Andrea Hargreaves ‘Metamorphosis’
After an introduction which included an advert for a print paper she’s sponsored by and the tale of equipment lost in a flash flood, Andrea took us through the time-line of how she came to produce multiple-layer images, creating every element (for example brushes, textures and overlays) from photographs.
- Andrea bought her first DSLR camera, and learned techniques from her husband. She joined a camera club in 2010, by which time she was already producing composite images. She took a beginners’ course in Photoshop, also using Picasa, and began turning photos into works of art – using the basic elements of foreground, middle ground and background.
In 2012, as her creations became more subtle, she was awarded her CPAGB. In 2013 she added DPAGB and EFIAP. In 2014, having images accepted for exhibitions, she added BPE2, with a project entitled Angels & Demons. 2015 brought Goths and mermaids in pools. 2016 a series of characters using female models. Raven Queens and Valkyries in 2017. In 2018 she achieved her MPAGB and EFIAP/b, still using models. 2019 saw animals, mostly birds and horses, added to the mix. Projects for 2020 included Dragon Watchers and Wind Singers, by the medium of print panels. This year the theme is The Oracles.
Then Andrea took us through some of these projects. The process of each is threefold – get the pictures, produce the composition, and then create a work of art. The example Fallen Angel portrayed a naked woman in brief feathery garb. She photographs the models nude, and then adds any whisps of clothing and enhances the hair with multiple layers. This led to Norse sagas. Background rocks and water, foreground the figure, then add wings and a horse. For effect she uses a multitude of sliders till she gets the best blend. Accoutrements are added, such as feathers from a Goth’s costume and a reenactor’s shield turned into jewellery, plus such items as shields and halberds. It is important to add shadows for reality. Andrea will experiment with colours and tones, and vary the opacity of layers to achieve the best result. She writes down each setting she uses so that if the images are grouped into panels they with match in every respect. The ‘rule of thirds’ and triangles are good guides to a pleasing composition. Odd numbers better than even.
The next project was The Ride to Valhalla. A horse was introduced. An arm and a leg were removed from the model so she could be sat on the horse. The horse, by similar removing and replacing of limbs, was made to rear up. This idea was made into an 11-print panel. Bamburgh Castle and Whitby Abbey were added to the background. These images have done well for Andrea. No time on these projects is wasted; they help to hone techniques. A rider was created standing on the backs of two stallions. A few changes turned these elements into another project the Swan Maiden riding three horses. The background was changed to a torrential storm. The model’s hair was even plaited using Photoshop. The Swan Maiden morphed into Epona, the goddess protector of horses, ponies, donkeys, and mules. Then the Shield Maiden with three horses, crashing waves and shield & halberd. A generously proportioned warrior lady with Stonehenge as the backdrop: costumes (many from Goths) need to be top-notch – even Photoshop can’t make tat realistic!
The next model was a sword-wielding male, to whom Andrea had added tattoos and birds, one of which was in flames. This effort has been judged as ‘too orange’.
The following project would have involved Valkyries and the Northern Lights, but after the first three images Andrea tired of it. This was replaced by The Raven Queen, draped in feathery material, with bird, halberd and a bird-beak hat on a multi-coloured background. Another version of this, the model with bare breasts and two birds, did very well. A further twist produced the Morrigan Warrior with a bird and halberd, on a horse with a woodland park as backdrop. A judge said the horse was too dominant in the image, so a close crop was required. Next came the goddess Morgana; for this the model’s limbs had to be rearranged, a coat of feathers added plus a helmet and two birds. The eye of one of the birds was removed to reveal one of Morgana’s eyes. To get this image into a local exhibition a warmer background was needed.
More projects followed. Sun Goddesses – with golden skin tones – used a similar approach, with fiery torches in place of halberds. One image used a sphinx as the backdrop. There were some dramatic poses; one with a goddess twirling four torches. Swan Maidens – kin to the Valkyries, but with horses: shields and halberds reappeared.
Andrea decided on a new ‘ethereal’ challenge with Pinnacle papers, experimenting with sharpness and blur. This changed the atmosphere of the image (a more pastel effect), so halberds and shields were ditched and the models became divine messengers. A semi-clothed Valkyrie was titled The price of immortality.
Andrea calibrates her monitor to PDI, and so needs to brighten the images by 25% for printing.
Her latest series include Dragon Watchers. The challenge is to use a high viewpoint. The model is now a dragon hunter with dark hair, sitting on a rock high up with huge rock-like jackdaws. The model seems to be wearing scarves. A skull has been melded into the rocks. The backdrop dominated, so the image had to be cropped. The main character holds a halberd, and is looking away from us. A dragon skull has been morphed into a hat. The dragon stone is a skull melded with a monolith. Another image features a larger model with shield and halberd.
Wind Singers are set against breaking waves. They represent the points of the compass. Sunrises and sunsets alternate as the background. A scantily-clad figure with a bird on her hand, dancing. As an enhancement, mountains were added to the far coastline. A figure with two flaming halberds.
Prophecy of Dragons is being designed as a 20-print panel, but may well end up as PDI. Another panel – this time five prints – will experiment with tones and saturation, and is based upon close-up portraits. A panel of 4 for the Welsh Federation. The position of images in a panel takes some thinking about. Sign of the Dragons underwent several changes before the final assessment.
The final image was a dragon head.
TREVOR RUDKIN LRPS ‘Trevor’s People’
Trevor, a retired teacher, is a member of Desborough & Rothwell Photographic Society, the East Midlands Monochrome Group and Leicester Forest Photographic Society. His talk was presented in five sections.
1 STREET / PUBLIC EVENTS
Trevor began with some of his earliest photos, taken on film and scanned from the negatives, at Stamford Market in 1981. His images all included people, even though ‘Street Photography’ wasn’t a ‘thing’ then. Images of Coventry Cathedral from 1983 also included people. People provide the viewer with the scale and a focal point. Images taken on an Iceland trip in 2017 included a group of 4 with a selfie-stick and a couple by a beached iceberg. Rothwell Carnival is good for people photography: one image, taken from a church tower, showed a lady with a case. A photoshoot in London (2014) included the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, a policeman being helpful, a group of teachers protesting against government cuts marching in unison with a dog wanting to go in a different direction, and a couple taking a selfie with the Tower of London as a backdrop. In the busy London streets a fisheye lens is useful: people may not realise they’re in the photo. Photos taken in Edinburgh showed a statue, a woman standing precariously on a wall with a sheer drop to take a photo, and a townscape with a woman in the bottom left corner looking at the scene. On to Bath in 2017 – visitors to the Roman Baths, and a busker with a craggy face.
A tip for shy would-be people photographers is to take an open-top bus tour with a medium telephoto lens.
Events like the Market Harborough Festival provide subjects both from the performers and the spectators’ reactions. An advantage is that the performers like to be photographed. At classic car meets, Trevor likes the proud owners of the vehicles to be in his pictures. Despite the problems with excluding out-of-time distractions, reenactors such as the Sealed Knot provide good opportunities for the people photographer. Either find a place with trees as a backdrop or go in close with a telephoto. The best shots are those where the participants look as if they’re part of a battle, or are crashed out on the ground with exhaustion.
The Tall Ships Festival at Gloucester Docks provided a shot of people ignoring a ukulele band. Monochrome was best for a town crier to avoid colour-clash. A tip for getting images where photography is frowned on (for example, shopping malls) is to ‘shoot from the hip’ pressing the shutter at random intervals. This can also provide blur as people rush by which enhances the image.
