CRAYONS OR CAMERAS? THE CHOICE IS YOURS
To borrow one of Michael Caine’s catch phrases…Not a lot of people know this…but there was a time when digital imaging was a term best used to describe colouring books where little numbers showed you what crayons to use where.
These days it’s the way that more than 9 out of 10 of us take our photographs, and thanks to a computer programme called Photoshop, it’s what helps a large proportion of the film stars who will be walking the red carpet at the Oscars, on March 4th, look so perfect when their photographs appear in papers and magazines.
The things Photoshop can do, like make people look younger by smoothing out wrinkles on a face; reducing a waistline, and even adjust an image to make people look taller as well as slimmer are remarkable. It’s a programme that is so complex though that using it almost requires a degree in computer science, and it needs regular, sustained practice and use to master all of its tools. Its versatility and complexity also explains why just one of the many instruction books produced by its creator runs to more than 740 pages!
Far easier, unless you have a lot of time on your hands and are like most of Tetbury Camera Club’s members, who are keen to take great, rather than simply good images, is to try and start off with a picture which you will enjoy looking at without any magical computing assistance.
Today, with most cameras – and even phones – which more and more people use for their picture-taking, that’s easier to achieve than it has ever been. If you have a modern digital phone set the photography button or switch on it to A for automatic and you can almost be halfway there. Modern phones and cameras have very high-quality lenses, the ability to capture moving images extremely effectively and an amazing ability to shoot even when lighting is very poor.
Having said that, the most important factor is still the person holding the camera and pushing the shutter button. Before you can take any shot of merit you first of all have to see it, which is something that doesn’t come naturally to everyone. That’s the bad news. The good news though is it is an expertise that can be developed with practice, which was a point underlined recently by a friend of Tetbury Camera Club called Bob Train. Bob is programme secretary of Gloucester Camera Club and has visited our regular meetings both as a guest speaker and as a competition judge. He’s also the Royal Photographic Society’s regional representative on the documentary photography group. With that hat on he took a group of our members on a walking tour of Bristol just before Christmas, which was when the picture of one of our members was taken.
On the face of it the location was not the ideal spot for an interesting picture – a windy underpass at the Bristol city centre end of the M32. Before our group had set out that day Bob explained that when he sets off intending to do location shots he always thinks it’s useful to have a brief in mind of what he’d like to shoot. That day he suggested we try to find subjects that could show work activity, a detail of the city, people, action of some sort, and something that could define the location.
That was a list that obviously helped put us on our toes and the illustration with this article is just one of many we ended up with that not only met Bob’s brief, but also captures an idea of the day out.
The following item appears in December’s issue of The Tetbury Advertiser.
MEETING GORILLAS IS NOT TO BE MISSED
For most of the year the members of Tetbury Camera Club are a happy lot, quite content to discuss, comment and shoot shots taken at local, or relatively local locations. There are times though when some of us are affected by a bit of David Attenborough envy and decide it would be good to head for the hills on the trail of something a bit more exotic…
Things like elephants, tigers, giraffes and even gorillas and that’s exactly what two of the club’s keenest camera fans have recently been up to. Around this time last year, Sandie Cox and Richard Arnold were joining a dozen other members cruising on some of Bristol’s more scenic backwaters. Guided by two of the city’s most helpful and knowledgeable sailors, we were looking for interesting renovations, innovative architecture, colourful graffiti images and even on top of a couple of buildings, what appeared to be lifelike fiberglass images of birds, sheep, a gorilla and probably the city’s most famous animal character, Gromit.
Inspired by a keen interest in wildlife as well as photography, Sandie, Richard and his wife and a couple of friends started this year by planning to leave these scenic sights behind and follow in Sir David’s footsteps to capture the real thing with a trip to Uganda and Rwanda. In their sights was a search for the steadily diminishing number of highland and lowland gorillas which are now protected species in both countries.
Unlike an ordinary ‘shoot’, capturing images of these animals is not simply a case of packing a bag and a passport and heading for Heathrow Airport. Before any of that happens, you have first to apply for one of the small number of restricted permits which both countries now demand to control the number of visitors viewing their wildlife. As part of their conservation measures, these are becoming fewer in number and more and more expensive to buy.
Once you have the necessary permits in your hand, the next hurdle is the small matter of personal protection from infections like yellow fever, a virus which can be caught from mosquito bites. It can be fatal to primates as well as humans and both countries demand advance sight of a valid certificate of inoculation before they will even allow entry.
