At our May meeting we welcomed Mary McIntyre from Tackley. Her objective was to share her passion for astrophotography, (photographing the skies). Her topic for the evening focussed on capturing Star Trails. This is achieved by taking long exposures (up to 30 seconds) of the sky repeated many times (up to 600) and then “stitched” together using software to produce a generally circular picture of the stars’ progress through the sky. Most of her images are captured in this way using a standard digital SLR camera with a remote shutter lead to automatically take repeat images. This needs a good level of dedication as some of her shoots last for 3 or 4 hours. She explained the need for a low level of light pollution but found Tackley to be acceptable. The main irritations, bearing in mind the long exposure time, being car headlights, commercial aircraft and pets setting off neighbours’ security lights. She explained how to include land based objects in the foreground to enhance the star trails. She also showed some useful accessories she had devised to keep herself and the camera free from condensation. Many of those present indicated they would be spending more time outside on cold clear nights trying to replicate the imaged shown by Mary. Mary’s website is www.tackleyvillage.co.uk/astronomy.html
Our Club Night on 5 April started with the all-important AGM at the Cartwright Hotel, Aynho. The chairman, Richard Broadbent, opened the meeting and stated that the Society has had a successful year, with the total membership at a steady 51, five new members replacing the five who have left the district. Our exhibitions in 2016 were well received and have helped establish the Society as a recognised part of the local community. The treasurer, Martyn Pearse, presented the audited annual accounts to March 2017, declaring the Society was in a sound financial position and the annual subscription would remain at £30. A vote of thanks to the Cartwright Hotel was passed for allowing the Society regular use of the Apricot Room. Retiring committee members this year are Wendy Meagher, secretary; Richard Broadbent, chairman; Brenda Difford, social events; Gail Girvan, workshops. Gail will continue as Facebook administrator. The meeting elected John Prentice as the new chairman, the position of secretary being vacant.
The Society’s monthly programme has been further extended during the past year by establishing a special interest group. The new critique circle is proving to be successful and rewarding. The critique circle meets on the third Tuesday of the month at the Holly Tree Club in Deddington. Members bring along a print for their colleagues to criticise, comment or advise on, thereby improving photographic knowledge and skills.
Normal Club Night continued with a friendly ‘What Is It?’ competition composed from ingenious photographs submitted by members, often taken from strange angles. The usual monthly challenge followed. April’s topic was ‘Cemeteries and Monuments’ and produced many well-composed pictures and amusing interpretations of the subject.
In March, Robert Harvey gave a talk entitled ‘By The Sea’, and began by explaining that his early childhood attraction to the seashore led to his becoming a Coastal Scientist, and that although Great Britain has a coastline of 11,073 miles, this depends upon which map scale is used: the larger the map scale, the more inlets and bays are recorded! His beautifully photographed coastal features ranged from Sussex to Isle of Skye, and Lundy Isle to Norfolk.
When visiting a particular coastal area, Robert planned well ahead, using tide tables and a sun rose (i.e., a chart showing sunrise and sunset at different times of the year). Cliff features at dawn and sunset were stunning. Very clearly his photo trips were down to meticulously planning ahead to coincide with the tidal situation, the sun positions and lighting level on the date in question. The day of the year is important in using the angle of the sun to highlight certain features of places such as Lulworth Cove, Beachy Head or Dunvegan Castle.
The second half of his talk covered man-made features such as sea defences, military buildings and lighthouses. Creative use of angle of view and light produced good shots of breakwater and old wooden groyne installations standing at odd angles. More sombre and thoughtful were the derelict military buildings near Orford Ness.
Robert’s concluding pictures were dramatic shots of storms along the South Coast and the Gower Peninsula in the winter of 2013/14. Robert revealed he always uses a tripod, AE and 100 ISO exposure setting, and often uses ND Grad filters to slow the motion of waves and produce atmospheric mood shots. The membership showed their appreciation with a loud round of applause.
In February, member Paul Brewerton gave a presentation on his trip made with his wife to ‘Alaska and the Yukon’. Starting with a boat trip and sunrise at 4.30am up the Prince William Sound, we were treated to fascinating photographs of Orca killer whales, sea otter, humpbacked whale, sea lions, seals, Horned Puffin, and beautiful blue-hued ice floes. Further along was the Drunken Forest, made up of the four main species of trees growing there in spite of the permafrost – Black Spruce, larch, willow and aspen. Places visited/seen along the way were the Alcan Highway, Carcross Town, White Pass Railway, the railyard terminus at Skagway, with its old and impressive black and red engines, the Klondike Gold Fields Mine, the Chillkoot Pass and then on to the Yukon River.
