27th April 2020 – Stephen Spraggon – “FOUR SEASONS IN ONE DAY”

During the Coronavirus shutdown we are fortunate that our members can still engage in club activities using Video Conferencing facilities. Last night was our third such activity on a Monday evening and, without doubt, it was a resounding success.
Stephen Spraggon last visited SYPC in March 2018 where he presented his talk “Welcome to my Outdoor Office”, this new presentation was equally well received despite being delivered through a Video Conferencing media, an excellent evening.
Last night’s presentation brought together the many faces of photography. It included commitment, persistence, technical know-how, scientific understanding and artistic skills at the highest level. Even during these trying times our speaker is able to access landscape vistas, as well as realising opportunities to take some remarkable photographs.
As the talk’s title implies the content of Stephen’s expert and informative presentation showed us a range of mainly landscape images in the county of Somerset. It was so interesting to see the same view taken at critical times in the four seasons, the change, even in subtle ways highlighted some stunning changes creating such magnificent countryside which, clearly is the author’s passion.
The cornerstone of Stephen’s success is in his dedication and planning, as well as wonderful imagination. By absolute mastery of his cameras, precision choice of lenses and filters but with careful planning of sun rises and sunsets (as well as phases of the Moon) using the Photographers Ephemeris – https://www.photoephemeris.com/

Stephen captivated us with his hard won successes – see some examples below.

Glastonbury Tor, Somerset, during a hard winter frost.
A clump of Beech trees amongst a carpet of bluebells.
A stream running through Harridge Woods Nature Reserve near Oakhill, Somerset.
A ‘Wolf moon’, the first full moon of 2020, rising behind Glastonbury Tor, Somerset, on 10th January 2020.

In keeping with so many top flight photographers we were given copious information regarding exposure times aperture values ISO settings and lens focal lengths. Indeed, these were supplemented with precise locations of the images and even the times when they were taken – what more could we want? His concise descriptions of composition and precise descriptions of the image he was seeking is an example to anyone who is driven to success.
A general outline was given as to what to look for season by season:-
Summer – Poppies (June/July), North facing views, The Milky Way, Heather (Mid August).
Autumn – Misty mornings, Autumn foliage (combinations of both).
Winter – The South coast, Frosts, Snow, Night Sky
Spring – Bluebells, Rape seed fields, misty sunrises, Somerset coastlines.
Altogether this was a most entertaining evening with examples of exactly what can be achieved with determination and, perhaps, a little good fortune at times. Few of us will forget the final image of the full moon, symmetrically behind Glastonbury Tor and Stephen’s description of how he achieved it from a distance of 1.5 miles with a 500 mm lens utilising the residual light from the setting Sun.
We commend Stephen’s website to anyone that would like to know more about his work at http://www.spraggonphotography.co.uk/

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