Tuesday 30th November 2021
Wildlife Photography Part 2
Tracy Lund, ARPS, CPAGB, AFIAP, BPE1
Tracy, a member of a photographic society at Cottingham a part of Hull, where she lives and works for the local unique telecoms company. She revealed that she had had a love of wildlife from an early age and had owned a camera since childhood. She credited her love of wildlife as the path which lead her to emerge from a very difficult part of her life, with leverage from the challenges she sets for herself in photography. A realisation that wildlife made her happy was instrumental to her well-being and the memories engendered within her images perpetuate the joy. Testament to her success in surmounting these challenges is the long list of qualifications and awards which she has amassed, through her photographic endeavours, a list far greater than that shown above.
She uses Canon equipment and emphasised that success is only rewarded by application, even when it seems that disappointment is to be the outcome, it is wise to expect the unexpected and be prepared with the camera always switched on and ready for action. A willingness to spend thirty-six hours in a hide is indicative if this approach.
She is widely travelled in pursuit of her images and the talk was arranged around the locations.
Alaska. The base for this expedition was a house boat, “Puk Uk” from which excursions were arranged to visit the river spawning grounds of salmon and witness the annual glut of bears seeking to build up their fat reserves prior to hibernation, feasting on salmon catch. The reward was evident in a series of excellent images of the action. The close proximity of the bears could be intimidating, but they appeared to readily tolerate the photographers and even strike endearing poses, especially true of the cubs.
Yellowstone in Winter saw Tracy joining an organised party using a converted people carrier fitted with caterpillar tracks to negotiate the deep snow. The snow encrusted bison were captured, mainly on the highways, which they tend to use as least effort transit routes, with complete disdain for road traffic. Also recorded were elk, coyote and a magnificent lone wolf.
Canada using a boat sailing from Telegraph Cove in north-east Vancouver Island provided abundant opportunities for orca photography. The wish to take images at eye-level with the creatures was thwarted by the hight of the boat deck above sea level, which made the situation less than ideal, coupled with the fact that the lens used could not cope with the close proximity of these gigantic creatures. Never-the-less fine images of killer wales and breeching humpbacks were shown. A rib excursion to Knight inlet for more bears was largely fruitless, being devoid of salmon, but the return journey chanced upon a wolf and a sea otter. A flight to Bella Coola bear sanctuary was also a failure due to an unexplained influx of salmon, leading to mass deaths resulting in bears being satiated without needing to use catching skills.
India by contrast provided unforgettable encounters with tigers, beautifully captured in camera from a safari vehicle, which induced a large inquisitive male to walk right past the vehicle. In addition, a great variety of birds were shown, as well as a sloth female bear with cub, chipmunk and mongoose.
Zimanga, South Africa is a game reserve exclusive to photographers, which caters for their every need, with all mod cons and carefully designed hides that are dug into the ground to allow eye level photography. The luxury accommodation was not fenced, allowing the wildlife to wander through at will. A great succession of big game animals visited during day and night, provided superb opportunities to get up-close images. Needless to say, that Tracy explored the situation to full advantage, with amazing images of lion elephant, giraffe, rhino, cheetah, zebra, wild dogs, warthog, buffalo, jackal, hyenas, together with a selection of the indigenous birds. A deadly puff adder captured close to the accommodation block was photographed with a long lens, prior to release in distant parts.
A repeat visit is planned for next January, virus permitting, for which she has organised for a party of ten to have exclusive use of the reserve.
Hide photography from around the UK for images of our abundant wildlife brought the evening’s presentation to a close, which it was insisted to being valued just as highly as the visits to exotic places.
In response to a question Tracy advised that her go-to camera setting are manual control, with auto ISO, preferred shutter speed 1/1000, with an aperture of f5.6 to f7 and single point focus. She warned against shooting at maximum aperture due to limited depth of field.
Whilst dangers exist around wild beasts, it is minimised by acting responsibly.
The booking of the Zimanga reserve is more economically achieved through Jonathon Lewis of Norfolk Wildlife Photography rather than booking directly.
Andrew and Sarah Skinner were also able to make good value bookings.
Tracy, a fluent speaker, provided a masterclass of wildlife photography, in which her passion is probably an essential ingredient. If we have a reasonable internet facility in our new meeting room a projected Zoom event from Tracy part 1 or 3 might well provide the highlight of the next programme of lectures. Something to savour?
Tuesday 23rd November 2021
Its not what you see, its what you make
Mike Martin, AFIAP, AWPF.
Mike from Bristol, joined us via Zoom and explained that he would visit creative, portrait, abstract, landscape and street photography. Additionally, he would review the images gained him his Welsh Associateship. He revealed that he owned his first camera when he was eleven, and had been using photoshop since the early 1990s. He has been sponsored by Fotospeed for ten years and he provided a discount code, MM 909123, which will secure a 10% discount on purchases from Fotospeed for all of our members.
His approach to photography is to simplify to make the most of what you have got in the image and if that does not prove sufficient, add something and then provide a stern critique of his own work. He advocated entering competitions and had personally had many acceptances in international salons.
Many portrait images were shown to illustrate methods of simplifying images and a favoured route was the use of mono conversions and judicious cropping. Much of his work used composite methods and rather than cutting out partial images for inclusion, he favoured layering images and then revealing the requisite part using a layer mask to allow it to show through. “Black conceals, white reveals”.
The panel of twelve prints which secured his Welsh Associateship qualification were shown and a detailed explanation given for the inclusion of each print, together with their inter-relationship for their final arrangement within the panel.
After the tea break, Mike displayed and discussed the body of work which he produced as a diversion during the lock-down period, again heavily biased towards exercising his Photoshop skills to produce creative composite images from his archive material. A five minute Photoshop exercise was performed to illustrate how a very solid Copenhagen tower photograph was transformed into an ethereal image which took on the illusion of glass architecture with added figures, in the style of Marcel Van Balken, who he much admires Numerous examples of his travel photography were shown, often taken whilst away from home during work commitments, when he is always accompanied by a camera. These included, abstracts, landscapes and street photography, mostly subject to extensive photoshop rework.
Mike organises regular photographic events for a group of members of the “Photographers with Disabilities” charity and rather than receiving a lecture fee asks that a donation be made to their cause, which Brian has arranged.
Mike provided an awful lot of information and shared details of a lot of Photoshop techniques as material for our members to squirrel away to their advantage, within a very full and fast-moving evening.
Tuesday 16th November 2021
A to Z of Imaging
Dave Russell AFIAP
Dave’s introduction to photography commenced as a schoolboy using a box brownie camera and he has now completed thirty years as a member of Cardiff Camera Club and has served as past president. He has a wide photographic interest and has been successful in gaining acceptances of his images in many international salons and exhibitions. This talk has its origins in agreeing to lecture for another club and whilst he was considering a title. It was included on their printed programme as “Dave Russell’s A to Z of Imaging”, which has been retained through subsequent evolution.
A – Achilles statue in Corfu and cathedral Arches.
B – for Becky a girl who was a regular model in the 1990s and provided base material for much subsequent work.
C – Creative a skilled Photoshop technician allowed transformation of images and composites.
D – Dragons, still resident in Wales and last seen breathing fire at the Ebbw Vale Garden Festival.
E – Edinburgh Princess Street Scott memorial, Grey Friars Booby, Our Willy, drummers, bagpipes and kilted rickshaw man
F – Faces the fringe with a host of posers with grease paint make up.
G – Greece islands of distinction, churches, windmills and murals.
H – HDR, blending three images exposed for different areas of the image then blended in Photoshop, Sherborne Abbey, work shed used by Dylan Thomas.
I – Insects macro work, crop to fill frame and Infra-red with converted camera bought from Ifrareddy,
J – Joiners multiple part images shot randomly and then assembled as over-lapping prints with drop shadows to portray the whole.
K – Kenya – superb shots of the big beasts on a photographic safari.
L – Landscapes Llangollen Castell Dinas Bran, Snowdon, Llyn Padarn, Anglesey, Buttermere, Bradwell, Stanage Edge millstones, Curbar Edge.
M – Monochrome Tie and tuxedo, Dungeness, Kings College Cambridge. Newcastle Millennium Bridge, St. David’s Cathedral, Mwnt Chad cardigan bay, burial cmber.
N – Northumberland Lindisfarne castle, upturned boat huts, Bamburgh Castle, Dunstanburgh Castle.
O – Ornithology, Llanelli WWT, Dorset swannery, Skomer Island, puffins, razorbills, robin, coal, blue, great tits, siskin, chaffinch, dunnock, reed bunting, starling and Aberystwyth murmurations, GS woodies, kingfisher, Kenya hoopoe, bee eaters, weaver bird, lilac breasted roller.
P – People club member sessions, Tasha, Indian Brave motorbike, Severn valley railway 40s event, welcome to Cardiff kiss, Porthcawl, self portrait.
Q – Quirky hospital exhibition, Vyrnwy sculpture, Machynlleth garden.
R – Reptiles skink Singapore, crested lizard, mud skipper.
S – Sport white water kayaking, Cardiff half marathon, Tour of Britain bike race.
T – Transport L, Lamborghini, Jaguar, Anglia hot-rod, Cadillac, Railton Special, MaClaren, Ferarri GTO 250, Porche Boxster.
U – Uzes South of France, fruit market colour, pont du gard the amazing Roman bequest.
V – Venice grand canal, Photoshop smart blur, gondolas.
W – Water water falls at different shutter speeds, Neath valley falls.
X – Cardiff hospital X ray department session.
Y – Yuletide Xmas cards, Museum of Welsh Life.
Z – Zoom in camera zoom rally car, power boat,
Dave provided a very comprehensive photographic evening, in which his wide-ranging proficiency was very evident. His delivery was flawless, thought provoking and illuminating. The Cardiff club includes multiple set subject competitions in their programme, which A to z drew on. Much background information for his actions and methods were shared freely. A very good speaker who was able to include something for everyone.
Tuesday 27th October 2021
Travel Through My Lens
Colin Dixon CPAGB, IFIAP.
Colin explained, that as a senior player in the oil and gas industry, the last thirty years of his working life had been consumed by constant world wide travel, such that he had recently clocked up1,278,066 airmiles with BA alone, not including extensive travel with the rest of the worlds major airlines and saw him visit forty countries and sixty-five cities. He experienced a revived interest in photography in 2009, having found that raising a family and work commitments, had rather terminated the earlier interest of his youth. The travel aspect provided opportunity for his return to photography, but frequently he was only able to exploit situations by making work the filling in a sandwich between rising early for daybreak photography and capturing after-dinner sunset scenes. Work opportunities were supplemented by holiday travel with his wife. The onset of prolonged Covid-19 risk conditions, understandably made a life of travel untenable and eventually brought conviction that his age profile dictated that it was time to retire, which vey evidently now brings unprecedented new photographic opportunity. Fortunately, his wife shares the passion and they are both members of Tetbury Camera Club, which provides an appreciated competitive environment for his work. Recently he has also joined a Bristol club He originally was a member of the Nikon camp, but has now moved to embrace the Sony technology, but retains the Nikon kit after conversion for infra-red work. A lightweight Manfrotto tripod is often used for low-light situations and ND long exposures So far as is possible, he tries to compose images in the viewfinder, rather than crop on computer, to ensure the best available resolution of the whole frame is applied. A brief sojourn into candid and street photography prompted the purchase of a compact Fujifilm camera, but he frequently found himself on the receiving end of abusive subjects, which extinguished his initial enthusiasm.
Images flowed literally from around the world which propelled him from winning club competitions to successful entries in international salons. In addition to travel photography, his keen interests include portrait and glamour work. Owning an apartment on Lake Garda, he arranged a photoshoot there for a like-minded group, with imported models from the UK, for which the dress theme was the swinging sixties.
Images were shown from the low countries, with the remarkable railway station at Liege and the Kinderdijk windmill park near to Rotterdam being memorable. Istanbul, Japan, Israel, Singapore, Sarawak, Hongkong, Chile, Spain, Oman, America’s National Parks all featured in a seemingly endless supply of beautiful image.
The Lake Garda apartment provided a convenient base to take in the multitude of classical Italian scenes, where it was found necessary to venture out at daybreak to avoid the hordes of tourists brandishing I-phones and I-pads, who make it all-but impossible to compose images during normal hours. A further avoidance ploy, which is abundantly presented by the classical buildings, was to capture the amazingly ornately decorated ceilings, for which the pivoted screen on modern cameras facilitates success with hand holding. March 2020 thus brought an end to work life travel photography, but he revealed that a whole range of leisure travel now beckons for the attention of his camera, with his wife as a willing partner.
Colin presented an excellent evening of photography, which regrettably was only enjoyed by twenty-two members. His delivery style resonated with the easy-going Northeast tones of his origins. I’m sure that the resumption of live meetings will boost our attendant numbers, but losing the presence of the likes of Colin will be a loss, unless we resolve to include the occasional Zoom event, provided that the Regents Park technology permits.
Tuesday 12th October 2021
Let’s be Creative
Adrian Lines MPAGB, FBPE, ARPS.
This new presentation included forty images which were produced during Covid-19 lockdown. Adrian insisted that his creations only really exist once they are printed on paper and consequently, some of their richness is lost as projected images. He is an advocate for Paper Spectrum with whom a 10% discount can be arranged. He admits to a love of using Photoshop and confirms that every image he produces is a different creation in terms of photoshop application.
The forty images were composites and each was displayed in their finished state with salient detailed explanation of his objectives, but their evolving journey of transient formative states was also briefly illustrated, starting with how the image left the camera. Adrian insisted that remarkably each creation was completed within one or two hours and that it was rare for the process to extend into a second day. He shunned the use of candid photography and always sought to engage with his subjects, even when it was necessary to resort to sign language in foreign lands. An 18-55mm lens was often used so furtive work was not possible anyway. The importance of composition was afforded the utmost consideration, to the extent that the inclusion of elements was carefully examined and if included their position adjusted by the inch. Much excellent advice for success was offered during the presentation.
Travel was much enjoyed and provided the opportunity for image collection and also for the collection of textures and backgrounds to support his ‘cut out’ images. A trip to Cuba was facilitated by a local photographer, who was able to provide access to impressive buildings with local dancers as models. The forty images were split into a number of themed sections, “Cuban Spirit”, shots in Havana, “Creative Equine” using a grey pony at a local stables and a female model draped in along red dress, “Through the Wardrobe”, models in stately homes in glamourous crinoline dresses, “Toy Town Terrors” using toy dinosaurs, star wars characters and robots superimposed on towns and cities, “Night Time Stories” often using Holly Holy Day shots, for which he is a regular Nantwich visitor and “Dancing Devas” featuring ballet dancers in stately homes and derelict mansions.