Passing the Five Finger Rapids, wonderful autumn colours were seen in the Alaska Rift Valley. From Midnight Dome, the boat moved along to Dawson City, the former capital city of Yukon (now Whitehorse), then to Bonanza Creek where the great gold rush started. Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Saloon was an interesting sight, with colourfully dressed can-can dancers, as was the river crossing on the Yukon Ferry. We were shown an oil pipeline from Prudoe Bay to Valdiz, which is resistant to seismic shock due to its zig-zag design, and some fascinating images of Iditerod dogs and their breeding kennels, a Chum salmon smoke house, and a stunning Chief’s mink, beaver and ermine coat (valued at some US$80,000!). From the train from Fairbanks to Anchorage, Paul and his wife alighted at snow-dusted Denali National Park. Mt. Denali, formerly Mt. McKinley, is the highest mountain in N. America, standing at 20,368 ft asl. There, they saw moose, snow, ptarmigan changing into winter plumage, eagles, and bears!
This was a well-recorded trip with photographs showing the breath-taking beauty and vastness of the Alaskan landscape, accompanied by charming images of the wildlife there, all of which delighted Paul’s audience.
In January, the Society’s first Club Night of the year started with a Members’ Evening, entitled “My three best images of 2016”, whereby members had been invited to say why they had selected the subject, where it was taken, and what had been learned from taking it. A wide range of images was shown on many diverse subjects, covering a comprehensive range of geographic locations, treating fellow members to an enjoyable display. In addition to speaking on their own pictures, members were invited to add their comments and observations. This gave a mixture of constructive points and friendly banter, resulting in a very enjoyable evening.
Concluding the evening was the review of our monthly photo topic, entitled “Spires”. A broad range of photographs was shown which varied from local scenes to widely imaginative interpretations of “spires”. Once again, this gave rise to helpful comments and plenty of friendly banter among those present.
At the December Club Night, members were treated to an interesting presentation by fellow member, Gail Girvan, entitled, “From the Shadows into Colour: Pastels to Camera”. Gail’s journey through the graphic arts began early, and by the age of 12 she was selling her pencil sketches in cafés, garden centres and small stationery shops. Her graphic art skills continued to develop into her adult life and Gail was able to sell her pastels whilst living in the Middle East, where women are restricted in their work options and earning abilities. On returning to the UK, her artistic talents continued to flourish and began to merge with her developing photographic imaging skills. Gail then showed a series of vibrant and colourful abstract works which combined her photographic and artistic talents, displaying great imagination.
In part two, “Pastels to Camera”, Gail moved on to her recent photographic work, influenced by her early graphic arts background. Her superb collection of pictures included stunning seasonal landscapes taken in the UK and Namibia, and then progressed to her more recently developing interests in wildlife. Particularly outstanding were her photographs of deer in the early morning mists, and the subtle Autumn colour palette of British woodlands.
A full range of her displayed work included greeting cards, notelets and large imposing canvas prints. Her work was greatly admired by her fellow club members, and the applause indicated the appreciation of her interesting talk.
At the November Club Night, Viveca Koh FRPS gave a presentation entitled ‘Urban Exploration to Fine Art: A Photographic Journey’. A self-taught Fine Art photographer with many exhibitions and lectures to her name, Viveca spoke of her photographic development over the past few years. Coming across UK Urban Exploration in 2009 led her to photograph abandoned mental asylums and hospitals, which encouraged her to experiment with digital post-processing, gradually developing a very different style of photography. The photographs Viveca showed of an abandoned children’s ward and demolished asylums, atmospherically illustrated the desolation of buildings that were once full of life. More experimentation with texture overlays led to a collection of images based around what remains when people leave a building for the last time – her images perfectly captured the look of decay and loneliness of empty buildings.
Recently, Viveca’s work has moved towards a more artistic and painterly style, which she calls her Fine Art Photography. Her passion for abandoned buildings, tiny details and ‘small parts of bigger things’, was superbly illustrated by the images shown. Viveca is particularly skilled in using texture layers and overlays and experimenting with digital double exposure, giving her images an added visual and sometimes haunting dimension. She was awarded the highest Fellowship distinction of the Royal Photographic Society (FRPS) for her work in 2014. Viveca’s presentation was inspiring, conceptually exciting and visually stimulating throughout, and very much appreciated by her audience.
The second of our annual photographic exhibitions was held in the Deddington Parish Church on Saturday 22nd October. Being the same day as the Farmers’ Market, it drew a large audience. The Society was delighted to be awarded £200 by the Deddington Farmers’ Market Group to put towards display screens.
At the October Club Night, professional photographer Peter Preece, supported by his wife, Margaret, gave a presentation on ‘Wildlife and nature photographs: Every picture tells a story’. Peter took up photography on his retirement, but resisted transferring to the digital format until three years ago; his main interest is in photographing wildlife. Peter is also deeply involved in the Heart of England Forest project, which was set up by Felix Dennis before his death in 2014. This project has acquired 6,000 acres of farmland in Warwickshire, where they have landscaped areas to create wildlife habitats and planted 1.4 million trees. Peter has free access to the estate, where he has set up nest boxes and hides so he can indulge his passion for bird photography, perfecting a technique for attracting his favourite subject – the kingfisher – and showing many action shots.
