Bangor and North Down Camera Club (BNDCC)

Bangor and North Down Camera Club, (BNDCC), Northern Ireland, UK.
"Promoting and developing all aspects of the art of photography through example, discussion and competition."

Bangor and North Down Camera Club

Meetings blog 2010-2011 ...

This page is a log of the activities taking place on our Friday and Wednesday evening meetings in the main September to May season. We give credit to John Bennett, our Information Officer, for preparing these notes each week. Details of the proceedings and photographs are also submitted to the Bangor Spectator Newspaper for inclusion in their Club Section

Details of last seasons blog 2009/2010.

The end of term reports for the club were all of a positive nature when the Annual General Meeting was convened at the Ward Avenue headquarters and the members gave a resounding vote of confidence to the main office bearers by re-electing them en bloc. Nigel Snell, as Chairman took a look back at a very successful year for the club ; he especially welcomed a very healthy influx of new members and noted with pleasure that many of them were females.” They have brought a fresh approach to the meetings and to the week to week running of the club,” he remarked.

He listed the various speakers who had visited the club since last September presenting a widely varied bill of photographic fare as well as the entertainment provided by the members themselves as they shared their thoughts on their shared interest. The club, he pointed out, depended on the goodwill and hard work of the committee and the members and like the swan that glides gracefully along its feet were usually working overtime underneath the surface.

Treasurer Peter Gibson reported on a healthy financial balance and Ray Magill, the Vice Chairman of the Northern Ireland Photographic Association took pleasure in announcing that Bangor had finished sixth overall in the inter-club competitions- a big improvement on previous years. Alan McMorris was appointed as NIPA representative for the coming year to add to his duties as Competition Secretary and Exhibition Secretary. Jack Thompson was thanked for his hard work as the outgoing Competition Secretary.

Webmaster David Roberts reported that the club’s web site was attracting over 500 hits per month from all over the world –thanks to David’s work the Bangor site is generally regarded as a leader in its category. Noel Maitland, the facilities manager thanked the volunteers who had put down their cameras and picked up brushes to give the clubhouse a new coat of paint.

Club president Gerry Coe took the chair for the election of officers and as most of the posts were unchanged this was completed with much more speed and precision than another election taking place last week!

Saturday saw the first summer outing for the club and David Best’s detailed planning ensured a very enjoyable day at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum for the members. The Wednesday and Friday evening meetings continue in an informal manner at the clubhouse throughout the summer and anyone considering joining the club will be made most welcome.

..John Bennett

When the annual exhibition of the Bangor and North Down Camera Club is mounted in the Flagship Centre later in the year one name will be very prominent . Deborah Carville mounted almost a one-woman artistic assault on the trophies and ended the judging with no fewer than six first places and various seconds, thirds and commendations.

 

The selections were announced the previous week at the Club’s annual dinner in The Esplanade and on Friday night the judge, writer and photographer  Simon Watterson explained his selections to the members.

 

He underlined the fact that in his estimation the emotional impact of a photograph was every bit as important as the technical requirements- composition, texture,tone etc.

 

Deborah clearly achieved Simon’s benchmark in the Foundation category  with firsts in monochrome landscape and portraiture and similar accolades in colour landscapes and general photography.

 

She also finished first and second in the projected digital image landscape section and rounded off a memorable evening  when her print took the top podium position in the Open monochrome competition.

 

Hugh Rooney was the outstanding winner in the Advanced section with five victories on the night including the overall colour print trophy.The club chairman, Nigel Snell celebrated his year in office by being named Photographer of the Year.

 

..John Bennett

Time was when a camera was for taking photographs and a telephone was for making calls. If you wanted to find your way you bought a map and if you needed some music to brighten up your day you tuned into a walkman, MP3 player or similar equipment. Today of course these tasks can all be done on the Smartphone – along with sending emails and texts, capturing images and video, watching  television and harnessing the almost incredible power of the internet. With the fourth generation of mobile technology just around the corner the club was treated to a display of the potential of the developing technology for the photographer.

Trevor Craig, Hugh Rooney and Gerry Coe pooled their knowledge and experience to mount a fascinating and exciting exposition of what can be achieved with a mobile phone, some reasonably inexpensive software and a degree of imagination. Trevor set the scene with a preamble through the history of the cell phone- from the brick-like receivers of the seventies and the introduction of digital technology to the  sophisticated handsets of today. He illustrated how someone preparing for a walk in the hills 20 years ago would have needed a large rucksack filled with equipment- maps, camera, phone etc. Today all this can be catered for by the mobile phone. 

Hugh introduced the audience to the mass of information available to photographers and the availability of Tiny Tutorials – a series of lessons on how to use the power of the phone to take and process pictures . He also demonstrated the very wide range of “apps” available, some free and others costing only a few pounds. Programmes such as Iris and Filterstorm offer very sophisticated image processing and enhancement which until very recently could only be achieved on a computer using expensive software.

Gerry put on display some fine examples of how phone photography can be used as a springboard for more artistic interpretation. Using the programmes downloaded to his Iphone he produced highly stylised images which were subsequently printed on paper and canvas. He also showed how it was not only possible but reasonably easy to produce panoramas and pictures with high dynamic range. It’s also possible to download actual cameras –each with its own range of characteristics and facilities.  In all an exciting display of the evolving technology and the possibilities for the amateur photographers.

..John Bennett

It’s not the easiest thing in the world to stand up in front of your friends and colleagues and speak for a quarter of an hour about your favourite hobby but half a dozen brave souls  accepted the challenge and provided some memorable entertainment for Bangor and North Down Camera Club members on Friday night. The subject was “My kind of photography” and the six speakers offered a varied range of approaches to the topic. The panel was thoughtfully chosen to represent the balance of experienced photographers and beginners in the club while the male/female representation was exactly equal – a positive  indication of the recent and very welcome increase in lady members . 

Christine Pearson and Shirley Graham were the “new girls” in the early part of the evening; Christine explaining that, along with music, travel and photography were her greatest loves. She produced an audio-visual presentation of her travels around Europe, the  images reflecting her ability to see the potential in a scene and capture it. Like the other newcomers Christine paid tribute to the club for the advice and help she’s received since she joined. “The friendly atmosphere meant that I was comfortable asking for help if I needed it and there was always someone to offer a helping hand.”

Shirley admitted to being a “bit of a butterfly” and presented pictures of her travels from Dubai to Donegal via Australia. With a disarming display of repartee  she admitted to a penchant for photographing washing lines wherever she goes and gained the biggest laugh of the evening when she  showed a picture of her little vegetable allotment complete with neat rows of verdant fresh lettuce and cabbage and then revealed that she’d bought the lot in Tesco and planted them to hoodwink her husband.

