“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:

http://www.keswickphotographicsociety.co.uk/images-entered-into-our-2018-2019-internal-competitions/

2nd Open Competition, Nov 28th, 2018

For this week’s members competition of images taken in the British Isles, we were pleased to welcome John Williams from Penrith Camera Club to do the judging. As an experienced judge of club, national and international competitions, we were expecting an informed and perceptive critique of our images and we were not to be disappointed. John not only  gave a thorough analysis of our photographic achievements and shortcomings but also offered considered and informative advice on how our images could be improved upon both at the taking stage and in their further processing. His scoring of the images was considered accurate and justified and he was enthusiastically thanked by the membership at the end of the evening.

The judging started with photographic prints, many of which were commended for the quality of the printing and for the judicious choice of printing paper used, which can markedly enhance the presentation of an image. The subject matter was as always quite varied and the top scores of 20 were awarded to a stunning landscape by John Macfarlane (StormApproaching Suilven),

 

Creative portrait studies by Julie Walker (Proud Hunter)

 

and Alan Walker (A Dark and Sinister Night),and sensitive wildlife images by Keith Snell (Fallow Deer in Velvet)

and Carol Minks (Alert Brown Hare).

The runners-up, with a 19 score, showed a similar range, with and landscapes by Ken Rennie (Evening Light);

 

and Richard Jakobson (Reflected Gold);

 

and a dramatic image of birds of prey by Ronnie Gilbert (Dispute Over Mouse);

The overall Print of Show accolade was given to Carol Minks’ portrait of a hare.

After the break it was the turn of the more numerous projected digital images to be judged. The numbers were enhanced by most welcome entries by newcomers to the club, with many achieving very creditable scores. The range of images gaining top scores of 20 covered landscapes by Ken Rennie (Glen Orchy)

 

and a creative landscape by Julie Walker (Storm Approaching – cunningly combining a Walney Island lighthouse with Luskentye beach);

 

a full-body portrait by Julie Walker (Looking Out)

 

and a wildlife image by Tony Marsh (Kingfisher With Prey);

 

The overall Digital Image of Show was awarded to Julie Walker for Storm Approaching.

At the weekend the awards day for the Annuals competition of the Northern Counties Photographic Federation had been held in Newcastle. Keswick Photographic Society was awarded trophies for first place club entries in the Projected Digital Images and Monochrome Prints sections, for the second year in succession. The Weir Trophy for best colour print was awarded to Ken Rennie (Fairy Pools) and the Pinkney trophy for the best monochrome portrait was awarded to Alan Walker (Repent Your Sins). Congratulations to all members who submitted entries for these competitions and contributed to our success.

“Design in Mind” by Rod Ireland, November 21st 2018

The evening’s talk was given by Rod Ireland and was a change to the advertised subject. Rod is a professional photographer who lives in Askham near Penrith. He runs landscape photography courses, workshops and trips, both locally and further afield. As would be expected from a photographer who has achieved success in a number of prestigious competitions, including Landscape Photographer of the Year and the Scottish Landscape Photographer of the Year, he entertained us with a superb collection of images. He is passionate about  photographing the varied landscapes  of the  British Isles and this, combined with his love of the outdoors, was noticeable throughout the evening.

Rod’s theme for the evening was his own personal journey of discovery into the elements of design. As with many photographers, his own approach until recently had been largely intuitive rather structured. More recently he has studied in detail the principles behind a well designed image. Rod now looks at six key elements. These are: lines and edges, two dimensional shapes, three dimensional form, colour, pattern, and, finally, texture. During the evening he went through these six principles in detail, illustrating each with a selection of his own images taken from various locations in the British Isles.

Rod started with lines and explained how different types of lines can create various moods.

Jagged lines for example can create unease and tension, while straight vertical lines, such as trees, can create a feeling of peacefulness.  Rod showed examples of images he had taken using lines as the main element including trees, fences, walls, jetties, shafts of light and steps. These were simple, but striking, images and they demonstrated that often less is more.

