This was the 4th. SYPC 2021 Bi Monthly member Competition. This month was our usual ‘Open Competition’. Normally we encourage members to submit 2 prints and 2 digital images to our Bi Monthly Competitions. However due to the logistical issues of collecting and delivering prints during the continuing “Covid” period, our Bi Monthly Competitions are digital entries only. The external judge for this 4th. 2021 Bi Monthly competition was Ralph Snook (ARPS, EFIAP).
Ralph has been a frequent visitor to SYPC both as a Judge and Speaker and whatever role, always delivers an enjoyable and constructive evening. On Monday Ralph’s comments and critique was helpful and well received. Ralph reviewed and commented on 42 digital images at our Zoom meeting. Thirty eight members joined the video call to listen to Ralph’s feedback and selection of his preferred images. Ralph’s comments are always well received and Monday night was no exception.
Thank you Ralph a thoroughly enjoyable evening and we are already looking forward to your next visit to SYPC.
Below is a table of the Top 8 Digital Images and their author’s name.
Polina Plotnikova (FRPS) returned to SYPC with her second talk of 2021 “Capturing the Mood”. Whilst we saw another set of outstanding images most of these images made use of the Lensbaby range of optics for which Polina is an Ambassador. Polina made it known that Lensbaby was a “love at first sight”, and that she tries really hard to spread the joy of using these lenses. Something she achieved in spades last Monday evening. We are hearing the word BOKEH in association with photography very regularly, indeed it was used on last Sunday’s Countryfile on BBC1 – what does it mean? It is a popular photographic technique which uses blur to focus the viewer’s attention on a specific area of an image. We are used to organising our backgrounds or working with appropriate depth of field to achieve this effect, bot Polina’s subject was the detailed explanation of how bokeh can enter our art through use of specialist lenses. Lens based optics and their manipulation captures the mood and although there are vintage lenses available, which many people have experimented with, the Lensbaby range was brought to our attention. The different component model names to some extent describe the wonderful change that is brought about. The Composer Pro tilts like a ball and socket and adapted with lens called Sweet reveals a special effect, as shown to us with Bruge Church as the subject where the foreground flowers swirl and lead our eye to the distant spire. This lens can also bring out some remarkable changes when used with portraits. There are a range of Sweet models according to their focal length. Our speaker was keen to remind us that they are all manual focus lenses. We were shown the technique using H Optic where a slice of the image was in pin sharp focus and this method drew us to facial features or a horizon, a very creative bokeh. The lens used tiny silvery droplets from the background forming heart shaped droplets, used in Composer Pro. The next choice in the Lensbaby range was called Twist (60) and forms part of a family with its own straight swirl effect, creating intensity to the background, it was shown to good effect with bluebells, giving a kind of down the rabbit hole effect. We were shown the entry level Lensbaby version called Sol 22 (& Sol 45). It is similar to Sweet and used with a wild cheetah image gave a startling result. This was followed with one of our speaker’s favourite models, known as Velvet (three models 85, 56, 28), it gave a soft focus with a unique organic quality, both bright and subtle. A particular shot of the shore on Harris and Lewes was a favourite of our speaker. Its use was, demonstrably, quite versatile often with flowers. We moved on to see the next type, known as Burnside 35 and comes in a range of prime focal lengths, it creates our well-known vignetting effect, similar to Twist with a wide angle and a swirly bokeh. The following lens from the range was very exciting and is known as the Trio 28, it has three incorporated different effects, the sweet spot cannot be moved and always remains in the centre and is regularly in position on the author’s Canon M6 MK 11 camera, one image appeared to be a double exposure and would, undoubtedly, confused most judges. There is also an Omni creative filter system which can be used with this range to provide other wonderful styles, its magnetic attachment method gives it rapid, adaptable flexibility and can be used with Velvet, composer pro and H Optic. The evening’s content now moved to suitable subjects for Lensbaby. It was clear that Polina was an exponent of flower photography and, using live view, she achieved wonders. The discovery of sparkly craft paper, as a background, brought “crazy bokeh” to her photographs. As eyes are the mirror of the soul these lenses could be very precise in manually focussed eyes. The many and varied effects that we were shown made us think of the artist’s magic wand and their range was only limited by your own imagination. Many of us seek to demonstrate the seasons of the year in our work and here we have no exception as we started in Autumn, avoiding bright colours but very much seizing the mood, perhaps through use of snow (with Velvet) and never forgetting to point the camera upwards