Reports of some recent meetings
Report of the first meeting of the 2017-2018 season
The society began its new season last Thursday with a stunning talk by Dave Bibby from Blackpool titled “Iceland in Winter”
Dave loves Iceland and visits as often as he can to photograph it’s diverse landscapes in all seasons.His talk included still photographs and a number of audio visual presentations accompanied by haunting Icelandic music.
The society has a strong and diverse programme for this season including competitions, technical and practical demonstrations for photographers of all ages and abilities
The society meets every Thursday evening between 8 and 10pm at the Castle Community Church, Beeston Street, Castle.
We are a very friendly society and guests are welcome to come along and see what we have to offer to improve your photographic skills.
For our full details including this season’s programme visit our website at northwichphotographicsociety.co.uk
[b]Report of the Awards Night 1917
It was a clean sweep of awards by the Bullock family at the recent Awards Night of the Northwich Photographic Society when Paul Bullock was overall winner of the internal competitions in both the A4 Print section and Projected Digital Image section and Paul's wife Maggie won for the A3 Print section.
The overall results for the 2016/17 season in A4 Prints were 1st Paul Bullock 296 points, 2nd Roger Spurling 274 points, 3rd Colin Bradford 270 points. In the A3 Print Section 1st Maggie Bullock 292 points, 2nd Sarah Kinsella 280 points, 3rd David Whitehead 279 points. In the Projected Digital Image Section 1st Paul Bullock 192 points, 2nd Maggie Bullock 187 points, 3rd Equal Garry Wynne and Roger Spurling 186 points.
A photograph showing Paul Bullock, winner of the A4 Prints and Projected Digital Images Trophies and Maggie Bullock, winner of the A3 Print Trophy together with the Society's President Roy Taylor can be found in the News section of this website
[b]Report of meeting on Thursday 27th October 2016
‘Let there be light!’ To any photographer this is obvious – no light no picture. However, our speaker, Gordon Barley ARPS, entertained and educated us into the true complexity of this simple statement. We saw an amazing collection of Gordon’s work and were spellbound by his seamless presentation. His knowledge is truly impressive which he delivers without notes or any trace of hesitation!
Light, colour and composition are three key elements in photography of which light is the most crucial. Light gives both texture and details, especially in landscapes. Light in photographs can be natural or artificial but the quality of it matters. Reflected light, back lighting, spot lighting are among the many types illustrated by Gordon. These are affected by the season, time of day and weather conditions and help create mood and atmosphere.
One of Gordon’s favourite times of the day is just after sunset when there is an afterglow from the setting sun. As well as the explanation of how light works in photography Gordon also reminded us of the benefits of ‘KIS’ – keep it simple, and keep looking over your shoulder because you never know what might be there when you are concentrating on what is in front of you.
During the evening we visited a remarkable number of places in the UK – so much so that we all saw places that we had visited ourselves. We saw sculptures of all sizes and types and amazing cloud formations. Gordon’s love of Yorkshire produced some very nostalgic and romantic images that left us in awe at both his photographic skills and the beauty of the English landscape.
Report of meeting on Thursday 13th October 2016
In Scotland, confined to barracks by bad weather may not be the ideal time and place for landscape photography but Steve Lewis ARPS believes that it is all about planning to improve your chances of being in the right place at the right time. His lecture ‘Planning for a Better Landscape’ was illustrated by superlative landscapes from all round the world spanning a career in photography of almost 40 years.
Planning by its very nature is a behind the scenes task but has to be informed. Steve recommends keeping a notebook with you at all times to jot down the best locations and the most likely combinations of time of day, season and weather although he does admit that he has now gone digital in his note-taking. It is hugely important to know exactly where the sun is going to rise and set. He prefers the time just before sunrise and just after sunset when the light is at its softest.
A keen observer of nature Steve says that a day in a landscape is never wasted as the important thing is to note down and return at the right time. Small details can be hugely important and Steve has a number of favourite rocks that he carefully features in his works. Weather patterns are more important than forecasts and tones, textures and shapes are at their best when the sun is not so evident. However, bright sunlight is the time for capturing the translucency of leaves.
Despite the importance of all the planning the photographer should always be ready for the moment when it all comes together by sheer chance. The combination of planning and luck is hard to beat!
Report of meeting on Thursday 1st September 2016
Have you sent any postcards from your summer holidays? The first meeting of this season gave us ample opportunity to reflect on the cards we sent and those we didn’t. ‘Postcards from Provence and other stories’ were presented in AV (audio visual) form by Tillman Kleinhans ARPS EFIAPb DPAGB and engaged us in the romance of the area with superb images accompanied by sympathetic music. We were lulled away back into the sunny summer through Tillman’s eyes and ears.
A retired science teacher, Tillman spent many long, hot summers in France and especially in Provence. Always a keen photographer and hi-fi enthusiast he combined these passions with his love of the area. By chance Tillman discovered a disused quarry near to the village of Les Baux and was enthralled by what he had unearthed. In the heart of the Alpilles, the monumental Carrières de Lumières present unique multimedia displays. Every year, a great original show presents the greatest names in Art History. These shows are projected onto the huge 14-metre high walls, the pillars and the floors of the quarry and musically transport visitors into multi-coloured worlds.
‘Villes-sur-Auzon’ and its renowned jazz festivals featured in another ‘postcard’ . Tillman’s enthusiasm in capturing images of the event led to him being invited to become the official photographer, a position he enjoyed for several years. Needless to say the images of the jazz bands were accompanied by lively jazz tunes which brought the event to life before our eyes. Other ‘postcards’ followed and Tillman explained how his love for photography led to his successfully introducing it as a popular option for students in his school.
