During the Coronavirus shutdown we are fortunate that our members can still engage in club activities using Video Conferencing facilities. Last night was our third such activity on a Monday evening and, without doubt, it was a resounding success.
Stephen Spraggon last visited SYPC in March 2018 where he presented his talk “Welcome to my Outdoor Office”, this new presentation was equally well received despite being delivered through a Video Conferencing media, an excellent evening.
Last night’s presentation brought together the many faces of photography. It included commitment, persistence, technical know-how, scientific understanding and artistic skills at the highest level. Even during these trying times our speaker is able to access landscape vistas, as well as realising opportunities to take some remarkable photographs.
As the talk’s title implies the content of Stephen’s expert and informative presentation showed us a range of mainly landscape images in the county of Somerset. It was so interesting to see the same view taken at critical times in the four seasons, the change, even in subtle ways highlighted some stunning changes creating such magnificent countryside which, clearly is the author’s passion.
The cornerstone of Stephen’s success is in his dedication and planning, as well as wonderful imagination. By absolute mastery of his cameras, precision choice of lenses and filters but with careful planning of sun rises and sunsets (as well as phases of the Moon) using the Photographers Ephemeris – https://www.photoephemeris.com/
Stephen captivated us with his hard won successes – see some examples below.
In keeping with so many top flight photographers we were given copious information regarding exposure times aperture values ISO settings and lens focal lengths. Indeed, these were supplemented with precise locations of the images and even the times when they were taken – what more could we want? His concise descriptions of composition and precise descriptions of the image he was seeking is an example to anyone who is driven to success.
A general outline was given as to what to look for season by season:-
Summer – Poppies (June/July), North facing views, The Milky Way, Heather (Mid August).
Autumn – Misty mornings, Autumn foliage (combinations of both).
Winter – The South coast, Frosts, Snow, Night Sky
Spring – Bluebells, Rape seed fields, misty sunrises, Somerset coastlines.
Altogether this was a most entertaining evening with examples of exactly what can be achieved with determination and, perhaps, a little good fortune at times. Few of us will forget the final image of the full moon, symmetrically behind Glastonbury Tor and Stephen’s description of how he achieved it from a distance of 1.5 miles with a 500 mm lens utilising the residual light from the setting Sun. We commend Stephen’s website to anyone that would like to know more about his work athttp://www.spraggonphotography.co.uk/
Regular readers of the Club’s activities will be delighted to know that in spite of many problems that stand in the way of keeping a group of enthusiastic photographers active and together, we have been able to enjoy a diverse and skilful set of images, described by Philip, from his own home in Somerset by using Video Conferencing facilities.
Last night’s meeting brought 29 SYPC members ‘virtually’ together with a man who clearly uses his time and considerable skills in a number of hobbies, a serious dog owner with training ability as demonstrated by the number of winners rosettes in his office, a fine breed cat lover, an aircraft enthusiast who brings his photo graphic understanding to capture VERY high speed aircraft, a lover of nature and a practising fly fisherman, as well as being well travelled.
The evening was divided into three segments, Aircraft, Natural Science and Favourites. The evening started with a considered and immaculately captured set of pictures from the era of Captain Eric “Winkle” Brown an RN Officer and test pilot who flew 487 types of aircraft. The precision which Philip needed to catch acrobatic planes in mid-flight was truly astounding and his ability to manipulate a Sigma 500mm lens on a Full Frame Nikon body took considerable skill. The range of jet, propeller and helicopters with some stunning “paint jobs” took us from pre WW2 to the modern era.
We moved from these wizards of the air to a number of fine macro studies of moths, butterflies, dragon flies, damsel flies and unknown flies, as well as flora. Obviously Philip is always armed with his camera and we enjoyed images of large mammals (who will forget the detail of the fawn suckling), birds (a water rail from 500 yards!) beautifully seen birds of prey and an array of wading birds, shot from hides and during fishing expeditions.
Finally, we saw his own personal favourites. Aggressive seascapes, street photography, successful award winning pictures of birds and some post camera manipulated artistic efforts which would grace any living room.
A splendid evening presented by an affable, multi-talented man who was able to entertain us in our own homes and generate a great deal of enthusiasm making us ready to think closely about our own ideas when we are free to roam again.
This was the second of our 6 bi-monthly member competitions for 2020. Our members are encouraged to submit 2 Prints and 2 Digital images in an open format, for the SYPC, Bi-Monthly competitions. Our judge for this Monthly competition was Victoria Hillman.
Victoria is a wildlife researcher and photographer and part of the current judging panel for Bird Photographer Of The Year (BPOTY) and judge for British Wildlife Photography Awards (BWPA) in 2018 & 2019. So well qualified to judge our Round 2 competition.
