Zoom Presentation – April 2nd 2024

Colin Harrison stimulated our imagination as we enjoyed his presentation on Creative Flower Photography. With a simple “studio” set up in his garden and a variety of flowers nearby to select from, Colin showed us how he prepared, photographed and processed his flower images.

Simplicity was the key to many of the approaches and techniques used by Colin who fashioned his own flashgun arrangment, lighting options and a camera support which avoided using a tripod. He had also experimented with a wide range of software programmes for processing his images and thereby gained the relevant experience to comment on the pros and cons of each.

The end results were truly magical as he took us into the world of fine art using a plethora of creative techniques and his boundless imagination. Having provided comprehensive support documentation on many of the techniques he uses, it’s fair to say that Colin has encouraged us all to be more adventurous in our flower photography.

Zoom Presentation – March 19th 2024

This rearranged activity was a Zoom presentation entitled “Sliding into Digital” by Leo Rich. Leo has been an active, amatuer photographer for over 50 years and therefore seen many changes in the way photography has evolved over that period, with the advent of digital photograohy being one of the major changes.

Leo started his talk with a series of slide images that had been digitised before crossing the rubicon and showing the first images he took with a digital camera of Salisbury Cathedral. It’s fair to say he was less than impressed with the results but gradually became more accustomed to the new technology and the way it worked.

Thereafter he shared a wide range of images including wildlife and portraits of people he had met on his travels. Having fallen in love with India after a holiday there, he subsequently organised five trips with a bunch of like-minded photographers to share his love of the culture and people. His images each had a story behind them and he seemed to develop an instant rapport with everyone he met and photographed. His final selection of images featured some magnificent Bengal tigers in all their glory from sleeping, hunting and the occasional charging the jeep from which he operated.

Whilst he is no longer able to travel long haul, Leo remains a great ambassador for India and the Water Aid charity that he supports.

Cricklade Battle – March 5th 2024

Our annual Battle with Cricklade Camera Club was hosted this year by Cricklade and judged by Pam and Eddy Lane. Each Club entered 30 open subject images, with the display orfer having been randomised. Half the images were critiqued before a brief interval, after which the judges re-engaged with their challenging task. The quality and diversity of images was impressive and one quarter of all the entries received the maximum points score from the generous judges.

At the end of the evening the clubs were separated by only 8 points and Cricklade CC ran out winners. An invitation was extended to Cricklade to lock horns again next year on our home ground.

AGM – February 20th 2024

Our Annual General Meeting was well attended and elected the Club officers for the forthcoming year. The roles of Chairman and Secretary, which had previously been amalgamated into one role, were separately appointed and will enable smoother running of the Club. The broad shape of the programme for the nexrt season was discussed with foucus on how to make Our Members Evenings applicable across a broad range of interests.

After the AGM, Roger Smith took us back in time with an impressive assembly of images that charted the development of Wootton Bassett since the 1800s and featured some of the display materials that are housed in the iconic Town Hall building on the High Street.

Competition Evening – February 6th 2024

Our third round of competitions contributing points towards the Mayor’s Cups featured Open and Still Life images as both prints and digital projected images and was judged by Lee Spencer-Fleet from Bristol.

A smaller than usual number of prints were submitted and the winning Open print was “Blue tits in flight” by Dave Garmont and the winning Still Life print was “Cameras” by Nigel Walkley.

The projected image competitions attracted many more entries and Rob Slade won the Open section with “Brothers and Sisters” whilst the Still Life section was won by Melanie Dartnall-Smith with “Macabre side of the glass”.

Several Still Life images featured fruit items which had been photographed at a previous practical evening. The judge gave several ideas and suggestions on how to make such images more impactful through incorporating other elements into the image and creating more depth in the displays.

Zoom Presentation – January 23rd 2024

Our second presentation of the new year was made by Steve Myall who actively participates in the Flickr “100 Strangers” project. This involves taking pictures of complete strangers and finding out some of their background information, in essence it is street photography but with permission.