Peter uses pop-up hides and his car (painted in camouflage colours) to get near his subjects. He told us how he attracts birds or mammals to the spot where his camera is pre-focused, sometimes using animal carcasses which have been stored in his freezer as bait. He travels regularly to Scotland and to northern Spain, and most of his photos captured the subjects in action. As well as birds, Peter also showed shots of mammals, including voles, harvest mice, wood mice, rat, weasels, foxes, grey seals and hares, together with butterflies, damselflies and dragonflies. Peter does not like to adjust his wildlife photos by using Photoshop, other than cropping them, but he finished by showing a few amusing manipulations that he uses for Christmas cards and calendars. In summary, this was a most interesting presentation by a very experienced wildlife photographer that was much appreciated by his audience.
A successful photographic exhibition was held at The Institute, Adderbury, on Saturday 17th September, the first of our annual exhibitions, which brought new members to the Society. The next exhibition will be on Saturday, 22nd October, in the Living Room of Deddington Parish Church, 9.00am-1.30pm, the same day as the Deddington Farmers’ Market (ends at 12.30pm).
At the September Club Night, member Andreas Klatt ARPS gave a presentation on two of his recent travels: to Sri Lanka in 2015 and, earlier this year, to India. Andreas is also the Organiser of the Royal Photographic Society’s Rollright Visual Art Group, so members were anticipating an evening of some very interesting photographs and they were not disappointed.
Starting with Sri Lanka, Andreas took his audience from Negombo to the World Heritage Site of Anuradhapura, the sacred city that has lain untouched in the jungle since it was abandoned in 993, before visiting the rock fortress in the jungle at Sigiriya, the gardens of Polonnaruwa, and the monastic caves at Dambulla. This was followed by a visit further south to World’s End at the edge of Horton Plains National Park before concluding in the bustling energy of Colombo.
The itinerary for Rajasthan, India, embraced the 17th-century hilltop Amber Fort near Jaipur, the fortified city of Nagaur, the 12th-century desert citadel of Jaisalmer (Golden Fort) in the centre of the Thar Desert, down to Jodhpur and Udaipur via the Jain temple complex near Ranakpur, before finishing in the cities of Old and New Delhi.
Throughout his presentation, Andreas showed a fascinating selection of photographs, including temple architecture and carvings, wildlife, native fauna, some stunning sunsets, and many portraits of individuals and street life, for which this part of the world is so well known. Overall, this was a most interesting and absorbing photographic insight into the sub-continent, which was much appreciated by his audience.
At the August Club Night, ‘Team Namibia’ entitled ‘The Tropic of Capricorn and Beyond,’ based on the experiences of six members who visited Namibia in 2015 at the invitation of Scott Hurd – an original member, now resident in the country. The team comprised Richard and Janet Broadbent, Gail Girvan, Colin Lamb, Wendy Meagher, and Jim Muller.
Led by Chairman Richard Broadbent, a lively account was given by each team member illustrating their 12-day photographic journey, with images contributed by all six members. At the beginning of each day was shown a simple map to indicate the route from Windhoek to Etosha National Park and back. Richard made the introduction and then took us through Day 1: from Windhoek Airport to the Jordani B&B in Windhoek; Day 2: Jim, to the Namib Desert Lodge via Solitaire (cracked fuel-line); Day 3: Colin, to Sossusvlei, Deadvlei and Namib Dune Star Camp; Day 4: Wendy, to Swakopmund; Day 5: Gail, Mola Mola boat trip and Sandwich Harbour tour; Day 6: Richard, the Living Desert tour – here Wendy read out her poem inspired by the native huntsman spider living in the desert, entitled The Dancing White Lady Spider; Day 7: Janet, the Skeleton Coast to Damara Mopane Lodge and puncture number one; Day 8: Wendy, Colin’s birthday, Damaraland and puncture number two; Day 9: Richard, to Etosha Safari Camp; Day 10: Gail, first safari in Etosha; Day 11: Colin, second safari in Etosha; Day 12: Jim, third safari in Etosha; Day 13: Janet, to Otjiwarongo to spend time with Scott and his wife, Judy; Day 14: Richard, our last day – return to UK from Windhoek.
The scenery was stunning as captured in the many images taken en route, with the destination being the Etosha Safari Camp, in the Etosha National Park. The team experienced the excitement of seeing lions, zebras, several species of deer and antelope, giraffes, warthogs, jackals, hyenas, rhinos, pangolins, many colourful birds including vultures and eagles, and the wonder of the elephants which kept on coming to the waterholes. Two punctures resulted in more photographic opportunities, taking in the surroundings while the men got on with the dexterous job of tyre changing; several hours were spent in Solitaire while getting a cracked fuel-line fixed. The team found bonding elements of interest in bird-watching, plant and animal spotting, and determining the geology of the surrounding areas. There was no doubt that it was a hugely enjoyable trip with comfortable accommodations and wonderful meals, all facilitated by Scott and his tremendous knowledge of the country and people.
