7th. December 2020 – Annual Competition Results Night

On Monday December 7th. SYPC held their end of year Annual Competition Results Night. Sadly due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the problems safely collecting and managing Prints, this year we only held 1 Competition and that was for Digital entries only and called the Brian Barnett Competition.

The Brian Barnett Trophy is an Open Competition where each entry is 5 Digital Images on a Theme/Panel (each author decides his own theme). This year we had 19 themed entries and hence 95 images for our judge to review. Professor Bob Ryan (FRPS, FRSA, PhD) was our judge for the evening and he didn’t disappoint us. Bob Ryan has been to our club many times both as a Judge and Presenter. Bob reviewed each image in turn offering critique and constructive comments before moving on to the panel itself and again offering suggestions and areas to improve. All of Bob’s comments were well received.

Below is a copy of the Top 3 Winning Panels.

Below are the Judges Favourite Images 


30 November 2020 – Cate Barrow – “Underwater Photography”

Last night’s meeting was presented by an old friend of our club, talking to us from the Brecon Beacons, with another aspect of the photographic art which requires both athletic skills as well as technical knowledge – a truly international journey describing the complete fantasy of underwater photography. Cate’s talk wasn’t just 200 glorious images but also a whistle stop tour of many of the great dive locations around the world.

As can be appreciated this requires, diving skills; buoyancy control; clear knowledge of maximum dive depth; accurate time control; specialist equipment; available light and environmental awareness – SAFETY being essential. Cate is a Nikon DSLR user and the critical choice of lens has to be made made before entering the water and can make or break a dive session.

Cate shoots in RAW at ISO levels around 200 – 400, though higher is possible, AWB, 16 Gb cards, auto focus and single point focus. She carefully described her kit from a photograph and clearly it is equivalent to entering deep space in both its complexity and technical appreciation under what might turn out to be very testing conditions, in close proximity to very dangerous aquatic life!

As might be expected the light conditions can be challenging and strobe, flash and natural light might be met depending on the dive venue, including night dives. Composition is very demanding and often opportunities to seize a rare moment are fleeting, backgrounds varied from blue water, dazzling corals and black, when a stunningly bright fish is pictured in close (very close) detail. We were shown exciting examples of fish eating, mating, emerging from caves and under sandy hides and it became very clear that Cate was always ready to suffer many privations in order to secure the image that she sought.

