2016 02 - Members Evening

11th February 2016
Retford & District Photographic Society - Press Release - Joy Allison
5th February 2016
Images by Ben Searson, Nathan Story, Joy Allison, Will Mair, Mike Vickers and Spike Walker.

Members’ Evening.

The last meeting was an opportunity for the members to show what they are doing with their own photography. Seven members had agreed to give short presentations on their work. The brief was very broad and so it was interpreted, with each person taking a totally different approach.

Joy Allison went first, speaking about how her photography records specific events, either for the village magazine she compiles or for event organisers and participants. Joy and husband Dik take photographs for the Wellow Maypole Committee so that they and the parents of the young participants have a permanent record of the event. When she has time for simply practicing with her camera she enjoys photographing insects and she showed some of her dragonfly and hoverfly images.

Next came club secretary Tony Kerswill. Tony titled his presentation 'Reflecting with Photos' and spoke about how his theme came about almost by accident while looking through some of his older images. He found his thoughts turning to what they meant to him at the time and the things they made him think about retrospectively.

A shot of a London building had him thinking about not just construction, but also building communities, families etc. Closer to his home of 11 years, an image of Retford Town Hall made him wonder if 'My Town' was simply a place to live or the place where he belongs and how that makes him feel.

Tony showed images of a bridge and a mask, expressing similar trains of thought. The only image Tony had set out to take to portray a feeling was one reading 'Open All Hours' to depict how we can expect too much of ourselves and others in demanding 24 hour availability and communication.

Tony was followed by Nathan Story, the club's youngest member and one of the newest. He has only recently had a digital SLR camera and is revelling in the creativity it allows him. He recognises that he has not mastered all the technicalities, but is realistic enough to enjoy the results of his early days of his hobby. He has the gift of having in his head the image he wants to capture and has visited places where this is possible. He spoke about how he had tried to capture specific images and how, through experience and listening to our speakers, he can now critique his results to help him improve without spoiling his pleasure in what he has achieved.

It was rewarding for members to hear Nathan conclude with his thanks to everyone for how nice and kind they have been to him, saying that he feels he couldn't have joined a nicer club. Members are keen to encourage all ages and to provide a warm welcome to newcomers, so it was heartening to have such positive feedback.

Ben Searson, another younger member, came next speaking about his enthusiasm for iPhone photography. He has had one for four years and now does much of his photography with it. Ben spoke about how very much smaller a phone's sensor is than that found in DSLR cameras, and how this influences the best shots to take and the results obtainable, particularly at night.
At first he took what he described as 'random' shots of anything which took his eye. His eye improved and he began to refine some of what he does. He discovered on-line iPhone groups which set weekly themes and encourage members to send in their work. His goal is to be placed in the top 50, which he has achieved on a number of occasions, though not with the images he prefers himself.

Members have seen a number of Ben's landscape images in competition. He described an early attempt, which scored 12, but later achieved 19 when cropped as the first judge had suggested. His minimalist style with landscapes was well suited to monochrome work on a visit to Iceland. Ben continues to develop his work and to take photos any time something catches his eye. It was amazing to many that such excellent images can be taken with modern phones and certainly gave food for thought about the merits of the phone in your pocket rather than heavy DSLR kit.

After a break, Mike Vickers took the floor. His lovely natural history work often features in competitions and he shared some of his tips. He prefers a 200 - 400 lens with a doubler rather than heavier kit. He described the types of hide he uses and how a car with camouflage around the windows and lens can be a useful tool. Mike also advocated patience, waiting for the bird or animal you hope to capture, whilst taking photos of anything else which offers itself in the meantime.

Showing shots of a dipper, Mike explained why he prefers one of the poses as it implies action. In common with some of our judges, Mike likes his birds doing something and went so far as to say his favourite pictures of insects are when they are in a beak!

Mike concluded with some thoughts about baiting his subjects, including showing a bird carrying a stiff sardine, which had not fully defrosted. He also suggested hiding ground bait in images by careful choice of camera angle.

Will Mair, another younger member, presented a collection of images from his six month back packing trip in Australia. He had taken a lot of 'selfies' in different situations. His images of the country showed some magnificent landscapes, the majesty of Sydney Harbour by day and by night in the conventional tourist view. He then showed the less familiar massive expanses of graffiti. It was an interesting collection of images in colour and monochrome showing very modern scenes alongside well observed scenes and night photography around Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Spike Walker concluded a fascinating evening with very different images. He worked as a photomicrogrqpaher and presented images from his professional collection. They ranged from chemical compounds with well-known names to fleas and micro-organisms most had never heard of.

Spike described the techniques used to make the subjects observable and distinguishable and showed some fascinating and beautiful shots. Some were obtained with the subject between crossed polarising sheets, revealing wonderful patterns and colours. He had at one time been well known for his images of Vitamin C crystals, having developed techniques for growing them in controlled conditions where he could illuminate and photograph them. He had experimented with the effects of deliberately disrupting the pattern of crystal growth to see what he could produce and some of it was astonishing. It was a fascinating insight into elements of the world around us which few are privileged to see and even fewer skilled enough to photograph.

Closing the meeting, President Alan Burkwood thanked the speakers and marvelled at what we had seen. Members applauded warmly and were heard commenting animatedly on what they had seen during the evening. Once we had seen the depth and breadth of members’ skills and interests. We welcome anyone else who shares our passion for photography and hope to meet you soon.