2021 – Round 3 – Bi Monthly Results – May 17th.

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.

Round 3 Digital TitleAuthorPlace
Buchaille Etiv Mor AutumnRay Grace1st.
Rose Gertrude JekyellJenni Craft2nd.
Feng HuangAnette Wakefield3rd.
In the cold MistJohn Portlock4th.
Rotten BoatMark Seaman5th.
BalconiesDave Bruten6th.
Pink OrchidKevin James7th.
Happily retiredAlan Connor8th.

Below are copies of the Top 3 Digital Images



First Place “Buchaille Etiv Mor Autumn” by Ray Grace
2nd. Place “Rose Gertrude Jekyell” by Jenni Craft

3rd. Place “Feng Huang” by Annette Wakefield

Additionally the TOP 8 Digital Images can be found at – http://www.sypc.org.uk/gallery/index.php/2016-Competitions/2021-Competition-Results/2021-Bi-Monthly-Round-3-Top-8-Digital-Images

May 10th. 2021 – David Keep (ARPS DPAGB FBPE EFIAP) – “A Project Based Approach to Photography”

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:-

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/

April 24th 2021 – ANDREA HARGREAVES – “Art of Metamorphosis (part 1)”

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

April 12th. 2021 – ROGER GELDARD (DPAGB, BPE4*) – “Japan’s Winter Wildlife”

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

2021 – Round 2 – Bi Monthly Results – March 29th

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

Round 2 Digital Title Author Place
After Dark Mike Franks 1st.
Transfixed Tim Edwards 2nd.
Gathering Clouds Keith Barlow 3rd.
Ready to Play Dave Clarke 4th.
Sammy Joe Kevin James 5th.
Orchid Dave Bruten 6th.
Hi is that The Medical Centre Peter Range 7th.
Weston Pier Jenni Craft 8th.

Below copies of the Top 3 Digital Images


First Place “After Dark” by Mike Franks

2nd. Place “Transfixed” by Tim Edwards

3rd. Place “Gathering Clouds” by Keith Barlow

Additionally the TOP 8 Digital Images can be found at – – http://www.sypc.org.uk/gallery/index.php/2016-Competitions/2021-Competition-Results/2021-Bi-Monthly-Round-2-Top-8-Digital-Images

March 15th. 2021 – PETER BARTLETT – “The Way We Were”

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.

By Peter Bartlett

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?

By Peter Bartlett

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.

By Peter Bartlett

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.

By Peter Bartlett

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/

March 8th. 2021 – GRAHAM HARRIES – “Lost Carmarthenshire” & “The Eye in the Sky”

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.

Lost Carmarthenshire by Graham Harries

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).

Lost Carmarthenshire by Grahan Harries

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.

Caernarfon by Graham Harries

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.

Whiteford Lighthouse by Graham Harries

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

1st. March 2021 – SANDIE COX (ARPS DPAGB) – “Gorillas, Chimps and More”

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/

22 February 2021 EMMA DRABBLE – “Beyond the Obvious”

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.

Abigail Katsande

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/

15th. February 2021 – POLINA PLOTNIKOVA (FRPS, EFIAP) – “Starting From a Blank Canvas”

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.

By any standards this was an inspiring evening and visitors are recommended to visit Polina’s website athttp://www.polinaplotnikova.com