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Meeting Reports 2020-21 Season

9th June 2021

Report by Jane Coltman

"The eye does not always see things the way the camera does. I consider photography to be the art form of painting with available light. Some of my images encapsulate a moment in time. Others are ethereal, dreamlike and considered, so requiring planning and long time exposures to see beneath the 'seen' image."

So says Susan Brown in her artist’s statement.

Her words were explained by her images when members of Alnwick Camera Club recently enjoyed a virtual presentation.

She proved herself to be a master of this art form and she impressed with the variety of subjects and techniques she utilised. Her Long exposure images of sea pools were beautifully simple and to use that often uttered judges’ phrase,’well seen’.

This was also apparent when viewing her two Fellowships of the Royal Photographic Society panels. One was in the ‘Visual Art' category and attained in 1991 and her latest one is in the 'Conceptual and Contemporary' category. The subject was a fence and Susan explored the feelings of being fenced in, the temptation of going beyond the fence, the fence as a protective measure. Simple yet complex – clever and beautiful.

Susan finished her talk with photographs that were a favourite of many members. Part of her Global Warming series, the abstract and beautifully detailed images were very impressive.

Check out her website at www.susanbrownphotography.co.uk and we think you will be impressed too.

19th May 2021

Seeing Is Believing, a monochrome special - that was the title of the presentation given by Warren Alani to members of Alnwick and District Camera Club on May 19th - and by the end of his talk members were left in no doubt that Warren is a master of 'seeing'.

Through his photographs it was apparent he has an instinctive ability to see and create images where composition is key.

The use of negative space and waiting for the just the right moment, combined with the graphic qualities of black and white photography, provided a superb selection of pictures for him to show.

Warren is a diverse photographer - sports, architecture, street and travel photography - there are so many subjects he likes to focus on and he has built up an impressive library but in this presentation he chose to concentrate on a limited colour palette.

Although he has been awarded many photographic distinctions he came to realise what he really enjoyed was the freedom of taking self-satisfying pictures rather than thinking about how an image would be critiqued.

He told us: "This presentation invites you to observe photography from a different angle. It has been designed to inspire us to capture images for the sheer love of photography, and free ourselves from the confines of briefs and expectations."

That is a message we would all do well to remember - take the pictures that you want to take, don't overly concern yourself with what others think of them - after all it's your memories you are creating...

Thanks Warren for sharing with us some of your memories...

Report by Jane Coltman

5th May 2021

Members of Alnwick Camera Club were invited to submit photographs of their favourite buildings for their latest themed virtual meeting.

As ever the membership didn't disappoint and presented a great variety of buildings from all around the world.

It was interesting to hear about the history of the structures and why they were memorable to the photographer.

It proved to be a very enjoyable evening and a reminder that photography is a great way of capturing memories.

Report by Jane Coltman

28th April 2021

Alnwick Camera Club prides itself on having a varied programme with speakers covering a broad selection of topics from a wide geographical area but their presenter on April 28th pushed their boundaries by giving a real-time virtual presentation from the centre of Beirut!

And the membership was delighted that James Kerwin was able to connect with them to tell us about the abandoned buildings that have become his passion. His images were outstanding and paired with his informative talk it was a great evening.

James, who hails from Norwich, started his photographic journey in 2013 when he combined his love of travel and photography and toured around mainland Europe. After coming across some abandoned buildings he realised he had found a purpose for his photography.

His images are so evocative of days gone by - the viewer is left to imagine the buildings in all their former glory while appreciating the different type of beauty shown in the photographs with their present day decay and abandonment.

A former Soviet sanatorium, a private school in Belgium, an ornate ivy entwined greenhouse, chapels and churches - James' images of these forsaken structures are simply beautiful and as some of them have now either been demolished or renovated his photographs capture a moment in time that can never be repeated.

James' expertise in photographing abandoned buildings means that his photographic tours are now a significant part of his business. He is currently based in Tbilisi and Georgia is a popular destination for his tours along with Armenia, Poland and Lebanon. Permission to access the buildings is always sought from the owners and he has built up a catalogue of buildings where he is one of the few people to gain entry.

For more information about James' work check out his website at https://jameskerwinphotographic.com/

Club members thoroughly enjoyed James' presentation and the beauty of his images will long be remembered.

