10 August 2020 Chris Palmer – “Talking Pictures”

We were delighted to welcome Chris Palmer (FRPS EFIAP DPAGB APAGB) last night, speaking to us from North London over the Zoom platform. It might be reasonable to summarise the whole evening session by saying that if only common sense were more common. We were taken through a series of images from Iceland to North America, Spain, Turkey, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Isle of Man, many English counties and our own, well photographed, Clevedon to learn the true value of less is more.

Most of us have developed a habit of “seeing” a potential image most of the time but here Chris has taken this to the next level and demonstrated to us that he would never shy away from inclement weather, devoted himself to always seeking out the best opportunity from the circumstances in which he finds himself – his objectives are always to create a picture that tells us something, i.e. that talks to us and consistently seeks to get it right in the camera! The emphasis being to have absolute control of Aperture, Shutter speed and ISO. Use your preview button and don’t hold back in altering your position (the most effective zoom is a pair of legs), change the focal length, modify composition always considering the relationship between background, middle distance and foreground. We saw many photographs taken from a more elevated position, this eliminates the sky which, although it might stimulate interest, might cause us distraction from the actual subject that should form the basis of that particular shot. We were carefully taken through a series of views of a cottage sitting by a Scottish loch which “moved” its position to find us arriving at the composition providing the desired effect.
The importance of modifying the focal length was shown with the vertical tree trunks from the Bentonite Hills in USA which gave subtle blues created when the Sun was partly obscured by cloud. The author was always ready to react to changing light etc. to get the best picture and time, temperature and personal inconvenience was never going to get in the way. How we enjoyed his dissemination of the image showing a small number of reeds emerging from a still body of water creating fascinating shapes, all taken with perseverance, at close quarters. Chris believes that the alarm clock is one of the persistent photographer’s best pieces of equipment – what we can gain when everyone else is in bed! The story of the foggy view of the A40 needing the patience to wait 18 months until that sweep of the Motorway could be captured with interrupted white light streams in the oncoming side and red on the outgoing lanes and the perfection of the amber Motorway lights themselves – a classic shot. This was soon followed by the dreek day on the Isle of Harris and the strange images of the fence posts and the ragged fence remains.

The following section of the evening was devoted to monochrome – once again Chris was supreme in his choice of architectural metalwork by the V & A, the juxtaposition between geometric shapes including the circular bicycle wheel were drawn together in the most precise and considered fashion. Even when rain stopped play on No. 1 court, before it was covered, threw an opportunity for patterns associated with an umbrella to be recorded. Our journey continued to Barcelona where one of Chris’s friends’ style was borrowed to take siesta which included a man napping on a public bench being joined by two similarly posed dogs – the story was available for own interpretation. By way of contrast we then visited Stourbridge in the West Midlands on a snowy day ready, as always, to capture a snow-covered tree where only a single yellow leaf revealed that this wasn’t a black and white image after all. Iceland has become a must-go centre for photographers and although we have seen many examples our speaker was exercising his precision care to reveal a different shot with autofocus turned off. The award-winning horse images enlivened by the setting Sun proved a masterpiece, no wonder Fotospeed used it to promote a new high-quality paper.
It will be clear to the reader by now that this was a lesson in care and attention to the Nth degree. Chris described his detailed approach to a beach taking in the state of the tide, the surf, sea foam, wind, reflective qualities on the sand, all absorbed before taking out the camera – he compared it to preparing a meal and thinking each stage through in readiness for the end result. It is not by chance that he is successful. Distant views of surfers were completed down to fine detail and, of course shooting from an elevated position.