Kevin Neupurt started taking photographs when he was ten, encouraged by his father who was a professional photographer. His interest waned as a teenager but later he rediscovered the joys of the medium when he bought his first digital camera. He joined the Bangor club last year and now feels his knowledge and ability has improved markedly by entering the monthly competitions and taking part in the Wednesday night tutorials. He displayed a selection of his dramatic night landscapes taken with long exposures,

Julie Campbell, another new member, never goes anywhere without her camera. “It can be your best friend if you’re lonely,” she explained. When a judge described her first competition entry as flat Julie admitted she didn’t even know what that meant. Since then she has progressed rapidly by dint of watching, asking and trying and has enjoyed some success in club competitions along the way. Her display of landscapes and other images earned a lot of praise.

Laurence Henderson has been a Bangor member for many years and has seen a few changes in club headquarters . His presentation included a progression from Kodak Instomatic to SLR and digital camera. His first love is landscapes and his projected images of travels through the Canadian Rockies were originally captured on slide film . His favourite location however is much nearer home – Donegal – where the light changes so quickly.

Harry Watson is the club vice-chairman and much of his photographic apprenticeship was served in South Africa where he lived and worked for some years. He showed striking pictures of lions, elephants, buffalo and other wild animals before explaining that he really began learning about his digital camera just last year when he was asked to photograph a calendar for the Guide Dog Association. With David Roberts as his mentor he produced a superb set of images to grace the months and the finished product attracted much critical acclaim. Harry’s witty audio-visual display rounded off a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

.John Bennett

The advent of digital technology has brought many benefits to photographers including instant appraisal of the captured image. But while familiarity may not go as far as breeding contempt it certainly can be accused of introducing a degree of apathy about what happens to the pictures after they have been taken. Some are destined to lie in memory cards until they are deleted; others may be afforded the luxury of a semi-permanent home in an electronic archive of one sort or another.

A smaller proportion are printed and become what were the once popular “snaps”. Some actually may be afforded the luxury of being collated and mounted in albums but Hugh Rooney demonstrated that there is another alternative, especially for the serious photographer who wants to see his or her work displayed in a sympathetic, enhancing environment.

Hugh put on display a selection of the photographic books he has produced over recent years. These included a volume of monochrome prints reproduced on fine art paper and bound together almost in the style of an art gallery catalogue. Others were produced on lithographic presses and laser printers both in colour and monochrome and presented with professionally executed binding and covers. He went on to explain that there was a wide range of styles and prices ( starting around £25)    available to the amateur photographer from an increasing number of companies advertising on the internet.

The procedure uniformly involves downloading free software and using the template provided to upload the images. Almost all the firms offered a  degree of control of the layout ranging from almost completely automatic to fully manual. The number of pages, number of  images per page and style of presentation are all at the behest of the purchaser. Weddings,holidays, graduations and birthday parties can all now have a permanent, attractive record.

It’s an exciting development not only for photographers however as would be authors can also avail themselves of the service. That important first novel that’s been threatened for so many years could now become reality ; most printing companies will undertake to handle prose and poetry as well as photographs and some will even offer the finished product complete with publisher’s bar code enabling it to be put on sale on websites such as Amazon. The only drawback would seem to be that the would-be author still has first to write the story.    

John Bennett

For almost two years Trevor Craig had planned and prepared for his trip of a lifetime. A rigorous fitness regime which included regular walking in the Mourne Mountains and an ascent of Ben Nevis had resulted in a high level of fitness and a weight loss of almost two stone. The amateur landscape photographer was set to travel half way round the world to join an international group for a photographic foray into the arid  landscapes of Patagonia – the wilderness of South America where the roads (if there are any!) are mainly dirt tracks and vast glaciers intersect the jagged peaks of the Andes.

The dream however almost turned into a nightmare as the Bangor man and his companions became the innocent victims of a local political dispute which resulted in them being held at the Chilean border for four days while the local people built barricades, stopped all traffic and closed the local airport as a backlash against a fuel subsidy being reduced. Nothing, nor no-one was allowed to leave.

“There was no doubt the demonstrators regarded us as political pawns in their struggle against the government,” Trevor explained to a hushed audience at Bangor and North Down Camera Club, “ they were not going to let us go and It was looking decidedly dangerous as their attitudes hardened by the day.”

The party of photographers, led by Thomas Hogan the internationally acclaimed author and image expert from America, eventually decided that their only chance of escape was to jettison their bus, leave their very expensive cameras and equipment behind and escape on foot, under cover of darkness to Argentina, many miles away over a range of mountains. Just as they were about to put the hazardous plan into operation the International Red Cross arrived on the scene and proceeded to negotiate with the hard line protesters.

After a long period of stalemate, with no food , little water and no communication with the rest of the world, fresh hope arrived in the shape of a Chilean Air Force jet freighter which landed at the local military airport. After much discussion it was agreed that the exhausted, hungry but grateful travellers would be delivered to an airport in Argentina. On arrival a relieved Trevor immediately cancelled his proposed visit to Rio de Janeiro and headed for home via Buenos Aires, Paris, Exeter and Belfast. 

Until then Trevor’s dream odyssey had been all that he had hoped it would be. Having somehow managed to escape from a snowbound Belfast airport on Boxing Day he had then flown on to South America to spend the first three weeks of the New Year doing what he likes best – looking through the viewfinder of a camera. He then met up with his fellow snappers and after a few days photographing the colourful sights of Buenos Aires they had flown south to the windswept mountains and lakes of Southern Argentina. (Because of its position, sandwiched between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and overshadowed by high mountains the southernmost regions are constantly buffeted by fierce winds.)

Sometimes on foot, sometimes on horseback accompanied by the local gauchos, the party tracked the unspoilt but barren peaks and recorded the amazing flying saucer shaped clouds. They marvelled at the deer-like Guanacos, the armour plated armadillos and the Andean condors with their ten foot wing span. Then it was a bone shaking drive to Torres del Paine in Chile and the blue veined icebergs which frequently broke away from the mother glaciers and floated majestically like sculpted frozen galleons in the turquoise lakes. The group, made up of Americans, Canadians Austrian and Korean enthusiasts revelled in the majestic vistas unfolding before them every morning- unaware of the nightmare awaiting them. It was a trip none of them is likely to forget.

“In spite of the unscheduled ending,” said Trevor, “one of my most abiding memories of the adventure was the sheer magnificent beauty of the sun rising over the jagged peaks of Cerro Torres. It was simply breathtaking!”

John Bennett

Friday evening at Ward Avenue.Ballyholme was the time and venue for a short but intensive period of hostilities which began and ended in friendship and did not require the services of outside peacemakers to broker any sort of ceasefire. The respective Camera Clubs of Bangor and North Down and Carrickfergus once again locked horns in their annual print battle at Bangor’s clubrooms and while the competition was focused and serious there were no injuries, no bloodshed and no differences of opinion to outlast the end -of- evening tea and biscuits.

The guest judge for the contest was Stephen McWilliams of the Christian Brothers Camera Club in Belfast. Stephen is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and treasurer of the Northern Ireland Photographic Association. The format for the competition was similar to previous years with both clubs submitting two images in each category .