A final lockdown initiative propelled Adrian into producing a series of self-portraits, using various articles from his vast selection of props and clothing to depict himself to great effect as a whole range of characters, produced in his living room with a small flash set-up and camera tethered to a laptop.
Adrian revealed himself as a master practitioner in the use of Photoshop, having the ability to apply his imagination to transform a typical mundane shot into one with tension, intrigue and captive dark mystery. Surprisingly he only uses a small selection of the available tools. A common feature of his work is the fastidious attention to detail. It is not surprising that he has attained great success and surely there is much more to come. When we return to a live environment it would be great to view the subtlety of his prints. A great presentation, well delivered.
Tuesday 28th September 2021
Rules and other myths of Composition
Sue Clark LRPS CPAGB AWPF.
A trip to Paris when a schoolgirl marked Sue’s first venture into photography. In later life she joined a photographic society and decided to research the factors which provided the impact or ‘wow’ factor to images in order to improve as a photographer. This lead to investigating the oft quoted rules of composition using books and the all embracing internet. Starting with the rule of thirds, it quickly became evident that there were many more aspects to the subject and so she assembled the intensely comprehensive treatise of her presentation. Included beyond the rule of thirds were the golden ratio 1.618:1, golden spiral, golden grid, eye of rectangle, light and dark, negative and positive space, power of lines, Hogarth curve, leading lines, middle foreground background, triangles, circles, containing stoppers, odd element counts rather than even, differential focus, burnt-out highlights, crop tool, diagonals, zigzags, framing, vignetting, repoussoir, movement, space to move into or not, implicit sound, square and oblong formats, colour wheel, analogous colours, complementary colours and much more not noted.
It was suggested that comforting composition may be inherent in our DNA. Much evidence was provided to support the belief that composition rules have been handed down since ancient Greece, through to the old masters in the art world and similarly in architecture and have become intrinsic in our very being. Even so it was also true that breaking the rules could also have a very powerful effect on the emptions. All the elements in an image must contribute or else they should be omitted. Sue confessed that much of her work were composite structures. She advocated seeking out the evidence for composition in the world that surrounds us, from the work of film producers, particularly in the days of mono and the silent era, through to advertising material in books and on TV, where establishing the emotional appeal is fundamental to making the sale. Signing off Sue insisted that we should not take things too seriously, it is essential to have fun!
As mentioned, the presentation was extremely comprehensive and beautifully delivered. A valuable contribution indeed to our programme for both experienced and new workers.
Tuesday 21st September 2021
The Hoylake International Exhibition
Brian Magor supported by Diana
Prior to showing the exhibition images, Brian and Diana explained how the Hoylake annual exhibition came into existence. Following a photographic visit to Yellowstone, Diana was invited to join a judging panel comprising of three members in Florida in 2009 for an exhibition for which there were five thousand entries. The judging started at 8.00am, with judging essentially being a very rapid cursory process and acceptance and rejection was decided on an instant reactionary basis. The judging panel was in receipt of pressure from the organisers for not progressing fast enough, but, never the less the task was completed by the end of the day. Repeat invitations brought the realisation that the process was quite easy for the two of them to arrange and in 2012 they were inspired to establish the Hoylake International Exhibition to a similar format. Brian undertook to provide the technical input whilst Diana to arrange the practicalities, including the food and accommodation requirements for guest judges. Once established, entries are now received from around the world with strong support from Australia, New Zealand, Germany, China, Malaysia and North and South America. Among the guest judges, many local names have featured as well as international representatives. The annual event has proved to be a great success and source of revenue for the Hoylake club and has sponsored the purchase of several club projectors and laptops and even enabled all club members to join together for a free Christmas dinner!
The presentation comprised a compilation of selected images from the eight years of exhibitions from 2012 to 2019, at which point the Covid-19 pandemic interrupted the event. It is intended that given a favourable recovery, an exhibition will go ahead for prints in 2022 and Brian was hopeful that members of the Nantwich club would submit entries. In passing, Pete Allcock mentioned that he had entered in the past without gaining an acceptance, but was encouraged to keep on trying.
To a musical background, from sources which spanned the generations, a deluge of amazing images were rapidly projected, categorised as follows:- Creative, Dogs, landscapes, The Colour of My life, Some birds some nostalgia, Photojournalism, Glamour, Mono, Nature Images, Some more, L&CPU Winners, Chairman’s choice and World Photo Associations Gold Award Winners.
The thoroughly enjoyable evening revealed an inspirational undertaking, which has provided the Hoylake club with international recognition. The success of the annual exhibition is an immense tribute to the endeavour of Brian and Diana, which must surely make them feel deservedly very proud for a job well done and continuing. Having them visit Nantwich once more in person is essential.
Tuesday 14th September 2021
My Restless Lens
Dr. Keth Snell
Keith originated from Chester, but is now based near to Cockermouth in the Lake District National Park and joined us to present our first event of the new season using Zoom.
He explained that the title of the talk was derived partly from his love of travel, but also from his love of different aspects of photography. He explaining that tonight there would be four sections., Patterns/Abstract, Portrait/Figurative (nudes), Wildlife and Landscapes.
Images were captured from diverse locations, ranging from linear submerged pebble patterns on Solway beach, York minster cathedral ceiling, Canary Wharf new railway station escalator, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Diego shopping mall, the Eiffel Tower, a slate quarry in Borrowdale, Icebergs in Iceland, through to rock formations in Death Valley. He particularly picked out the strength of triangular elements within each image.
The gophs week held in Whitby was recommended for providing photo opportunities, explaining that the participants expect and wish to be photographed and consequently are very co-operative. One or two examples of girl portraits were shown in which all the rules had been broken, but once more triangular elements were exploited. Similarly, actors performing on the street during the Edinburgh fringe provided rich opportunities. Further work in the studio with a local girl actor/model were shown.
Images were shown produced both out-door and in the studio, In order to emphasise form, some were burnt out to remove detail texture. In passing Keith paid tribute to Bill Brandt by pairing his own work with that of Brandt. Out-door work was inspired by attending a course in the Yorkshire dales lead by Tim Piles, who has lectured in the past at Nantwich with nude works presentations. Typically, experienced models were asked to take positions to be photographed as a boulder within a dry-stone wall.
This section gelled with his travel excursions, resulting in excellent work. This included a chimp portrait taken in a zoo, puffins on the Farne Isles, gannets at Bempton, local moorland for grouse chicks, curlew, redshank, ring plovers on the Solway beach, waxwings on a Keswick car park, grey heron on a local pond, banded demoiselle on a nearby stream, red squirrel near Bassenthwaite, local tawny owl, penguins in Antarctica with chick and predator skuas, low key snow petrel, humpback whale interacting with the inflatable party, sad polar bar in the Canadian Arctic melting sea ice, cheetah in Botswana and a pair of night time rhinos, like book-ends at the water hole in mono, elephants nurturing their young, and an angry young bull elephant reacting to teasing by baboons, wild dog directing a wildebeest to a pack kill, a sea otter in Pantanal Brazil with fish meal, a caiman devouring an anaconda, back to Africa for nyala antelope portrait feeding on a bush, antelope as lion kill remains for vultures, African skimmers fishing. pied kingfisher with fish prize, malachite kingfisher, bee eaters and finally his favourite very colourful lilac breasted roller.
Once more his travel inclinations and Lake District domicile provided many opportunities for his excellent work. Iceland was commended for its unique environment and the mission for triangular element structure was further pursued. In addition to conventional landscape work, over recent years, abstract landscape renditions have become an important part of his work, produced by deliberate in camera movement. These were taken at low shutter speeds and the camera was moved progressively, both linearly and for some in a saw tooth manner, depending which features he wished to give prominence. He insisted on including them as a part of his competition entries but confessed that they received a very mixed reception. Similar work was produced using a feature included in his camera which allowed up to nine images to be merged in camera, which offered immediate assessment on the cameras screen as an advantage over doing similar things in Photoshop. Further effects were demonstrated by the use of zooming during exposure.
Keith was a fluent speaker, who provided excellent technical background information for his work to aid anyone who wished to try replicating his photographic activities. He delivered an excellent opening for our season, which unfortunately was only enjoyed by twenty members.
Tuesday 7th September
Our weekly club night meetings recommence on Tuesday 14th September 2021, when we welcome guest speaker, Dr Keith Snell EFIASP EPSA LRPS. It has been decided to continue using Zoom for the time being; a decision on when to recommence normal group meetings will be made during the autumn.
Thursday 20th May 2021
The 2021 NCC EXHIBITION OPENED TODAY
Our exhibition at Nantwich Museum was due to open in January but the third lockdown meant that the museum hasn’t been open to the public for all of this year. The museum has now reopened on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays with a view to returning to full opening hours as soon as possible, namely Tuesday – Saturday 10.30 am – 4.30 pm. We are very pleased that our exhibition in the Millennium Gallery can now be viewed and will be on display until Saturday 17 July. At the moment visitors are advised to book their visit by telephoning the Museum on 01270 627104, when they will be advised of any specific requirements.
For further information contact: Nantwich Museum on email@example.com or telephone 01270 627104; Website: www.nantwichmuseum.org.uk – https://www.facebook.com/nantwich.museum – https://twitter.com/NantwichMuseum
Like all of the 2020 – 21 season meetings, our Annual General Meeting was held using Zoom. Our club members are now well used to meeting online – so they weren’t inhibited by the technology. The Chairman acknowledged that these are difficult and uncertain times and that they were likely to continue for many months to come – with no certainty that normal meetings would restart in September. A full programme for the coming season has been prepared and the meetings from September through to Christmas time have been organised so they can be held online or in a meeting room. The decision on when and how we resume club room meetings would be left until mid-August.
8th & 9th May 2021
Lancashire and Cheshire Photographic Union Annual Individuals Competition
To read a full report about this competition, please see the “Competitions” pages
Tuesday 20th April 2021
Ol Pejeta Conservancy 2017
Glyn was chairman of Pyle and Porthcawl Photographic Society for nine years, but now in semi-retirement, lives in Stafford. He has had an association with South Africa for the past twenty-four years and has spent extended periods recording and photographing the great range of birds and animals to be found in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy sanctuary. The sanctuary combines a working ranch with seven thousand head of cattle with its conservancy activities and is located in the shadow of Mount Kenya, protected within one hundred and eighteen kilometres of boundary fencing. The sanctuary’s specialist role is the centre of last resort for the technically extinct northern white rhino, which they hope to reintroduce by implanting preserved embryos into the few remaining females, the last male having already been lost.
Glyn revealed himself to be a highly competent photographer, resulting from being a semi-professional for many years, with great detail knowledge of the vast range of the creatures typical of south Africa. He used two Canon camera bodies, a 7D MKII and an 80D. He held the Canon 70 – 300mm zoom lens in the highest regard and it was used for most of his photography, supplemented occasionally by a 100 – 400mm, when required for more distance shots. Having spent much time at the reserve, he was recognised and accepted by many of the animals, which I’m sure gave him the edge in securing the superb images, which punctuated the entire evening. He was able to make a close approach to many of his subjects und used his car as a hide, shooting through an open window. He has clearly developed a love for the animals and for the dedicated operators of the sanctuary. He fondly related to the gentle nature of many of the big beasts and was able to recognise the significance of many of their behavioural mannerisms, The number of species featured were far too many to list, but it is suffice to say that everything that one might expect to see appeared and many more besides, each superbly portrayed by a master craftsman.
Glyn’s presentation was faultless, clearly well-rehearsed and delivered with a hint of gentle Welsh brogue, all of which combined to provide a most impressive and enjoyable evening, which deserved to be supported by more than the twenty-five who attended.
The good news is that Glyn has a range of further talks and has confirmed to me that he would be happy to visit Nantwich in the future.
Tuesday 13th April 2021
Japan’s Winter Wildlife
Roger Geldard BPE3*
Roger is a member of South Manchester Camera Club and lives in Stockport. In February 2020 he joined an organised winter tour to Japan with NatureLens travel company, who provided an itinerary which matched his needs. The group of photographers consisted of three Germans and three from the UK with two resident leaders from the UK. The journey was rather tiring with three legs, Manchester to Frankfurt, Frankfurt to Tokyo and Tokyo to Hokkaido island in the north of Japan, where hotel accommodation provided much needed recovery time. Thorough prior research produced a detail plan in order for Roger to capitalise on the opportunities to be presented. A prior trip to the Isle of Mull for sea eagle organised boat trip photography provided a foundation for the likely skills which would be required. The bulk and weight of his Canon DSLR full frame equipment exceeded the permissible hand luggage weight restrictions, especially for the final small plane internal Japanese leg. This persuaded him to change to Sony mirror-less full frame camera bodies, which are very much more compact and even allowed one to be carried in a coat pocket. Existing Canon lenses were adapted for use with the Sony bodies, one a A9 II 24.2MP for wild life work and a A7RIV with 61MP for landscapes. This change enabled the eight-kilogramme limit to be achieved, with a tripod and monopod to be included with hold luggage. The importance of fully absorbing the control features of a chosen camera prior to departure was emphasised, especially as conditions down to -20 were expected on this trip. A 200 – 600mm f5.6 – f6.3 lens with constant length internal zooming and a 1.4x multiplier was used mainly.
The Sony bodies provided many other benefits, amongst which are, new batteries which coped with extreme cold conditions without rapid loss of charge, a histogram and all other settings included in the viewfinder providing legibilty in sunny conditions, unlike back panel displays, a large buffer memory which enabled repeated long bursts of exposures, enhanced auto focussing, which incredibly was able to latch onto the eye of an eagle at distance and render it sharp, whilst tracking its flight, advanced in-body stabilisation and customisable buttons which allowed rapid change to say the focussing mode, The mirrorless arrangement simplifies the auto-focussing facility, avoiding the careful calibration necessary with DSLRs, where the light path is reflected from numerous surfaces to reach the focussing mechanism, each of which can induce errors. Images may be reviewed in the viewfinder, again avoiding the back-panel becoming obscured due to incident sunlight and generally allowed the exposure to be judged to be correct if it appears to be so in the viewfinder.
Roger always used the camera in manual and silent mode, shooting in RAW quality with auto white balance and used the electronic viewfinder histogram display to ensure a degree of underexposure so that highlight detail was retained. Large birds in flight generally could be satisfactorily captured with exposures of 1/800 to 1/1000th of a second with typical aperture of f7, with ISO adjusted to suit. Small birds move much faster and consequently need a faster exposure. The temptation to fill the frame during bird photography was advised to be avoided, because it is not possible to anticipate their movements, which can easily result in the subject being clipped in the frame when they flap around. Wildlife shots were preferred to be taken so far as is possible at the same height as the subject, for best effect. For this mission multi-layered warm clothing was essential, with the hands being particularly vulnerable because gloves reduced dexterity in the use of the camera controls. At all times the well being of the wildlife was paramount to avoid causing distress.
