Informal club competitions

The Bolton Camera Club meets weekly throughout most of the year and gives a very warm welcome to visitors and new members. We have been sharing a passion for photography since 1884 and are more than happy to share with you, whether your interest is in film or digital, audio visual or more technical aspects of photography. 

Thursday 8th May 2014 saw the first round of our Audio Visual competition with guest judge Ian Stewart. Ian is a Wirral based professional photographer who has been awarded into the ranks of the Master Photographers Association, and he has also attained Licentiate of the Society of Weddings and Portrait Photographers.

There were eleven sequences in this competition, and judge Ian wanted to see each one and then comment on it before seeing the next AV. This ensured his comments were fresh and relevant to what had just been seen.

We ran a test AV first to ensure the sound level was correct and there were no unexpected “technical hitches,” and first up was “Ducks”. Ian thought the sound was quiet to start with, and he wondered if perhaps some music might have improved it. He explained that there is a pitfall with AVs and that is the challenge to follow the words can be taken too literally. An AV should let the imagination of the viewer fill the gaps, and in this case Ian felt the inclusion of a cat was too literal and not necessary.

Daffodils” as shown next and Ian described it as an “enjoyable sequence with a short poem or collection of words.” He said it contained “good images of daffodils, especially ones on their last legs.” He felt it contained “a group of daffodils that were too far in the distance, and needed to be closer,” and many of the images “needed to be taken lower down, closer to their level.”

The third AV to be shown was “Winter”, which Ian described as “a good sequence” and he enjoyed the falling snow and other effects, which were “not overdone and had a subtle use”. He also liked the choice of music and thought the black and white images changing into colour worked well. He felt some of the effects were “too loud”, especially the waterfall, adding that these “need to be in the background”. Ian said there were some “weak images like the spiders web, but many strong images like the bench and the hillside.” Ian wondered if the use of a voice over might have been better than the text, but if text is used it needed to be white rather than blue.

The Receiver” followed, and Ian felt it lacked something in not confirming the location. It had “a good soundtrack that suggested radio signals.” Ian felt the opening images had a green cast, but the layers at the end blending the dish with the stars was done well. He thought the tonality was “unsettling, as it needed to be either in black and white or colour.” The overall concept was “good, and it was a good idea.” 

Amazing Arizona” followed and Ian commented that overall it worked well, conveying “a feeling of a holiday on Route 66.” He liked the good shots in the diner, especially the cutlery shots and the close-ups of the old cars. Ian commented on the use of the zoom effect and reminded us that back in the day one took an image with the focus on the foreground, then without moving the camera take an identical shot focussing on the background. By dissolving them together in an AV a zoom effect can be created. Ian thought the panorama images were shown too fast making him feel dizzy. This sequence was made using windows media player which Ian explained was not the best software for AV- Pro-Show Gold or Pictures to Exe are better suited, and Pictures to Exe is more widely used and tends to have less technical problems.

Mist Opportunities” was shown after the refreshment break, which Ian said “wrong footed him” as he was expecting a sequence of landscape images with some mist!” He thought the use of Fred Dibnah’s voice was very good, and it made it evident what it was all about. He said the effects were good, as was the font used. He explained that humorous AVs can be good, but pointed out that they are not always funny the second time round. He encouraged us as a group to produce a Fred Dibnah AV, and recommended the need to create a storyboard and script first.

Northern Sea Side Town” portrayed “typical British weather” and Ian said the use of all black and white images worked well. There were several good individual images, especially of the birds. Ian suggested that the music can be faded to suit the length of the images used, and he wondered if the nuclear bomb effect might not be politically correct! He thought the bomb effect might have been better at the end rather than two thirds of the way through, to complete the ending.

Great Crested Grebe” contained many quality images that stand out, and the quality was maintained throughout. There was a good choice of music, which had empathy with the story. Ian thought the size of the font used was “too loud and somewhat in your face.” He felt the font “destroyed the sense of beauty from the images”, adding “it needed to be small and not bright yellow”, recommending the use of a colour from one of the birds plumage. Ian explained that the effect of trying to make a movie out of still images does not always work, and it did not work here. He said it would have been better to slow down the fades to leave the individual images on screen for longer.

Arizona and Utah 2012” was a sequence Ian liked, and he had been to some of the places shown. He felt that perhaps the tempo of the music dictated the pace of the show, which at times was too quick and did not give us a chance to enjoy the excellent images. He explained that in AVs a balance is needed between presentation, images and the music. Ian went on to describe how the use of the movie function in a DSLR camera can enhance a still image sequence.

The Penultimate sequence to be shown was “Lovely Day” which Ian said “contained many very good morning shots, and good timing had been used to take great morning and afternoon images.” He felt the tune is familiar but has rather repetitive vocals, which would cause some of the effect to be lost the second time round. There was good use of the various animals yawning, but Ian felt the hippo in sunset that was shown three quarters of the way through would have been better placed at the end to keep the timing. He said all these images came together well.

The final sequence in this competition was “Summertime” which Ian said the start was very promising, but he felt “it suddenly went off with the images of the street performers.” He acknowledged it was “a humorous AV but probably had a lifespan of one showing.” It contained a mixture of images and had a wealth of quality images, especially the bee and the flowers. Ina said “it created a good feeling at the start but then came back to earth with a bump.”


After further deliberation Ian considered his comments and scoring and announced the following results:



 Judge's Score

Club Points


Jeff Griffiths

1st Place


Great Crested Grebe

Richard Towell

2nd Place


Amazing Arizona

Joe Kelly

3rd Place


Mist Opportunities

Don Isherwood

Highly Commended



Mike Hesp



Northern Sea Side Town

Don Isherwood



Arizona and Utah 2012

Joe Kelly




Mike Hesp



Lovely Day

Brian White




Alan Bromiley



The Receiver 

Ray Jefferson



Our thanks to Ian Stewart for his constructive comments and helpful hints to encourage us to continue developing our Audio Visual skills.

A photograph taken by one of our members

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