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Whitchurch-on-Thames Photographic Club

Thank you for visiting our website. Here you will find full details of our Programme, a large selection of images from our members, information on our competitions held throughout the season and reports from our recent meetings.

We have changed the format of our Programme this year.   We will be holding meetings at Whitchurch-on-Thames Village Hall every other Wednesday evening at 8.00pm along with fortnightly Zoom Meetings on alternate Wednesday evenings.


5 June 2024

Out and About

Tonight we took advantage of the light evenings and met outside the village hall armed with our photographic equipment. We strolled down Whitchurch High Street and round to the church where there were many photographic opportunities. Then onto Whitchurch Bridge to take the classic shot of the mill pond with the church in the background. The bridge was a good spot for John to get his drone out. It was fascinating to see the images relayed to the monitor on the controller.
Dave Probert provided a unique opportunity for a different view of the weir from his riverside garden. We spent some time enjoying Dave’s garden and hearing about life next to the river. On leaving Dave’s garden, the group somehow unintentionally split up. The group I was with went over to the station to find the old sign held up by sections of Brunel’s railway as mentioned in last week’s talk. We then walked through the underpass to take shots of the bee artwork.
By now, the light was fading, so we headed for the elephant. Over a pint we deliberated where the other half of the group might have gone and put the world of the camera club to rights.

29 May 2024

Landscape with Steam

The title of this week’s talk on Zoom had us guessing. Alan thought it might be about geysers, traction engines or Steampunk. But it turned out to be about trains, as we suspected. A well deserved indulgence for Alan, marking 40 years as chairman.
Our speaker, Chris Hutchinson, had a wealth of knowledge about trains and many images to match. He covered pretty much every aspect of trains, not just those powered by steam. He told us about the history of trains from their use in coal and slate mines through to modern day monorails, diesel engines and electric trains. It turns out there are many ways of powering trains; Chris even showed us a photo of a train blown along by a wind surfer.
The rails themselves have endless variety and aren’t just made from steel, but can be made from whatever material is available locally, such as granite. And then there’s the gauge, which can be varying widths. Sometimes a company used a different gauge to prevent other companies stealing their rolling stock. Even Brunel was caught out by insisting on a broad gauge. Sections of Brunel’s broad gauge rails are now used to support signs at a number of stations, including Pangbourne. We’re sure to be seeking that out during next week’s walk-about.
This was a talk with lots of surprises about railways, delivered enthusiastically by Chris.

22 May 2024

Monochrome Digital Image Competition

This was our last competition not just of the season but of the existence of the club. Our judge was Damon Guy. Like many judges, he had particular details that he scrutinised each image for; Damon’s were fringing and moiré. A bit technical and difficult to see from where I was sitting. Fringing can occur around the edges of subject in the image and can be due to over processing.  Moiré produces wavy lines in your image, particularly with small patterns in the subject; it is difficult to correct. A helpful tip from Damon was to run your eye anti-clockwise around the perimeter of your image to discover distracting bright objects that are best removed.
There were 48 images covering a wide range of subjects and styles, making for an enjoyable evening. The top scoring images were:
Nigel Glover-Wright: A Tasty Snack 20 
Geoff Storey: Sunflower 20 
Nigel Glover-Wright: Fighting Jackals 20 (winner)

15 May 2024

Power and Poise

Steve Proctor was our speaker on Zoom tonight. He started by showing us an audio visual presentation representing the wide range of his photographic interests. The images were about movement and people; people doing what they love doing and that comes across in the photos. Steve’s pictures show the impact of people’s power and poise when taking part in activities; tonight, he focussed on sport and dance.
For sport photography, Steve emphasised the importance of preparation, in particular finding out about compliance and safety regulations and knowing the rules of the game. For fast changing action, you need to be totally familiar with how to use your camera as you don’t have time to fumble about changing settings. A camera with good focus tracking is a great help to follow an athlete moving towards you.
Having set out these key points, Steve showed us his superb photographs of people taking part in a variety of sports. Steve adjusts his point of view to ensure you can see the athlete's faces as their expressions certainly convey the effort and concentration they are putting in. Steve talked about how to deal with distracting backgrounds. For example, he often photographs empty seating stands or other backgrounds without people or clutter and puts them in during post processing. Bright skies can be a problem when photographing high jumpers, for example, and he recommended setting exposure compensation up to 2 stops to expose the athlete correctly. The overexposed sky can then be toned down using a mask.
Steve’s images of dancers really showed the combination of power and poise. A male dancer holding up a female, both holding an elegant pose being a prime example. Steve aims to convey movement in the dancers so he’ll ask them to flick their hair and hold then drop the material of their dress. In post processing Steve likes to add texture and subtle colour to the background to add interest without it being distracting.
Returning to sport, Steve showed us some recent images of superbikes, emphasising how researching locations for panning and cornering pays off. He then moved on to images of tennis, which again demonstrated the impact of power and poise.
To summarise, Steve listed the key points when photographing activities like sport and dance: do your research, get creative, make a plan and explore all angles, working the scene. This certainly works for Steve as the images he showed us were stunning.