After that is organized there is protective clothing to be considered, like proper walking boots and gaiters to guard against snake and insect bites and clothing to resist razor-edged plant leaves and needle-sharp thorn bushes. Once all of that is packed you need to think like Dr Livingston, or any other African explorer and organize your porters, as even when conservation rangers have told you where one of the families of gorillas was last spotted, you are expected to be prepared for a walk up and down hills and through thick bush for up to 3 or 4 hours before you might find them.
Looking for gorillas is obviously not what might be called ‘a walk in the park’, so is it worth it? According to Richard and Sandie the answer is definitely yes. “Trailing the animals isn’t easy. The ground is very rough and hilly. It’s difficult to walk through the bush if you are trying to carry a camera and bag at the same time, and once the reservation wardens find a family of gorillas for you, there is a restriction of only one hour to try and take your pictures.
“But it’s an amazing experience to be sharing the same small area as one of the world’s most endangered species. The ones we saw were completely unfazed by our presence. How close did we get to them? I was sitting still in the bush watching them feeding, when one trod on my foot as it walked past”
By the way, he wasn’t spoiling for a fight! Just holding bunches of leaves in his hands, ready to eat, says Sandie.
Sandie and Richard will be showing some of their pictures at a future meeting of Tetbury Camera Club, which meets upstairs at The Priory Inn at 7.30 on Tuesday evenings. New members are always welcome.
Here is the latest news item that appears in the November’s issue of Tetbury Advertiser
A SMART IDEA THAT HAS CAPTIVATED THE WORLD
Here is a question for quiz addicts, as well as anyone interested in technology, computing, communication and even photography…. When was the first smartphone launched?
The answer is not as straightforward as you might think, for it depends on the response to another question. How smart do you want your phone to be?
There is a view that the phone first called a smartphone was launched by IBM 20 years ago and about the same time, something similar was also being introduced in Japan. As well as being a mobile phone, the IBM device, called the Simon Mobile Communicator, incorporated a touch screen, an address book, world clock and could be used to send and receive emails and faxes. By today’s standards it actually wasn’t all that smart. Other hand-held devices had already been able to do some of those things, but the Simon did pave the way for lots of additional technology, like that introduced by computer innovator Steve Jobs when he launched the first iPhone a decade later.
It was 10 years ago last June that Jobs stood up at an Apple launch event and introduced a phone that did lots of other things as well as make calls. It could also store and play music, had a full-face, full-colour screen that you navigated with fingers instead of keys. Of more interest to this article though was the back, where a small lens was installed because it could even take photographs. A decade later and it is estimated by retailers and marketers that by the end of this year there will be more than 42million smart phones in use in the UK. Dramatic growth, which helps explain why if you see someone whip out a camera to snap a picture now, more than 9 times out of 10 they will be using a smartphone.
How is that going to impact on the future of Tetbury Camera Club? Well it certainly means that when our members set off to take pictures they are currently the exception rather than the norm, but camera manufacturers have no need to worry about losing our business. Our members appreciate that there is room for all sorts of picture-taking, from party-time selfies to more artistic landscapes, telephoto wildlife shots to carefully planned portraits.
There is good news from our Tuesday evening meetings as well. While we have members who have been attending our Tuesday evening sessions at The Priory Inn for even longer than Apple’s smartphone has been in existence, each year we have a handful of new arrivals who come along to join us because they have started off taking pictures with a pocket-sized camera, or an even smaller smart phone and they want to develop their recently found skill. Today’s digital cameras can be as simple to operate as a smartphone, or as technically sophisticated as a computer. It just depends on what you want to do with them and how much you want to understand their modern technology.
With this in mind we are constantly expanding the photo tips section of the club web site. We are delighted to have new members come along to our meetings to seek advice and share our knowledge, but if that seems a step too far, have a look at www.tetburycameraclub.org.uk for help and advice as well.
You’ll find not just examples of work by our members, showing what can be achieved with a modern camera, but also links to information which will help you become more adventurous with your own picture taking. Some of it could possibly encourage you to switch over from the automatic button which is a feature of most digital cameras and discover how much more can be achieved with just a little additional knowledge and the power of modern photographic technology.
The following news item by Iain, appears in the October issue of the Tetbury Advertiser.
