“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

John Gravett: ” A Lakeland Perspective 2018 ” January 3rd 2018

John Gravett has been running a photographic company based in the Lake District since 1999. His photographic workshops are for people of all abilities and are mainly held  in the Lake District but he also runs occasional trips abroad. His main interest now is in landscape photography but he started out as a sports photographer in the 1980’s. He has contributed to a number of photographic magazines and last year he published a book entitled “Photoshop for Landscape Photographers”.

John treated us to a selection of lovely images taken in the Lake District over the last year. These were divided in to the four seasons and examples were shown from each. The majority of John’s images were landscapes but in the spring he had photographed daffodils at close quarters with a macro lens and bluebells from an unusual perspective by placing his camera on the ground. Summer had provided the opportunity to take images of rain drops bouncing off the bonnet of his car although he assured us that there really had been some good weather during July and August. He also demonstrated his versatility by showing images of wildlife taken during the summer months. In the autumn John had taken images of toadstools as well as landscapes. However the winter is clearly his favourite season when he is able to walk the fells suitably equipped with crampons. We enjoyed many beautiful images of snow covered slopes.

At the end of the evening John also showed us some images of his 2017 trip to  the USA taken in the National Parks including Yellowstone, Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon.

John offered some very useful advice which included “always have a camera with you” and made the point that even images taken with a mobile phone can be printed up to a reasonable size. He is a strong advocate of using a tripod saying that this helps him compose an image. His focus on detail was clearly demonstrated in his images, he pays particular attention to how different elements balance each other and fit together.  Another piece of advice offered was that “there is no such thing as bad weather, only different types of lighting”. John clearly goes out in all weathers, a great example to those of us, including myself, who prefer to remain indoors when it is pouring with rain. Many of his images illustrated that very atmospheric images can be taken in poor weather.

Panel of Three Prints – 6th December 2017

This was an evening where instead of having a presentation from an outside speaker,  members viewed one another’s pictures in the form of themed “panels” of three prints. 28 panels were shown in total from 14 members and it proved to be a fascinating and enjoyable evening where we could look at very personal and sometimes quirky images that were often very different from those we would enter into competitions.

Ronnie Gilbert set us off with themes of “Diving for food”, showing a Grizzly Bear and a Lesser Black-backed Gull with a fish each and an Otter with a crab, and then three icy scenes containing a handsome male Wigeon, (a duck), a flying Mallard and a Snipe.

Roland Harries showed intriguing pictures taken from the window of his upstairs flat, three of wonderful cloudscapes and three showing the recent roadworks proceeding near Booths supermarket. Two of these at night were particularly atmospheric.

Richard Jakobson had contrasting panels of impressionistic views of grasses and birch trees, with a pleasing blur caused by moving the camera vertically whilst taking the picture and dramatic monochrome portraits of a White Rhinocerous, a Cheetah and an Elephant, taken in Namibia. Roy Knowles panel was on a theme of “Walls”, a pleasingly isolated zig zag of dry stone walls taken near Caldbeck Common, the graffiti covered interior of an abandoned Irish coastguard station and a dramatic house wall mural from Londonderry remembering the events of Bloody Sunday. Tony Marsh showed three different lemur species taken in Madagascar and Carol Minks featured more “Winter” scenes of a Cygnet on ice, a wonderful sunset overlooking Derwent Water and a flock of brightly coloured Waxwings adorning a tree like exotic Christmas decorations. She then followed with three beautiful butterflies, surrounded by grasses or flowers taken in the Bulgarian mountains where the insect life is untouched by modern farming practices in a way we can only dream about.

Ed Richardson then took us to New Zealand with shots of the same tree standing in a lake and with a backdrop of mountains. Taken over a number of years it showed very different lake water levels. Ken Rennie, one of our most skilful landscape photographers treated us to four sets of landscape prints. A section of Hadrian’s Wall near Housesteads in very different conditions but all in beautiful light, ethereal low key shots of Ullswater, Rydal Water and a Scottish Loch, rays of sunlight streaming between the trees in a foggy Gelt Woods and minimalist shots of sand and sea from the Solway, Cornwall and Brittany. Keith Snell’s shots were all taken within 20 paces of one another  in Wasdale, each using novel techniques and showed how much interest can be gained by looking imaginatively in a small space whereas Tom Stenhouse treated us to a sunset performance in a hotel infinity pool in Thailand where a fire-lighting finale was matched by the pyrotechnics of a setting sun backlighting splashes of water. A second set was of two colourfully lit modern towers in Tokyo and Kyoto flanking a serene but equally colourful ancient Buddhist temple.