Diving in the UK – It was amazing to many of us that there is a wide range of life close to our shores, even when the maximum sea temperature is only 14 degrees C. and visibility is less than 5 metres. Popular areas are, Farne Islands, Scilly Isles, around Stomer, off the Devon coast and Plymouth Sound – we were shown Tinpot blennies, one huge Lobster (possibly 100 years old), Starfish, Shrimps, Leopard spotted Goby, butter fish, blue sharks, all captured in their own environment. Most of Cate’s trips take her abroad, regrettably she described her susceptibility to sea sickness, always taking extreme care to avoid sunburn, very cramped rooms on board, no camera spares, in other words not a glamorous holiday but the rewards are considered worthwhile.
Diving locations abroad –
We were shown a number of trips beginning with Fiji and the Beqa Lagoon to enjoy ethically fed sharks. Images included sharks, shrimps, sea cucumber, emperor shrimps, red spotted goby, ribbon eel (that changes sex and colour, turning bright blue with a yellow mouth!), lizard fish, grey roof shark, these can be aggressive the shot was head-on and very close.
Next came New Zealand, Poor Knights Island, sacred Maori Land, sea slugs, sponges, Tasman blenny, Captain Cook Scorpion, huge crayfish, mosaic mori eel, often killer whales, though not this time, many sting rays.
Australia was next but on this trip the Great Barrier Reef was not included but we saw Western Australia, South Australia, NSW including Sydney. SA, Merion Bay – great whites, leafy sea dragon, frog fish, blue ringed octopus, poisonous pipe fish. NSW Jervis Bay – nurse sharks, wobbegong shark, Spanish Dancer slug, appearing like a piece of liver. Sydney Harbour – frog fish, scorpion fish, and at Manly Beach amongst an old hessian shark net lots of tiny sea horses live, agility is needed to photograph them amongst the whirling of the ferry.
Away from Australia to Indonesia, Bunaken Island to find turtles, hiding amongst soft coral, jaw fish protruding from the sandy bottom, anemone fish, cleaner shrimps (full of eggs), pipe fish, crocodile fish, gobies. Onwards to Lambert straight in a busy shipping lane to see gurnards, octopus, eels, cuttlefish, and more anemone fish at night, pygmy sea horses, coconut octopus, gobies and shrimps co-habiting in symbiosis, stargazers and frog fish and the nudibranch sea slug.
Onwards to the Maldives and associated atolls. Regrettably some coral damage is reported, due to climate change, stunning images of manta rays, mori eels, leopard mori eels, tawny nurse sharks, an unusual guitar shark, huge shoals of banner fish, batfish, blue cheeked angel fish, long nosed hawk fish, frog fish, green turtles all in fine detail. Further on to the Southern atolls – again coral both dead and dying, plankton surge gave opportunities to catch turtles, whale sharks, eagle rays, gobies and damsel fish.
Further adventures on the Solomon Islands – this is an unspoilt tourist area with significant WW 2 interest from the major US action at Guadalcanal, there is much evidence of the detritus of war and some opportunity to dive on the area of action e.g. a Japanese zero aircraft on the sea bed (a war grave). This is a volcanic area and powerful sound waves abound, sea life includes black tipped reef sharks, crocodile fish, Orang Outan crabs, an Archer fish on nearby mangrove swamps and …worryingly crocodiles and snakes.
Next, heading towards Papua New Guinea and Raja Ampat Islands, an area close to the Equator, rich in brightly coloured species, barracuda, rock cod, scorpion fish, with mouth wide open, frog fish, well camouflaged sharks, pygmy cuttlefish, toad fish flying gournad, wasp fish mori eel, Teddy bear crab – a veritable feast.
A lengthy journey now to Guadeloupe Island, New Mexico where people of all ages are submerged in cages to be close up to great white sharks, a couple of serious incidents had recently occurred and modifications to the viewing experiences had become necessary. The sharks were described by Cate as awesome with dead eyes!
The last part of this journey took us to Socorro Island, Mexico to see the gigantic oceanic Manta Rays, huge crayfish, large shoals of huddling fish amongst the sea coral and appealing inquisitive seals and sea lions.
Finally, our wonderful speaker’s Christmas trip in 2019 we arrived at the enchanting Bahamas. Immediately on leaving the boat, ready for a dive, she was surrounded by lemon sharks, who looked fearsome, but were safe, unlike the great hammerheads which lurked below on the sea bed. The feeding regime took place under controlled conditions and all divers were required to behave as the sharks were very close feeding over the sea grass and they were advancing in a menacing way with eyes half open – this was described by Cate as prime wildlife camera work.
An entirely unique and captivating evening for our members, beautifully photographed and presented factually and with the usual enthusiasm of an expert in every field that she explores – our members responded with grateful thanks.
Have a look at Cate’s website and be enthralled at https://catebarrow.co.uk/

23 November 2020 – Dr KEITH SNELL – “MY RESTLESS LENS”

Our club was privileged to receive Dr Snell (EFIAP EPSA LRPS ), speaking to us directly from his home in Cumbria, under the intriguing banner of his “restless lens”. It soon became evident to us that here was a highly qualified scientist who has developed his love of photography to use this art form and its equipment, along with his love of travel, in the most sensational ways to provide us with a range of images covering: –
Abstract-patterns and shapes, Portraits and Figurative art, Wildlife and Landscapes.
The opening image was that of the molecular structure of a protein revealing the complexities of this subject at an atomic level and described to perfection, which, we were to learn, would be a feature of the evening’s presentation. We were swept to places of worship where Keith’s keen eye had caught the precise and ornate patterns formed in the ceilings of both an Italian church, followed by the almost incomparable York Minster’s lofty internal heights. The logic of the work took us to the shadow formations of San Francisco Modern Art Museum, the Tube Station at Canary Wharf, A San Diego shopping Mall, the unusual view of a line of pollarded trees leading to the Eiffel Tower and hence to a slate quarry at Borrowdale – each image was supported by an explanation and description carefully describing leading lines, the rule of thirds and the geometric shapes, mainly triangles, which encourage our eye to scan, and appreciate, the scene before us.
The well-known Gothic festival in Whitby was next the venue for his attention. Portraits of the Goths, with the slope of the model’s shoulder, their jewellery and hands combined with their features, all carefully described with supporting line drawings to demonstrate what effort had gone into each photograph. We were now into a very technical photographic treat showing both high key and low-key portraits which brought out certain features and usually supported with a single word title which encapsulated it with perfection. We moved forward to Keith’s art nude period where, again, the beautiful models had been studied both in studio and outdoors. The precision of their positioning to create a composition to mirror the surrounding environment, or staircase, or rocky outcrop all coupled with a special effect, rear lighting, precise placement of limbs, torso and hands and fingers which, again, revealed those geometric shapes even to use the branch of a nearby tree to follow the model’s curves and positioning demonstrated the precision with which these photographs had been established, nothing is accidental or left to chance.
Moving to the wildlife section caught us unawares with a portrait of a Chimpanzee in Edinburgh Zoo, the expression that was caught revealed boredom or deep pondering and was set with a huge area of dark negative space leaving the onlooker to peer into the animal’s mind. Next, we saw Puffins in the Farne Islands, Gannets in North Yorkshire, a pair of Grouse chicks popping up their heads in East Cumbria, a Bohemian Waxwing shot in a car park, near Keswick, in the Lake District, at a precise 24 hour window when the rare visitor enjoys a meal of berries from previously established, and known, trees. Upwards to the Solway coast and the Ringed Plovers, the Grey Heron which took patience to capture as the sun moved to reveal the bird with an accompanying reflection as it sought its meal. In Summer the river Derwent hosts the banded demoiselles and such care had been shown to disregard its gossamer fine wings so the looker would bring his full attention to the ornate thorax of orange, turquoise and structured banding further north took us into Dumphries and Galloway to see the red deer in its prime ready for mating in Autumn, the light drew out the fine texture of the beast and its antlers, quite superb.