IMPRESSIVE LEGACIES FROM THREE OF THE WORLD’S RICHEST MEN
Everyone likes a free gift and for anyone interested in photography, living in and around Tetbury is the gift that doesn’t stop giving…Indeed, our location is one of the great bonuses to being a member of Tetbury Camera Club.
It doesn’t matter which direction you head with a camera, from here you won’t have to travel far to find sights and situations that people in many other areas really envy. North, south, east or west, you’ll soon arrive at some pictorial gem, or a village or viewpoint that others regard as a destination worth traveling some distance to reach.
Recently we’ve been north east to Minster Lovell, which was unknown to almost all of us and is home to the ruins of Minster Lovell Hall. It was built in the 1430’s by, or probably more accurately, for, William, Baron of Lovell and Holand, who at the time was apparently one of the richest men in England.
Sadly, much of the stone used to construct it was subsequently ‘liberated’ for use in a later building, but the scale of what’s left makes it all the more impressive today.
Nearer to home, we have taken a very short drive south west to Westonbirt, where we had the privilege of touring the gardens of Westonbirt House, which were principally created in the 19th century for Robert Staynor Holford, the man who was a leading shareholder in The New River Company, which was launched to bring fresh water into London and became precursor of today’s Thames Water company.
What a good idea and shrewd investment that was. It also helped fund the creation of today’s Westonbirt Arboretum, which is located on the opposite side of the A433. While that has many more trees, Westonbirt House which he built to become one of his homes, sits in the nicer, and more scenic, ‘parkland’ setting. Despite the weather being wet and the sky grey and flat when we went, our group still found the visit inspiring.
The trust which owns the house and grounds now opens them on select days in the summer and autumn, so if you see one of these dates advertised it is definitely worthwhile noting for a visit to this hidden gem.
Heading west and going a little further afield, an equally entertaining trip was made across the border into Wales for an awayday break in Cardiff. Among other interesting things there we discovered two different facets from the life of The Marquis of Bute, who invested heavily in the development of Cardiff and in the mid-19th century was believed to be the world’s wealthiest man.
Apart from a sizeable inheritance, much of his money came from Welsh Coal, which was traded and shipped from Butetown, an area not only named after him, but also developed to provide housing for many of his workers. Just north of Butetown the Marquis created a rather more imposing home for himself – Cardiff Castle. It was designed by the architect William Burges, who became renowned for the ‘heraldic’ fantasy style of his interiors and the faux medieval gothic embellishments which were a hallmark of the exterior of the buildings he designed.
The picture by our member David Calvert shows the ceiling in one of the castle rooms and demonstrates just how flamboyant he and the Marquise could be when they combined great wealth with Burges’s undoubted imagination.
While much of Cardiff still has an early Victorian character, it would be doing a disservice to the good taste of the Georgians if we had neglected to head north on one of our recent trips for an evening stroll around near-neighbour Cheltenham.
We didn’t come across anything quite as extravagant as some of the sites we had seen on the Cardiff visit, but we still ended the evening there as happy snappers, as anyone who cares to join us for our regular weekly meetings at Tetbury’s Priory Inn will discover.
The following news item appears in the September issue of the Tetbury Advertiser.
WE’RE READY FOR YOUR CLOSE-UP MR PEACOCK
As anyone who has ever tried to take the perfect picture of their family pet will know, there’s a lot of truth in that quote by the American actor and comedian W. C. Fields… ‘Never work with animals and children’.
Many of us must have experienced the exasperation of seeing our cat or dog looking relaxed and angelic, aristocratic and calm, then deciding to become star-struck and take a run towards us as soon as a camera appears in our hand. The aim might be to capture an appealing portrait of our favourite pet, but more often than not the end result is an out of focus blur, because of the speed of movement or the fast-changing distance between the animal and the lens.
As Shakespeare, another creator of interesting observations wrote; ‘Many a true word is spoken in jest’. While W. C. Fields might have been joking, his words did have a lot of truth in them. They are relevant even these days, when modern cameras incorporate impressive technology which can calculate distances in an instant, but also need equally fast reactions from the hand of the owners if their micro chips are to capture an intended moving image.
Which makes this month’s picture by Tetbury Camera Club member, Hugh Fletcher, all the more commendable. Hugh captured it on one of the informal outings we’d arranged during the club’s summer break. It was taken in Corsham, which boasts the unusual claim to fame of a flock, or in this instance, should it be a ‘pod’ of peacocks, which ramble the high street and other areas in the centre of town, at will.