through the tree’s canopy. To catch the Winter chill, she used Burnside in the local cemetery and brought out a sinister air with careful vignetting. Spring gave the opportunity to revisit flowers, particularly using Sweet, then later on bluebells and magnolias with Twist, showing background swirls under an overcast sky and blossoms using Velvet. Summer is obviously Polina’s busy time attending Chelsea Flower Show, Kew and many venues to capture the splendour of the beauty of a wide range of flowers, even an old phone booth in a lavender field! Peonies, Irises, butterflies, using Sweet are all her targets, even some wildlife (which she claims not to favour). In an attempt to be absolutely unique, she is known to produce toy dinosaur models, cars to to cleverly introduce into her pictures often for surprise effect It was particularly noteworthy that this very special artist always sought to do something different so that on her visit to the well-known, and much photographed, Dungeness she introduced Velvet or H in order to use the slice distortion effect to provide another very different view of that well known seascape. The same applied when using Trio on a bride to give a personal image that only she could create. Has she left anything out? We cannot think so as even the use of the Lensbaby series and a converted infra-red camera was pressed into service. Are there no limits to her imaginative talents? Following this evening’s spectacular and thought-provoking talk many of us will be driven to further investigate both her web site and the Lensbaby optics range in order to add a number of strings to their bow – an unforgettable presentation.
Club members probably anticipated seeing images from some hidden corner of the UK showing a range of former dwellings, long since forgotten, being reclaimed by nature. Instead, we were introduced to James Kerwin, an exciting former event manager and very thoughtful photographer and inveterate traveller with a completely captivating talk that took us to places which we have only heard of through conditions of war-torn strife. We started in his home City of Norwich and first got the flavour of a much-travelled man, having visited SE Asia, Australia, Japan and, importantly, former Eastern Bloc countries. There is something of the intrepid explorer in his character and clearly an ability to easily meet and interface with people and, importantly, to learn from them. During a visit to continental Europe, he described a journey with a group of photographers, and a model, and they adventurously paddled across a lake to access an underground smoking room, although the owner did not welcome any intrusions what he saw there whetted his appetite.
The feel for photographing older properties, and a change in employment status, now saw a business-like approach to his world of the professional photographer. More journeys to Southern Belgium and a dilapidated girl’s school saw the opportunity to develop skill in this particular genre creating mood and carefully composed images from virtual chaos. James will not accept the banal HDR photograph but is always searching for that slightly different and more remarkable shot. On location later in Bulgaria at the Buzludzha monument, a snow covered former cultural centre, here he described his target image, the wider discovery of the site, the decline and eventual start of its restoration – so fascinating.
Interestingly, at this time, 2015, James sought to extend his knowledge and learnt with Mike Kelley to understand colour management to extend his skill in creating more unique photographs. Virtually anywhere in the world James has discovered declining beautiful mansions and other buildings which are in need of saving but can’t, usually through financial reasons. This makes him more determined to preserve their existence through our art. We were delighted to see many wonderful images and each were described in detail. Moving forward we see in 2017 James’s next project Domum Dei (House of God). The decline of religion within so many societies natural leaves, in its wake, those outstanding buildings where the faithful attended but which are now abandoned to their fate. His research has found ideal locations in Poland, Germany, Italy and many more, even chapels attached to private dwellings and we were fascinated by a North and South view of such a place with wonderful stained-glass windows, our speaker admitted to being blown away by the spectacle. A concise description of his equipment and why each item was chosen was included at the end of the first half of this talk. We now enter the period 2017 – 2018 in this amazing story moving from Portugal to Romania and back to the amazing Fruit Auction rooms in Liverpool – who knew? We now see a significant move to the Black Sea region as James engages in a wonderful exploration and, indeed development, of these stunningly beautiful countries, whose reputation does not do them justice. He is now committed to being a full-time photographer, with a professional approach to ensure a range of different income streams. He is clearly blown away by Georgia and carried out detailed research and investigated off the beaten track. He describes the region as low crime rate, beautiful villages, wondrous cloud inversions, medieval architecture, welcoming people and a growing tourist industry.
