This was the second Bi-Monthly 2021 member competition. This month was our usual ‘Open Competition’. Normally 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’ period, our bi-monthly competitions are digital entries only. The judge for this 2nd. 2021 Bi-Monthly competition was Sally Sallett (ARPS, CPAGB, AFIAP BPE3). This was the first visit that Sally has made to SYPC as she is based in West Yorkshire, is a member of Wakefield Camera Club, is a very accomplished award winning photographer and also a judge for the Yorkshire Photographic Union.
Sally reviewed and commented on 48 digital images and 39 members joined the video call to listen to her feedback, constructive comments and critique. An excellent Competition Results night – Thank you Sally. We hope to persuade you to join us again later this year or next with one of your intriguing talks.
Below is a table of the Top 8 Digital Images and their authors
Our meeting last night was a great uplift to all of us. The speaker Peter Bartlett (ARPS, EFIAP/b, CPAGB, BPE3*) is a Mancunian who has lived all of his life in the North of England and is well placed to search out and investigate venues across that region and to pursue his passion as a street photographer. With his sharp eye and inquisitive style, he is ideally suited to interface with a range of people, capturing them in their natural environment, often in amusing settings.
Peter opened the evening with a group of standalone images. His backgrounds often tend to take on a geometric slant and a view above an escalator gave us just that with parallel lines, perpendicular stairs and two travellers passing to provide the diagonals. His technique is to use small, unobtrusive cameras, often shooting from the hip, in live mode, setting on burst to provide 3/5 images. He is constantly looking for an opportunity and always presses the shutter, knowing that moments are not repeated. We saw examples of individual faces and this has led to a book published – 26 FACIAL EXPRESSIONS. We enjoyed senior ladies gossiping in the street. youths strolling, one picking his nose, a couple together apart! Singles walking past racy advertising in the shop window. Three old chaps seated in a street bench who are ignoring one another, when the image is taken the middle one is beginning to stand up, 2 cyclists and a skateboarder, viewed from above in the bright Italian sunshine, giving exact composition, a hand emerging from behind a wall flicking the ash of a cigarette – in every image there is a story and this is where the observer can provide his own. Who will forget the guy, on a broad pavement, dragging along his “Henry” vacuum cleaner past 3 women, walking towards him – surreal?
Appreciating art – Peter is obviously artistic in his approach but has noticed the opportunities available in art galleries derived from the juxtaposition between the art work itself and the viewers in their many poses. Two people on opposite sides of a “thinker” type statue in deep contemplation, one man looking from the middle seat of a row of five, leaving four empty (perfect symmetry), A Mum and her little boy looking at a perfectly white framed image, the security lady looking authoritative outside the entrance to a Hepworth exhibition, Turner gallery with great ape statue staring into the room beside an old man consumed by a TV screen – no one else in the room. A photographer in awkward pose trying to photograph a Gormley figure, a Dad photographing, without a camera, while his young son’s body language screams out boring! So much to be seen in every image.