8 May 2024

Picture of the Year Competition

The Picture of the Year competition brings together the very best work from the four rounds of the season’s ladder competitions. The judge, Kevin Day, had the unenviable task of selecting the best of the best images as the Picture of the Year.
Members could submit two prints and two digital images from pictures they had entered in this year’s ladder competition. Viewing the best pictures and hearing the judges comments was very enjoyable. We started the evening with the prints and Kevin selected a winner in that section. After the break, we looked at the digital images and Kevin selected the winner from those. The winners from each section were very different kinds of images (a landscape and an abstract) making Kevin’s choice of Picture of the Year very difficult.
The top scoring images were:
David Belcher: Stormy Weather 20 (print winner)
Tony Bates: Jay Wing Feathers 20 
Nigel Glover-Wright: Big Mistake! 20 
Tilly Jamieson: Curves 20 (Picture of the Year winner)
Geoff Storey: Goring-on-Thames 20

1 May 2024

30 Years of Club Photography

Our speaker tonight on Zoom was Neil Malton from Peterborough Photographic Society, which was established in 1887. Neil related how he originally was into taking photos of insects and was persuaded to join the Peterborough club over 30 years ago where his eyes were opened to other genres. Certainly, from the images we saw tonight, Neil is a very versatile photographer, including natural history, landscapes, sports, astro and even infra-red. During his talk, Neil reminded us how much the technology has developed over the past 30 years, enabling us to take photographs that would not have previously been possible. Even more has changed since the establishment of the Peterborough Photographic Society over 130 years ago!
Neil has not lost his love of insect photography and he showed us some beautiful images of butterflies, beetles, dragonflies and spiders. Particularly effective were his pictures of backlit butterflies showing off the colours and structure of their wings. Neil showed us the effects of different apertures to blur the background. Being so close to an insect, particularly with a macro lens, means it is difficult to get everything in focus and blur the background; this is where focus stacking is very effective.
Moving on, Neil showed us images of birds, frogs, snakes and some mammals. Some were taken in the rain or snow which were very atmospheric, proving that you should not be put off by bad weather.
Sports photography is another genre that Neil has taken up and he showed us some remarkable images of water skiing, dirt biking and cricket. He has also ventured into astro photography, showing us images of star trails, a comet and deep space. Back on Earth, he showed us some images of familiar places taken at night.
To finish his talk, Neil showed us some of his infra-red images, including what you can do by adding colour to them. They certainly show a different view of the world.
Over 30 years, Neil has created a tremendous body of work and it was a privilege to see a cross-section of it. This was a very varied and entertaining evening of excellent images.

24th April 2024

Digital Competition 4

Tonight was the fourth and final round of the digital ladder competition with no set subject. Our judge was Rojer Weightman. There was a good entry of around 40 images with a range of subjects including landscapes, birds and a portrait of a baby.
Rojer gave some instructive comments and selected a number to hold back for the highest scores. Three images were awarded the top score:
Debby Reynolds OUR SMALLEST BIRD 20 * 
Nigel Glover-Wright THE DRIP 20 
Debby Reynolds was the overall winner with a lovely photo of our smallest bird.