The images on the Dingle Peninsular, Kent coast, Nash Point, Isle of Man, Berwick on Tweed and St Bees on the Cumbria coast all gave us a feast of camera control, care, knowledge and artistic skill in order to conquer the prevailing conditions. Beach shots included rock formations (occasionally with introduced pebbles) Bladder wrack sea weed, smelly but interesting colours and shapes and a deep hole, baled out to reveal a small rock’s surface and photographed to perfection.
Many of us were pleased to hear that our hobby should be pursued to satisfy ourselves and not to comply with the trends and foibles of competition judges (though he had done that too). Finally, we finished up at dear old Clevedon and again a foreground rail and the arches of the distant pier were brought together to provide a composition, that despite all of us having been there, we had never thought to bring these wo elements together in this way. The final piece de resistance brought Beryl Cook’s art to the bathing pool at Clevedon where the all year-round ladies appeared to brave the elements – of course Chris was there and ready to react and create another winner – a thoroughly enjoyable evening where everyone must have learnt something at least to apply common sense.
Please visit us again Chris – perhaps the next time in person.

27 July 2020 – Victoria Hillman – “Macro and Garden Photography

Our club was extremely fortunate last night to welcome Victoria Hillman, speaking to us from Switzerland, once again demonstrating the flexible innovation we have been able to contrive to keep SYPC alive and enthusiastic as we emerge from the grip of this ghastly virus.
Victoria is a scientist by training with a BSc in zoology with marine zoology from the University of Wales, Bangor and an MSc in Wildlife Biology and Conservation from Edinburgh Napier University.
As many of us recall Victoria is both a Scientist and Photographer and she retains her passion for the flora and fauna of the country and takes practical steps to encourage wildlife in the garden.

Our introduction soon showed us some clever images, taken at ground level, of snowdrops after a brief snow flurry, using a Canon 5D MK 3 and a 100mm macro lens. Her creative skills were apparent in how she utilised the rising sun, vacant space within the frame and a hint of grass stems, the subtlety came together to bring the feeling of early Spring with a chill in the air. This was soon followed with a daffodil, with light enhancement from an LED panel, hinting at small specks of grass, faded bluebells in the distance all adding to the composition, drawing us to an almost transparent flower head – wonderful. The “secrets” of these works of art were shared with us and in this case a smaller aperture of f13 and exposure of 1/200s were used but not after careful and considered angles and thoughts were brought to bear to achieve the successful shot. By this stage our audience was thirsting for more. The previously mentioned English bluebells, with the drooping heads and characteristic colour, now took the author’s attention followed by a beautifully observed blossom, even taken to perfection on a drizzly day with dark receding clouds and a faded tree. Next came leaves viewed in silhouette shielding the distant Sun almost close enough to reach out and touch.

Naturally we knew wildlife wouldn’t be far away and the garden revealed, after studied observation, both peacock and tortoiseshell butterflies, one of these hiding in St John’s wort where a photograph was only possible through the most painstaking care to use the adjacent foliage without frightening the creature away, the early morning sun and controlled settings created a peachy feel – such clever use of background.

Next we saw incy wincy spider – a large abdomen revealing it to be the female, we were stunned at Victoria’s precision manoeuvring to use the supporting gossamer fine strands of the web to follow converging lines covering perhaps 2/3 of the image as they caused us to focus at the waiting creature, the focus was pin sharp the colour almost a magical monotone. All of this was only possible by her skilful observance of the fact that the arachnid consumed and re-spun her web each day at a slightly different orientation – spontaneity in photography takes time! Who will forget the tiny zebra jumping spider consuming a fly, the small male ant being stalked by the queen ant? Frogs, hover flies and the wasp soon followed, all portrayed in masterful style.
Our gifted speaker’s forensic approach was described in her lockdown project find: –
o What can I learn?
o How can it develop skills and ideas?
o Will this push creativity?
The answers to all of these questions were revealed in a study of the development and flowering progression of a Bee Orchid.

Each stage was observed described and revealed to us through the formation of 10 flowers over a 4-week period. Even the surrounding plant growth formed a challenge as it developed which, as we can imagine, was considered and overcome.
As if we needed evidence of Victoria’s talents her presentation concluded with thoughts and observations on additional light use, post processing (though it was evident that her target was always “to get it right in the camera”). The after work always moved towards delicate pastel shades modest sharpening and noise reduction, mainly in Lightroom.
Clearly this author’s imagery was shot from the heart and the final segment of the evening took account of cropping a maximum of 30%, looking at fungi on the forest floor and the care and attention of taking down highlights and enhancing the white balance.

