Keswick Photographic Society’s annual Portfolio of the Year competition was held on Wednesday 11th April. This was the final internal competition of the season and it was judged by Gerald Chamberlin DPAGB, EFIAP, from Morton Photographic Society in Carlisle and a Northern Counties Photographic Federation judge. The competition was divided into two sections: Prints and Digital Projected Images. Within each section, members enter 3 images, each in a different photographic genre. Entries are marked out of twenty and an award is given to the member achieving the highest combined score in each section. Fifteen members entered the competition, giving a total of forty-five prints and forty-five digital projected images for scoring.
The print entries were the first to be judged and included the following photographic genres: natural history, landscapes, weather, creative, sport, the hand of man, transport, people, portraits, abstracts and patterns, Before awarding a mark, Gerald discussed each image, in some cases suggesting where improvements could be made. The winner of the print section of the Portfolio of the Year competition was Alan Walker with a superb total score of fifty-eight out of a possible sixty. Two of Alan’s prints achieved top scores and these were: ‘The Story of the Fox and the Vole’ and ‘Back Stage before the Farewell Gig’:
In joint second place with scores of fifty-four were Julie Walker and David Woodthorpe and in joint third place were Ronnie Gilbert and Keith Snell with scores of fifty-two. In addition to Alan’s two top scoring prints, notable prints which achieved scores of nineteen were ‘Young Grizzly in Clover’ by Ronnie Gilbert:
‘Siberian Jay’ by Tony Marsh:
‘Autumn Beauty’ by Julie Walker and ‘Hare Brakes’ by David Woodthorpe:
After a break for refreshments, including some delicious cakes cooked by Marilyn Woodthorpe, the second half of the evening was devoted to the projected image entries. As with the prints, there was a wide range of photographic genres represented. The joint winners of the digital projected image section of the Portfolio of the Year competition were Richard Jakobson and Julie Walker, both of whom only dropped four points to achieve excellent scores of fifty-six. One of Richard’s projected images, entitled ‘Power on the Horizon, received a top score of twenty. This showed a very dramatic view of distant wind turbines out at sea under a threatening stormy sky:
In second place with a score of fifty-five was Alan Walker, closely followed by Ronnie Gilbert and David Woodthorpe in joint third place with scores of fifty-four. Within the projected images section, an image by Rosamund Macfarlane, entitled ‘Backlit Puffin’ was awarded a top score of twenty:
Seven other images received scores of nineteen. These were ‘Langdale’ by Julian Carnell:
‘Eagle Hunter and His Eagle’ by Ronnie Gilbert, ‘Deadvlei Milky Way’ by Richard Jakobson, ‘Girl with Tattoos in the Red Hat’ by Alan Walker and ‘Sprinting Hare’ by David Woodthorpe, ‘Dreaming of Leaving’ and ‘Buachaille Etive Mor’ both by Julie Walker:
David Rayment thanked the judge for all his hard work judging the images.
This was the final indoor meeting of the season, although there is a three-day Society outing to Edinburgh taking place this week. Our next season begins on Wednesday 5th September at The Friends Meeting House, Elliott Park, Keswick, CA12. You will be most welcome to join us.
For tonight’s meeting we welcomed back David Stout EFIAP PPSA DPAGB of Whickham Photographic Club, Gateshead. David, who judged one of our internal competitions at the start of the season, was revisiting to give a projected digital presentation titled “From Casablanca to California”. This was a photographic tour over two continents from North African Morocco to the North American states of Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Nevada and California.
This proved to be travel photography of the highest order with exquisite images of very varied subject matter, brought to life by an engaging and entertaining commentary. Each photograph conveyed the uniqueness of the location and gave a visual insight into the character of the place. This was achieved by showing the inhabitants, whom David had persuaded to be photographed, and the urban or rural environment which defined life in the areas visited.
In Morocco he showed us the architectural splendour of the royal palaces as well as street scenes which revealed the practices of the people in everyday life. Interspersed with the scenery, he captured insightful portraits of the inhabitants.
A Berber elder tribesman or a young girl dressed in a traditional niqab. As David explained, his success in securing these candid portraits, normally so difficult to get agreement for, was down to a courteous approach combined with a few words of local dialect and a good deal of brass-necked charm! The landscape covered everything from desert scenes to the complex environment of a tannery with its myriad of processing wells.
Moving across the Atlantic to the USA brought a huge contrast in the imagery on show but with the same photographic attention to the details of place and peoples. We were taken on a road trip extraordinaire as we moved southwards from the volcanic and mountainous national parks of Yellowstone and Grand Teton, through the mystical rock formations of the Bryce and Antelope canyonlands, to the desert dunes of Death Valley and the iconic mountain scenery of Yosemite in California.