Keith Snell-Penguins Having Fun

Where would this journey take us now? Naturally to the Poles starting in Antarctica with penguins and the revelation from our speaker that it was here that he had a seminal moment as the penguins queued along a snowy ridge to slide and leap into the water, and to repeat the process, full of enjoyment – this would now be taking Keith’s photo-world to the next level. The penguins are relentlessly pursued by seals and Skewers, who will take both chicks and eggs. In the sky above flew a Snow Petrel, effortlessly gliding around, fishing a lovely high key image. Hump backed whales joined the party and were photographed close enough to touch without causing any alarm to the enthusiasts in the watching party. At the opposite end of the Earth in the Canadian Arctic we were treated to lonely Polar Bear on a small sea ice flow seeking food to carry it through the harsh Winter, Keith described this award winning image adding the frightening warning that as this sea ice recedes then the opportunity for this iconic species to fatten up would become lost and another wonderful creature is, sadly, extinct. Travelling towards warmer regions, in Botswana, South Africa, Pantanal region of Brazil we saw awesome images of Cheetahs, Lions, Leopards, Jaguars, Rhinos (de-horned!), Elephant, Caymans, river Otters, and Painted Wolves all photographed in context, often with a story but with the inevitable forthcoming tragedy of reduced environments making many of these endangered. Birds of these regions included Pied Crow, Vultures, Tawny Eagle, African Skimmer, a host of different Kingfishers, Carmine bee Eater (with bee in beak) and Lilac breasted Rollers each was portrayed to its full advantage, often feeding or taking off to show their wonderful plumage, which is so often dazzling in its brightness and colour variation.
It seems these days that no photographer can avoid Iceland in his search for the perfect Landscape and certainly here we saw amongst the characteristic volcanic black sands, the sea stacks, waterfalls, ice flows of amazing colours and spine-chilling views of this exciting venue. We soon returned to our speaker’s home territory for images of a modest Lake District limestone pavement covered in moss, Bassenthwaite lake, Skiddaw in the late Winter Sun. The cloud formations providing reflections on the lake’s surface and the other landscape detail – but for a forensic photographer of Keith’s standing such images are insufficient and we were given a lesson in the contemporary skill (and art) of ICM (intentional camera motion).

Keith Snell-Trapped In Lockdown

Many of us have seen trees, sometimes in leaf given a vertical camera movement treatment. This can be quite successful but here we see the technique taken to another level. Movement can be down to up, or up to down, either direction horizontally, using circular or arc like motions. All of this coupled with in-camera blending of several pictures and &/or blending of different pictures. We saw a remarkable example of this when two sorts of reeds were blended with heather florets to appear on a lake surface – a unique and quite fabulous series of shots. Probably the most spectacular were those taken on the River Cocker with the water flowing freely, the camera was moved from left to write following a cascading ripple to a flat horizontal, blessed by sunlight to illuminate the ripples and occasional movements to take in some turbulence all of this in 0.6 seconds.