The Leicester County Show of 2016 provided the chance of photographing ‘horsey’ people, and owners with their prize animals. Reenactors at the Black Country Museum are usually willing to pose: a doorway is a good spot, providing a dark background. The same goes for the Southwell Workhouse (a guide asked to stare out of a window, and another figure added as a ghost), and the Patchings Arts Festival where artists are prepared to pose by their art. At the National Arboretum those who are paying their respects make poignant images.
Sports events are also a good source of people photography. Motor racing, but not just for the vehicles: a couple sitting on chairs in the pouring rain also make a good image. Trevor regularly takes pictures of Stamford AFC at their Vic Couzens Stadium: not just action shots but the reactions of the crowd – whether elated, miserable or bored. Happy fans make the best pictures, as witnessed when a club won their final match of the season at Stamford and were promoted. At lower-key venues, for example at Rothwell Corinthians ground, the best image might well be a girl with a cone of chips!
- EVENTS FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS
These cost money. The first one Trevor attended was the Lily La Mer underwater photo shoot at Bourne (2015). In a large tank with blue lining models swam. Groups of 8 photographers were admitted at a time at the cost of £95 each. Both men and women were employed as models; the favourite attire for the women being mermaid. Various styles of post—production could be employed to enhance the images obtained. Another venue was the PICO Photofest at Thorpe Hall, Peterborough (2016). The much-used image of a couple saying farewell on a railway platform could be obtained at the Steam Museum in Swindon (2017); this shot has become so familiar it is very difficult to get one accepted for an exhibition now. This is what happens when 20 to 30 people stand in a line to take the same picture. At Studio 2 in Nottingham Dancers Workshops are held: Trevor attended in 2017. The dancers will leap about; interesting poses can be gained when they are warming up or warming down. Sometimes groups of dancers will perform together. The stage lighting is difficult to cope with here. The Natural Light Studios at Weedon (2019) allow for different styles of lighting, and the models turn up in a variety of costumes such as ‘Hollywood’ ‘60s’ and ‘80s’.
- STUDIO (NON-NUDE)
Trevor joined the Leicester Forest Photographic Society in 2016 because they have a Studio Group. They employ professional models who give themselves a ‘modelling name’ such as Ivory Flame and Misty la Malice. Dancers can be hired for those who want to photograph models leaping about: sometimes blur helps with this sort of image. Male models are also hired, for example a bearded old man with tattoos and a bowler hat, a boxer or a body-builder. Photos from these sessions do well at exhibitions. Models develop and change their persona over the years. One in particular suited a ‘bride with attitude’ shot with a wide-angle image of a cathedral as the background. When the lighting is playing up, some of the models will go outdoors for natural light photography.
The next step in quality and, of course, in cost is to hire a studio and model for your own exclusive session. This followed on the club studio sessions being ‘samey’ and Trevor wanted to ‘do his own thing’. He embarked on this in 2019 and was able to customise the scenery, furniture and backdrops.
At the start of his talk, Trevor advised that those who were uncomfortable with nude photography might like to leave the meeting at the interval.
4 NUDE STUDIES
For this type of photography Trevor took a course on studio lighting. His first attempt – at Studio 58 in Northampton (2017) – was a tribute to Diana Rigg of the Avengers, with umbrella and bowler hat. Studios can be rented by the hour. He employed a model called Lulu and using natural light from the windows as well as the studio lighting asked her to run through a series of poses while he kept taking photos. A professional model can be asked for any number of poses and moods. Another studio – the Natural Light Studio in Weedon (2018) – boasts the biggest White Infinity Curve in Britain. The building was once an Ordnance Barracks, built for the Napoleonic Wars, and is home to several enterprises as well as the studio. Rachel has studs, tattoos and piercings and under studio lights can have an appropriate harsh character. She can also be taken down to the cellar to be photographed against the decayed brickwork.
The Scorpion Studios in Kettering (2018) are set in an end-of-terrace house, with the lower part of the windows blocked to protect the models’ modesty. The Open Space Studios in Market Harborough are set up as a bathroom, and rely on window-light with reflectors. Other shots included strange ornaments, views from overhead of the model on a carpet, a pair of models – one painted gold and the other silver, and more leaping around. One model is ballet trained and can be used for extreme poses.
5 URBEX (URBAN EXPLORATION PHOTOGRAPHY)
This involved a trip organised by the Weedon Studio to a derelict and graffitied World War 1 army fort just outside Liege in Belgium. It’s a venue also used for wedding photography. It’s good for nude photography by the virtue of contrast between ‘sophisticated ladies’ and the ruined building. The models are prepared to strip off providing ‘a smooth female form’ to set against the grubby background. Contrasts such as old/new and dark/light work well, Trevor said. The models will also go outside to places where foliage is growing over the building. Intricate poses included the model crouching in a foetal position to represent terror, forcing herself into a crack in the brickwork, sitting to look contemplative and abandoned, or in front of the graffiti – for example, in the pose of Rodin’s statue against the word THINK.
Thus ended the lecture.
Darren Juggins – Life as a Pro
Darren delivered this talk from a hotel in Brighton.
He is Lincolnshire based and worked for the NHS. He began to earn money from photography in 2007, and in 2010 left his job to earn his living exclusively from photography.
He was interested in photography from the age of 6, using such cameras as 6h4 Kodak Instamatic 100 and the Kodak Extra 200 (with flash) before moving on to a Minolta 500 twin lens set, having his films processed at Boots. A bit like ‘Snappy Snaps’. His first DSLR was a Nikon D70s, again with twin lenses.
When he began work as a professional he built up to 10 camera – 9 Nikons and 1 Fuji – with 6 lenses (including two fish-eyes for virtual tours.
He reason for going professional was simple – to earn money! He had been beguiled by family and friends into taking photographs at events such as weddings and found he was missing all the enjoyment of those events with little reward. His attitude is ‘You want my skill? Pay for it!’. He found it much easier being a stranger than being involved with the event. Being paid meant he needed liability insurance. The events he attended were joyful affairs which meant it was easier to get good images. He put a website together. In three years he built up the business from no weddings to 300. In 2010 he built a studio and within two days attracted his first paying customer!
Darren identified the ‘pillars’ of his work, showed a short video on each one and then explained the set-up.
He uses only white backgrounds to simplify the post-processing, In a 30-minute sessions he will arrange as many poses as possible. He processes the images in another 30 minutes and then presents them to the clients. The next task is to take their money. He photographs couples, families (large family groups are a pain, as are those with unruly children), and pets. He dislikes people who think he can control their pet better than they can. He takes control of the sessions by constantly talking to the clients and moving them from pose to pose. He was asked it anyone complained about the plain backgrounds: his answer was simply that those who were dissatisfied and wouldn’t buy enough pictures would not return. He presents his clients with 40 – 60 images and hopes they’ll buy a good number. He earns £500 – £1,000 per session. He has to manage his workflow carefully in order to achieve his target income.
Sometimes a client will specify a location, sometimes Darren has to pick one for them. Locations can be indoors or outside. Models will be employed and taken to locations like Clumber Park.
When he first tried this, he bought an expensive video camera, but found it too cumbersome. He’s now more likely to use the DSLR or his iPhone. As an example he showed us a promotion video he made for a car dealer. He interviewed satisfied customers and interspersed those clips with pans and sweeps of the vehicles. The success of a video shoot is gauged by how much the client will pay for it.
This is the major part of Darren’s work. We saw examples from a dental practice, an optician, a hotel and a seller of drum kits. Examples of these can be seen on his website. Asked about the people seen in the videos, he said nearly all were those who happened to be around at the time, not specially hired for the job.
In 2017 Darren set up photography training programmes, concentrating on skills such as night photography, landscape, wildlife and people. In this enterprise he works with a colleague (Gavin) whose expertise is in aviation, bikes, sport and landscape and is good at tasks which require patience.
