ISO 6400, but it’s much better with flash and, amazingly, this does not seemed to deter the ones I have tried it with.  The project is ongoing, but two images are attached which I am reasonably pleased with.  For the botanists, there is a profusion of wild flowers this Spring and I have seen several specimens of early purple orchid.

Mike Nicholls:

Gates - all handheld and natural lighting

Level Crossing Gate - ISO : 100, Lens: EF-S 18-135mm, F3.5-5.6 IS USM @ 75mm, F11 at 1/50 sec.

Kissing Gate (To Common) - ISO : 100, Lens: EF-S 18-135mm, F3.5-5.6 IS USM @ 18mm,F11 at 1/160 sec

Bridle Way Gate ISO : 100 Lens: EF-S 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 IS USM @ 18mm F11 at 1/320 sec

Flowers - all handheld and natural lighting

Tiny Blue Flower (in grass) - ISO 100, Lens:EF24mm F2.8 IS USM, F5.6 at 1/500 sec.

Dandelion Seed Head - ISO : 100, Lens: EF24mm F2.8 IS USM, F8 at 1/500 sec.

Bluebells - ISO : 100, Lens: EF24mm F2.8 IS USM, F5.6 at 1/500 sec.


My Images taken while walking around the garden.

Bumble Bee -

Kindly arrived while I was about to remove a nettle.

Canon 5D Mk iv,   Sigma 105 mm,   f/4.5,   1/2000 sec,  ISO 200.

Minor Lightroom adjustments,  heavy cropping to remove a cane.

Lock Down (Bluebell) -

I call this Lock Down as unusually the focus is on the buds as apposed to the flower bell(s) - most were shut this day with only a few open as WE await for 'normality' to return and everything is open again.

Nikon 810 Lensbaby, f/1.2, 1/600 sec, ISO 100.


Homes & Gardens!  I loved the early evening sunlight glinting on the orange calendula and from my kitchen window the orange and the blue look lovely together.  I used my tripod set down very low.  Camera settings ISO 1250, focal length 200mm, 1/640 sec at f6.3.  Image processed in Lightroom.

“What I Saw On My Walk Today” or rather last week.  I loved the structure of this tree and was very intrigued by the hole at the top.  I wonder if an owl lives in it?  I took this with my compact Canon G7x and converted to mono in Silver Efex Pro.




Social Isolating - no one told the cows!

Seen on a walk near my house.  The cows had just been let out after milking and clustered on a new area of forage just a few days after 'social isolating' began.  Taken on my iPhone, converted to B&W and processed in Silver efex pro

Starling attacks squirrel

A couple of days ago a squirrel tried to raid the starlings nest built in a hole made by a woodpecker a couple of years ago in an electricity pole at the end of my garden.  The 'battle' went on for a couple of hours with the squirrel trying to get to the hole and the two starling continually mobbing it.

It was fascinating behaviour to watch.  The squirrel was defending itself, rushing up and down the pole and protected its head by covering it with its tail.  Taken with Canon 5D Mk3, 100-400mm lens + 1.4 extender.


Madagascar Stick Insect-Wendy
Garden to Fork-Pam
‘Feed Me Horace’ (little Shop of Horrors)-Chris Edgecombe
Damsel Flies-Mike Nicholls
Panther Chameleon-Mark Tatchell


Macro & Close-up Competition

Our "virtual" club got off to a cracking start with judge, Sara Harpley, agreeing to evaluate the images externally.

The event was well supported with 31 entries from 16 photographers.

The results were:

First             Wendy Jackson          Madagascan Stick Insect

Second        Sarah Simpson         Chrysanthemum

Third            Pam Watts                 Garden to Fork



Chris Edgecombe      Feed me, Seymour

Mike Nicholls             Damsel Flies

Mark Tatchell             Panther Chameleon


All the images were circulated to members, together with brief notes from each photographer comprising technical data and notes of interest. This is not something that is ever available on club competition nights so was a welcome bonus.

Sara gave excellent feedback on all the images which was constructive and consistent so greatly appreciated.

Hopefully, with plenty of time on our hands in the coming weeks, we will be able to put into practice some of her suggestions and ideas.

Meanwhile, many congratulations to all the winners, particularly Wendy Jackson who is a new member of the club: great to see her gain success at the first attempt!


Macro & Close-up Competition

Our annual Macro & Close-up competition is still going ahead - please be sure to submit a maximum of 2 digital entries no later than Tuesday 31st March to the usual email address.

The images will be appraised remotely by the same external judge as previously announced, so you had all better dot your i's and cross your T's for this one!

All the usual competition rules apply:

Images should be resized to:

1920 pixels wide maximum

1200 pixels high maximum

sRGB colour space

You can find a resizing guide here.

For each image please include a title, PLUS, in addition we feel that it will be of interest to everyone to include a brief statement on the camera settings, details of any lighting method used, any special techniques used and any post production techniques used. Please include this information with your image submission.

Last years winners are on the right to whet your appetite 😀


Fire Wood - Jay Warnes
Kaffir Lily - Sarah Simpson
Ticking - Roger Gibson


Challenge 14

This is a great idea to keep us all thinking creatively whilst polishing up on our camera craft during the current lockdown.

We would like as many members as possible to submit an image every fortnight, showing us your new ideas and techniques to help keep us all on our toes and active.

The image should follow the normal competition rules, but can be of any subject. A few words from each photographer about how and why the image was taken would also be appreciated!

All images will be showcased on this page, so  stay safe and keep shooting!


SBA Camera Club