Keith Snell-Luskentyre Beach

The result was awesome! The possibilities of the ICM technique are infinite but, without doubt the method requires a great deal of practice and patience in order to achieve the level of success that we saw tonight.
Finally, to demonstrate his perception and versatility a group of images were taken of rock pools with broad flat boulders on a sunny day in late May on the Solway Coast. The results were bright sunshine patterns on water known as Caustics a setting of f10 and 1/300 second exposure. The Cumbrian Coast showing groynes entering the sea taken on a tripod with 2 second exposure to entirely calm the sea. We finished as we had started in Italy with Autumn in Lagoria, lovely trees with subtle foliage colours in the foreground with a background valley with a bluish hue, always a good recessive colour.
This informative, widespread and thought provoking presentation has, undoubtedly provided multiple possibilities for our members to try in the future and the painstaking precision with which Keith composes his work must be a salutary lesson to us all. An evening that surely will remain long in the memory of those of us who had the pleasure see it.
Many thanks – to see more we recommend you visit https://www.keithsnellphotos.com/

9th November 2020 – Jules Tileston – “Wild Horses, Pribilof and Denali National Park”

We were able to welcome Jules for the second time last evening for another truly International presentation from his home in Anchorage Alaska – we enjoyed a journey of over 5000 miles from North Carolina, across to the Bering Sea and the Island of St Paul and then to the Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska. These are places that most of us would only see on an Atlas or be aware of on a travel television programme, tonight we had the total experience from a man who has both been there, studied it, photographed it and passes his enthusiasm on for these faraway places.

North Carolina – the herds of horses are protected and fascinating in the Outer Banks, Cape lookout and Carrot Island regions, they fall into three categories. Wild, free roaming and feral. Their origin is somewhat mysterious but appears to derive from Spanish sources that were either abandoned or arrived after swimming ashore from wrecked ships. The Shakleford herd is wild and free roaming but Federally protected (as many of these animals were once slaughtered for dog food). We were thrilled to see a huge range of photographs of them in herds, family groups and mares with foals. They tend to be rather small, though they are not ponies, due to the limited vitamin source of the available fodder. Our journey here took us across this huge State to see the moon rise over the Atlantic Ocean and to the Capitol, Raleigh, and the Lincoln Memorial.

Wild Horse on Cape Lookout National Seashore

After a 5,000 mile journey we enter the Bering Sea and the Aleution Islands area. There is a group of 4 volcanic Islands called the Pribilof islands and we were visiting the largest, St Paul. This is raw & rich with wildlife, especially birds. At least 248 species. The history of this area is not a happy one with the poor treatment of the Aleut people. There exists 2/3 of the world’s fur seal population from May to August which were massively hunted.
A wide variety of photo images showed us such diverse animals as – Pribolov Shrew, Fox (three distinct types) rats are banned and strongly discouraged, prolific birdlife including – Murre, Kittiwake, Fulmar, Finch Sandpiper, Plover, Teal, Duck and many more.

Red-Faced Cormorant is in breeding plumage and represents the Pribilof Islands a spectacular place to photograph wildlife.

The Pribilof flora describes over 200 species which burst forth in July until late May when there is nothing! Beautiful photos of the uplands, tide lines, lichens, mosses many flowering plants – lupins, buttercup, saxifrage, potentilla.

We leave St Paul to go to Alaska to the Denali National Park & Preserve an area now comprising 6 million acres. The highest point is mount Denali (20,237 feet) and the lowest is 223 feet. Access to this vast region can be made using a modest road – 15 miles is paved and 74 miles of gravel. Jules described the conditions as muddy, snowy and often difficult and advised the would-be traveller to constantly be on the watch for the 37 species of mammals, moose, caribou, Dall sheep Brown and Grizzly bears, Arctic grouse, squirrel, fox, wolves, snow hare, lynx, beaver, pika all of his examples had taken him 30 years to accumulate.
Here there are 169 species of birds – golden and bald eagle, sand hill crane, magpie, raven, sprue goose, ptarmigan, one example of an amphibian – a wood frog (found close to his house).

Dall Sheep Ram – represents the reason the Denali National Park and Preserve (previously the McKinley National Park) 1917.

The insects are all biters, mosquito, black fly, white sock fly. Visitors are warned to wear the proper clothing at all times. In the higher tundra the boreal forest lives by perpetual ice, the colour, particularly in Autumn can be spectacular, but further North can be restricted to lichen, dwarf willow, Alaska Spiraea, alpine azalea dwarf rhododendrons – our speaker reminds us this is a young country.
Finally our journeys finished at a large pond created by a glacier, known as Kettle Hole pond and Wonder Lake, both demanding substantial hiking ability to reach, to take advantage of the landscapes. Surprisingly views of the Northern Lights are there for the fortunate tourist who is prepared to put himself out. A special evening in the comfort of our own homes was presented to us by Jules Tileston, who goes to enormous lengths to convince us that a visit really could be life changing.