Such places as hotels, coffee shops, and casinos. Darren had put together 400 panoramas for a virtual tour of Bishop Grosseteste College. He also arranged to photograph a virtual tour of a submarine, but had to use a slimmer colleague because of the restricted space inside! Most clients aren’t sure what they want the final product to look like, so it’s up to the photographer to make the most of the locations. There are examples of the tours on his website.
Usually something like birthday parties, where people are enjoying themselves and it’s easier to get candid fun shots. On the spot printing is a money spinner. To bump up the mood, Darren arranges crazy groups and uses picture frames and mock prisoner numbers as props.
Darren was asked how much of the week his photography takes up. He has no ‘average’ week. Projects are the most time-consuming. A wedding takes up a whole day taking the images and another half day to do the processing. To get the images he needs, he’s paid out $1,500 to an American photographer to take images for him. The studio work has a timetable – he can manage 4 one-hour sessions in a day. A 24 hour turnaround is possible, but taking longer makes it look as if more work has been done. It is uneconomical to do a lot of processing. He calculates a reasonable cost per hour to make a living – enough to pay the bills and live his life.
AERIAL VIDEO AND PHOTO
The best time to fly a drone is early morning when there are few people about. We were shown a promotion video for a car dealer in Tunbridge Wells. Modern drones are much more stable and can take 4K video. As with all his genres, he chooses what to do on how much money it will make: he doesn’t take pictures for pleasure.
BOUDOIR & DUDEOIR
Intimate images. Some of these images are used for fund-raising calendars, some for strictly personal use. Examples shown were of Army and RAF ladies. Body-builders come into this category – mostly males. It is tricky to get this type of photography right: the photographer has to really understand what the client is expecting. He meets the clients for the first time on the day of the shoot To get the best out of the models it’s essential to put them at their ease.. And it’s all done ‘in the best possible taste’.
Over the last 10 – 13 years Darren has amassed a huge amount of material. And he’s been successful: his mortgage has been paid off. Now he can be more picky about the work he does. He does his best to keep up with new technology. He always says ‘Yes’ to new ideas. Through his business he helps others with their photography, including the members of Lincoln Camera Club. He hardly ever enters club competitions because he doesn’t take ‘that sort of picture’ and he doesn’t want to be told ‘put this in’ or ‘take this out’. He doesn’t need his work to be judged at a club: it’s judged by the money that comes in.
Higher and higher ISO has made his work easier, especially at weddings. He’ll spend money on his work if there will be a financial return. For example, if it is desirable to buy a new piece of equipment for a particular project, the cost of that equipment will be added to the usual cost for that type of work. When clients ask for extras, Darren will always say ‘It’ll cost you’.
Darren hoped he’d given us an honest review of what being a professional photographer is like. He hoped he’d given us some new ideas.
The way we were’ Peter Bartlett
Originally from Greater Manchester, Peter Bartlett ARPS, EFIAP/b, CPAGB, BPE3* is an award winning photographer now living in West Yorkshire. He has been taking photographs since the early 1970s. In 2010 Peter was awarded his LRPS. From 2010 to 2015, he exhibited photographs in exhibitions across the United Kingdom and throughout the world, gaining several hundred acceptances and numerous awards.
A long term interest in street photography has evolved into a portfolio that documents both everyday life, the banal, mundane and the ordinary urban landscapes of Northern England and beyond. In 2018 a project photographing Manchester’s Northern Quarter included a body of work that gained Peter his ARPS.
Covid-19 interrupted two projects Peter was working on: his title refers to projects he completed pre-pandemic. His talk would not primarily tell us how to do street photography, but to illustrate his work.
Peter talked us through a series of pictures. A man and a woman with phones outside a shop, passers-by reflected in the shop-front; the woman looking at the photographer, the man looking at the woman. Two figures on an escalator, seen from above; one going up, one going down, one looking at the other making pleasing geometry. A man in front of a stark blank and white lined wall, also looking at the photographer. Two ladies with shopping bags sitting in front of a poster of a huge cowl with captions.
Peter shoots in bursts of 2 to 5 images as he walks past. Shop fronts: the Arndale Book and Magazine Exchange; a man coming out with a plain paper parcel; sign ‘Men’s mags from 40p’. A couple walking away across a bridge between the shops and a car-park. A man and woman asleep on a train; luckily Peter had his wide-angle lens on for this one. He avoids telephoto lenses, preferring the range 28mm – 50mm. A man picking his nose while walking past Starbucks.
A man looking out of the picture, his girl-friend looking at him. Most of these images were monochrome, though colour was better for an image of beautiful people in Milan. Two ladies, one with a bag, one with a trolley, outside a shop. Oxford Street London: two girls with phones looking excited as they walk past, in the background a serious man with scarf and briefcase. Two ladies outside Betfred with conspiratorial expressions. An older couple hand-in-hand looking at each other; a man behind them looking at the camera. Peter likes quirky interest. A man with a phone, a girl hurrying past (motion blur) with background arrows pointing in her direction of travel. An old man walking past a poster of a lady in lingerie with the slogan ‘Fall in love’; he carries a bag marked ‘I love chocolate’. Peter will search for a poster that interests him and wait for people to walk into the picture. A cyclist dwarfed by a geometric building; there’s a contrast between the building’s design and the bicycle’s wheels. A Wilko sign with large hammer picture; waiting for a passer-by’s head to be in the right place. Two-way sign in Singapore; a bike leaning on a post faces one way, a man with a cigarette in his mouth walks in the opposite direction. A large poster of a lady in underwear, a woman in a pink top walks past: there are pink dots on the wall. A paved area seen from above: a skate-boarder and two cyclists cross in a line, strong shadows from all three. This involved a very long wait. A poster of a girl with piercing eyes; in front a man in a wheelchair looking at the photographer, but the man pushing the chair is looking at the girl – a bonus is the hands of the model and of the man in the chair are in similar positions. Three old men on a bench not communicating but are all looking at the photographer. A man wearing a leather jacket strides by with a bag on his shoulder and pursed lips. The hand of a man in an alleyway flicking cigarette-ash round the corner of a building. A group sitting on steps in Bridlington; a couple fully aware of the photographer, below a woman looking away, a fourth picking sand out of her toes. York Minster; a line of chairs with two men, a man and a woman, and a woman on her own, spare chairs keep them apart. A man dragging a Henry vacuum-cleaner along the street, with three girls coming the other way – this, said Peter, was a surreal bonus.
The British Museum: A classical statue, framed by a passage-way, with a woman looking in from the left and a man from the right. 5 chairs in a photo gallery facing away from us; a man sitting in the centre is watching a video presentation. Pictures on a bright wall: a kneeling mother is pointing out the pictures to her small son who’s standing beside her. A doorway with two attendants: the one on the right has a pained expression. A sculpture of a gorilla; behind it, a woman on a stool is watching a film on a small screen. A woman photographing a Gormley statue. A person sitting on a bench, seen from behind; in the background, between large paintings on either side, a man seems to be looking at a blank wall (he’s actually reading a notice). A bright room with small artworks on the wall: a young lad does a ‘silly walk’, his father follows. Posters on a wall: a man is doing a stretching exercise while a woman looks the other way.
MANCHESTER’S NORTHERN QUARTER (ARPS PANEL)
Peter was refused his ARPS at the first attempt. He decided to submit a ‘travel panel’ centred on Manchester, but this would be too diverse. He had to write a ‘statement of intent’ and he themed it around ‘bohemian culture’ and ‘offbeat atmosphere’, including residents, workers and visitors. He restricted the area to the northern quarter and initially decided on one person per image, 4:3 format and colour. He soon found monochrome was better.
