NCPF Annual Competitions Results

The Northern Counties Photographic Federation Annual Competitions are held in the spring of each year. These are competitions for individuals primarily,  though awards are also given for clubs. Yet again KPS did very well with this year, members winning several awards and the club winning the awards for best club entry of colour prints and best club entry of projected digital images. The individual awards were:

Best Mono print: “Wild Tiger Family” by Tony Marsh:


Best Landscape: “Misty Morning Paddle ” by Tom Stenhouse

















Best Nature Print: “Alert Brown Hare” by Carol Minks


Best Human Portrait PDI: “Christine in Mauve” by Julie Walker


Best Nature PDI: “Hare Washing” by David Woodthorpe:



Best Beginners PDI: “Retro in Rome” by David Leighton

Exhibition and Sale of Prints, May 11th and 12th, The Borrowdale Institute, Rosthwaite


We are holding an Exhibition and Sale of Keswick Photographic Society Members’ pictures at The Borrowdale Institute, Rosthwaite on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th May.  Doors open at 10am to 5pm both days.
There will be some fantastic mounted prints from worldwide Natural History to local landscapes.  It is free to enter. The sale of prints is to support and promote Keswick Photographic Society, currently one of the most successful photographic societies in the country, despite its modest size.  Visitors will get the opportunity to learn about the society as well as take away photographs at a fraction of their retail value.

Portfolio of the Year 2019

April 3rd saw us holding our members portfolio competition in which each of their three entries in each section (print and projected image) has to be a different photographic genre. This takes some of our members out of their usual comfort zone and provides a great variety of images. Our judge for this competition, Rob Hockney DPAGB, was from the far-flung reaches of the empire, namely North Cheshire, and was a very experienced judge from the Cheshire and Lancashire Photographic Union. The judgement of each image was made on a twenty-point scale and taking no account of the photographic genre depicted, the aggregation of the three scores by each photographer being assessed at the end as their portfolio score.

Rob set about his judging with 36 prints covering the diverse themes of natural history, landscape, urban scenes and portraiture and people. The images were taken in equally diverse locations, Kazakhstan, India and Japan perhaps being the furthest afield. Top scores of 20 were awarded to a beautiful monochrome study of a Scottish mountain hare by Julie Walker:


and an atmospheric seascape of breaking waves by Ken Rennie. Four scores of 19 were awarded: two to Ken Rennie for an informal portrait of a young girl in a lavender field and a group of snowdrops in the wild; to Tom Stenhouse for a delightful photograph of two very elegantly-dressed south-east asian ladies walking away from the viewer; and to Alan Walker for a wildlife image of three Dalmatian pelicans  fighting over fish in a break in the ice-covered water. Rob awarded 18 points to five prints: four of these were landscapes, including two by David Woodthorpe of Path to Frosty Morn in a wintery glade and a night-time urban landscape featuring the illuminated Squinty Bridge across the Clyde; The Lone Tree by Keith Snell was a solitary tree in a snowy landscape in Yellowstone Park; Glen Etive Waterfall in a Scottish glen was by Alan Walker; and John Macfarlane had an action photo of a Stellers Eagle landing talon-first in the snow.  The overall best of show print was Ken Rennie’s seascape:


He also took the Print Portfolio of the Year award for his three images, with David Woodthorpe and Alan and Julie Walker as the joint runners-up.