After the first five sections Bangor had gone into a strong lead having taken first and second places in each subject (Lines, Abstract, Agriculture,Shoreline and Costume).  Alan McMorris’s images featured strongly at this stage for the home club.  Carrickfergus then mounted a counter attack winning the next two rounds,(Lonely and Machines) courtesy of Nigel Bell .

Bangor however rallied strongly in the Digital Projected  Image part of the competition to take the honours by 88 points to 61. In all a very enjoyable evening and an occasion to further cement the friendship between the County Antrim and  County Down clubs.

On Saturday afternoon John Miskelly hosted a masterclass on landscape photography which began with a tutorial in the clubhouse. John displayed some of his images from places as far apart as Tuscany and India before leading a more local safari to the shores of Strangford Lough. A dozen members enjoyed the late afternoon light at Quarterlands Bay and put into practice some of the tips they’d gleaned earlier.

John Bennett

 

Environmental portraiture is a branch of photography which offers a wide degree of personal choice and opportunity to those who choose to follow it. In some ways it is open to interpretation as to exactly what constitutes environment – is it the workplace, the home or other surroundings?

Friday’s competition featured this genre and the guest judge assured the members that, in his opinion, the environment could comprise any of the above. Martin Spackman is the Competition Coordinator of the Northern Ireland Photographic Association; he enjoys landscape and abstract photography and still maintains a love of film as well as embracing the exciting challenges of the digital technology.

He also demonstrated that he could well earn a living as a stand up comic as he shared with the audience some very humorous stories of his travels with the camera. On the subject of a definition of “environmental portraiture” he offered his opinion that as long as the portrait was the main part of the picture and that the environment conveyed the ambience or atmosphere of the setting then the actual nature of the setting was of secondary importance.

Deborah Carville chose shopping for her environment and captured the first two places in the Foundation Colour section with pleasing portraits of a girl in a dress shop and another playing a clarinet in a music store. Brian Watt’s blacksmith forged a third place. In the monochrome competition Drew McAvoy pictured two World  War II pilots perusing a contemporary newspaper-this took first prize with David McVeigh and Deborah Carville in the minor placings. David Roberts got his skates on to capture an action shot of a pair of ice-dancers and take the judge’s eye in Advanced Colour with Alan McMorris and Nigel Snell in close attendance. Ray Magill’s thoughtful study of a balloon seller was the best in the Monochrome entry –Alan McMorris again runner up with Kevin Neupurt third.

The Digital Projected Images drew a large entry – David McVeigh portrayal of a shooting party in the mist took the Foundation honours with John Miskelly’s dramatic shot of an Indian gentleman winning the Advanced contest.

.John Bennett

The winter months are a good time to browse through all those dozens of photographs we all take when we go on holiday and then leave to gather dust in a drawer. Digital photography has encouraged the” happy snappy” approach to capturing the scenes which make up our holiday memories – just point, shoot and don’t worry about the expense of ordering prints.

At the Club on Friday evening Ray Magill suggested a method of putting some of these half-forgotten images to a good use. He suggested a  trawl through the neglected files to find sets of three pictures which could be used to make triptychs.

Ray is Vice President of the Northern Ireland Photographic Association and is also a club member well known for his love of landscape photography and a preference for monochrome presentation . He also retains a love of the art of the pre-digital age and, from time to time, still enjoys the Stygian darkness and chemical mysteries of the club darkroom.

His presentation began with an introduction outlining the historical background to the triptych ( the name comes from ancient Greece and means literally three folds).  It began as a religious feature – three hinged paintings or carvings, usually as an altarpiece,depicting scenes from the scriptures. To a congregation largely illiterate it was an easily understood biblical lesson and some of the early examples have survived to become priceless icons.

The most modern form of the triptych is a landscape, a painting or a photograph which has been divided into three – not accurately a true triptych as it doesn’t actually introduce and develop a theme or a story – but nevertheless can provide a very pleasant addition to a wall. Ray went on to investigate the possibilities of the genre for photographers. One could simply find a suitable subject, take a series of pictures and make a final selection of three. Alternatively it can be done by searching through the boxes of prints and digital files to isolate possible connecting images .

He demonstrated the various methods of using templates to mount the selection in its most effective arrangement –whether as printed images or digital projections. With a dedicated Northern Ireland Photographic Association competition in the offing he encouraged the members to give it a try – adding that even if the entry was not successful in the competition it could still fill an empty wall in the photographer’s home. Ray went on to further whet the artistic appetite of the audience by displaying some fine examples of triptychs composed from pictures taken on trips to Provence, Granada and other exotic venues.

John Bennett

The days before a competition usually finds the members of either searching frantically through their images for something suitable or, more likely, rushing out, camera in hand to spend every available daylight opportunity in search of a last minute masterpiece.

However last week’s contest was even more demanding than usual because it demanded not one image of quality but six! The Panels Competition requires half a dozen pictures with a unifying theme or at least a connection of some sort and the series then arranged in a meaningful and cohesive unit.

As usual the entries were divided into classes for Advanced and Foundation members and subsequent categories of monochrome and colour.

The guest judge for the evening was Bob Brien who had been a member of the Bangor Club himself some years ago. Mr Brien delivered a carefully considered and eloquent appraisal of each of the entries before arriving at his final decision and he had little trouble in isolating the winner of the Advanced  colour section . Alan McMorris’s stunning studies  of an acoustic guitar captured the integrity of the instrument’s curves by the use of subtle lighting which also brought out the richness of the grain in the wood . Hardly surprisingly the judge also made this panel the overall winner for the evening. Alan Hartley’s atmospheric studies of Scottish Lochs was runner up followed by Nigel Snell’s high-key portrayals of birds.

Hugh Rooney took the honours in the monochrome (Advanced) competition with a selection of highly stylised architectural studies from Valencia. Nigel Snell again gained the silver medal position with his action series on surfers.

Deborah Carville put the recent cold spell to good photographic use by capturing a series of icicles chillingly resembling human fingers; this panel took the top spot in the Foundation Digital Projected Image line up. Debbie then completed her double in the Colour Print discipline with a spectacular array of aerial motor-cycle stunts. Brian Watt’s array of shells was second and a depiction of the facade of the Belfast Seed Warehouse gained Eddie Wright third place.

In the Advanced Digital section Alastair Bell portrayed various elegant wine bottles in pastel backgrounds to earn the winner’s accolade followed by Nigel Snell’s Local Sunsets and Hugh Rooney’s Graffiti. The packed hall then gave a special round of applause to the Club President Gerry Coe who recently had his work featured in Master Photographer, the prestigious national magazine.