Some fundamentals were addressed as to why images haven’t worked and why – this is an area that all of us might want to give some attention to but, for the most part, we shy away from it. The time is right to look back at our earlier efforts and ask: –
o What can you learn?
o Why it’s important to constructively go through old work
o Think about timing on when to go through them
Everyone will have learnt something last night and her persistence and intellectual application was a lesson to us all. The descriptions, comments and sincerity which were brought to us have made us realise that photography is an art/science/pastime/hobby of multiple levels.
For more about Victoria Hillman visit her website at: http://Vikspics.com

2020 – Round 4 – Bi-Monthly Results – July 6th. 2020

This was the fourth of our six bi-monthly member competitions. Normally our members are encouraged to submit 2 prints and 2 digital images in an open format. However due to the logistical problems of collecting and delivering prints during this ‘Covid-19’ period, this bi-monthly competition was for digital entries only. Our judge for this 4th. Bi-Monthly competition was  Keith Hart. We were exceptionally pleased that Keith volunteered to join us in person on this Video Conferencing call.
Keith reviewed and commented on 50 digital images and was able to deliver the results of his findings in person. 44 members joined the video call to view the digital entries and to consider Keith’s feedback and critique.

Below is a Table of the Top 8 Digital Images and their authors.

Round 4 Digital ImageAuthorPlace
Drawn to the MoonlightMike Franks1st.
GraveyardMark Seaman2nd.
Walking-to-the-wavesGraham Harlin3rd.
Slowly Does ItAnnette Wakefield4th.
Wray Castle, Lake DistrictPete Alford5th.
Now that’s a selfieStuart Lewis6th.
WhimsicalRay Grace7th.
Nets dryingDave Dyer8th.

Below is a copy of the First Place Digital Image


1st. Place – “Drawn to the Moonlight” by Mike Franks.

Additionally copies of the Top 8 winning entries can be found in our SYPC Competitions Tab at http://www.sypc.org.uk/gallery/index.php/2016-Competitions/2020-Competition-Results/2020-Bi-Monthly-Round-4-Top-8-Digital-Images

Thank you Keith for delivering your findings in person all your comments greatly appreciated particularly those constructive comments.  Please return again in 2021 (perhaps in person).

29th’ June 2020 – Jules Tileston – “Up Close and personal with Bears”

Making the world even smaller we were able to continue our club activities by enjoying a presentation direct from Anchorage, Alaska. Our speaker, Jules, has lived and worked there for many years and has a fundamental love of this huge 49th state of the US. Because of its geographical range, from spruce forest in the South, to Arctic in the North. The corresponding animal habits make it essential that accurate planning is required to be in the right place at the right time.

We find that there are three types of Bear in Alaska, Black, Brown (this includes the sub species of the Kodiak bear and the iconic Polar Bear. Since wildlife’s movements depend upon the availability of food, and this can be abundant, Jules’ photographic journeys coincided with each type in order to photograph them in complete safety – an essential lesson to learn, who knew that parties are required to whistle, sing, talk and clatter rocks together to let the bears know of their presence! The Black Bears were observed at Prince William Sound; Brown Bears from Denali & Katmai National Parks and Polar Bears from Kaktovic on the shore of the Beaufort Sea. Photographic equipment is Canon 7D Tamron 150 – 600mm lens (mostly hand held).

It became apparent that travel arrangements need precise planning as there is use of buses, light aircraft and a range of boating, all forms being tried and tested with risk assessments carried out with great care. The resultant images were a delight and gave us a real feel for both the scale of this magnificent country, the intense cold and the well developed senses that all of the Bears had developed in order to survive (though the Polar Bear is considered to be at the greatest risk due to the melting ice cap). Interestingly we saw interaction, motivated by food, between a Brown Bear and a small wolf pack who had hunted a Caribou – the result going to the Bear despite much “dancing” by the pack.

