David Stout “Casablanca to California” 4th April 2018

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.

Carol and Tony Dilger: “A talk on the wild side” 14th March 2018

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.

Keith Snell

KPS 4th Open Competition March 7th 2018

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.

Julie Walker

NCPF Club Competition Success 2018

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.

Tony Marsh

3-Way Battle 14th February 2018

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

Neil Hulme “Moments in Mono” Feb 7th

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.

Richard Jakobson

Members Night January 31st 2018

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.

Tony Marsh

A Visit to Morton Camera Club 25th January 2018

The usual Wednesday weekly meeting of Keswick Photographic Society was transferred to Thursday following an invitation from Morton Camera Club for members to attend and present their images.  A group of volunteers from Keswick set out to Morton Community Centre in Carlisle where they were welcomed by Chairman Gerald Chamberlain.

The evening was started by Keswick’s Chairman, Keith Snell with an image of a nude model holding a discreetly placed chiffon. It had been taken at a Royal Photographic Society course when the model was relaxed and not consciously posing. Keith had used a small Canon G15 camera without flash producing an image which fulfilled all the rules of fibonacci sequence.  He then showed a lone Red Fox in Yellowstone in scenic snowscape, a reminder that these are lone animals who can survive in wilderness and travel huge distances. Next was an example of Intentional Camera Movement (ICM) which was achieved by panning from left to right with the appropriate camera settings. He ended with an example of In Camera Multiple Exposure (ICME) where three images of heather, reeds and water were superimposed on each other giving a surreal appearance.

Richard Jakobson then gave a talk on “A Novices Guide to the Milky Way” showing beautiful images of the night sky and the Milky Way. His tips were to be awake at 3am(!), use a tripod and to focus on infinity. Amazingly the camera sees a totally different image from that of the eye.  Richard had added foreground interest by either using longer exposures, a torch or a little help from the quarter moon. However he encountered two problems; condensation on the lens and falling asleep.  Despite the title of ‘novice’ these images were very good.

Ken Rennie then showed some stunning landscape images of Dornoch Point in Scotland, Castle Crag in Borrowdale and the steamer on Ullswater taken from Gowbarrow.  His talk included the various techniques he uses in lightroom and photoshop to obtain impressive improvements which were often counter intuitive. In addition he changed from using a wide angled lens to a telephoto lens to emphasise the more interesting aspects of the landscape, hence the adage “less is more”.

Following the interval Carmen Norman showed some studio shots of a ballerina (Kirstie) in a variety of poses displaying her versatility including an amazing standing splits. The use of a step ladder gave some additional interesting postures and lighting challenges.  Outdoors, Kirstie did some ballet leaps and spins adjacent to Crummock Water, waterfalls and Cathedral Cavern where a point pose reflecting in the water was beautiful.

Carole Waterhouse showed a number of images that at first sight appeared ordinary but after some radical cropping to focus on an intriguing part of the image then copied up to 6 times, she produced some exceptional work, “Hands of Buddha” being a good example.  Images of bubbles and reflections were manipulated into creative and visually impressive compositions.

Ronnie Gilbert ended the evening with some of his natural history shots. He explained that  for certain animals it was essential to be in a hide because of the sensitivity or the ferocity of the subject including kingfishers, sparrowhawks and a European Brown Bear whereas less sensitive and more curious fauna are hares, squirrels, and the deer in Bradgate Park.  The RSPB sites at Leighton Moss, Martin Mere, Bempton Cliffs and the Farne Islands all provide ideal sites to photograph various species of water loving birds. One of Ronnie’s beautiful images was of two humming birds on the decking of an apartment in California, taken with camera in one hand and a G&T in the other.  His finale was an image of an adolescent grizzly bear running towards him, he chose to stand still and fortunately the bear passed by about 5 feet away. Phew!

The feedback from Morton members was very complimentary and Keswick Photographic Society look forward to the 2018-2019 season when Morton Camera Club will visit Keswick to reciprocate the session.

KPS Third Open Competition 17th January 2018

The evening of our third Open Competition was judged by Richard Speirs DPAGB, APAGB, BPE2. Richard is recognised as one of the top judges in the Northern Counties and he did not disappoint.  He judged using constructive criticism, advice and a sense of humour; he even had the courage to involve the members in deciding whether his advice was good or not.  However despite the opinion of the audience, he didn’t alter the scores!

These competition evenings can be long with many images to get through, on this  occasion there were 36 prints and 59 digital images. It was impressive to see that more of our new members had entered, thus braving exposure to comments that might be less than favourable. Fortunately, Richard always gave the good points first followed by the improvements, so first timers were in good hands, as the blows of negativity were softened by kindly suggestions.