The capital, Tbilisi and another major towns, in the Caucasus are modern, with German influences, old as well as renovated areas, wine growing regions, excellent walks, plenty of accommodation, free walking tours and much much more, James is seeking to work with the local authorities to improve this region and his principle is very inclined to giving back – this attitude is almost unique in the modern era where the predominant style is to take away as much as possible. James entire presentation was exceptionally well prepared and presented. His professionalism was epitomised by supplying us all with a handout of “Links and Resources” containing notes and references that were mentioned in his talk. He also urged anyone on the call that had more questions to contact him on his Facebook group. All of SYPC look forward to seeing James again with another of his outstanding well researched talks. For more information about James and his photography his website can be found at – https://jameskerwinphotographic.com/
This was the 3rd. SYPC Bi Monthly member Competition. This month was our usual ‘Open Competition’. Normally we encourage members to submit 2 prints and 2 digital images to our Bi Monthly Competitions. However due to the logistical issues of collecting and delivering prints during the continuing “Covid” period, our Bi Monthly Competitions are digital entries only. The external judge for this 3rd 2021 Bi Monthly competition was Vincent Knauss from Tetbury Camera Club.
Vincent reviewed and commented on 40 digital images at our Zoom meeting. 36 members joined the video call to listen to Vincent’s constructive comments and critique. Vincent’s composition comments and suggestions were particularly well received where he was able to draw on his photographic experience to suggest both areas of each image that were a positive influence as well as pointing out other areas of potential improvement.
Thank you Vincent a thoroughly enjoyable evening and we are looking forward to your return to SYPC as a guest speaker in October.
Below is a table of the Top 8 Digital Images and their author’s name.
Our club’s meeting last night started with that most fundamental of questions “What does photography mean to you?” This alone set the scene for an evening with our speaker, David Keep (ARPS DPAGB FBPE EFIAP), to approach the entire subject from an alternative angle. Many of us will attempt to create images that can tell a story and in the case of David he drew on his Engineering background describing his work as a process of reverse engineering. The audience were both puzzled and intrigued, as to how he went about it. Like many top flight photographers their skills have been developed and refined and they are always delighted to share their knowledge. We were taken through the why and the how of three projects, boxing, dance, and athletics.
Our speaker was entirely unashamed to tell us that his final image had started life by seeing something from other people’s work and, by use of research, care and expertise. Having been provoked by seeing something he himself had admired he then set about, in a most determined and professional way, to find out more about that particular topic in order to take the photograph that would be one of his base points and then, using Lightroom and Photoshop and attendant plug-ins he would work to modify that original shot to the standard of composition, colour, setting and atmosphere that he wanted. We were amazed at his development to shots in a boxing gym how the subject, and an adjacent wall poster, were brought together to provide us with a story – the detail and continuation of that story is left entirely with the viewer and David’s great success in competitions is testimony to his driven urge for success.