JULY 2016: In July, Dan Evans gave a presentation on ‘Lens Lore – using the lens for best creative effect’. Although trained as a botanist, Dan changed careers early in life to become a professional photographer, co-founding a photographic training company (Focal Point Photography) in 1981 and later becoming the in-house photographer for the global company, DRS Data Services. He is now freelance, specialising in fashion and design, portraiture, weddings, interview support and various other commercial work including on-location training courses.
Dan opened his presentation by reviewing the characteristics of telephoto and wide angle lenses, with particular reference to magnification and its effects on depth of field and field of view, commenting that modern digital lenses are now so good that aesthetic qualities predominate when taking photographs, rather than technical issues as previously. Any spurious technical deficiencies can be corrected through post-production software.
Dan stated his normal preference is landscape photography, using ambient light and shooting in RAW at ISO 1600, which is generally noise-free on modern sensors. He then contrasted the full frame sensors found on high-end cameras to the smaller APS-C sensor format of more popular, cheaper models, commenting on the latter’s weight advantage. The high quality of modern sensors means that prints up to A3 size are now virtually indistinguishable between the two formats. He then demonstrated the extraordinary Canon rectilinear fish-eye lens, in which all distortion characteristics are eliminated, and concluded by showing a wide range of his commercial and personal work, accompanied by tips and comments on how he achieved his photographic effects. Overall, this was an excellent, frank and inter-active presentation by an extremely knowledgeable photographer, that was greatly appreciated by his audience.
JUNE 2016: In June, member Randall Miles ARPS gave a second presentation entitled ‘Tales of future excursions in the wilds’, in which he explored wildlife and portrait photography at the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and the bordering Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. Now retired, Randall had responsibility for television lighting in his previous career, and, in a series of prints, he demonstrated his creativity and mastery of various photographic techniques. The presentation comprised three parts. First, he dealt with photographing sunrises, capturing the extraordinary early morning colours on the plains of the Reserve. Then Randall moved on to the difficulties of photographing wild animals from the relative safety of a Land Rover, showing a series of images of lions, wildebeest, elephants, waterbuck, zebras, giraffes, gazelles and impala in their natural habitat. His preference is to enhance the impact of the image by taking portraits of the animals’ heads, with particular emphasis on the eyes, cropping what he sees in the camera to remove any distracting background.
Randall then concluded by showing portraits of the Maasai people in the Serengeti. In order to put his subject at ease, his normal technique is to photograph from a distance of around 25-30 feet, using a telephoto lens, and again cropping severely in the camera to show the face. Randall explained photographing dark skin sometimes fails to bring out the facial features as it is hard to see the shadows. So his normal preference is to move his models to catch the ambient light and to use flash in order to light the eyes. These were two of many tips given in a most interesting and interactive presentation, accompanied by excellent prints, that was much appreciated by his audience.
MAY 2016: In May, Jannine Timms gave a presentation on ‘Portrait, Studio and Wedding Photography’. A keen amateur photographer, Jannine turned professional three and a half years ago and, since that time, has developed a local business specialising primarily in portrait and studio work. While undertaking some wedding photography for friends, she finds this type of work can sometimes be difficult commercially, due to the nature of the occasion and the number of people involved. Her preference is therefore to act as a ‘second shooter’ at weddings whenever possible, using natural light for the photographs rather than flash. However, Jannine’s main business derives from portrait work, particularly of children, taken informally in the home environment. Again, she avoids flash for this purpose and typically works at speeds of around 1/60 second at 100 ASA using Canon 5D and Canon 5D Mk 2 cameras, with a Canon 500D as back-up. Portraits often involve a degree of post-production work to remove lighting irregularities, skin blemishes, tattoos, etc., and for this work Jannine uses Lightroom and Photoshop for software processing. For more formal portraiture, however, Jannine prefers to hire a studio as she lacks this facility currently – although it does form part of her future plans.
Jannine is very interested in commercial studio photography and promotes her work in various trade magazines. For this purpose, she uses the studio electronic flash equipment and either hires a recognised model, or forms a relationship with an aspiring model who similarly wishes to promote herself. Overall, this was a most interesting and refreshingly honest account of the transition from being an amateur to a professional photographer, accompanied by a wealth of photographs and details of lessons learnt along the way, that was much appreciated by Jannine’s audience.