17th April 2024

Composition and Working With Light

Our speaker tonight on Zoom was Richard Speirs who has a great deal of experience with camera clubs and judging locally and internationally. He talked us through the principles of composition and lighting with some excellent examples of the improvements you can make.
Richard started with the ‘rule of thirds’, emphasising that any rule like this is simply guidance. This was amply illustrated by showing that the renowned artist J. M. W. Turner didn’t stick rigidly to the rule. He further showed, with a photo of the Sycamore Gap tree, that having the subject in the centre can work well; his image worked because of the wall, paths and clouds pointing towards the central tree.
Richard went on to show how how changing your point of view (up/down or right/left) can dramatically improve a photo. He also talked about diagonal lines and triangular arrangements being effective compositional tools. Leading lines are another way of guiding the viewer into the picture and this is where a low point of view can help.
Considering light, Richard shared a number of techniques to improve our images. He often waits a few minutes for the light to change so that the main subject is illuminated. When photographing landscapes, we often don’t notice mist or haze and he recommended a polarising filter to cut through it. If haze is still a problem, you can use a de-haze filter in post-processing. Richard showed some remarkable examples of how effective this is. With digital photography, he recommends exposing for the highlights as you can recover detail from the shadows in post-processing but you cannot recover blown highlights. 
If you need to work out where the sun will be at a particular location at a given time, Richard recommended the Photographer’s Ephemeris and he showed some lovely images with the sun shining on a subject he wanted lit up.
Richard explained everything very clearly with excellent illustrations and I’m sure we all took something away to help us improve our photography. A very enjoyable, educational evening.

3rd April 2024

A Year of Taking Pictures

Tonight’s speaker on Zoom was Dave Dixon, a young chap from Northumberland with a plaited beard and a splendid collection of guitars visible in the background.
Dave walks every day from his house in rural Northumberland and throughout the year finds inspiration for photos. He started with images he’d taken in the winter and showed us the scenery as it changed throughout the seasons to the end of the year.
Dave prefers to keep his images simple and this certainly pays off in getting across the feeling of the scene and enabling us to enjoy the natural beauty of Northumberland. He generally uses a wide-angle lens and often includes leading lines to take the eye to the main subject, such as a tree on the horizon. Dave prefers to avoid having people in his pictures to avoid the distraction. He often looks for themes such as 5-bar gates, hay bales and derelict buildings.
Although Dave mainly photographs landscapes, he is also very keen on urban photography. He showed us a number of images taken in Newcastle. He looks for grungy subways and underpasses; his images certainly caught the atmosphere of them.
Taking his derelict building themes to the next level, Dave hired Antwerp Mansion in Manchester for four hours. It’s used as a photography studio, but Dave went without models and took many interesting images of the interior.
Back in Northumberland, Dave treated us to images from the coast, some waterfalls and images from the forest floor. He showed us some lovely images of fungi, beetles and damsel flies.
We very much enjoyed Dave’s images and it was clear that Dave has a skill in capturing and showing off his native Northumberland.

27th March 2024

6x4 Competition and Special General Meeting

In the first half of tonight’s meeting we held our annual 6x4 competition. This was followed in the second half by a Special General Meeting.
For the competition, each member could submit two panels of five 6x4 prints. There were 17 entries to be judged by ourselves. We each had to pick out our top 5 panels and the scores were totalled to determine the winners. Nancy Massie took equal 2nd and 3rd places with panels of birds. David Belcher took top place with a panel of landscapes.
The Special General Meeting was to discuss and agree the proposed dissolution of the Society at the end of the current season. Alan explained the reasons for the proposal and the members voted unanimously to dissolve of the Society. It was also agreed to immediately dispose of the society's assets not currently in use. Those items were set out on the tables and members took away items they wanted. Most items were cleared quickly leaving a couple of slide projectors and several old books and a few miscellaneous items to be disposed of.

20th March 2024


Tonight’s meeting on Zoom, given by Andrew Foley, can best be characterised as minimalist. The title was short, the talk was short, the images were presented in a small window and Andrew’s photos were, in his words, minimalist. Despite the title, most of the images were of sky, either entirely or above a very low horizon; very interesting, colourful skies with dreamy cloud shapes.
Andrew has travelled a lot and we shot from one part of the world to another as each image appeared on our screens. By the end of the hour, we were quite exhausted keeping up with where we were.
In keeping with the nature of the talk, tonight's report is short.

13th March 2024

Natural History Competition

Members were able to submit two digital images and two prints for tonight’s Natural History Competition. The judge was Kevin Day.
We started the evening with the prints which were predominantly of birds but included a couple of images of mammals. There were a few monochrome prints and Kevin commented that black-and-white isn’t usually the best for natural history images. He was pleased to see that our images had not been cropped too tight, giving space and context for the main subject. Despite Kevin’s comment about monochrome, the winner of the prints was in monochrome, but this was a very appropriate and striking choice for a rain-soaked crow.
The digital section of the competition had more entries than the prints with more variety of subjects. Again, the winner in this section was in monochrome, making the most of the shapes and textures of an old tree against young trees in a misty wood.
The highest scoring images were:
David Belcher    : Not More Rain – Overall winner of the competition and of the Prints
David Belcher: Grubs Up
Tony Bates: Old Tree in New Plantation – Winner of the Digital section
Tony Bates: 2 Giraffes
Nancy Massie: Bluewhistling Thrush
Nigel Glover-Wright: Tasty