Forty-five images were submitted for judging in the digital section, covering a similar variety of subjects as the prints but with some still life and sports-oriented images too. Top scores of 20 were awarded to Keith Snell for an autumnal landscape shot of a raging torrent in Glen Orchy:

and to Ken Rennie for a studio-lit still life of a fruiting St John’s Wort. Rob awarded 19 points to just one image, that of an atmospheric landscape titled Derwent Mist Catbells by Heleen Franken-Gill in which the upper slopes of the mountain emerge mysteriously out of the lake cloaked in thick mist:


Two images were awarded 18 points: a wildlife image by Julie Walker of two Dalmatian pelicans, again Pelicans On Ice, but this time competing for a skating crab;


and a monochrome photograph by Alan Walker of a girl leaning backwards as she clears The High Jump. The overall best of show projected image was Ken Rennie’s still life of St John’s Wort, making it a double success for Ken in each section and showing that his renown in landscape photography is not the only genre he excels in:


However, the Projected Image Portfolio of the Year award was accorded to Julie Walker for her images of the pelicans together with a portrait of an ageing rock star in action (Still Rocking) and a winter landscape of elk does crossing the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park (Cold Morning On The River Snake). The joint runners-up were Alan Walker and Ken Rennie.

All the images entered in the Portfolio of the Year can be seen on our gallery pages:

2018-2019 Galleries

Annual Short Sets Competition, March 13th, 2019

This was the evening for our annual Short Sets competition.  This competition has two categories, Projected Digital Images (PDIs) and Audio Visual (AV) presentations.  There were ten competitors in total, six delivering PDIs and 4 producing AVs. Each competitor is allocated 10 minutes in which to deliver their presentation which can be on any theme. The entries are judged by the audience who, by secret ballot, collectively choose the best of each category.

Marilyn Woodthorpe’s opening presentation was a light hearted and candid look back at the society’s trip to the Falkirk Wheel, the Kelpies and Edinburgh, last April.  As well as records of the event, which also included Edinburgh Zoo and the Royal Yacht Britannia, there were a few cringe worthy, candid images of members in less than glorious poses:


This was followed by a much more sensitive (and sensible) offering by  David Leighton who produced some wonderful images of waterfalls in Yorkshire.  He had experimented with different angles, close-up distances and exposures to get the best effect of moving water through some iconic Yorkshire landscapes. He included some unusual night shots of the waterfalls which included spectacular lighting effects:

Carol Minks, not surprisingly, produced a very competent selection of pictures from a recent expedition to the western isles of British Columbia where she had sought out whales and bears.  Her photographs including some extreme close-ups of whales, revealed her experience in weather which varied from the warm and benign to the absolutely ghastly; and she had experienced some of this weather on rough seas whilst on a boat the size of a small dining table:


David Stephenson, who delivered the winning entry in this section chose to show us images from Iceland in Winter.  The stark and hostile weather conditions experienced by David were well documented showing snow to the first floor windows of his accommodation and clearing snow to free cars stuck in snowdrifts.  But he produced some stunning images of remote churches, waterfalls and winter landscapes both in colour and mono:


Keith Snell, one of the society’s  experts on nudes, photographically speaking, alluded to the comparisons between some of the world renowned artists’ approaches to nude portraiture and his own photographic attempts at capturing form, shape and beauty. Keith demonstrated the art of nude photography with particular reference to the creative use of light, or lack of light, to create the illusion of shape and form and to model symmetry:


Last but by no means least was Edward Richardson’s Beast!  His presentation entitled ‘Moving East with the Beast – To Venice in Snow’ portrayed, amongst other quite unusual vistas, the very unusual scenes of snow on the gondolas, in St. Mark’s Square and at the airport!  In fact his journey was seriously influenced by last year’s Beast from the East which almost succeeded in preventing him from travelling to Venice at all.  His final image taken on his last day in Venice showed a wonderful sunny, dry and warm day at the airport, which had, of course, arrived a week too late:


The first AV presentation was from Julie Walker and it was a stunning portrayal of bears in the wild. Entitled ‘Just Bears’ her presentation included bears from all corners of the world. There were Brown bears, Grizzly bears, Polar bears, bear cubs and she showed them in their natural environments playing, hunting, fishing or just being quietly menacing.   Richard Jakobson produced an incredibly entertaining mock-up of Test Match Special as he described the 2013 Village Cricket Championship at Lords, the home of cricket.  His local team, the Cleator village team, won sensationally and Richard created a really light hearted but very professional AV of the event.