APRIL 2016: The April Club Night opened with the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Society, where Chairman Richard Broadbent reviewed the Society’s activities over the past year, noting that these continued to cater for a broad range of members’ interests, photographic skills and experience. The activities included monthly presentations from both outside speakers and members on a variety of topics, photoshoots to places of interest, support of a number of village activities in both Adderbury and Deddington, including two annual exhibitions at these villages, and also a permanent display at the West Bar Surgery in Banbury. In addition, monthly Workshops continue to be held, which are designed specifically to improve the knowledge of less experienced photographers. Overall, it had been a most successful year for the Society, during which it continued to attract a total of 50 members. Reports then followed from the Treasurer and Programme Secretary that showed a satisfactory financial position, while noting that members’ desire for more outside speakers would introduce additional speaker costs. The AGM drew to a close with reviews of future Workshop activities and the Society’s website, and concluded with the re-election of the Society’s officers.
The evening continued after the AGM with a presentation of members’ photographic ideas on the topic of ‘What is it?’ This comprised 65 projected images with members being invited to guess what each image represented. The result was some extraordinary photographs, viewed with puzzlement and a great deal of humour, of which a significant proportion could not be identified without further explanation by the originator. The Club Night then concluded with members’ inputs to the monthly photographic topic which, on this occasion, was ‘Feet’.
MARCH 2016: In March, member Jim Muller gave a presentation entitled ‘From hummingbirds to cake stands – the sublime to the ridiculous’. Describing himself as a hobby photographer who had more recently taken up commercial photography, Jim delivered his presentation in three parts: landscape, wildlife and commercial photography, noting that – for the first of these two subjects – his normal choice is to use a hand-held camera configured for aperture priority and auto-white balance. Jim’s opinion is that the countryside centred eight miles around Aynho is one of the most beautiful parts of England and he demonstrated this by showing a series of stunning images of sunrises over the local misty countryside, including water reflections and views of the canal at Aynho. He then finished his landscape photographs with images of the hot springs in Yellowstone National Park, Canadian waterfalls, Swiss mountain scenery, and sand dunes and shadows in Namibia.
In the second part of his presentation, Jim showed photographs of a variety of wildlife that is native to the UK and Africa, before returning again to Yellowstone with images of brown bears in their natural habitat, including one with four cubs taken from a dangerously close perspective. He then included some fascinating photographs of different types of hummingbirds, all taken while in flight, necessitating very high camera shutter speeds to capture the fast beating wings – typically 1/4,000 second, using shutter priority. Jim concluded his presentation by reviewing his commercial work to date. This included a discussion on the use of flash and continuous lighting, and embraced a wide spectrum of commercial activities ranging from photographs of house interiors for estate agents, to Christmas food hampers, light bulbs, furniture brochures, conference events (including speakers, dinners and candid images) and finishing with the challenge of shooting shiny metallic cake stands, and how to manage and control the reflections. Overall, this was an excellent presentation by a most accomplished photographer, accompanied by a wealth of technical detail that was much appreciated by his audience.
FEBRUARY 2016: Last month, member Martin Chapman ARPS, gave a presentation entitled ‘Wildlife, landscapes and infrared photography’. An enthusiastic photographer who has travelled widely, Martin opened his presentation with some intriguing images of different wildlife species in the UK, including deer, red kites, snakes, dragonflies and other insects. He continued by discussing his approach to landscape photography, guiding his audience on pictorial journeys to the Acadia National Park in Maine, USA, the Lake District and France. Martin then ended the first part of his presentation with a discussion on infrared photography, explaining how an unused digital SLR camera can be converted to infrared operation by the removal of internal colour filters adjacent to the camera’s sensor – work requiring the services of a professional camera workshop. Once done, the unusual monochrome effect characteristic of infrared images can be readily obtained, as Martin demonstrated in a series of photographs and montages.
Martin opened the second part of the presentation by showing his photographs of the landscape and wildlife in the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. The landscapes were taken mostly at sunrise, capturing the characteristically rich tapestry of orange/red hues in the early morning sky. He also showed his images of birds, giraffes, antelope, waterbuck and wildebeest, together with predators such as the lion, cheetah, leopard and wild dog. Martin then drew his presentation to a close by revisiting the USA, with photographs of native alligators, manatees and a wide variety of birds in Florida, and concluded by going on to show images of India’s tigers. Over all, this was an extensive and very impressive collection of photographs, supported by a detailed commentary, all of which was much appreciated by Martin’s audience.
JANUARY 2016: The New Year began with the now traditional ‘Members’ Evening’ on the first Wednesday of January, in which members were invited to show the best three photographs taken by them in 2015. In a strictly informal atmosphere, members talked about their images, discussing where and how the photographs were taken, what they learned as a result, and why each photograph was valued by them. This proved to be an enlightening and most enjoyable evening.