Carole Waterhouse, showed three panels, one of a Heron at Muncaster Castle, a trio of Indian Street characters and idiosyncratic portraits of street performers from Edinburgh and Whitby. Marilyn Woodthorpe showed landscapes,  three snowy Cairngorms scenes and three of lava fields and amazing flower displays from Idaho. David Woodthorpe’s panels were of beautiful coloured smoke trails at a Red Arrow display and detailed bird portraits all taken in one day in Scotland. Perhaps the most intriguing presentation was by Robert Webb: he has been experimenting with an ancient plate bellows camera that he has been renovating using bits from e-bay and custom made metalwork. Using film he acquires from the Czech Republic and home developing he has successively produced images of tree bark but this is very much the beginning of a work in progress.

All in all, this was a highly enjoyable evening with a great range of photographic enthusiasms on show and with the explanations given gave us much insight into each other’s photography.

Northern Counties Annual Inter-club Competition 2017

Every year the 50 clubs that make up the Northern Counties Photographic Federation (NCPF) of the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain (PAGB) participate in an Annual InterClub Competition. The awards ceremony for 2017 was held on Sunday 26th November and Keswick Photographic Society had a clean sweep, winning all three Club trophies (Colour Prints, Monochrome Prints and Projected Digital Images). Within these categories, a third of our club members (12 individuals) were awarded one or more certificates of commendation for their individual images. In addition, four club members were awarded individual trophies in specific areas:

Best Colour Print; Julie Walker, Fighting Stallions

Best Landscape Print;Ken Rennie, Bow Fiddle Rock

Best Nature Print; John Macfarlane, Red Fox Pair on Snow Bank

Best Sport Print;Alan Walker, The Try

Best Natural History Projected Image; Alan Walker, Puma Stalking its Prey

Many congratulations to all the club members who were honoured and who contributed to our outstanding success as the premier photographic club in the Northern Counties.”

Melvin Nicholson “Landscape Locations” 29th November 2017

Melvin Nicholson LRPS,  a professional landscape photographer from Preston, Lancashire gave an excellent talk on “Landscape Locations” to Keswick Photographic Society.

From the beginning it was clear he was dedicated to his job and had worked tirelessly to find the best locations with advantageous positions providing the perfect light. This not only involves planning but an ability to get up very early in the mornings and to stay up late at night in order to achieve the fantastic images he displayed.

Melvin’s photographic journey started on the west coast of England close to his own home.  He showed images of the wooden jetty at Lytham as the tide just begins to be level with the boards.  The most symmetrical pattern was seen underneath the central pier at Blackpool which provided the best image of a smooth sea, created by a long exposure using a 6 stop filter.

Together with mouthwatering photographs of Mary’s shell and the Ogre in Cleveleys, the audience enjoyed seeing fishing wrecks at Fleetwood, Castles of Bamburgh, Lindisfarne and Dunstanburgh in Northumberland, the Inner Farne Islands, Saddle rock, a sunrise in Seahouses and a beautiful rainbow over Embleton Bay,

His next set of images were from the Lake District including the iconic pine trees and the lone tree on Buttermere.

Melvin gave a kaleidoscope selection of the best places providing the best chance of good images.  He explained the importance of being out in bad weather when the shifting light alters the atmosphere of the same location without moving one’s tripod.   Examples were the Langdale Pikes, Blea Tarn, Holme Fell, Monk Pier Coniston and Martindale at the base of Hallin Fell.   He admitted that he found Castle Rigg Stone Circle one of the most difficult places to photograph to obtain a decent picture.  Other locations such as Scale Force Falls, Slater’s Bridge, Cathedral Cavern and Hodge Close offer different opportunities.

After a series of photographs in Dorset and a number of places along the Jurassic Coast, the journey then travelled away from the South of England into Scotland via Glencoe and Rannoch Moor to the Hebridean Islands of Harris, Lewis and Skye. The variable weather highlighted rainbows and fogbows which necessitated the use of a shower cap to protect the camera and a lens polariser filter to enhance the rainbows. Amongst the notable places were Talisker Bay on Skye displaying black sands at low tide, Old Man of Storr, the Fairie Pools and Stach Pollaidh.

