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Camera club member shortlisted for major award

By Astro photography, Awards, News

The Sir Patrick Moore Prize for Best Newcomer

A photograph of the Orion Nebula and the neighbouring Running Man Nebula taken by longstanding Macclesfield Camera Club member David Tolliday has been shortlisted for The Sir Patrick Moore Prize for Best Newcomer in the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2015 competition organised by the Royal Observatory Greenwich. The results will be announced at an awards ceremony on 17 September 2015 and the image will be included in a book of award winning and shortlisted images. The image was taken during David’s first serious attempt at astrophotography from a dark sky site in Mid Wales in November 2014 using a Canon 5D MkIII camera and 500mm lens set on an Astrotrac borrowed from fellow Camera Club member Kevin Blake (Thank you Kevin). The time was well after midnight, the temperature was below freezing and there was ice on the tripod and frost covered the camera bag.

The image is a stack of five separate exposures taken at different settings ranging from 5 to 180 seconds at f4 to record detail the different parts of the nebula which have very different brightness levels. The images were edited and combined in Photoshop.

Orion Nebula and the neighbouring Running Man Nebula

David Tolliday’s Orion Nebula and the neighbouring Running Man Nebula


Internal Competitions Next Season

By News

The summer will  soon be over and the forthcoming season will see some changes to our internal  competitions .  Many clubs have already moved away from the scoring of every image, towards a more critique-based affair and so we are going to be experimenting with a new approach and also trialling some alternative judging methods.

Due to the decline in print entries,  five of the six competitions will be digital-only and one will be print-only.  A print-themed evening will be held ahead of this to offer advice and practical know-how on all aspects of producing a mounted print.  All members who wish to enter will also be able to  purchase mount boards from the club at a nominal charge.   The aim of this is to encourage more entries so that hopefully, a print section for each competition may be re-introduced at a later date.  Also, of course,  prints are essential for the continued success of our annual exhibition.

The rules for competition entry are otherwise largely unchanged (the detailed instructions on this will be updated in due course).  In summary, the judge or judges will be asked to critique all images then select a winner and 9 other commended images. These will then be scored from 10 down to 1 for the purposes of our league table.

In terms of judging, two competitions will still be scored by external judges and one (Landscape) will be judged by our own Mark Helliwell.  The other two will be scored by club members – one by a selected panel and the other by all members attending the competition evening.  The exact format of these competitions will be described nearer the time but they will also involve feedback/critique of all images. It will be interesting to see how this approach compares to the external judging we are all used to and hopefully will invite much discussion on how we run future competitions.

As always, looking forward to seeing some wonderful competition entries!

Photography day with the Vintage Racing Cars

By motor sport, News

A small group of Camera Club car enthusiasts headed out to the Vintage Car Racing at the Oulton Park circuit yesterday. Lucky again with the weather and light, giving almost perfect photography conditions, helped by the fact that these cars are good pace slower than the modern F1 variety.

Oulton Park is a great circuit for photography, lots of different vantage points without having to shoot through wire fencing. We left Macc at 8.15am to drive the 30 miles or so to the circuit and arrived in time for the morning practice session, we also met up with Matt Eagles an ex-camera club member who now lives near to the circuit. We used this morning session to walk the circuit and see where the best points were to photograph the actual racing which started after lunch at 12.45pm. We were also able to walk the paddock and get close up photos of the cars , their engines being work on and chat to the owners, all very friendly stuff. There were 10 races which gave ample opportunity to get some shots and to practice with slower shutter speeds, panning and varying angles. It needed around 125th second to get good panning shots whilst handholding lenses up to 400mm. We got plenty of single car shots but the best are the actual racing shots with four or five cars battling it out for position.

Steve Gresty, David Tolliday, Conor Molloy and Matt Eagles.

Vintage racing cars in the heat of battle

Vintage racing cars in the heat of battle


Vintage Racing cars at Oulton Park

Vintage Racing cars at Oulton Park

Camera Club ladies experimenting at Biddulph Grange

By News, outings

Four of our Camera Club ladies have recently visited Biddulph Grange, a delightful high Victorian garden organised by the National Trust. It is an amazing garden created by James Bateman for his collection of plants from around the world. We had a lovely day relaxing in the gardens and despite it being busy and very bright we all captured some lovely images. As you can see we were also experimenting with our technique.

Alison Lomax, Chris Aggersbury, Pamela Carr, Val Lear





Camera club trio head to Gannetfest !

By News

Shortly before 6am we left Macc to drive the three hours to sunny Bridlington Harbour to meet up with Steve Race the days organiser (he recently featured on BBC Countryfile) and seven other keen photographers. We had booked on an ‘Above and Below’ photography experience of Bempton cliffs – below the cliffs on a boat in the morning then on the top of the cliffs in the afternoon.We caught our boat out into the North Sea in good time with the aim being to try and get images of the Gannets diving for fish. We only went about half a mile off the coast stocked with five large buckets of fish. Along the way to our spot we are able to catch images of Fulmars, Puffins, Razorbills, Guillemots and various Gulls riding on the waves.  As soon as the boat captain began dispensing the fish into the sea the Gannets started circling and then diving at speeds up to 60mph like arrows splashing into the sea. As Gannets do, they would then argue and fight over fish ownership.



It was really tough to get actual diving pictures as the birds moved so fast. A higher success rate was achieved by focusing on the fish and waiting for the Gannets to emerge and be pounced on by their fellows. We must have had around 200 – 300 birds circling our boat and over 40 minutes or so we were able to get many images of the feeding frenzy. It was such an incredible experience to see these birds diving so close to the boat at such amazing speeds. They were so close that long lenses were not really needed. After lunch we headed by car to Bempton Cliffs for some top down images of Kittiwakes and their chicks, mating Razorbills and lots more Gannet activity from the different viewpoint.

Steve and his Yorkshire Coast Nature team run these trips about 10 times a year in the summer months so if you are in any way interested look them up.

David Tolliday, Steve Gresty, Conor Molloy.