Manchester’s Northern Quarter – A specific area, known to our speaker, showing much variety. The backgrounds to most of this group of images draw a story with the subjects. 2 ladies outside the florists, overweight Mum pushing pram but with the ubiquitous bee images all around, Affleeks Palace, an emporium with three people standing outside by a carved inset quoting “On the VI day God created MANchester” brilliant. Two youths walking along smoking, single girl intensely concentrating on sending mobile phone text, pavement cafes with people engrossed in chatter, Mum with baby in buggy staring down the camera, dodgy book shop with passer by looking at the window contents – now demolished and replaced by glitzy wine bar. Young woman sitting on kerbside smoking and looking at phone, cigarette packet and match box beside her, couple deciding which way to go at crossroads, a traffic warden stepping off the pavement by a huge poster of David Bowie. Much to see and so many stories – Black and white the ideal medium. Second half finds us in Italy where Peter decides to take images of tourists. A couple in St. Mark’s square hand in hand whole he waves around his GoPro, completely ignoring her. In the Dolomites couple back-to-back photographing the scene, Japanese tourist adopting aggressive stance to use mobile phone, a group of ladies taking a selfie using a stick, tourists in Pisa standing on small pillars to exaggerate the leaning tower, image included their photographer, image of two attractive girls and their cameraman, jostling in Venice to capture the Bridge of Sighs. Shards of West Yorkshire – so named as each image is a small part which builds together to create the whole. This project is under constant review due to the lockdown restrictions but will probably finish up as 4 photobooks of 60 images. The author’s local knowledge shows up again here as we visit Dewsbury, Bradford, Batley, Halifax, Wakefield, Pudsey, Saltaire, Featherstone, Huddersfield, Bingley, Brighouse, Castleford, Calder Valley, Hebden Bridge. We see all aspects of life in these areas each with their own story in the past and once more through his choice of subjects, backgrounds, shop fronts with aging posters and owners – who knew women’s wrestling was next to be seen in May. Local people from a range of ethnic backgrounds “The best breakfast in Batley”, sweeping the streets from yesterday’s nub ends, Graffiti, so many rubbish bins, a stuffed tiger eyeing up the butcher’s shop window or was it the two ladies passing by? A Polish grocer, a well-timed shot of a winged image to give the passer by a heavenly touch.
Our evening came to an end with Peter’s book “A day at the races” only one horse actually featured in this array of well observed racegoers as the author had his back to the track. Views of excited punters, stylish suited regulars on the course, glamorous women on ladies’ days, despondent losers, drinkers, students of the turf with their noses buried in the Racing Post, the parade ring, a rainy race day, and finally a joyous couple about to engage in a kiss – The Sport of Kings in photographs.A highly entertaining evening and concisely described by our guest speaker – if these notes whet your appetite then visit – Peter Bartlett – Documentary Photography –https://www.peterbartlettimages.co.uk/
Another of the great joys of the hobby of photography is its flexibility. You can stay indoors and compose a still life scene or travel around the world – either scenario gives us the chance to use our artistic skills and imagination. Last night’s guest speaker (Graham Harries) found his lock down project by walking within 5 miles of home in his native Wales and observing the changing countryside as it reclaims buildings taking them back to nature.
His initial observations were the World War 2 defences comprising block houses, tank traps, gun emplacements and bunkers. It is not widely known that these were built across Great Britain in the early 1940’s after the fall of France when it was realised that the key ingredient to the German success was the use of battle tanks. With a little research the position of these defence gems can still be found and Graham had found some, often completely covered in brambles and Ivy, and photographed them. This naturally led on to a variety of dwellings, grand houses, farm houses, outbuildings and farm workers cottages all disappearing in front of our very eyes – many of them holding the key to stories from a bygone era (like the terrace cottages one of which was once occupied by the stunt man from the 1956 film Moby Dick).
Our host speaker’s excitement was tangible when he discovered a new fading “treasure” albeit an old petrol station or a derelict chapel. His advice was to take some images then and there as a plan to return might be greeted with greater degradation and the chance will be lost forever. His research has found that in his local area there were 6 great houses – Park House 1803 abandoned after WW2 whose owner married the niece of President U S Grant – who knew? Other discoveries included a decaying Airport fire engine, at least 15 miles from a small airport, why was it there? The sheer size and grandeur of the walled garden, outbuildings and stables of these properties begged so many questions and Graham was keen for answers. One of his star finds was ESCOED MANSION home of Lieutenant General Thomas Picton who died at Waterloo in 1815. Its magnificence in its hey day was still evident, as it fades away images from within the mansion and round about could probably be the last ever seen as it disappears. A warning to all of us who were tempted to pursue this sort of project was issued advising of the dangers of such places, falling roofs, rotting stairs and falling debris.
