Last Night – Home training ground; Making an AV; Photographing birds in flight; Autumn into winter

Last night, another evening of insight from our own ranks, as we were treated to four speakers sharing their images and skills.

John Boyd’s title, Home Training Ground, referred to the daily practise that helps us get familiar with our camera and what it can do. Satisfying images can be hard to come by when we’re struggling with our gear. On the other hand, cultivating a habit of taking photos every day helps us get to the point when the camera becomes an extension of our eye, and it’s no longer an effort to think about which settings to use. Illustrating his message with scenes from his daily dog-wallks, John has set us a challenge – to take daily images in December, and bring the best ten to share at the next Members’ Night.

Dave Moran showed us how to make an audiovisual presentation, a self-running slideshow of images with a soundtrack, perhaps to tell a story or set a mood in a way that’s a little different from a single image. His hands-on demo used PTE software (it stands for Pictures To Exec), available for Windows and Mac. There are other products, based on similar principles, offering a variety of features. Dave’s timing is spot on – an AV does take a bit of planning; our annual Simpson Cup is contested in March; and we now have four weeks off over Christmas to get organised.

Tom Ryan’s Photographing Birds in Flight suggested that, to capture striking images of small things that are both distant and fast-moving, it can be helpful to turn our back on manual settings, and instead let a modern high-end camera take a lot of the guesswork and luck out of the process. With examples from four days out over the summer, Tom showed us what’s possible, and how freeing ourselves from the technicalities lets us concentrate on the feeling we’re seeking to convey.

Finally, David Hay shared a series of images from his local walks around Pitlochry, taken during the time when local walks were the order of the day. These showed the great variety of autumn colours on the trees, mists hanging above the Tay, the way the sunlight refracts through the dewdrops – so many of nature’s wonders can be found not far from our doorsteps, even if we live in the town. David tells us that these were taken on a lightweight consumer-level camera with a plastic lens – no high-end megabuck pro gear here. But, to come back to John’s message at the start of the evening, his eye is trained by many years of daily practise.