Two men walking past a cartoon figure of Frank Sidebottom; one of two men walking past was wearing dark glasses, as was Frank Sidebottom. Two ladies at a florists enjoying a cigarette; signs proclaimed ‘Northern Flower’ and ‘The North’. A woman with pushchair passing a line of posters, another woman walking away. A street corner: a group of three by a door, mosaic designs in most of the windows, a biblical text in another. Two men smoking in a run-down street (often used for film and television eg Peaky Blinders). A woman in animal-skin trousers looking at her phone in front of iron gates. In front of a tattoo parlour a lady, crouching by a pram, looks at the photographer. At a street café sit two overlapping couples; one person is staring at the photographer. The adult book-shop again; this time a man is reading the titles as he walks past. A woman sitting on a kerb smoking, behind her metal gates and a bin; her cigarette packet and matches are on the pavement beside her. In front of a brick wall covered with graffiti a man and woman are sitting; she is smiling. A crossroads: a man and woman are walking across, right to left – 18 months later the building behind them was demolished. The ‘Pen and Pencil’ bar: 4 men have come outside for a smoke. A huge poster of David Bowie, a brick wall and a bus: in front, a traffic warden crosses the street.
A family holiday in Milan; an organised group trip so no control over what and when to photograph. Peter decided to photograph tourists with their cameras or mobiles as his project in colour.
Venice: a man with a selfie-stick; a girl holding his hand looks fed up with it. Two people, back to back, taking pictures of the Dolomites. A Japanese man crouching in an odd manner to take a picture: is seems this is a national trait. Three women bending forwards to take a selfie with a mobile phone on a stick. People ‘holding up’ the Leaning Tower of Pisa (a favourite theme for Martin Parr – but Peter included the photographer). A trio posing for a portrait in front of the Bridge of Sighs, taken from behind the photographer. A group of Oriental lads dressed in black (a sports team) all taking photos in different directions. Four lasses lining up for a selfie with the one on the right holding her phone at arm’s length.
SHARDS OF WEST YORKSHIRE
This was one of the projects stalled by the pandemic. ‘Shards’ are broken pieces of pottery which can be reassembled to tell a story. Peter’s aim is to publish books – not expecting to profit from it but for his own satisfaction. If you visit his website, discounts are available: see end.
Dewsbury. Herbalist shop-front of some antiquity but a lady in Asian clothing is coming out. An alley with bins: a bearded man with envelopes walks past; there is eye-contact. Batley. Street clutter, a sign ‘Women’s Wrestling Show’; a woman is pulling a trolley, a muscular man on steps is checking his phone. A chicken costume in a shop window, passing a ‘we need your donations’ sign a woman comes out of the charity shop. Wakefield. Two large ladies in conversation and looking cheerful. The Corner Café: a man crossing the road comes towards us. For this Peter was standing on a central reservation: he stood there for quite some time and ‘hid in plain sight’. Dewsbury. A café in the market with ladies taking a cigarette break; around them are posters aiming to attract tourists. Halifax. A man sitting on a step with a cigarette; next to him a man with a drinks can in a motorised chair. Pudsey. A butchers shop; a man with red braces passes a mannequin of a butcher as he comes out. Saltaire Heritage site. Cat on a window-sill: the woman at the window makes it a street shot. Ladies choosing cards at an indoor market: a sign proclaims ‘Hen Nights start here’. Featherstone. Three green bins, one with a message ‘No one else’s rubbish. 110 only’. A shop window with a Who dunnit? Game and ‘Bingo dabbers on sale here’: Peter likes to collect images of hand-written signs. Huddersfield. ‘Diets don’t work. Alterations do’ and ‘Drop your pants here for immediate attention’. Halifax Railway Hotel. A man sweeping cigarette-ends from the doorway. Bingley. Three women chatting: a pillar box, a jacket and a shop front are all bright red. Brighouse. Boarded up windows and a torn poster – two men stride past. Castleford. A tiger (mascot of a rugby league team) in front of a butcher’s shop. Huddersfield. Honest Freddies (challenged by apostrophes) – 5 figures in the shot, browsing, leaving and passing. A cleaner’s shop with the sign ‘Equestrian Laundry specialists’ – do they clean horses as well as their paraphernalia? A man with a bag of laundry reaches for the door handle. A pawn shop. Ladies crossing the road, a man with a stick sitting in the foreground with an ‘Uptown Boutiques’ bag. A woman emerges from a shop with ‘Polish Shop’ the only words out of many written in English. A fish & chip restaurant featuring a man wearing a hat with ear-flaps carrying a bag. Featherstone. An abandoned shop: a couple walk past, one of them looking over his shoulder at the photographer. Shop proclaiming ‘Osset Spice’ and ‘Osset Cars’: a man with a flat hat and a stick walks past. A ‘Hebden Wings’ poster with a butterfly: a woman going past, her head in just the right place to merge with the butterfly’s wings. Peter is concerned that scenes like these will be more difficult to come by following Brexit and the pandemic.
A DAY AT THE RACES
This is another project interrupted by the lockdowns. Peter is concentrating on people watching the races with the aim of producing 50 images for a book. 4 men with drinks. The backs of two men looking at the crowd. A man reading the Racing Post. A dour-looking Yorkshireman. A man with binoculars, behind him a man with a rueful expression. Two ladies looking fashionable with fascinators. A man counting his winnings, but looking disappointed. A man with a posh hat and ‘Portillo’ trousers on a bench, with complementary colours behind. A horse and jockey being led round the ring. A man in a bright blue suit on the phone. A reaction shot of winners and losers – three have matching ties. Umbrellas over a trio of punters. A crowd on the grandstand steps – will we see this sort of thing this summer? Two ladies in posh frocks. Three elderly Yorkshire gentlemen. A group of four with drinks and betting slips. Another group with a variety of expressions. A couple kissing.
To learn more and to buy this book (£7 or signed £14) and others featured (discounts often appear) Peter’s website is
India’s Wildlife and Culture – Peter Jones ARPS DPAGB and Sue Wilson DPAGB
This talk followed a photographic tour Peter and Sue ran to India before travel restrictions were imposed. Although poverty is rife in India, they said, it is a great place to visit; the Indians are lovely friendly people, now caught up in a horrendous situation.
The tour began in Delhi after a 9-hour flight and an overnight stay. The streets were crowded, but they always felt safe, even with cameras round their necks. They first visited the Lahore Gate and the Red Fort, with its stunning brickwork. We saw the gigantic fortifications and immaculately dressed school-children. Views of the Ministerial Buildings through the hazy ‘Delhi Smog’.
Cannas grow like weeds in India, but Sue’s never grown them successfully at home. A line of white Austin cars in which ministers are driven round, net curtains in their windows to keep out the mosquitos. Wrought iron gates copied from gates in Chiswick, monumental arches, a huge field where several games of cricket were going on at once, the players all dressed in whites.
The impressive stonework of Humayun’s Tomb: he was a Mughal Emperor. Intricate filigree panels inside, and a huge bees’ nest in one of the arches. No tripods are allowed, so Peter lay on his back to get pictures of the ceiling. Images of a huge ancient wooden door and a gardener with a moustache.
They next stayed in a ‘heritage’ hotel where the bathroom looked ornate though poorly designed – a long reach for the toilet paper! Outside a Blacksmith Barbet taking food to its chicks.
The Pink Palace in Jaipur, an impressive façade though the top levels are just for show. Working camels pulling carts, a bus with passengers on the roof, overloaded carts pulled by bicycles and tricycles. A market where the fresh fruit is much tastier than the fruit freighted to the UK. Sacred but under-nourished cows roam the streets and mustn’t be moved if they sit down. Brightly coloured parasols – the guide got one for Sue, involving the hazardous crossing of a busy road twice.