The second element of the evening was the use of the Drone – quite clearly our speaker understood the legal and technical requirements of these fascinating “eyes in the sky” and the other view obtained was evident as we saw sea views, football pitches castles, tree shadows and some spectacular photographs of the National Botanical Gardens of wales with its magnificent glass dome. The available range of subjects were Paxton’s Tower, A bright blue tractor in a green field, a cross road section of a highway, The Elan Valley, the drained NYAV reservoir with Pen Y Fan in the distance, French farmers’ fields with Mt Saint Michel in the distance, A WW1 cemetery, A Neolithic burial site (Arthur’s stone). A wonderful view over the whole of Llanelli leading up to the Black Mountains, Night shots revealing a fairy land, the light ship JUNO, moored up ready for scrap, which played a significant part in the D-day landings, up river to the Baglan Bridge on to the steel works at Port Talbot for a view we would never normally see, from the M4. Sewerage works, the Gower Peninsular and Worm’s Head and Cnardy Viaduct, where Graham revealed his wish to use the drone to photograph a steam train passing over.
The sad site of the regular flooding of Carmarthen as the Towy bursts its banks. We were astounded at seeing an Icelandic Long House, converted to a museum, The area where Nobel’s dynamite factory spread over countryside fighting its way back, Chesil Beach near Weymouth, sea side tank defences, wonderful Angelsey, through to North Wales, brick works, slate mines, Witford Lighthouse, a solar farm and a not so old council estate dying for want of attention and finally, the spectacular Autumn colours of nature taken from above. This was a thoroughly marvellous evening with something for everyone with a Photographer of great enthusiasm who, it is clear, has a head full of ambitions targets to fulfil and who has never been accused of being bored. For more of this inspirational polymath visit: http://www.gphotography.org.uk
Extending our variety of speakers to our Monday evening sessions we were able to welcome the return of Sandie Cox (ARPS DPAGB) with her talk “Gorillas, Chimps and More”. This particular visit took the form of a travelogue. Which took place in 2017 and was, fundamentally a wildlife expedition in Uganda and Rwanda.
Starting in Uganda and wasting no time at all she was busy in the gardens of the hotel, having spotted host of butterflies in the “gardens,” some colourful flowers, a hornbill, shrubs and trees. This set the scene for the two-week trip where a wonderful variety of buildings, local people, flora and fauna were photographed. The group were taken to the Mabamba swamps, principally to see the shoebill stork. The journey there allowed us to see the hazardous ferry journey across the river, accompanied by throngs of locals, with their produce, and minimalistic boats, preparing to set up a market. Arriving at the swamp the area seemed little more than a grassy mud patch though images of bee-eaters and pied kingfishers were much in evidence finally finding the storks, rather an unattractive large bird (around 90cm tall) with a heavy thick set body which begged the question as to how much energy was expended in becoming airborne. The expedition continued with interesting photographs showing the local people, children, the enormous variety of goods transported on bicycles and motor cycles, which included potatoes (a huge crop in the area), pineapples, meat hanging in the open air and being sliced by a butcher with little apparent care for health and safety, bananas en-route to strategically placed lorries, woven goods to be sold at market. At last, the chimpanzee research station was reached, regrettably during a rainstorm, though the light was poor and everywhere soaking the chimps didn’t seem to mind. The next port of call was Kibale National Park with a pride of languid lions relaxing in trees! Amongst other species was a Verreaux’s eagle owl, with pink eyelids, a grumpy looking Colobus monkey, a hawk with horizontal breast markings and a group of red-tailed monkeys. Crossing back across the river was a bloat of hippos with their usual entourage of birds, who simply regarded them as a perching point in the water, a shore hippo feeding on lush grass, a water buffalo, with ox-peckers feeding on its tics and flies, a malachite kingfisher, a jacana (known as the Jesus bird as it appeared to walk on water), squabbling pelicans, and an elephant pushing a tree, Back at the hotel a fluffy bad hair day bird appeared and clouds of multi coloured butterflies.