.John Bennett

Jim Kelso was the guest speaker at the Club last Friday and his presentation was rather unusual in that the focus of his address was audio rather than visual. But just to prove that amateur snappers can be interested in things other than lenses and pixels the members enjoyed a very interesting account of how Jim had progressed from taking pictures at Everton Football Club’s home matches for his university paper in Liverpool  to gathering offbeat sound stories for BBC Radio Ulster. Jim’s voice is well known to listeners of the Saturday morning programme Your Place and Mine.

After graduating he became of teacher of Physical Education and for ten years honed his photographic skills as a part-time freelance with the Ballymena Times. Having an interest in developing technology of all kinds it wasn’t long before he had acquired a tape recorder and a desire to broadcast.

However initial approaches to the BBC failed to secure him a programme slot so he decided to try a more direct route. On a holiday to Tenerife he sacrificed his sunbathing and instead spent the week gathering “vox-pops” of holidaymakers from Northern Ireland. Having edited them into a report he offered it to the morning radio programme and was rewarded with a three part mini-series.

The audience then enjoyed a montage of excerpts from reports Jim has filed over the past ten years for the very popular Radio Ulster weekend programme “Your Place and Mine”. These included an insight into the phenomenon known as “Guest Teas” where small gatherings are plied with tea and scones and serenaded by artistes like Kathleen McGarvey who sang to her own banjo accompaniment.

Other unusual stories included an account of the Ulster branch of the Home Guard and their wartime Dad’s Army exploits in County Antrim, an in-depth interview with John McCarthy about his incarceration in Beirut with Brian Keenan and a fascinating tale about Tommy Scullion.

 

Over the period of his lifetime Tommy collected the autographs of famous people and made friends with many of them. He regularly received Christmas cards and greeting from people like Princess Grace of Monaco and among his collection were signed photographs of celebrities as diverse as Charlie Chaplin, Mussolini and Marilyn Monroe. On his death the collection was valued at over one million pounds for auction.

During his travels Jim, who has a very acute ear for a possible story, investigated the final moments of a doomed Lancaster bomber via an eye-witness account from Jim Griffin who survived the crash when the aeroplane was shot down over Germany. Perhaps the most poignant story however featured a wedding ring which was found buried in a field and returned to the owner thirty years after it was lost.   

John Bennett                   

 

 

Jack Thompson, the Competition Secretary  faced a problem this week – but it was a problem with a positive twist. Two club members (one Advanced and one Foundation)  are usually recruited to join the guest judge for the club competitions but this month so many had submitted entries to the January Competition Jack had to dispense with the usual procedure and instead rely solely on the expertise of the visiting judge. Luckily the man in question, Alastair Jack, a Past President of the Northern Ireland Photographic Association, was well qualified for the task.

This month’s competition was Open and the themes on display certainly mirrored the title. In the Foundation Colour section there were prints of subjects as wide–ranging as tombstones and family portraits, landscapes, machinery and displays of fruit in a shop window. Drew McAvoy’s dramatic portrayal of Nendrum Abbey took first place with Brian Watt and David McVeigh runners up. Mr Jack commented favourably on the creative use of light in all three entries.

There was a smaller number  in the Foundation Monochrome competition but the quality of the images was well up to standard.  Brian Watt moved up a gear to take first spot in this section. His close- up of a wooden door panel used light and shade to very good effect in depicting the natural texture of the wood . Christine Pearson  and Deborah Carville were placed second and third respectively.

Alan Hartley took a brief respite from his paternal duties (he became a father for the first time earlier in the week!) to pick up the kudos in the Advanced Monochrome department. His winning print showed a fresh, vibrant angle on the much photographed Ballycopeland windmill. Ray Magill and Nigel Snell completed the podium line up.

John Bennett won the Advanced Colour battle with his depiction of sunset over the giant cranes at Harland and Wolff’s shipyard – Ray Magill took second place followed by Nigel Snell – and John was successful again when his portrait of Kevin took the judge’s eye for first place in the Digital Image (Advanced) competition. Alan McMorris and Nigel Snell were second and third.

Drew McAvoy completed a double by winning the Foundation Digital Image contest. Alan McMorris and Nigel Snell completed the placings.

Another packed clubroom enjoyed the evening  and with over sixty members ( including an encouraging number of new recruits) the Camera Club is proving a very popular venue on a Friday and Wednesday evenings.

John Bennett

By his own reckoning Roy McKeown is a lucky man. He earns his living doing something he loves to do and while doing it he has become one of the most respected fine arts and landscape photographers in the business - he’s a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society and is the current M.P.A. Landscape Photographer of the Year.

At the weekly meeting of the Club Roy entertained a full house with an eloquent description of his busy life. As well as managing Portfolio, a thriving gallery which he owns in Ballymena, he undertakes assignments including commercial and fashion photography.

He also mounts exhibitions in local shopping malls as well as sending his prints to various countries around the world via the Internet.

His talk was entitled “How to make money from landscape photography” and he began by  warning that it can be very difficult to do so. One needs to know the market place – his biggest sellers are local scenes and images depicting locations of special significance like the place where a couple became engaged. Many other people who visit his gallery are looking for what he calls “wall decor”- in other words they want a particular size of print with a particular type of frame and the actual subject matter can be of secondary importance. The professional landscape photographer can’t afford to be “precious” about his work – the purpose of taking a picture is to sell it!

There are also many potential problems when it comes to actually taking the photographs. Roy listed occasions when he faced dangers climbing heights or negotiating waves in the sea as well as attracting the unwelcome attentions of irate landowners who have resented his presence on their land. On one occasion he was actually threatened with a twelve bore shotgun! Even innocent ramblers can become the “enemy” when they wander into the photographer’s viewfinder.

Patience is a prime prerequisite of the landscape photographer; one must be prepared either to wait for suitable light or else come back another day.

On the other hand there are many good points to consider – the main one is the freedom which the photographer can enjoy. The whole world is his canvas and one can either travel  widely in pursuit of a picture or find many subjects within a short radius from home. Roy likes to head off by himself on occasions to search for images which may not be commercially viable but which give personal pleasure  and satisfaction.

One such trip took him to Turkey where he compiled an impressive folio of images of local people and scenes, pointing out that learning a few phrases of the local language can be a big advantage especially when taking candid portraits. On another working holiday he revisited some old friends in Northern Cyprus and enjoyed the remarkable hospitality of the rural population in that island.

“Light is everything,” says Roy, “and remember your photograph can become a window into another world for the viewer.”

John Bennett

The recent dramatic rise in the price of petrol must be really bad news to the photographers who travel many miles in pursuit of their pictures and none more so than Sean Barten. Sean is also a member of the Dungannon Camera  Club but on Friday evenings he makes the long journey from Armagh to Bangor to share his images and his expertise with his County Down colleagues. On Friday last he demonstrated that he also clocks up the miles as he indulges in his other love – local history. Over the years he has built up an impressive portfolio depicting the interesting buildings and sites around his home county and many of these he displayed, accompanied by an entertaining commentary at the Ward Avenue clubhouse.