Across the sea to Ireland to enjoy views of Melmore Head, The Church of the Sacred Heart and the Cliffs of Moher and finally voyaging further afield to Iceland.  Here the ice caves, beached icebergs and the waterfalls at Skogafoss and Seljalandfoss were amazing but the black Church at Budir stole the show being lit from the inside by torches and encircled by the Aurora Borealis.

In summary, one needs to be at the right location to take advantage of the atmospheric light which gives the best chance of replicating what Keswick photographic society witnessed on a very entertaining and inspiring evening.

More of Melvin’s images can be seen in the galleries on his website at melvinnicholsonphotography.co.uk

We reach the winter break with a Christmas Dinner on 13th December. The next meeting is on 3rd January 2018 when John Gravett ARPS will be the guest speaker. Meetings take place at The Friends Meeting House, Elliott Park, Keswick, CA12 5NZ on Wednesday evenings at 7.30pm. Visitors and guests are welcome.

KPS 2nd Open Competition 15th November 2017

Keswick Photographic Society’s Second Open Competition was held on 15th November. The judge for the evening was Jack Bamford, DPAGB, AFIAP, APAGB. Jack is a Northern Counties Photographic Federation judge and, prior to moving away from the area, used to be a member of the Society. The competition entries consisted of forty-eight prints and sixty-nine projected digital images which Jack, during the previous ten days, had been studying and then awarding scores out of twenty.

The evening commenced with the prints. Jack discussed each image, commenting on the good points and, in some cases, suggesting where improvements could be made and then he announced the image score. A total of seven prints received top scores of twenty, reflecting the high quality of the work submitted. The overall winning print was ‘Waiting’ by Alan Walker. This beautifully printed image featured a wistful and sad-looking lady sitting on a window seat and leaning against a stack of suitcases. Another of Alan’s prints entitled ‘Red Deer Stag in Snow’ was also awarded a top score of twenty. The five other prints achieving top scores were: ‘3 Trees + 1’ by Ken Rennie, ‘Waiting for Mother in the Rain’ by Ronnie Gilbert, ‘Whimbrel’ by Carol Minks, ‘Little Owl Peekaboo’ by Keith Snell and ‘Fear in the Subway’ by Julie Walker. Just one point behind the top prints were five prints which received scores of nineteen and these were: ‘At the Water Hole’ by Keith Snell, ‘Red Necked Phalarope’ by Carol Minks, ‘Golden Hour at Winskill Stones’ by Ken Rennie, Male Kingfisher with Minnow’ by Marilyn Woodthorpe and ‘Red Squirrel with Heather’ by Ronnie Gilbert. Another six images achieved very good scores of eighteen and these were by Julie Walker, Alan Walker, Tony Marsh, John Macfarlane, Ken Rennie and David Woodthorpe.

After a break for tea and biscuits, and the chance to view the winning prints in greater detail, the second half of the evening was devoted to the projected image entries. Again a number of images achieved the top score and, within these, Jack chose ‘Redwing Singing in the Rain’ as his overall winner. This delightful image featured a redwing perched on a branch and singing with great gusto despite the rain. The bird was pin-sharp but the background rendered expertly out of focus. Four other images scored twenty and these were: ‘Steph in Red’ and ‘Green Parrot Snake’, both by Julie Walker, ‘Osprey Take Off’ by Ronnie Gilbert and ‘Watendlath Fell’ by Ken Rennie. Five images received scores of nineteen and these were: ‘Dance of the Crane’ and ‘Waiting for the Ice’, both by John Macfarlane, ‘I Look Up to Him’ by Alan Walker, ‘Brittany’ by Ken Rennie and ‘Get Off its Mine’ by Tom Stenhouse. Ten projected images were awarded scores of eighteen and these were by Ronnie Gilbert (2 images), Alan Walker (2 images), Carol Minks (2 images), Wendy Jordan, Ken Rennie, Keith Snell and Julie Walker.

Keith Snell, the Society’s chairman thanked the judge for all his hard work judging the images. Our meetings take place at The Friends Meeting House, Elliott Park, Keswick, CA12 5NZ on Wednesday evenings at 7.30pm. You will be most welcome to join us.