Grateful Thanks Jules another memorable evening.

2nd. November 2020 – Roy Essery – “Creative Expression”

On Monday evening we were both taught and entertained by Roy Essery (MPAGB) with his talk “Creative Expression – The difference between taking and making an image”.

Surely one of the great benefits of being a member of a club like SYPC is the diversity of presenters’ own skills that we are privileged to enjoy and the resultant opportunity this affords, to extend our range of ideas and stimulate fresh approaches. Last night Roy Essery delighted us with his own, unique, mind blowing processes and the chance to compare many of them both before and after.
As Roy himself said “An image elicits a response, the viewer needs to respond and great photographers create great images.” He went on to describe how you can take a picture but you can’t make one – it’s all about creative interpretation. From the invention of photography in 1839 the growth of our wonderful hobby has seen, almost from the outset, how the imagination, coupled with a refined skill set can present us with photographs that stimulate our emotions and tell us a story through the author’s care, attention and imagination.
There are three stages to achieve an intended target: –
1. Making an image from your imagination. In this way, in advance of the actual shoot, you should plan exactly what you are seeking, taking props as necessary, drawing up notes and committing your ideas to paper – stretching your imaginative boundaries
2. Conceiving something at the “taking” stage. This can be a whole range of possibilities and Roy gave us some:
a) Intentional camera movement (ICM)
b) Shooting through anti Newton glass
c) Shooting through cling film, Vaseline laden glass, frosted glass
d) Lens choice – wide angle portraits from very close, or odd, angles
e) Adding antique tones
f) Camera choice – Infra red, Black & White, the limit is your imagination.

3. Post capture, this now leads to a huge choice at our disposal:
a) Convert to monochrome
b) Dodging and burning
c) Colour toning
d) Warping
e) Adding a single element or background
f) Using pre-sets
g) Texture overlays
h) Plug-in filters (fabulous examples of flood and collodion wet plate were shown).

The speaker made it clear that an image might be made through using any or all three of the above described. We were given examples of all of them showing the thought, persistence and sheer creative gift that he brings to bear on his work.

It was clear that he has devoted a great deal of time, thought and sheer hard work in pursuit of his love of photography. His final piece de resistance was his personally developed painting technique which facilitated the hand finishing of an ordinary monochrome shot to bring out certain facets using a “colour by numbers” method derived from his mastery of Photoshop.

He also briefly showed us a couple of grab shots which he knew could be “re-mastered” to a new fascinating story-telling image. Roy’s enthusiasm is infectious and a visit to his work on-line (see below) should be compulsory. The seeds sown this evening will, without doubt, influence a number of our members for many years in the future.

Roy’s website – http://www.shuttershot.co.uk/

12th October 2020 – ALEKS GJIKA – “In the search of the Je Ne Sais Quoi “

Our meeting last night allowed us to enjoy the remarkable experience of a presentation from a high-quality photographer, brought up in a totally different culture from our own, describing a world through the lens entirely from his point of view. Our host was Aleks Gjika Gjika (DPAGB AFIAP) from Albania, a country that was constrained under the USSR Communist regime and where the population demographic has, in recent years drifted to old age as young people move towards Western Europe.

The evening’s first content began with Aleks describing his home country with its mountains, springs and a way of life that clings to the past with the extensive use of manual labour, donkey and pony drawn carts, sheep but mainly goats and ram shackled buildings.

Interestingly the aged inhabitants live long and healthy lives due to the home grown organic fresh food that is their absolute diet.

There were virtually no cars, some bicycles and smiles on the faces of most people. Our author described being outside in the open air where the absolute silence felt almost that would hurt your ears. A country of intrinsic beauty, unique landscapes and living history. There was no evidence of stress in any of the remarkable faces that we saw. Aleks, it would seem, never ever shows an image that isn’t considered at every angle, down to the last detail, in order that his target – a glance or concern in the subject’s eyes would not reveal some story which was left to the viewer to reveal for themselves – this indeed is the hidden mystery of Je ne sais quoi – truly magical.