Tsuri red-crowned crane sanctuary was visited for a spectacular display of the crane’s courtship in the snow. The birds mate for life and perform extraordinary synchronised dance gyrations, which can be difficult to capture in isolation. The sequences were presented in a couple of video presentations, one of which was to music.
Akan Crane Centre was also visited, though considered to be a less satisfactory location.
An outing was taken to photo Ural owls, which were located in a tree hole provided excellent images.
Lake Kussharo was next visited for whooper swans on a partially frozen misty setup, but conditions were not ideal.
Notsuke peninsula provided ready photos of confiding red foxes constantly with their nose to the ground, sniffing out food in the tundra and the occasional deer appeared.
The highlight of the visit however was in pursuit of over wintering steller’s eagles and white tailed eagles at Rausu,, a sea port where a boat trip for photographers was taken. The crew attract the eagles by throwing fish from the boat which the eagles swoop to snatch from the water and sea ice with their talons. Chaotic fighting scenes were witnessed and incredible images captured.
This was followed by visiting Nemura for Lake Furon where more eagles and black-eared kites were photographed in difficult conditions of heavy falling snow, which severely limited visibility, but even so delivered some enviable shots.
A return flight to Tokyo enabled a session with the famous snow monkeys, though unfortunately without the snow.
Mount Fuji disappointed by hiding behind a deep mist to prevent the intended spectacular dawn light images, prior to the flight home.
Roger provided a compelling evening of superb images, which provoked one member to congratulate him for providing the best item in the current lecture programme. Certainly, there was much to savour and it would be highly desirable to receive a live visit to Nantwich from Roger with more of his excellent work, when we fully emerge from virus limitations.
Tuesday 23rd March 2021
Inside my Head part 1
Janet Haines, FIPF ARPS GPSA EFIAP DPAGB
Just re-patriated from the Netherlands to Torquay due to the Covid pandemic, Janet is a print worker selected by Permajet to be one of their ambassadors. Her PI conversion presentation consequently cannot portray the very important subtlety made possible by the selection of paper surfaces available to her. She revealed that she has a fairly rare condition called synaesthesia, which for her is a blessing, but can be a debilitating problem for others when in extreme. Its effect is to retain the visual details of fantasy dreams, generate how things smell when thought about and to create visual images in her brain when she listens to music.
She uses Photoshop facilities creatively, explaining that she is self-trained in its use. Her chosen learning path is by selecting from the many You Tube instructional videos to address her knowledge gaps as they arise. Accepting that Photoshop has a vast range of facilities, she is happy to operate within the limits of current needs, rather than to try to learn the full capabilities, just for the sake of doing so. Her approach is to run You Tube on a laptop beside her photo editing desktop PC and to follow the You Tube instructions implicitly, pausing the video between each step, whilst applying to her image. It was emphasized that once learnt, the techniques must be re-used regularly, because otherwise they are easily forgotten. She produces her own fantasy backgrounds for her images, by mixing coloured paints in a bowl and taking progressive images during the mixing process. Whilst out and about, she takes pictures of everyday objects, as possible elements for inclusion in her fantasy images. She now has a library of many thousands of such elements at her disposal. Her images are assembled from layers, each carrying an element for inclusion, often texture filters are applied and then masked, using a brush to allow the prominent features to bleed through as required. Colouring of elements are changed to blend with the whole. Careful use of filters may be used to counteract the harshness of ‘cut-out’ elements in dreamy productins.
She opened with a review of the panel of photographic art images used to gain her ARPS qualification, all of which were a translation of fantasy dreams or nightmares into a visual image. Her photo-art images always start in her head. Previously, her LRPS panel, whilst at Dorchester camera club was gained with conventional ‘real’ photography, London tube train shots and old master-like images etc. but she realised that new challenges were integral to her psyche, hence the move into fantasy, which gained her many entries into international salons.
Realising that she was not happy relating to people, studio work was initially unattractive, but in the spirit of the next challenge, with a friend she enrolled on a three-day nude modelling course, with instruction on lighting, using two nude girls and one elderly man for character studies. Astutely, Janet realised that it was essential to have a prior plan for what you wished to achieve, or the models quickly used their professionalism to take the initiative and to slip into well-rehearsed attractive poses, resulting in images identical to those of everyone else. The experience propelled her into a newly found love for nude studio figure studies, in which careful control of the lighting was critical. Faces were often omitted to transfer the emphasis onto contours of the mostly female body, again with much use of texture filters, suitably masked for effect. Studios were hired and relationships were built with numerous models and dancers to secure superb images, which again received international acclaim, one of which gained the accolade of champion of champions in the American PSA.
Having gained silver status in the US with a panel of her nudes, she determined to go for the top gold status together with the top status of fellowship of the RPS and fellowship of the IPF in Ireland. Basically, a selection of thirty images were selected, from which twenty were submitted to each authority. For the US PSA a four-row arrangement was required, for the RPS three rows and for the Irish IPF two rows. All of the images were photo art constructs of the images mentally created in response to a selection of mixed music from popular to light classics. The creations were displayed, each explained and they featured a mix drawn from nude, portrait and fantasy images. Success was achieved in America and Ireland but not from the RPS. The next challenge therefore is to reverse the RPS set back.
In closing Janet offered the following advice for photographic development.
“We must never stop learning, exploring and challenging ourselves to do better – get out of the comfort zone.”
The club was privileged to enjoy a beautiful, inspirational presentation from Janet, a truly remarkable lady of great talent and determination. Problem, how to receive Inside my Head part 2!
Tuesday 16th March 2021
Justin gained an initial insight into macro photography, some seven years ago, by purchasing a set of inexpensive extension tubes, which when used with ordinary lenses, enables enhanced close focussing. This sparked a new enthusiasm which extended into an appreciation of natural history subjects, all of which prompted research into identifying species captured aided by a set of three books published by Collins for fungi, butterflies/moths and wild flowers. At the tie, he was living in a Manchester flat with access to nearby fields and allotment plots, supplemented by a window-box plants on his home balcony, all of which provided potential access to subject matter during lockdown conditions. Weather forecasts were studied to decide the best opportunities for clear, still wind-free conditions, which when favourable, were met with dawn excursions, to capture attractive dew on vegetation and rendered insects immobile on their roosts until energised by the rising of the sun. He quickly became aware of the problems inherent in macro, chiefly very little depth of field and his natural enthusiasm prompted the purchase of a now favourite 100mm f2.8 lens for his Canon camera in his quest for greater quality which he invariably mounted on a Manfrotto tripod, with the inversion of the centre column for low level work. A lens mount sleeve was obtained so that the camera could be easily rotated from landscape to portrait format. Though he had an expensive canon flash unit, he found comfort in the use of natural light, which he always used in preference, To counteract limited depth of field the significant elements of the subject must be positioned in the frame to be in the same plane, for them to be brought to a sharp focus. Justin explained that the second part of the evening would address photo-stacking, which is a software-based method to increase depth of field. Recently, a move of home to New Mills has provided access to a disused Derbyshire railway formation, now a footpath, which provides rich habitat.
Sensitively lit images were shown for flowers, saplings, ferns. damselflies, dragonflies, butterflies, moths, beetles, spiders, bees, wasps, leaves, fungi, puffballs, crickets and grasshoppers, for each of which the difficulties were carefully explained, together with the lighting arrangements employed.
After a five-minute break, Justin explained how photo-stacking could be used to counteract the limited depth of field problem, which the laws of physics inevitably impose on single frame close up images, even when small lens apertures are utilised. To counteract this problem, a computer-based solution is available in which a series of images are taken of the subject, with the point of focus incremented throughout the subject, from the nearest point to the most remote. These images are loaded into the software, which selects the sharpest elements from each of the images and then ‘stitches’ them into a combination single image, with sharp focus throughout the subject. The images require to be carefully assembled using the camera on a tripod in still conditions. The focussing may be carried out manually on the camera, or by using a focussing rail to physically move the camera forward incrementally, with the focus set to manual and not changed or in the case of some new cameras, with mirror-less displays, using a built-in automatic photo-stacking capability. Justin uses a Novoflex focussing rail arrangement, tripod mounted. He illustrated areas which need to be carefully considered in order to achieve optimum results and showed deficiencies from taking insufficient frames. He uses Zerene Stacker software, which he has found to be efficient and affordable. Many images were shown, some of which had been commended in commercial competitions and had been published, which he confessed brought great satisfaction. Home made diffusion screens were used to counteract strong directional sunlight, with careful thought applied to ensure simple sympathetic background hues. Video illustrations of his techniques are freely available on the popular social media sites; for Facebook it is with the justin garner tag.
Justin provided a very informative evening for the club, in which his latent enthusiasm, curiosity and dedication to photography shone through for all to see. The Zoom media continues to provide a valued contribution to club photography pending the return of live meetings, which may soon be possible. At some point we would wish to welcome Justin back to Regents Park.
Tuesday 9th March 2021
My World of Photography Rory O’Connor, AIPF, AFIAP
Benefitting from living in Cork on the southern coast of Ireland, Rory explained that he considered himself not to be an expert, just someone passionate about seascapes. He claimed that anyone can do what he is doing photographically, which may be true, but sadly not many of us aspire to the levels which were demonstrated in profusion by Rory.
When aged seven in Tipperary, family gatherings for sport events always resulted in a photo and Rory was selected to press the shutter on a typical ancient bellows camera. In 2011he joined East Cork Camera Group, where he was influenced by the work of Wesley Law and Michael O’Sullivan. In 2013 he moved to his present club, Blarney Photography Club, which meets for fifty-two weeks of the year, the summer months of which consist of club outings and long week-end visits. Image editing is done mainly in Lightroom with, normally limited resort to Photoshop. During the extensive Covid lockdown periods however, he has experimented by re-working images in Photoshop.
He uses a Nikon D800 often fitted with a 20mm prime lens, normally used in manual mode with ISO set at 100 and aperture at f16 with exposure the sole variable shooting in camera Raw mode with single spot focus and invariably under exposes to retain detail. Exposure time varies from two or three to thirty seconds Other equipment listed were, Benbow tripod with Manfotto head, Lowepro Whistler 450 carry bag, Lee ND and Grad filters, Hahnel remote shutter release, hot shoe spirit level, lens cloth, towel, wellingtons, combat clothes with equipment dedicated pockets, layered clothing and warm hat. The towel, additional warm dry clothes together with the carry bag remains in the car from where the pockets are loaded with equipment for the shoot. Much work was done in the evening, when the Cork coast provides dramatic sunset lighting. Nic Color Efex Detail Extractor plug-in is often used during processing.
A seemingly endless supply of beautifully lit images was presented, which were most impressive and for each salient taking details were shared, together with brief processing details. His stated intentions was to capture colour, motion and reflections, so ably achieved. He aims to get among the rocks or in the sea, but emphasised that care was needed to ensure personal safety was observed at all times. Favourite coastal locations were re-visited over and over, in realisation of the ever-changing conditions presented by the excellent quality of light on his doorstep, though excursions into the Kerry peninsula and Dingle supplemented possibilities. His seas all seemed to have dynamic movement, atmosphere and subtlety.
After the break Rory demonstrated his versatility in the spirit of having a go at other genres, with landscape, portrait, macro and natural history. A Covid provoked rework of some images using Photoshop filters and layers, resulted in pastel versions of his seascapes, which again were most impressive. A brief tour of the highlights of the city of Cork was dispensed with characteristic Irish humour and pride, suitably referenced to events in history. An over-view of the panel of images used to secure his AFIAP qualification were shown and it was noted that fellowship status is now work in progress.
Once more Zoom took the club to meet another distant individual, who’s presentation was up there with the best, in terms of photography and entertainment value. Covid bestowed another unintentional blessing upon us. Members not availing themselves are seriously in self-denial. Fishguard to Rosslare is an attractive crossing for an easy entry club long weekend trip into Cork, Kerry and Dingle, how about it
Tuesday 23rd February 2021
Arctic Foxes of Iceland and UK Winter Wildlife
Alison Jenkins, ARPS, DPAGB, BPE1*
Twenty-six devices joined the meeting. Alison came to us through the Zoom medium from here home in Ware Hertfordshire. She explained that the first part of the talk would relate to a birthday gift from Simon, her husband and fellow photographer, which was a trip to the Arctic wastes of Iceland in winter, to photograph the Artic foxes. The second part would be related to photography of some of the species which have adapted to the winter Arctic conditions to be found in the highlands of Scotland.
The organised tour to Iceland was for a small party of photographers lead by a local guide. The staged journey to the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve, located at the extreme north-west corner of Iceland entailed a flight from Luton to Reykjavic airport, followed by an internal half hour flight in a twenty-five seat turbo-prop Saab aircraft to a small coastal town, from where all provisions for the five days had to be procured from a supermarket. The entire party were then put to work to load everything into a small sea cruiser to reach the nature reserve. However, the cruiser’s draft was too great to approach land and everything and everyone had to transfer to an inflatable dinghy for the final approach to shore, which still entailed disembarking into the sea for the final paddle to the snow laden shore. All the gear and provisions had to be laboriously ferried ashore and then transferred a short distance up the hill in deep snow, to the solitary five-bedroom basic three-story house accommodation for the holiday. Solar panels and a generator provided electric power for two hours per day and central heating was powered by a wood burning stove which had negligible effect in that breath was as visible inside as outside. Three layered clothing was needed both inside and out, even when sleeping. Special £180 wellington boots proved very effective in keeping feet warm at all times.
The photographic subject was a solitary blue morph female, who guarded her territory to the exclusion of other males known to be in the area. Within the park hunting is illegal, which resulted in the fox becoming reasonably obliging in allowing careful approach by slowly crawling in the snow to avoid spooking her. The fox recognised the house as a place where food was occasionally discarded which to supplement anything which she could scavenge. The first day provided reasonable weather conditions, but from thereon it deteriorated with forty-five mph winds driving horizontal snow and ice requiring sunglasses to protect the eyes at minus fifteen degrees. The conditions severely reduced battery life and spare batteries had to be kept within warm clothing. The camera lens combination was encased in a camouflage cover to resist the incursion of snow. For lying in the snow an additional plastic mac helped to prevent snow penetrating clothing, which leads to rapid body chill. The fox has evolved with dense fur, which allows it to ignore the weather extremes and made daily visits regardless. providing regular photographic opportunities. The images were superbly captured, especially those taken in blizzard conditions.