The winning AV followed.  It was the work of Ken Rennie, a very accomplished landscape photographer who, on this occasion produced a collection of high key, minimalist seascapes from England, France, Scotland and Spain. The delicate and restrained colours of the sea, sand and sky in beautiful compositions were so easy on the eye proving a worthy winner on the night.

The final AV was from another well known and accomplished natural history photographer, Tony Marsh, whose presentation, ‘Tiger family morning’, followed a family of three cubs and their mother in the Indian state of Rajasthan as the cubs nuzzled, relaxed, cooled themselves in a stream and generally chilled out whilst the adult tiger, always alert, stalked, chased and ultimately successfully provided an antelope lunch for them all!

The standard of this year’s entries was very high and all were very entertaining, which was reflected in the scoring with all entries getting votes and the two winning entries just pipping others at the post.

Presentation by Morton Photographic Society, 20th March 2019

At this week’s meeting we were entertained by members of Morton Photographic Society from Carlisle.  This was an opportunity for their members to demonstrate the variety and quality of their work and to show images that might not otherwise receive a public airing. During the evening we enjoyed a range of subject matter from various locations as well as different styles of presentation including stills, slide shows and audio visuals prepared  by both experienced and novice photographers.

John Reed kicked the evening off with a presentation simply titled “Cumbria”. He showed a collection of beautiful and atmospheric landscape images, all taken over the last three years.  He included shots taken at a variety of locations in Cumbria and at different times of year and he presented both monochrome and colour images:




Richard Speirs followed with a presentation titled “A Sense of Place”. Richard too focused on the Lake District with landscapes taken at several of his favourite locations throughout the year.  He also demonstrated how an image could be improved by tweaking it during processing and he explained how he added elements such as light and mist. The quality of both presentations served to remind us of the  potential that exists for wonderful images so close to home. The  first half concluded with an audio visual presentation titled “Route 66” prepared  by Ian Gregory. This dealt with the history of the A66 and took us along its route from the east to the west coast stopping at some of the highlights along the way including Brough and Appleby.

There was more variety in the second half with Gerald Chamberlin presenting several slide shows on different subjects. The first of these focused on classic cars which he had photographed in various stages of decay. A number of images of cars, or parts of cars, taken in woodland illustrated Gerald’s ability to produce unusual and artistic work .  The subject of his next presentation was infrared photography and he showed a number of images taken in Scandinavia.


Finally he presented some of his intricate composite images, explaining briefly how he had achieved them. We then enjoyed some still  images of Iceland, a popular destination for many photographers,  taken in snowy and sometimes blizzard conditions by Fred Bell. A further set of his images taken at the South Lakes Zoo demonstrated that you do not have to travel to distant lands in order to photograph exotic animals such as tigers and snow leopards. This was followed by an entertaining audio visual presentation prepared by Gilly Linton of a recent trip to St Kilda which featured towering cliffs, lovely seascapes and abandoned buildings. The final presentation, another AV, had been prepared by Steve Jeffery. Steve is a keen mountaineer and adventurer and  could not attend the meeting because he is apparently currently kayaking in the Antarctic.  His presentation of stunning scenery in the Himalayas and other mountainous regions vividly illustrated his love of adventure and wild places. Altogether it was a very enjoyable evening.

4th Open Competition, March 6th, 2019

Tonight we held our last open competition of the season. Our judge, Jack Bamford, as well as being an ex member of Keswick Photographic Society, is an experienced and well respected national and international judge and his critique of the images was full of positive comments and helpful tips. He also commented on the overall high standard of images produced by the Society, particularly in the prints section.

The evening was divided in to two halves;  prints and digital images. There were 32 prints for Jack to judge.  A high proportion of these were nature images, many taken locally but some from further afield including a tiger from India, a jaguar from South America, vultures from Bulgaria, an Iberian Lynx from Spain  and a Great Grey Owl from Finland. There were an equal number of landscapes, most taken locally.