Local historians typically begin by investigating the provenance of an old building – when it was built and who owned it- and then take a photographic record of it but Sean tends to work the other way round. He takes the picture first and then follows up by investigating the historical background of the building. The search, as he explained , has been made much easier in recent years by the publication of records on various websites.

He showed some fascinating images of places like St Luke’s Mental Hospital whose lower floors have converted into luxurious office suites but whose upper stories still house the Spartan and grim reminders of the way in which patients were treated in less enlightened times. He similarly displayed pictures of the original telescope and  its mechanical workings ( not open to the general public) at the Armagh Planetarium but undoubtedly the most  poignant episode of the evening was when he presented images of a lovely old Georgian farmhouse, sadly now in much disrepair.

This turned out to be the family home of Jack Thompson, a fellow member of the club.  However the main part of Sean’s presentation was devoted to the recently formed Craft Community at Benburb Priory, the main part of which is still occupied by priests of the Servite order but whose outbuildings had fallen into disuse over the years. Last summer saw the official opening of a scheme to house several  workshops there for the purpose of Applied Arts. 

The idea was originally the brainchild of Stephen Farnan who is a potter and bother of Sean, the proprietor of the nearby  Priory House restaurant,. Stephen was then joined by Suzie Crooks, another potter from U.S.A and Alison Fitzgerald, a basket weaver. Gerlyn Mulqueen set up her painting studio and Johnny Hamill completed the initial team when he moved into the almost derelict mill to set up his wood carving and furniture making workshop.

Sean Barten was asked to provide the photographs for the official opening last summer and these, along with selections from the output of the artists were the basis of the exhibition. They also made a fine audio-visual display for the Bangor members to enjoy.

John Bennett

Would you know the next letter in this series- OTTFFSSEN.........?  Would you know the capital of Belarus or the birthplace of Rod Stewart?  If General Knowledge is your forte you would have enjoyed yourself at last Friday’s meeting . Just for once the members forgot about apertures, shutter speeds and depths of field – they concentrated their thoughts instead on finding the answers to wide ranging questions in the club’s annual quiz night.

Mildred and Alastair Bell provided the questions and awarded the marks in a tightly contested event which was fought out with all the fervour of University Challenge laced with a dash of kindergarten humour in some of the answers  (question; what is the capital of Belarus? Answer- B!)  An added injection of motivation was supplied by the entry of an all-female team ,Girls  Allowed,who displayed a commendable width of knowledge but who had to bow the knee eventually to the superior combined intellects ( and luck) of a male team called Like Us, consisting of Gerry Coe,Hugh Rooney, Jack Thompson, Nigel Snell and John Bennett . Also competing were groups rejoicing in the names of The Canonettes and The Leftovers.

The various rounds of specialised questions were broken up by spot prizes awarded to the quickest respondent whose answer was in the approximate vicinity of the correct one.  A great night’s entertainment even if Mensa is unlikely to be troubled by a noticeable rise in membership after the general level of knowledge displayed on the night.

The next letter in the series incidentally is T – the letters stand for one, two three, four etc. The real capital of Belarus is Minsk and Rod Stewart fooled everybody by contriving to be born in London and not Scotland.

John Bennett

Inter club competitions are nothing new among camera clubs. Traditionally it involves a visit from another club complete with a selection of prints representing a series of themes agreed in advance. A neutral judge would then typically award marks and a winner  would be announced. Things have moved on however and the club has taken advantage of the technology available to engage in another virtual competition with a club over a thousand miles away.

The Club President , Gerry Coe had made friends with members of the Marina Alta club a few years ago and last winter the inaugural Co Down v Costa Blanca “battle” took place. This took the form of a Projected Digital Image competition . Marina Alta is situated high in the hills overlooking Benidorm and a small band of photographers, mainly British ex-pats formed a thriving club there some years ago. Bangor scored a narrow victory in the first contest last year so keen competition was expected in the rematch .

Distance is no problem when it comes to things digital so when the entries were confirmed they were simply  Emailed to the judge Gordon Magowan, one of the top wedding photographers in the UK.

The categories chosen were – Beach,Chair,Costume,Glass,Hands,Lonely, Night and Red. Gordon spent some time deliberating on the relative merits of each image and returned them to both clubs with marks and helpful comments. Although the wintry local weather was warmed by some of the exotic Spanish landscapes when it came to the final tally it was Bangor who again took the honours  - 426 points to Marina Alta’s 378.

Of the nine categories eight were won by Bangor which was a pleasing conclusion to an interesting and enjoyable occasion. In fact, so successful was the venture the club is now investigating the possibility of expanding the idea to become a three way contest with another overseas club joining in.

John Bennett

The results are available here as a Powerpoint show.

Link to the Marina Alta  Site for results

 http://comp.macameraclub.com/?page_id=138

One of the most distinguished photographers in Ireland dropped into the Club on Friday last. “Dropped in” is perhaps the best way to describe a visit from Des as his easy–going manner and down to earth explanations disguise the wealth of experience and the number of awards he has accrued over the years. He’s a Fellow of both the Royal Photographic Society and the equivalent  Irish body and on Friday he demonstrated the quality of the work which recently saw him honoured with the degree of Master of the Federation International de l’Art Photographique .

Des Clinton
The portfolio he submitted consisted of twenty images depicting life among the Roma peoples of Northern Romania and the monochrome pictures vividly brought to life the harsh conditions under which these nomadic people scratch out a meagre living. Des, over the years, has photographed many of the travelling people in Ireland and even though the Romas are wary of strangers and guard their privacy tenaciously he somehow managed to win his way into their confidence and photograph them in their natural, humble surroundings.

In fact so taken was he by this private isolated group that he made a return journey almost a year later and presented his new friends  with prints of the shots he’d taken – much to the delight of the rather unusual models.


Another photographic odyssey took Des to Transylvania where again he  won the trust of the local people to such an extent that he was welcomed into many of their homes and afforded hospitality which ,in many cases they could ill afford. “They had almost nothing – living in one-room shacks and scratching out a bare existence with chickens, sheep and basic crops. Nevertheless they wanted to share anything they had. It was very moving,” he explained.


Perhaps the most emotional  incident occurred when he returned to this location and once again brought prints of his images. Knocking on one door he discovered that the old man he had photographed previously had died in the intervening year and his only daughter burst into tears of gratitude when she saw what turned out to be the only pictures ever taken of her late father.


The rest of the very entertaining evening was given over to a whirlwind tour of Ireland through the enquiring lens of the Clinton camera.  From the gable murals of Belfast to the sombre shadows of the Maze Prison and from the tranquillity of Achill Island to the musical jollity of the Cavan Fleadh Ceoil, Des recorded the scenes and the people with the insight of a master of his craft.

 John Bennett

The members of were enthralled by a presentation delivered by John Lennon, a projector engineer by trade and a man of over one hundred hobbies. They were taken on a tour around Northern Ireland and almost every location unearthed yet another of his passions, interests or hobbies. These included railways: engines archaeology: geology: waterfalls: history: archive photographs and, of course, photography. The presentation was delivered with the help of two slide projectors which John used to blend the images seamlessly for just a moment. In the modern digital age we rarely have the opportunity to enjoy slide projection so this, in itself, was an education for many.