Brown Bear w/Red Salmon

Jules’ knowledge also spread to the geology of the area, in the last 40 years the Augustin Volcano has erupted 3 times and the Bruin Bay fault has caused the West shore of Cook Inlet to physically uplift by 14 metres. Other notable geographic features have been well documented in this region.
The Bears are omnivorous and photographs were shown of parents, mainly female, with cubs eating grass and vegetation, Salmon as a huge source of protein and, in the Autumn, berries an inspection of their claws reveals exactly how they are feeding at any particular time. The interactions between Bears of different species were well observed and as the Sea ice recedes it is inevitable that inter breeding between Brown and White will become more prevalent. The Bowhead Whale is still hunted extensively in the region and bone and flesh piles are “protected” on land by barbed wire and the resultant DNA samples found amongst these dumps give useful information regarding Bear movements and habits – Whale carcases are also returned to the sea. Some radio collars are attached to females to learn about movements, this practice cannot be carried out on the males due to their different “cone shaped” physiology.

Following this amazing study of Bears it may well be that some members will be tempted to visit this part of the world and Jules’ tips make it even more important to take the advice of experts who know the terrain intimately. A most informative, stimulating and thought provoking evening and our thanks to Jules were justifiably earned.
If you wish to see more then visit the Internet and see the huge contribution that Jules Tileston has made to wildlife in Alaska since moving to live there in 1972.

22nd. June 2020 – Ian Bateman – An AV evening of “Something Old Something New”

We have now held something like eight Zoom webinars and feel that, as a flexible, inclusive and welcoming club we have gained valuable experience both as hosts and demonstrators of photographic techniques, including routine, high tech and innovative.
One rapidly growing style is that of Audio Visual (AV) and early versions of these captive holiday snaps were often the core of tedious neighbourly evenings where hours of boring photographs were thrust upon unsuspecting victims, often leading to hasty exits after the first hour. It didn’t have to be like that and tonight we welcomed Ian Bateman (FRPS, MPAGB, AV-AFIAP, APAGB) who has demonstrated a rare and very successful ability to compile AVs of great variety.
Our meeting tonight took us on a journey that told us much about Ian’s life, meeting his wife in Tossa on the Costa Brava, which has become a favourite holiday destination for his friends and family since the seventies through to his latest – and most successful AV called Gallery.
It is so remarkable that our children’s travels, through work and education, take us to some far-flung corners of the world and tonight we were able to visit Portland, Oregon, where Ian was meeting up with one of his daughters. A little local investigation took them on a testing “walk in the woods”, in pouring rain to Mount Hood and Mirror Lake along a straight path, that turned out to be a stream, causing the party to be challenged to an almost vertically inclined zig zag path. We were all able to share the experience with a wealth of images on the way.
A challenge of a different kind found Ian using an 8mm wide angle lens to record the astonishing details of Gloucester, Wells, and a number of other Cathedrals to see their cloisters, tombs, praying hands, Jesus on the cross, stone steps worn down by the faithful, stained glass and associated light aspects only available for brief periods of time all displayed on wide screen – so unusual.
How remarkable was our investigation into the standard railway gauge of 4 feet 81/2 half inches. A subtle piece of historical revue convinced us that the diameter of the Space Shuttle had been derived from a pair of horses drawing chariots in Roman times – we loved it!
Where could we possibly go next? The board game of Monopoly, of course, it is now available in many incarnations and we travelled the board, with photographs of Oxford, where only the original site remains though many places, both well known like The Ashmolean Museum, to lesser known places like Oxford station appear on the board. Free parking is of course, in Oxford, entirely a myth of a bygone age. We saw all of this in a superbly researched AV.
Ian’s travels also took him to our neighbours in France to an AV called the Tree of Life – an old Elm tree, in Lazac, which represents all of life in that area – amazing.
In all we saw 10 AVs on Monday night and, without doubt they would have stood alone as a product of understanding and careful research and any one of us would have been proud to have been the author – an inspirational evening in many ways – Many thanks Ian