Hugh’s picture shows one of them, which did present a bit of a challenge, for as soon as he pointed his camera in its direction, this bird became rather star-struck and decided to check its image in a nearby car’s paintwork. Maybe it needed to decide its best side? Whatever, it helped Hugh show that animals might not always do exactly what you want, but if you adapt your thinking you can still create a picture from what’s there.
Trying to create interesting pictures from what’s there is what Tetbury’s Camera Club has been doing on other summer evenings as well, with outings that have ranged from Painswick to Burford, Gloucester Docks to Cheltenham. Now we are about to embark on the start of a new season, so from the evening of September the 5th, we will be back in our usual haunt at The Priory Hotel, with a calendar of meetings, presentations, competitions and advice events, planned by the committee to show an entertaining and informative programme presented by some of the best and most talented photographers in the region.
This year’s subjects include wildlife and landscape work, with pictures taken in locations as far apart as Africa and the Arctic and of animals as diverse as polar bears to gorillas. There will be tips on home printing to setting up studio shots, lighting to special effects, and in addition, more formal trips out to sites of special interest, with the guidance of club members who already know them well.
Tetbury Camera Club meets upstairs in The Priory Hotel at 7.30pm on a Tuesday and is always happy to have new members and guests join us. September 5th 2017 will be the first event of the new season and will feature presentations with pictures by members who have been on our summer trips. It will be an excellent opportunity to find out more about what we do and where we have been to. For more information there is a calendar of all confirmed future events on our recently revamped web site.
HAVE A TRY AT SNAPPING UNDER COVER OF DARKNESS
There’s never a dull moment if you’re a member of Tetbury Camera Club…We might have just finished the winter/spring season with our annual photography exhibition in the town Market Hall, but a keen photographer doesn’t pack up his bag because summer is here.
Within 2 weeks we had already embarked on a splendid programme of casual summer evening shoots. This is the time of year when any member can suggest a subject for an evening, or even all-day assignment. The first of these outings took us to Painswick, a spot almost as equally attractive as Tetbury, though the people who live there might well argue that in the scenic town stakes the awards should be in reverse order.
Whatever your view, some of the shots we have been taking will quite probably appear in our exhibition next year, so if you are in the mood, you’ll be able to judge then for yourself.
The Club’s market hall exhibition, which is timed to coincide with the famous Woolsack Races, has become a popular additional event on the bank holiday Monday, with visitors as well as locals attending it. This year we had attenders not just from neighbouring towns and counties, but as far at Newcastle and Nottingham. On average, it draws between 450 and 550 spectators, taking a hopefully relaxing break from the exertions of the various athletic exertions of woolsack racing up and down Gumstool Hill. This year the weather wasn’t very kind to the runners, but the pictures we had on display seemed to be a welcome refuge to those taking a break from the wind and rain.
For some visitors, our work also turned into a personal inspiration and we had several inquiries from fellow enthusiastic amateurs, keen to join us at The Priory Hotel when our new season starts on September 5th 2017.
Until then, we are hoping for some fine summer evenings and look forward to stimulating our creative appetite with at least 6 evening excursions during June, July and August. These are planned as social as well photography outings, with the first part of each visit devoted to picture-taking and the latter hour or so to a get-together in an appropriate convenient pub or bistro.
Already on the agenda for coming weeks are Corsham, Burford, Cheltenham, and nearer to home, Westonbirt, then Sharpness docks.
In between those visits we’ll hold court every alternate week at the Priory, where modern technology means we can review the previous week’s work on a laptop, or iPad.
By the way if you’re the kind of photographer who tends to dust off the camera primarily in time for the holiday season, don’t be put off if you are going to sunnier countries, where dusk often starts earlier than it does here in the UK. If you give it a try you’ll find that with the miracles of digital technology, some of the most dramatic shots can be captured at night. The one with this article was taken by member Jennie Esse on a trip to Japan earlier this year.
You’ll find it’s quite possible to achieve something similar if you decide to be bold and set the camera to manual, then find somewhere to rest it steadily. Raise the ISO level,to 800 or more, or alternatively, lower it to 100 if you have one with an adjustable aperture. In which case try a variety of shutter speeds and aperture openings and see what you capture. You could well end up with a creative surprise. One of the great things about modern digital cameras is it doesn’t cost you anything to experiment. You can simply delete what you don’t like, and start again.
