This year’s annual Summer Outing was to the Black Country Living Museum at Dudley. Armed with cameras, suntan lotion and a phrase book ” How to speak Black Country” the intrepid travellers reached their destination on time despite a delayed start. The first stop for many of the group was a tour of a mine, which graphically conveyed the miserable conditions and extreme dangers that men and children endured underground to extract the black stuff. Dudley had the thickest coal seam in the country which reached 10 metres in places.
With a multitude of rebuilt historic buildings to visit along with shops and plenty of refreshment opportunities, there was lots to interest the visitor and get the shutter finger working overtime. In the afternoon, the group took a 45 minute canal boat trip into the network of abandoned limestone mines and tunnels. Sound and light shows along the way helped bring the environment to life and there was even a chance for a couple of people to have a go at “legging” the boat through a tunnel. Needless to say, they won’t be giving up their day jobs or seeking a new career.
After the canal tour there was time to visit any previously missed attractions and hop onto the trolley bus or old double decker bus back to the main entrance. Thev weather gods were once again kind to us and folks had an enjoyable and informative day.
A hardy quartet of Club members made the trip to Wilton windmill, near Marlborough, for our first shoot of the summer season. Since our last visit a couple of years ago, a Granary had been transferred from Lacock College Museum and erected on site.
The gray and featureless sky provided an uninspiring backdrop but, undeterred, the attendees took the opportunity to experiment with camera settings and summon their collective imagination in an attempt to create different and attractive images of the static windmill.
With no prospect whatsoever of a sunset to photograph, refreshments were taken at The Swan public house nearby and we were left to rue nature’s cruel fate in providing such flat and insipid light, when the previous evening a stunning sunset had been delivered.
Judging of the Annual Competition for prints and projected images marks the end of the season of formal activities and Martin Cooper, from Gloucester Camera Club, was tasked with the duty.
Despite a heavy cold, Martin provided detailed and constructive feedback, firstly on the print images, followed by the larger collection of projected images. In both cases, the images were categorised into Action: Open and Portrait classes, with the latter class attracting a range of submissions beyond classical portraiture compositions.
The winning entries for each category will receive trophies at the first meeting of next season in September, as will the print and projected image that was considered to be the best across the three subjects. All those prints submitted will be displayed at an exhibition in the local library during the last two weeks of August, as has been the practice for many years.
The Chairman wished members a pleasant summer break and reminded attendees of the fortnightly summer photo-shoots that have been arranged and also the summer outing.
Graham Light from Abbey Studios made his second appearance at the Club and ran a workshop demonstrating lighting techniques for studio portraiture. With a plain white backdrop and a couple of powerful and versatile studio lights, Graham was able to show the effect of various lighting conditions using direct and reflected flash.
By tethering his camera to Lightroom, Graham was able to project the recorded images thus giving immediate feedback on the impact of the lighting changes that were made. Members were given the opportunity to set their cameras to the metered light conditions and take their own images of the models Grace and Ben, who kindly agreed to sit for us.
The clear and uncomplicated approach to lighting adopted by Graham was effective in communicating the factors to consider and the range of effects that could be achieved by relatively minor changes to the lighting set up. An enjoyable practical evening that gave us all a much better appreciation of lighting processes and the versatility that a simple lighting arrangement could achieve.
A small but hardy group of members attended the meeting, neglecting the opportunity to bathe in summer sunshine in their garden or watch the Championship play off semi-finals. Some technical challenges were faced with different software versions and file formats being used but Brian Holden was able to show a couple of his AVs. The first featured Norfolk Island and combined background music and narration to convey the tranquillity of the location and its pristine and varied coastlines. His second AV on New Zealand linked some enchanting music tracks with haka video footage showing the ceremonial dance routine of the Maori culture. The vigorous movements, stamping of feet and extreme facial gestures invoked both feelings of unease and also some amusement.
After the break, some AVs from the WCPF 2016 competition were viewed. These encompassed some strong messages and a couple of examples of the musical track being the starting point and then images being deliberately chosen to reinforce the audio component.