[b] Report of meeting on Thursday 31st March 2016
An astonishing evening led by Adrian Lines MPAGB FBPE EFIAP was greatly appreciated and left us with much to consider. Adrian’s presentation is called ‘Altered Reality – is it better than the real thing?’ and it showcases his considerable talents as a photographer and artist. The idea of ‘altered reality’ is one which splits many groups – should a photograph show faithfully what was in front of the lens when the shutter was pressed or is at a starting point to work on in the digital darkroom. Adrian clearly supports the latter view as he sees his initial images as parts of a subsequent work of art.
Beginning about ten years ago with the purchase of a new camera, Adrian learned his craft over four or so years by joining a camera club to learn from others and by dedicating his evenings and weekends to his new hobby. Adrian believes that creativity is a key to his work and he wants his images to tell a story about the characters in them.
His method is to take multiple images of people and places and then combine them using his computer adding a large range of effects to produce the final stunning result. Adrian spends his evenings digitally cutting out people and storing them as well as cataloguing numerous locations and textures for backgrounds. His preferred locations are those that he feels will add atmosphere to his images such as The Black County Museum, Crich Tramway Museum, Whitby Goths’ Festival the Edinburgh Fringe and various historical re-enactments.
Adrian’s ‘people’ are characterised by a depth of emotion. To achieve this he works with his subjects to put them at ease and understand them. He is quite happy to approach a stranger in the street and engage in conversation for twenty to thirty minutes in order to be in a position to ask if he can use their photograph. Once this is achieved he then takes thirty plus photographs in order to be able to select the best one which he believes to be one of the key skills involved. When the weather does not permit he moves in to the studio with models.
One of his more challenging (to his audience) projects to is the images where he has combined the body of a person with a suitable animal head – not everyone’s cup of tea but amazing nonetheless! This was certainly an evening to instigate discussion.
Report Of Meeting Held On Thursday 10th March, 2016
It was the turn of Northwich Photographic Society to host the 3Way Battle between Mid-Cheshire Camera Club, Frodsham and District Photographic Society and Northwich Photographic Society on the 10th March.
Each of the clubs entered 10 prints and 10 projected digital images judged by Bob Dennis APAGB, CPAGB, AFIAP, BPE4* scoring each entry out of a maximum of 20 points. Bob started off the evening by admitting that he was faced with a very difficult task as the entries were all of a very high standard, however, his constructive criticism of the entries interspersed with amusing anecdotes ensured that the evening was both entertaining and informative.
After the first round, when the prints were judged, the scoring was Frodsham 155 points, Northwich 169 points and Mid-Cheshire 179. Maximum scores of 20 points were awarded to Mid-Cheshire for their prints of “Wild European Rabbit” and “Cheetahs Looking For Prey” together with Northwich’s print “Looking At You Looking At Me”.
After a break for refreshments Bob concentrated his efforts in judging the projected digital images which produced scores of Frodsham 164 points, Northwich 166 points and Mid-Cheshire 173 points. Maximum scores of 20 points were awarded to Mid-Cheshire’s “Tight Turn” and “Warthog Escaping” together with Northwich’s South American Rhea”.
The amalgamated scores for both sections therefore resulted in 1st place going to Mid-Cheshire Camera Club with 352 points, with Northwich Photographic Society in 2nd place with 335 points and in 3rd place Frodsham & District Photographic Society with 319 points.
3rd March 2016
The exotic delights of Northern India were brought to life on a cold evening in Northwich. This was all courtesy of one of our regular members, Sarah Kinsella, who had visited there last year and taken many amazing photographs. During the year we have had a few foretastes of Sarah’s images in our competitions but nothing on the scale of this superb presentation.
A dedicated photographer, Sarah was somewhat disappointed initially because the level of pollution there left much to ask in terms of visibility. In addition, the Indian government does not allow most people to use tripods – not that it would be possible in the busy, bustling streets but a strange rule to our minds nevertheless. Despite these restrictions Sarah managed (sometimes with the help of her skills in the digital darkroom afterwards) to produce high quality images to show us another view of our world.
We began in Delhi and took in both Jaipur and Agra before moving to the south east and the River Ganges, the most sacred river to the Hindus. We saw vibrant colours and sumptuous buildings alongside the dilapidation and pollution that pervades the cities. Delhi is the largest city in India in terms of geographical area and is the second most populous city. Jaipur and Agra complete what is called The Golden Triangle with Agra being the location for one of the world’s most famous buildings – The Taj Mahal.
The Ganga (Ganges) is the embodiment of all sacred waters in Hindu mythology and was shown to us in all its glory by Sarah’s images which truly captured the way it is used and seen today as a lifeline to millions of Indians who live along its course and depend on it for their daily needs from bathing to washing and drying clothes.
11th February 2016
‘City Lights’ was the inspiring lecture given by David Butcher ARPS. David showed us a wide range of his uniquely styled, black and white prints of cities at night. He also included some cities by day as well as some wonderful landscapes in Switzerland and New Zealand. David gets his results from careful planning and placement of his camera rather than digital editing. He must spend much of his time lying about in the street!
A chemist, author, printer and now professional photographer David and his wife travel the world for eight to ten weeks in the year taking capturing images. He says, tongue in cheek, that it’s a hard life but someone has to do it! The darkroom with negatives and prints is definitely not dead as far as David is concerned. Although he has mastered digital photography as well, he prefers to use film in his cameras then both develop and print them himself – quite an unusual feature in the digital world to which we have all grown rapidly accustomed.