The overall winner of the print section was Ken Rennie with a beautiful image taken in Borrowdale titled “Break through”:


Jack commented “this print is what landscape photography is all about” and he praised the level of detail in the print, the beauty of the light and the overall print quality.  Ronnie Gilbert also achieved the maximum score of  20 for his image of an Iberian Lynx:


A third score of 20 was awarded to Carol Minks for her image titled “Golden Eagle and Fox”:


Two scores of 19 were awarded; one to Alan Walker for a monochrome image titled “The Story Teller”:


and the other to Julie Walker for a monochrome image of three white galloping horses titled “Out of the Mist:


Jack also awarded a score of 18 for six prints. These were “Jaguar on River Bank at Dawn” by Ronnie Gilbert, “Moss Force” by Carmen Norman, “Great Grey Owl, Finland” by Carol Minks, “Late Evening Sycamore Gap” by Tom Stenhouse and “Wild Tiger Cub” and “On the Lookout”, a Kingfisher, both by Tony Marsh.

Forty images were submitted for judging in the digital section. Landscape and nature images again predominated. Many of these were taken locally but we were also transported to the Forbidden City in China, Venice, the Arctic, South America and Alaska. The overall winner was Ronnie Gilbert for his image titled “Golden Eagle Pair Displaying”:


Scores of 20 were also awarded to Gordon Train for his image of a Spotted Fly Catcher:


Alan Walker for his image of a Grizzly Bear with a fish titled “A Successful Catch”:


and David Woodthorpe for his image of a Sedge Warbler.


It was a good evening for Ronnie as he scored 18 for his second image which was of a Toucan.  It was also a good evening for Carole Minks who was awarded 19 for her image titled “Ringed Plover Calling”:


and 18 for “Blackbird and Berry Feast”.  Another 19 was awarded to Tony Marsh for his “Female Blackbird with Red Berries”. Alan Walker achieved 18 with his image of a ballerina in a derelict building titled “Contrast”. Scores of 18 were also  awarded to Keith Snell for “Giant Kingfisher with Catch”, and two to Julie Walker for an image of a Polar Bear and her cub titled “A Tender Moment” and also for “Waiting for the First Bus”.

Julie Walker

“Three Way Battle” February 20th, 2019

The meeting on the 20th  of February took the form of a “fun” competition between ourselves, Carlisle and Penrith & District Camera Clubs; our annual “Three Way Battle”. Each club provides 15 digital images from 15 different photographers and is an excellent showcase of the breadth of talent in each club. Scoring our images was Richard Speirs, an extremely experienced and well-respected judge, both locally and nationally.

Richard started by congratulating us on the quality of the images saying that he had found no poor images with every one having photographic merit. He then proceeded to comment on each of the forty-five images generously pointing out all that he found good about each one but also giving advice about how some of the images could be improved, whether by different cropping or adjustment of the light in bright or shadowy areas and colour balance.

Scores on the night ranged between 14 and 20 and Keswick did very well with three of the four 20 scores, featuring work by Alan Walker an exciting close up of a Grizzly Bear with a Salmon in its mouth and water cascading all around it:


David Woodthorpe with a sparkling photograph of an all-white Scottish Mountain Hare grooming itself with its impressively furry back feet :


and Ronnie Gilbert with a colourful Aracari, ( a small Toucan) leaning along a wonderfully twisty branch or vine, the tip of its beak a few inches away from an airborne fly, all perfectly in focus:


Ronnie’s photograph was judged to be the best of the competition and Keswick also topped the final score tally, especially pleasing as fifteen members contributed to our success.