 

 

John started in Dundonald where he compared images of the present day with those taken in the 1950's/60's. These then, in turn, were compared to archive images from the 1920's. In some cases John had been able to re create almost the same viewpoint and the subtle blends from one image to the next was like going back in time. 'Beech House', resting on a commanding view, in what was very clearly a rural scene, transformed into the Ulster Hospital. We also enjoyed views of The Moat, St. Elizabeth's Church and the Cleland Mausoleum, petrol pumps outside the Moat Inn and trains on the bridge going over the Comber Road - all in John's time machine.

 

 

John Lennon is a mine of information; we learned that the bridge over the Comber Road was moved and is still now in use over the M2 motorway. For every location we visited John included hidden information gems of where to go to get the best view, where to park and the location of the nearest public toilets. Our tour took us up the Antrim Coast, around the North Coast to Downhill and back around through Tyrone and Fermanagh finishing with the Mournes. On the way we discovered hidden jewels of information about suspension bridges and why 'Happy Valley' became known as 'Silent Valley' – the construction work had driven out all the birds.

MArk Allen, John Bennett

Bangor’s amateur photographers streamed out of the Club premises discussing what exactly constituted a “crunch” as opposed Jim Crone demonstrating photographic Backgroundto a “half-crunch”. Their interest had been stirred by a stimulating couple of hours in the presence of Jim Crone, a top fashion photographer who specializes mostly in hair and beauty these days. In the past he has worked for many of the biggest advertising agencies but now prefers working directly  for brands like Schwarzkopfand L’Oreal as he has much more control over his working methods and artistic interpretation.

He displayed samples of his work in an attractive presentation which offered a guide to the methods he uses to reach the high levels required for the glossy magazines and advertising billboards. Preferring to use his own lighting equipment, whenever possible he loads up his estate car and catches the ferry before driving to Manchester, Glasgow or wherever the shoot may be located. A studio is hired, models are provided and over the course of one or two days Jim will use the expertise he has accrued over the years to present the product and the models in the best possible light.

Gerry CoeAlthough he is fully proficient with the latest photo-enhancing techniques and software he prefers to do very little post-production work on his images – seeking rather to visualize and capture the finished picture mainly in the camera with perhaps a little “tweaking” if really necessary. He is adamant however that he will not radically change a photograph if a client has second thoughts after a shoot – he delivers what has been requested and thus lives up to his side of the contract. On the subject of contracts Jim explained the intricacies sometimes encountered – especially as they  usually involve quite a few interested parties ie client; model; model agency and photographer. And although the copyright for all the images belongs to the photographer, should someone else want to use a picture afterwards then all the interested parties have to be consulted and satisfied .

There were very interested club members when Jim showed some of the tricks of the trade of fashion photography, such as using a photograph of a beach enlarged to ten foot by six foot as an artificial backdrop – much cheaper than going on location and rain and chill proof to boot! He explained that almost half of the shoots were done in this way in the studio although many took him to locations like stately homes and garish night clubs. A varied an interesting life style but one requiring delivery of top class products on every occasion.

A “crunch” incidentally has nothing to do with biscuits or confectionery;  in the world of fashion photography it is a pose adopted by a model whereby she leans forward with her arms and elbows extended  in order to minimize the size of her upper body. It is now firmly established in the club members’ vocabulary!

 John Bennett

It was chilly in Bangor on Friday night but nowhere near  as cold as the scenes portrayed in the clubhouse. The guest speaker Bob Givens entertained the packed audience with a visual record of his recent trip to the Antarctic and while the pictures were stunning in their wild beauty they also conveyed the real sense of isolation and potential danger of what is generally regarded as the final frontier of exploration on earth.

Probing deep into the Antarctic Peninsula in a specially designed ship, Bob and his fellow adventurers visited places with evocative names like Forbidden Plateau and Deception Island, holding  their collective breath while the ship’s captain negotiated a passage called The Gullet - eight miles long and only a hundred metres wide in places. They donned the specially insulated suits required for the sub zero temperatures and embarked in little crafts called Ribs to land on as many islands as possible, mindful of the fact that were they to fall into the water survival would be unlikely.

Bob, who retired early from his job managing leisure centres, brought back a comprehensive portfolio of images from the white wilderness including close-ups of penguins guarding their young in a communal crèche as scavenging skuas tried various ploys to steal the chicks. The penguins were surprisingly friendly and inquisitive because, apart from the skuas, they have no natural predators on land. It’s a different matter in the sea where orcas and leopard seals are a constant danger. When the ship’s engines were stopped and the only sound was the crunching of the enveloping ice the photographers on board were able to line up their shots of seals and even bigger creatures.

There were rare sightings of albatrosses – huge birds with a wing span of twelve feet which can fly up to eight hundred miles in a single day. And, after scanning the icy water for tell-tale trails they were rewarded with momentary glimpses of the massive tail fins of humped-back whales as they surfaced for air. The group was able to travel freely among the islands as no-one owns the Antarctic and they managed to visit quite a few of the scientific research stations set up by various countries – including the now derelict site where the hole in the ozone layer was first identified. The images of the relics of these abandoned buildings were particularly potent, capturing the remains of tinned food, logs and diaries and personal effects of scientists who’d spent months and sometime years in complete isolation .  

Among the most striking of Bob’s pictures were the Antarctic sunsets which reflected off the massive cliffs in myriad hues and blended with the blood coloured watermelon snow (an effect caused by red algae).

Next year Bob is heading in the opposite direction ; he’s already planning his expedition to Spitzbergen in the Arctic Circle.

 John Bennett

Models are nothing new to the members of the Club. The clubrooms at Ward Avenue have welcomed sitters of all shapes and sizes for their portrait evenings. The studio lights have shone on everything from  glamorous female faces to bearded bagpipe players but  it’s doubtful if they’ve ever illuminated anything quite like the poses struck during the past few weeks.

Orla, Berry and Mac, along with some of their friends have been enjoying the limelight without any of the diva-like antics usually associated with supermodels. In fact their only requirements were a few biscuits and a kind word and a pat on the head because these are canine models. Berry is a German Shepherd: Mac is a Labrador Retriever and  Orla is a Labradoodle  (a cross between a Labrador and a Poodle ) and they’re no ordinary pooches. They are members of an elite, highly trained squad of dogs which provide the “eyes” for blind and partially sighted people and their pictures are gracing the 2011 calendar of The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.