Rod took the same approach with shape, showing once again that the combination of simple two dimensional shapes can create powerful images. He also pointed out the importance of negative space which photographers often overlook.

In moving on to the third element, form, Rod explained that directional light is the key to understanding the three dimensional aspects of shapes.

After the tea break Rod went on to talk about colour, patterns and texture. He again illustrated each of these with simple images that were based around just one element from which other distractions had been eliminated.

When looking at texture he again emphasised the importance of directional light.

Finally, Rod showed a number of images where several, or in some cases, all these elements had been successfully combined.

This was the first time Rod had given this particular talk, but it was a polished performance delivered with both clarity and humour. Rod invited participation from the audience and there were numerous questions and comments which reflected the high level of interest in his work. It was a most entertaining evening and both experienced members of the audience and those less experienced learned something from Rod. I will certainly look at my approach to photography in a new light.

Alan Walker

External Competition Results

The Photographic Alliance of Great Britain hold a club competition for prints  every November,  the PAGB Open Trophy and PAGB Nature Trophy. In the Open category we came joint 6th with Dumfries out of 19 clubs and in the Nature category 5th out of 15 clubs competing. Some of the images from the winning clubs can be seen here:

Open

Nature

We have also had the results of the season’s 1st round of competitions in the Nature Division of the Photographic Society of America. We were promoted to the top league in the nature division this season (no end of season playoff involved!). We came a very creditable 4th out of 30 clubs in the first round. Of particular note were honourable mentions for Tom Stenhouse and Alan Walker for “Gannet Makes a Catch” and “Steller Sea Eagle Face Off” respectively.

Reflex Camera Club Visit, November 14th 2018

For this week’s meeting we were pleased to welcome some members of the Bristol-based Reflex Camera Club. They were spending the week photographing around Keswick and agreed to come along and show us some projected digital images from their club members. Their chairman, Maurice Thompson MBE, started off by showing us images of the club’s activities including studio portraiture and still life sessions in their meeting hall as well as models photographed on location in bars, stately homes and ancient monuments. There were also macro photographs of creepy crawlies taken in their hall and fighter planes taken at a local viewpoint where the photographer was at eye level with the aircraft on their training manoeuvres. Maurice continued by showng images of his own and from other club members who were not present for this Lake District outing.

We were then given short presentations of images by those members present, which proved to be very diverse and thoroughly enjoyable. Examples included landscapes of Machu Picchu in Peru, the Hobbit village in New Zealand where the Lord of the Rings films were made, the annual hot-air balloon festival in Bristol, the gardens of Stourhead and beach scenes local to Bristol and further afield.

Portraiture and people, both posed and candid, featured frequently and perhaps the most striking was an extremely creative series of selfie images in which the photographer was reproduced in various multiple guises and poses in the same image – a plane filled with himself as all the passengers and titled ‘I Wonder Who Is Flying The Plane’ illustrated the humour behind this approach. More familiar to the Keswick Society members were wildlife images of native bird species; less familiar were photos of pet rats! Alison Davies showed us a series of images of her many cocker spaniels (especially Otis, Tilly and Bazil) in various situations, including on the shores of Derwentwater

 

and which had featured in popular magazines and had won her numerous lucrative prizes.

Julie Kaye’s images took us under the seas to feature not only exotic colourful fish but also abandoned wrecks and their cargo on the seabed. All superbly photographed with her sophisticated underwater equipment.

 

 

After the break some members of Keswick Society showed the visiting club samples of our photography. Richard Jakobson led off with photos of Morocco, each one shown in colour and in monochrome and demonstrating how each format could be superior depending upon the subject matter.

 

Keith Snell followed on with landscape prints taken using intentional  camera motion or mutiexposure techniques to create impressionistic effects.

 

Finally Ken Rennie showed landscape images which were based around minimalist compositions, demonstrating that less can definitely mean more in photographic artistry.

“Hard Work” Print Competition, November 7th 2018

November’s first meeting was a competition for members who had submitted printed images on the theme of “Hard at Work”. This theme had been chosen by our Chairman, Keith Snell who also took on the task of critiquing and scoring the images.