Steve started by giving many examples of locations where people who were willing to be photographed could be found including comic con events, carnivals, costumed tour guides etc. The project requires a short write up of each encounter and the techniques used. Having identified suitable backgrounds and people Steve makes his approach, explains the project and in most cases obtains consent to take photographs. He often moves the subject to a background of his choosing and his eye for colour matching or seeking contrasting colour environments was evident in his work.

There is scope within the project for sub-projects such as men with beards, hat wearers and his favourite group of all – people with colourful hair styles. Having grown in confidence and refining his camera techniques, Steve is now into his fourth set of centenary images and relishes the challenges and surprises that he encounters.

Members Evening – January 9th 2024

The main activity of the evening was “Still Life” photography and members brought in a diverse range of items to photograph ranging from coins, perfume bottles, fruit, geological specimens, holly, figurines and even a home-made three dimensional chess board. At times the room looked more like a craft fair than a camera club meeting but with a number of display tables set up, members were able to experiment with various lighting equipment and show their creative flair through improvising with backdrops and compositional arrangements.

In addition to potentially producing some entries for an upcoming still life competition later in the season, it also allowed some of us to reacquaint ourselves with our camera equipment and find new features on the camera menus to try out. Despite the wind chilling weather, a good attendance was in evidence and the combination of practical photography and social interaction added to the enjoyment of the evening.

A Skillen Presentation – January 4th 2024

Those who were able to attend the talk by Andy Skillen entitled “Tales from the Bush”, which was hosted and jointly sponsored by Swindon Photographic Society, had an evening to remember. Andy is an intrepid wildlife photographer with over 25 years experience of photographing and recording wildlife in remote locations. His talk whisked us around the globe and across five of the seven continents. Much of Andy’s work is focused on commissions and he supplies stills, articles and video clips to well known institutions and publishing houses.

He started by sharing his experiences in Africa photographing lowland gorillas and forest elephants with the latter having provided many heart stopping moments when their behaviour became unpredictable and resulted in him being charged on several occasions. Hyenas, buffalo, musk oxen, wild dogs, many species of bears, wolves, cheetahs and the elusive show leopard featured in the wide collection of images and videos during the evening.

Andy explained what is was like to work on specialist commissions, and how this shaped the style of images that he pusued. His ability to understand the behavioral traits of certain animals enabled him to build a relationship with an individual animal and this in turn allowed him to work at distances most of us would never contemplate, nor consider sane. Wildlife conservation features prominently throughout Andy’s work and he finished the evening with an emotive video showing the beauty of the animal kingdom and the plight it faces.

Competition #2 – November 28th 2023

Our second competition of the season featured “Flight” and “Open” subjects and was judged by Doug Lodge from Crossbow Camera Club. Print entries were slightly down on previous competitions but the projected images section attracted a health collection of images, with several creative interpretations for “Flight” in particular.

The judges critiques were fair, comprehensive and included a lot of ideas and suggestions for folks to experiment with to enhance their images. Offering some anecdotes and his own experiences added to the evening, as did his easy and engaging communication style. Doug also brought some of his images on a memory stick to show at the end of the evening which stimulated discussions, both collective and individually.

Flight: the winning print was “Little Egret” by Nigel Walkley and the winning dpi was “The Saudi Hawks” by Rob Slade.

Open: the winning print was “Redneck Ron” by Dave Garmont and the winning dpi was “Eye on the prize” by Nigel Walkley

Wildlife Presentation – November 14th 2023

Wiltshire wildlife photographer Alan Benson shared a collection of his stunning wildlife images with us and explained how the images were captured. His talk included a wide range of British birds and mammals from locations all around the country with some of his favourite haunts being the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales.and Salisbury Plain.

Alan’s passion for wildlife and the effort he invests in searching out and capturing images with a different approach in their natural settings was evident in every image we saw. His understanding of wildlife behaviour gained through extensive practical experience allowd him to capture the images he envisaged, although he is still waiting to capture a puffin with a sand eel filled beak.

During the interval we were able to view a selection of prints that have featured in publications, calendars etc and Alan is keen to share his images on social media despite some plagiarism that has taken place.

Alan finished his talk with an amusing story about imprint type behaviour of some bustards on Salisbury Plain and their attempt to enter the hide which he was using. In the Q & A session after his talk, Alan made a surprising revelation about his particular approach to photography.