Club Vice-chairman Harry Watson was asked to provide the photographs and the club was very happy to welcome the dogs and their handlers and trainers for the sessions. Aided and counselled by David Roberts, Harry undertook the task of capturing the images of their special guests. Surprisingly the sitters didn’t present any real problems in the studio; their training made them receptive to commands and even the young trainees were remarkably well behaved under the hot lamps. Harry then undertook the arduous process of sifting through the dozens of shots to choose the final selection for the calendar. The club members also added their comments at a couple of screenings  and eventually each month was adorned with a suitable image.

The finished product will be in local shops within the next few days and should make a very nice stocking filler while at the same time helping a very worthwhile clause.  

Kathy Peart is the District Fundraising Manager for Guide Dogs Northern Ireland and the main motivator for the calendar. "Our local calendar was first released three years ago to highlight the work of Guide Dogs in the province. Our theme of using only local dogs as models has been continued this year with the addition of pups which are being trained here for the first time. This year we are grateful to the Bangor and North Down Camera Club and in particular to Harry Watson and David Roberts who offered their facilities and expertise to prepare what we think is a cracking product. We would also like to thank all the volunteers, staff and dogs who supported the production of this year’s calendar. Calendars will be on sale at various shopping malls and other outlets around the province or can be ordered from Guide Dogs by calling 0845 372 7402."

The club competition this week was the Audrey Argue Trophy for pictures of animals and wildlife and it was no real surprise when Harry Watson’s doggie images took the first two places in the colour print section with Deborah Carville’s seagull in third place. Nigel Snell did the double in the monochrome print competition with two striking bird pictures. Hugh Rooney took third spot with a close-up of a pelican. There was yet another one-two double in the digital projected images – Anthony Crosbie featured an exotic jellyfish and a butterfly to attract the eye of the judges, Brian McKenna (past  Chairman of the Northern Ireland  Photographic Association) and Mark Allen (past Chairman of the Bangor and North Down Camera Club). Nigel Snell’s shot of a squirrel  was placed third.

 John Bennett

The Club held its second competition of the season on Friday evening. It was an Open Round so, as expected, the subjects chosen by the photographers ranged far and wide. Landscapes were well represented but there was also a good showing of portraits, architecture , wildlife and sport.  The guest judge for the  evening was Ian Lyons who has visited the club in the past with his depiction of life in the Antarctic and records of his visits to American National Parks. Ian is also an acknowledged expert on Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom so his comments on photo -editing and enhancement were avidly welcomed. Making up the judging panel was Trevor Craig, a past chairman of the club and a devotee of the landscape format.

Ian prefaced his judgement with some general comments on what judges generally look for in a winning photograph. As well as technical competence there should be evidence of added thought and planning – an extra dimension to develop a straightforward record shot into an image which shows signs of the photographer’s insight into the subject. He acknowledged that this was a difficult quality to describe or evaluate but commented that it would usually be most easily recognised by its absence. In all photographs, but particularly in landscapes composition was of prime importance – judicial cropping could be a very valuable tool if the arrangement hadn’t been captured initially in the camera.

Commenting on the Foundation Monochrome entries Ian and Trevor both observed that the biggest difficulty for a beginner was achieving a good, full range of tones from black to white and the intermediate shades but both gave their approval to new member Drew McAvoy’s close-up of a racing car as the winner . Brian Watt was second with Phil Bateman third. Phil was even more successful in the Colour competition taking first and second place with Debbie Carville third.

Before offering his  thoughts on the Advanced entries Ian Lyons jocularly ascertained where the nearest exit was lest some might take umbrage at the keener criticism reserved for the more experienced photographers. Trevor joined him in some direct analysis of the pictures and the pair then awarded the first prize in the Colour section to Alan Hartley’s landscape featuring a cottage in the mountains. Alan also took the runner-up spot with Danny Hughes third. In the Advanced Monochrome competition Alan Hartley captured the first two places with Danny Hughes third again.

The club chairman Nigel Snell rounded off the evening with a double in the Digital Projected Imagery Round . Kevin Neupert in third place completed the judging.

 John Bennett

When the scheduled guest speaker for the Bangor and North Down Camera Club’s weekly meeting was unable to attend because of illness it looked as though the members would be disappointed. However a swift reshufffle by the Programme Committee overcame this problem and provided an alternative event of some style. The club is fortunate to have a solid core of expertise and experience in the membership and it took only a slight body swerve to come up with a substitute of Premier League status. In fact two very able and willing reserves came off the bench to offer some thought provoking entertainment ; Hugh Rooney ( no relation to Wayne) and John Miskelly are both Associates of the Royal Photographic Society  but rather than talk about their own work they focused on some of the photographers who have inspired them.

Hugh began with an insight into the monochrome images of Bruce Barnbaum and particularly his work on a theme entitled “Stone” in which he compared the similarities of the natural architecture of Antelope Canyon to the man-made majesty of the mighty cathedrals of the world. Barnbaum began to photograph them as separate entities but soon realised that there were marked similarities. Hugh emphasised the commitment required to produce work of this calibre – in some cases going back to a scene many times over a period of years to find the required lighting conditions.

Michael  Kenna’s studies of cityscapes from China to New York via Venice drew admiring comments from the packed clubroom as did Nick Brandt’s magnificent portrayal of wild life captured with a large cumbersome camera without the benefit and safety of a telephoto lens

John Miskelly has wielded his own camera in many far flung parts of the world but his presentation featured the work of some of the most famous photo-journalists in history- men and women who, by the power of their images, have effectively changed the course of history. He began with Henri Cartier -Bresson , the man who coined the phrase, ”the decisive moment” and who went on to found the Magnum salon, the small elite group of photographers who represent the very highest achievements of the genre.

Displaying a montage of some of the most famous icon images of the past century John demonstrated how keenly these pictures had bored into our minds – not only did we recognise almost every one but were able, instantly to recall the story and the circumstances associated with each one. From the little girl fleeing naked from the napalm bombs in Vietnam to the actual moment of death of a soldier in the Spanish Civil War they individually projected moments of deep emotion and collectively wove a tapestry of historical importance. He focused on the work of Steve McCurry whose images of life in Afghanistan in the 1980’s brought awareness of that sad country to the pages of newspapers and magazines all over the world. Who could ever forget the haunting look of the young girl with the wide, fearful  but hypnotic eyes which graced the front cover of the National Geographic magazine. McCurry was to undertake an odyssey to find the girl a quarter of a century later.He did trace her – now a mother living in Pakistan.

Hugh and John received a well earned round of applause for their presentations which not only entertained but provided much material for discussion.

 

John Bennett

It was a “Keep it in the Family” evening when the  held its first competition of the season on Friday last. The Carvills, mother and daughter dominated the Foundation Print section with two first and two second places. May (mum) won the colour prize with a detailed study of Haver Castle while her daughter Deborah took the runner-up spot with a floral print entitled Flower Power. Trevor Nesbitt was third with his vibrant “Ballydoran Light”.

In the monochrome section Deborah was to the fore with a delicate likeness of cut glass tumblers ; she also took third spot with Trevor Nesbitt splitting them in second place with a shot of an old Ulsterbus.