After the short tea break, Alison switched location to a wintery Scotland, in the Cairngorm National Park, Nethy Bridge, Glenshee, Loch Garten and the Findhorn valley all portrayed in slightly better snow conditions. They were introduced to some of the prime locations by Neil McIntyre, who provides photographic tuition and hide access with mod cons in the Findhorn valley. They now have become self-motivated for self-guided trips to their favourite winter snow locations. A plethora of beautiful images were shown of mountain hares in their white camouflage coats, ptarmigan, red-grouse, red deer, red squirrels, crested tits, great tit, coal tit, bull finch, robins and chaffinch. Some of the images were taken from hides, but many more were taken using the careful slow crawling in the snow technique, to get within range and secure a low level view point.
For the Iceland journey it was necessary to travel light because of weight restrictions on the local flight and little tolerance of hand luggage. A Canon IDX MK II was used with just two lenses, a 10-400 mm sometimes with a 1.4X supplementary lens used generally and a mid-range zoom little used. Having trained as a professional wedding photographer, she had been strictly directed to always shoot in manual mode, using Raw quality, which has now become standard practice in her psyche. For snow scenes it was recommended to over expose slightly to retain texture in the snow. Normally an aperture of f8 was selected and she was happy to allow the ISA to adjust automatically between limits. The aim was always to get the exposure right in the camera, with confirmation sought from the rear screen histogram. Most of the image editing was done in Lightroom, resorting occasionally to Photoshop facilities when necessary. The Topaz plug-in was also used sparingly to counteract noise problems.
Alison delivered a beautiful presentation, revealing herself to be a very capable photographer, with an enchanting personality. I possibly mentioned before that Zooming around without the limitations imposed by travel considerations, provided the opportunity to apply discrimination in favour of female speakers to the programme assembly to an extensive degree. This is not possible when booking within the selection limits of our local federation speakers. I believe the ladies have been a great success and Alison was definitely the icing on the cake.
Tuesday 16th February 2021
Jeremy Malley-Smith, LRPS, DPAGB, BPE2*
Twenty-nine devices joined the meeting with Jeremy connected to the club from his Blackburn home. As a regular photographic visitor to the Scottish west coast or wet coast as is frequently the case, he explained that for his photos, he would explain why it was taken, the technical issues to be addressed and provide tips and guidance for success. He warned that after May/June midges mount a significant deterrent to all photographers excepting only the very brave or immune and conditions don’t improve until autumn. Hotel accommodation was shunned in favour of self-catering cottage hire, which can be selected to ensure adequate available space for the vast amount of equipment, which he feels he needs, in order to cover all eventualities The areas frequented on the mainland included Glen Etive in the shadow of Buachaille Etive Mor, Glen Coe just beyond, the Knoydart and the Ardnamurchan peninsula. The Isle of Mull, just a short crossing on the Cal-Mac ferry from Oban provided limitless opportunities, together with the small boat trips to outlying islets of Staffa, Iona and Ulva, which can be arranged for photographers.
Lichens and flora require careful consideration in terms of depth of field, camera to subject distance and subject to background separation distance to ensure a well diffused background. Lens focal length contributes and experimenting with different lenses is often rewarded. Isolated ferns and bluebells populated the meadows and woodland glades on the Loch Lomond shores, provide irresistible image opportunities. Beetles and bugs abound for macro work, which are fragile and deserving of great care when coaxing them to favourable positions for photographic capture. A portable moth trap was deployed overnight, for early morning macro work with the captures, prior to release. Natural rough wood as a background demonstrates the powers of camouflage inherent in some species.
It was strongly advised that animal and bird photography skills should be honed in garden settings with common species. Examples images using compliant rabbits illustrated the message. The old adage of practice makes perfect is paramount.
Deer proliferate in the highlands and islands and may often be seen grazing the meadows and scrubland. If in close proximity it is wise to be wary for signs of aggression, especially during the autumn rut period. They are wild animals with real weapons. Excellent images were never-the less-shown, together with iconic red squirrels who responded well to artificially created photosets of mossy branches laced with concealed peanuts in the grounds of the rented cottage. A series of superb images were secured, together with a further set featuring the very shy pine marten.
For photographing an otter, the necessary elaborate care necessary to avoid spooking the animal, was explained. Firstly the car door was closed gently with the latch operated rather than slamming, words were forsaken in favour of hand signals, with multi-layered waterproof camouflage clothing, down-wind approach was effected by crawling through the kelp to avoid presenting a skyline profile and to ensure water/eye level images from a bean bag supported pre-prepared camera lens combination. Once more astounding images were exhibited, best obtained in rising tide conditions when food sources are carried towards the shore. A 500mm lens was used with careful consideration for an acceptable background. It was accepted that good luck could make a tremendous contribution in bringing the range of variables to a rewarding conclusion.
An abundance of seabirds and waders are resident on the Lunga cliffs of the Treshnish isles, available by small boat excursions. Again, securing an eye level image requires being prepared to crawl into position and take a prone position. Many images of excellent quality were shown of stonechat, wheatear, wood warbler, sandpiper, shag, heron tussling with an eel, together with the usual kittiwakes, gulls, puffins, guillemots, razorbills, hooded crow and oyster catcher.
The highlight however was captured from one of the specialist white-tail eagle boat trips from Mull, which provided a highly successful location for their re-introduction into the British Isles. Highly impressive sequences images were captured showing their prowess in swooping to catch fish in their fearsome talons from Sealoch Scridain. A mid-range telescopic lens was used in manual mode, set at 1/2000 of a second at around f8 aperture. with single point focus aimed at the bird’s eye. ISO was set to adjust automatically. Hand holding was necessary to catch the action, with multiple exposure engaged. It was emphasised that it was critically important to include the entire bird and particularly not to clip the wings. Operating within a group of photographers requires patience and generally it was felt that holding your position on the boat was eventually rewarded by opportunity.
After a short question session, proceedings were brought to a close at 21.30 upon a feast of superb wildlife photography and much essential advice from a very skilled practitioner.
Jeremy mentioned that he operates on-location workshops and that there is the opportunity for securing one of the last bookings for this spring. Access is through his website, jeremymalleysmithphotography.co.uk
Tuesday 9th February 2021
The Art of Composite Photography
Sharon and Robert Prenton Jones
This lecture was fully booked when I approached Sharon, but at she suggested that I contact their own club at Conwy, for whom they would be presenting on one of the dates requested, to see if they would be willing to share a joint evening. From this the precedent was set through the auspices of Zoom and on the night sixty screens were present from the two clubs combined.
Robert presented for the first session up to the tea break and revealed that he originated from the Blarney Photography Club in County Cork. His talk looked to his work over the previous four or five years, using images which had been accepted by prestigious salons, publications and competitions. He has closely studied the work of the old master painters, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Caravaggio, da Vinci and their use of light. Window light was a regular feature of his composite images, with much consideration given to lateral and vertical inclination. Inspiration was gained from time spent in Rembrandt’s studio/museum in Amsterdam, elucidated by the curator. It was realised that the masters balanced strong directional light, by including reflective surfaces to ensure that there was always detail in the shadows. Robert illustrated how some of his composite images had been assembled using layers in photoshop. Careful consideration of light direction was fundamental and shadows were sometimes added before the subject. He showed that images cut out for insertion with a black surround background and then placed into a black area of the recipient image, obviated the need for care and precision in the process, which would otherwise be necessary. Interestingly our friend Graham Currey featured in numerous theatrical character shots. Stately homes and social history museums were often used as the initial backdrop for his composites into which opportune figure studies, thoughtfully collected, together with posed model images were the material for insertion cut outs. Various filters and photoshop plug-ins were used to blend the whole to sympathetically create the required artful perception. A recent project was to recreate da vinci’s Last Supper scene, using models and club friends dressed as gangsters in black with black masks. Each member was photographed in the same pose as that adopted by each of the disciples and the best one for each pose layered into the whole, with Jesus played by a female model. The elongated table was bizarrely spread with a banquet from McDonald’s!
After the break Sharon offered her presentation, mentioning that she took her first photographic image in 2012 and was immediately smitten, sufficient to buy a Nikon camera. She displayed images to show her incredibly rapid development in the art of photography using Photoshop, in which she danced through a bewildering display of dexterity in the use of layers, filters, plug-ins etc.
Her images were dream-like fantasy, depicting legends and myths from Celtic and Arthurian backgrounds shrouded in mist and beauty. Imagination ran rampant, with very willing models subscribing greatly. The lady of the lake emerged from the depths clutching a sword, Kelpie the mermaid sat lashed by sea spray with a real grafted fish tail, Guinevere tried to pull the stone from the rock and other legendary figures, with strange Celtic names were portrayed. Backgrounds were diffused clips from the Snowdonia landscape, often taken with a mobile phone, then distorted and diffused to taste. This process was rapidly demonstrated and explained with her favourite gaussian blur and a curly-whirly Photoshop filters prominent with lashings of artificial mist and atmosphere. A modified castle was floated in and vegetation planted to lend an air of reality and permanence.
Both players with their shared Celtic ancestry combined well to ensure an accomplished presentation of, imagination and photographic art, which ensured an informative, light-hearted evening served with humour and skill which ensured an enjoyable evening to be shared with new found friends in Conwy.
Rob concluded by drawing notice to their web site, where details of individual coaching and workshops can be found. www.prentonjonesphotography.co.uk
Tuesday 2nd February 2021
London Light, London Life
Chris revealed that he lives in Epping Forest, but works right in the middle of London City. He philosophised around claims that generally it takes about 10,000 hours to become proficient in any particular skill to be considered an expert. Interestingly this coincides with five year apprenticeships, which used to be recognised as the path which aspiring craftsmen were obliged to follow in the first half of the twentieth century if not lonnger. Chris deduced that for him to ascend to that status in photography as an amateur, with only ten hours at most available at weekends, it would take him twenty years. However he realised that if he used his lunch hour break each day, the additional five hours would reduce the qualifying time to about thirteen years Admitting that he would much prefer to be applying his photography to landscapes in the Lake District or Scotland, he figured that repeated exposure to London’s constantly changing scenes, in all types of lighting and weather conditions, should provide a sufficiently challenging project to develop his skills and so he resolved to follow this course. The basis to enhancing skill levels is often repetition in accord with the old mantra practice makes perfect and so he followed his new discipline.
He found that discarding full size DSLRs with their prominent lenses in favour of a four thirds compact camera had many advantages for city photography and settled upon a selection of bodies from the Olympus stable. He accepted though that all of the major manufacturers like Sony, Fuji, Lumix etc. offer equally acceptable products. They have pretty much the same capabilities as DSLRs, with interchangeable lenses, ‘C’ size sensors and are able to produce images in RAW. They are small enough to fit in a pocket and hence can be acceptable as an ever present, just in case, possession. A full DSLR can often be considered a burden, sufficient to deter its presence and so chance photographic opportunities could be missed. For known events, which are a regular feature of London life, Chris found that he could assemble a camera system in a small carry case, where more flexible choices were required in the field. He also found that furtive use of a compact did not provoke reaction from street photography subjects, provided that careful avoidance of eye contact was exercised.
The project over the years, mutated into many sub-projects, with periodic challenges applied to architecture, people, natural history, cathedrals, refuse disposal centre, sculpture, street exhibitions, 2012 Olympics, lens baby images, snow conditions, rain conditions, and the disadvantaged rough sleepers.
Chris provided much good advice, typically the Shard is expensive and does not provide very good photographic possibilities. Other tall buildings allow free access, sometimes with advanced booking required and are far better for photography, some with open roof gardens.
A very full evening was delivered with humour and an inexhaustible supply of memorable images.
He offered a final thought that every opportunity should be taken to practice and to try something different. He even carries a camera when he takes the dog for a walk!
I can’t think of anyone better who might perform as a photographic guide to London and its hidden gems. When we regain our freedom, perhaps we ought to approach Chris to arrange a club outing with him in the big city?
Tuesday 19th January 2021
My Photographic Journey
Lee Sutton DPAGB, BPE5*, LRPS, EFIAP, EPSA, ADPS, GPU Crown 3, GPU Zeus
Lee was quite remarkable. He worked for nineteen years as a night-club bouncer and decided eight years ago to become a photographer, starting out with a Canon 1000D with a 18-55mm kit lens bought on Ebay for £200. He joined his home town Preston Photographic Society, enquired who were the top photographers, infiltrated their company and determined unashameably to pick their brains. The Canon was replaced fleetingly by a mirrorless Sony outfit, but he found that mirrorless was not to his liking and eventually settled with higher quality Canon equipment. The Camera bag now has an assortment of bodies and a comprehensive range of original equipment lenses. A willingness to try anything coupled with latent aptitude conspired to bring him success in club events and following winning six out of seven competitions, he decided that he would seek the higher challenge presented working within the Chorley club. Chorley is still his home club.
Having a go at virtually all areas of photography, from landscape, right through the gamut of possibilities, nudes, figure studies with models, urban explorer, natural history, sport, seascape, portrait, creative composite images, still life, ballet dancers, weddings, street photography with down and outs, everything seemed to fall easily within his grasp. He joined with club members to tackle outings to Skye, the lake district and though averse to dragging his equipment up the hills he confessed to being captivated by the lighting and possibilities gained. Even more averse was the thought of early rising, but he allowed himself to be persuaded to greet dawn from the top of one the fells, which he admitted was quite magical. Travel lust took him further afield for the landscapes of Iceland in winter, the seabirds of the Farne islands and Anglesey for South Stack.
Meandering car travel off the beaten track was rewarded with a filling station reminiscent of the nineteen fifties but now in a state of decay, located on a farm. It provided a source for numerous images and return visits included incongruous model shots, having first convinced the farmer that he was not a tax collector he obtained permission and cooperation in moving elderly tractors out of shot. The Manchester velodrome was commended as a photographic venue for numerous reasons, including a welcoming disposition and a good place to practice panning techniques, all at a constant warm temperature.
Whatever area of photography, Lee emerged with stunning images, of which many had gained recognition in national and international competitions. His photographical distinctions and qualifications exceeded those of any previous visitor I can recollect.
The presentation was almost without structure, moving in and out of areas of photography willy-nilly, but it was not a detriment, it just worked superbly well. His presentation style was a sort of laconic chat as if engaged in a bar room conversation with old friends, again an excellent concept, very effective.
In sending formal thanks I hinted that in happier times a live Nantwich visit would be welcome which he endorsed. Should be good!
Tuesday 12th January 2021
Reality is Over-rated
Catherine Knee LRPS
Catherine considers herself to be a “photographic artist”, in that she starts with a photo which she has taken, which then serves as a starting point for a journey to who knows where, an image emerges which is to her satisfaction.