Our journey through this rural spectacular was mixed with the urban splendour of the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, the glitzy excesses of the Las Vegas strip, the eerieness of gold-mining ghost town Bodie and in David’s final destination, San Francisco, the starkness of the Alcatraz island prison and of course the Golden Gate bridge. All of these destinations were illuminated by the quality and the perspective of our visitor’s photography and his revealing and witty anectdotes which brought them to life. His photographic tour de force was greeted with enthusiastic thanks by the members at the end of the evening.
Although our formal meetings of the season are now ended, we will report on our informal photographic club sojourn to Edinburgh and district on 17-19th April. This will be followed by an exhibition of photographic prints of our members at the Northern Photographic and Video Show to be held at the Rheged Centre, Penrith, on the weekend of 12-13th May. Attendees are most welcome to visit us at our stand, where members will be happy to provide advice on photographic equipment and techniques and to talk about our activities and the attractions of membership of the Society. The next season will start at 7.30 on Wednesday 5th September at our venue of the Friends Meeting House, Elliot Park, Keswick, CA12 5NZ. This will be the AGM of the Society together with a social evening with buffet to welcome new and continuing members and, as always, visitors are most welcome to join us.
Keswick Photographic Society’s annual Short Sets Competition was held on 28th March. This competition, which is open to any member of the Society, is divided into two sections: Still Images and Audio-Visual. Submissions have to be on a particular theme chosen by the author and must be no longer than ten minutes in duration. The evening was organised by David Woodthorpe, a Society member, and the entries were judged on the evening by the audience, each entry being given a score out of twenty.
The meeting commenced with the Still Images of which there were five entries.
First to be presented was a set of images by Marilyn Woodthorpe featuring the city of Berlin. The presentation featured buildings in Berlin, including the Chancellery, the Reichstag with its glass dome and Berlin Cathedral. Other places of interest included the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, remnants of the Berlin wall, Checkpoint Charlie and the modern steel and glass skyscrapers constructed on sites once occupied by the Berlin wall, hence their very narrow dimensions.
The second presentation was by Carole Waterhouse and entitled ‘Harris via Skye’. Carole interspersed coastal and inland images of the beautiful Harris and Lewis scenery with images taken visiting art galleries and seeing weavers at work on their looms. Carole also featured man-made structures she had seen, namely the ancient Callanish Standing Stones, Dun Carloway Broch and the traditional straw-roofed blackhouses.
The third presentation was by Tony Marsh and entitled ‘Moorland Wildlife’. Tony showed images of birds, moths, dragonflies and plants, all taken on the moors of Northern England and the Scottish Borders. Sixteen bird species were featured, the photos including red grouse amongst purple heather, black grouse displaying at a lek, the aerobatic display flight of a male hen harrier and a snipe drumming as it power dives.
David Woodthorpe presented the fourth set of still images entitled ‘Grantown on Spey’. These consisted of a set of snowy images, many featuring the antics of a white-coated mountain hare in its natural habitat on a snowy mountainside. Backlit photos revealed the long whiskers of the hare and David was able to photograph the animal sitting in its snowy hollow and grooming itself as well as running towards him, seemingly completely unperturbed by his presence! He also included pictures of the local birdlife, in particular the crested tit and the very tame coal tits.
The final presentation was by Stephen Harris and simply entitled ‘Signs’. Stephen showed a set of images featuring strange, amusing and sometimes confusing words written on road signs, buildings, shop doors, fences, walls and memorials. For example, one such sign read ‘In bad weather no guarantee of a return journey can be given’. He also included images of amusing doctored road signs seen in Florence.
After a break for tea and biscuits, the second half of the evening was devoted to the audio-visual (AV) entries. There were four entries and each one featured a large number of still images set to music.
The first to be shown was ‘Mist in the Landscape’ by Ken Rennie. This was a collection of atmospheric and ethereal images of misty landscapes, featuring lakes, seashores, mountains and woods, photographed mainly in Cumbria but also including images from Scotland, the French Alps, Corsica and as far away as New Zealand.
The second presentation was by Julie Walker and entitled ‘Bosque del Apache’ which is the name of a wildlife refuge in southern New Mexico. In winter the wetlands of Bosque del Apache attract huge flocks of sandhill cranes and snow geese that roost in the wetlands but fly to local fields during the day. The images in Julie’s AV were all taken in the wetlands and featured these two bird species.