6th March 2024

Las Vegas to Dallas

Paul Adams took us on a road trip from Las Vegas to Dallas in tonight’s Zoom talk. His images showed us some interesting architecture and stunning scenery.
In Las Vegas, Paul stayed at the Aria hotel which had some interesting shapes and reflected patterns which he captured brilliantly by finding the best point of view and waiting for the right light to give depth to his images. The daytime light was very harsh and he found that the best colours were in the photos he took at night.
Moving on into Utah, we went past the salt flats and red sandstone outcrops. Paul again emphasised the importance of good light to give modelling to the rocky shapes. On our journey, we were surprised to see snow in Utah! Paul showed us an audio visual presentation of the national parks of Utah with outstanding desert scenery with strange shapes and arches sculpted by wind and water.
In Denver, Paul showed us images of sculptures and murals he came across. We moved on through Colorado with its big skies and open landscapes. New Mexico saw a change to small volcanic hills where we were very much in farming country.
In Texas, Paul travelled along a section of the iconic Route 66, passing Cadillac Henge on the way to Amarillo. Paul found that creating a pleasing photo of the cars buried in the sand was quite a challenge due to the linear arrangement of the cars, but he did a pretty good job!
Reaching Lubbock, Paul wanted to visit the Buddy Holly museum, but it was closed. Undeterred, he was still able to photograph Buddy’s statue and some murals.
Finally arriving in Dallas, Paul photographed the iconic Mobil Pegasus horse logo. He was interested in the history of the Kennedy assassination and created a montage of images he had captured. We had some a number of examples where Paul had created an image from more than one photo to great effect. A particularly memorable one was a view under a bridge. Paul added a speeding Coca Cola lorry passing over the bridge, giving a sense of place and drama.
We had been treated to a fascinating story of Paul’s trip and some stunning images. Particularly interesting was Paul’s narrative on what he was hoping to achieve with his images and how he’d created them. This was a very enjoyable evening.

28th February 2024

Print Competition Number 2

Tonight we held our second print competition of the season. There was no set subject and each member could enter 3 colour and 3 monochrome prints. The judge was Micki Aston.
Micki made some helpful comments on the prints. One of the things she was looking for was the suitability of the image for monochrome. One good example was a print with some lovely texture.
With a couple of prints she thought there was a colour caste, though perhaps more obvious to her experienced eyes than some of us. Micki recommended using a dedicated black and white printer to avoid this problem if we are going to make a lot of black and white prints.
Another recommendation was to use a big mount to really show off a print.
The prints scoring 20 were:
David Belcher: Stormy weather 20 * 
Tony Bates: Brecon water fall 20 
David Belcher: The calm of autumn 20 

David Robinson: That's Me! 20 * 
Tony Bates: Marina bay sands hotel 20 
David Robinson: The Coffee Ritual 20 
Tony Bates: Body art 20

21th February 2024

Is Photography Art?

Tonight’s talk on Zoom posed the question ‘Is Photography Art?’ Susan Clark took us through the history of both art and photography and the arguments through the ages for and against photography as art.
Starting with photography, Susan explained how images were first created using a camera obscura. The image was temporary but artists used it help them with their painting. Daguerre was the first invent a chemical process to create a permanent image. Artists denigrated the daguerreotype as merely a copy as they felt their livelihood was threatened. The daguerrotype process only produced one image, but Fox Talbot invented the negative process allowing multiple copies of an image to be created. Photography then began to flourish and Susan showed us many photos of landscapes, buildings, the U.S. Western Frontier, the American Civil War and the Crimean War.
Susan then gave us a potted history of art from before photography was invented and then how it developed alongside photography. It became apparent that art and photography each had their unique strengths and that they influenced each other. For example, during the industrial revolution, artists changed from painting a romantic interpretation of a scene to showing a realistic portrayal of how life really was. Photography became the ultimate way of recording a realistic image.
In the 20th century art and photography developed hand in hand. Susan took us through impressionism, cubism, surrealism and many other isms as artists experimented with new styles. She showed us photographs that drew inspiration from these styles. Susan also showed us examples where art and photography were used together such as with photo montage.
By the end of the talk, we had learnt how photography and art influenced each other. But is photography art? The answer seemed to be ‘probably’.

