Happy New Year from PhotoActive

Philip and Norene Dunn would like to wish all of you a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2010.

2009 has been a very good year for us, and we are very much looking forward to meeting old friends and new ones on our 2010 Photography Holidays and Courses.

We are often asked why we don’t extend our Photography Holidays to include other countries as well as Menorca. Well, the answer is simple – it’s about friendships, loyalties and having the high quality of the holidays we are able to offer in a place we know and love. We have total confidence that we can provide a very special holiday when we work with our hotelier friends in Menorca.

Our Photography Holidays are not about endurance, they are about learning and having fun – and that’s exactly what we intend to continue doing in 2010. We hope you be able to join us.

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE

Philip

Photography Art Prints – coming soon

I’m really pleased to announce a new development for the PhotoActive website.  An online Fine Art Print Photography Gallery where customers can select and buy ‘Wall Art Prints’ for their home or office will be launched very soon.

Wall Art Photography PrintsFor the first time, the Gallery will make my Art Prints available from the growing collection of images I’ve captured during a long and successful photography career. These photographs include such diverse subjects as a portrait of a ‘cool’ Cypriot priest, and the sun rising on Mount Cook in the New Zealand Alps. Some images are intended to simply raise a smile – others are much more thought-provoking.

Buying Wall Art, or Fine Art Photography Prints, for yourself is a way of bringing an element of individuality to your home or office, it also makes a very special and lasting gift for a close friend or loved one.

The Gallery should be up and running in early January 2010 with an initial collection of some 200 images. This will be extended on a regular basis as the negatives and transparencies are scanned.

I will of course be adding new contemporary digital images as I capture them and work my way though an archive collection of colour and black and white photographs that now numbers well over 100,000.

No, you’re right, I’ll never get around to scanning that lot.

If you have been to me for a Photography Course and you can remember any of my images that particularly appealed to you, please let me know. I will move it to the top of the waiting list.

Hope you’ve all had a great Christmas!

A very Happy Christmas from PhotoActive

Norene and Philip Dunn would like to wish everyone a very Happy Christmas.

Thank you to all the photographers who have been on our Photography Holidays & Courses, and who have helped to make 2009 such a very happy year for us.

Good Wishes to you all – may your Christmas be peaceful and filled with happiness.

Norene & Philip Dunn

Free Bottle of Wine from PhotoActive

Before the start of the Christmas Holiday I’d like to thank all those photographers who have helped make 2009 such a successful year for PhotoActive. Norene and I have met some lovely people on our photography courses and holidays both here in Scotland and over in Menorca.

We’ve also connected with a great bunch of keen photographers through the PhotoActive website and our instructional photography DVDs are proving ever-popular.
So thank you for your support this year and I hope I’ve been able to help you with your photography along the way. I get a great buzz in seeing your photography improve.
To thank you for your interest in the photography courses, holidays and DVDs, I’d like to offer you a bottle of wine to celebrate with this Christmas.
If you book and confirm a photography holiday in Menorca before 1st January 2010 we’ll knock off £10 from the full price – which should be enough for a decent bottle of wine and even a mince pie or two!
Just mention this Special Christmas Offer when you book your Photography Holiday in Menorca.
Norene and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

We’ve also connected with a great bunch of keen photographers through the PhotoActive website and our instructional photography DVDs are proving ever-popular.

santa02So thank you for your support this year and I hope I’ve been able to help you with your photography along the way. I get a great buzz in seeing your photography improve.

To show our appreciation for your interest in the photography courses, holidays and DVDs – and to get the festive spirit underway – we’d like to offer you a bottle of wine to celebrate with this Christmas.

If you book and confirm a photography holiday in Menorca before 1st January 2010 we’ll knock off £10 from the full price – which should be enough for a decent bottle of wine and even a mince pie or two!

Just mention this Special Christmas Offer when you book your Photography Holiday in Menorca.

Norene and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Christmas Photography Gifts

Top Photo Challenge Winner

As most of you will now know, I have closed down the PhotoActive Forum in order that I can concentrate on other aspects of the PhotoActive website. This means, of course that the Monthly Challenge comes to an end as well. Of course I will not now be able to put the list of finalists to a members’ poll. Instead I have selected my top favourite image from the list of monthly winners.

