2017 04 - Show and Tell

14th April 2017
Retford & District Photographic Society - Press Release - Joy Allison
6th April 2017
Images by Russell Nye, Jayne Mair & Spike Walker

Show and Tell

Our usual meetings provide us with plenty of food for thought as we listen to our visiting speakers and learn about their photographic techniques. We are less familiar with what our fellow members are up to, working on images for club competitions or simply for their own pleasure.

This week we had a ‘Show and Tell’ evening at which members were asked to bring their images and talk about them. Alan Dibbo was the only member to bring prints, so he was on first. Alan is one of our quite members who produces lovely images and tries different styles, so it was particularly good to hear what he had been up to in recent months. We knew he had been experimenting with infra-red images, so it was a surprise when he revealed that this winter’s project had been cathedrals.

We all appreciate the beautiful architecture of these great buildings the wonderful stained glass to be seen there. In common with most of us, Alan felt hesitant about walking in with his kit bag and tripod, but he has been warmly welcomed and most of the cathedrals issue a permit for a fee. We saw images from Wakefield, Ripon, Worcester and Lincoln and learned from Alan’s experience how to tackle the capturing and processing of these images.

A single shot taken hand held revealed the difficulties of areas ranging from very bright to very dark. Single shots don’t work and Alan has now prefers HDR - using three images combined on the computer to bring out the best of each area. This showed a definite improvement but after that Alan decided that a tripod was. Back home he makes sure he sorts out the converging verticals to present them as straight lines in his final work.

Alan Burkwood went first of the members had brought digital images. Two shots taken on the Cornish coast had been selected these to introduce a discussion about the merits of very fast shutter speeds to capture a ‘frozen’ view of the water as opposed to longer exposure which renders the movement of the waves as a milky effect. Judges are split on which they prefer and members just hope to produce the type of view that night’s judge likes when they present such a picture. The view in the room came out quite strongly in favour of the ‘frozen’ shot.

It wouldn’t be Alan if we didn’t see a steam train. The first was a panned shot which he admitted he had not got quite right, but it was a useful example of what happens if the rate of panning is not right for the subject. Of course when the train has passed you have no chance for a second shot. The second train was the Flying Scotsman running on the newly reopened Settle to Carlisle line. Here, apart from the wind blowing the train’s exhaust out of the ideal alignment, Alan had really got it right.

He plans his trips meticulously making sure he studies the gradients to get the train working hard and looks for a wheel level view for impact. This image showed a glorious view – and the hundreds of people packing a bridge and nearby vantage point where they would have achieved a poorer shot and got in each other’s way while Alan and his one fellow photographer had a field to themselves.

Dik Allison followed with three of the quirky shots he likes. The first was of a gherkin on a fork which gave an optical illusion of the way the fork was facing. His second shot was a very carefully posed model mouse looking at the chees in a trap and the final image showed a compilation. Having captured many photos of flames in a wood burning stove, he noticed a shape appeared which resembled a ghostly dancer. He had selected this and repeated it in the different colours of the rainbow in his image ‘Spectral Dancers’.

Jayne Mair had taken some shots in her garden specially to bring to this meeting and we all admired her close up shots of a pheasant and a pair of mandarin ducks. We are hopeful photos of chicks may follow in due course.

Joy Allison followed with a series of shots taken in Newark for a project with Gainsborough Snappers. The topic was ‘Windows, Arches and Doors’, which was easily satisfied I the town between the castle and the Violin School. Joy used the images to explain how some distracting parts of the original shots had been cloned out or enhanced to improve the final image.

Mike Vickers is one of our bird photographers. He has shown waxwings previously, but decided that as we have seen so many this year he should get some in flight. Stationed adjacent to one of their favoured berry laden trees their flightpath was predictable and the shots Mike brought gave a wonderful view of the bird’s plumage in a way you could never see with the naked eye.

He then contrasted a shot of a blackcock taken on a very early morning visit to a commercial hide in Scotland with one of a common buzzard where he had grasped his opportunity. He had the camera in the car and accessible – point one to get right – and had spotted a buzzard eating worms as he passed by. He looked out for the bird in his return and found it still in the area, so he was able to park up nearby and gradually ease the car closer until he could lower a window and get his shot without disturbing the bird.

The final two speakers took us to places not everyone sees. First was Russell Nye with shots from a recent trip to the snow-capped mountains of the Lake District. He had climbed a number of paths to the summits and had a collection of wonderful shots. He shared his photographic tips, including how he processes them for best effect without creating an artificial look to the sky and he certainly inspired those members who are up to the physical challenge that getting out in this beautiful area was well worth the effort.

The particular challenges on this trip were the bright light and the white snow. The stillness of the day and beautiful clear sky and sunshine meant that hand held shots at f16 were easily achievable, but it was necessary to over expose to make the snow appear white. Left to itself the camera will turn everything grey. The point was well made that on the Friday there seemed to be hardly a soul in sight while there was a human traffic jam working its way up the summit of Scafell Pike as Russell was leaving.

Last on was Spike Walker, now well known to members for his shots through the microscope, and he did not disappoint. A parasitic wasp which was unwise enough to come his way found itself the subject of the first photo. The brilliant colours of the tiny creature were sharply captured.

A second shot had contributed to Spike’s nickname of ‘Dr Ribena’ among professional colleagues. He has a reputation for excellent artistic shots of crystallising Vitamin C. Watched carefully and scratched with a pin at the right moment, a droplet of a drying solution can be spurred into making the most wonderful shapes, as we saw.

The final image was of a microscopically thin slice through a dandelion flower, though anything less like a dandelion than this red and lilac dyed study would be hard to imagine. Spike described the process used to prepare the specimen without crushing the structures and what each part of the image represented. We shall all look at dandelions with new respect in future.