14th February 2024

Digital Competition No. 3 Street Photography

Our third digital competition of the season had the set subject of Street Photography. The judge was Rojer Weightman.
Rojer talked about what he was looking for in Street Photography. He said the images need to be more than portraits but should to include sufficient to give a sense of place or the event. Typically, he would expect street photographs to have been taken in a town or city. A general comment that Rojer had about our entries was that some of them were not sharp where they needed to be (the subject’s eyes for example) and this reduces the impact of the image.
The top scorers of the evening were:
Tony Bates BRIDGE OF SIGHS 20 

31 January 2024

Draw Up a Sandbag and I’ll Tell You a Story

Tonight’s talk was by one or our own, Dave Probert. Using a military saying, he invited us to draw up a sandbag and hear his story of his time as an electronic engineer in the Royal Air Force. Shortly after joining the air force, Dave was sent to Berlin to work on the development of Teufelsberg, a listening station used during the cold war.
The listening station was built on top of the highest (the only) hill in West Berlin. The hill is made from the rubble of Hitler’s university faculty for military technology and other parts of the destroyed city. For security reasons, Dave had not been able to take his own photos so he showed us archive photographs and drawings to illustrate the first part of his talk.
The listening station was no longer needed once the Soviet Union collapsed in 1992. In 2013, Dave went back to visit Teufelsberg and in the second part, he showed us his own photos of the decaying remains of the site. The buildings were very much cheered up by the work of graffiti artists.
This was a different evening and it was interesting to hear a first-hand account of one aspect of the cold war.

24 January 2024

Now You See it, Now You Don’t

Our speaker tonight on Zoom was Martin Cooper with a talk intriguingly titled ‘Now You See it, Now You Don’t’. His talk had three sections: Colour, Black and White and Impressionistic. Throughout the first half we enjoyed Martin’s colour and black and white images but the question nagging at the back of our minds was ‘what is the meaning of the title?’. So during the break, our Chairman, Alan, had to ask. The answer was that the colour and black and white images were straight images where you could easily see the subject, but you couldn’t easily see the original subject in the impressionistic images.
Martin’s colour pictures included many lovely landscapes as well as interesting characters, rock musicians and aeroplanes. Martin’s black and white images covered vintage motor racing, trees particularly with mist and fog, derelict building and a couple of prisons. All his images were stunning and he gave helpful descriptions of each one and explained what he was trying to achieve.
Martin concluded his talk with his impressionistic images. So, it was a very varied evening of superb images with a narrative of the back story.

17 January 2024

Wild Scotland

Tonight we were treated to talks about wild birds in Scotland from three our members: Debby Reynolds, Nancy Massie and David Massie.
Debby started proceedings, focussing on the Outer Hebrides. She divided her talk into three sections: Landscapes, Sitting Birds and Flying Birds. Debby showed us images around Harris, including coastal scenery and a blackhouse. The scenery on Harris can be rather plain, so Debby included pops of colour (mainly red) to add interest. Debby also talked about her trip to the distant island of St. Kilda.
Debbie’s sitting birds included many lovely images of birds in their natural environment, including an oyster catcher, a common snipe and a corn crake. Her images of flying birds were stunning, including a puffin taking off from water and a short-eared owl.
Nancy was on next to talk about her bird-watching tour of Islay and Jura. She showed us many lovely images of the birds to be found there, including a kittiwake, barnacle geese and a curlew. Their habitats ranges from grassland, sea shore and hedgerows. Of course no trip to these islands is complete without visiting a distillery and Nancy showed us around one she went to.
After the break, David took us to the Cairngorms with images of birds to be found there. After showing us images of osprey, woodpeckers and a siskin, Michael Portillo popped up, sporting a pair of binoculars and looking immaculate, as usual! David continued his talk, showing us more Cairngorm birds including a golden plover, a mistle thrush and a stone chaff.
This was a delightful evening of excellent images; I, for one, was stunned by the variety of birds that live in these parts of Scotland and I’ve learnt much about them from Debby, Nancy and David.