A strong attendance of members experienced an interactive and very different evening that was led by David Southwell. The audience was firstly invited to think about what a “personal style” meant in terms of the images they take and importantly from the perspective of others viewing their images. Steering clear of technical considerations, emphasis was placed on describing the emotions and feelings that the photographer intended to convey and developing dialogue in small group discussions to unearth other inputs. Simple models were shared enabling the photographer to review both their thinking and approach as part of a conscious learning journey and development of an unique individual style if they so wished. The evening concluded with a few members showing an image that had a particular significance to them and gauging the response from the wider audience.
In all, an intriguing evening with plenty of food for thought and exercise for parts of the grey matter that had been dormant (in my case for many years). It will be interesting to see how some of the ideas are taken forward and reflected in future images.
The winning audio-visual presentations from the 2018 Western Counties Photographic Federation regional competition were viewed by club members. Presentations were allocated into 3 categories: Short (lasting less than 4 minutes); Long (exceeding 4 minutes) and Photo-harmony (no story necessary but appropriate transitions between images and strong harmonisation with the sound)
Many of the AVs had a melancholic approach and there were a number of historical presentations which included animation techniques and video footage. The most innovative AV was entitled ” Going Underground” and featured excellent wide angle camera shots taken at London underground stations and also incorporated time-lapse sequences which had a powerful effect of enhancing the feeling of actually being underground.
It is hoped that the AVs shown will stimulate Club members to compile their own audio-visuals and share at the meeting in one months time.
Our final competition that contributes towards the aggregate points score for the Mayors Cups was held on Tuesday and judged by Clive Greenland from Corsham.
With everything still to play for, the judges comments and scores were keenly followed throughout the evening. A healthy number of prints were submitted and first place was awarded to “The Felucca Captain” by Adam Kowalczyk.
The DPIs were viewed using our newly acquired projector which had been hastily calibrated before the meeting started. The winning image was “Push off” by Geoff Snowball.
This was Clive’s second judging visit to the Club and he outlined the positive aspects of each image and followed this with some suggestions regarding how the image could be further enhanced. In many cases this involved alternative cropping arrangements and equalisation of space around the image to create a more balanced approach.
We now have a break in competitive activities until our Annual Competition which takes place in June and this will allow members time to reflect upon the comments and advice received from judges to date.
This second Quad Battle was hosted by Stratton Camera Club and pitted us against Stratton and Devizes Camera Clubs and Swindon Photographic Society. Each Club entered 15 images with no more that 2 from any one photographer. The Battle was judged by Sandy Watson who gave articulate and constructive feedback. He looked for connections between the elements of the image and emphasised the need to avoid being overwhelmed by the total view of a landscape and crop judiciously.
By the halfway stage, Devizes had opened up a lead with RWB in second place, followed by Swindon and then Stratton. This order was maintained during the second half and the final scores were:
1st Devizes Camera Club 273 points
2nd RWB Camera Club 264 points
3rd Swindon Photographic Society 263 points
4th Stratton Camera Club 260 points
An enjoyable and entertaining evening was enjoyed by all who attended and thanks go to Stratton Camera Club for their kind hospitality
The Club hosted a battle with Cricklade Camera Club which was the first occasion the two clubs have competed head-to-head. Digital entries were judged by David Sage from Lacock Positive Photography Club, who is a recently qualified judge and did a sterling job.
Each club submitted 30 Open subject images in total and half were viewed and judged before breaking for refreshments, with the remainder judged afterwards. As expected the Open category attracted a wide array of images covering many genre which made judging even more challenging. Each image was scored out of 20 points and by the tea break Cricklade CC had built up a small lead. The second half proved to be even more successful for Cricklade with three of their images scoring maximum points and they ran out overall winners on the evening.
Attendees were treated to a high quality collection of images which made for an enjoyable evening. It is hoped to make this battle an annual event and we will strive hard to reverse the outcome next year.