Our second batch of photographs took us, in contrast, to a county we know so well, from a book that Aleks has published “Gloucestershire in Photographs”. Quite clearly, he is a man on a mission to reveal his subjects at all hours of the day and, in particular, all weathers (the harsher the better). We will be familiar with Stroud, Toddington, Lydney harbour, Sheepscombe, Birdlip, Slad valley, Precott Hill, Forest of Dean. Although we might feel we know these places we saw them in a different light as Aleks strained to reach that elusive extra 0.1 of excellence. We especially appreciated his use of snow, frosts, mist and bluebells – all very difficult to bring to life in the way that we see them in nature. Perhaps we might consider him as a landscape photographer but after enjoying the range we saw last night, portraits, wildlife, WW2 enactment scenarios, locomotives, vintage cars, children, seascapes he is very much a man who is constantly “seeing” photographs.

The third segment of our night took us to what was called the Pictorial group.

From the description that the photographer gave us revealed that it is the entire art/science of photography that has captivated him, to the extent that the good or great image is, simply, not enough – he is driven to attain the exceptional. Who would attempt to capture butterflies mating? Who would wait until two squabbling coots reared up symmetrically opposite to each other and who would observe and capture the huge energetic effort involved in a goose taking off at Slimbridge. The more popular birds too took their place in the show, pin sharp was not enough, we saw owls, a red kite and an egret (which although superb) had frustrated Aleks despite 10 days of effort. The finale, after lots more, too numerous to mention, was for many of us the highlight of the evening – the raging sea and lighthouse at Porthcawl. The personal risk to both the man himself and his equipment knew no bounds in achieving two vertical walls of water, with the light sparkling from them, allowing us a view of the lighthouse between, in the grip of a violent storm – a truly evocative photograph.
These meagre notes hardly cover the expertise that has been developed by Aleks Gjika a complete appreciation of his work so far can be found at:
We commend a visit to gain inspiration – immediately!

All of those at the meeting last night look forward to Aleks joining us again in the very near future.

2020 – Round 6 – Bi-Monthly Results – October 5th.

This was the sixth and the last of our bi-monthly 2020 member competitions. This month we reverted to our usual ‘Open Competition’. Normally our members are encouraged to submit 2 prints and 2 digital images. 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 6th. Bi-Monthly competition was  Ralph Snook (ARPS EFIAP). Ralph is a good friend to SYPC both as a Presenter and a Judge and is always welcome.
Ralph reviewed and commented on 44 digital images and 36 members joined the video call to view the digital entries and to listen Ralph’s feedback, his constructive comments and critique.

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

Round 6 Digital ImageAuthorPlace
White Orchid FlowersKevin James1st
ThistleStuart Lewis2nd
Birnbeck PierJenni Craft3rd
PaulinaAlan Grynyer4th
CopenhagenMark Seaman5th
ConcentrationJeremy Harris6th
Defying GravityMike Franks7th
Eyes LeftPeter Range8th

Below is a copy of the First Place Digital Image “White Orchid Flowers” by Kevin James

Additionally copies of the Top 8 winning entries can be found in the Competitions Tab at – http://www.sypc.org.uk/gallery/index.php/2016-Competitions/2020-Competition-Results/2020-Bi-Monthly-Round-6-Digital-Images

21st. September – Sandie Cox – “The Eye Of The Tiger”

Continuing our excellent theme of guest speakers and in order to maintain SYPC’s activity we were thrilled that one of our close associates, Sandie Cox (ARPS DPAGB), accepted an invitation to take us to India.
Most of us have an impression of this huge democracy, but perhaps few have actually been there, a wonderful reminder that summarises the whole country comes from an Indian lady who arrived in England in November, from India, and who, in her middle age reflected that her early life had been in colour but beyond that it had been in black and white.
Sandie has now visited 5 times and this travelogue presented us with a broad view, as seen through her camera lens. Her images started on the journey, by train, from Delhi to Agra and despite her protestations that it was difficult to bring the hustle and bustle to life in still photographs she had done a remarkable job – food stalls set up randomly with pristine looking fruit and veg, many unrecognisable, a huge variety of transport starting in the cities with buses and cars then extending outwards to motor cycles, bicycles, horse and cart and bullocks, and amongst all of this thousands walking and the sacred cow ambling his way through this throng with passive indifference.