The third AV was by Keith Snell and its title ‘The Ice was Here, The Ice was There’ was taken from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Keith chose this title because his images featured both the Antarctic and Iceland which lies very close to the Arctic Circle and has the largest glacier in Europe. There were many evocative images of snowy landscapes, impressive glaciers, intricately shaped icebergs and delicately coloured ice.
The final AV was ‘As Time Goes By’ compiled by Richard Jakobson. This featured seven time lapse sequences taken from various mountain and seashore locations in West Cumbria. Many of the sequences went from sunset through the night and finished at dawn. Clouds flowed swiftly across the sky, mist cleared from the landscape, stars and the Milky Way followed a course across the sky, car headlights shone and torches flashed on the mountain path leading to Scafell Pike.
Before announcing the winner of each section, David Woodthorpe thanked all the authors for their hard work and commented on the very high standard of all the entries. In first place in the Still Images was David Woodthorpe with his presentation of ‘Grantown on Spey’ and the winner in the AV section was Richard Jakobson with ‘As Time Goes By’
The meeting was a presentation of African wildlife photography from professional photographers and tour leaders Tony and Carol Dilger (www.tonydilger.co.uk). We were treated not only to some suberb animal photography but, refreshingly, to an informative and highly entertaining commentary of the stories behind the pictures.
Tony and Carol lead regular safaris to Africa every year, based around places that they know intimately: the South African Kruger National Park and the Kalahari Desert in Botswana. These are two contrasting regions both in terms of landscape and in terms of the variety of animal species that live there. The Kruger is perhaps the better known of these safari venues and we were treated to spectacular images of so much more variety than just the ‘Big Five’ of lions, leopard, elephants, buffalo and rhinoceros (White and the near extinct Black). We also got giraffe, cheetahs, monkeys, baboons, wild dogs, hyenas and a range of antelope, not in static poses but engaged in their natural behaviours. We learnt the term ‘pronking’ for the leaping of imapala, designed to exhibit their agility to predators and thereby deter their attentions. Of the Big Five, the ferocious mating behaviour of the lions was perhaps the most spectacular, although a series of images of the stealth positions of a leopard hunting its prey was a more intriguing spectacle to witness at close quarters.
Of course the plight of the rhino in being driven to near extinction by poaching was something that the Dilgers were keen to illustrate in their presentation. The geopolitical overlap of the Kruger park with impoverished Mozambique to the East is a major driver of this iniquitous trade.
In the Botswana part of the Kalahari, the dust and sand of the desert environment contributed to some wonderfully atmospheric images of the animals there. Springbok replace impala as the resident antelope and there are meerkats, foxes (Bat-eared and Cape varieties), Eagle Owls and Brown Hyena that are also characteristic of the region. Perhaps most strikingly the Desert has its own breed of lion – the Black-maned Lion – which, as well as the mane colouration, is larger and more muscular than its counterpart elsewhere in Africa. These lions need to be fitter because of the larger territories they need to patrol in the desert where their prey is less dense and competition with other prides is more intense. The Dilgers amazed and amused us with an anecdote about their encounter with a pair of the lions. Normally asleep under shady trees in the daytime sun, these two animals sauntered over to use the rear and the front of the vehicle as sleeping places. An unfortunate battery failure at this point lent a certain frisson to the situation, given that the vehicle could no longer move and nor could the electric windows be closed. All was well in the end when, after some hours, a passing vehicle came to the rescue with jump leads and darkness encouraged the lions to take off.
The evening finished with a short film of stunning landscapes of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland that Tony and Carol visited in the mobile home that is now their permanent UK residence. This is a location for another of the tours that they lead, when they are not giving inspirational presentations of the kind that we applauded enthusiastically tonight.
Our 4th Open Competition was judged by John Williams DPAGB EFIAP/b MPSA who made constructive comments about each of the images and gave helpful advice on how they could be improved. His comments were often delivered with humour which led to a highly entertaining evening.
John was particularly complimentary about the quality of the prints submitted which he felt were of great credit to a small club such as Keswick. He thought they would stand up well in competition against images from some of the larger and better known clubs in the UK. Overall the images demonstrated Keswick’s particular strengths in landscape and natural history but images of other genres also did well.
In the print section Ken Rennie, who specialises in landscapes, was the overall winner with “Katie Morag Sets Sail”, an artistic impression of a seascape including a boat in the distance.
Ken had a particularly good night as his other two prints also achieved high scores. Watendlath Beck scored 20 and Winter Falls 19. Two of Ken’s digital images also did well. “Three in a Row”, another waterfall, scored 20 and Walltown Crags scored 19.
Ronnie Gilbert, a long standing Society member and respected wildlife photographer, was the overall winner in the digital section with his “Grizzly Bear Out of the Mist”, an image taken in Alaska of a young grizzly bear emerging from the mist.