The photographer who took that top favourite image wins a full day of one-to-one photography tuition with me here in SW Scotland.

I have very much enjoyed seeing your pictures each month. I hope you have benefited from my comments and photo critiques each month. Thank you all for entering.

photo-feb-cathy-optimism-tn

February OPTIMISM Cathy

photo-march- bridges-davidc-tn

March BRIDGES Davidc

photo-april-chris-rust-tn

April RUST Chris

photo-may-joint1-cirlces-ianproc-tn

May CIRCLES Ianproc Joint First

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May CIRCLES John Glover Joint First

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June HANDS Ian Smith

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July ON FOOT - Sudds

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August WINDOWS Crookymonster

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September CORNERS Fwilk

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October SMILE Ernabasson

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November speed John Glover

and the winner is…

PHOTOACTIVE PHOTO CHALLENGE – PHILIP’S TOP FAVOURITE PICTURE

Overall winner of the PhotoActive Photo Challenge - July - ON FOOT - Photograph by Sudds (Jeanette)

Overall winner of the PhotoActive Photo Challenge - July - ON FOOT - Photograph by Sudds (Jeanette)

Very well done Jeanette – congratulations. I look forward to seeing you here in Kirkcudbright in 2010 for a day of one-to-one photography tuition

This is what I said about this cracking photograph when it won the July PhotoActive Photo Challenge


Christmas Photography Gifts

PhotoActive Forum closed

As from this morning, 12th December, the PhotoActive Forum is closed.

The PhotoActive website will be placing greater emphasis on the Photography Holidays and Photography Courses in the future. A new gallery for sales of my archive photographs, plus new lots of additions, will be launched very soon. Closing the Forum will enable me to spend more time on these important aspects of the website and also let me spend more time actually taking my own photographs.

All the members of the Forum have been emailed and an announcement was made on the forum before it closed. Maybe it will start again in the future, but at the moment there are no plans for that.

Obviously the Monthly Photo Challenge will not now be put to a members’ poll to judge the overall winner for the year. Instead I will choose my top favourite image from all the monthly winners… a very difficult job as the standards are so high and the range of photography subjects so diverse.

The winner of my Top Favourite Photograph will be announced very soon. This photographer will win a day of one-to-one photography tuition with me here in SW Scotland.

Thank you to all the participants and all those who contributed to the Forum. From a standing start less that one year ago, we gathered 150 members and shared a great deal of information in a very friendly manner. Special thanks to Maria and Carl – the Forum Moderators – for all their hard work.

Jessops Christmas Gift offers

Here are some Special Christmas Offers on camera & photographic gear to help bring a little Christmas Cheer…

Just click the banner below – use the codes when you are checking out of Jessops.

JESSOPS5 – 5% off most items* – ends 30/09/10

XMAS10 – Spend between £150-£299.99 & get £10 off* -ends 24/12/09

XMAS20 – Spend between £300-£599.99 & get £20 off* – ends 24/12/09

XMAS30 – Spend between £600-£799.99 & get £30 off* – ends 24/12/09

XMAS40 – Spend between £800-£999.99 & get £40 off* – ends 24/12/09

XMAS50 – Spend over £1000 & get £50 off* – ends 24/12/09

This code has the following exclusions: all web exclusive deals, gift vouchers, extended warranties, all DSLRs, all lenses, the Nikon Coolpix P6000 8GB card bundle, the Canon Ixus 100 (all colours) and all Olympus E-P1 kits