(Tricia Rayment)


“Paint to Pixels” 8th November 2017

The meeting this week was something completely different in that it focused on paintings of the old masters, albeit with a photographic slant. Our member John Macfarlane LRPS DPAGB AFIAP EPSA concentrated on one famous painting, that by JMW Turner of ‘Buttermere Lake with Part of Cromackwater’ painted in 1898. This subject had been inspired by the renowned landscape photographer Joe Cornish who references it in his talks on photographic composition and who was in the audience on this occasion. John gave the background to the painting by explaining that Turner had been on an extended painting tour of northern England in the summer of 1897. Indeed John had examined Turner’s original leather-bound sketch books from this trip at the Tate Britain gallery as part of his detailed research. He explained that Turner was directed to the Buttermere valley, from Keswick were he was staying, by the many contemporary guidebooks but especially by the detailed hand-drawn map published by Peter Crosthwaite (who founded the Keswick Museum). This map of the Buttermere valley was annotated with recommended ‘viewing stations’ and, illustrated by his own photographs, John identified the specific viewpoint as Hause Point on Rannerdale Knotts where Turner had produced the original sketches for his painting.

A notable feature of the very atmospheric painting, one of the first in Turner’s iconic later style, was a striking rainbow across Buttermere at the junction of the Buttermere valley and the valley from Ennerdale which runs below Floutern Cop. Using retrospective meteorological almanac data and resorting to aerial photography from a microlite, John established that the conditions on the day of Turner’s sketching could indeed  have produced the rainbow that Turner painted, with sunlight coming down the Floutern valley during showery weather in the Buttermere valley. However, Turner was known to sometimes add in rainbows at the painting stage so this remains as plausible conjecture. John introduced a modern-day take on this by precirculating his own photograph of Buttermere taken from the Turner viewing point and inviting members to create an interpretation of Turner’s painting using Photoshop or other post-processing software. The striking recreation by  Richard Jakobson was judged by the audience to be the most effective and versions by Brad Cheek, David Woodthorpe and Julie Walker were also highly regarded.

After the break the fine art theme was continued with ‘Learning From The Masters’ by Carmen Norman LRPS. Carmen has been influenced by paintings ever since she was given a copy of ‘Art Treasures of The World’ as a child. The book has had a profound influence on her approach to landscape photography. She showed paintings by many famous landscape painters, particularly Constable and Turner, and revealed how their compositions adhered to the classical divisions of the golden section as exemplified by the Fibonacci sequence or the photographic ‘rule of thirds’ approximation. The intersection of thirds is an area where the eye seeks elements of pictorial significance. For each classical painting, Carmen showed a matching photograph from her own portfolio capturing a similar mood and composition. Her exceptional images both delighted and instructed and the audience were enthusiastic in their appreciation, as they had been for John Macfarlane’s highly entertaining and scholarly presentation.

Western Area Battle Saturday 4th November 2017

The Western Area Battle is an annual competition between 8 Photographic Societies.

Carlisle, Copeland, Dumfries, Keswick, Morton, Penrith, West Cumbria and Workington. Each Photographic Society has to present 6 prints and 6 PDI’s.

The competition is marked by an external judge and on this occasion it was Leo Palmer FRPS, APAGB, FPSA, GMPSA from Hexham Camera Club.

Leo started the afternoon with a talk about his travels, projects, concepts and themes. He tends to concentrate on producing six images for each project and showed some interesting examples on landscapes from Yellowstone National Park, India, Nepal and Spain. Others were of Street Life, Candid (inspired by Henri Cartier-Bresson), Surrealism, Mannequins and Bromoils.

The second half of his presentation was a series of A-V’s lasting 2 to 5 minutes each and collectively lasted for 45 minutes. The material was mainly of his travel photography.

Thanks to Penrith CC, our hosts for the day, for organising the event, providing an excellent buffet and venue at the Penrith Players Theatre.

After the buffet each image was presented and Leo gave comments of varying lengths. Scores were given, added accumulatively, resulting in a very close outcome.


Carl   Cope  Dumf  Kesw  Mort  Penr  W.Cum  Work

73         86        98        98        88      83         71          83


Carl  Cope  Dumf  Kesw  Mort  Penr  W.Cum   Work

97         87       103      103        97      96         92        97


170     173       201      201       185    179      163       180


7th       6th       1st=      1st=      3rd     5th       8th       4th

Best print was given to Penrith for “Soft Light on Ullswater”  by John Williams

Best PDI was given to Carlisle for “Evening Storm”

I am sure most of the attendees think their images could have scored better but that will always be the case and once again Dumfries and Keswick are top of the pile which is a pretty consistent performance year on year.