Both bridges and buildings feature in David’s cities at night and lighting is a key element which has to planned and patiently awaited. Many of the delights on show were captured in London which of course contains bridges and buildings galore. As David demonstrated in his prints, the Millennium Bridge is an ideal location for city photography as St Paul’s Cathedral was built directly at the end of it!
With regard to landscape photography, David’s philosophy is that you must feel part of the landscape bravely demonstrated by taking pictures while stood in icy mountain streams
14th January 2016
Gentleman Photographer is how our speaker Stephen Lewis ARPS describes himself. As a semi-professional in the field his work is certainly of considerable merit and we were treated to some extra-ordinary visual effects, especially the time-lapse photography put to music to make superb audio-visual presentations.
Steve is a great believer in preparation and one of his golden rules for landscape photography is to get there early, get all set up and then wait patiently till something happens. If it doesn’t then pack up and try again on another occasion. By something happening Steve is usually meaning a change in the weather conditions or the light or both. In all this he says that some local knowledge goes a long way in helping to be at the right place at the right time. Some of Steve’s best work comes from his on-going relationships with various individual rocks located far and wide which he re-visits from time to time to increase his range of images!
Whilst not exactly disrespecting the theories of composition Steve maintains that a photographer should not be too restricted by them. He says that if it looks right and feels right then it probably is right. A good image may need several visits before all the conditions are right and these may even be spread over two or three years! Steve keeps a log book and records places he needs to re-visit and the conditions he needs to await.
Although the evening consisted of projected digital images and audio-visual work Steve maintains that print is the ultimate expression of the photographer and he prints all his work himself. Although adept with the digital darkroom Steve does fairly little editing concentrating on his work with the camera even when this requires lying flat in the mud to gain the best angle or sitting up all night on a lonely moor.
7th January 2015
Traditional and not-so traditional landscape prints kicked off our 2016 meetings with a large and appreciative audience. The talk was given by Martin Malies MPAGB, AFIAP and ARPS. Martin brought an interesting and wide range of prints he has taken both recently digitally, and some not-so recently using film.
Virtually anything you can see outside is Martin’s interpretation of landscape – hence some of the less traditional views. Many of these were macro images – that is extreme close-up photography, usually of very small subjects, in which the size of the subject in the photograph is greater than life size (though macro-photography technically refers to the art of making very large photographs). These images included fascinating pictures of lichen, tree bark and pebbles on the beach – all in a rich range of colours and tones to stimulate the imagination.
The more traditional landscapes were hardly less unusual as Martin says that he doesn’t want to photograph what everyone else is taking – a point of view that he amply demonstrated with some thrilling images of the urban landscape of Salford Quays, utilising an intriguing mixture of artificial and ambient light. Mountain and moorland were not forgotten and included an eerie set of images taken in and around the Hope Valley and Mam Tor area in the Peak District using mist and fog to create scenes of magical beauty.
Winter snow demands a simple approach to photography and is well suited to work in monochrome. Images using this notion proved an excellent stimulus to members as our next competition which takes place on the 19th January is the society’s annual competition dedicated to mono images. These are usually black and white but monochrome can actually be shades of any single colour.
26th November 2015
It’s August in Snowdonia so it’s chucking it down with rain! This is the experience of our speaker, Bob Dennis APAGB, CPAGB, AFIAP and BPE4*. Bob as well as being a familiar face to our society is a notable photographer, a distinguished photographic judge and now we discover he is also an experienced mountain walker and expert on the mountains of Wales.
We were treated to a magnificent range (pun intended!) of images of the beautiful mountains of the Principality. We began in the spring and summer and ended in the depths of snowy winter. We saw magnificent rocky outcrops, towering misty mountains, foaming white torrents and the deepest of blue lakes.
Bob delivered an interesting and educative lesson on the origins and up to date appearance of the humble bothy where walkers can find shelter and usually something with which to make a fire. Perhaps the most wonderful images were those showing the truly appalling weather that can be the undoing of the unwary. We saw amazing horizontal icicles which are formed on Snowdon by the combination of water and cold winds. Bob also described the tremendous blizzards where all you can see is snow for about two feet and then nothing but blackness.
Bob’s incredible knowledge was evident throughout but the talk was enlivened by his often amusing anecdotes including an encounter with a robin and an obvious love of Welsh breakfasts. Almost unbelievably Bob described how he walked the mountains at night so as to avoid the traffic.
The evening was drawn to an awe inspiring close as Bob showed again some of his most stunning images but this time set to beautifully haunting music in an amazing audio-visual presentation.
15th October 2015
‘Another Step Outside the Box’ was the title of the presentation by Dianne Own FRPS. It is also one of the categories that Dianne uses to classify her work. Other areas are ‘Believable Reality’, Creatures of the World’, Environment’ and ‘Humanity’. Dianne is very well known for her creative photography and her website www.dianneowen.info is well worth a visit.
Dianne specialises in creative prints, especially still life, although her work encompasses a very much wider range of photographic genres. She does talks and judges competitions all over the UK and enjoys sharing her passion for creative photography with others. Dianne enjoys discussing her own work and seeing that of others, no matter what type of photography or standard. She says that she is inspired and motivated herself by other people’s opinions. She respects others’ passion for their work and says that we should not lose the perspective that for most photography is only a hobby.
Creating images is all about things that make you feel good. Don’t be put off by not having vastly expensive cameras. Dianne herself on occasion uses the camera on her phone as the starting point for some of her images. For Dianne, it is the end product that is important. She does not keep track of how she produces her images and doesn’t repeat herself. We were treated to a fascinating selection of Dianne’s own work ranging from images of exquisite butterflies which were created from spoon handles to still life flowers exhibited in paper envelopes.