Short term voucher codes

DIGITALFRAMES10 – 10% off all digital photo frames – Ends 31st Dec

BINOS15 – 15% off all binoculars – Ends 31st Dec

NIKD700 – £30 off the Nikon D700 body – Ends 18th Dec

JESSOPS5 – 5% off most items* – ends 30/09/10
XMAS10 – Spend between £150-£299.99 & get £10 off* -ends 24/12/09
XMAS20 – Spend between £300-£599.99 & get £20 off* – ends 24/12/09
XMAS30 – Spend between £600-£799.99 & get £30 off* – ends 24/12/09
XMAS40 – Spend between £800-£999.99 & get £40 off* – ends 24/12/09
XMAS50 – Spend over £1000 & get £50 off* – ends 24/12/09
This code has the following exclusions: all web exclusive deals, gift vouchers, extended warranties, all DSLRs, all lenses, the Nikon Coolpix P6000 8GB card bundle, the Canon Ixus 100 (all colours) and all Olympus E-P1 kits
Short term voucher codes
DIGITALFRAMES10 – 10% off all digital photo frames – Ends 31st Dec
BINOS15 – 15% off all binoculars – Ends 31st Dec
NIKD700 – £30 off the Nikon D700 body – Ends 18th Dec


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Photo Challenge -’SPEED’ winners

Here are the winners of the November Photoactive Forum Challenge ‘Speed’ – together with my observations and critiques for each picture. The range of subjects for the challenge was tremendous, everything from wildlife to sport and dogs.

Great stuff everyone.

A – THIRD PLACE
Quick getaway – Russell

Camera: PENTAX K100D

Shutter Speed 1/1000sec

Aperture f5.8

ISO 400

Photograph A

The word charming comes to mind immediately on seeing this beautifully captured picture.

I suppose it’s a pity the little blighter was foraging on a carpet of autumn leaves because the russet colours tend to blend in, but it takes very little away from the pleasure of seeing this chap speeding back to his winter larder.

Well done Russell, I love it.


B –  FORTH PLACE
Girls’ rugby – Ben Rodwell

Camera: NIKON D80

Shutter 1/320sec

Aperture f3.2

ISO 200

Photograph B

This shot rates pretty highly when it comes to capturing the speed and action. Everything is there – even the determined expression that make up a good sports picture.

However, the impact of the picture can be heightened instantly by cropping off the woman spectator on the right and cutting out a little at top and bottom of the picture. See my crop below as an example.

Now ALL the viewer’s interest is concentrated on what really matters – the speed and the action of the players.

Photograph B-crop


C- FIFTH PLACE
Running dog – ernabasson

Camera: Canon EOS 40D

Lens 100mm Macro Canon

Shooting mode: Aperture pr

Shutter speed: 1/4000sec

Aperture f4.0

ISO 400

Photograph C

photoshop-levels-before

I thought this was a super shot – full of speed and action. The line of backlit water splashes have given visual interest and the whole feel of the picture is – to me- pleasing.

BUT – the image is a little over exposed with the highlights and mid-tones too light. With just a little adjustment in the Levels of Photoshop this is very easily corrected.

After opening the image in Photoshop, I looked at Levels (Ctrl+L). There was a large gap on the left of the histogram (see my red arrow). By sliding the black gamma arrow to the right to the point where it is directly below the start of the histogram (see my second red arrow), the image is corrected.

photoshop-levels-afterIt took all of 15 seconds).


See the finished image below.







Photograph C-after


D – FIRST PLACE
Fair – John Glover

Camera: Canon EOS 450D

Shutter Speed:1/20sec

Aperture Value f5.0

ISO 800

Photograph D

Here it is – almost everything you could expect from a great fairground picture – a really strong impression of speed.

The expressions and hands gripping tightly tell you that the fairground ride is speeding round even if the action blur doesn’t. The colours help bring atmosphere and the whole picture fits the theme perfectly.


E –  SECOND PLACE
Horse cart – Phil

Camera: Canon 400D

Shutter Speed: 1/400sec

Aperture: f18

ISO 200Photograph E

This picture had to be anticipated. Otherwise Phil must have been very fortunate indeed if he was pointing the camera at that gap between the pyramids at precisely the moment the horse and trap trotted across.

Had the horse’s front leg been separate from the bottom of the pyramid – so creating a totally ‘clean’ silhouette, the image would have been just about perfect – but it aint far off perfect as it is.

I have just cloned out the tourists and straightened the image a little – even if the horse was actually running downhill, the picture still looks better with a straighter horizon.