The sources of his work were most interesting, he creates pre-shoot storyboards, taking art, cartoon or drawn images from, for example, Pinterest, magazines, literary works, Flickr, he is always prepared and having gained access to a boxing competition, athletics meet, or dancing evening he is ready and armed to take, literally, thousands of pictures – he even shared his technique for analysing this huge amount to narrow it down to a workable number. The evening’s presentation was punctuated, most effectively, with short bursts of video to contextualise his working method and to re-enforce, if we needed it, the amount of thought and effort that goes into his end product – no wonder he achieves such success. One of his most informative segments followed an evening at a high-level dance competition where he built up a relationship with a couple and invited them to be photographed in studio. We were able to see this sequence go forward when the author recognised the shape of a photograph that he had taken and saw that this could be developed into a dream like image with a grand chateau in the background, a lake providing reflections and, using white layers of decreasing opacity, a dreamy result called Waltz with me was revealed. The overall message from this high quality speaker is:- VISUALISE…….. PLAN…….. SHOOT…….. PROCESS
David’s presentation included a number of links to documents which are available to us in order to embrace and learn from his story and to take up your quality several notches. An exceptionally well-prepared and professional presentation. We look forward to seeing David at SYPC again with another chapter of his work. Make your first port of call David’s website at – https://www.davidkeepphotography.co.uk/
If we ever feel that we have reached the limit of innovation in photography then we should simply wait and along will come an exceptional person with ideas – this was our visitor on Monday evening, Andrea Hargreaves MPAGB EFIAP/b BPE3 an outstanding presentation.
Andrea is an ultra-creative, thoughtful and artistic producer of some of the most stunning composite images that many of us have ever seen. Like so many of our friends in this hobby she is more than happy to describe her pathway, share her methods and to take us with her on the journey. Her fundamental method is to bring into print the mythical monsters creatures and legends whose origins are, often, in great literature. Our first adventure with her was into the world of mermaids. Following a photoshoot with a nude model, in a rundown building in Birmingham.
She herself admits that her ability to communicate with and direct models has grown in recent years and a number of images were demonstrated. Almost without direction she lets her imagination run riot and, using Photoshop, she follows her meandering path to modify the model, add her own skies and/ or water or backgrounds or textures and the metamorphosis takes place. The ultimate works of art revealed, Mermaid on Rock, Mermaid in Underwater Seascape and Mermaid Reclining on the Sea Surface.
In each case the elements which were brought together were of Andrea’s own making – she takes pictures here there and everywhere and catalogues them into what must be a vast collection. She is able to use her complete mastery of Photoshop in order to skilfully modify to the result desired (a black pearl started life as a silver ball on a water feature in a garden centre). A wonderful feel for composition, colour and atmosphere are the principal elements which come together to form the final image which, the observer will lose themselves within, there is always emotion underlying the work. Following the wonderful mermaids we were treated to her “Ladies who Lounge” selection. The original image of two blonde haired models, taken on a mansion’s staircase, seated closely, was treated in similar spectacular style by modifying skin tones or introducing subtle shadows, or changing backgrounds or placing them in alternative environments. Through the author’s boundless imagination we saw a journey of their way through life – Ladies in waiting, Ladies lost in transit, Ladies go off the rails, Ladies take a breather, Ladies take a cruise, Ladies Summer break, Ladies by boat, Ladies down under, were just a few from this series – the extent of the detail and the attention to colour demonstrated the hours of work that is put into this stunning form of art.
We at SYPC look forward to seeing Part 2 and perhaps one day a face to face to see those digital images as mounted prints would be a night to remember. If you are tempted then be aware that there is much much more to see at – https://www.andreahargreaves.art/about.html
Our guest speaker, Roger Geldard (DPAGB BPE4*), had set himself the target of a two-week trip to photograph specific targets in Japan and was able to carry this through and return just before the first pandemic lockdown. His preparation followed the old maxim FAIL TO PREPARE – PREPARE TO FAIL and it was abundantly clear that he had researched the venues that he wanted to visit, the birds and animals that were his clearly defined objectives, his photographic equipment and his clothing in order to maximise the experience. The itinerary was described to us in fine detail. The technical aspects of his camera equipment (and the reasons for their choice) was of much interest to our members. He has dispensed with the DSLR and entered the world of the Sony mirrorless camera with electronic shutter. His two principal cameras being the Sony A911 and the Sony A7R4 with lenses up to 600mm. These are full frame cameras with electronic view finders (EVF) capable of bursts of 20 fps, using manual settings, set up before going into the field, and both with lens and camera image stabilisation. Clearly, he is a firm believer in the best quality tripod with fully flexible head, and a lightweight monopod. Interestingly we were advised that there was no need to calibrate camera/lens combinations with the Sony setup. Back button focus was a favoured technique. A salutary lesson to us all to be fully clued up on your camera’s settings before you go! It’s pointless learning on the job while the object of your photographic ambitions is right in front of you.