She is not an equipment person and operates with a pair of Fujifilm XF cameras, one with a 15-55mm lens and the other a 55-200mm. She prefers close-up wide-angle shots, sometimes achieved by cropping. Her other item of equipment is a tri-pod, which she confessed to sometimes forgetting to carry.
In addition to doing talks, she provides workshops and mentoring sessions. As well as the creative work to be presented tonight, she does fine art nude studies and portraits and belongs to her local camera club at Lutterworth.
When first she entered club competitions with a rose picture, it was slated by the judge to the extent that she cried when she got home. There followed a period of learning and understanding more about light and its effects. She now has a complete disregard for judges and works primarily for self-satisfaction. In fact, many times she said she just doesn’t care what anyone thinks She imposes no limits upon where the extremes of her photography may take her. She is a supreme Photoshop practitioner, confessing to using it way beyond the normal to obtain the results she craves. It is accepted that some sensitive souls may find some images distasteful. It was explained that her images often reflected her emotions, ranging from depression to elation with all stops in between. The many steps taken to create some of her images was illustrated in photos. Sometimes what emerged was the result of much work and re-work, which could not be repeated. Within Photoshop she was able to create clothing articles where none existed, but also made her own props and clothing for her models. Great use was made of models, for whom she held the greatest admiration for their willingness to place themselves in positions of discomfort without complaint to comply with her wishes. Her images often occupied a surreal phantasy world of demons, dragons, ghouls, zombies, steam punks, fairies and creatures of the night with wings fangs, horns and claws, often dark and foreboding. A capacity to transfer an extreme imagination onto paper seemed effortless and resulted in a relentless projection of bizarre images. Every element of a photograph was scrutinized and probably changed for hue, texture, contrast, background etc. not a Photoshop slider was spared in the pursuit of her visions.
We have previously had speakers who have ventured down similar paths before, but Catherine marched us down an M6 in clogs to a distant horizon. Her images will leave a lasting place in the psyche of many club members
Words can’t portray the shear creativity of her work, a visit to her web site gallery helps.
Tuesday 5th January 2021
Dave favoured a compact camera with a wide to medium zoom pancake lens. Though very capable nowadays, they have various advantages compared to full DSLRs for opportunist street photography. They are small and light enough to fit in the pocket, they do not lend the air of professionalism, which might cause subjects to become circumspect, with one lens they are ‘ever-ready’ avoiding missed opportunities due to equipment adjustment and accessary selection.
Dave revealed that he has provided on-site workshops for groups from his club and his expertise was very evident. Unlike portrait workers he aims to avoid eye contact and communication with his subjects, because it is inconsistent with the spontaneity which he seeks. He itemised various areas which are potential rich picking grounds for his genre, as listed below, suitably illustrated in each case by representative image examples.
The inadvertent interaction of people with street posters and graffiti fits this heading. His instinct reveals opportunities, which may be fulfilled by unobtrusively lingering until a victim joins the scene. Normally it is sufficient for the camera to be on a single shot setting, but admitted that occasionally selecting multi shot can be rewarding.
A large poster of a nude female racing cyclist providing a back drop to two cars aligned as if in a street race got published in a journal eventually viewed by the queen.
This entailed loitering in busy situations, typically Bermondsey High street and waiting for the subjects to present themselves. A close up shot of a family group all looking to the right, even reflected in a tee shirt image typified this approach. The benefits of a small inobtrusive camera provided a dividend.
Being alert to street signage was rewarded with humour. The poster for a missing cat, where the cat’s image had been torn out, a visit to Dull in Perthshire revealed a poster for an unappetising Dull Highland Fair, together with Biggar Community Toilets
The advent of mobile phones with photographic capabilities has rendered the erstwhile restrictions on art gallery photography largely unenforceable to our advantage. The sympathetic patterns and hues of the attire of visitors often reflected the theme of the works of art being viewed and captured. Because the art is displayed to advantage by professionally designed illumination, the lighting is also often ideal for photography. The first four years of gallery work only produced four images, but then renewed awareness kicked in and things flowed from that point with many examples.
The advent of mobile phones with photographic capabilities has rendered the erstwhile restrictions on art gallery photography largely unenforceable to our advantage. The sympathetic patterns and hues of the attire of visitors often reflected the theme of the works of art being viewed and captured. Because the art is displayed to advantage by professionally designed illumination, the lighting is also often ideal for photography. The first four years of gallery work only produced four images, but then renewed awareness kicked in and things flowed from that point with many examples.
Probably still a work in progress section mainly illustrated by take away and shop signs.
Photography at the Seaside
A brief section featuring the folks of Brighton and other south coast resorts.
Son of a Bitch.
Inspired by Magnum photographer Elliott Erwitt, Dave visited dog shows and showed synchronised begging and poodle shoes, plus the proverbial butcher’s dog.
A visit to Northumberland was greeted with persistent morn to eve gloom, which it was felt could only be represented in black and white. A feeling of desolation from the loss of traditional industry and menace from the young unemployed pervaded the bleak coastal views, but did illustrate a willingness to operate outside the usual street photography of preference.
After the tea break Dave resumed with a humorous section devoted to covered cars originally encountered in Marrakesh, a practice presumably adopted as sun protection. Posting a collection on Flicker produced a cult following described as inversion therapy, featuring all manner from patchwork patterns to pyjama like, for covering and smothering. An interest from a lady official at the Victoria and Albert museum was greeted with initial disbelief, but one image was actually selected for a publication related to texture.
Lots of opportunity was emphasised, just go to events, anything that attracts a crowd, (if only we could).
Recognised as the original source of street photography, it was rewarded with its own section in homage to Cartier Bresson, who sought to capture the special moment and to those who followed in his footsteps. Realisation that the camera had not been correctly set required a return some seven or eight minutes later to repeat a passionate scene of lovers against a street art background. It being Paris the blissful embrace was still held and success obtained. A lingering image remains of a lady, formidable in red filling the foreground, against a bride and groom perched on a raised stone plinth for photographs, with flowing veil, in an elevated location looking down onto the city far below. A stumble would seem to ensure a very short marriage, since there was no hand rail. Typical of EU health and safety which only applies to others.
The Main Event
Finally, Dave encouraged visiting all sorts of events around the UK. Mentioned were the weird and wacky like goths, zombies and comic conventions where people dress up and expect to be photographed, The Lord Mayor’s Show in London, County Shows, tough guy events, etc. Joining obscure on-line groups through social media is rewarded by being in the know for events not otherwise publicised. Images were shown of the nude bike ride through London, which unbelievably coincided with the Trooping of the Colour and the Porthcawl Elvis convention, with characters vaguely resembling their hero.
Dave provided a fluent full evening which included much gentle humour and once more we enjoyed one of the few benefits of the virus by reaching out to a remote presenter. We were transported to a time when it was possible to venture without care into crowds of people, in contrast to the present where we distance ourselves from friends and strangers lest they unwittingly provide us with a ticket to doom. Unbelievable almost, but it can only get better!
Tuesday 1st December 2020
Lake District Moods
Carmon Norman, ARPS, CPAGB, BPE1
Carmon was born into a photographic environment as the daughter of a wedding photographer. Indeed, she initially continued the wedding tradition in her own right, until she felt that she had had enough. Today she is a portrait and landscape specialist, based at Bassenthwaite in the heart of the Lake District. She offers a range of training courses and workshops for all levels of experience. A Nikon DSLR is the instrument of choice supported by an extensive range of Nikon prime lenses supplemented by one or two zoom lenses. Other kit includes a suite of Lee filters, a tripod, wellingtons for mud and paddling and an essential coffee supply. Photoshoots are carefully planned with the support of weather forecasts, OS maps, Photographer’s Ephemeris phone app to predict lighting direction, shadows, etc. Mextures app for smartphone textures. Processing is done mainly in Photoshop, aided by Snapseed, Adobe Spark, an on-line design app, Camera Raw, Lightroom and Nik filters.
She has enviable knowledge of the Lake District, which she loves with an intense passion, treating the extreme range of weather conditions with equanimity. A snow forecast is greeted with joy as an opportunity to be in high places on the fells with her camera, rainy days promise dramatic skies, all is accepted.
Conditions on the fells induced a whole range of feelings and emotions, each of which were explained and recorded with extensive superb images, such that sections of the talk were individually allocated to resultant mellow, gloomy, happy, dreamy and peaceful moods
A long focus lens has the power to isolate image elements from the background and often found favour with Carmon for landscapes and though she had a wide angle zoom she confessed to rarely using it.
In passing opportunity was taken to explain some facets of composition, the rule of thirds, the rule of phi spiral elements, lead-in lines, patterns, symmetry, fill the frame and repetition. A short video was shown to illustrate, but breaking the rules is also allowed with due consideration. Be prepared to think about your position, move around, get on your knees, paddle in the stream or lake.
The power of the histogram to confirm correct exposure at the time of taking, whilst a repeat exposure is still possible to correct the shot in camera rather than needlessly expending time at the keyboard trying to retrieve the situation. Camera exposure compensation was also identified as a useful asset.
It was accepted that the camera’s automatic white balance generally does a pretty good job, however the effects of manually setting was explored and the usual range of settings were discussed and situations considered where manual settings could be desirable. The camera sometimes needs some help to know where white is. Carmon often used the flash white balance setting when shooting with available light.
It was explained why RAW image capture is essential rather than jpeg. Jpeg results in an image which the camera has adjusted originally to provide an acceptable image and then to drastically reduce the size of the image file by destroying elements not considered to still be required. Originally this allowed the small expensive memory cards of early digital cameras to have the capacity to hold a reasonable quantity if images. The low cost and large size of memory cards now available have made such considerations redundant. Camera raw preserves all of the image data to be exploited in the editing software.
The slider controls for adjusting colour temperature, exposure, highlights, shadows, black, white, contrast, vibrance and clarity, present in Camera Raw, Photoshop and Lightroom were each demonstrated to show how a rather dull raw image could within a couple of minutes be totally transformed.
Repeat visits to the same place were evident and recommended, with favourite location images cropping up in the many mood categories of the talk sections.
Her enthusiasm, love of photography and the lakes were captivating and shared freely. It was not optional. She seduced and drew you in. A gentle, but fluent speaker comprehensively and effortlessly filled the even.
Paul Simon wrote the magically poetic “The Sounds of Silence” which just seemed normal for the music of the sixties and seventies and we thought that the creativity would go on forever. It didn’t.
For her finale Carmon used a strangely haunting and heavy cover version of “The Sounds of Silence” by The Disturbed as the background for a selection of her images in an AV presentation – brilliant!
She mentioned that she has recently a personal project to produce and published a book of photographs of one hundred people from one to one hundred years old, one of whom is the legendary Joss Naylor the fell runner extraordinaire, with proceeds going to the Mountain Rescue.
Before finally signing off she reiterated that for landscape, a tripod should be used, take one’s time, use back button focussing, plan your visit, use a long lens, direct the viewers eyes to what you want them to see, look around to find the best position, get on your knees, finally have fun.
Covid-19 has heaped an abundance of curses upon society as a whole, but also surprisingly just a few beautiful blessings have emerged and last night’s talk qualified spectacularly as the latter. Carmon’s website address is carmonnorman.co.uk and is well worth a visit.
After John’s initiative to kick start the Zoom lecture programme, I eventually rose through the gloom to complete the programme. Realising that travel was no longer a restraining issue, I decided to take the unique opportunity to try to reverse the predominance of male speakers available to book as live speakers listed by the L&CPU. So far as was possible I tried to apply discrimination in favour of females in my Zoom bookings. I do believe that the ladies so far have been excellent speakers and I hope that those booked for 2021 prove to be equally so.
Tuesday 24th November 2020
Improve Your Photography
Martin Patten DPAGB, LRPS, BPE4*, AFIAP, OPSA
Martin is currently the Chairman of the Chilterns Association of Camera Clubs (CACC) and the past President of Watford Camera Club. Twenty-seven member’s terminals joined the Zoom meeting, though more than one member was present at some terminals, so probably about thirty actually attended.
Martin provided a well-considered and thoroughly comprehensive treatise for the elements that contribute to the production of outstanding images: those images which in an exhibition stand out from the rest. He offered it as assistance to beginners, but actually there was much to take on-board for photographic workers at all stages of development, such was the power of his presentation. He defined photography as an art and as a science and for success, both need to be right. A key element for those who compose images using a viewfinder, is to identify one’s master eye. A finger viewed directly central in front of the nose, remains central when viewed through the master eye when the other is closed. However, viewed through the other single eye, the finger is dramatically displaced to one side. Clearly the master eye must be used for composing the picture or the image will not be aligned as intended. A loupe was recommended as an essential kit item for scrutinising the camera’s image display, which in bright light is difficult to examine at the time of taking. Any detected shortcomings can be readily corrected on location to rescue the situation, rather than suffer disappointment with the down-loaded image is viewed.
Planning is an essential contribution to success. Deciding what you wish to achieve before you go to site. What equipment is required, lighting conditions, time of day, weather conditions and many other considerations were emphatically projected as key prior to travelling and pressing the shutter button. Practice, practice, practice was advocated to hone one’s skills. Spend time becoming proficient in the use of and familiar with the range of available controls, which are provided on your camera.
Most photographic projects were individually examined; landscape, seascape, portrait, candid street work, architecture, wildlife and for each, examples of less good images and excellent images were contrasted. Even those considered to be deficient didn’t look too bad to me!
Thankfully Martin followed up by providing a pdf overview of his talk, because I was finding it difficult to keep up with my scribbled notes, such was the sheer quantity of well thought out good practice information delivered. The pdf has now been forwarded to all club members with an email address.
It is pleasing that this dreadful plague cannot prevent some good things occurring amongst all of the despair. Martin Patten is a part of the antidote and he provided an inspiring lecture for all aspiring photographers.
Tuesday 17th November 2020
P.I.M.S.- An interactive presentation using a series of indoor photography challenges.
Pat Couder CPAGB BPE1 and Ian Brash CPAGB BPE2
Our Zoom meeting this week featured two guest speakers, both joining us from their own homes in the London borough of Bromley. Pat Couder CPAGB, BPE1 and Ian Brash CPAGB, BPE2 presented their talk entitled P.I.M.S. (which stands for the Pat, Ian and Mike Show). The presentation was something a bit different – a collection of close up photography images taken as part of monthly challenges they set themselves, each one on a different theme – and only shot indoors.
