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.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE LATEST MEETING
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
Tony Bates MILLENNIUM BRIDGE 20
David Belcher SPRING IN CENTRAL PARK 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
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:
David Belcher PAINTING WITH LIGHT
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
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
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
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.