And if you fancy joining our group, put September 5th in your diary and come along to The Priory for our regular Tuesday evening sessions. New faces are always welcome.
ENJOY A FREE EXHIBITION ON WOOLSACK RACE DAY
May is prize giving month at Tetbury Camera Club, when we reach the end of our autumn and winter season, so aim to recognize the creativity and skill of members who have done well in the various competitions we hold throughout the year.
As usual, it began with a social supper held at The Priory Inn, which is home to our regular Tuesday evening meetings during most of the year. Of special interest this time, not only to ourselves but also to anyone interested in joining us in the future, was the list of those who ended the evening by walking out with a trophy or two under their arm.
While, as expected, some of our keenest photographers continued to demonstrate consistent skill, this year almost a third of our prizes were handed out to members who had not been winners before. Some had not even been club members at this time the previous year.
Hopefully this statistic helps underline the fact that our club isn’t a home for a small clique of keen photographic obsessives. More accurately, it’s an interesting meeting place for new arrivals as well as loyal and long-standing attenders; a gathering where people with a common interest can share views and enthusiasms and where people keen to learn a new skill, or develop an old and possibly dormant one, can do so with the help of existing members.
For anyone who’d like to see for themselves just what we’ve been up to there will be an ideal opportunity over Woolsack Race weekend. On Monday, the 29th, 2017 we will be holding our annual exhibition of members’ work in Tetbury market hall. Entry is free and as on our regular Tuesday get-together’s, we will be happy to see anyone who would like to look at or talk about our picture taking.
The picture with this article is an example of one of our recent competition images. If you’ve ever worried about taking shots that aren’t sharp it will hopefully show you that these days anything goes! Taken in Bath by member Carole Mortimer, it is intentionally blurred as she wanted to capture the movement and animation of the man who was blowing bubbles there. Though taken with Carole’s normal camera it proves that these days you don’t need to be carrying a bag of specialist equipment to capture a memorable image or interesting moment. It is the type of shot that anyone with a modern mobile phone could record if they had the artistic ability to see it!
Though our winter season has drawn to a close, another is now on the horizon. In the summer months, from June to September we plan weekly informal events and outings which are organised by any member who thinks a visit to somewhere new could be an interesting excursion. These take place every fortnight and on every alternate Tuesday evening anyone in the mood to meet up with their club friends gathers back at the Priory to talk about, or show, the results of those trips over a beer or soft drink.
So, if the weather’s nice, you are passing the Priory’s front garden and see a group of people sitting there studying what look like holiday photographs or working on maps as if planning a walk or drive you’ll now have a good idea of what they are up to. Very likely it will be members of Tetbury Camera Club planning another outing or discussing the one they have just had!
If you can’t find time to visit our May 29th exhibition do have a look at our web site – tetburycameraclub.org.uk – where you’ll see a growing collection of our recent work.
Another news item from Iain.
LIVING AND LEARNING CONFIRMS AN OLD SAYING
There’s a lot of truth in the old saying that you learn something new every day – at least if you want to, and just how accurate that statement is was underlined to members of Tetbury Camera Club twice in quick succession recently.
Firstly, by Tony Gervis, a guest speaker who had travelled from Stourport in Worcestershire to show us a riveting selection of his pictures. While Tony’s drive to talk to us was a relatively short one for him, his picture-taking has taken him round the world. He has travelled from Azerbaijan to Alaska, Uzbekistan to the USA, using a selection of camper vans and cameras, and sometimes with a Harley Davidson motor bike used as well for his American adventures.
Early in his presentation Tony was asked how difficult it was to find great subjects to photograph. He explained that one of the best pieces of advice he’d been given about photography was; ‘if there’s nothing to photograph, take a picture anyway and you’ll find something’.
It’s a statement that was reinforced when shortly after Tony’s visit we saw a picture taken by one of our members, Fiona McCowan. Fiona is one of the regular participants in an entertaining and fun competition we set ourselves each month. This asks competing members to photograph something from a list of subjects which is created at the start of the year. We are currently working on choosing something to photograph which is ’30 minutes’ walk from home’, and the picture with this article was the submission by Fiona responding to the previous month’s brief, which was ‘abandoned building’.
The barn she found is probably the sort of place that most people would never consider pointing a lens at, but the end result proves not only that if you have to find something interesting you will. It is also proof of the truth in that other old saying, that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder!