They showed their ‘before’ (raw) and ‘after’ (finished jpeg) images for each theme; explained how each of them had approached the subject and the Photoshop techniques used to produce the final picture. Club members were encouraged to ask questions and everyone made a note of which of each pair of images they thought was the best. At the end of the evening everyone was asked to use the zoom chat facility to send in their votes to our Zoom-master, Rob Gough. Pat’s and Ian’s interpretations of the themes were imaginative, so it wasn’t an easy task – someone had to be the winner on the night and Pat took top honours.
It was a very successful evening’s meeting; this year’s set subject is Up Close, so there is no doubt that the wide variety of creative close up images shown will have been an inspiration to many of our club members.
Tuesday 10th November 2020
Coastal Photography – Alison Taylor ARPS
Alison was the president of York photographic Society for the past three years and is still a member. Unusually her photography is almost exclusively based on seascapes mostly on the east coast of the north of England or Scotland where she has researched those special coastal places, which she finds very special and exciting. She values planning for her photography, weather forecast, tide height, wind strength and direction and is not averse to rising at 4.30 to catch dawn light or being around for that special sunset. Her local hunting ground is the Yorkshire coast, Whitby, Scarborough, Saltburn, Flamborough Head, Selwicks Bay and further afield along the Northumbrian coast to Hartlepool for Vera country. The Outer Hebrides also figured strongly, with an occasional venture to the west coast for Cumbria, the Wirral and Arnside. A keen study of sea wave behaviour, its interaction with the shore and horizon, enabled anticipation of the creative possibilities in natural surroundings or when interfacing with manmade items, lighthouses, piers, seawalls and defensive groins. The swash of waves is a fascination; that action when a receding wave sucks shells sand and pebbles towards the sea just before the next wave crashes in, dragging patterns into the shore line. Mindful of the corrosive effect of brine and blown sand on equipment, she rarely changes lenses on location and meticulously cleans everything after each session. She mentioned using a DSLR usually on a tripod with a fairly short focus zoom lens and carries a full set of Lees filters, big stoppers, little stoppers etc for serious sessions and a Canon G7 X for more speculative occasions. A pair of wellingtons are considered to be essential photographic equipment.
The onset of named storm conditions are welcome to Alison as dramatic photographic opportunities for waves breaking over seawalls or lighthouses all to be captured from a safe position, but all conditions were acceptable, even the rain.
Alison aimed to secure the image in camera with minimal tweaking in Photoshop. Her work was very inclusive with dramatic scenes as mentioned, right through from pastel colour palette calm scenes and all places in between, including black and white.
Zoom presentations by definition are projected images, but her original media is print, so an opportunity to see the superior subtlety of the print version would be most welcome. She has built a relationship with an agency to produce her prints, because her photographic interest lies in camera work, wishing to minimise computer and printer activity so far as is possible.
The mono-culture talk captured the attention for the entire evening with ease. Without Zoom we would be denied such an evening from travel considerations and we would have been so much the poorer. An excellent presentation.
Tuesday 20th October 2020
IN THE MAKING – Gareth Martin AWPF CPAGB – Postponed
Everything was in place for Gareth Martin AWPF CPAGB to present his “IN THE MAKING” talk to the club from his home in Port Talbot, when a last minute complication arose as we were about to open his Zoom link with our camera club members. After a very short delay, our Zoom meeting did commence and club members were able to enjoy a few minutes of happy chatter – almost like a normal club night.
We decided to have a group review of the previous week’s competition entries and thanks are due to David Hoyle for quickly organising a run through of them for us. Everyone had the opportunity to chip in with helpful comments and advice; so the evening proved to be a welcome respite from the continuing lock-down restrictions.
We know that Gareth is a very busy and popular camera club speaker, so hopefully arrangements can be made to rebook him for one of our future online meetings.
Tuesday 6th October 2020
Chasing the Light – Kieran Metcalfe
Kieran’s professional background in graphic design shone through in his Zoom presentation on landscape photography – which he subtitled Confessions of a Sunburst Junkie. Landscape and Natural History are the subjects that Kieran likes to concentrate on, and apart from a few glimpses of some excellent photos of birds and insects, we were treated to an evening of landscape photographs; many of which had been taken in places that our club members can reach in a little over an hour’s drive from home.
Kieran told us about the conditions he actively seeks out for his landscape photography; the opportunities and pitfalls they present, and how some of his favourite images were taken in unexpected, or less-than-ideal situations. To demonstrate the effects of different lighting conditions he arranged his images in a series of themes; including Golden & Blue Hours, Low Light, Mid-day, Night-time and others. Advice on how to plan photo shoots in specific locations was freely given, including recommendations for a number of phone apps developed for landscape workers – cloud cover, sun position, and detailed local weather forecasts.
Nearly every image was accompanied by interesting information about the location and reasons for the choice of viewpoint, the exif data was discretely shown on the screen, together with the processes used to achieve the final result. Big stopper filters, heavily bracketed (very) long exposures to suit blending of stacked images were a common feature.
If you missed the meeting a visit to Kieran’s website is highly recommended www.kieranmetcalfephotography.co.uk
Tuesday 29th September 2020
The Photographic Sublime –Thomas Peck CPAGB LRPS
This was our first online Zoom club night with a ‘visiting’ lecturer; Tom presented the talk from his home in Loughton in Essex. The full title of the talk was The Photographic Sublime – how artistic traditions of the Sublime influence photography of the past, present and future….
Tom is a Photojournalist and he also runs Quest Photography tours and workshops, his talk illustrated how the traditions of the 18th Century concept of the sublime influenced early landscape photographers through to the modern day. With examples from painters such as JMW Turner, the German painter, Caspar David Friedrich & photos from Carleton E Watkins to Michael Kenna to Sebastião Salgado to Ansel Adams to Hiroshi Sugimoto – and of course the Tom’s own excellent pictures. It was a fascinating insight into a cultural trend; not only it’s history but also how photography and the Sublime might interact in the 21st century.
In normal times we would not have contacted Tom to ask him to present his lecture to us at Nantwich – the Internet made it possible and we all learned a lot about what has influenced our own enjoyment and appreciation of landscape photography.
FIRST CLUB MEETING USING ZOOM
Tuesday 8th Sep 2020
CALL YOURSELF A JUDGE – An introduction to Zoom. Club members
chose their top NCC competition image from 2018 to 2020.
Our first club night meeting of the season took place in a ‘virtual’ environment rather than in our usual meeting room, using Zoom – the internet-based video communications application that is widely used by both businesses and consumers for bringing groups of people together. The main purpose of the meeting was to give everyone the opportunity to see other members; most of us hadn’t seen each other since March, and to ensure NCC members had the chance to use Zoom before experiencing a club competition involving an external judge.
Call Yourself A Judge gave every club member the opportunity pick their Shortlist from a selection of more than 20 images – all of the top scoring competition photographs from the last two years. The top ten images chosen by the members attending the meeting were then shown and five ‘volunteers’ each gave a critique on one of these pictures. The meeting participants then voted for The Winner.
Congratulations to Paul Topham for winning the competition with this beautifully constructed and photographed picture –
ALL NANTWICH CAMERA CLUB MEETINGS WILL BE ONLINE UNTIL THE END OF 2020
We are still unable to hold our usual weekly meetings at Regents Park so a number of online virtual club nights have been organised using Zoom. They will take place on Tuesday evenings, commencing at 07.30 pm prompt – see our Online Programme for the meeting dates.
Club members will receive a personal invitation to attend each meeting by email, together with a link and password.
The club is very grateful to the lecturers and judges that have agreed to ‘visit’ Nantwich via a Zoom link, and share their individual expertise and creativity; thus allowing camera club members to continue to increase their knowledge and enjoyment of photography.
Fred Speed (1930 – 2020). Founder Member of Nantwich Camera Club
We are sorry to announce the sad loss of one of our founder members, Fred passed away on Thursday 30 April 2020. Fellow founder member, David Nicholls, recalls attending the club’s first meeting:
Fred and I joined the fledgling club on the first meeting in 1981, it had been arranged by our current President, John Dodd, to see if there was sufficient local interest to start up a photographic society in the town – the club then became Nantwich Camera Club.
Fred’s interest in photography was mainly cine – not surprising as we were both projectionists at the local cinema. Fred was every clubs ideal member, happy to use his joinery skills to supply print and projector stands until, as he once said, the club could afford better. He was a regular at the club’s evening meetings, as well as the inter-club events. Although not a competition man, he always supported them.
Fred’s health began to fail in 2010, so many of our more recent club members will not have met him. He went into a residential care home in 2014 as he was suffering from dementia He is survived by his two children.
Fred will be sadly missed by many who have enjoyed his company over the years.
MONDAY 16th MARCH 2020
ALL NANTWICH CAMERA CLUB MEETINGS CANCELLED FOR THE REST OF THIS SEASON
As we all know, the situation with this Coronavirus outbreak has been rapidly evolving and the government advice on what we should all be doing to minimise the risk of infection has been updated on an almost daily basis. In view of the Prime Minister’s announcement this evening, it has been decided to cancel all of the camera club’s meetings shown in the rest of this seasons programme (7 club nights + the Inter-club competition at Crewe PS). All being well, the new 2020/21 meetings season will commence in September, but these are highly unusual times, so who knows?
We have contacted the lecturers and competition judges that were booked to visit us during March and April, to advise them of our decision to close the meetings season at this juncture, and to tell them that we hope they will be able to attend one of our club meetings in happier and more settled times. I know quite a few members have already prepared prints and / or submitted projected images for Competition 6 on the 31st March. That competition will not take place now, however you will be able to resubmit your Comp 6 mages in one of next season’s competitions.
Our AGM is scheduled for the 28th April, your committee will be looking at how we handle that in the present circumstances of restricted group contact. For the time being the existing committee members will each continue to look after their areas of responsibility
Please do not turn up to Regents Park tomorrow night!
I will keep you updated when we have any NCC news to pass on. Keep well and take care
Very best wishes
John Kay (Chairman)
Lancashire and Cheshire Photographic Union Annual Club Competition
To read a full report about this competition, please see the “Competitions” pages
Tuesday 10th March 2020
PAGB 2019 Inter-federation Print Competition and Exhibition
The evening received a low level of support in terms of numbers attending, probably due to concerns related to the current virus problem.
The PAGB now provide the annual issue as a zipped download, upon payment of £5; a bargain compared to the previous arrangement, where a DVD was posted for £15, which had to be returned by post immediately after showing. Some consternation was experienced when the digital projector persisted in projecting the club’s banner, when the laptop was showing the content of the folios. None of the regular projectionists were present to advise and salvation eventually emerged by swapping the VGA connection for a HDMI cable and restarting the laptop, which solved the mysterious discrepancy. The vice president managed to keep talking during this hiatus, but I suspect our panic was noticed.
Four folios were available for showing, Colour Prints, Mono Prints, Nature PDIs and Open PDIs. In previous years the presentation was provided as an automated slide show, but now the showings are progressed manually. This does allow the opportunity for appraisal and comment from members. The credits for each image however are still provided using quite a small font size and located beneath the image, are difficult to read for those not on the front rows of seating. With seventy or eighty images in each folio, viewing all of the images was not possible. In fact the mono prints, the open PDI and the Nature PDI folios were shown. The first two folios contained the usual gamut of images ranging from creative, bizarre to excellent. All in all, the nature folio provided the higher degree of honesty, through imposed restriction and included a high degree of excellent work.
Our thanks to Paul for filling in as projectionist and for resolving the initial problems.
After the tea break, the usual informal review of the previous week’s competition print entries was arranged.
Nantwich Camera Club Special Event.
Nantwich Camera Club are hosting their annual ‘special’ lecture on Tuesday the 24th March featuring award winning natural history photographer, author and writer Paul Hobson.
Originally from Manchester, Paul gained a degree in Environmental Science at Sheffield University and worked as a wildlife and conservation lecturer there for twenty years, before becoming a full-time wildlife photographer. His photography started 40 years ago using a Pentax camera and slide film, which launched a path of learning, leading to his current expertise using Canon EOS equipment. A university project in the Peak District National Park, included a session in a bird hide and resulted in a consuming affair with natural history photography, which eventually embraced plants, insects, mammals and reptiles as well as birds.
He produces a monthly wildlife article for Derbyshire Life and was Amateur Photographer wildlife photography masterclass expert in 2010/11. He is a contract holder for Natural England and has a responsibility on their behalf, for wildlife photography throughout the East Midlands and Peak District. Though he has worked far and wide, best of all he finds the challenge of Britain’s dark dank conditions, the most rewarding. He has won acclaim nationally and internationally and regularly gained recognition in British Wildlife Photographer of the Year events. He has published three wildlife photography books and is now working on his fourth. In addition, he regularly lectures, holds workshops and leads wildlife holidays.
His talk is entitled ‘The Best of the Last, Warts and All’ in which he will review his photographic exploits during the last year.
The talk will be held on Tuesday 24th March at Nantwich Camera Club’s usual meeting room at Regents Park, London Road, Nantwich, CW5 6LW. Non-members are most welcome to attend.
The £5 entrance fee is payable at the door. The event will start at 7:30 and the talk will last about 2 hours with a tea / coffee break in the middle.
Examples of Paul’s work can be found on his website at www.paulhobson.co.uk
For more information about the talk, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or look on the website at nantwichcameraclub.org.uk
TUESDAY 03 MARCH 2020
5th CLUB COMPETITION – MONOCHROME PRINTS AND PROJECTED IMAGES
JUDGED BY TONY PIOLI FRPS, FBPE
To read a full report about this competition, please see the “Competitions” pages
Tuesday 25th February 2020
Portrait Practical Evening, Graham Currey
Drawing on his theatrical experience, Graham dressed as a Dickensian figure, provided a studio set-up with back-drop and lighting and proceeded to pose for and supervise club members in capturing dramatic images. Cameras were required to be set in manual mode, with ISO of 100, aperture f6.3 and shutter speed of 1/160 of a second, with white balance set to auto. A small turn-out of members probably helped the occasion, in that virtually everyone took part. The studio flash lights were operated by a hot shoe mounted electronic trigger device which was passed rapidly from member to member. A great deal of appreciation was expressed for the sheer energy of Graham in prompting participation, particularly surprising in that he had taken a return flight earlier in the day. It was clear that setting up the camera for manual operation was an alien experience for many of us, a place that we don’t visit often, but most managed to get there.
Those who chose not to attend missed an excellent practical evening.
Tuesday 11th February 2020
Table Top Photography
This inclusion in the programme provides an opportunity for members to be in the initiative in providing photographic subjects and lighting set-ups to share with other members and hopefully encourage participation to possibly venture into new areas of photography.
On the night, four tables were manned.