DECEMBER 2015: At the December Club Night, John Credland APAGB gave a presentation entitled ‘Salon des Refusés’, loosely interpreted as the ‘Gallery of Failures’. A professional photographer, John showed first his skill in both his professional and amateur work, including use of the High Dynamic Range (HDR) technique for commercial work in low light situations. He also depicted how HDR could enhance architectural images and street photography, showing a large number of photographs and demonstrating his use of the ultra-small Casio EX ZR 1200 compact camera for the latter – a personal favourite. Continuing, John then discussed his experience in seeking an Associate accreditation of the Royal Photographic Society. Submitting a panel of 15 HDR prints to the judges, two prints failed for various technical reasons, a result that John discussed with a great deal of humour and which also provided an intriguing overview of the judging process.
The second part of John’s presentation concerned his audio visual (AV) work, in which he showed three AV clips that had been put together using ‘Audacity’ AV software. This was followed by a fourth AV sequence called ‘The weather forecast’, that had been submitted for accreditation by the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain but which too had been rejected by judges. Again, John discussed his failure with much humour, ascribing it mainly to the nature of the HDR image content and the rather frenetic accompanying ‘pop music’ soundtrack. Overall, this was an intriguing insight into both the commercial photographer’s world and the eccentricities of judging panels, recounted with humour and many anecdotes by an accomplished professional photographer, which was immensely enjoyable.
NOVEMBER 2015: At the November Club Night, Micki Aston CPAGB gave a presentation entitled ‘Istanbul and Jerusalem: two ancient cities’. A widely-travelled photographer, Micki introduced her audience first to the religious tapestry of Jerusalem with its Crusader walls and – through her camera – to life in the Muslim, Armenian, Christian and Jewish quarters of the old city.
The Muslim quarter is the largest and most populated, with many religious sites, stunning medieval Islamic architecture and busy bazaars. Micki showed a range of photographs, demonstrating her skill at landscape and street photography, including the use of a ‘fisheye’ lens to provide unusual images of people and architecture. She then visited the Jewish Quarter with its ancient Roman Cardo street, the old Byzantine bazaar and Hasidic Jews at the West Wall. Continuing, Micki went on to the Christian quarter and the site of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, before ending in the smaller Armenian quarter, which has been continuously occupied since the first century BC.
In the second part of her presentation, Micki took us to Istanbul, a large city divided by the Bosphorus that separates the Christian and Arab communities. Once capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, the city is characterised by religious and Byzantine architecture, such as the Hagia Sophia, existing in close proximity to once fine buildings that have long since become derelict: a mix that provided opportunities for many contrasting images. Micki concluded with her usual street photography, commenting that the different religious clerics in both cities appeared to live in friendly harmony, without religious or ethnic factionalism. This was a most interesting presentation by an articulate, accomplished photographer, given with a great deal of humour, which was much appreciated by her audience.
OCTOBER 2015: At the October Club Night, the Society’s Chairman, Richard Broadbent, gave a presentation entitled ‘New Zealand: A Tale of Two Islands’. Unfortunately, his scheduled co-presenter, Phil Le Mare, was indisposed, so Richard himself led his audience on a photographic tour of the islands which he and his wife, Janet, visited last year. Starting on the North Island, Richard took the Society through Auckland and the Coromandel peninsula, taking in such features as the Hidden Railway, Hot Water Beach, Cathedral Cove and the geo-thermal Hidden Valley at Orakei Korako, before crossing the Cook Strait from Wellington to the South Island.
Continuing, Richard’s travels took us on to Nelson, the sea and beach wildlife at Cape Farewell, past the vineyards and mountains to Kaikura and then to Christchurch, where the city centre is still largely unbuilt following the devastating earthquake of three years ago. After visiting the Moeraki Boulders and crossing Manapouri Lake, the journey ended at Te Anau with its nearby dense, moss-draped rainforest. Throughout the presentation, Richard showed a range of unusual and visually striking photographs, complemented by his inimitable description of events. This was a fascinating photographic ‘tour de force,’ that was much appreciated by his audience. The evening concluded with a reprise of photographs from the Society’s annual exhibition, which was held at the Adderbury Institute in September.
SEPTEMBER 2015: At the September Club Night, member Mick Brittain gave a presentation entitled ‘Art school to Photographic Society: In search of a personal style’. Reviewing his early life, Mick left school early to enrol at the Birmingham School of Photography, which introduced him to the 5×4 and 10×8 inch film camera formats, but the environment left him dissatisfied. He subsequently moved to Bournemouth, adopted 35mm photography, and became involved in photographing students at the local School of Fashion where he learnt the techniques of studio lighting and modelling.
Suitably encouraged, Mick relocated to London, only to find that fashion photography there was exclusive and extremely competitive. As a consequence, he turned to reprographic work for advertising agencies and magazines, becoming a specialist in interpreting clients’ requirements and enabling the early use of computers in publishing. Throughout his presentation, Mick showed photographs taken at various stages of his career, including some stunning photographs taken in Croatia – a favourite holiday destination.