17th September 2015
‘Birds on Sticks’ was the amusing subtitle of an excellent presentation by John Barlow DAPGB properly entitled ‘Wild Bird Photography’. John has been a bird watcher for 42 years and originally used his mother’s Kodak Instamatic with only a one in ten success rate. He only took up digital photography about five years ago and says that he has learnt much more about birds as a result.
Very little is left to chance when John sets out to take the stunning images he showed us. While you might see a bird, grab your camera and hope for the best this would not do for John who carefully orchestrates his images. He chooses a suitable background and ‘perch’ to enhance the appearance of the bird he has chosen to capture digitally. He showed us images a range of home-made perches using sticks and stones adorned with mosses and leaves. Once the scene has been set John patiently baits his trap with meal worms to encourage the birds to appear.
When the birds are used to the set-up John waits patiently for hours on end sometimes till he finally gets the shot he has so meticulously planned. ‘Oohs’, ‘aahs’ and ‘wows’ filled the room as we were treated to a wonderful evening of both bird watching and photography. You can see these for yourself on his website www.jrbarlow.co.uk .
3rd September 2015
‘Land of Ice and Fire’ can only mean a fascinating trip to Iceland in the hands of Gordon Bartley ARPS, narrator and photographer par excellence. What a way to begin our 2015/2016 season! Not only can Gordon capture amazing images but he can actually manage to get his tongue round unbelievable Icelandic names – remember Eyjafjallajökull in 2010. Not many of us managed to say this despite the disruption it caused when it erupted but it rolled off Gordon’s tongue as he enthralled us with his Icelandic adventure without any notes.
Packed with interesting facts, Gordon’s talk was Geography made easy. We weren’t surprised to hear that 40% of Iceland’s income is from fish and fish products. More unbelievable however is that Iceland produces aluminium using ore transported all the way from Australia. Most buildings are constructed from pre-fabricated concrete blocks with corrugated metal roofs as there is virtually no useable stone.
Next time you look at your electricity and gas meters ticking away think of the Icelanders who enjoy virtually free energy courtesy of the geothermal springs. There is a different price to pay however as the hot water which comes straight out of the ground is rich in sulphur and when taking a shower you are treated to the smell of boiled egg.
If you fancy visiting and taking part in whale watching, Gordon advised us to take plenty of clothes. He needed five layers in April and was still freezing cold. However, the views of the landscape from the sea make it well worth the effort for the ardent photographer. Classic volcano peaks tower over what appear to be toy churches and houses nestled along the black beaches.
Rivers which are fed by glacial meltwater carve the landscape causing wondrous waterfalls. Keen to capture an image of one waterfall which came with its own rainbow in the spray, Gordon kept his companions waiting in the cold so that he could get a shot without anyone in the way – truly a dedicated but not popular photographer on that occasion! With steam from geothermal geysers coming from the ground at 107 degrees Celsius and superb salmon fishing available for £3,000 per day Iceland is certainly an interesting location.
9th April 2015
The presentation of annual awards was made to Steve Jackson for the Large Prints; David Whitehead for the Small Prints and Peter Lawless for the Projected Digital Images sections. Our congratulations go to them and to all who have taken part this year in a most enjoyable and friendly competition. Special thanks go to Graham Rowe, our tireless competition secretary, for his hard work over this season.
The remainder of the evening was given to a superb presentation by Gordon Bartley ARPS on the subject of the third love of his life ‘Concorde’ – first and second places going to his wife and daughter! Gordon has worked in the aircraft industry as well as teaching photography so is eminently well qualified to present an amazing array of facts and images to delight any audience.
Gordon showed how the quest for speed in the air led to the development of the jet engine and the initial breaking of the sound barrier in a military context. We learned about the transfer of this quest into the civil aviation field and the successes and failures along the way. While America and Russia were succeeding in the space race they were well and truly beaten by the Anglo-French Concorde in the provision of commercial supersonic passenger transport.
From highly unlikely-looking plans and models we moved towards more realistic designs and eventually to the actual production and deployment of one of the most famous aircraft of all time. We learned about the scientific reasons behind the iconic shapes of the wings and the nose in addition to why Concorde took off and landed in such a dramatic pose. Gordon’s presentation managed to combine an incredible technical knowledge with an ability to put this over in a way that was not only understandable to all but which also caught us up in his enthusiasm.
We were also shown the less happy side of Concorde with the crash and tragic loss of life in the infamous disaster of Air France Flight 4590 at Charles de Gaulle Airport on 25th July 2000 with the deaths of one hundred passengers, nine crew and four people on the ground.
Concorde had a maximum speed over twice the speed of sound at Mach 2.04, with seating for 92 to 128 passengers. First flown in 1969, Concorde entered service in 1976 and continued commercial flights for 27 years. It was retired in 2003 due to a general downturn in the aviation industry after the plane’s only crash ; the 11th September terrorist attacks in 2001 and a decision by Airbus, the successor firm of Aérospatiale and BAC, to discontinue maintenance support.
1st April 2015
‘Southern Spain – away from the beaches’ was a good place to spend a wet evening in Northwich. How you may ask? Well, the answer is courtesy of Northwich Photographic Society and our guest speaker Ken Geddes LRPS - the evening even included good old English tea and biscuits.
From Cadiz to Valencia was the journey with interesting facts, beautiful photographs and the occasional hints on Spanish pronunciation. We travelled through numerous picturesque villages and stopped very briefly on the built up beaches of the costas.
Ruined castles, sumptuous palaces and highly gilded cathedrals and churches sped past one after another in the helter-skelter presentation of this ultimate geographical and historical extravaganza. Unbelievable bridges spanned perpendicular chasms as history came to life thanks to Ken’s enthralling narrative.