A great photograph Phil – very well done.

Photograph E-cloned



F – SIXTH PLACE
Rowing on the River Wear – Fwilk

Camera: Sony A300

Shutter Speed: 1/50sec

Aperture f8.0

ISO 100

Photograph F

I was actually quite surprised that this shot was not more fully appreciated in the poll. It gives me a strong impression of speed and effort.

I think it is improved by a simple crop – left and right sides are distracting. But that’s all. I like the blur and I like the strong, contrasty backlight. This has had the effect of lighting up the splashes.

Photograph F-crop


Christmas Photography Gifts

Photography Competitions & matt photographic paper

Last night I spent a very enjoyable evening with members of the Stranraer Camera Club. I was judging their Open Competition, and I have to say I was mighty impressed by the high standard that the club is achieving. It is a pleasure to go to the Stranraer club because they are always so welcoming

The wide range of subjects was pretty impressive – everything from studio portraits to swing-lens panoramics to black & white photography and still-life.

I very much prefer not to judge these competitions in the usual dry, serious manner that seems to be the norm for some camera club judges. The Stranraer club bring me all the entries a week before the club night so that I can go through the pictures and look at each entry very carefully. I then score each image out of a maximum of 20 points. But more than that, I make notes about each picture and when I go along to the club night, I put each entry up on an easel and explain to everyone why I have arrived at my decisions.

We may look bedraggled - but we had been out photographing in the rain. Here Stranraer Camera Club member Wilma get a little help from a rather damp photography tutor

We may look bedraggled - but we had been out photographing in the rain during our photography workshop. Here Stranraer Camera Club member Wilma gets a little help from a rather damp photography tutor. Photograph by Peter Faircloth

I try to offer constructive criticism and guidance where I believe it is needed. The aim is to help everyone improve their photography and get more from it.

One thing I noticed last night was the high proportion of photographs printed on matt photographic paper. In fact some entries were printed on very expensive rag-based art paper. I am not a fan of this matt paper for photographs. I have never yet seen an image – particularly a black & white image – that has achieved really ‘vibrant’ depth of colour and tone when printed on matt paper. Blacks especially always seem to be dark grey – dead.

Two members of the Stranraer Camera Club have already been along to my Photography Weekend Workshops and it has been a real joy to me to see the progress made by these two keen photographers.

One of them, Wilma, came along to a photography workshop quite recently. She was using a really nice FinePix compact and tiny tabletop tripod. I shall never forget the pleasure in Wilma’s face when she discovered the delights of slow shutter speeds and let her use a good full-sized tripod. She aquired a tripod of her own soon afterwards.

Anyway, Wilma did really well in the Intermediate Section of the Open Photography Competition last night with her cracking picture of a robin sat on an old abandoned piano – very well done Wilma.


Christmas Photography Gifts

NEW – PhotoActive E-Brochures launched

Spurred on by the increasing difficulties and expense in getting paper brochures delivered by Royal Mail, I have now set up a system for sending out e-brochures to those of you wanting a little more information about my Photography Holidays & Courses. Of course, for those of you wanting copies of my small paper brochure – your are most welcome and they will remain available. The good thing about an e-brochure is that I can easily keep it up to date with the latest dates and prices.

photography-courses-screenThere’s nothing flash or fancy about these e-brochures, they amount to a nicely designed email containing some pictures with lots of information and relevant links. They are designed to help you make your choices about the sort of photography holiday or photography course you might enjoy most. They will explain what’s available and how you can benefit.

For those of you unsure whether or not to book a holiday or course, there’s another important aspect to these e-brochures: perhaps you need a little re-assurance that everything is genuine before you pay your deposit or buy your Gift Voucher through the PhotoActive website. I quite understand. In making contact with you by sending you the e-brochure I hope we can build interest and confidence.

My plan is, over time, is to develop the e-brochures into something of a regular Newsletter.

As the e-brochures contain some images, please ensure your e-mail programme has the IMAGES facility switches ON.

So, send for your e-brochures now

I look forward to hearing from you.

Philip


Christmas Photography Gifts