The next expedition, was to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, along roads notably in poor condition, much pot holed which forced most traffic to seek a smoother ride on the verges – Gorilla advertising was everywhere. Visitors were divided, at the Centre, into groups according to their fitness. The terrain is almost Himalayan and would have been impossible without a porter/guide. When the Gorillas were finally located there had been an altercation amongst them and they had divided into two parts, their behaviour was erratic and restless with few of the familiar family interactions. The local terrain and house building techniques certainly facilitated a number of fine landscape shots. The now familiar pictures of beautifully dressed ladies, carrying their possessions in pots on their heads were shown along with smiling children and much evidence of the poverty in which they all live. The next section was the country of Rwanda and the Volcanoes National Park. Suddenly life here seemed a little more organised and Westernised. A group of entertainers sung and danced at the hotel and the children were bemused at the visitors taking photographs of the birds. A field of glamping huts were seen that was used as part of the animal poaching rehabilitation programme and the visitors purchased simple goods to encourage the activities. A graphic 7 metre distance guide was presented to warn the group not to get too close to the Gorillas. The trek to find the animals soon found a more traditional band, they were not at all bothered by the appearance of humans, armed with Canons, Mum and baby were playing, the huge silver back was just chilling out, the 7-metre rule had completely disappeared and interesting images of their feet, hands and features created the impression of a family pic-nic. A most enjoyable evening with an interesting commentary by Sandie. A trip that very few, if any of us will ever take, well received by our members. To see more of Sandie Cox’s extensive travels visit: https://sandiecox.zenfolio.com/
As our time in lockdown slowly comes to an end our flexibility, as a club, reveals itself with innovative speakers. This week we were able to welcome the return of Emma Drabble, a professional photographer, with a membership of the NUJ and a commanding skill with documentary communication. Having a press photography background, and enviable know-how to receive, and interpret, commissions from a wide variety of customers and to lead them through to a completed project. The description below will demonstrate her versatility. The opening images, largely in black and white, took us through hairdressing, Colour L’Oréal, Tesco food to develop eco friendly packaging, all requiring the images to tell a story. In order to use this ability, she was chosen to reveal “stories from the Wye” a commission funded by the Heritage Lottery. This took lateral thinking to tell the complete story through as many facets as possible, farmers, gamekeeper, pigeon fancier, sisters with a family background on the railway, the concept of catching the moment to demonstrate a continuous life is a particular gift. We saw net fishers on the Severn Estuary – a dying art preserved in glorious photographs.
It is, perhaps, unsurprising that our speaker would revert to her early training to bring to us her own experiences during lockdown. Many of us were surprised that not only did she contract Covid-19 but so did three of her teenage children, all living in Monmouth – widely reported to be virus free! During lockdown a new commission took the form of a photo essay “documenting in the Wye valley AONB (area of outstanding natural beauty) capturing people’s fears and hopes during the pandemic – Emma has been creating audio portraits, sharing stories, showing how people are surviving during these challenging times” This segment of her talk actually showed images, taken with a long lens, of people looking very ill and audio of their own feelings and concerns at that time (this was probably a first for SYPC). Reports ranged from young people, the local grocer, local vicar, a seamstress producing PPE voluntarily, the local GP and images within the surgery, a lady farmer describing her difficulties, the senior professional carer, and her son, in the local care home – this was particularly graphic as the complex instructions that reached this section of the community had to be disseminated before it could be enacted under a practical plan.
Finally, and demonstrating an uplifting pointer to the future, her latest commission is the development of Lord Nelson’s association with Monmouth and the building of an historic site to exhibit a range of his artefacts and extensive treasures – who knew? For more of this fascinating speaker/photographer/reporter you might like to explore Emma’s website at – https://www.drabbleandco.com/
It is, perhaps, not often that our speaker can be described as sophisticated, intellectual, incisive and magnificent but following our club meeting last night members of SYPC were inspired and motivated to extend their knowledge after seeing the high quality work of the Internationally acclaimed Polina Plotnikova (FRPS EFIAP) Having read a History of Art degree from Moscow State University it was clear to see the influences that have brought this artist to her pinnacle. She is a regular award winner at the International Garden Photographer of the Year, Pink Lady Photographer of the Year, and Royal Horticultural Society photographic awards. This year will also be the 3rd. year that Polina has been a judge at the RHS – Royal Horticultural Society Photography Competition.