Scenes from the Holi Spring Festival (Festival of Colour) when participants smother each other in poster paint. Some of the tour group joined in and one gentleman was doused in so much paint he couldn’t get clean before they moved on! Snake charmers with their snakes, pipes and baskets; a picture of Peter holding one of the snakes. A stick-thin man. Elephants painted all over with tattoo-style designs, a practice Sue wasn’t comfortable with.
The Jantar Mantar Observatory: a giant sun-dial intended to measure the time of day and the declination of the Sun and the other heavenly bodies. It was a blisteringly hot day which made the visit almost unbearable. Girls with baskets of water-bottles on their heads: they pick them up and pass them on for re-filling. Tourists are always warned to check bottles of water have an unbroken seal. A man reading a book, oblivious of what was going on around him.
The White Palace – one of the top-ten hotels in the world. It’s in the middle of a lake, accessible by boat and helicopter. 007’s boat from the film ‘Octopussy’, now a posh restaurant. Char – tea sweetened with condensed milk – was on offer.
Laundry being done in the river – a wonder they get it so clean considering the colour of the water. A man at his morning ablutions in the river. Children washing at a well: Sue observed that they looked so happy despite the poverty, yet British children who have everything are ‘bored’.
An Indian cormorant. Little egret, open-billed storks (the gap allows them to collect more and larger nesting materials).
Murals on the road-side – a King and his retinue on a tiger-hunt.
The onward journey was by train. They had to look out for porters dressed in red – if anyone else offered to help they were probably a thief. People live at the railway stations. A scruffy shoeless urchin. The tracks are used as a toilet by these people. The trains are rarely on time.
At the next centre, canna flowers, a three-striped tree squirrel which amused them by poking its head out from hole in a tree. Schoolgirls smartly dressed in an arboretum. When Peter and Sue lead these tours they take items such as pencils, crayons, rulers etc and make a presentation to a village school.
Kumbhalgarh Fort where they photographed a gap-toothed plasterer and a lizard on a wall.
Grey Langur monkeys with their silver fur and black faces are difficult to photograph. A group of them grooming each other. A euphorbia thistle. A little green bee-eater. A herdsman with his cattle. A man carrying many water containers on his head. Overloaded lorries, gaily painted, always tooting their horns. A camel dragging a huge bag of grain on a cart. 5 family members on a bicycle – the mother holding a baby. In the smaller villages an ox-cart is the principal mode of transport. Water-buffaloes basking in mud.
Next the lodge at a national park where cooking lessons were given, astronomy could be studied, and there was a cockroach in the wash-bowl. Beautiful butterflies, a spotted deer (a tiger’s favourite meal) and swarming bees nesting in a tree. In order not to attract the swarm guests were instructed to avoid using perfume, after-shave and deodorant.
A park ranger filling buckets with water from a well, maybe after a long walk to get there. An elephant ride to see the tigers. Peter said they do not like this method as it’s only possible to photograph the tigers from above: he likes to see them at the same level, preferably with an indication of their habitat. Close-up of an elephant’s eye, emphasising its delicate eye-lashes. Muntjac, coyote, wild dog: sequence of young wild dogs playing. Fierce looking wild boar, and another cooling off in the river. Sambar deer, which eat a lot of weed in the river. Pond heron, great white egret, saker falcon, crested eagle, crested serpent eagle, and a large cow suckling a calf.
Qutub Mina, the tallest brick-built building in India, now closed because of the number who leapt to their death. Intricate carving in the red sandstone. A smartly dressed family group. More Langur monkeys.
A roadside ‘service station’ where a vehicle tyre was changed; basically a tent with a few bits of equipment.
Tigers in undergrowth, stalking deer; a wild cat, a brown fish owl. Excursions into the game park were offered at 6 am or 3 pm, and the duration was strictly limited. The vehicles cannot stray from the designated route. Shots of tigers hunting their prey, for example swamp deer (with huge antlers) and black buck antelopes (twisted antlers). Wild peacock, stork, Indian roller, plover and nightjar. Jungle fowl (looks like a cockerel). A large group of Langur monkeys, one sitting on a termite mound looking out for predators. Rhesus monkeys playing hide and seek.
The vehicles are open – no roof and no windows. Roadside verges were being torched to make a fire-break. They arrived at a bridge to see a 2 year-old cub sitting on it. It was joined by another. They crossed the bridge and entered a pond the other side. Peter and Sue’s vehicle stayed where it was: another arrived from the opposite side of the bridge. Both had an excellent view as the two tiger-cubs started fighting. Immediately up to 40 other vehicles gathered, but only the first two had a grandstand view. The tigers’ ears were flat, which means this was a serious fight. Peter joyfully snapped away; the grappling tigers and the water droplets they kicked up made remarkable pictures, but in his excitement Peter didn’t adjust his camera for first-class images.
The Indian sloth bear has been cruelly treated. These are the ones trained as dancing bears. They are taken as cubs, have their teeth and claws removed and a ring put in their nose, and are trained to dance. This practice has now been banned. Rescued bears are taken to a sanctuary, but without teeth and claws they cannot be released into the wild. Their trainers have been given grants to set up in a different trade.
Another day tracking tigers. They are so used to the vehicles and tourists that they are not afraid to approach. This meant excellent photography.
The Little Taj, with its fantastic workmanship, its marble inlaid with precious stones, is seen on the approach to the Taj Mahal. It is only in September that the Taj Mahal is free from smog, owing to the prevailing winds. There was a security X-ray and baggage check for fear of a bomber. Tripods are not allowed. The visit was timed for the opening time at 6 am, but they were beaten there by a Travelsphere coach-load! But their guide hurried them along and they were able to get shots with few people. As the sun rose the lighting got better, but the crowd of visitors got larger. There were two black kites (avian variety) in one picture of the Taj. Close-ups of filigree panels – flowers and butterflies carved in the marble. Having got ahead of the crowds they were able to take a picture (which is not allowed) of the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal “Chosen One of the Palace” wife of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahān (reigned 1628–58) unobserved. They tipped their guide heavily.
Peter and Sue run photographic trips for small groups. For India March is the best time; failing that September.
The Three Coasts (Suffolk, Norfolk & Essex) by Harry Wheeler-Brand
Since the early age of 13, Harry has had a passion for photography and all things landscape. This led him to focus all his time into photography, and has meant him gaining various milestones and awards in his career, including working with many of the industries leading companies both testing and reviewing products.
He is now a full-time landscape photographer, and photography workshop leader with hundreds of hours of experienced tuition to others, leading clients on workshops throughout East Anglia.
‘Harrybehindthelens’ was started nearly 6 years ago, and now has a sole focus on helping others improve their photography whilst leading photographic workshops on location and now on Zoom, to individuals, companies, and societies across the world.
First, Harry let us know he has published a guide-book to the East Anglian coast, and that 2,000 copies have been sold.
He uses a Canon camera and takes just two lenses on his photo-shoots; 16 – 35mm and 70 – 200 mm, plus an IR camera and various filters. He plans his location shoots carefully to avoid unnecessary post-processing. He takes note of cloud cover, and seasonal changes (eg for sea lavender): right time, right place.
Harry specialises is long exposures. He began at Shingle Street, with its coast-guard cottages and 60 years of secrecy. The scene is ever-changing with tides, times and wind-speed. He likes to work on the thirds and makes much use of the ND filter. He also makes ‘short long exposures’ for just a little blur.
At Warbleswick he photographed sun and mist. He carefully adjusts the saturation of his images, saying RAW won’t show the scene as he saw it. He does not use a colour card.