A few days later a rather more serious competition between the fifty member clubs of the Northern Counties Photographic Federation which covers the North East of England as well as Cumbria, was held with separate sections for projected images and prints. Keswick was first in both of these categories with an image “Forest Ballerinas” by Julie Walker being crowned “best projected image in show”:


and Ronnie Gilbert being only one of two to score full marks with a print of his aforementioned Acari and Fly. This is a significant achievement, not least because this is the third time in as many years that Keswick has come top in both sections.

Tony Marsh

Set Subject Competition: “People in Motion” 13th February, 2019

Tonight we held our second set subject competition of the season. The subject for this competition was “People in Motion” which was set by the judge Tom Stenhouse. Tom is a long standing member of Keswick Photographic Society and has been judging club competitions locally for several years.

The set subject competitions are fun evenings intended to assist members to improve their photography by providing constructive feedback on their images. Tom’s critique of the images included an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of each image as well as helpful tips on how they might be improved. He emphasised the need for at least some element of the image to be sharp. He felt that this particularly applied to people’s heads and faces.

There were 47 entries in total. A variety of techniques were demonstrated including the use of high shutter speeds to freeze action, slow shutter speeds to blur action and panning.   There were also some imaginative surreal entries.

Most images portrayed sport, dance or street scenes. Cycling proved particularly popular with a number of images taken during  road races including the Tour of Britain. Football, horse racing and surfing were also popular subjects as well as local sports events.    A few images were taken abroad  including street scenes in Vietnam, horse riders in Mongolia and rodeo in the USA.

As this was a fun evening, rather than giving individual scores, Tom divided the images in to three categories.  He placed ten images in the highest scoring category. These included two images by Ronnie Gilbert, two by Julie Walker and one each from Marilyn Woodthorpe,  Alan Walker, David Rayment, Tony Marsh, Carmen Norman and Wendy Jordan. The overall winner was Alan Walker with his image titled “Steeplechase”.


Our next meeting will be held on Wednesday 27th February. This will be a practical evening of still life photography led by Carmen Norman. Participants should bring their cameras along.

“Double Take on Three Archipelagos” by Rosamund and John Macfarlane, January 23rd 2019

This week we were pleased to welcome members John and Rosamund Macfarlane to give a joint presentation on their travels in three very diverse archipelagos spread across the globe.

Rosamund Macfarlane started their photographic journey with the birds in the second largest of the Japanese islands, Hokkaido. These included striking images of the graceful balletic cranes in snow, shown as individuals, life-bonded couples and in groups. In particular, Rosamund pictured the rare red-crowned cranes which are so culturally revered by the Japanese and of which half the world’s 2750 population are resident in Hokkaido. Their ritual courtship dance, complete with bowing, seemed to encapsulate the Japanese character and because of the bird’s fidelity they also feature as symbols of loyalty in art and textile decorations, especially on wedding kimonos.  Equally special were the two species of sea eagle – white-tailed and Steller’s – of which John Macfarlane showed us many detailed and majestic examples.

The Steller’s eagles have an 8-foot wing span and prey not only on fish but also on small mammals, even known to take small sika deer. The white-tailed eagle has the edge for aggression, however, and will pilfer fish from the talons of the Steller’s eagles in flight.

John then took us to the island of Honshu where, north-west of Tokyo, lies the volcanic Hell Valley inhabited by the endearing Japanese Snow Monkeys. Whilst sleeping in trees in the rocks at night, these macaques come down to the hot geothermal pools to bathe during the day. Despite the tourist crowds, the Macfarlanes captured intimate and frequent poignant images of the monkeys with their young, huddling and bonding and exhibiting apparent human characteristics to charm us.

The contrast with the bleak landscape and unforgiving weather of the Shetland islands could not have been more marked. We were shown graceful migratory arctic terns, guillemots, gannets and fulmars that provided food and oil for the islanders in times past. Pride of place, however, went to the ever-endearing puffins, although the sailing to their colony on Fair Isle was a gruelling one, our presenters being strapped into their boat seats as the vessel pitched and rolled alarmingly.