For our 2nd. Bi Monthly Competition Victoria reviewed and commented on 80 images (44 digitals and 36 prints). However due to the current travel restrictions and the need for ‘social distancing’ Victoria was unable to deliver the results of her findings in person. However she supplied sufficient information that we were able to share her deliberations and results to our club members.
Thank you Victoria and we look forward to meeting you in person in 2021.
Below is a Table of the Top 8 Images and their authors for each Section (Prints and Digital)
The National Trust, at Newark Park, invited SYPC and Tetbury camera clubs to come together to present an exhibition of Photography using the theme “Reflections of Newark Park”.
30 Framed prints were displayed at Newark Park, but unfortunately due to Coronovirus epidemic the display has ended prematurely. However below are digital copies of the 18 SYPC prints that were on display .
These digital copies will be be held in one of our SYPC Gallery folders in the near future – link to follow.
One of the obvious delights of being a member of SYPC is the opportunity to be with like-minded enthusiasts and to have your favourite camera in your hands, this thrill was further enhanced last night as our Local professional, Richard McDonough, led us on a most informative tour from Old Sodbury Church and then down to Chipping Sodbury car park taking a circular tour through Brook street, up the steep hill to the top of the High street down the High street back past the church to the car park.At the start of this shoot Rich reminded us all of what he described as a few basics – this stretched to about 13 excellent tips e.g. remember to maintain a level horizon when photographing the setting sun, think about the lens’s dynamic range to include the sky and the foreground, retain some interest in the foreground (this was achieved using crosses, headstones and a small plastic blue tit that he had brought along – who would have thought of that?). His expertise stimulated the 18 members who turned up to think intelligently about their camera settings and, of course, composition!
The second part of our shoot brought us to Waitrose’s car park – here the challenge was to take a worthwhile atmospheric image of the store. Taking Rich’s advice, a setting of f4 was used to capture as much of the available light as possible, A ‘P’ setting a high ISO value and, using manual focusing on the store’s name sign, re-align to produce an interesting shot.
At the bottom of Brook street we paused to shoot the sweeping incline of “cardiac hill” which lay in front of us, members drifted of the pack to provide some interest to the shot. We were reminded to keep our eyes open for all opportunities and in no time a black cat was seen at a cottage window. We were, quite rightly, reminded to respect people’s privacy in strolling around in the dark.
As we emerged to the top of the hill by the new bakery shop another opportunity presented itself as the olde sweet shop was brightly lit and the walls of the intervening houses provided a frame for the image. Cars sweeping by added interest along with one of our members volunteering to walk across and a resident walking his dog, all of these things add to the main subject.
We turned down the High street and photographed the Horseshoe pub and the Moda hotel, no doubt our more observant members saw dozens of other sparkling opportunities.
One of Rich’s current challenges is to video headlight trails down the high street, his efforts so far have not been successful so our attention focussed on long shutter times to provide single images with car headlight trails – at one stage there were 7 members set up on the central reservation in order to capture this shot (without being run over!).
This nerve-wracking procedure continued down to the clock tower – pleased to report no casualties. Our next challenge from Rich was to see if we could catch the two post boxes, the telephone booth and the clock tower in a single shot (getting the tower in focus proved tricky). One of our group acted as the model (wearing red) and posed opening the phone box door, again more interest.
To conclude the evening a few of us found ourselves in licensed premises where Rich really demonstrated his enthusiasm for his chosen career, he talked, with knowledge and a genuine passion of his work, his wedding photography and his new camera. We were in the palm of his hand. A really enjoyable night despite the cold, a valuable session and well worthwhile attending. Many thanks Richard – to find out more follow him on Facebook Rich MCD – visit his website at –http://www.richmcd.co.uk
We were able to welcome Robert Auckland for the third time in the knowledge that, without doubt everyone would have a useful tip to take away with them.
His practical presentations are always useful in fact his presentation style and enthusiasm to ‘share’ is infectious .
His opening comments were absolutely pertinent, practice makes perfect, learn from others, photographic techniques are often counter intuitive, analyse your own performance – are you getting 65% failures? Why?
The session’s opening approach made use of small groups of members addressing questions regarding camera shake/subject movement, how to recognise and improve. How to freeze subject movement, identify simple techniques to get sharp images in most cases.
The members applied themselves to the task with sufficient knowledge to please Rob and we were soon using our own cameras in an attempt to address the question in hand e.g. photograph a moving rugby ball at faster shutter speeds until you are able to read the wording on the ball!
500th.second exposureWe were all interested to observe how flesh tones photographed against a black or white background altered radically – white background tended to over expose the subject, naturally dark backgrounds did the opposite. These observations naturally lead to landscape photography at both dawn and dusk – the golden hours.