The guest judge for the evening, Billy Leahy of the Belfast Photo Imaging Club remarked on the wide range of themes on display and on the different treatments applied to them.  He also stressed the importance of good presentation when entering prints for competition – especially if they were to go on to represent the club in the Northern Ireland Photographic Association  inter-club competition. David Roberts and Harry Watson also served as judges.

Alan McMorris notched up a first and a third in the Advanced Colour contest – his winning picture was a stunning, almost abstract representation of The Onion, the futuristic sculpture in Cornmarket in Belfast. Noel Maitland’s close-up of marching drums was second.  In the monochrome section Ray Magill’s cyclist on a bridge caught the judge’s eyes and finished first with Nigel Snell second and Alan McMorris third.

There was a big entry for the Digital Imagery competition; Phil Bateman won the Foundation section with John Bennett taking  first place in the Advanced category.

 

John Bennett

“What else can I do with that photograph?” That was the question posed by Alice Burns when she visited the club. Alice, from the Seacourt Print Workshop, has recently been awarded a first class honours degree in Fine and Applied Arts and her work for the award consisted largely of printmaking using digital images.

As she explained Alice just loves taking photographs . She finds it relaxing and enriching just to go out, point the camera and shoot. She then decided to incorporate this with her other love – making prints. The club members enjoyed a demonstration of some of the fascinating methods employed in transferring a photographic negative into a personalised, stylised work of art. The methods involved a mixture of old and new technology –some of the traditional darkroom techniques are employed while computers and inkjet printers also play a part.

Alice began by introducing the Cyanotype process which involves coating a soft, cartridge type sheet of paper with chemicals so sensitise it, exposing it to a photographic negative either by an electric light source or simply by natural sunlight and then rinsing it in water before allowing it to dry. Hydrogen peroxide can be utilised to darken the image as required and various colours can be obtained by using varying mixes of chemicals. Alice went on to demonstrate the range of effects it is possible to obtain by using different grades of paper  and filters.

Photo intaglio, another popular means of achieving prints, involves preparing an etching on copper or steel and transferring the image to paper by means of a pressure inducing machine not unlike the old fashioned mangle. The crucial stage in this process, she explained, is wiping off the ink from the etching. By varying the amount of ink and how it is spread the artist can control the depth of tones, highlights and shadows of the finished print . Alice further intrigued the audience by exhibiting some invisible prints – a device she employed very successfully in her degree presentation. This involved preparing prints which can only be seen when they are exposed to ultra violet light. She entitled her presentation “Can you see me?”  and she used it to highlight the plight of homeless and destitute people who can often seem invisible to the casual onlooker.

In all it made for a very interesting evening introducing, as it did, yet another avenue of exploration open to amateur photographers.

John Bennett.

It is available in infinite variety. It is renewed every morning and what's more it is free.

Light is the daily commodity without which we would be unable to see and certainly unable to take photographs. The Bangor and North Down Camera Club enjoyed a master class on the nature of artificial light given by Chris Roberts, a professional press photographer, at the weekly meeting on Friday last.

Chris based his practical demonstration of flash photography on three basic considerations - the shape,size and direction of light required to make a photograph. Modern compact cameras usually have small inbuilt flash units and these tend to produce a direct rather harsh illumination with unflattering shadows.

The way to improve this , as Chris showed , is to replicate the light of the sun as far as possible. This he achieved by "bouncing" the light off any convenient light surface - walls or ceilings usually. This spreads the beam and affords the subject a more even covering thus lifting the shadows and improving the modelling..

Chris Roberts and Nigel SnellHe went on to show how a narrow beam can produce a highly dramatic effect while a wider,more diffused ray is suitable for portraits of children and feminine subjects. In his profession as a press photographer Chris has to cover many diverse consignments on a daily basis and, as he explained, he tries to create a little story around each one. This sometimes entails picturing the subjects in their own environment and engaged in their normal line of work.

The camera club was then treated to an early Christmas pantomime as both the chairman and the president were invited to act as models . Nigel Snell showed his best sides as the effects of various lighting set-ups were investigated while Gerry Coe posed as a tea maker complete with kettle, teapot and polystyrene cups. Both subsequently denied that they were taking bookings for a forthcoming production of The Babes in the Woods!

The advances of lighting technology have made life much easier for photographers - both professional and amateur. Chris used a live link between his camera and the projection screen via his laptop to illustrate his talk and went on to demonstrate the advantages of lighting a subject by one or more flash guns positioned independently of the camera and activated by remote radio control . By this means the size, shape and quality of the light can be controlled to a much greater degree and without the encumbrance of trailing wires and cables.

He concluded the evening by showing how a flash gun can freeze motion and produce some remarkable results. A slice of lemon was dropped into a glass of water and by employing a flash of very brief duration the actual moment of impact, complete with frozen water droplets was captured. Doubtless a few lemons were sliced and a few table tops soaked in the aftermath of this tutorial.

John Bennett

The first meeting of the new season is always a bit like the first day back at school. Whilst the members of Bangor and North Down Camera Club didn’t actually turn up in new blazers and carrying their new schoolbags there was a fair bit of discussion of holidays and new equipment at the Ward Avenue clubhouse on Friday night. Although the club officially takes a summer break some enthusiasts keep the Wednesday  and Friday meetings going and there was a healthy turn out for the monthly excursions to places as far apart as County Armagh and the Titanic Quarter in Belfast.

Encouragingly there were also quite a few new faces for the autumn inaugural get-together – most had learned about the club from the website and had come along to see what it was like. In the event they were treated to a programme of audio-visual presentations of the members’ holiday adventures- some more adventurous than others! Alan Hartley startled the audience with a jaw-dropping account of brave,or foolhardy folk being rolled down a steep hill inside giant plastic balls. Alan maintained that he couldn’t undergo the ordeal himself on the grounds that someone had to take the pictures!  He also produced a more serene display of the scenery of the Highlands of Scotland.

Nigel Snell, the Chairman of the Club, showed three presentations illustrating his recent trip the USA. His roving lenses captured the diverse attractions of Jackson Hole,Wyoming; Yellowstone National Park and the stunning architecture of Chicago’s skyscrapers.  Shirley Graham holidayed in Dubai and her photographs contrasted the exotic charms of the ultra modern developments with the more tranquil  vistas of Northern Ireland. Jack Thompson also introduced a note of contrast as he mixed images of flowers and woodlands with the strident sights and sounds of moto cross while David Best shared his memories of a Baltic cruise including some memorable pictures of St Petersburg. John Bennett offered a visual account of the charms of The Cotswolds while Gerry Coe, the Club President, produced a dynamic account of a trip to Liverpool to follow the Beatles’ tour.

The Club is looking forward to an exciting and entertaining year  ahead a with a full programme of guest speakers and competitions arranged for the Friday night meetings. The popular Wednesday gatherings will continue and anyone with an interest in photography is invited to come along.

John Bennett