The puffins are generically referred to as a ‘circus’, so appropriate for their comical appearance and demeanour, but here again the population has halved over the past few decades as their sandeel diet declines with warming sea temperatures. Their other threat is the predatory skua (‘bonxie’ in Scotland). The portraits on show exhibited beautiful atmospheric lighting as well as capturing the character of the birds exceptionally well.

Our final stop was in the Svalbard archipelago much further north, within the arctic circle midway between Norway and the North Pole.  The main industry now is tourism, although John and Rosamund sailed the islands in a small 7-berth steamship rather than the cruise ships that are increasingly encroaching the seaways. The main attraction is the polar bears but the devastating effects of climate change on summer arctic sea ice is dramatically threatening their existence. John and Rosamund showed us only a few forlorn bears on the shores, mostly rather emaciated as they scavenged for birds and small mammals for survival. In contrast the arctic fox and reindeer were prevalent, and the fox in particular were photographed in some beautiful evening light.

There were also some detailed and characterful images of walrus –generically and aptly termed a ‘huddle’. John showed us that their very characteristic tusks are actually extensions of their skulls to give them immense strength, apparently confirmed by an overly close encounter by their guide! The presentation concluded with an audio-visual sequence of the landscape features and beauty of these arctic islands. Fittingly, the climax was a moving (in all senses) series of northern lights displays. The whole presentation by both speakers was received enthusiastically by an extremely appreciative audience.

Keith Snell

3rd Open Competition, January 9th 2019

This week was the first members competition of the new year and we were pleased to welcome again Richard Speirs  from Morton Photographic Society in Carlisle as our judge. An experienced judge at club, national and international level, we were anticipating an informed and constructive critique of our images and we were not to be disappointed. Richard not only  gave a thorough and frequently witty commentary on our photographic achievements and shortcomings but also provided considered advice on how our images could be improved upon, both at the taking stage and in their post-processing.

The judging started with photographic prints, many of which were commended for the quality of the printing and for the choice of printing paper used, which can markedly enhance the presentation of an image. The photographic subjects and genres were as always quite varied and top scores of 20 were awarded to an atmospheric landscape of winter trees by Ken Rennie (In The Bleak Midwinter)


and, in marked contrast, a stunning nature image of a colourful tropical Aracari bird preying on a fly by Ronnie Gilbert (The Aracari And Fly).

Our judge wittily observed that the branch along which the bird was moving was quite the most interesting stick that he had ever seen – so often ‘a bird on a stick’ is ridiculed as a cliché in nature photography!

The runners-up, with a 19 score, were both wildlife images: a snarling tiger in a pool by Tony Marsh (Snarling Tiger)


and a goshawk devouring a snake by Alan Walker (Chanting Goshawk With Kill).


The overall Print of Show accolade was given to Ronnie Gilbert’s aracari bird.

After the break it was the turn of the more numerous projected digital images to be judged. Again wildlife images took pride of place with top scores of 20 being awarded to David Woodthorpe for a snow hare burrowed down in the snow (Hare Washing sic)


and an equally wintry scene, but further afield, by Alan Walker of a polar bear trudging through the snow (Struggling Through The Snowstorm).


The runners-up at 19 included two wildlife images by Keith Snell (Yellow-billed Stork Attacking Egret and Arctic Skua With Guillemot Prey)


and one by Julie Walker (Lions Mating),


as well as atmospheric landscapes by Ken Rennie (Brampton Old Church)


and Carmen Norman (Revealing Causey Pike).


The overall Digital Image of Show was awarded to Alan Walker for his polar bear in the snow.

Many other genres of photography were on display and admired in the submitted prints and images – landscapes, people photography, street photography, architecture, creative abstracts – but it was the renowned and widespread excellence in natural history photography across the society that was acknowledged and rewarded on this occasion by our judge.

All the images from the competition can be viewed on our gallery pages: