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:

https://eddyandpamlanephotography.zenfolio.com/p504869431

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/

http://www.ianwadewildlife.com


2020 – Round 5 – Bi-Monthly Results – August 17th

This was the fifth of our six bi-monthly member competitions and this month it was on the theme of “SKYLINE”. 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 5th. Bi-Monthly competition was  David Sage. Unfortunately David wasn’t able to join us in person, but he sent copious notes that we studied during our virtual meeting using the Video Conferencing facility Zoom.
David reviewed and commented on 54 digital images and 35 members joined the video call to view the digital entries and to consider David’s feedback and critique.

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

Round 5 Digital ImageAuthorPlace
Waiting for the StormAnnette Wakefield1st
Singapore at NightStuart Lewis2nd
SkywatchingMike Franks3rd
Quick You’ll Miss ItRussell Dew4th
Looking DownPete Atkins5th
BBCMark Seaman6th
Sunset Sycamore GapRay Grace7th
Frampton SkylineKevin James8th

Below is a copy of the First Place Digital Image – “Skyline” is the Theme.

 

“Waiting for the storm”- By – Annette Wakefield

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-5-Top-8-Digital-Images

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.
https://www.chrispalmerphotographer.co.uk/

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.