A picture of a fence with barbed wire against a background of fog was taken at the river Orwell. At Southwold where were beach huts – very popular with photographers. Also a winter shot with snow. He waited for blue sky with clouds and left in his own and his dog’s footprints because he doesn’t like to resort to Photoshop.
The ruinous groynes of Bawdsey pictured with the sun on the horizon at dawn. A shore with snow-covered dunes, grass poking through. Clouds and shadows: clouds make or break a landscape picture.
Waldringfield. A concrete ramp in the foreground, mud and wispy cloud, with reflections, the sun and vapour trails.
MONOCHROME AND INFRA-RED
Lavenham church with white topiary and blurred clouds: an ‘out of this world’ feeling. The ND filter gives streaks of clouds behind the trees – four and a half minute exposure. To get the right picture needs a lot of experimental shots.
Felixstowe Cobbolds Point. A line of stone groynes amid silky characterless water: Walton on the Naze in the far distance. Several times Harry pointed out that a tiny detail in an image was the main point of his picture.
Sudbury water meadows. Reeds, trees and wispy sky. Harry had to wait a long time for the light to be right. The main item was a tiny figure with a dog.
Harry paused to advertise his book A Photo Guidebook to East Anglia’s Coast. We can obtain a 10% discount using the code ‘HARRY’ at the checkout. Visit www.harrybehindthelens.com.
Norfolk’s coastlines are incredibly different. The weather is all-important.
Norfolk Broads. Windmills in the early morning: the sun was clipped by the mill and the horizon produced sun-rays. Also a fog-bow (much fainter than a rainbow) with a wind-pump beneath the arch: fog-bows are incredibly rare.
Hunstanton. Seascape above sands and rocks – stepping-stones and rain on the horizon. Flooded water-meadows with a windmill and a misty backdrop. Frames for balance and feeling.
Overstrand. Sea defences. Six and a half minutes exposure captures the sea defences but the water is absolutely flat. A sharp horizon 50% cloud 50% sea. A pair of tiny white sandals perched on the groyne was the main feature.
DETAIL AND TEXTURE
Snettisham. Cracked mud and blurred sky. Harry likes as much detail as possible, hence f16 on his wide-angle lens. He keeps between ISO 50 and 400, and tries not to go above 100 if he can avoid it. This avoids noise. An angular abandoned wooden structure, again with cracked mud. 62-second exposure to blur the sky.
Hunstanton. Often chance encounters. Rough sea, dark sky and swirls of water – much better in monochrome.
Caister on Sea. Windfarm on the horizon, silky water and the tips of groynes.
Snettisham again. Looking along a line of timbers forming a corridor to the sea: “a mesmerising and difficult image”.
Hunstanton again. Brooding sky, coloured cliffs and waves brightly lit. “Typifies East Anglia”.
Try to find something new. A shoreline with seaweed, sunburst on the horizon and a variety of clouds. Use Google Maps or Earth to see what other people have taken.
Dovercourt. A good picnic site. A lighthouse at the end of a jetty, with the sun’s rays beside the lighthouse. Beautiful reflections. A second version with mud flats and a patch of water with reflections.
Tollesbury. A harbour with a snake-like stream running into the sea, with something of interest in every third. It makes a muddy scene scenic.
PATTERNS AND TONES
Clouds, rain, the horizon, a lone rock in the sea, crashing waves. Keep an eye out for the tides, not just for safety.
Dovercourt. Getting the right light again, taken at high tide with the jetty just hinted at.
Walton on the Naze. 2 seconds for just a touch of blur. Clouds, groynes, the sea, with lines leading to the horizon.
Mersea. Mud flats with watery sun just above the horizon. It took Harry four months of effort to get the picture he wanted. Just enough light to illuminate one feature clearly and give the others some character. Harry’s in no hurry to go back there!
A boat grave-yard – abandoned vessels, pinky sky, ropes and subtle reflections made this image.
Harry ended with the first picture he took as a professional photographer. Cloud, sea, waves and a long exposure. This typifies his work.
Alison Mees ‘Living the African dream’
Alison was born in the UK and from an early age had a passion for wildlife and photography. She had a strong desire to be in Africa from a child. Studying photography for 2 years and having a love of the outdoors, Alison travelled extensively around Africa and other parts of the world.
Over 16 years ago, she arrived in South Luangwa, Zambia, undertaking various jobs including reservations, marketing and hosting and having the opportunity to follow her passion in wildlife photography and working with the local people of Mfuwe with community and conservation projects.
Alison’s dream came true when she became a qualified driving guide in South Luangwa. She spent 4 years working in the Serengeti, Tanzania. She spends time with the Serengeti Cheetah Project learning about individual cheetahs.
In June 2017 she moved to Mara North Conservancy, Kenya, to manage a camp with her husband Tom. Alison has the opportunity to continue her own cheetah observations and studies, working with the Local Masai Community.
Alison told us she was inspired as a girl by ‘Born Free’ and Elsa the lioness. She wanted a lioness as a pet, but her parents would only buy her a tabby kitten! She was entranced by the wild open African plains, and especially the cheetahs – the smallest of the big cats. Since those days she’s travelled to Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya, suffered a bad case of malaria and engaged in safari camps. She returned to the UK when Covid-19 closed the camps in Kenya, and began fund-raising for cheetah research.
She uses a Canon 50D, Canon 6D, and a 7D now replaced by a 5D Mk IV. The lenses she takes with her are Canon 100-400, 500, 16-35 (for landscapes), 100, and a Tamron 28-300.
The first location was the Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania, near the Rufigi river, an excellent area with game drives and boat safaris, five lakes, thick bush and palm trees. One lake with dead trees was well populated with birds, for example the malachite kingfisher and African skimmers. Bee-eaters are easier to photograph because they regularly come back to the same perch, so it’s possible to catch them with a bee or a butterfly. We also saw a hammer cock and a mouse bird.
Hippos, crocodiles and elephants, the latter running away from photographers for fear of poachers, although the work of the rangers has reduced poaching.
Studies by Frankfurt Zoo have demonstrated how to recognise individual lions in a pride. Intricate details like white hair and scars can identify a lion as accurately as fingerprints identify a human. Thus the locations, movements and behaviour of each one can be recorded. For example, ‘Scarface’, one of the oldest lions in the Mara, is identified by a wound he sustained in a fight with another lion.
Giraffes, and leopards. Most leopards are shy but one regularly returned to its favourite baobab tree and so was easier to photograph. Colobus monkeys, wild dogs, hyenas, and impalas. After 13 months there, Alison moved to the Serengeti. She was based at the Seronera Wildlife Lodge, which is situated near a rocky slope. Michael Apted filmedGorillas in the Mist there in 1998.
Solar panels were used for electricity. Alison was intrigued by a silver snake with green eyes which had settled on one and set about photographing it. She later found out it was a boomslang, which is extremely poisonous. More friendly are the cute hyraxes, and the brightly coloured male lizards waiting on the rocks for food or a mate.
Buffaloes are the most dangerous animals, their behaviour unpredictable: they tend to hide amongst the impalas.
Lionesses would have their cubs in the rocky outcrops. Alison recalled a lioness heading towards her in the dark. She had a torch, and retreated, calling Security. The lioness lay down on the veranda, and called for others who joined her. After 40 minutes they just walked out of the camp.
There was a hyena den close by, 25 in the group. Alison loves Bounty Bar chocolates. She was surprised to find one morning the fridge door had been forced open and Bounty Bar wrappers were strewn over the floor. The hyenas had left 2 behind, which Alison washed and enjoyed!