15th June – 2020 – Ken Payne – “Macro Photography at Home”

Members of Sodbury and Yate Photographic Club are involved with a group of inclusive enthusiasts who derive a huge range of enjoyment from basic photography to understanding the notion of exposure, depth of field, focus, composition and most importantly the effect of light. The more advanced concepts are where many of us aspire to and our Zoom meeting this week was hosted by an exponent of one of these techniques involving, in this case, the challenging task of flower photography at close quarters (macro photography).
The challenge is to photograph a bloom, individual flower or growing stem using (mostly) natural light and, ensuring that the nearest leaf to the most distant bud are all in perfect focus with a background that is both in keeping, but not distracting.

During this LockDown period Ken Payne has become a prolific practitioner of Macro Photography. He has taken this opportunity to significantly improve his art. Not just by taking a single shot, but by taking multiple shots through the depth of the specimen (stacking). Ken is also proficient in post processing the stacked images through Photoshop and/or Helicon Focus to produce a single sharp image.

Kens presentation was a combination of displaying quite superb Macro Images and a ‘live’ demonstration taking a series of stacked images through Lightroom (or Adobe Camera Raw), into Photoshop for editing and stacking or Helicon Focus (for just stacking).
One of Ken’s demonstrations was to walk us through a pink geranium as his subject, a series of images were created and using Photoshop, to tone down bright areas, make careful crops and constant reference to the histogram in order to make fine adjustments. As a final touch extra canvas was applied to create a subtle frame to “enclose” the image. Ken shoots in Raw to ensure every pixel is available to bring out fine detail. The skill of multiple shots is facilitated by the use of a stacking rail allowing controlled movement of the camera to focus through the depth of the flower in a method that would be more challenging refocusing the lens freehand. Each image (and there might be dozens of them) is then brought together in a stacking action within Photoshop. The final image was pin sharp throughout!

This technique also lends itself to insects, arachnids, lepidoptera and tiny garden beasties which often escape the naked eye. This style of photography would certainly capture the imagination of many of us and reveals a world within easy reach that is both fascinating and bewildering.

We look forward to Ken’s International success with a bee on a red geranium eyeing up a drosophila, taken at 1/11000 at f8 and an ISO of 1600 – stunning.

The final section of this evening of amazing sights included, yellow ladybirds, poppies, clematis, a range of fruit, photographed with skilful lighting, aliums, glass bottle tops with fabulous incident light, overhanging leaves from trees, dianthus, roses, nigella, puff ball, Fray Bentos tins, grapes, aphids, dandelions, tulips, acer, tomatoes, feathers, glass balls (splitting light), shells anenomes and, importantly, the same shot taken at different times of day revealing the importance to us of observing light.

The wonderful planet which we fleetingly live on, and which we seem to be doing our best to destroy, is the constant subject of Ken Payne’s intellectual interest and passionate task to record and reveal to us.
It should be compulsory to visit his web site at – http://www.kp-digital.co.uk/– truly revealing.

Grateful thanks Ken for an excellent evening it was both enjoyable and a learning experience.

8th. June 2020 – Tal Chohan – “From Home to Tadoba”

If the word DETERMINATION was ever applied to the fulfilment of a hobby then, surely, we saw the embodiment of this in Tal Chohan’s presentation to SYPC last night, those who missed it must try to speak to those of us who enjoyed it, on so many levels.
We start our photographic lives in many ways and here we saw enthusiasm grow by visiting zoos, taking images of common species and learning to use the camera, to express the artist within him. As his expertise has grown so has his desire to create that image that pushes back the boundaries, this can only be achieved by a combination of technical skill, imagination, patience and dogged determination.

