January has been an excellent month for guest speakers, but with the extremes in weather from freezing fog, to wind and rain, not every evening has been well supported by members.
Don Bishop attended early in the month, his talk entitled Light & Mood – UK Landscape Photography was a mixture of fantastic images of seascapes and landscapes with a commentary of useful information, Don was quite prepared to tell us how he set up the shots, what lens and filter combinations he used, and even the camera settings. We actually received a ‘masterclass’ without leaving the relative warmth of the clubhouse. I mention the temperature as Don’s talk started in Scotland, in the winter and the white sand, azure sea and clear blue sky made you think of warmer climes, but then you notice the snow capped mountains beyond and Don mentions the biting wind! We traversed the country seeing all the best bits of most regions of the UK, but it became apparent that planning and knowledge and a little bit of luck is what made these images special. Not only does Don produce a stunning landscape shot, his other love is to see steam trains in the countryside that he photographs, and his planning and vision in this direction is no less – we heard him casually mention that he arranged for an engine that is normally on the Bluebell Line to be taken to Wales, get repainted in its original colours, to be photographed on the actual line it originally worked, and in addition to that they were short of some carriages so they got them shipped down from Scotland. For those that missed the talk, Don has a shop in Taunton and has published 5 books so perhaps someone worth looking up.
Brian Pettit was next in the schedule, A Wildlife Year to Remember – 2015/16.
A different type of presentation, again all based in the UK, but this time the creatures within the land. Brian said the best thing we can do is learn patience, photographing wildlife is never boring as you will never see the same thing twice, however it is good to learn the behavioural patterns of the animal you are trying to photograph, then you can anticipate an image. 4 months of the year was spent capturing hare’s but whilst waiting (there is a lot of waiting) other things happen – a deer ambled by, only to return a few minutes later with it’s young fawn who had been safely stashed in the undergrowth; birds flew in and out and landed within a few feet; now I will add that Brian and his assistant Tim, are in full camouflage gear, but when the creatures they are photographing are coming in too close to use the big lenses it is obviously a step worth taking. The rest of the year was full of moths, butterflies, bugs, reptiles, rodents and more. It makes you realise how much there is to see, and that we often just walk on by.
Last week, Paul Sturgess returned to the club with a presentation entitled ‘A time to Reflect’
This time a slide show – and I mean actual slides – although Paul did say he was now taking his first steps into Digital! It was easy to see why he is a reluctant digital photographer when he achieves what he can ‘in camera’ there is a richness to the colours of the countryside on his slides.
Paul impressed on us the importance of not wasting your time – meaning plan what you want to photograph – pick the right time of day/year to get the shot that is in your mind – if you get up in the morning and want frost but its raining have a contingency plan – don’t waste your time going to that place you wanted to photograph the frost. I think because Paul is out walking so much he absorbs his surroundings and makes a note of what would make a good future image – when the conditions are right.
Paul used a play on the title words, showing us some lovely images of actual reflections – beautiful, still mill ponds with the surroundings mirrored on the surface, but another Time to Reflect was seeing images of times of old – Black & White images from around the region and their comparative view today. And the Time to Reflect of revisiting places previously photographed.
Three thoroughly enjoyable evenings, with three completely different presenting styles, images from around the UK and no-one duplicating an image or a story. What was apparent is that photographers are a diverse bunch, but all three of these speakers respect the countryside, consider other photographers and appreciate the land they are on.