Ronnie’s other digital images also did well. “Sparrow Hawk in Flight” achieved another 20, and “Pine Martin” was awarded 19. He also had a successful night with his prints “Two Young Bears Sparring” and “Otter Pair in Evening Light” both achieving scores of 19.
Alan Walker did well in the print section with a variety of subjects. “Don’t Leave Me” and “Repent of Your Sins” both scored 20 while “Black Browed Albatross Courtship” was awarded 19.
Alan had success in the digital section too with “Ivory Flame” which also received maximum marks.
Richard Jakobson entered a beautiful night shot of the Milky Way in the digital section. A score of 20 was awarded in recognition of the difficulty and effort required to produce such an image.
Richard was also awarded high scores for his print “Desert Scene” (18) and his digital image “The Screes” (18) taken at Wastwater.
David Woodthorpe also had a successful evening . His print “Jay Landing” scored 20 and another print “Hairs on End”, a portrait of a Mountain Hare, was awarded 18.
He also scored 18 with “Sparrow Hawk and Sudden Gust “. In the digital section David achieved 19 with “Oops”, an image of the Red Arrows.
Keith Snell was awarded high marks for prints taken in Yellowstone earlier this year. “Lone Tree and Bison” was awarded 19, “Frosted Trees” scored 18 and “Swans in a Snowstorm” also scored 18.
In the digital section his “Bison Stand Off” was awarded 19.
High marks were also awarded to Carol Minks for her digital images “Black Tailed Godwit” (19) and “Jay in a Bluebell Wood” (18).
Her print ” Young Moose” also scored 18 .
Other prints that scored well included “Butterfly” (18) and “Patel” (18) both by Carol Waterhouse
“Rufous Collared Sparrow” (18) by Tom Stenhouse ,
“Derwent Water Rainbow” (18) by Tony Marsh
and “Walking on Water” (18) by Julie Walker.
In the digital section Wendy Jordan was awarded 19 for “Shy”
and Ted Jordan was awarded 18 for ” Maid in Venice”.
Other high scoring digital images included “Farmyard Stoat” (18) by Tony Marsh, “Tumbledown” (18) by Roy Knowles,
“Aira Force” (18) by Michael Rowlinson
and “Lioness and Cubs” (18), “Red Eyed Tree Frog on Petal (18)
and “Glen Etive” (19) all by Julie Walker.
New members entered several images and it was encouraging to see Julian Carnell achieving success with his digital image “Nice Groyne” which was awarded 18.
In total there were 42 prints and 70 digital images to judge, a difficult task to achieve in the time available. John rose to the challenge by keeping his comments short and to the point. This made for a very informative and enjoyable evening. It also allowed him to finish on time enabling him to return home before the A66 was closed for the night.
Following on from our success in the Three Way Battle last Wednesday, Keith, Ken & myself travelled to way beyond Hexham yesterday to attend the Judging of the Northern Counties Photographic Federation’s Club Competition. There are 50 clubs in the NCPF, the majority being in the North East, and 24 of them entered the PDI competition and 18 the Prints. We won this competition last year and also had best individual PDI & Print.
Each club enters 20 PDIs & or 20 Prints and these are shown in rapid succession to three judges, who haven’t seen them before and who make an instant judgement to give a score between 2 & 5, the three scores are then added up. This involved looking at 480 PDIs and 340 prints so you can see how rushed it is.
I am pleased to say that we again won both categories with 222 points in the PDIs, (2nd Hexham with 213 and Durham 3rd with 209), and 238 in the Prints, (2nd Durham with 215 and 3rd Northallerton with 203). As you can see these are significant margins. There were no 15s scored in PDIs and only one 15 in Prints so congratulations to John Macfarlane, Ken Rennie and Alan and Julie Walker for their scores of 14.
Individual results can be viewed in the members section.
For our meeting of the 14th February we were the guests of Penrith & District Camera Club who hosted a three-way competition with ourselves and Carlisle Camera Club in Newbiggin Village Hall. This annual event is a very social evening with a welcome opportunity to view the range of photographic work (as projected digital images) from all three clubs, with each club showing 15 images from different authors. The images were judged and scored anonymously by Jack Bamford, now of Hexham Photographic Society but previously a very active and well-respected Cumbria-based photographer and club member.
The range of photographic subjects was very broad but with landscape, nature, travel and formal and informal portraiture very much to the fore. Jack emphasised at the outset the very high quality of all the images on show and this was widely acknowledged by the audience despite the competitive element of the occasion. In the event, Keswick Photographic Society were the clear winners with 260 points and Carlisle gained 248 and Penrith 232 points.