In later years, Mick converted to digital photography and became interested in HDR (High Dynamic Range) using Adobe Photoshop, the intention being to create a ‘Super Real’ image of a particular scene. This involves the superimposition of several photographs and software manipulation to create a visually interesting effect, rather than necessarily being a true image of the subject. The final part of Mick’s presentation was devoted to showing examples of Super Real images, demonstrating the HDR technique. This was a stimulating presentation from an accomplished commercial photographer, which was greatly appreciated by his audience.
AUGUST 2015: At the August Club Night, member Paul Brewerton gave a presentation on ‘A photographic journey: How the love of the countryside influenced my photography’. Like many others, Paul’s introduction to photography was via the ubiquitous Kodak Box Brownie camera, and he showed a selection of prints taken from his early film cameras and enlargers to later images on digital cameras. His interest is primarily in landscape photography and, as an enthusiastic fell-walker, Paul showed many intriguing and unusual images taken from the more inaccessible parts of the Yorkshire Dales and Cumberland coast. He concluded with some photographs and stories of his various excursions to Switzerland and elsewhere. This was an interesting and wide-ranging presentation, much appreciated by his audience.
JULY 2015: At the July Club Night, member John Cavana gave a presentation on ‘My travels in Africa through the camera: Kili, Kruger and The Cape’. John’s other home is in Cape Town, South Africa, so understandably he showed an array of interesting images depicting different aspects of life there. He captured diverse subjects – more recently with his Canon EOS 70D – to include one of its biggest tourist attractions, the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, with its colourful mélee of boats, restaurants and musicians making wonderful music on old instruments. In the townships, John photographed children of different ages playing together. One of their favourite haunts was a row of loos which they liked to clamber on and run merrily along the roof tops. There were colourful photos of the Cape Town carnival; star-trails from the Taal Monument in Paarl; the beautiful blue Hout Bay; and views of the majestic Table Mountain.
Using a Panasonic FZ28 superzoom camera, John’s visits to Kruger National Park brought a wonderful selection of images of impala, elephants, lions, hornbills, weaverbirds, and water buffalo, sending a frisson of excitement around the room on seeing these powerful and beautiful animals.
But perhaps the highlight of John’s presentation was the photographic record of his climb up Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. Inspired by an 84 year-old friend who had climbed Kili at the age of 68, he – John – at 65, and two of his friends, at 70 and 71, decided to make the climb. As one is not permitted to ‘go it alone’, they hired an outfitter from Tanzania to organise the trip and carry all their equipment, including the all-important portable loo. In all, 18 people went on this expedition – the porters and the three climbers. It was a feat of endurance, taking the men five days to climb up and two to come down! The air got considerably colder and thinner the higher they went up – about 20,000 ft asml. The first camp was at 10,000 ft, and they, of course, celebrated when they reached the summit. Greeting successful climbers is the message, ‘Congratulations, you are now at Uhuru Peak, Tanzania – 5,895 m amsl’. Ironically, throughout this trip, John used only a disposable Boots camera, not being able to carry any heavy equipment on the journey. John’s amusing stories accompanying his presentation and the images shown were a fascinating window on life in Kili, Kruger and The Cape, and was much enjoyed by his audience.
JUNE 2015: For the June Club Night, an evening photo-shoot was arranged in the grounds of Blenheim Palace. A group of 18 members met at a rather obscure gate in Woodstock, which gave access to a little known ‘public right of way’ across the Blenheim estate. Chairman Richard Broadbent then led the group on a circular tour around part of the gardens, along the lake and through the wooded areas, giving members the opportunity to photograph the wildlife on the waters, some fleeting appearances of Muntjac deer, and distant views of the Palace itself. Finally, towards the end of the evening, the setting sun highlighted the tree foliage, casting the long shadows that emphasize the appeal of outdoor photography. A somewhat weary group eventually made their way to the local hostelry to exchange experiences, partake of some libation and enjoy a well-earned rest.
MAY 2015: At the May Club Night, Randall Miles ARPS AFIAP gave a presentation on ‘The Maasai Mara, Part One: Watch this space for a better Part Two.’ Introducing his presentation, Randall explained that the Maasai Mara National Reserve comprises approximately 550 square miles located in Kenya, adjoining Tanzania’s larger Serengeti National Reserve. The Maasai Mara contains the biggest concentration of lions, leopards and cheetahs in Africa, and is also famous for the bi-annual Great Migration of zebra, Thomson’s gazelle and wildebeest to and from the Serengeti. While most visitors stay overnight outside the Reserve, Randall was fortunate in being able to sleep in a tent within the Reserve, being looked after by the Maasai people themselves. A great asset for wildlife photography but, as he confessed, a somewhat alarming experience initially to be in such close proximity to the animals.
Randall then showed a selection of his animal prints taken on safari in the ubiquitous Land Rover, starting early in the morning and finishing late evening. These included sightings of the ‘big cats,’ together with elephants, buffalos and rhinoceros. He was also fortunate to witness the start of one of the Great Migrations, and showed photographs of the crossing of the Mara River with hidden predators lying in wait. This was a most interesting and absorbing presentation by an accomplished photographer, accompanied by a great deal of humour, which was much appreciated by his audience. The presentation’s intriguing title suggests that another will be forthcoming soon.