The evenings lecture divided into FLOWER PORTRAITURE and STILL LIFE. 1. Flower portraiture – These images were created in the studio where careful thought, composition, light and lens choice have all been brought to bear on her subjects, having studied the artistry of Joseph Redoute, Lilian Snelling, Georgia Totto O’Keeffe, Robert Mapplethorpe, Karl Blossfeldt, Ron Van Dongen as well as Monet, Van Gogh, Burgers. The brush and paint expertise of these exponents has been studied to withdraw the finer points of their technique and bring it to the photographic studio. Such conditions provide all the time in the world and the time to realise the perfection that is sought, even with plants which are (past their best) and half dead. The advanced techniques, using full manual mode, creative lens distortion, double exposure and slow shutter speeds were skilfully drawn together to form many superb images.
2. Still life – Seeking to understand and develop the work of old masters like Willen Claesz Heda and his perfection of composition bringing together such random objects as mackerel, peeled lemons, silver cups, knives and a vase. We viewed excellence through the centuries from Francesco de Zurbaran, Mary Stevenson Cassatt, Francois Guislain Magritte and Soren Emil Carlsen to see the effectiveness of precise detail, very few props, surreal approaches with floating apples and the juxtaposition of ceramic and real fruit poised to appear as though the real fruit is gossiping about the perfect porcelain. Light and colour simplicity come together to form that appealing blend that becomes more fantastic as it is studied. The talk finished with an anecdote regarding a prepared still life of a drinks jug, wine glasses, apricots, in various random and partially eaten positions. As Polina said “all of my creations start with a blank canvas.
However Polina’s willingness to share her expertise and knowledge didn’t stop when we said goodnight. We then received a detailed set of follow up notes to supplement her presentation. These included but were not limited to –
Links to the studio lights she uses.
As a Lensbaby ambassador we had links to this product set including a discount code.
Links to numerous other lenses she likes to use.
Links to the software that she uses for remote shooting and for focus stacking
The Photo paper that is used and where to purchase it
The backgrounds used and where to purchase them
Where to purchase good quality artificial flowers for practicing techniques
The clamps used to support the flowers
The names of all the artists and photographers whose work has influenced her
Various opportunities for studio work or workshops with Polina
Finally links to stay in touch with Polina on Facebook, Instagram and her website
The notes mentioned above were spread over 3 1/2 pages of A4 and is testament to Polina’s professionalism and willingness to spread her knowledge.
This was the first of our bi-monthly 2021 member competitions. This month was our usual ‘Open Competition’. Normally 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’ period, our bi-monthly competitions are digital entries only.
The judge for this 1st. 2021 Bi-Monthly competition was Rob Auckland. Rob is a Professional Photographer and has been to our club on many occasions. His visits are informative, educational and always interactive. Rob has never judged for us before, but I’m sure he will again. He brought a new and different dimension to the way he presented his findings. The evening was much more interactive than usual, he actively encouraged comments and feedback. On occasions he used Lightroom to demonstrate “LIVE” improvements to images .
Rob reviewed and commented on 50 digital images and 38 members joined the video call to listen to his feedback, constructive comments and critique. When the final Top 8 were announced each of the winning authors was encouraged to give a short description of how they created their winning entry – and again Rob even then suggested areas of improvement. An excellent Competition Results night – Thank you RobFor more information about Rob Auckland please visit his website at https://www.robertaucklandweddingphotography.co.uk/Workshops/Workshops-home
Below is a Table of the Top 8 Digital Images and their authors.