Report by Jane Coltman

21st April 2021

Following on from our very popular first black and white evening earlier in the season, the club held another evening where members were invited to submit monochrome images.

Most, but not all, of the pictures were taken in colour and members joined in a discussion about which pictures they felt adapted well to monochrome.

First up was Chris Goddard who showed a great variety of images but the one that gained the most discussion was of two derelict boats in Scotland. Some people preferred the mono version saying it gave a feeling of age while others liked the colour version which highlighted the rust and decay.

Next up was club president Gerry Simpson who displayed his usual sense of humour with his image '2020 vision' - a take on speed signs on the road in Alnmouth.

Most members preferred Carol McKays b&w version of a teasel, saying the background was less distracting and they also liked the crop and frame.

David Lewis conjured up a sense of days gone by with his lovely image of a feather in an inkwell on a desk.

Andrew Mackie showed some stunning landscape pictures but it was a split decision from the members about preferring the colour or b&w versions.

Val Atkinson showed images that she had processed using Silver Effex filters and members commented on the beautiful tones she had created in all of her images. A favourite was a little dog looking forlorn in front of a massive door.

Lynda Wearn had revisited a colour image of a military monument and her monochrome version was unanimously preferred to the original colour one.

Margaret Whittaker submitted a super image of a tree in a rural setting and all agreed that the passing cylclist was a key element in the image.

Members were pleased to see more of Dave Dixon's urban grunge and it was really interesting to see the original compared to the vastly different final image. As far as Dave's concerned grimier and grubbier the better - and the members agreed!

John Thompson finished the evening with a selection of photographs that were taken in black and white. A combination of Leica Q2 in monochrome jpeg mode, a trip to the seaside and John's skills as a photographer combined to produce an excellent series of images.

Thanks one and all for submitting photos and just as importantly telling us what you thought of them.

We seem to be getting more discussion among members when we are meeting virtually so that is a positive we can take from the current situation!

Report by Jane Coltman

31st March 2021

Paul Kenny - 'O Hanami: The Celebration of Transient Beauty'.

Transience: noun: definition: the state or fact of lasting only for a short time

During a trip to Japan, Paul Kenny experienced O-Hanami, the traditional custom of enjoying the transient beauty of flowers where families gather under cherry tree blossom to celebrate that period in the lifecycle of a tree when the flowers are in full bloom through to the time when the wind creates a confetti of blossom signifying the end of the spectacle for another year.

Then in 2010 the harsh winter forced Paul to concentrate on the natural world around his home where he came across scraps of natural material under the snow.

This inspired his development of a series of works known as O Hanami.

Members of Alnwick and District Camera Club were enthralled as Paul, who lives in North Northumberland, talked about the creative and thought processes that resulted in the beautiful images in this series.

He uses a scanner as his camera, indeed he has just been announced as an ambassador for Epson and is looking forward to creating some new artwork for them.

It's hard to describe in words the beauty, originality and creativity of Paul's work so if you are not aware of his images please have a look at https://paul-kenny.co.uk/index.html but in essence he creates pictures from found material which he records or manipulates in a way that reflects his thought process about the natural world and often man's influence on his surroundings.

Hearing about Paul's inspiration, thoughts and methodology was as enjoyable as looking at his final pieces.

Paul's success enables him to make his living from photography and although packing in the 'day job' all those years ago was undoubtedly a leap of faith it was a delight to see that it had paid off.

After members were invited to look at the natural world through his eyes I think many of them will now be looking at nature in a new way too...and those of us with scanners will be inspired to get them out of the cupboard, dust them down and have some fun...

Thanks Paul for a fascinating, inspirational and very enjoyable evening.

Report by Jane Coltman

24th March 2021

Who knew?!

Who knew that Iceland has the oldest parliament in the world and yet the youngest population?

Who knew that the Icelandic phone book lists people in alphabetical order of their first names because of the small range of surnames?

Well members of Alnwick Camera Club do!

They now know a range of fascinating Icelandic facts following a presentation by club member Dawn Robertson who showed a series of beautiful images taken on a trip to the land of ice and fire a couple of years ago.

If mooching around streets with a camera in hand is your thing, you need to put Reykjavik on your go-to list. Colourful buildings, a huge range of wonderful street art and modern sculptures feature in this capital city which has lots to hold the interest of an avid photographer such as Dawn.