Part 1 – local wildlife with a difference
Shooting in RAW and with use of Faststone, Lightroom and Photoshop Tal has always sought to create “something different” we were shown a superb image of a kingfisher, pin sharp and stunning – but he did not stop there he captured super detail of the bird’s feather structure, it felt close enough to touch and feel the texture. Could this be bettered? Indeed, his great intuition was rewarded with a back lit, sunset, with the bird shaking off the water drops from a catch giving the impression of a starburst from the fish within the bird’s bill. Spoiling us we now saw images of an owl at sunset, which we could see in its eye. Taken using live view focus, the owl was over exposed by 2½ stops, exposed for 1/15s, this effectively turned night into day!

Next his subject was the kestrel, by placing his camera carefully and controlling it from a phone app he was able to take precision close ups using a fish eye lens, set with a level horizon, to minimise distortion, and f2.8 with limited depth of field – result – amazing. Other superb shots followed.

The rules of photography, which we embrace so willingly, were also laid aside last night with an unforgettable image of an owl peeping around a tree trunk on the left side of the image with 90% left empty to the right. Observing minute details and being carefully prepared allowed him to shoot the kestrel taking off at an exposure of 1/4000s to freeze the wing tips, only possible by studying the bird’s habit of defecating immediately before take-off.

Without exception each image that we were shown exhibited unique expertise. Silhouettes and side lit images were there to amaze us including a cheeky fox who, subsequently, sunk his teeth into Tal’s camera body, then made off with the control cable until a brief chase allowed him to recover the situation (and some expensive equipment).

As the first part drew to a close, we also saw squirrels at RSPB Formby, encouraged by dog biscuits, more owls and fine images taken off Skomer Island, in unusually calm seas, of puffins kissing, Manx shearwaters, razorbills and seals all in the golden reflected light in mid-July.

Part 2 – Tigers in the jungle, central India
Tigers are an umbrella species, all creatures fall under their shadow and protecting them says much about us. No doubt they are iconic being culturally important and appearing widely in art and Deity. In 1974 a system using locals in India established a paid guard system, they work on the jungle creating fire stops and prevent poaching and seek and destroy snares.

The first image was a type of water buffalo, the Gaur, a huge animal but a prized source of food for the tiger, this was followed by a Sloth bear, covered in seeds, demonstrating its little-known role as a pollinator. A leopard presented himself and stayed with the motor jeep for 20 minutes from a nearby water hole. Skill in tiger tracking was described but, at all times, safety was foremost. Animal alarms calls from monkeys, peacocks and deer all signify that that a tiger is present.
We were now spoilt with images of tigers in their jungle habitat, walking towards us, monotone images with resting tiger giving almost a painted appearance. A tigress resting on boulders, heated by the burning sun, A huge male strolling along by a water source, A spotted deer not realising that a crouching tiger was nearby.

Tal now presented his tiger portraits. A cub lazily viewing some squawking parakeets in the trees, a male and female side by side, their physiological differences made clear by the author, A tigress wearing a radio collar had provided valuable information for 10 years ensuring that tourism was not affecting these tigers. Artistic abstract images showing the specialised nature of their markings was an unexpected treat, particularly noting the way the markings divide and return together, a peculiarity to this reserve.

Action shots which, of course, are difficult to catch were described, soaking wet with a background echoing the tiger’s stripes but were, in fact, water reeds, a cub jumping up to a twitching leaf, 3 cubs with collared mum, all so fascinating.

Next, the subject was the bold superstar tigress, Maya, soon to be the main character in a documentary. The images showed her walking, at sunrise, through the forest, training cubs. Finally, a fine male waiting in a lake with only his head visible, it is known that his brother was nearby and they have formed a hunting coalition. The tiger swam gracefully along and the photograph of its head with a clear reflection was only to be described as wonderful in detail and colour, taken by the 400mm f2.8 lens from shoulder height, the lens rested on a cushioned jeep crossbar

The entire evening was full of surprises, a delight from start to finish presented by a photographer with real heartfelt passion. His range of workshops, images and charity work for the tigers is available on his website:

Tal describes himself as a Photographer, speaker & trainer.
He is all of these and more.
A memorable evening.