Five images were awarded the maximum 20 point score. Three of these were from Keswick authors: Ronnie Gilbert with Bonelli’s Eagle Plucking Pigeon;
Rosamund Macfarlane with White-tailed Sea Eagle;
and, John Macfarlane with Foxes Greeting By Snowbank.
This perhaps emphasises the renown of the Keswick club in wildlife photography but they were not the only club with this expertise. Carrie Calvert of Carlisle Camera Club also gained the maximum 20 points with an exquisitely atmospheric image of a Black Grouse Lekking at daybreak on the moors. And the fifth top scoring image was by John Tillotson of the Penrith club with an exceptionally inventive montage of three different people photographically trapped inside bottles and titled The Three Samples. However, when pressed, the judge selected Ronnie Gilbert’s image as the Best of Show.
As well as praising the fair and perceptive judging comments of Jack Bamford, the fine hospitality and refreshments provided by our Penrith hosts were also enthusistically acclaimed by the audience.
In what was a week of competitive photography, Keswick Photographic Society were in competition again at the weekend when they entered the Northern Counties Club Championships held in Gateshead. The Society gained first place in both the photographic prints and projected images sections and will now go on to represent the northern counties of Great Britain in the national club championships later this year.
Our next meeting, at the usual venue of the Friends Meeting House in Elliott Park, Keswick, will be on Wednesday 28th February at 7.30 with a presentation of landscape and wildlife by our well-travelled members Alan and Julie Walker and titled Hot and Cold. Visitors are most welcome to join us.
Keith Snell, Chairman
This week our members were hugely entertained and informed by Neil Hulme who talked about his passion for mono images. His talk “Moments in Mono” gave us a geographic tour through locations he has photographed with his increasingly unique style. He started in Northumberland and finished in the Lake District with views of the Wirral, the north west coast, North Wales, Venice and the Peak District along the way. This was liberally laced with his self-deprecating humour and tales of the “near misses” encountered whilst attempting to capture these images. Such “near misses” included sinking waist deep into salt marshes whilst fleeing the oncoming tide and a narrow escape from a marauding herd of Blackface sheep.
Neil spoke of the inspiration he has had from such photographers as Michael Kenna, Rohan Reilly, Stephen Cairns and Josef Hoflehner. He explained in detail how he obtained his images. Although they may seem simple and somewhat minimalist Neil showed what care and attention was taken to capture exactly what he had in mind. This frequently involved careful attention to weather forecasts and driving significant distances at ungodly hours. His images are often taken using filters to create long exposures with emphasis in composition on leading lines, separation of components within the image and careful tripod placement.
Neil has a very individual style and throughout his presentation he informed us of the techniques he uses in post processing. He draws the viewer’s eye to focal point of the image with careful selective lightening and darkening. He often removes the horizon line to create a surreal, ethereal feeling. He emphasises the leading lines within the image. Neil also brought with him prints of his images which demonstrated with even more clarity the quality of his work.
Feedback from members afterwards was very positive and I am sure that many of us were inspired to hope for dank, murky, misty mornings to go out and try our hand at his style.
This meeting was another “Members Night” and gave an opportunity for five of our members to highlight particular aspects of their photography. Keith Snell’s theme was ‘Serendipity’, how to make the best of the unexpected as well as how to create unexpected images. I particularly liked an image of a Hebridean sunset transformed by moving the camera horizontally during the exposure.
Carol Waterhouse showed her intriguing recycling of small sections of some of photographs into collages of colour and patterns.
Richard Jakobson talked us through his attempts at night photography and the techniques he has used, featuring the Aurora Borealis and stars, particularly the Milky Way.
These three demonstrations had been very well received at Morton Camera Club the week before.
New this week was Alan Walker’s fascinating exposition of the High Dynamic Range technique. HDR is used when there are areas of intense dark and brightness in a subject, easy for our eyes to adapt to, but containing too much contrast for even the most modern cameras to capture. The solution is to take the same frame at differing exposures and combine the results in special software, (Alan uses Photomatix but the newer versions of Lightroom also work well). HDR images can end up looking very artificial but in Alan’s hands the subtle results are quite natural although he also likes adding a ‘grungy’ look to subjects such as abandoned old cars.
Finally, Carol Minks, one of our excellent wildlife photographers, showed us few of her favourite nature images. Some of these had been taken on slide film, some were local to Cumbria with others in Central Europe, Scandinavia and, perhaps her favourite place to visit, Yellowstone National Park and ranged from Orchids through Butterflies to Brown Bears. All were cracking shots.