Wray demonstrated his camera’s ability to be programmed to produce multiple images with incremental progressive shifts to the point of focus. A lily was the photographic subject against a black background, with camera tethered to a laptop computer and illumination from a backlit brolly photoflood. In excess of forty images were produced, which were then stitched into one image using Helicon Focus software. This software uses the small critically sharp portion of each of the forty plus images to assemble one image with cumulative sharpness from foreground to background to combat the minimal depth of field possible from a normal single macro image. This image stacking technique, probably represents a development, which so far as I can recollect, was not even dreamed of or was possible prior to the era of digital photography.
David Foster, who kindly chaired the evening in the absence of both the chairman and vice chairman, provided a diffused tent with external illumination, for photographing a pair of mini daffodils. The same set-up was appropriated for a spirited study by John Dodd: a bottle of Famous Grouse and two miniatures, which remained steadfastly sealed at the end of the day, despite a degree of alternative encouragement.
Similar to Wray, David Luker illustrated the feature in his Fujifilm XT3 camera, for producing images for stacking to combat restricted depth of field, with an Emperor Hawkmoth as the subject.
David Hoyle and Paul Topham manned the fourth table, where Paul provided an insight into how he produces the various images of suitably lit constructs of A4 paper sheets, which have proved to be very successful in competitions. David provided a bundle of drinking straws, which when back lit, resulted in interesting pattern pictures. This set-up was illuminated by very affordable LED light sources, which have been introduced to the photographic scene in recent years. They are very versatile, with adjustable intensity and often include colour filters and various methods of mounting.
The evening was fairly well supported and scored on a social level, with extensive networking around equipment, particularly shared appreciation of camera capabilities. Our thanks are extended to all those who made it possible.
Tuesday 4th February 2020
A Panel of Prints, Alison and Wendy
The night’s ever-popular programme inclusion, originally introduced to provide an easy introduction into competitive print production for less experienced members, whereby four small thematic images are mounted on a standard 50 x 40 cm mount board, this time attracted twenty-four entries. The format also provides a basic opportunity to appreciate the considerations of the judging process, in that each member is allowed to vote for the one panel which they consider to be the best entry, in a secret vote, not knowing the identity of the author. From some impressive entries, the top three panels were produced by, in third place “Folkestone Beach” by Bryan Averill, second place “Characters of the Caribbean” by Wray Douglas and in first place “Winter Landscapes” by Brian Sankey, unsurprisingly some of our most experienced members, but then the intentions are good!
The tea-break was followed by an opportunity to view the entries for the previous week’s print competition. After a period of networking around the exhibits, the authors of the prints awarded the top three places were asked to provide the story behind the prints. This proved to be both insightful and entertaining and worthy of inclusion on future similar occasions, providing that it does not deter the less forthright from entering competitions.
Thanks are extended to Wendy and Alison for once more playing host to the panel of prints initiative, to every-one who supported the evening by providing a panel entry and to our stand-in chairman, who is making a pretty good fist of things.
Tuesday 28 January 2020
4th Club Competition Judge:- Graham Currey
To read a full report about this competition, please see the “Competitions” pages
Tuesday 21st January 2020
A Few Happy Snaps Mike Sharples, ARPS, MPAGB, AFIAP, BPE5,
Mike revealed that he always uses photo paper from the Permajet range and his camera equipment comes from the Nikon stable. Normally he worked with available light, often accompanied by fellow photographers on photo missions, who obliged by holding a reflector to soften shadows. Recently he has added a couple of hand held LED lights to his kit, to supplement lighting for difficult situations. Alien elements were pasted into images for composition considerations and others erased using Photoshop tools. Black and white layers were extensively used to correct the tonal range and more suitable backgrounds were often injected. Plug in filters from Nik and Topaz were extensively used, particularly for monochrome conversions.
He provided a commentary for a prolific range of print images displayed on the illuminated print easel, often with colour and monochrome versions for comparison. His work mostly encompassed landscape, architectural and portrait images. His quest for photographic opportunities, took him to many locations. For landscape, images from Eigg, Rannoch Moor, The Burren, The Dingle Peninsular, Newborough sands Anglesey, Burnham-on-Sea, and Yosemite. For portraits, much use was made of the heritage parks, including Blists Hill Telford, Black Country Living Museum Dudley, Crich Tram Museum where he sought to cement relationships with staff as potential models, through regular visits. He also visited the theatrical haunts including the Edinburgh fringe festival, the zombie event at Lincoln to capture the exotically made up characters, who are pre-disposed to posing for photographers and with whom he found it easy to strike up a rapport. He found that the people met in India and Georgia to be very obliging in this way too. Recent forays into London yielded tall building images for which he used a wide-angle lens to compress converging verticals. A brief foray into a photographer’s bird hide with bated prey, provided some convincing natural history shots
Mike presented in a light hearted way which was appreciated and readily engaged with our members. His presence was initially jeopardised by being trapped by a traffic incident en-route. We would have missed a rich experience had he not made it.
Tuesday 14th January 2020
My Eye in the Sky, Ian Stewart DPAGB, ARPS.
Ian opened his talk on drone photography by acknowledging the impact that the Gatwick airport incident had exerted on the perception of drones and revealed that there is now doubt in some quarters that a drone had ever been present and some ulterior motive was the true basis of the disruption.
His interest in drones started in 2015, reduced to second best from an earlier aspiration to fly a helicopter. He traced the sequence of acquiring progressively better models as the technology developed, leading to his current collection. He reviewed the current market availability providing an indication of the price and capability for each model, many of which originate from America, which enjoys the largest market share. The lead manufacturer is DJI with a large range of constantly evolving models with increasing technological sophistication, prices ranging from £500 to £5000. Following the Gatwick chaos, a range of legislation has been brought into force to control dangerous and anti-social use and further legislation is constantly being put into place. Prier to flying a drone it is now necessary to register ownership with the Civil Aviation Authority. Operations are restricted to always being in the sight of the operator, with strobe light assistance if required, maximum height of 400 feet, maintaining a 50 feet distance from people and 150feet from buildings, five kilometres from airfields and not during the hours of darkness. For commercial operation a CAA pilot’s licence is required, earned by completing a training course and being passed to fly, typically costing £1000. It was noted that in cases where estate agents did not comply, they were fined £2000 per incident. Public liability insurance is required in case of flight failure resulting in damage to people or property. Before flying a thorough check of the security of the drone components and the condition of the rotors, is essential. Those with five rotors are capable of continued flight with the loss of one rotor, whereas, a four-rotor model would probably not survive such an incident. Control may be exercised using a smart phone app or a dedicated control unit using GPS and radio with live image streamed back to the operator. Flight is only possible in dry calm conditions, with battery power monitored and limited to about 30minutes. Familiar names like Leica and Hasseelblad provide high- resolution cameras, some with interchangeable lenses and having all the usual controls, with which we are familiar. It was recommended that setting an ISO value appropriate to the prevailing conditions is preferable to using the auto setting. Neutral density filters are often used, Many examples of good practice were advised, like pre-identifying a safe area for a crash landing and taking into account the height of adjacent trees to ensure that they are exceeded by at least ten metres. Lots of good advice is available on the internet and smart phone apps can provided crucial local information related to local flying conditions and bylaws.
A series of videos were shown, produced using the drone’s camera, showing numerous areas of the Wirral coast, out to Hilbre Island, Meols, Leasowe and new Brighton. It was evident that the drone provides a remarkably stable platform for photography. Still images were also shown and it was revealed that competitions are held for drone still images and Ian has participated with some success. It is quite possible that drone photography has already ventured into club competition photography without our realisation.
This was the club’s first drone related talk to date and Ian provided a very comprehensive overview of the subtleties of this new area of photography and Ian ably illustrated what may be achieved.
Tuesday 7th January 2020
Member’s AV Night
Our new year opened with the now traditional member’s audio-visual presentation. Within the ranks of members there are accomplished workers, who well know how to exploit the full capability of the magic toolbox which Pictures to Exe provides, ranging to those who only produce sequences for this programme inclusion, through to those making a first attempt. Either way the event never fails to provide a full and entertaining evening, providing oxygen to justify those images which fill our hard drives, but are never going to make it in individual competitions. Below is a listing of the contributions.
- Coastal Express – Hurtigruten, By Trevor Clowes. A record of the classic sail along the Norwegian coast.
- Scottish Highlands – Bryan Averill. Captured during a Fort William holiday was a landscape record of the surrounding outstanding scenes unique to Scotland.
- Iron Works – John Dodd. Somewhere on the A5 road between Oswestry and Shrewsbury in a rural setting is a display of metallic animal sculptures which formed the basis of this sequence.
- Africa -Brian Sankey. A special holiday of a lifetime touring South Africa, Botswana and Zambia provided the opportunity to record the native animal species and landscape.
- European Excursions – Graham Dodd. Reaching into his archive of colour slide work, acquired over the last fifty years a sequence was assembled of Graham’s favourite European cities.
- Canoes, Canoes and More Canoes – Bryan Averill. A visit to a kayak slalom course at Bala, provided a myriad of images which were presented utilising the full range of P to E animation possibilities.
- Northumberland – Brian Sankey. An annual springtime visit to the Farne Isles for the nesting birdlife, was allowed to overflow into Scotland to include the Bass Rock at North Berwick, catching Lindisfarne on the way to provide material for this presentation.
- Sunrise and Sunsets – Alison Wood. A delve into her hard disk allowed a sequence to be assembled precisely in accord with the title. Alison confessed that she is biologically more suited to the ‘sets’ than the ‘rises’.
- Brussels Highlights – David Hoyle. A chance opportunity in Brussels allowed, with the help of advice from the local tourist office, the capture of architectural images around the Grand Place et al for inclusion in this sequence.
- DIY in the Garage – Martin Watson. A sequence assembled during the construction of an elegant circular table with radial sectioned top, within his highly specified woodworking workshop garage was the catalyst for Martin’s first venture into club AV.
- Kew Gardens Glass sculpture – Alison Wood. Visiting a friend in the big city provided the opportunity to record the extraordinary glass sculpture display which has been injected into the already amazing botanicals which is Kew.
- Three Blokes and Four Museums – Nick Hutt. A fast-paced presentation in tribute to beautiful metal working exhibited in each the three Mulhouse museums dedicated to trains, automobiles and electricity formed a basis for this sequence.
- Sometimes When We Touch – Paul Topham. Paul chose to provide images to interpret Tammy Wynette’s title song. He hinted that he had a friend in Google during the production process.
- Dumfries and Galloway – Bryan Averill. A landscape record of this largely neglected part of Scotland which is the closest to our doorstep was the basis for this offering.
A very full well supported evening bears testament to the popularity of this jump into the new year. With a little effort any member could find the material required to assemble an entry for next years event which will come along all too soon, so why not start now. It would be particularly pleasing if a situation arose in which members were restricted to only one entry.
Our thanks is extended to all those who made an effort to provide support and particularly David Hoyle for assembling entries and making the whole presentation possible and further suitably enhanced by the provision of his HI Fi system.
Tuesday 10th December 2019
3rd Club Competition (Set Subject – Bent, Broken or Busted)
Judge:- Nick Hilton EFIAP, DPAGB, BPE5*
To read a full report about this competition, please see the “Competitions” pages
Tuesday 3rd December 2019
The Dragons Journey
Margaret Salisbury, FRPS, MFIAP, FIPF, APAGB, FSITTP, FSNWP, AWPF.
For the last of our lectures of 2019, we closed the decade in style with good attendance levels for the eleventh presentation from Margaret the Welsh dragon. As usual she mesmerised her audience. This girl definitely knows how to play a crowd! For those making a first acquaintance with Margaret, it was a revelation with much expressed appreciation.
Margaret traced her journey in photography with words and images, starting from her initial darkroom steps in the 1970s, where she was captivated by the magic of the emerging image which grew in a dish of chemical wizardry up to the present day, in which the all-pervading digital revolution enables exactly the same capabilities, but with greater speed and comfort. Both industries recognised her qualities, originally being sponsored by Ilford and now by Fotospeed, from whom attendees were invited to pick up a voucher which allowed a 15% discount on their inkjet printing papers.
She provided much evidence to prove that the judgements meted out in competitions is only an opinion of an individual, which should not be allowed to deflect one from following one’s own path in photography. All the so-called rules are just generalisations, which can and are often ignored to great effect. Be true to yourself at all times. Margaret glories in breaking the rules
Images came thick and fast, starting in her beloved Wales, Snowdonia, Blaenau Ffestiniog slate fields and much travelled, they were collected from around the world always perceptive of the common humanity for which she engineered inimitable, often irreverent contact. We learnt that the gypsies at Appleby were fine, the mannequins in Venice may well be a male drag artist from Yorkshire, the Taj Mahal only has mist from Photoshop, New Zealand has amazing natural photographic light and we were invited to share her love of animals. The humble sheep of Wales, lead to elephants in Sri Lanka, alpha-male Orangutans, whale sharks in the Mexican seas and laughing monkeys in India. The children of Ethiopia and an African wedding were used to emphasise that eyes and hands can have a massive photographic impact. Horses are another love which lead to her providing illustrations for a friend’s equine book. To capture a photo of an architectural size earth-work size horse rendition in South Wales for the book it was arranged for a four seat light aircraft to provide Margaret with a photographic platform, all-be-it only possible when banked on its side to enable window shots.
Her photographic mantra is expressed as try anything that you can get away with and see if it works. She believes in photography as an emotional artform through which self-expression is facilitated.
In Singapore, photography’s red dragon was awarded a golden dragon, well amber really, to join her many accolades.
We closed our twentieth century second decade lecture programme on an unsurpassed high.
Tuesday 26th November 2019
Back Garden Naturalist by Paddy Ruske
Paddy opened with a passionate, clear message related to the importance of insects for the sustainable world and explained how everyone can contribute to their existence and well-being. Insects play an essential role in the environment, from performing as mini refuse collectors, pollinating the crops upon which we depend to in turn being a food supply for other creatures. To this end came a plea to not cover gardens with concrete, decking and tarmac or a significant area of our congested planet becomes more sterile than necessary. Having worked on BBC wildlife productions he cautioned about assuming that similar photographic opportunities are available to the holiday tourist, explaining that two or three seconds of stunning imagery, is usually the product of months of preparation and some deception.
Now in semi-retirement, following some moments of anxiety in which his laptop repeatedly crashed, he showed a sequence of images explaining how he has set up his garden to attract and photograph the many visiting creatures, which are not evident to the casual glance. He showed and explained the plants and shrubs, multiple bird boxes and insect hotels. Water is an essential feature in every wildlife garden, even a very small pond attracts a colony of frogs, one of his favourite creatures and different insects. Toads were also provided with potential homes.
