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.

WCPF DPIC Viewing – October 31st 2023

On a wet and spooky Halloween evening, we sat down and viewed the digital projected images which had been submitted to the Western Counties Photgtraphic Federation Inter-Club Championship held earler in the year. 48 clubs had participated, and with each club submitting 18 images, it meant that we could feast our eyes on a slideshow containing over 800 images and hear their individual scores from the judging panel.

As expected there was a huge range of subjects covering the main photographic genres and including colour, monochrome and infra-red images and a range of creative post-processing techniques.

After a break mid-way, to rest our senses as well as taking refreshments, we viewed the remaining images and then finished the evening by watching the much shorter slide show detailing the winning entries and individual awards. No-one could fail to be impressed with both the quality and quantity of images viewed and hopefully it will have sparked some new ideas and approaches for our club members to pursue.

Competition #1 – October 3rd 2023

Our first competition of the new season had set subjects of “Open” and “Abstract” with the latter provided opportunities for a range of interpretations by both entrants and the judge.

Martin Cooper from Yate judged the prints first and the projected images followed after a short interval. He provided comprehensive critiques with several suggestions regarding how the image might have been captured from a different perspective and presented in an alternative way to further enhance its impact and appeal.

The winning Abstract print was “Gridballsmoke” by Jim Bullock and Dave Garmont won the Open prints with “Jay in the woods”. Bob Philpott won the Open section with a butterfly image “Small copper” and Peter Hodgson won the Abstract section with “Mickey Mouse bubbles”

Our next meeting is a Members Evening where images, ideas and photographic issues can be shared and discussed in an informal environment.

Competition Evening – October 3rd 2023

Our first competition of the season that contributes points towards the Mayor’s Cups for prints and projected images takes place this Tuesday at The Angel Hotel function room at 7.30 pm..

The competition themes are “Open” and “Abstract” which provide ample scope for innovative interpretations and creative inputs.

The judge is Martin Cooper LRPS from Yate, an experienced circuit judge, who has been to the Club several years ago for judging.

Visitors are warmly welcomed.

WCPF Travelling Exhibition – September 12th 2023

The annual Western Counties Photographic Federation regional competition attracted over 2400 images from 57 clubs in the region, from which 556 were accepted. The travelling exhibition comprised a selection of 74 images which covered Nature, Open Mononchrome and Open Colour categories.

We set up two groups and each table examined half the entries in each category and selected their top two images before swapping their images with the other table. As might be expected, we did not always align with the judging panel decisions on the winning prints, as judging is a subjective process. A good exchange of comments took place with some novel ways to unearth the top two images in each category.

After the break we completed the self-judging of the Series Competion which featured 5 images of roses taken during the summer months. The voting process identified a clear winner with most series atrracting at least some votes.

Season Opener – September 5th 2023

Our first meeting of the new season reunited member after their summer break and the opportunity was taken to bring several notices to the attention of those present. These included; subscriptions; the Club Handbook; prints exhibition feedback; general updates and diary dates.

The main discussion then focused on the programme for 2023/24 which included a mixture of presentations, with a balance being struck between face to face talks and those conducted on Zoom. One presentation will be jointly hosted with Swindon Photographic Society featuring Andy Skillen which should be a night to remember as he shares his images and anecdotes in “Tales from the Bush”.

Competition themes for the year were detailed along with some ideas for member evenings to encourage participation across the wider membership. In summary we have an interesting and varied programme for the year ahead which existing members will hopefully enjoy and may also serve to attract new members to the Club.

After the tea break we looked at some of the entries into the Series Competition on Roses and this will be concluded at a later meeting.

Prints Exhibition – August 12th – 26th 2023

Our display of the prints entered into the Annual Competition can be viewed in the RWB library during their opening hours. In addition to the 31 prints being exhibited, the digital entries for the Annual Competition are being shown as a slideshow on a wide screen tv.

Visitors are encouraged to sign the Visitors Book and add their comments on the display. There is also the opportunity for visitors to vote for the two images that most appeal to them and post their completed slips into the collection box.

Details of the Club’s programme for the forthcoming season are also available and Club members will be on hand during Saturdays and Wednesdays to answer any questions and provide further information as required

Summer Photoshoot 3 – July 25th 2023


With an optimistic weather forecast in place, a small group of members ventured to the historic market town of Devizes for our third summer photoshoot.

Congregating by the Market Cross, with its gothic architectural style, tempted everyone to remove their lens caps and seek an advantageous viewpoint of the memorial. We then moved to the nearby ornate stone fountain erected in 1879 in memory of the local MP. From there we walked to the Wharf Centre and along the towpath enjoying the late evening bursts of sunshine that occasionally penetrated through a rather sullen sky. With several narrow boats moored at the wharf, some sun-bathing ducklings and canoeists on the canal there were plenty of photo-opportunities .

On reaching Caen lock we returned to the town centre noting the blue plaqued buildings along the way before taking some refreshments in the Bear Hotel. Just as we were leaving a photographer and her friend arrived outside and started taking some images for posting ahead of the subject’s upcoming wedding in Poland. So we enjoyed an added and unexpected bonus opportunity for some portrait photography in a street setting.

Pavement photography