Along with her small group of travelling companions she then continued to tour the south-east corner of this fascinating country.

Frozen waterfalls, gushing geysers and beaches of black sand...just a few examples of the geologically stunning landscape she portrayed with her images.

And then there was the ice... chunks of beautiful turquoise ice that had broken free and made their way to Diamond Beach where the tourists gathered to view the spectacle, icebergs reflected in the perfectly still waters of a lagoon, black ice that resembled polished marble and was found in an icecave and glaciers of an almost unimaginable size that crept across the land.

Dawn's stunning photographs reflected the diversity and beauty of this amazing place and she said she'd go back there tomorrow if she could. After enjoying her presentation I think there will be quite a few club members who would like to tag along too...

The second part of the evening was a gallery of images put together by Dawn into an enjoyable AV presentation. The subject was lighthouses and members contributed a great selection of their favourite lighthouse pictures.

These varied from pictures taken in the 60's of lighthouse keepers receiving supplies...in the days before most of them switched to unmanned operation, to the ultra modern design of Tenerife's Punta del Hidalgo lighthouse with its angular white columns.

St Mary's lighthouse was the most photographed and we saw images of it taken at every time of day and in various weather conditions. Thanks to all members who contributed images of these impressive structures from near and far.

Report by Jane Coltman

17th March 2021

Living with the red dot.

This was the title of a virtual talk given to members by John Willmore on March 17.

Photography enthusiasts will understand what it means and when you hear that a red dot is a logo associated with world-famous camera makers Leica, it should become apparent to all.

Leica cameras are renowned for their quality but it must also be said for their cost. A camera that many photographers aspire to own, John's presentation unintentionally turned into a very good sales pitch as members admired the quality of the pictures before them.

John's camera had a fixed 28mm lens. Some people might consider this restrictive but John relished the challenge and said it made him concentrate on composition.

We started with some beautiful images taken in France, lovely street scenes and John obviously has an eye for detail too - his penchant for pictures of doors and windows apparent.

His images reminded members of the days when one could wander freely around a town or city, happily photographing and exploring, maybe stopping off for a cold beer now and again - remember when we were allowed to do that? Sigh...

His pictures of a war reenactment weekend at Haworth reminded us of when we could mix with people and enjoy the hustle and bustle of life. John's images transported us back to the war years and among this series of pictures were some very fine portraits.

And then we were shown John's images from closer to home - Hartlepool, Amble, Newcastle, Ouseburn...

A common factor to them all was the quality - even though John only shoots in jpegs which surprised many club members who naturally opt for RAW.

But no matter the quality of the camera it is the photographer who creates the image and we were all left in no doubt as to John's skills and his talent for 'seeing' - be it composition, detail, fleeting moments, use of colour...a very impressive display of images - thanks to John for taking the time to share them with all of us.

Report by Jane Coltman

10th March 2021

Photographic judge Jim Welsh enjoys delivering virtual presentations and members of Alnwick and District Camera Club enjoyed listening to his views on March 10 as he shared his opinion on the entries of the second digital open competition.

We enjoyed seeing a great variety of images and as with any competition the placings are very much the subjective opinion of the judge but the standard of Jim's top images was evident - quality will out as they say...

The three Commended awards went to: Geoffrey Bradford with Fallen Warriors, Valerie Atkinson with Landing and Tony Broom with Jet Racer.

Highly Commended awards went to Margaret Whittaker with 'Glorious Red', a charming study of an precious native squirrel.

Another Highly Commended went to Jane Coltman for 'Northumbrian Surf', a windsurfer riding the waves of a turbulent sea with Dunstanburgh Castle as the backdrop.

The third Highly Commended went toTony Broom with 'Fairy Pool'. Jim commented that the water reminded him of a brides' train - and he's right - it does look like a long lace veil!

'My Friend John', an impressive monochrome portrait by Karen Broom, was Jim's choice for 4th place.

Third place went to David Burn for 'Lost At Sea' an imaginative abstract image of the Farnes Islands shot with Intentional Camera Movement.

Karen Broom's success continued as she took second place with 'Magnolia Stellata After Rain', a beautifully lit and carefully composed arrangement of a single bloom laden with droplets of water.

And David Burn also did the double as his moody monochrome 'Ballachulish Storm' took the top spot. And deservedly so.