1st. June 2020 – Nigel Hicks – a new talk “Around Exmoor and Dartmoor National Parks”

As our lives continue in a restricted way through the Covid -19 virus how wonderful is it to be allowed to peep through a window, from time to time, into the wider world through our inspirational; hobby of photography.
In order to achieve the very best from our equipment it is so valuable to receive the wisdom of a high quality professional, like Nigel Hicks, taking us through the captivating open spaces that exist, pretty well in our own back yard, on the hills and valleys of the Exmoor and Dartmoor National Parks.

Marshes along the upper Teign, on Gidleigh Common, Dartmoor, Devon, Great Britain.

The photographer was able to use his knowledge and skills to take us to moorland and to view it from a unique and exciting angle – showing us a sparkling pool in the foreground, in light created just before sunset, embellished using a neutral density filter allowing a daring view into the dying sun with cloud formations that create a frame for such open spaces and his clever use of the wide angle lens. Soon we are taken to an image with standing stones in the foreground with minute detail, this startling composition captured with a telephoto lens can it get any better? The sheer intelligence of the author blossoms with the capture of a stack of granite boulders, so often taken with a background view to capture the landscape but, on this occasion the precision placement of the camera from the other side taking us into the sky, again as the sun sets, a lesson in composition from which any standard could learn! But, of course, Nigel spoils us by returning after sunset, with a similar set up, and the Pole Star at the heart of an image taken with an array of star trails revealed by using increasing exposure time. Few of us noticed creeping light in the image as a result of light pollution from distant villages at the edge of the moor – in no way did this effect spoil the shot, it enhanced it.
The variations within the region soon became evident with views of woodland and river valleys, again with the use of the wide-angle lens, the ND filter and precision composition, observed to the finest detail. Bluebells in May scattered amongst trees and views over the river Dart with the telephoto lens taken after a heavy downpour to catch the lively fast running water, how the boulders catch the sunlight in early Summer. Many of us are not aware of the ancient oak woodland that lies, almost hidden, but where the river was viewed looking upstream and carefully composed, again, taking care that the white water is not burnt out, gave us the feeling and sound that Nigel must have felt in creating this image using trees and branches as frames.
Our journey continued with rich warm Autumn colours, across stepping stones, on to Winter with snowfalls taken not across broad lands, but along roadways, where we’ve all been caught from time to time. We visited Exmoor to see blown snow thrust against a five-bar gate and the style leads our eye to the blue sky and sun to provide contrast. Onward to classic scenes of this area seeing Dunkery Beacon taken late in the day with a red sunset.

A sunrise view along the Avill valley from Dunkery Beacon, Exmoor National Park, Somerset, Great Britain.

No trip here could be made without seeing deer, of the three types the red deer provided an interesting and busy shot, supported by Nigel’s anecdote with a party of tutees who had not kept up and been in position to see these graceful animals.

Red Deer in countryside near Dunster, Exmoor National Park, Somerset, Great Britain.

Other pictures included a lonely hawthorn tree, bereft of foliage, taken at dusk with a spotted cloudy sky – simple but very effective. Devon and Somerset have extensive coastlines and no visit would be complete without seeing this and Bossington Hill by Minehead on the South West Coast Path. The view across flowering purple heather, yellow flowers and a mixture of grasses was stunning during June where the earlier fog was easing away to reveal the beauty. Shoreline groynes and Porlock completed our tour.

Groyne on the beach at Porlock Weir, near Porlock, Exmoor National Park, Somerset, Great Britain.

The author’s skills are not restricted to landscapes and his persistence searching had revealed some “friendly” dippers and the superb images, set against suitable contrasting backgrounds, provided an enviable feast with a 600mm lens, more red deer were, again, in evidence.

Nigel is a widely published author below are the covers of just 2 of his books :

Members might wish to visit Nigel’s web site: http://www.Nigelhicks.com

A veritable delight in every respect, a welcome visitor to our club at any time – Many thanks Nigel.

2020 – Round 3 – Bi-Monthly Results – May 18th.