Of course, there was technical discussion regarding sensors, equipment, filters and a warning was given as the authenticity of apparently genuine memory cards as their packing should be carefully examined. A card containing 1000 wedding shots might fail spontaneously for no apparent reason. His tip was to use a twin card system shooting in JPEG and Raw simultaneously and take care when purchasing even well-known brands.
Finally, in response to a question regarding Black and White images Rob admitted going on individual shoots where he keeps his creative skills up to scratch be deliberately challenging himself to take that awkward, tricky, rare image – do we ever do this?
Another superb evening from Rob. Please if you have a moment take a peek at Rob’s website link attached.
Graham Harries presented a superb and complete package at SYPC on Monday evening. Graham started the evening with a quick run through of his work including Wedding Photography, Live music shows, general landscape and the natural world. His interpretation of aspects of photography from skateboarders in suits to images of musicians, ballerinas and fashion models shot in unexpected locations viz under motorways were all well received. We were already enthralled by Graham’s presentation style, his work and the enthusiasm he had for his profession. Then Graham started the main event.
” On the 26th April 1986 Chernobyl in Ukraine hit the world headlines when nuclear reactor no 4 at the VA Lenin power plant exploded during a safety test. The result saw 49,000 people from the city of Pripyat and the surrounding area being evacuated within 3 hours. They were told this would be a short-term measure but they never returned! 32 years later Graham visited the exclusion zone of Chernobyl & spent 4 full days exploring the now deserted wilderness. Homes, shops, schools & hospitals sit silent and forgotten with trees growing in the middle of once busy roads.” (this extract from Graham’s website at http://gphotography.org.uk/chernobyl/
Graham presented the Chernobyl Vision of Silence in 2 parts. Both came across like a documentary starting with the rationale behind his visit to the Ukraine followed by a recap of the disaster in 1986, very very dramatically presented. The still images and video intermeshed with voiceover were tremendously effective. You couldn’t be unmoved by the whole story. Exceptionally thought- provoking.
Graham, please you must visit us again next year with another fantastic presentation. It will be a challenge to find anything quite so dramatic and thought provoking as your Chernobyl package.
Richard Price joined us on Monday evening with his talk entitled “Macro to Massive” and what an encouraging and enlightening talk that was. Richard’s presentation was structured in a very clear and logical way .
The first half of the evening was dedicated to his take on Macro. Richard was at pains to emphasise how easy it was for all of us to aspire to and indeed achieve results like his without investing huge sums in equipment. We were taken through the world of bugs, small creatures such as frogs, dragonflies, damsel flies, spiders, fungi, ferns and frosts were also high on his list of chosen subjects. At every step Richard explained how he captured each image, pointing out the camera settings, number of exposures and when and why he decided on focus stacking. We also learned about Richard’s “studio” settings and lighting ‘tricks’.Again all the equipment demonstrated was very functional and not too costly.
Richard’s images of his experiments capturing water droplets landing on water and then inside a soap bubble, plus his time lapse short films and some stunning panoramas will live long in the collective memory.
Richard had clearly summed up his audience very astutely and repeatedly explained that many of the images he was to share with us were all within our means.
Many of us went away enthused enough to have a go ourselves . We hope to see Richard back at SYPC in the near future with another of his very special talks and informative presentation styles.
Richard Price has been an amateur photographer for 10 years living in Somerset. He particularly enjoys the outdoor experience, whether walking or wild camping but equally gets great satisfaction from his Macro indoor work on a wet Sunday afternoon.
Mike Dales – (ARPS, CPAGB) was a first time speaker to SYPC. On Monday night his presentation “A night with Mike Dales” didn’t disappoint. We were treated to a thought provoking and creative set of images narrated perfectly by Mike.
Mike Dales is not your typical camera club presenter, in fact his opening gambit made that very clear, telling us in no uncertain terms just what we wouldn’t see within his presentation. At this point it was easy to think, oh dear, how’s this going to pan out, but then straight from the very first image we were pulled into his “world”. Outstanding !
It was an entertaining evening . We were given much to ponder :-
• as in “Is this a photograph. What is a photograph”?
• Ideas for exploring different approaches to photography, to the extent that some of us began to question our own photographic approaches.
• Creating book covers and film posters
• or just using unconventional ‘models’ – such as the hysterical use of jelly babies with a few simple props.
• creating patterns or series of images.
Every one of Mike’s images came with its own unique story articulated in an informative way .
All in all a really enjoyable evening, thought-provoking and entertaining in equal parts.
Coming from a judge his comment (as borne out by his own photography) is that “you should not take photos for the express purpose of pleasing judges”, but rather for your own pleasure and enjoyment. A mantra that we should all be pleased to live by!
Mike will always be a welcome visitor to SYPC we look forward to his next visit as a presenter and of course his visit to us in May as our judge for one of our bi-monthly competitions.