10 January 2024

The Dragon in Monochrome

The dragon giving tonight’s talk on Zoom was called Margaret Salisbury. She gave a lively presentation of her monochrome images sprinkled with many interesting anecdotes and tips for creating monochrome images.
In the first part of her talk, Margaret showed us monochrome images taken in locations around where she lives in North Wales, including Snowdonia and the coastline a quarter of a mile from her home town of Prestatyn. She emphasised the importance of compositional elements such as triangles and the benefits of waiting for the right light in landscapes. Margaret explained that the right light helps to get across how the photographer felt about the scene in front of them, rather than just snapping a picture that says ‘I was here’.
Margaret demonstrated how it’s always worth experimenting with a monochrome conversion as it can sometimes lead to surprising and pleasing results. She compared some images in colour and monochrome to illustrate how different elements are emphasised in monochrome compared to colour.
Many of Margaret’s images were taken with an infra-red camera which gives interesting results. Living objects, such as trees and flowers generally come out white, whereas non-living objects come out black. One striking image was of a landscape taken in Spring which looked as if there was  a thick blanket of snow.
In the second part of her talk, Margaret focussed on images she’d taken on her foreign travels. She showed us some stunning images of orangutans which portrayed the emotions of the animals. There were many striking images of other birds and animals too. Margaret emphasised the importance of the eyes in both animal and human portraiture, illustrated with examples. She also showed us some expressive images of hands.
The dragon’s talk sparked a lot of interest in the audience and there were many questions and much discussion afterwards.

3 January 2024

Digital Competition No. 2 - Curves

Our judge for the second digital competition was Bo Hansen from the Reading Camera Club. The set subject was ‘Curves’. With just 36 entries, Bo was able to spend time with each image giving a detailed assessment of the qualities and areas for improvement of each picture.
One of Bo’s pet phrases was ‘Border Control!’ He advised us to always check around the borders of our images for distracting elements such as bright highlights or small items poking into the image. Given the set subject, a number of images were of things like gates and ironwork; Bo advised adjusting the point of view to be straight onto such objects, rather than slightly to one side so as not to break up the symmetry.
There were three twenties tonight:
Tilly Jamieson PAPER CURVES
Tony Bates PORTISHEAD FLYING LADY (overall winner with a star) 

6 December 2023

My Kind of People and Not a Pretty Picture

Our Zoom presentation this evening was given by the charismatic Barbie Lindsay MPAGB EFIAP/s FBPE AWPF who gave us a fascinating evening in two halves.  Both lectures demonstrated her love of photography and her ability to establish an immediate rapport with her subjects and the first half of the evening was very enjoyable with the underlying theme that the second half could be rather different and somewhat deeper.  
Early in the second half came my favourite comment of the evening while we were viewing a beautiful young naked lady    “Gentlemen  -  you may not have noticed that this model has no head”.  I immediately averted my eyes to a different area of the image and indeed Barbie was quite correct.  What was I looking at before?
She then moved into a genre which no other speaker has covered.  Body art which included tattoos and piercings.   Again, the highest photographic quality with the subject matter and models moving gently to more and more extreme examples of body decorations right up to piercings in very intimate areas showing close ups of male and female genitalia.  At the end of the presentation, I was pleased that I had included a comment regarding the presentation’s suitability in my Programme.
Thanks again, Barbie, for a fascinating and interesting talk covering in great detail a genre that is highly specialised and probably totally unique to yourself.

29 November 2023

Curiosities in New Zealand

Our presentation this evening was given by our Chairman, Alan Copeland LRPS APAGB who gave us an interesting and entertaining tour of New Zealand concentrating on the bizarre and unusual aspects of life in New Zealand.
His excellent images had been collected during a number of visits to that Country and included a very wide range of subjects from the neolithic Moeraki Boulders in the South Island to a more modern hoarding designed to show what could happen to your body if you eat too much genetically modified food.
A common theme was a number of large front gardens which had been converted by their artistic owners to show off their large collections of colourful items including shoes, teapots and decorated giant mosaic figures.  Alan showed many more mundane bits and pieces including a couple of restaurant menus, one offering a breakfast of Boiled Eggs and Soldiers and another where the most expensive meal was described with reference to a dog’s anatomy.
Thank you, Alan, for a very interesting and highly entertaining evening.

1 November 2023

A Taste of Italy

Our presentation this evening was given by one of our own club members, David Belcher, who gave us a fascinating tour of the South West coast of Italy starting with the city of Naples.   His images included many studies of the narrow streets along with the variety of shops and churches which adorn the city.
He then took us to Sorrento with its wonderful harbour area, churches and cathedrals and he pointed out the ancient burial chambers located high up the cliffs.
This was followed by an indepth study of two ancient Roman cities – Pompeii and Herculaneum -  which were destroyed in the year 79 AD with the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.  David had researched the history of these two centres and his images showed the colossal amount of excavation work which is still ongoing to discover what can be seen of the buildings which stood there before they were engulfed by ash and molten lava.
Thank you, David, for a very interesting and absorbing evening.

25 October 2023

Travelling Light

Our speaker tonight, on Zoom, was Veronica Congleton ARPS.  She explained that, twenty years ago, she decided to photograph as many animals and other wildlife as she can in their natural environment as opposed to zoos and British wildlife parks.  Her first venture took her North of homeland near Newcastle upon Tyne where she found badgers in Southern Scotland and otters in Unst in the Shetland Islands.  She then journeyed to India to track down some tigers and, on the way to Tudoba Tiger Reserve, she took many images of the Indian children and their families who she found were all very friendly and welcoming.  In the same area, she visited an Elephant Sanctuary to photograph the largest animals which exist in our world today.
She then journeyed across the Pacific to visit Alaska to find brown bears, her destination being Brooks Falls where hundreds of bears compete with each other to catch salmon leaping up the falls.  She then visited Anan near Wrangell where she found black bears, the largest bear and very dangerous.   Her journeys continued South to Africa where she went on safari in Botswana staying in tents overnight.  She could often hear lions and hippos walking through the encampment at night which must have been very frightening.  Veronica’s presentation finished with a visit to the Dwindi National Park in Uganda where she photographed gorillas, one of the gentle giants of the Natural World
An interesting and fascinating evening which finished far too early.

18 October 2023

Digital Competition Number 1

Tonight we held the first round in our series of ladder digital competitions with no set subject. Our judge was Amanda Wright who made the long journey from Ealing to view our images. There were 39 images submitted by members and these covered an enormous range of subjects which included many Natural History photographs, stunning landscapes, portraits and a number of creative images.
Amanda gave us some very constructive and helpful feedback on our images. She commented on composition and suggested ways in which our images could be improved and she shared her views on the use of key lines around the image to produce a better effect.
Being the first round of the competition, the overall standard was very high which resulted in a total of five images receiving the maximum score of 20 points, each photograph having been taken by five different authors.   These were:     
Busy Bee on Lavender by David Copas
Ripples on the Water by Tony Bates
Kings Cross Station by Tilly Jamieson
Abstract by David Massie
Winding it Up by David Robinson
The results of the competition were First Place – Tony Bates and David Copas with 39 points each followed by Tilly Jamieson, Nigel Glover-Wright and David Massie who each scored 38 points. The overall winning image was shared by Busy Bee on Lavender and Ripples on the Water.

11 October 2023

Landscape Photography

Tonight's talk on Zoom was given by Hugh Rooney. Hugh started in photography 40 years ago mainly working with black and white film with the occasional colour slides. Hugh’s love of black and white has continued to the present day, now using digital cameras of course. He focuses on architecture, landscapes and seascapes with the aim of creating fine-art black and white prints.
Hugh gained his FRPS last year with a panel of black and white architectural images. During the first half of the evening, Hugh showed us the images from his panel and explained the background to them and their creation. It quickly became apparent that Hugh has evolved a very personal, striking style for his architectural images. The images were from buildings located in many parts of the world, including Spain, New York, Germany, Scotland, Ireland, Japan, France, Holland and London. However, the same strong style formed the link between all the images.
Hugh concentrates on parts of buildings rather than the whole. They generally have strong lines which Hugh emphasises by creating strong contrast along the building lines. Hugh deals with messy skies by creating graduated grey brightness levels. The effect is to create something almost abstract. We were all duly impressed with the results.
Despite what the talk says on the tin, Hugh continued showing us more of his architectural images after the break, but quickly move on to show us his landscapes and seascapes. A similar style was evident but with a softer approach. He explained how he uses long exposures to get a smooth sea and superimposes a short exposure of a person or birds to keep them sharp.
This was a very enjoyable evening of exceptional images with Hugh’s explanations giving us insight into what the images were about and how he created them.

4 October 2023

The Art of Judging

Tonight we put ourselves in the judging seat to help us learn what judges are looking for in competitions. In so doing, we had a better understanding of how to improve our own images. Our chairman, Alan Copeland, led the session. He brought along the images from a competition he had judged at another camera club and we were invited to comment on each image with good points and  aspects for improvement. In the first half, there was a set subject of ‘Faces’. In the second half, there was no set subject
Alan explained the process that judges follow when judging a competition, including the scoring. After we’d commented on each image, Alan revealed the score he’d given in the actual competition. Sometimes we agreed with Alan’s score, other times we didn’t; I guess that’s why judging is an art with no definitive answers.
This was an enjoyable, interactive evening that gave us food for thought when reviewing our own images and how to improve them.