Full-day game drives were organised, including Lake Ngadi where the flamingos came to feed. They made fine photos, as did the pink teals and black-winged stilts. In 2015 low rainfall dried the lake, and in 2016 the whole area flooded, both making it unattractive to the flamingos. They returned in 2017.
A curiosity was a huge rock which, when struck with a smaller rock, can be heard at a great distance, and was once used for communication.
There are about 3,000 lionesses in the Serengeti. Some of these have been collared for study, so that the prides can be tracked. Lions like to climb trees, to avoid the tsetse flies, get out of the sun, look for prey or just to relax.
Next came the wildebeest migrations as they move regularly from the southern Serengeti to the Masai Mara and back, a 1,000 mile round trip. When the young are born they can stand within five minutes and are soon joining the herd as they continue their journey. On the way they face attacks from lions, hyenas, jackals, leopards and cheetahs who have to look after their own young and see a plentiful supply of food. Zebras migrate too. The high point is crossing the Mara river – the grass is greener on the other side.
Thanks to Covid-19 and the lack of tourists, the migration was less disrupted last year, although the huge crocodiles still had to be avoided, and the vultures depend on what the crocodiles leave behind. Then the rains come and the herds move south again for the new calving year.
All of this was illustrated by superb photography. Love birds, mongooses searching for birds’ eggs, a lion with a silvery mane, lion cubs, and a martial eagle eating a guinea fowl.
Alison then spoke of Dennis Minja, the Cheetah Project and the studies of cheetah behaviour. After three and a half years’ study she learned how to identify individual cheetahs: their patterns are as reliable for identification as fingerprints for humans. The cheetahs are all given names. One example – ‘Tia Maria’ – was shown teaching her cubs to be independent. She caught a wildebeest but did not kill it; she showed the cubs how to kill it by suffocation. This is a skill they need to be able to look after themselves.
Another set of images showed five elegant giraffes standing still staring at a lion, and a honey badger approaching a vehicle and then returning to its burrow.
There are 7,500 elephants in the Serengeti. We saw young bulls play-fighting, and others taking a dust bath to cool down. ‘To look into an elephant’s eye’ Alison said ‘ is to look into its soul.’
We saw leopards in trees spying for impalas, and baboons eating the flowers of the acacia trees. The bird life was amazing – ox peckers, rollers, red-necked spurfowl, and pygmy falcons. Then hartebeest, zebras, warthogs and more cheetahs and elephants.
The scene then shifted to the Masai Mara North Conservancy. Here the game drives keep to the roads; care is taken that too many vehicles do not group together at any particular point. No more than five vehicles are allowed at any photo opportunity. There are night drives and walking safaris. The Masai keep their cattle within the reserve, moving them on continually to avoid interference and so the grazing is not depleted.
Visitors are given a briefing when they arrive and are billeted in tents (with Wi-Fi). The ‘wildlife experience’ involves early starts, hot-air balloon flights, drives, meals provided, ending with ‘sundowners’ with glorious sunsets, and the wonder of a clear night sky.
There are no fences. One cheetah kept a watch on the camp. A local pride of lions walked through the camp and out of the other side, picking up their cubs, who’d been left under the solar panels, on the way. More images of lions, one of a mother with a cub in her mouth. The males let the cubs crawl over them. However, when a boss lion is killed, his successor will eat the cubs he has fathered, and then set about producing his own.
Alison followed the fortunes of two cheetah brothers, named Mbili and Milese. On one occasion they suffocated a wildebeest and were about to eat it, when a lion stole it from them. They then went after an impala: one held it down while the other suffocated it. Keeping a careful lookout for predators, they ate it in 45 minutes. Hyenas and vultures arrived and consumed what was left.
Mist makes hunting difficult and cubs can get lost. Amani (a female cheetah) had four litters. The cubs are kept hidden for the first four weeks; at six weeks they start moving around; when Amani went to hunt the cubs insisted on following her. A hyena spotted the cubs. On this occasion the rangers intervened, placing their vehicle between the hyena and the cubs. The youngsters indulge in play-fighting and then go stalking, learning from their mother. Once they can manage on their own, she abandons them, and they split to live separate lives.
The local Masai give teach-ins to tourists. They build their houses from sticks, mud and cow-dung: the doors and windows are small to keep the inhabitants warm and to keep the flies out. Water is collected from a distant river. The school is a two-hour walk away, so there’s much home-schooling. The children love football: Alison was pleased to present them with Southend United kit. The wealth of the Masai is measured by the domestic animals they possess. They can make and market items such as shoes and jewellery.
Hospitals are far away; emergency cases are taken on motorbikes. Every once in a while specialists visit the local health centre.
Schools are likely to have 60 pupils to one teacher. Alison raised funds for buildings and furniture, and to fund scholarships for further learning. Kitchens were set up to cook the rice and beans provided by the government. The children are taken on game drives to learn ecology.
Back in the UK, Alison is raising funds for Cheetah Conservation. There are only 7,000 cheetahs, who struggle against the trade in wildlife and the loss of habitat. The small numbers also mean low genetic diversity. Young cheetahs are smuggled away and sold as pets for $10,000; they usually survive for only two years in captivity.
The talk ended with a selection of images. A buffalo on a ridge, a jackal pup, cheetahs on a termite mound, two lions drinking, zebras quarrelling, an elephant mother protecting her child, and dawn with wildebeest; and a quote from Brian Jackson
“Africa changes you forever, like nowhere on earth. Once you have been there, you will never be the same. But how do you begin to describe its magic to someone who has never felt it? How can you explain the fascination of this vast, dusty continent, whose oldest roads are elephant paths? Could it be because Africa is the place of all our beginnings, the cradle of mankind, where our species stood upright on the savannahs of long ago?”
On Thursday November 5th we enjoyed a Zoom talk by Diane Seddon of Cleethorpes Camera Club.
Diane worked in the insurance industry for many years, but left to become a full time photographer about 15 years ago. She worked in commercial, event, wedding, and agency photography – all freelance. Therefore she covered a lot of different subjects from London Fashion Week, to horse racing, to the X-factor and Britain’s Got Talent.
Now retired she is able to focus more on what she wants to do, and has achieved her ARPS in fine art – and now has
ARPS AFIAP CPAGB BPE3*
after her name. These letters mean
Associate of the Royal Photographic Society
Artist International Federation of Photographic Art. The letters are jumbled because the Society is French: FEDERATION INTERNATIONALE DE L’ART PHOTOGRAPHIQUE
Credit Photographic Alliance of Great Britain
British Photographic Exhibitions. The number 3 means she has gained 100 points in exhibitions. There are two more levels to go to BPE5*!
Diane titled her talk ‘Odd Things’ and she demonstrated from her own work a welter of ideas on how to be creative with photography. She encouraged us to look for ideas from any source – exhibitions, magazines, on-line, anywhere, and not to let our cameras get in the way of the image. Her catch-phrases were ‘Dare to be different’ and ‘Be creative’.
The images she showed us covered the whole range from a straightforward single-image shot to images constructed by tens of blended layers.
To be creative it is important not to worry about the reaction of others. We should experiment with different lighting, different angles, and different viewpoints.We shouldn’t be stifled by the ‘rules’ that operate in club competitions.
The aim is to enjoy photography. The more things we try, the more we’re going to learn about our cameras.
Amongst Diane’s images were some which she took during Covid19 restrictions – which meant indoors or in the garden. Her imagination is wide-ranging, from pencils arranged in patterns to tumbling dominoes. Some looked fairly simple to set up, others needed a lot of time to get the right settings, but while our movements are restricted time is something we have in abundance. We can blend together images we took earlier; we can add textures. Her skill with photo editing is amazing, but it’s her sheer imagination which impresses most.