This was the third of our six 2020 bi-monthly member competitions. Normally our members are encouraged to submit 2 prints and 2 digital images in an open format. However due to the logistical problems of collecting and delivering prints during this ‘lock down’ period, this bi-monthly competition was for digital entries only. Our judge for this 3rd. Bi-Monthly competition was  Mike Dales. 
Mike reviewed and commented on 58 digital images. However due to the current travel restrictions and the need for ‘social distancing’ Mike was unable to deliver the results of his findings in person. However he supplied sufficient information that we were able to share his deliberations and results to our club members using Video Conferencing facilities. 40 members and guests joined the video call to view the digital entries and to consider Mike’s feedback and critique.

Below is a Table of the Top 8 Digital Images and their authors.

Round 3 Digital ImageAuthorPlace
Home time in the squareJohn Portlock1st.
Rooftops-of-CadizGraham Harlin2nd.
Training rideRichard Parker3rd
TaniaAlan Grynyer4th.
Somewhat ExpectedMike Franks5th.
Hallelujah MountainsAnnette Wakefield6th.
Portland Bill LighthouseCarole Brown7th.
Skateboard like a ProStuart Lewis8th.

Below is a copy of the First Place Digital Image.


“Home Time in the Square” by John Portlock

Additionally copies of the Top 8 winning entries can be found in our Competitions tab at http://www.sypc.org.uk/gallery/index.php/2016-Competitions/2020-Competition-Results

Thank you Mike for your deliberations we look forward to seeing you back (in person) at SYPC in February 2021 with your talk “Look and Listen”.

4th May 2020 – Glyn Dewis – “The Power of Personal Projects”

It is a great pleasure to advise you that our on line presentation on Monday night was attended by over 60 participants, this included SYPC members, invited guests and friends from the Exmouth Photo Group. We were treated to a unique, thought provoking and instructional session from an accomplished photographer and presenter.
Glyn Dewis introduced us to his background and journey into photography with a description of his many trips to wildlife parks, zoos, country walks and holidays where he photographed a range of wildlife and then adapted the images, which he preferred, into a suitable and most often, authentic setting.

The post shooting methods were usually using Lightroom and Photoshop where his imagination and skill revealed some really top flight imagery. He indicated that he saw this as his journey into the fascinating hobby, the art and science of photography and he had settled, where many of us strive to be, on his particular and unique style – but this was all to change!
Following a visit to the cinema to see the film version of “Dad’s Army” Glyn enjoyed an epiphany moment where he was captivated by the exploits, courage and stories that veteran soldiers and those involved in WW2 might provide, and sought to meet people like this and to become involved. His first exploration followed an invitation to an Oxfordshire Home Guard Group who retained the uniform, ephemera and exploits of their times, so many years ago.

This proved to be a turning point and soon he was befriending the members, drawing stories from them and this path lead, inevitably to photo portraits, often with chests full of medals but always bringing out the characters of each subject. Having studied some famous images of Churchill, HM the Queen, Patrick Stewart and Ian Mckellen it was evident that incident light from one side in the style of the great painter Rembrandt would yield the required results. Using a remote shutter facility so that he could always retain close contact with his subjects Glyn was able to create prints, often from the most trying of environments, so that they could, ultimately be presented with a mounted copy, such moments had often brought about personal, sensitive and emotional moments.

We were shown an array of portraits and each had been treated with similar lighting conditions on a mottled grey background which is suitable for post shooting treatments. The detail and care with which each one had been taken certainly show how much care and enthusiasm Glyn puts into this project, and the power of such superb photography, in so many ways.

The final part of Monday’s webinar was devoted to a teach-in with a number of useful tips and short cuts showing how Lightroom and Photoshop can be used to created fine quality changes to virtually all images.

You can check out Glyn’s main website at https://www.glyndewis.com and also the 39-45 Portraits Project website at https://www.3945portraits.com.
If you are moved by Glyn’s work and would like to donate to his fund raising campaign in aid of helping veterans young and old you can donate here –

This was an outstanding thought provoking presentation capturing portraits of our heroes for future generations to view. Thank you Glyn for sharing that with us.