27 Sept 2023

World of Winter Whiteness

Our speaker tonight, on Zoom, was George Steele. For a number of years he had been a winter walking leader, mainly in the Alps, so he had many images to show us of the beautiful snowy landscapes. In addition to his stunning images of snow-clad mountains, George showed us some interesting details. He showed us the tracks used by cross-country skiers which walkers had to avoid walking in. The tracks are made by a vehicle towing a large stone. Another interesting detail was a long line footprints made by a deer that had carefully placed all four hooves into the same footprint as it went along; that’s difficult to do with just two feet! George also showed us a number of buildings with with intricate paintings on them that told a story.
When we got to the break after an hour, it became obvious that George had finished his talk and didn’t have anything to show us after the break! Our chairman, Alan, skilfully persuaded George to share some the files we could see on George’s screen. We were treated to a video taken in New Zealand, not by George, of a snow-ploughing train clearing the line which was quite spectacular. George also shared some close-up shots of flowers taken on some early digital cameras. The images were lovely, despite the relatively low resolution of the cameras. George made the point that you don’t need a specialised macro lens to take close-ups. For example, a telephoto lens can work just as well.
So, it was a short but entertaining evening allowing time for an early bath, as Alan put it!

20 Sept 2023

Selection Evening

This year, we are back in the Rosebowl Competition, so our task this evening was to select about 25 images as candidates for the competition entry. Each of us had been invited to submit up to 8 images for consideration and we had a strong panel of over 80 images that we had to whittle down to 25.
We were each given the list of entries with a column for our own notes and a column to indicate our own choices (up to 25) for entry into the Rosebowl. After a quick run-through of all the images, we went slowly through each one, with the opportunity to ask questions and seek clarification. Then a final run-through to hone our 25 choices.
Having handed in our tick-lists, the votes will be added up to determine the 25 images to go forward. A good job done on a very wet evening!

13 Sept 2023

Mountains, Music and Mirth

This evening’s talk on Zoom was given by Paul Bates. His parents used to take him on walks in the Lake District when he was a child and he developed a love of walking and started taking photos of the landscape. When he was given his first SLR, his love of photography really took off and he soon got into audio-visual presentations (using slides and tape recorders in those days). So Paul’s talk was a series of audio-visual shows mainly of mountains, some with mirth and all accompanied by an enjoyable and relevant selection of music.
The mountains included the Scottish Highlands, the Lake District, the Peak District, the Swiss Alps, the Italian Dolomites and Snowdon. On lower ground, Paul showed us bee sculptures in Manchester and Crosby Beach with its Anthony Gormley iron man sculptures (queue heavy metal music).
Mirth was provided by ‘Poisoning Pigeons in the Park’ and ‘The First Yorkshire Man in Space’. The Japanese poetic form called Haiku provided further amusement. Paul presented a sequence of computer blue screen error messages each with a 17-syllable Haiku poem taking the mickey out of our recalcitrant machines.
This was an entertaining and varied evening and I, for one, came away inspired with some ideas for our Christmas audio-visual competition.

6 Sept 2023

Street Photography My Way

We kicked off the new season in great style to welcome back Peter Crane to enthuse us about Street Photography. Peter spoke to us on this subject previously and it was very helpful to have him give us further insights into this style of photography; our competition in February is on this very subject. Peter likened Street Photography to fishing, since we are waiting in a likely spot to catch an interesting or amusing subject.
Before showing us examples of his images, Peter outlined the camera settings he finds works. They are:
    • 16 – 80 mm lens
    • Auto ISO
    • Aperture F/8
    • Shutter speed 1/250
    • Spot focussing, centred metering
    • High speed continuous shooting
Peter recommended back button focussing so that you can pre-focus where you expect the action to be and keep the focus set. He often shoots from the hip and recommends a wrist strap to secure the camera and to be less conspicuous.
By presenting a number of his images, Peter illustrated what to look for in Street Photography. These included:
    • Matching colours (especially red)
    • Characters dressed up for street events such as Gay Pride
    • Shadows and reflections
    • Mainly people, but dogs and other animals can make amusing images
    • Other photographers
    • Night scenes
Normally, Peter likes to blend into the background to avoid being noticed as a photographer. The only time he may ask permission to photograph a person is when taking a portrait.
Many of Peter’s images were taken in and around Brick Lane, London. The vibrant street activity and graffiti make for many and varied photo opportunities.
We came away inspired and with some practical tips so that we may feel more confident to wander the streets and make some great images for our upcoming competition.