She asked the question whether we take photos for our own enjoyment, or to do well in competitions. If we get a buzz out of our photography, how much does it matter what a judge thinks? You never know whether other people will like what you produce, but there’s some pleasure in watching a judge trying to make sense of a composite image. And you never know, there may be a judge who likes it!
NEMPF Exhibition Acceptances 2020
Congratulations to the following who have been accepted/awarded for their entry into the above.
Digital Nature Class Entries
‘New Birth’ by Alan Dolby CPAGB ES.CPE accepted
‘South African Lion’ by Alan Dolby CPAGB ES.CPE accepted and awarded ‘Highly Commended‘
Digital Colour Class Entries
‘Wing Walkers’ by Geoff Horton accepted
Digital Monochrome Class Entries
‘Looking Out’ by Tony Taylor accepted
Please see the Competition Awards for copies of their entries.
CONGRATULATIONS to Rob Smyth who has obtained a NCFE photography certificate at night school – well done Rob
Revd Charles Thody review written by Ron Abbott
On Thursday September 17th 2020 we had our first Zoom meeting with an outside speaker. Revd Charles Thody
entertained us with ‘Deep Sky Imaging’.
Charles began his working life as an aircraft design technician. He spent 18 years restoring pre-war and wartime
aircraft and lead a team that built a WW1 fighter which now flies out of Wickenby.
He moved to Lincolnshire 29 years ago to study theology at Lincoln. He’s been a parish priest and a hospital
chaplain. He is now the lead Mental Health Chaplain for Lincolnshire.
He also has time for photography, including a fair amount of wedding photography. At three weddings he has been
both the Vicar and the Official Photographer!
He’s had an interest in outer space since childhood, and keenly followed the Apollo missions. When he was a Scout
in the early 70s he met Buzz Aldrin. He took up astronomy seriously about 8 years ago. When he moved house in
2017 he’d found a place where he could finally build an observatory.
Speaking over a PowerPoint presentation, Charles says taking photographs of the night sky is something we can all
do – as long as our cameras are capable of exposures up to 30 seconds. If exposures are longer than 30 seconds star
trails will start to be seen. Focusing is best done with Live View. The old method of setting the focus to infinity is no
longer applicable and focusing is temperature dependant so needs to be checked at regular intervals by focusing on
a star or using a Bahtinov mask, which helps to focus accurately on distant bright objects.
Meteors are hard to photograph, despite the news often reporting showers of them. Because of their random
arrival, both time and direction, it’s necessary to take repeated exposures and hope a few of them capture the
image. The best technique is to take continuous photos and hope. Most meteors are the size of a grain of sand but
still produce a trail as they vaporise in the Earth’s atmosphere. He warned us not to confuse meteors with artificial
satellites, particularly the older iridium ones which are brighter.
Lockdown has been good for images of the Milky Way. With fewer aeroplanes and cars about the air is less polluted
and hence there is less light pollution.
He went on to describe more sophisticated equipment for the enthusiast. A motorised tracking mount for camera or
telescope, for example, which compensates for the rotation of the earth, hence always pointing at the same object,
costs up to £350, though there are cheaper models. This needs to be set up using Polaris after which long exposures,
in the order of minutes, are possible.
Then he moved onto telescopes. There are adapters which effectively turn your telescope into a lens. At the moment, he said, Jupiter and Saturn should be visible; maybe Mars too. Such work is heavy on the battery and he suggested a car jump starter as a cheaper alternative to a battery kit.
It’s important that the camera is at the same temperature as the place where it is set up, so the camera needs to be outside some time before you want to start taking photos.
For stellar photography memory cards should be formatted for each use, rather than the images merely deleted, otherwise unwanted marks will appear in the image. The same thing can happen during the photo-shoot; every so often the lens cap should be put on and a series of ‘dark images’ taken This is to compensate for the electronic thermal noise generated by the electronics; without these dark frames the image may be very noisy. Two types of filter were described, the Baarder for photographing the sun, without which the camera will be permanently damaged. As previously mentioned focusing has to be checked regularly since it changes with temperature.
We moved onto star clusters. It was emphasised that night-time images should always be taken in RAW and saved as TIFF, only becoming jpeg for putting on a website. A series of photos should be taken and stacked, using Nebulosity, which is free software. Good examples to begin with are the Orion nebula and the Pleiades cluster. These look stunning even with ‘only’ binoculars. These clusters are where stars are born, known as stellar nurseries. We can also see stars that went supernova thousands of years ago!
As the photography got more ‘serious’ the number of layers needed for one image grew to 1,500; a good reason to check the focus frequently.
When it comes to telescopes, biggest is not always best. The bigger telescopes have a narrower field of view, similar to using a zoom lens.
Charles then showed us his favourite images. The huge number of galaxies around Leo. Andromeda – which looks very much the same as our galaxy appears from Andromeda – our ‘selfie’ which will eventually collide with ours, in fact it has already started! We also saw a picture of two galaxies colliding, showing us what will eventually happen to our own galaxy.
We were shown how Charles’s observatory was built, initially controlled by wires from a nearby shed, but now by his phone. His observatory camera (which looks like a tube) has a cooling system: it is kept at -16oC, which is ideal for obliterating ‘noise’.
Most software for astronomical images is free. There is a good deal of collaboration between professional and amateur photographers. Devices are available which enable all the photography to be done automatically while the astronomer is tucked up in bed!
Charles encouraged us to seek out our local astronomy society, and look at such websites as the Astronomy Shed Forum and Paul Money’s site. He concluded with stunning images of the Horse Head Nebula, and signed off with his favourite picture, taken by the Cassini probe through the rings of Saturn with the Earth being one small blue dot.
If you’d like to see more of his work he has a website https://www.charlesthodyphotography.com/
He even runs a B&B where you can stay and make use of his observatory! https://annexatchurchviewbarn.com/
Following the talk Charles sent us the following links:
Baader filter film on Amazon – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Baader-Planetarium-AstroSolar-filter-observation/dp/B002SYD2EM
How to stack to counter rotation in Photoshop CC – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rydg7JGTAbw
Software for stacking
Starwalk app (excellent)on IOS and Android: https://starwalk.space/en
One of the better forums out there – http://www.astronomyshed.co.uk/
FROM THE ARCHIVES
LPA Individual PDI competition Nettleham Sunday 26th January 2020.
Three members of the PPG entered images.
In the Open section, two members had an image held back.
35 images were held back of the 129 entered.
John Kinchin ‘Watching the Aurora’
John Roberts ‘Anzac Medic’
The judge gradually eliminated images to end up with ten before awarding Commendeds and selecting 1st , 2nd and 3rd.
He got that number down to 4. and agonised.
He took some time looking at ‘Fairy Pools Sgurr an Fheadain’ from NELPS and ‘Anzac Medic’ before making his decision.
‘Anzac Medic’ was the final image to be awarded Commended, which means John’s image came 4th out of 129.
The winners were:
First Sherlock Mike Bennett – Grimsby
Second Buffalo Drinking Party Steve Kilpin – Grantham
Third Fairy Pools Sgurr an Fheadain Dave Turner – NELPS
Our third entrant didn’t come away empty-handed. Ron won a pack of pot-pourri in the raffle. Like the New York woolly hat at the Awards Buffet, it was the last item left on the table!
Congratulations to our Secretary Ron Abbott who gained 2 awards at the LPA AV competition in the Narrative section held at Nettleham
Salamanca was Commended
Leeds Castle was Highly Commended
Results for the Handbook Selection for 2021
1st Splash – Renzo Gherardi
2nd Catching the Night Train – John Roberts
3rd Mia – Mike Gray
4th Swing Bridge Drive – John Rowbottom