The prints’ section had some excellent entries, overall the lowest score was 15. Two members scored 20 points; Carol Minks with a wonderful image of a “Juvenile Sparrowhawk” looking very coy in the rain and John Macfarlane displayed an equally impressive image of a sea otter eating a baby octopus, entitled “Chewy”. The striking thing about the latter image was that the otter was in complete harmony with the background, both in terms of colour and texture. The judge is asked prior to the competition to give first place should there be a tie and it was Carol who received this accolade.

Five members received scores of 19 points; Rosamund Macfarlane with “Puffin drying off”, Tony Marsh with “Blue Tit and Lichen”, Carol Minks with both “Male Stonechat on Gorse” and “Black Tailed Godwit”, Ken Rennie with “Solway Watercolour” and Alan Walker with “Fighting Barn Owls”.

A score of 18 was obtained by eight members; Ronnie Gilbert with “Red Squirrel in morning light”, Keith Snell with “Birds in Flight”, Rosamund Macfarlane with “Puffin Portrait”, Marilyn Woodthorpe with “Eggstacy,” Tom Stenhouse with “Fish Feeding Frenzy”, Julie Walker with “Red Stag in Snow”, Tony Marsh with “Caerlaverlock Rainbow” and David Woodthorpe with “Drizzle on a Squirrel”.

The digital image section was equally competitive with a tie for the top position of 20 points by Julie Walker’s “Crested Tit” and Ronnie Gilbert’s “Male Sparrowhawk with Prey” which Richard described as “stunning” giving him first place.

Ronnie Gilbert’s “Running Hare” and “Red legged Partridge” together with Ken Rennie’s “Safe Haven” were awarded 19 points.   Both Alan Walker’s “Bald Eagle in the Rain” and “Wild Rocker” as well as David Woodthorpe’s “Wren on Bracket Fungus”, Tony Marsh’s “Portinscale Kingfisher” and Rosalind Macfarlane’s “Bearded-Tit doing the Splits”  (an eye-watering image!) all scored 18 points.

With nearly twice as many digital images as prints Richard, using no accompanying notes, always appeared calm and collected and the evening finished exactly on time. Timing is a difficult thing to master being the hallmark of an excellent judge.

Once again it is the familiar names that appeared amongst the high scorers; as the saying goes “the cream always rises to the top”.  Unfortunately, not all the images can appear in this article nor be described in great detail but the standard of the two winners gives an indication of the excellence displayed.

Meetings take place at The Friends Meting House, Elliot Park, Keswick CA12 5NZ on Wednesday evenings AT 7.30PM. The next meeting is on the 31st January a practical session on “Still Life”

Tom Stenhouse

“A Photographer’s Journey” by Tom Stenhouse 10th January 2018

Tom Stenhouse has been  a member of the Keswick Photographic Society  for nearly 10 years. He very bravely submitted himself to a critique by his peers as he described the journey he has taken from then until now. That journey has been both geographic and technical, which made for an interesting evening.

When he submitted an early image of birds in flight into one of the regular competitions that the Society holds, he was advised  by the judge to make some alterations. He then lightened the wings as suggested, but this made no noticeable improvement. He became aware of the mantra, “You cannot make a bad picture good but you can make a good picture bad by too much post production work!”

Tom’s other interesting comment was that, sometimes, an image was better with some monochrome than all colour . A monochrome background can sometimes reduce the visual intrusion of the background on the main subject of the image.

By 2012 Tom had moved on to more adventurous applications within Lightroom and Topaz. A good example of that was a visit to the Golden Temple in Japan on a dull day in which he was able to bring out the golden aspects of the subject through the software that was now available. He was now regularly receiving commended and highly commended both in local and wider competitions and was able to use the software to enhance his images. One interesting image of 2013 was a view from Warnscale Bothy which unusually highlighted the visitors book in the window . In the same year he took some pictures of his daughter’s wedding – a stressful and not to be repeated exercise!

By now, his ability with the software was producing different results. Swapping backgrounds and improving foregrounds had led him onto still life. Smokin Joe did not go down too well with the judge, but the droplet sequence of photos showed great skill in the manipulation of the original images and were well received.

Geographically, we had moved from  the Western Isles, the Yorkshire Dales, Japan, New Zealand, Valencia,….to Ashness Bridge lit at dusk by torches!

Tom’s final set of images was the juxtaposition of the original picture of birds in flight with a recent sequence of birds in dispute over fish.

The comparison showed  how far he has come in his journey.

Meetings take place at The Friends Meting House, Elliot Park, Keswick CA12 5NZ on Wednesday evenings AT 7.30PM. There will be no meeting on the 24th January as the Society is visiting Morton Photographic Society and so the next meeting is on the 31st January a practical session on Still Life

Stephen Harris