Tempting visits to flower, fruit, fish and vegetable markets were interspersed with strolls through narrow streets, along wide boulevards and into magnificent squares. We even visited the graveyard where the coffins are placed horizontally into the cliff face as there is insufficient depth of soil.
The atmosphere of the sultry Spanish evenings came to life with the vivid images of frenzied flamenco dancers. Fortunately, we were allowed to cool off in the sparkling mountain streams and cascading waterfalls before driving home through the pelting Cheshire rain!
12th March, 2015
‘Everyone’s a Judge.’ Surely this is true of any competitor in every competition anywhere and definitely true for photographers. This was the title of a most interesting and informative evening led by Dianne Owen FRPS and Gordon Jenkins APAGB, both well experienced competitors and judges themselves.
Certainly not an evening to sit back, this was truly interactive with members judging images brought in by Dianne and Gordon. This proved to be both entertaining and challenging – especially being charged with providing two positive comments before saying what we didn’t like. It’s much easier to criticise than to praise.
Dianne and Gordon began by outlining to us their thoughts on good judging for us to try and emulate. We agreed with them that competitive photography is all about getting an impartial opinion; receiving constructive criticism and encouraging us to move forward in our photography. However, it’s also all about getting marks and awards and trying to beat the others!
Working within club rules is a key starting point for judges and there were no surprises for us in hearing that composition is one of the biggest issues along with quality and presentation. An interesting discussion took place about the role of the title for an image in a competition. These can guide, amuse, distract and even disqualify.
At the end of the day, good judges need to care about photography. They also need to be able to put up with travelling to a variety of venues, meeting lots of people and listening to moans and groans about their comments – spare a thought for the judges, it’s not an easy job!
15th January, 2015
“We’re off to Bolivia” - with intrepid explorer and photographer Boyd Harris. Off we went, sharing Boyd’s trek into the Andes, not quite in the footsteps of Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid but trekking higher than the summit of Mont Blanc.
Boyd, our speaker for the evening, entertained us last year trekking in Nepal and certainly justified his return engagement. We were treated to a mixture of geography, photography and Boyd’s personal philosophy. Tips on trekking poured in, and especially how to get the best out of it photographically.
“Always ask for permission to take a photograph of a person” resulted for Boyd in a few refusals and some requests for money that he never pays on principle. However, the portraits he captured in his camera caught our attention, interest and envy as photographers. Always taking his lightweight tripod on his back gives Boyd a wonderful opportunity to take intriguing and surreal night-time landscapes as well as lifelike portraits.
“Getting to the summit is optional but getting down is compulsory!”. Climbing down is harder than climbing up and sleeping with your bottle of water saves having to thaw it before drinking the next morning. All good advice but perhaps the most daunting were the pros and cons of using the shared toilet tent!
Sharing Boyd’s trekking experiences, tips on photography, and insights into human nature were all excellent ways to dispel the dark chill of a British winter’s evening.
8th January, 2015
“Snowdonia” - on the face of it an interesting enough title for a talk to begin the New Year. However, it turned out not only to be as good as expected but with an unbelievable twist in the final part of the evening.
Graham Currey was our guest speaker. He is a professional photographer, printer, president of South Manchester Camera Club and, handily, a mountain guide. Graham combines a long career in both photography and printing with his passion for mountains. He is a lover of detail and delighted the members with his stories about explorations in Snowdonia illustrating exactly where each took place with superb images.
Stories include being roped together with his companions to explore in horizontal rain and howling winds by crawling to his goal at the summit and meeting other hardy explorers crawling the other way. Only really dedicated photographers can be distracted by a crackling sound to find out that it is the legs of frozen jeans rubbing together.
In the second half of the evening the photographer took over from the mountain guide and Graham demonstrated how he achieves the quality and detail that permeates his work – intriguing but not for the technically faint-hearted.
What you may ask has this to do with the sudden change of direction into the heady ringside atmosphere of extreme wrestling – no holds barred (literally)? The answer of course is Graham’s passion for photography and the challenge of doing something different. Up close and personal with some of the toughest sportsmen and women; this was the most surprising of finales to our club evening for many awhile. While the sport may not be everyone’s cup of tea there is certainly no denying the challenge and quality of the photography – especially when having to keep an eye out in case a hulking wrestler comes flying in your direction!
20th November, 2014
From Elvis, the king, to Martin Luther King Jnr in the space of two hours – this was our fascinating journey in the Deep South of the USA courtesy of our speaker Peter Logan, a self-confessed Elvis fan. Peter’s interesting ‘spur of the moment’ photographs were taken on a trip of a lifetime starting in New Orleans and continuing through Tupelo, Memphis, Nashville, Chatanooga and finally to Atlanta.
The Elvis Presley Birthplace is an historic museum site in Tupelo, Mississippi dedicated to the preservation of the birthplace of one of America’s greatest musicians. The museum site includes the home of Elvis, a museum, a chapel, and the Assembly of God Church building where the Presley family worshiped.
Elvis had a twin brother who was sadly still born. In September 1948 when Elvis was 13, he and his parents moved to Memphis, Tennessee. In 1958, Elvis was drafted into the military where he relocated to Bad Nauheim, Germany. There he met and fell in love with Priscilla Ann Wagner (later known as Priscilla Presley). On February 1, 1968, he and Priscilla had a daughter, Lisa Marie Presley. Sadly, his marriage ended in divorce, and the stress of constantly travelling as well as his increasing weight gain and dependence upon stimulants and depressants took their toll. Elvis Presley died at age 42 on August 16, 1977 at his mansion in Graceland, near Memphis. Since his death, his Memphis home Graceland has become a tasteful shrine for millions of followers worldwide.
We then travelled on to Atlanta to see the birthplace of Martin Luther King Junior (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968). He was an American pastor, activist, humanitarian, and leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. Martin Luther King may well have discovered his ideals at an early age when watching the Atlanta fire brigade which consisted of both black and white members leading him to ponder on the segregation he saw all around him.
We thank Peter for a most stimulating and educative evening.
30th October, 2014
An Evening with Dianne! What a photographic delight, especially when the Dianne is Dianne Owen FRPS, artist and photographer. Creativity is Dianne’s watchword and we marvelled at the images she had created to show us. Creating images to ‘please yourself’ is more important to Dianne than trying to please other people; although please and delight us she certainly did - as well as continuing to impress the photographic community at large.
Dianne produces pieces of art using the camera and computer; maybe one could call them photographic paintings. Her work is usually seen in prints and she was able to pass round many of these for us to ‘get close up and personal’ with them. Requesting us not to touch them seemed obvious but when really close to her images it is very difficult to resist the urge to dive into them fingers first. The wonderful textures Dianne creates in her images combine a range of impressive photographic knowledge, artistic vision and luxurious paper.
Don’t always believe what you see. None of her work could be said to be in the least straightforward but amazingly all of every image does actually pass through the lens of Dianne’s camera. Each minute part of an image is created in Dianne’s fertile imagination and then skilfully transformed; for example, using a spider’s web on the wheelie bin to make a waterfall for a background.
Many of the images have been taken and worked on in sets so that a technique can be tried, refined and finally mastered. Pictures are often available in both colour and mono to show how the emotion in the image can be brought forward with different treatment. Taking no more than about twenty minutes Dianne has a fair idea of what will work for her and discarding some, she then produces her final results, usually in twenty-four hours, unbelievably aiming to produce one a day!
One of Dianne’s passions is for still life images which are often initially created on the floor of her conservatory before being transformed on the computer – most of the techniques of digital editing Dianne had already experienced in the real dark room.
Dianne’s work and philosophies are displayed on her website which is very well worth a visit - www.dianneowen.info
16th October, 2014
Montages, Hockney style ‘joiners’ and a whole host of other delights were on offer by Graham Dean AFIAP, CPAGB, BPE1* in an evening of his digital dabblings. Returning by popular request following a very successful evening of dabblings last year Graham did not fail to entertain and educate us.
A particularly intriguing section on poster edges was brilliantly illustrated in both print and digital media. Screen shots of the histories of layers showing how he had created the various images certainly helped understand the processes involved. Graham now concentrates on using Photoshop Elements for his work with impressive results. Doing a bit at a time and returning several times to one image has helped him develop his techniques.
Going out on rainy days is great for kick-starting an image using a whole host of different effects, as well as giving you something to do! Wet weather presents interesting pavements and an opportunity to catch reflections that can be worked on later. Adding characters or items from other images is one of Graham’s favourite methods to improve the interest and composition of the final image. Sometimes this is planned and he deliberately takes shots of different elements to combine, but at other times opportunities are presented unexpectedly and combined afterwards – a lesson in how to use hindsight!
Graham’s dabblings definitely prove that in the world of digital photography the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
25th September, 2014
Photographer, explorer, adventurer – Brian White is easily all three of these in addition to being a very entertaining speaker. Brian has travelled the world several times to try to capture the fascination that awakened in him at the tender age of ten when presented with a geography atlas. Brian was inspired initially by the Victorian explorers in Africa discovering wilderness, wildlife and people. He is a keen observer of all three.
His first adventure began in his late teens when he travelled with his brother and five friends across Europe in an old Transit van until it eventually died and they had to come home by bus! Undeterred Brian decided to travel all the way from Bolton to the source of the River Nile. During his passage down the river on an unbelievably overcrowded boat drinking water was hauled up out of the murky river and boiled in an old paint tin to rid it of the various pests and parasites in it.
Brian’s view of a trip is that you book a flight there and back and the space in between is pure adventure. In terms of photography, the best place to ‘catch’ people is in India. Be prepared to pay your subject, and always ask permission first but be prepared for occasionally aggressive refusals. Sit down and chat with your subject and then try to tell their story with your images.
Brian prefers to travel alone or with a single guide as you don’t see the same sights in a tour group. He illustrated this with incredible images of a mahout using his elephant to pass up cigarettes purchased from a local store. Brian has a talent for wildlife photography and has travelled widely in Africa but advises never to check the tyres on the vehicle if you want to travel in it with peace of mind!
Wonderful close-ups of leopards, cheetahs and especially silverback gorillas were among the many images of wildlife complete with photographic hints such as remembering that the background is as important as the subject and always sleeping with your camera. Courage it seems is as important as anything in wildlife photography!
18th September, 2014
An entertaining evening dedicated to the subject of ‘Portraits’ was presented with humour and considerable enthusiasm by our speaker, Alan Angel FRPS, FMPA. Alan started with his early work sharing strong images in black and white taken in various gyms and fitness clubs. He printed his work himself on fibre-based paper which shows richer blacks and ‘whiter’ whites.
Alan showed how the most expressive part of the face is the eyes. The expression is down to the photographer to ‘connect’ with the subject but also you need the right equipment. Alan demonstrated his point about the importance of the eyes by turning several images upside down to show that the eyes were still predominant. A further tip is that if you get the subject to drop their head slightly then you see the whites of the eyes below the pupils which adds an aggressive air to the pose.
As in all photography composition is vital and Alan demonstrated how the use of diamond and triangular shapes in the image is one of the key rules to follow. However, no matter how good a photographer you are some people freeze in front of the camera – some people look good in portraits but some don’t.
Even so, Alan’s philosophy is that you should find something you are passionate about and then you will feel this inside the images. Clearly, Alan was passionate about his subject demonstrated both by his images and his energetic presentation. Alan is due to visit again in November and he will be bringing his lighting equipment to lead members in a practical session.
11th September, 2014
An evening of tips, humour and experience was promised and certainly delivered by our speaker, Ian Stewart ARPS, DPAGB in his ‘retrospective’ look at images mostly from the pre-digital age. Ian’s philosophy is to take photographs that please you and if the judges like them too, well that’s a bonus.
‘Expose for the highlights’ and let the shadows take care of themselves is Ian’s advice but be aware that landscape photography is not always about sunshine and you should be always aware of what is around you. The first thing you need is a good idea which you can then interpret in your own way. Ian showed some wonderful landscapes and contrasting action shots.
In sports’ photography Ian’s advice is to choose a location where the action slows down and pre-focus on one specific spot. Then to get the best exposure, meter off some nearby grass which is in the same light and expose for that. Marrying original techniques with the new digital age, Ian suggests that the best approach is to get it as right as possible in the camera and then ‘mess around’ with the image in Photoshop.
In a hint towards next week’s talk which is specifically on portraiture; Ian’s method is to ensure that the subject’s eyes are in focus and then you are half way there. Ian feels very strongly that the test of a great image is when you look at it and you can feel that you are back there again.
4th September, 2014
“What do judges look for?” This is what all competitive photographers discuss endlessly into the night. It was the title of the first meeting of the 2014/2015 season and proved to be amusing, challenging and stimulating thanks to our speaker – Bob Dennis APAGB, CPAGB, AFIAP and BPE4*. Bob is an old friend of the club and we were delighted to welcome him back to kick start our programme. He will be returning in October to judge our first competition so his views on this thorny subject were particularly appropriate.
“Why do we enter competitions?” was Bob’s opening salvo to which we dutifully responded, “to support the club and for an assessment of our work”. His immediate response was to remind us that of course we enter to win! What followed was a fascinating discussion of competitive photography in all situations ranging from our internal competitions through inter-club, regional, national and international competitions as well as commercially.
Bob continued by highlighting various aspects of the subject with pertinent and often very amusing examples from his own career. Look for a competition that suits your subject and pay close attention to the rules and definitions. This is essential if you want to get past the first hurdle and get the judge to look twice at your images. Most modern cameras can take brilliant pictures without our help so there should be no excuse for poor exposure and focus. A good judge will be looking for a combination of focus, aperture and sharpness – but what makes a good judge?
Judges have a great responsibility never to put anyone off photography and sensitive, constructive criticism is much harder to give than simple praise. Whatever the image, if it’s the best work the person can produce, don’t dismiss it! Also, it is always poor judging to say, “Well it’s not my cup of tea”. Judge not what the subject is, but how good it is. Bob’s views may be controversial in some arenas but found a resonance with the club’s members.
Composition is the most important thing, so learn the rules and use them. Only when you are proficient in using the rules of composition can you choose to ignore them. Bob discussed aspects such as the rule of thirds; placement of elements, ‘lead ins’; decentralisation; converging lines and composition by colour among other things. A key element in the success or failure of an image in a competition is the immediate impact it has on the judge who may only see it for a few seconds before having to move on.
Bob discussed presentation in some detail and showed examples to illustrate the points he made. The hardest thing however, is judging your own work as you need objectivity; a view with which we all agree, and find the club a supportive atmosphere to enable this.
13th March, 2014
We had an enjoyable evening presented by club secretary Graham Rowe LRPS. Firstly, Graham explained how his love of photography came about in earlier years with a DIY photo printing set and a ‘box Brownie’. Hints of his mischievous childhood followed as his love of photography grew. Having been entrusted by his father to go and purchase a second hand greenhouse from Knutsford, an opportunity presented itself for the teenage Graham to further his photographic interest. The artful photographer used the greenhouse money to buy an 8mm cine camera telling his dad that the greenhouse was gone when he got there – we were left with our own imaginations to work out whether it actually had ‘gone’.
Having started in the days of trays of chemicals in the box room, Graham easily (and with less clearing up) graduated to the digital age demonstrating his early skills by adding pictures of friends to photographs in which they had not originally appeared. A useful list of everyday tips followed and Graham rounded off the second half of the evening with several audio-visual presentations ranging from a holiday in Switzerland to an evening of tribute to the ‘Vegas Rat Pack’ with amazing images accompanied by their unforgettable music. Graham’s skill in producing ‘AVs’ was highlighted with a virtual trip up Mount Pilatus where his cable car image was taken. The cable car was not actually present when the photograph was taken and was added afterwards to ensure it was in the best place for the composition of the picture!
20th February, 2014
A brain haemorrhage following a serious head injury on the rugby field lead to a life-changing decision to follow art rather than sport as a career for a Northwich man.
Mark Willcox FRSA gave a talk titled, ‘Altered Perception, the Camera and Me’, which detailed his development as a contemporary artist with the rare sight impairment that resulted from the brain injury and how his impairment inspired him to create photographic based art. Mark described how his abstract style is linked to painters such as David Hockney, Francis Bacon and Willem de Kooning and discussed the technical and creative processes in which he achieves his results. His work is the driven by using cameras experimentally to push the medium of photography beyond accepted notions of what it should be.