Our meeting last night was pleased to welcome Oliver Herbold, A German National, talking on the subject of long exposure photography. This is an area of our hobby that many of us are familiar with but feel unsure of many of the details and settings, that we need to master, in order to achieve the best results. The presentation provided us with fundamental reasons why a long exposure might be an advantage e.g., very low light levels, accessing sites that are crowded by day but quiet at night, eliminate motion to enable the observer to concentrate on the venue, create special effects using filters and extending sky patterns to enhance dramatic effect.
Oliver’s early work was centred around Gloucester Docks but we were delighted to see images taken in Dresden, Bristol, Brussels, Wales, Land’s End, Baltic Sea, Norway, Bosnia Herzegovina, all of which were analysed and discussed. It was clear that the author had taken some trouble to become technical adept and the following aspects explained in detail – Basic settings, Aperture, ISO, Mode, Exposure times and to demonstrate the effect that changes created, using a cliff edge image with moving sea to dramatic effect.
The improvement that a long exposure can make was shown using images from Aberystwyth, Brecon Beacons, France, Cornwall (St Michael’s Mount is a particular favourite), Dunraven Bay, North Devon, Elan Valley in Wales and Nash Point. His particular use of eliminating the horizon between sea and sky proved most interesting.
The second half of our evening started with a discussion of the relative merits and demerits of the tripod through stability, transportability, cost and we soon realised that perfection was never met, eventually concluding that you should choose wisely and carefully. Continuing the theme of equipment, the topic of filters was described taking account of square or round, manufacturers (Lee, SRB, Case Hi-Tec etc.) The conclusion being a comprehensive filter system which includes a polarising filter, multi stop square types with a suitable cover is best – budget, of course, playing an important role in choice.
Oliver’s recent images gave us a treat covering Germany (Moselle) Eltz Castle, Amsterdam, Elan Valley (a stunning array of this reservoir and associated area from many different angles and shooting at a variety of times). Naturally a favourite topic, with care to eliminate star paths, is the Milky Way, Oliver had taken it in Cornwall (Tintagel) and Marazion. This image was later incorporated with a Dutch windmill.
More images of water in Wales, Betwys y Coed, Angelsey and Llanberis demonstrated his developing expertise. Finally, to contemporise Michelangelo’s contention that every block of marble contains a statue and it is the artist’s job to release it, Oliver presented a dull image of a rocky structure, heading seaward, then, using Photoshop and skilful use of white balance, graduated filters, clarity, highlights, sharpening saturation, layer masks, spot healing, dodging and burning to achieve depth and colour correction the final image was revealed, truly amazing – each stage had been described.
Oliver also features extensively on social media and has his own YouTube channel. Oliver is a photographer who is happy to share his knowledge and is keen to fully answer questions. We commend him to you.
Our meeting last night came as a surprise topic from a photographer with a real passion for re-visiting, past industrial processes, decaying mines (mainly coal), cotton mills, decommissioned power stations and a host of other unused sites which many of us in our club, can remember in their hey day before the ecological damage that was being caused was really recognised.
Andy is a Lancastrian, now living in Chorley, who has been motivated to capture many of the decaying buildings where men, and indeed women, were able to earn money to raise their families in an era when Great Britain was known for its manufacturing base on a wide front. It was refreshing to note that his studies of the work of a number of 20th century photographers had created such a strong impression on his own style. It was particularly interesting to note that on arriving at a site he viewed his subject and had a firm idea on exactly how the image, he was about to produce, should appear and his practical skills mostly attained that target. The notion of creating a photo essay, as described in words in LIFE magazine, formed the basis for his progression when approaching a project. We were shown an aluminium sand-casting foundry, a one-man operation, and the tools and processes were photographed in a style that demonstrated the intricacies of the production of the finished casting and, indeed, the final clearing up ready for the next day’s work. From this we toured a number of cotton mills, all closed down in the 20th century and the monochrome images enhanced the sadness of the entire scenario. One particular shot gave us the juxtaposition of the crumbling buildings in the foreground and the sunlight bright modern skyscrapers of the Manchester skyline in the distance. A mill in Burnley was shown in its final throes and an inside image was described as 400,000 cu ft of nothing. Although we can stumble upon some really photogenic sites, the serious photographer will carry out his research and Andy shared with us many of the sources that he uses e.g., the grapevine, Facebook, Instagram, news, newspapers, www.Geograph.org.uk, Google Earth and Street view. He demonstrated his sharp eye when spotting a chimney in a field near Howarth and set about finding and photographing Griffe Mill in Stanbury, which had been closed in 1922, and was now being returned to the countryside, the images were evocative. The breadth of his subjects was quite amazing, an abandoned linoleum factory in Doncaster, a mill in Saddleworth near Oldham, a small mill in Haslingden. All of these were interpreted thoughtfully to evoke the power of suggestion and to use the filter of the human mind to bring about a changing state, not just a photo record.