“a heavy load” – by Sandie Cox

The buildings are always spectacular and we saw, in Delhi, a magnificent Sikh temple which, within its confines, had a life of its own outside of religion, by feeding the poor and providing a range of employment. Images and Sandie’s description of the train and the dextrous porters was amazing and portraits of beautifully dressed ladies and bearded sages led us to closer inspection of the buildings’ outer decorations which, sadly are suffering from a ghastly, black algae perpetuated by the damp foggy atmosphere followed by hot sunshine. The conditions causing a rapid deterioration of the ornate exterior as well as the on-going depressing appearance, the Hindu temple was rather ruined and fenced off. Amongst all of this the people were notably friendly, keen to chat in English and the children appeared rather scruffy compared with their statuesque mothers whose deportment is enhanced through carrying all sorts on their heads, dressed immaculately.
Our speaker was clearly captivated by Amber Fort and described its features and decoration in detail, wide courtyards, in-filled incised carvings, inset glass particles and regrettably the algae. A visit to a Mosque revealed a place of much industry and the coming together of people, and constant music. We moved on to Agra and the well-known Taj Mahal, though our guide was not enamoured by it finding it stark and unwelcoming.

“Taj Mahal” by Sandie Cox

Long tailed parakeets were seen and captured feeding their young. Moving on to a local Fort where the Maharaja was imprisoned, with a view of the Taj (his wife’s tomb) we could almost feel and smell the polluted air. On the banks of the sacred Ganges we were treated to some technically difficult images of the festival of flowers which takes place every night and seemed massively crowded with people anxious to find the best view. Moving on to Jaipur we find the busy streets, bullock drawn carts, shops that sell everything with a picture of the proprietor and her infant son, a tea stand (rather unhygienic) and fast-food stalls with rather dirty walls!
Onwards and upwards to the tiger reserves observations were made from elephant back or from Land Rovers but both needed care, a sharp eye and “camera at the ready” we were treated to males, females, cubs all taken from a variety of angles, one full faced portrait showed the beauty of the animal and the senseless poaching of too many animals was described, Sandie clearly has a sincere concern for such things and her sensitivity comes through in her photography.

Tiger” by Sandie Cox

The wildlife element of the evening included the woolly necked stork, owl, kingfishers, crows, the cathedral bird of the world (vulture) yellow necked stork, dragon flies, butterflies, monkeys, macaques, jungle fowl, serpent eagle, sloth bear, buffalo, mongoose, snake, wild dogs, jackals, fallow deer (stags, hinds and fawns), sika deer – so many animals living in harmony side by side.
The demand for tourism and the attendant income, causes disappointing traffic jams of camera toting tourists and the sight of these rather unfortunate assemblies rather takes you away from feeling you are alone, stalking the animals to achieve that unique shot in isolation. We saw a couple of examples of this and perhaps this might dissuade our ambition to become part of it.
Our visit was surely the best through Sandie’s camera lens, supplemented by her expert commentary.
A special evening which was well received by a large attendance of our members – Many thanks to Sandie.

For more information on Sandie please see her website at – https://sandiecox.zenfolio.com/p707893424

14th September – Eddy & Pam Lane – “In the Footsteps of Shackleton”

Pam & Eddy followed in the footsteps of Ernest Shackleton in his “worst journey in the world” their experience, supplemented and reinforced with Internationally acclaimed photographs certainly captivated those members who joined us on Zoom last night.
Shackleton’s ship, THE ENDURANCE was beset in the polar ice, the ice flow movement caused the ship to move clockwise gradually breaking up and losing its seaworthiness. The lifeboats, provisions and equipment were removed by the crew to a safer environment. The 28 members of the expedition took the 3 lifeboats across the ice to Elephant Island. At this point Shackleton or “The boss” as he was known decided to take a party of 5 men, in one of the small boats, in order to save the group. They sailed in the lifeboat “James Caird” and navigated, by dead reckoning, to the West coast of South Georgia, a distance of some 900 miles. Three of the group, including Shackleton then walked off over the mountains to a Norwegian whaling station. They were able to obtain a better ship, sail over to Argentina, charter a more substantial boat and return to Elephant Island to collect the remainder of the expedition. Endurance, its leader and members had been missing from 5th December 1914 to 22nd May 1916. Not one man was lost.

South Georgia

We all emerged from this inspiring presentation having a greater appreciation of the varied aquatic life, the remarkable bird life, particularly the number and type of penguins (on which we were all tested at the end), the bitter weather conditions and extreme terrain that is present in this part of the world.

King Penguins

All of this was brought alive to us by Pam & Eddy’s great photographic skills using not only single lens reflex cameras and telephoto lenses, but also modest compact cameras, demonstrating exactly what can be achieved with imagination, a good eye and a passion for the world around us.