The substance of the evening was a high-quality travelogue under demanding conditions with absolute determination to succeed in prepared objectives. This included studying birds’ habits at both take off and landing in order to be warned of impending flight speed slowing down or movements in advancing toward the prey. Understanding perspective, knowing the birds prefer to take off and land into the wind and preparing image composition during the shooting session gave the best opportunity for the perfect shot, using automatic focussing at shutter speeds from 1/800s to 1/4000s nothing can be left to chance. Naturally we expected to see something special! The first shoot saw us at OTOWA Bridge rising at 4:00am to see the Red-Crowned Crane, a bird that was heading towards extinction. The objective was images of Cranes taking off, from a misty atmosphere, into the rising Sun. The author was disappointed at the less than perfect conditions.
The next session was at TSURUI where cereal grains had been scattered, to attract the birds, on a snowy carpet. There was a mass of birds and the opportunity to achieve a dancing pair was demanding on the serious photographer, but success was achieved, which included a young solo dancing Crane, on video – a real treat. The meeting of these birds to form life bonds, where they do everything, in wonderful synchronicity, was very much Roger’s objective – as we expected his persistence was rewarded. The journey gave the opportunity to see a pair of young URAL Owl perched on a tree trunk hollow gazing ruefully at any passing photographer. Onwards to a frozen caldera – LAKE KUSSHARO where the swans were gently swimming about but a member of the group spotted a long-tailed tit nibbling, intermittently from an icicle tip, and this set the challenge to capture this unusual activity in tack-sharp detail, a challenge which Roger met superbly a clear need for firing at 20fps was essential and the pre-setting incorporating a cable release to catch the tiny time frame that was needed. The next stop was the NOTSUKE Peninsula. After driving for a while, the group came upon vehicles parked on the side of the road. What were they looking at? It was a red fox bathing in the warmth of the afternoon sun and a selection of grazing deer.
The next objective was the Sea Eagles at RAUSU. Taking the boat at 5:00am, If it is a bright morning it is a good time shooting to the light (up to 1 hour from sunrise). Rising sun offers great backlit photography opportunities with the White-Tailed Eagles and Steller Eagles. The on-board stock of fish and sympathetic ship’s captain facilitated great opportunities, again, the fruits of Roger’s preparations were there to be seen and a host of approx.60 birds provided ample targets and outstanding results. The final step of this trip was to Lake FUREN to shoot the Black Eared Kites and Eagles.
Regrettably on arrival a huge snowstorm had blown up and visibility became restricted. Attempts to draw the birds closer ended up in a free-for-all as the birds attempted to devour the food, an image of a snowy beaked eagle proved to be the unusual highlight of this section. Finally, a long trip across this fascinating country took us back to Tokyo to see the amazing Snow Monkeys. They inhabit a hot spring fed pool some 20 X 10 metres. Activity was low on this day as the Matriarch was disinclined to take a swim and that, in turn, precluded others from entering the water. A selection of rather soggy infant monkeys provided us with some amusement.
To end the tour a Samurai Castle (Matsumoto) was visited, although amazing it operated with rules restricting photography. No trip to Japan would be complete without attempting to capture the splendour of Mount Fuji at sunrise, unfortunately by the time the cloud had cleared the “golden hour” for light was lost.
This was a special event as it gave us an insight into the mysterious country which is Japan, a precise look at the Winter wildlife of that country, all presented by a dedicated, technically skilled photographer with a breadth of knowledge in many aspects of our hobby who was keen to share both his experiences and his knowledge. We thank him for the time and effort in preparing this talk and his excellent presentation skills in bringing it to us. For those of you who find their appetite whetted we recommend a visit to Roger’s Facebook page at – https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=10158622451625039&set=gm.3113027122110905
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