At the outset Keith said how much he had enjoyed viewing the breadth of subject and the quality of the images. He then explained that he had judged the images based on their photographic quality and also on how well they expressed the idea of “Hard at Work”. He had been fairly liberal when assessing the latter but admitted his liberal stance was a little tested at times!

A total of 23 images were submitted with a range of interpretations of the theme including portraits of various professions “hard at work”, several images clearly with an ironic slant on the theme, street scenes in various locations, images of wildlife working hard and some photo journalistic action shots.

Keith had clearly taken time and effort to review the images and was able to offer for each one submitted advice on what may have improved the photograph and what he found particularly pleasing. He also fulfilled an educational remit in advising the audience of the details of some of the more obscure professions depicted. eg a “scudder” being a leather worker who cleans the hides after they have been tanned.

The images were scored out of 20 and three received top marks; “Hard Day’s Night”

 

and “Charcoal Maker” by Alan Walker

 

and “The Caulker” by Richard Jakobson.

 

Keith was impressed by the exceptional composition of “Hard Day’s Night” with a sharply silhouetted figure and the arching fluid separated from the background but echoing its curve. He liked the subdued toning of “The Charcoal Maker” which emphasised the workers distinctive face. “The Caulker” showed a boatyard worker sealing the cracks between the planks of a wooden hull. Keith thought that the backlighting was effective but the image still managed to show the details in the workers face.

Other high scoring images included “Under Pressure” by Ed Richardson

 

“The Jewellery Shop” by Tony Marsh ;

 

and “Clean Sweep” by David Rayment;

 

Images of all the submitted prints can be viewed on our gallery page:

Hard Work Gallery

At the end of the meeting Keith presented this year’s “Chairman’s Award for Outstanding Service” to Tom Stenhouse. This was made in recognition of Tom’s hard work and dedication over recent years as Programme Secretary. He brought new ideas and enthusiasm to the role and was unstinting in his commitment to ensuring every meeting was set up and ran smoothly.  Keith’s thanks was echoed by the subsequent applause from the members present.

“Unremarkable Scenes” by Lizzie Shepherd, October 31st 2018

For our last meeting of October we welcomed Lizzie Shepherd, a professional landscape photographer from North Yorkshire, who spoke to us about her journey in photography to find a new inspiration

Lizzie explained how she wanted to find compelling subjects without having the need to travel. Her talk was called Unremarkable Scenes, but unremarkable it was not!

She wanted to find something new, to experiment and be playful and not too formulaic, to find a revelation and see things differently. When showing her stunning images, she explained how she wanted to find continuity through the image, using light, the shadows, reflections, shapes, angles, patterns and varying her depth of field. She found on her journey that she is very drawn to diagonals and verticals which add a great movement through an image.

Lizzie told us that it’s not always about the light, amazing images can be created on rainy dull days. They can be more evocative with the soft light.

She looks for patterns on a big scale and repetition through the image. With blocks of colour and space so the viewer has to work their way around and image. The images have a graphic cleanliness and demonstrate how a busy image, a chaotic scene, can have simple elements of minimalism but there is a definite structure within an image.

Lizzie wants to make sense if an image and looks for scenes where colour can offer a warm and cold contrast or where there are harmonious colours complimentary to each other. She continued to explain how the absence of colour simplifies a busy scene, showing us images that demonstrated her findings.

When creating an image Lizzie want to create intriguing stories and puzzles, placing objects to create a visual puzzle. Scenes that can suggest more than one thing and keep the viewer looking, creating tricks of eye, showing us an image of a reflection of a that had been turned upside down. She described this as Pareidolia – seeing objects or scenes within an image. It certainly made you consider the image longer.

Through the talk we were shown visually stunning and creative images that had great mood and emotion, energy and depth, power and restfulness. Where composition leads to mood and curves and shapes lead the eye. Lizzie has a real ability to capture the sense of a place.

The journey Lizzie start five years ago has left her seeing things she wouldn’t usually see, and she hopes to continue to improve, to try new things and of course to enjoy it.