Moulting King Penguins

This was a welcome return to SYPC for Eddy and Pam and we thank them for sharing their “trip of a lifetime” with us. We commend their website to you for a great variety and beautifully presented unique photographic memoire:


7th. September 2020 – Ian Wade “Photographing Wildlife on your Doorstep”

We were thrilled to welcome a young, enthusiastic and determined photographer to speak to us, last night, on Zoom. His topic of presentation was local wildlife and as he lives in Brislington we could all identify with his surroundings and the apparent challenges that face him.
We were clearly going to be in for a special evening when his first image was a huge spider that had set up residence immediately outside his lounge window. Many of us would have been pleased to photograph the arachnid in its web and, perhaps, try to encroach for a macro image……. this is not the style of Ian Wade! He recognised that on the adjacent TV different scenes gave different light to enhance the view of the spider, more images showed wonderful back lit shots of the web as well, but this is not enough for the author – he seeks the image that has NEVER been done before and so next evening, having bought some fairy lights he strived to enhance the opportunity even further, this was still not enough so 5 sets of fairy lights were then used and even sections of mould on the camera lens intensified the mystery and setting of the entire composition – this is a man on a mission.
A bigger leap of subject could hardly have been made when next we saw a standard view of a bloom of the common campanula bell flower. Here lay another challenge to bring about a dreamy painted effect of the petals – using a wide angle F 2.8 lens actually entering into the blooms, with an insect eyes view the flora was brought to life, using the changing colours of the day and changing the white balance setting to Tungsten (who would have thought of that?). Persistence to break new boundaries is Ian’s bye word.

From spiders to flowers…..what next? Snails of course. Here we saw the great creativity of a thoughtful artist as a snail in the foreground, pin sharp and the author’s house in the background in twilight – a unique set up. The wide angled macro lens was only 5mm from the snail’s eye, requiring a high standard of dexterity to achieve such clarity.
In keeping with all serious photographers a sharp eye revealed a frog sitting in a downpipe outlet – close observations revealed the frog was using this as cover to obtain a meal of flying ants as they emerged from the nearby ground the scene was captured and the frog never returned – lesson never miss an opportunity.
In a nearby venue, Nightingale Valley, Ian used his Go Pro in a small brook to actually catch a frog sitting on an old abandoned skateboard, the shot was taken from the emerged camera showing a super partition between water and open air – a piece of skill achieved by Ian’s other great passion buying cheap items (in this case a make-up bag) that contained the camera, completely dry, for £5.00. we would hear more of his ability to fashion and create expensive equipment at very little cost. He also uses his smart phone underwater in a similar way and has achieved high honours for his efforts.

Great patience can often be required to achieve the right moment, how impressive therefore is his on-going project throughout the year to photograph from underwater up into the tree canopy, giving a 3600 image and the photographer cannot be seen. Not being content with that he wants the shot to be framed in bubbles, taken from the same position every month of the year! Watch this space. We were introduced to the Venus Optic Wide Angle Lens used in conjunction with the Canon 7D/Mk2 camera to photograph a snail with a penchant for LED lighting, these atmospheric shots with pin-sharp snail and the outline of the church behind were so subtle and atmospheric, using easily portable and flexible LED lighting has become something of his speciality.
Close images of frogs, which Ian has taken in a prone position, soaking wet, waiting for hours have become something of a trademark for him. Coupled with the ultra violet light and exceptional angles we saw some unique strangely coloured images which he set out to portray under the 1950’s horror movies genre. I feel these might well polarise people’s view of his ingenious work.
The final section of this informative and thought-provoking evening took place in surrounding areas and Bristol’s floating harbour itself. An opportunity had arisen to study a dog fox, a vixen and their 4 cubs. This species being, principally, nocturnal had caused Ian to leave home at 4: 00a.m returning home two hours later and then back again in the evening from 8:30 until 10:00p.m. This, coupled with work has demonstrated the efforts that he is prepared to go to for the superb shots that we saw.

These included Dog fox in monochrome taken through grass, the vixen sticking her tongue out and the cubs gazing into the sky distracted by circling marauding sea gulls. Regrettably this family group had become too well known and less skilful photographers had caused unnatural behaviour and the interest from our speaker had, understandably, declined. Also featuring in this section were cormorants in the docks, grey squirrels and crows in Brandon Hill. A surprise request from the Royal Crescent Hotel offered a chance to study some hedgehogs and Ian’s preparation and care allowed him to take some perfect images which would only present opportunities once and, as we would expect, he had come up to the mark.
The last captivating, totally unexpected, shot was the selfie, taken using a submerged camera striking a scary pose – If ever a picture was destined for millions of viewings then this is it – I commend this wonderful creator of images to you and suggest you go immediately to his web sites. http://www.ianwadephotography.co.uk/