To jump back to Tony Gervis and his serious touring, in a decade or more of coast to coast cruising in his camper vans he has visited every US state – many on several occasions – as well as 117 National Parks there. Who knew the choice is so big? On one of the more recent visits he stopped in the Park Rangers’ headquarters to ask for directions on how locate a difficult to reach canyon. His presentational skills were obviously working specially well that day and his shots were so admired he left not just with the information he needed, but also with a two year contract to photograph various views and features of the Parks for use in the Authority’s brochures!
The dramatic wildness and variety of the US landscape isn’t the only thing to have captured Tony’s interest. He has also turned into a serious fan of the rodeos that are a regular feature of American country life and he often plans his tours to meet up with the rodeo stars as they move from town to town.
As much as Tony admires the skill, strength and expertise of the men competing for prizes by clinging to the backs of bucking broncos and rearing bulls, it seems they are equally admiring of his expertise with a long lens and fast shutter. He’s been commissioned by several of the rodeo organisers to capture the action on camera whenever he’s in town and to take pictures for their publicity flyers and posters. He’s also now an honorary member of the Gold Buckle Club and wears a belt presented to him by Ellensburg Rodeo in Washington State for his services in helping to promote the profile of the sport.
Tetbury Camera Club (tetburycameraclub.org.uk) meets at the Priory Inn at 7.30 on most Tuesday evenings. Visitors and new members are always welcome.
The April issue of the Tetbury Advertiser has the following news item.
ENJOYING THE LEGACY OF WILLIAM FOX TALBOT
It might be a concerning thought for some people, but by the time you read this issue of the Advertiser we will not only have changed the clocks to summer time, Easter isn’t far away either and we will be a quarter of the way through 2017…
Oh, and for students of local history, it’s also 176 years since William Fox Talbot — scientist, archaeologist, astronomer and MP for Chippenham — patented an invention for transferring images onto paper, which was to become the start of modern photography.
You might think that after all these years and more than a century since Tetbury had its first camera club, it would be hard to find much new to see and talk about to do with photography, but far from it.
In the 15 weeks since we started our 2017 season Tetbury Camera Club has made several discoveries of its own and set at least one new benchmark we will have to try to sustain next year.
First of all one of the discoveries; most weeks of our picture-taking seasons we have guest judges to critique pictures from our club competitions. Alternatively we invite expert speakers to help inspire us with the creativity of their own work or tales of travels which have enabled them to bring back stunning shots ranging from big game in Africa to bears in Alaska and temples in Tibet.
It isn’t always necessary to pack up your passport to take great pictures of course, as we discovered at the end of February when we had a first visit by Allen Lloyd, a guest speaker from as far away as Tintern!
Allen has received numerous awards in national and international exhibitions and been featured in leading photography magazines, yet he hadn’t visited us before. Tetbury Camera Club therefore looked forward with anticipation to his visit, but little did we know how stunning it would be.
He had put together three AV modules: landscapes (mainly around Gwent and Monmouthshire); Yellowstone USA, and Birds. Each was given added atmosphere by the accompaniment of some inspiring music. His motivating commentary, explaining how he achieved such wonderful compositions left us all hoping that some of his magic would rub off and helped to justify the comments by several of our longest serving members, that they had just seen some of the best images experienced in over 15 years of coming to our club!
How do we match that? Well one way is by already booking a follow-up visit from him for 2018, though fortunately we did also have an ace card up our sleeve. Two regular items in our calendar are competitions in which we compete against larger ‘rival’ clubs from Stroud and Cirencester to see which can produce the best collection of pictures each year.
This year the first of these was against Stroud and a very closely fought challenge it proved to be, with our judge scoring Stroud best for prints but Tetbury taking most marks for digital images. at the end of the evening the result was Tetbury 527 points and Stroud 522.
Can we sustain this standard? We’ll shortly find out, as we are soon to match our creativity away to Cirencester!
This month’s picture was a competition entry by member David Jones.
WATCHING THE BIRDIE CATCHES A STUNNING SNAP
In the days of the Kodak Box Brownie, if you can remember that, ‘watch the birdie’ was the phrase used by photographers professional as well as amateur when they wanted someone to sit still while they took a portrait.