A knarled post provided a perch in the proximity to bird food for avian photography was supplement by various diffused backdrops. The camera was mounted on a tripod, pre-focussed on the post and controlled from a comfortable position within his home by radio remote control. A UV moth trap was included in the garden for more diversity. For macro work with insects, a hand held Fuji Finepix bridge camera was used. This was highly recommended due to the quality of the lens, very affordable at around £25 second-hand on ebay and much preferred to an expensive Canon 100mm macro lens, recently made available to him for test purposes. For macro work, it was recommended that dull soft light is preferable to strong directional light. You can even have success in the rain. A further sequence of impressive images illustrated his home garden work with this equipment
After the break a set of images were shown from when he spent several months in Namibia, where heat haze can be a photographic problem. Many animal species were shown and landscape scenes from the famed desert featured.
Thursday 21st November 2019
Alan Challinor Trophy
Judge:- Christine Widdall FBPE MPAGB EFIAP APAGB HonLCPU
To read a full report about this competition, please see the “Competitions” pages
Tuesday 19th November 2019
Shooting the Inside of my Head, Rev. Dr. Richard Hainsworth
Richard explained that the first session of the talk would be about his approach and involvement in photography at various stages of his life, through starting as a teenager in 1998/99 with a heavy Russian camera which had no metering system or aids to focussing. Persevering through mixed results brought an enforced discipline of careful consideration prior to pressing the shutter button. In 2000 he discovered the magic of the darkroom and slide material and was convinced that the infant digital movement would never compete! 2001 was consumed with technological study, superseded by becoming a vicar and marriage which precluded photography until holiday opportunities brought a resurgence in camera work.2014 parental duties caused another break. Now a lecturer at a university he has become an active member of Mold photographic society. Acknowledging the value of the comments of competition judges and recognising how subjective encouraged him to seek self-satisfaction by going his own way regardless, which has been vindicated by photographic qualifications acquired and acceptance in salons, both nationally and further afield, features in Amateur Photography magazine and winning various awards in National competitions. To his surprise set subject competitions brought an expansion of his area of operations by being thrust into types of photography which he previously found of no interest, but which subsequently were viewed with a new sense of pleasure. Quoted was landscape and street photography, but in all areas the wish to do it in his different way was preserved, ideally not considering what the reaction of any judge might be. Digital now of course is the only way and illustrated were many examples of creative and composite images shown from ‘as taken’ contrasted with their developed version. Meticulous attention to ensuring the direction of light was consistently applied to introduced elements. For those not wishing to take out a monthly subscription fee for Photoshop or Lightroom he recommended Affinity Photo from Serif, which costs a £48.99 one off payment for Windows or Mac. Having the majority capability of Adobe products, he often uses Affinity to blend black and white and colour layers to preserve clarity. Topaz Clarity plug-in was also recommended. Attention to the histogram to ensure the highlights were exposed correctly at the taking stage was paramount, with the knowledge that the latitude in mid- range and shadow elements could be corrected in the PC for an image shot in RAW. When inserting human elements into landscape work to fill empty space, it emphasized that it is essential to soften the edges of the cut-out figure if it is to look credible. In reality clothing and features always have a degree of fuzziness. Much valuable advice was extended.
After the tea break, a very full explanation and viewing of his many areas of photographic work was illustrated, ranging through creative, enhanced reality, composite, travel, street, city scenes, HDR, landscape, sport, natural history, portrait using his wife at her request and records of his growing family. They were headlined by Richard as “well I like them” and much wisdom was simultaneously offered for each.
Personal birthday gift enquiries were invariably met with a request for a train ticket to a city and an overnight stay providing an opportunity for exploration with a camera. Debenhams iconic building in Birmingham caught his attention. A Liverpool busker shot generated follow up opportunities, yet to be completed.
My words cannot capture the shear depth and value of the presentation, fortunately a large proportion of members were present to benefit from and enjoy a very special evening. Rex Kingsley brought proceedings to a close with a thoughtful and beautifully composed vote of thanks.
I hope that Richard can be drawn back to Nantwich on a future programme.
Saturday 16th November 2019
L & CPU Annual Knockout Competition
Judge:- Malcolm Kus ARPS, DPAGB,EFIAP/b
To read a full report about this competition, please see the “Competitions” pages
Tuesday 11th November 2019 L&CPU Folio
Tuesday 11th November 2019 L&CPU Folio
In common with other local societies, this year we withdrew from the circulation path of the actual print folios due to the deteriorating transport logistics. Instead we now receive a DVD containing projected image versions of the prints, which is a digital, easily facilitated alternative. The presentation now is rather regimented with a brief showing of each image within an AV sequence, carrying the image title and authors name, sometimes above sometimes below the image. Familiar names appear but they are no longer associated with clubs within the federation. So slick is the presentation that there is no real opportunity for comment, no narrative and not even, background music, resulting in a pretty sterile feeling. As a result, appreciation of print quality and subtlety is now impossible. Purely a personal perspective of course, but change is not always for the better.
The first folio was a natural history one, which was generally to a very high standard. In recent years, high quality natural history photography was not a sufficient qualification for gaining entry to these folios. It was essential that the creatures were displaying some form of dramatic behaviour. Raptors had to be devouring prey, aquatic birds similarly were portrayed catching or swallowing fish, other species needed to be mating or exhibiting courtship displays etc, This folio was different in that there seemed to be some recognition and appreciation of the difficulty of simply photographing some species. Hence a simple image of a Cetti’s Warbler gained inclusion. Their presence is usually limited to an incredible explosion of song from the depth of some thicket; sightings limited to flitting to the adjacent thicket. Similarly, a rare sighting of a bittern was ably captured, again a bird that normally skulks in dense reedbeds. Beyond that however simple portraits of goldfinch and greenfinch, together with a singing robin, which is present in everyone’s garden, made it into the folio. Perhaps things are changing or maybe this folio was judged by more perceptive judges.
The second folio shown was the Annual Individual Competition Open Digital 2019. This included the whole gamut of straight photography, through creative to the work of fantasy graphic artists, Adobe Photoshop was triumphantly created exactly to fulfil precisely this range of activity and exponents of all extremes featured in the folio Perhaps it is revealing that the three images judged to be the best in competition appeared to be pretty much straight photography. Hooray!
Our thanks to volunteer projectionist Paul, who managed to chase the VGA/HDMI gremlins from the projection system to make proceedings possible.
Tuesday 5th November 2019
2nd Club Competiton
Judge:- Diana Magor EFIAPb, MPSA, CPAGB, LRPS, BPE3*
To read a full report about this competition, please see the “Competitions” pages
Tuesday 29th October 2019
Interclub Competition Nantwich v Whitchurch
Judge:- Rob Hockney CPAGB, BPE3*
To read a full report about this competition, please see the “Competitions” pages
Tuesday 29th October 2019
Inter Club Competition at Chester PS
To read a full report about this competition, please see the “Competitions” pages
Tuesday 15th October 2019
“From Here to Eternity” by Peter Siviter
Peter revealed that he and his wife do an awful lot of travelling, In fact he has visited all seven continents in the last five years. The places visited provided the source material for the nineteen AV sequences presented, as listed below.
- I was born in Smethwick – images from the Black Country Museum Dudley with local folk group vocals.
- Send in the Clowns – Venice Festival images to the music of the title.
- Cathedral of Spilt Blood – St Petersburg, Russia, highly decorated by mosaics.
- Bryce Canyon US National Park – Utah hoodoos, music from Pink Floyd.
- Victoria Falls – Zambezi River, Zambia/ Zimbabwe.
- Rio Carnival – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
- Thessus Hot Springs – New Zealand geothermal springs.
- Cape Horn – An Antarctic cruise around the cape with high seas, snow, ice and bergs.
- Snow monkeys – Japanese aquatic monkey study.
- Madeira – A portrait of the rugged product of its volcanic origins.
- Tenerife Carnival – less well known than Venice with prominent use of children.
- Gaudi – Homage to Barcelona’s work in progress.
- Notre Dame Cathedral – this was the Montreal one.
- Buenos Aires – Argentine is the world capital for graffiti.
- Evita – Still in Argentine with a tribute to the life, times and death of Eva Peron.
- Hawaii – Views from a helicopter of the hostile mountain territory.
- Iguazu falls – Dramatic falls between Argentine and Brazil.
- Brothers in Arms – A tribute to soldiers from around the world.
- Peter – An animated presentation featuring himself and others with music from a Queen tribute band with Bohemian Rhapsody.
When asked how long it took for him to produce his videos, he said he normally knocks one off in a day and sits watching television at the same time, with a laptop on his knee – incredible! The choice of music was generally unusual and inspired. He admitted that he does listen to a lot of music, which sometimes provokes an AV creation. The presentations were fast moving and extremely impressive without there being too much emphasis on the complexities which reside within Pictures to Exe the software of choice. The sound tracks were handled by Audacity, available as a free download. He used a range of cameras, from Canon DSLRs to upmarket compact models for his high-quality images.
The evening was very well attended by an appreciative audience. Hopefully we may get Peter back at some point after he has completed further globe-trotting.
Tuesday 8th October 2019
A Basic Intriduction to Lightroom
Jeremy Malley-Smith LRPS<DPAGB< BPE2*
Jeremy mentioned that he had been keen on photography since his teens as an avid colour slide worker and had transitioned to digital in 2005, when he bought a very expensive Canon 5D with 12MP resolution. With the camera came a Canon image editing programme, which had a serious disability in that it did not auto-save editing work and a wrong move could result in many hours work being lost causing great frustration. This propelled him to seek safety in Lightroom. He still uses Canon equipment, now a full frame model and even more expensive, but he acknowledged that other brands offered similar capability. He revealed that his aim was always to adjust his camera menu settings for any project in order to get the best image possible downloaded from the camera in order to minimise work in Lightroom. It is a necessary pre-disposition therefore to have a very good understanding of your camera’s control capabilities. Attention also needs to be directed to ensuring that adequate back-up precautions are in place for your library of images. Though less common nowadays, it is still possible for hard drives to crash with the loss of all content. Insurance may be secured from a selection of built in duplicate hard drives, external USB drives and cloud storage resources.
The pre-break section of the talk dealt with the facilities within the Lightroom Library module to import images to Lightroom storage and to simultaneously assign meaningful file names and other useful information to each file. For this, random images taken within Regents Park were used to illustrate the process. In passing for those who download using a card-reader, it was recommended that obtaining a modern USB3 version greatly accelerates the process.
After the tea break the Lightroom Develop module was demonstrated for editing images in order to enhance many areas. Thoughtfully, Jeremy had produced a hand-out print of the talk content for issue to every one in attendance, in acknowledgement of the difficulty experienced in remembering the many techniques and capabilities contained and demonstrated within Lightroom, which I’m sure will be of value to existing and new workers.
The task which Jeremy addressed within one evening was immense. I do feel that he was able to achieve a great deal by revealing the many effects which can be obtained very quickly, which hopefully will provide inspiration to many.
We would wish to welcome Jeremy back so that we are able to appreciate the natural history work which impressed in his pre-talk slide show.
To download Jeremy’s notes from this lecture, please click on the link below:
Tuesday 1st October 2019
1st Club Competition
Judge:- Mike Sharples ARPS, MPAGB, EFIAP, BPE5*
To read a full report about this competition, please see the “Competitions” pages
Tuesday 10th September 2019
AVs from Around the World, Sheila Giles DPAGB
Sheila plucked a random selection of AVs from her large portfolio. She explained that a constant inclusion in her camera bag is a recorder used to capture material for inclusion in the soundtrack of her AVs, all of which are produced using Pictures to Exe software
- “Out of the Blue” was assembled from a visit to Alaska with dramatic landscapes, snow ice and bergs together with the resident wildlife, bears, whales etc.
- “321 News” was a record of a tornado which occurred during a coastal holiday in Turkey which wreaked havoc and devastation not seen in the previous 100 years.
- “The Oasis” was produced whilst on a photography course with Charley Waite, when a temporary mobility problem, restricted activities to a wet day in a garden. Charley suggested an exercise in intentional in-camera movement blur. The images resulted in a diffused greenery sequence, with the odd sharp element.
- “Arthur’s Secret” assembled a poignant presentation reaching back to the second world war in which an account of a soldier’s endurance following capture by the Japanese in Java, remained unrelated until artefacts were revealed after his death.
- “Grand Slalom” was an action-packed account of the success of the British kayak team members in qualifying at Cardiff and eventually winning in the Commonwealth games at Lea Valley.
- “A Very Special Job” related an extraordinary story of a Blackpool couple who after a holiday in Kenya gave up their guest house and established a “Happy House” sanctuary for a very large number of orphaned homeless children at Turtle Bay, Watamu, Kenya. The soundtrack was largely spoken by Sue Hayward, who established the purpose-built home.
- “The Engine Room” was a compilation tribute to dance and drumbeat gathered in various places including Indonesia, Alaska, Kenya and Madagascar.
- “A Mind of Winter” originated from a Christmas visit to Canada to visit her son. Advantage was taken to record the snow scenes for a sequence backed by a poem read by a Canadian.
- “12 Unrelated Images” were matched to music with slow fades to illustrate how a very simple concept can combine to form an interesting sequence.
- “Microlite Experience” resulted from a special birthday celebration for Sheila in which she flew as a passenger in a two seat microlite aircraft for trip along the Fylde coast at three thousand feet. Daryl provided back-up images from a light aircraft in close proximity.
- “The Human Seasons” resulted from a club event in which members provided random images and Sheila was tasked with producing an AV sequence from them, backed by a Keats’s poem.
- “Elkhorn Slough” was assembled from California coastal wildlife images, with terns, pelican, egrets, cormorants, shags, seals and sea otters.
- “The Birds of Ewe” provided images for a dramatized sequence influenced by Hitchcock’s Birds film. In this case a specially arranged photographic visit to this small Scottish island was met by the resident tern colony, who during the breeding season fearlessly dive-bomb intruders in defence of their ground level nests. The photographers sought refuge in a tin hut until the boat rescued them some hours later.
- “Las Vegas by Night” captured all of the unique colour and razzamatazz. An amazing place which is constantly recreated regardless of cost.
During proceedings Sheila offered some guidance for AV workers. Music is often preferable to songs because lyrics can lead to a perceived need to interpret them, which may not help. Avoid recognisable music because it can provide a detraction from the sequence. Copywrite is not generally an issue for not for profit club work, but an annual licence can be bought for about £8. Individual tracks can be purchased, you don’t have to pay for a complete album. Credits for music should not be included in the sequence. Restrict sequences to a duration of four or five minutes.
Sheila got our new season off to a very full and informative start. An excellent evening.