2016 02 - Moments in Time

06th March 2016
Retford & District Photographic Society - Press Release - Joy Allison
24th February 2016

Images by Erica Oram

Moments in Time

The evening began with President Alan Burkwood sharing with members the exciting news that one of our members, Des Lloyd was recently declared winner of both the Bird section and the overall winner of the national Daily Mail Wildlife Photography Competition. We know Des as an excellent wildlife photographer and enjoy the opportunity to see his stunning images in our competitions, so we were very pleased for him to see his talent and dedication recognised at such a high level. His image of two little owls featured on the front cover of the paper’s weekend magazine. In addition Des won a camera and four days tuition photographing brown bears and other species in Slovakia. We can’t wait to see his photographs next season.

Our speaker this week was Erica Oram, a member of Sheffield Photographic Society, with her talk Erica’s talk ‘Moments in Time’. She takes photographs whenever she can but it is often combined with family life on an outing or a family holiday. Consequently she often only has short periods in which to take them. She also gets out with her camera on Photo club excursions. Fortunately her club is active on outings in evenings other and at weekends.

Her first image was of a large statue of a spider outside the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao. Her two sons who are often asked to be in her photos and this was our first sight of them. Aged 12 and 7 they are still happy to help. Erica showed several images of the museum demonstrating her interest in the details and liking for abstract images which have not necessarily been done before

Erica loves to photograph candidly, usually without the subject knowing and her first such image was of two waiters having a cigarette break on some steps. We were then taken to Paris where the Eiffel tower had the same treatment. Erica’s photo showed some of the metal work that showed up red against a blue sky. Sometimes she will convert to monochrome to show off the lines and shapes.

A club outing to Birmingham proved to be fruitful. She went to the library and found it perfect for her style of photography. There were modern geometric lines and from one elevated area she was able to photograph people in the library. She will wait until the right grouping of people appears. Often the placing of a person gives scale to an image. One image that worked very well showed two Asian girls sitting cross-legged facing each other. During processing in Photoshop she will ‘hold’ the sky back by applying layers so that the image does the talking.

Erica enjoys shooting from a high vantage point and pointing her camera down. When she is out with her family climbing up high is a fun thing to do with her boys but she is then able to capitalise by getting some good shots. Often because she is only photographing for short moments in a day when an opportunity arises, she has to contend with harsh lighting and has learned not to let this put her off her stride.

Erica likes the spontaneous nature of street photography where unlikely groups of people, and particularly couples, can be photographed - all captured without realising it. One image showed the world inside and outside a pub with the staff inside the kitchen observed through an open window and a man seated outside at one of the tables. She likes to provoke thought and will photograph an image where a possible storyline can be imagined.

On an evening photo shoot in Sheffield she spent time photographing the ‘Park Hill’ flats that are still in a derelict state in areas. Pigeons conveniently provided a focal point in some images. The theme of dereliction continued with some shots of semi-derelict railway stations. One in Walesprovided Erica with a good subject with its dilapidated shelter and a sea. Having almost no houses nearby it seemed an unlikely place for a train to have ever stopped. No trains stop there now but she wanted to show a figure waiting for a train that never comes. On this occasion Erica did a spot of Photoshop cutting and pasting although she is more likely to put her camera on self-timer and use herself as a subject.

Another series of images was taken at a station at Folkestone near the pier which is still kept open to the public as an access for fishermen. The station had wonderful curves and several images were actually panoramas created from 5-6 images stitched together.

In northern Spain on a family holiday they came across a ruined monastery which Erica had to photograph with its crumbling plaster and weeds growing. It was surrounded by grass that was kept short. This was unexplained until she came across three well-kept horses that lived in part of the out buildings. She took several shots of them, one showing one shaking its head as it was troubled by flies. Other images from this area included some from a Spanish graveyard and some spectacular landscape images from The Picos de Europa.

After a break we were shown images from Derbyshire. Erica likes to use a wide-angle lens and get up close to render the subject larger in the picture. Erica said she can happily spend several hours in a birch wood and several images of these trees demonstrated this technique. She likes to find graceful groups of trees and sometimes changes the image by adding grain or soft focus layers. One year there was a lot of cotton grass flowering and having come upon it on a windy day Erica used a neutral density filter and a long exposure to get a blurred effect in some images.

An annual Boxing Day family trip is to watch motorbike scrambling in very muddy conditions. Erica likes to get as close as possible despite getting her kit covered in mud. She doesn’t use particularly expensive camera equipment, believing that it is the person behind the camera that is important rather than expensive ‘kit’.

Members agreed that this had been a very interesting evening with some different and effective images to admire and inspire in addition to which Erica was an engaging speaker who had entertained as well as informed.