A subject who was sitting still was a necessity if the picture that was being taken wasn’t to come out blurred. Happily, the development of cameras with adjustable shutter speeds which could work quickly enough to ‘freeze’ movement have made the phrase a thing of the past, though not for Tetbury Camera Club member Tony Banks.
Like several of our members, Tony is a relative latecomer to photography as a hobby, but since joining the club about 4 years ago, he has been making up for lost time, perfecting a recently realised talent with a special interest in landscape and wildlife pictures.
Spurred by successfully ‘shooting’ several birds from his kitchen window, and not afraid of a bigger challenge, Tony ended last year with the aim of trying to capture a picture of a kingfisher in flight…or better still, living up to its name, with a fish in its beak.
As anyone who has ever tried to photograph birds will know, that was no small project. Kingfishers look beautiful, but they are also notoriously timid. On top of that they are small, seldom stay still and are famous for their fast flight. When they dive for their prey a typical speed as they enter the water is 25 miles an hour and darting from cover to spot a fish, they are usually moving even more quickly – 35 miles an hour is not uncommon.
To shoot his shot of the bird with its catch, Tony spent quite some time first of all scouting for a likely kingfisher feeding habitat, and then even longer in a hide, deciding what was the most opportune time to catch it in action, then perfecting the perfect combination of lens length, shutter speed, camera aperture and ISO, which is the modern equivalent of film speed on older film cameras.
Modern digital cameras make practicing your ideal shot much easier and less expensive than shooting on film used to be. These days you can see what you have taken virtually instantly and if it wasn’t what you wanted, you can just as quickly delete that shot and get ready for another opportunity.
For anyone wanting to try capturing a similar shot to the one shown here, this one was taken at 1/1600th of a second, with a fairly wide aperture of f6.3. and ISO of 400. That was the combination of settings that Tony felt suited the light, were fast enough to capture the moving bird and had a low enough ISO to produce a picture with the right degree of detail.
Proving that Tony’s time was well spent, one of the kingfisher pictures was judged highly commended at our first competition of 2017, at the end of January.
The February 2017 issue of the Tetbury Advertiser has the following news item.
GOOD PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES AT HOME AND AWAY
Most people have so many things to focus on over the months of December and January that photography is seldom front of mind, and this applies to Tetbury Camera Club members almost as much as for everyone else. But not completely! Even with a break in our regular meetings there have been almost as many projects on as ever.
More than a dozen of us set off to London towards the end of the year to investigate the dramatic architectural changes that are transforming the area around Kings Cross and the square mile of the City. Anyone who has been surprised by the amount of development taking place in Tetbury would come back from these parts of the capital amazed by just how places can be completely transformed when developers, diggers and tower cranes really get going at full speed! Around Kings Cross, areas that were once among the most dusty and desolate in the centre of the city are now the focus of architectural showpiece offices for high tech companies such as Google and plush apartments for executives in the City.
Closer to home, in late December, there were photo opportunities here in Tetbury when Prince Charles came to take a look at the progress of development at the former GWR engine shed, which will soon reopen as the town’s showpiece arts centre. No tower cranes needed there, but the work that has been done is in its own way just as creative and dramatic. The visit was important enough to attract not just photographers from our own local papers, but also Arthur Edwards of the Sun, arguably the country’s best known Royal photographer. If you look carefully at television coverage when there is a royal visit at home or abroad, you’ll usually spot Arthur in the background.
He’s been covering Royal events since the mid 1970’s and is responsible for some of the best pictures taken of the Royal family over the last 40 years. Having said that, he remains one of the best-liked and most genial of ‘pic men’ in the UK press corps, as the picture taken of him meeting Tetbury pug Otis hopefully demonstrates.
Nearer home still, Tetbury Camera Club has been doing some of its own redevelopment with the creation of a new more modern club website. It’s still a ‘work in progress’ but the intention now is to use it as a showcase for some of our work, as well as for up to date information on our activities and meeting programme. It is now also a useful information source for details of other helpful photography web sites. These cover a varied selection of styles, techniques and technical fields, so if you are even vaguely interested in taking pictures why not have a look? You might find we are the source of just the tip you are looking for.
Tetbury Camera Club meets upstairs at the Priory Inn at 7.30pm on most Tuesdays. New members or visitors are welcome.
The following news item appears in the December issue of The Tetbury Advertiser.