APRIL 2015: The AGM was held in April. Chairman Richard Broadbent reviewed the Society’s progress over the last 12 months, noting that the twice-monthly meetings (Club Nights and Workshops) had attracted 54 full members in the current year. Other activities included the Annual Photographic Exhibitions in Adderbury and Deddington, photographic support of communal activities in both villages, photography for West Bar Surgery, a number of informal photo-shoots, the development of a new website (addphoto.co.uk), the Annual Club Dinner and a summer barbeque. The Treasurer, Martyn Pearse, then summarised the Society’s finances, commenting on a generally satisfactory position, but noting the rising cost of experienced speakers for Club Nights and the wish to purchase a replacement projector. The existing Committee were re-elected with a vote of appreciation for their work during the year.
The meeting continued with member Cliff May providing an overview of the new website, which is more dynamic and responsive to members’ needs. It also reduces the administrative burden associated with its upkeep and the annual cost. The result is that new menus make for ease of use, essential information is retained and readily available, and members can now upload and control their own images using their own dedicated web pages.
There followed a members’ presentation entitled ‘My attempt at abstract photography’. Some 20 members participated, entering three images each and describing their approach to the subject, while demonstrating both their successes and (occasional) failures. Finally, the evening concluded with the monthly photographic topic, which was ‘Weather’.
MARCH 2015: Alan Fretten returned to the Society to give a presentation entitled ‘So long and thanks for the fish’. Explaining that this title embraced a variety of photographic topics, Alan proceeded to introduce his audience to a spectrum of images. Starting with his travels in Mexico and Guatemala, the landscapes of Inca ruins and some spectacular waterfalls, he then took us to the Greek Island of Santorini and demonstrated the influence of light on building architecture, the use of monochrome to enhance the visual impact, and the unique relationship between sunset and water. An experienced athlete, Alan continued by showing a number of action photographs taken at various field sports events, including the 2012 London Olympics, and closed the first part of his presentation with a discussion on the use of exposure bracketing to capture images of rock band artists during live performances.
After the interval, Alan examined the art of studio photography. Emphasising his preference for natural light or floodlights, as opposed to the use of electronic flash, he showed a wide range of still-life and glamour images. His opinion was that the lighting and posing of models represents a significant challenge, even to the most experienced photographer. Finally, Alan turned to the techniques he employed for street photography, showing a range of images taken in the Olympic Park and during his recent holidays in India. Overall, this was a most interesting presentation by an articulate and extremely competent photographer, that was much appreciated by his audience.
FEBRUARY 2015: Bob Brind-Surch gave a most interesting presentation on ‘Macro Photography.’ A retired physics teacher, Bob had been interested in photography from his youth and, on retirement, has now turned his hobby into a full-time activity with numerous commercial commissions, workshops and organised wildlife safaris to Africa and elsewhere.
For his presentation, Bob concentrated on macro techniques, explaining the principles of magnification for different types of cameras, the limitations of lenses for this type of work, and the pros/cons of close-up lenses, extension tubes and dedicated macro lenses. He then reviewed the benefits of reversing lens adapters, together with the use of various items such as clamps, ring flashes, light panels, laboratory jacks and focusing racks. Bob concluded by examining a post-production software technique known as ‘focus stacking’, whereby the limitations of the shallow depth of field normally associated with macro work could be completely overcome.
Bob made a somewhat technical presentation easy to understand by showing diagrams and photographs at each stage of his presentation, and by physically demonstrating the use of each item of equipment. In summary, this was an absorbing and stimulating ‘tour de force’ of macro photography by someone with an intimate knowledge of his subject, and which was much appreciated by his audience.
JANUARY 2015: November’s Workshop, led by member Simon Lutter, was on ‘Camera controls and composing photographs’ and comprised a basic introduction to digital cameras, live view, image cropping, RAW and JPEG images, and the observance of rules to improve one’s photography. Then, at the Club Night in December, Anne Sutcliffe FRPS gave a presentation entitled ‘Annie’s Land,’ in which she showed a large number of prints and discussed her techniques for landscape, portrait and street photography, including many prints that formed part of her application for FRPS accreditation. This was an interesting and absorbing presentation, much appreciated by her audience.The New Year opened with a Club Night in early January, where members were invited to volunteer and present the best photographs taken by themselves during 2014.
Some 20 members accepted the challenge, with around 60 prints and digitally projected photographs being shown. Each presenter was then afforded the opportunity to say how each photograph was taken, why they considered it to be their best image and any lessons they had learnt in the process. This resulted in a lively, informative and often humorous discussion amongst the members, which contributed greatly to the enjoyment of the evening.