The notion of past industries took us to the wreck of the TSS Duke of Lancaster, a former railway steamer passenger and sea Link Ferry that operated in Europe from 1956 to 1979, and is currently beached near Mostyn Docks, on the River Dee, north-east Wales known as the “Mostyn fun ship” though its future is uncertain. Onward to Fleetwood near Blackpool, Andy has captured a number of rotting hulls of fishing vessels from the 60’s and 70’s and their skeletal remains were captured by the drone to demonstrate their diminishing profile. The cooling towers of Thorpe Marsh Power Station near Doncaster (1963 -1994) captured both inside and outside show us what once generated our electricity but now have been demolished to make way for a more sophisticated gas fired type. Many other now defunct structures, covered in poor graffiti and overgrown with weeds and vandalised were photographed before evidence of their existence disappears. The Scunthorpe steelworks, imaginatively captured with a relatively new housing estate in the foreground was the introduction to a number of sites which bore witness to our manufacturing heritage and these included the Rouge steelworks, associated with the Ford plant in Detroit, where a serious 12-month photo study of those processes and decline was carried out. Scunthorpe steel works showed the high contrast leading lines of the railway tracks which carried the iron ore. Onward to Redcar steel plant illustrated with a family on horseback adjacent to the sea drew a picture requiring our thoughts. This was further enhanced with a caravan park bordering the industrial decline and showing a blast furnace in the background – some holiday home! We may have hit rock bottom with views of Middlesbrough and Teesside in an are described as “the ugliest landscape ever” the drone enhanced the appalling view.
The work of Bernd & Hilla Becher was a recurring theme within Andy’s talk and the compilation of similar photographs, known as typography, on a similar theme e.g., Colliery Head Gear, gas holders, silos, etc. all grouped together provided an interesting style of presentation they are intellectual constructs in which objects with similar relevant attributes are grouped together to meet the ideas and needs of the classifier. These have been publicly exhibited. There seems to be no limit to our author’s incessant compulsion to search out sites for this body of work and the slate mines of North Wales near Llanberis, proved to be a fertile site to demonstrate the huge extent of this activity, most of which went to waste. It is now a barren almost Martian landscape and redundant machinery has been left in-situ as it is too expensive to reclaim the scrap value from such remote locations. Finally, and to the surprise of many of us, near Middlesbrough on the North Sea coast the oil rig known as Brent Delta was being scrapped by controlled dismantling, a few years later it had completely disappeared to be replaced by the rig Brent Bravo and soon that too will be distant history, just like the high cranes of the Cammell Laird shipyard at Birkenhead. This type of photography is a race against time. How interesting to be shown the huge changes that have taken place in such a relatively short time. To see more of Andy’s work visit: www.mechanicallandscapes.com www.Theviewfromthenorth.org
How could we start a new year better, during these times of restricted movement, than to welcome Tony Gervis (FRPS) with his travelogue through the Middle East and into Eastern Europe. The whole adventure started when he was introduced to a rover who woke up one day and decided to walk around the world. Although Tony didn’t plan such an extreme adventure, he forward planned a trip, buying visas in advance, taking a circular route, travelling 190 miles each day, taking 57 photographs per day covering 22,00 miles through 22 countries. He mostly wore shorts, a smile on his face and a natural warm personality, a gregarious outlook, happy to meet and greet people, especially children, and accept any invitations to break bread with them.