But his influences are not just from the visual arts; he described how his interest in Chaos Theory had informed his experimentation and how his continued interest in conceptual physics had led to his producing a series of work titled, ‘In Search of the Higgs’, which was inspired by the discovery in 2012 of the Higgs Boson Particle at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland.
Mark illustrated how he produces works in series using themes and events that are either globally or culturally significant. A major series of work, ‘Kings X Fire’, was based on his memories of the London Underground fire at Kings Cross in November 1987. He was there on the night but escaped only a few minutes before the fire ripped through the station killing 31 people in one of the most tragic events in British public transport history. He created the artworks to commemorate the 21st Anniversary and they were exhibited in London in 2008.
Mark finished with images to illustrate the future direction of his work producing abstract concepts embodied in music and dance that have been described as ‘Visualising Sound’.
Mark was awarded the Fellowship of the Royal Society of Arts in 1991; his work is held in public, private and corporate art collections across the globe.
For more details on Mark Willcox visit his website
13th February, 2014
'Land of myths, legends and adventures', is .... where? Here are some clues - an amazing country about the size of the UK but with only one third of the population; masses of wide open spaces with hidden-away national parks; you have to rent a small plane to get anywhere but you get a go at flying it as well. Oh, and you might fly over the River Danube on your way to visit Castle Bran (famous for Bram Stoker and Dracula of course). Yes, indeed, Romania!
Our speaker, John Morton, has done it all and more. John soon gave up conventional two wheel drive cars and trains for the small plane and a four wheel drive - the roads are that good! However, the planes and trains are very handy for good grab shots as they frequently, and very handily for the intrepid photographer, take off the doors and let you hang outside for the best of the stunning views.
Surprisingly, Romania is a land of wonderful and often sophisticated architecture with abundant churches ranging from the simple wooden, through heavily fortified to the splendidly sumptuous -at least judging from the painting on the outside! The Orthodox Churches are often full of gold embellishment and stay open to all with no risk of theft. Churches are usually on top of hills and are not easily accessible -if you want to go you have to make the effort to get there.
One story goes that a particular architect was having trouble with his latest church project and try as he may, once part built it would fall down. Eventually the frustrated engineer had a vision that told him he needed to make a sacrifice. So he had his pregnant wife bricked into the walls. When the church was completed the poor soul threw himself to his own death from the top. In the spot where he landed a spring appeared that runs clear to this present day!
John's fascinating and enlightening talk ended with photographs taken close up of the indigenous brown bears which until recently were frequently to be seen raiding the rubbish that had been discarded at the outskirts of many towns. Happily, most of the bears are now kept safe in reserves.
16th January, 2014
Altitude can be a killer and if you don't like bouncing up and down on rickety suspension bridges you won't get very far. Well, we were warned. Boyd Harris, our speaker, took us up hill and down dale (well, the highest mountains and most precipitous valleys in the world) leaving us aghast and breathless at the sheer beauty and physical challenge of trekking along the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal.
We had single file suspension bridges aplenty. These can be very difficult vantage points for taking photographs as you frequently have to take urgent avoiding action when faced with a string of pack horses and donkeys going in the opposite direction. There is little regard for rights of way. Following a fascinating history lesson about Mount Everest, Boyd took us via the chaotic streets of Nepal's capital, Kathmandu, to the world’s tenth highest peak - Annapurna. Even boarding the local buses at the beginning of the journey requires courage. The rough tracks they use are frequently cut into the side of the mountain with sheer 1000 feet drops to the side. If you are brave enough you can lean out and look and if there is no room inside you simply sit on top!
Trekking is not measured in distance but in altitude and trekking time, and everything you need for your journey has to be taken with you - fortunately with the help of porters and pack horses. However, if you want a hot shower then stay at home and if you want to take lots of photographs to show your friends then be prepared to sleep with your camera batteries. The temperature outside your tent can drop to minus 20. It is so cold that using a camera without gloves can only be achieved for a couple of shots before your fingers cease to work.
Above the tree line the locals (yes, people actually live there) use yak dung for cooking which apparently smells like cigars when burned. Trekkers though are catered for by their guides who use paraffin stoves and can even cook excellent pizza on them. A seasoned trekker, Boyd has learned to take little luxuries with him and carries his own jar of Marmite!
9th January, 2014
Have a go and capture the moment – these ideals are what led our speaker, George Franks, to success in the world of sports photography. A sportsman himself, George’s first love is photography but his second love is sport and this led him to follow his own, very sound advice that when specialising in the art of photography you should pick something you like and know about.
Not to be deterred by the England failure in the recent Ashes series, George began his evening with amazing images of bails flying and embarrassed batsmen. Himself a keen cricketer, George reckons that during a typical ‘twenty-twenty’ match he can shoot 25,000 photographs! George prefers not to digitally edit his images and his philosophy is that the important thing is being in the right place at the right time which is more a matter of good planning than good fortune. However, George does admit that ‘mistakes’ (or should that be ‘miss takes’) often turn out results better than the ones you had planned.
Turning from cricket to rugby and kick-boxing; incredibly painful facial expressions followed, along with (ideally George says) lots of sweat and blood. There is nothing better in capturing the expressions of the moment than grown men knocking ten bells out of each other in front of the eager photographer patiently waiting in the right place for the right moment.
A variety of images from other sports amazed us all. When it comes to hockey, George’s opinion is that girls are worse than boys in a vicious game. In many cases the crowd in the background adds considerably to the atmosphere created in the image. George even included one shot of a horse and rider taken by lying underneath the jump – something he decided not to repeat although it did emphasise his point of being close to the action when taking good photographs of any sport.
An excellent and inspiring start to our new year was thoroughly enjoyed by all.