A SKILLED EYE SNAPS UP PHOTOGRAPHY AWARD
Normally in these pages we compliment the creativity of the various guest presenters and speakers who are a focal point of a large number of our meetings. They join our group to share their tips, techniques and experiences as photographers with national reputations.
Looking at their work and listening to their words is a great way to help expand the quality of our own photography, but this month we have been celebrating the work of someone much closer to home, as one of our members, Tetbury resident Mike Hawkridge, began November with news that he had been enrolled as an Associate of The Royal Photographic Society.
Like many of us, Mike has always enjoyed taking and looking at photographic images, but it wasn’t until joining Tetbury Camera Club in 2007 that he had the time and motivation to take his hobby more seriously and develop it into a personal art form. In the 9 years since he’s done that so successfully that his pictures have often won the votes of our visiting judges to take awards in our various competitions. The picture called Beached and Bleached, which accompanies this article, is an example of his work.
Taken at Dungeness in the summer, it captures the unique atmosphere of seclusion which is a hallmark of that part of the Kent coast. In the years since joining the club Mike has shown that he can excel just as effectively with other subjects as diverse as astronomy, architecture, still life and landscapes. One hallmark of Mike’s work is an ability to always put his own stamp on it and when pictures we take are displayed anonymously at our meetings many of us can generally identify his without being told who is behind the image.
The work which has won Mike his award shows a completely different aspect of his interest though. It is a great example of how a perceptive eye can see an aspect of everyday life missed by millions of others who don’t have the same artistic ability to create a new image from an everyday scene or object.
To win his award, Mike had to present a collection of 15 pictures to a panel of RPS judges. They had to be on a specific subject, linked by a clear creative theme and demonstrate an exceptional skill. The subject Mike chose was aspects of modern architecture and for this he isolated a variety of features from a number of London’s most imposing and dramatic new office blocks. His end results were a unique take on accepted architectural photography and more akin to abstract art than the pictures of architecture that most of us are used to seeing.
As well as winning the votes of the experts judging his work, the final seal of approval came following his assessment day, when the RPS asked if they could have his prints back, to help demonstrate to future candidates what’s expected from those seeking one of the Society’s exclusive Distinction awards!
Four of the images from the panel responsible for Mike Hawkridge being made an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society.
FROM DAYLIGHT TO DARKNESS
At the time of writing this, in mid October, only 6 weeks have passed since the start of our new season, but already our group of photography enthusiasts has grown in size and we’ve been busier than ever.
Here’s a small sample of what’s been going on…We began with presentations by about half a dozen club members showing examples of images from the fortnightly location shoots that had been organized in the summer break. These varied from a conducted tour by boat around Bristol’s floating harbour to evening visits to some of the most interesting, scenic and historical areas of the region, including Stroud, Chalford and Sevington.
Behind the scenes, our webmaster, Steve Romain, has been busy revamping our internet presence, giving our web site a much more contemporary and informative layout.
In the weeks since the start of September we have been delighted to welcome 5 new members. It is always a pleasure to have new faces at our meetings and we look forward to encouraging them to share their work with us as the weeks progress.
Our 2016 chairman, John Jennings, has already been seeking to widen our horizons by organizing the first shoot we will have made as a group to Oxford. We’ll be aiming to find a platform for some of the shots that result from this outing in the coming weeks, alongside our regular Tuesday evening events, which have also had a stimulating start.
So far we have had several interesting and entertaining presentations by some of the most skilled and highly regarded photographers in the south west region. We have also managed to squeeze in the first of our monthly competition, which was judged by Prof Bob Ryan, joint author of a stimulating new book called “The Master Photographer – From Good to Great”.
Bob’s views on photography are always stimulating and constructive, so our competition entrants were delighted to hear him say that he’d noticed a great improvement in the quality of our images since his last visit to us, which was about 2 years ago.
One of the shots he selected for an award was the portrait illustrating this month’s article, Concentration by John Jennings. It was taken with just the available light coming through a sitting room window. It shows just what can be achieved with careful placement of a subject and control of a camera’s shutter speed and aperture.
Looking ahead to November and the other end of the lighting spectrum, photographing fireworks is something many people like to try, but find difficult to capture. Here’s a tip from one of our members: Try setting your camera on manual focus and focusing on something in the distance before the fireworks start. Set the shutter speed to between a half and a sixth of a second and try to stay still. You might be impressed by what you can achieve! Tetbury Camera Club meets upstairs at The Priory Inn at 7.30 each Tuesday evening.