The first destination that was described was Slovakia, then Romania followed by Turkey – a country populated by ancient Roman ruins and places of mystery and intrigue all waiting to be discovered, Aphrodisias, Karapinar Crater Lake, Zaglossus, Semele monastery, Ishak Pasa Palace, Cappadocia and Mount Nemrut all photographed with casual ease and often including the locals and frequently, inquisitive children.
Next, we were in Iran, filling up with diesel from a bowser (at no cost) travelling on challenging roads to Persepolis to Achaemenid to an Empire unfinished by 330BC and razed to the ground by Darius11, his tomb an Eagle Griffin in Huma was close by and our host bought a hand printed tablecloth for $20. Onward to the Shah’s Palace and the polo parade ground (1628) in May Dam Imam. Throughout the people were described as friendly and welcoming treating their animals in a very different way from which we are familiar. Visiting the city of Qum, seeing the faithful called to prayer, all viewed with smiles and bright clothing even Tony put trousers on in the locality to observe local custom.
Soon we were crossing the border into Turkmenistan, a country in Central Asia bordered by the Caspian Sea and largely covered by the Karakum Desert. It’s known for archaeological ruins including those at Nisa and Merv, major stops along the ancient trade route the Silk Road. Ashgabat, the capital, was rebuilt in Soviet style in the mid-20th century and is filled with grand monuments honouring former president Saparmurat Niyazov, usually brightly illuminated at night. Travel is severely restricted and an accompanying guide is essential as there are no road signs, routes, distances etc. are all recorded. Markets were a feature of this presentation and the variety from car spare parts to fresh fruits and vegetables was truly amazing.
Next came Uzbekistan, a Central Asian nation and former Soviet republic where the Aral Sea was dried to destruction to irrigate the Russian cotton industry, leaving ships lying as forlorn wrecks in the desert. It’s known for its mosques, mausoleums and other sites linked to the Silk Road, the ancient trade route between China and the Mediterranean. Samarkand, a major city on the route, contains a landmark of Islamic architecture: the Registan, a plaza bordered by 3 ornate, mosaic-covered religious schools dating to the 15th and 17th centuries. Continuing this fascinating tour, we passed into Kazakhstan, another former Soviet republic, extends from the Caspian Sea in the west to the Altai Mountains at its eastern border with China and Russia. Its largest metropolis, Almaty, is a long-standing trading hub whose landmarks include Ascension Cathedral, a tsarist-era Russian Orthodox church, and the Central State Museum of Kazakhstan, displaying thousands of Kazakh artifacts. A revealing look into a café and bakery lead to a policeman pointing out that Tony’s van had lost a rear panel and number plate, on the ghastly road, a good-humoured resolution was found and Tony was given a cigarette lighter.
Travelling East must always lead to Russia and the particular destination was Lenin’s birthplace, in Streletskaya Ulitsa, Simbirsk (now Ulyanovsk). A statue of Lenin and many souvenir shops are there. Moving on to Moscow where Tony parked the van by Red Square without any problem, Views of St Basil’s, a huge cast bell that cracked and never rang were seen by the eternal flame. The Peterhof Palace, is a series of palaces and gardens located in Peterhof, Saint Petersburg, commissioned by Peter the Great as a direct response to the Palace of Versailles by Louis XIV of France.
Our evening’s entertainment was finalised with visits to Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania and Estonia (here Tony was given a place to stand and photograph the Greek Orthodox Church Service by the actual Head of that Religion – how to make friends and influence people!).
A fascinating evening which was a clear demonstration of Tony’s sense of humour, courtesy, personality and his warmth which encourages people towards him – and facilitates the opportunity to take their pictures. This was well received by our members and, undoubtedly, we will see him again as he is very widely travelled and his mention of America particularly attracted our attention. A visit to his website is recommended at – http://www.tonygervis.com