Report by Jane Coltman

3rd March 2021

Most photographers in the region will have seen Anita Nicholson's work.

Although her name may not be familiar to all of them one of her images surely will - her picture of the iconic tree at Sycamore Gap that is on the front cover of the fotoVUE publication 'Photographing Northumberland'.

And on March 3 members of Alnwick and District Camera Club were delighted to welcome Anita to the club where she gave a presentation about her development as a photographer, the work involved in production of the book and her creative images.

Anita's enthusiasm and passion for photography soon became apparent and we heard that it was her grandfather who encouraged her at the beginning of her camera adventures.

Her work became more recognised and she took on a couple of commissions and then developed her own website, which as well as displaying her beautiful images features a blog where she talks about some of her favourite places and projects. Do check it out: https://www.anitanicholsonphotography.com

Undoubtedly her biggest project to date has been the commission by fotoVue to produce the material for the Photographing Northumberland book.

This series of books are well received containing practical information about locations, seasonal aspects and technical data whilst at the same time containing a series of visual treats.

The book has been so popular that Anita is already working on an updated edition.

Members were also shown some of her more creative images, inspired by her love of nature. The images were simply stunning with delicate tones and full of atmosphere.

Throughout the whole presentation Anita's bubbly personality shone through and it was a delight to be the audience for her first ever Camera Club talk - thanks Anita!

Report by Jane Coltman

24th February 2021

Imagine being asked to photograph a wedding...

Most photographers would agree that would be a fairly high-pressure role.

Imagine being asked to photograph the wedding of Harry and Meghan... take a minute and think about the pressure that comes with THAT job...crikey!

But for Press Association photographer Owen Humphrey it was just another job, albeit a very high profile one, in the professional career of one of the country's best news photographers.

But even Owen did admit he felt the pressure of that booking, when he told members of Alnwick and District Camera Club the stories behind the pictures at a zoom presentation on February 24th.

Perched high in St George's Chapel at Windsor, with a Sony camera chosen because of its ability to shoot silently, handing memory cards to a colleague so the images could be transmitted to the office and then immediately around the world. Having to keep quiet about the assignment for a month beforehand - not saying a word to anyone. And then the relief of a job well done. And as we saw in the photos he showed us, it really was a job very well done - beautiful shots of the bride with the veil framing her face, the happy couple caught in candid moments throughout the ceremony...

But Owen had much more to show club members.

One of his passions is astro photography and he showed a selection of stunning images of the night sky with milky ways and auroras in all their beauty. But as he explained, to appeal to the media the photograph has to also demonstrate context, be it a figure in the foreground or one of the northeast's iconic landmarks.

He also has an amazing collection of weather pictures - which can literally mean taking photos at any time of day or night. When you view a weather picture in your newspaper, spare a thought for the photographer who braved the elements to capture it!

We also saw some of his outstanding sports photographs, with Owen always on the lookout for a picture that has that something extra to raise it to the next level.

There was no doubting Owen's ability as a photographer at the top of his profession but it was also a pleasure to see his enthusiasm for a career that has given him so much enjoyment and the anticipation of never knowing what tomorrow will bring...

Thanks Owen for a thoroughly enjoyable evening and we hope to persuade you to give us a repeat visit as we know we only saw a fraction of your amazing photographic library.

Report by Jane Coltman

17th February 2021 (Part 2)

A visit to Myanmar

It's troubling to see on the news that Myanmar is going through yet another period of political unrest.

The change in the country's circumstances was apparent when members viewed serene and beautiful images of the land and its people taken just a few years ago.

In 2016 Laine Baker and Jane Coltman were lucky enough to visit Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, when it was in a period of democratic rule led by Aung San Suu Kyi.

The beauty of the country and the people was apparent in the visually impressive images shared virtually with members via Zoom.

Their tour included the UNESCO World Heritage site of Bagan where stupas and shrines could be seen at every turn - from small family temples to massive pagodas that are a place of pilgrimage for thousands. The passing of time has not lessened the beauty of these revered sites.

The importance of Buddhism was apparent with images of beautifully carved statues of every shape and size and also many photos of monks and nuns in a variety of situations.

Living and working on the water is the way of life for many and we saw traditional fishing skills, farmers cultivating their crops on the water and family life in the stilted houses - children confidently navigating the waterways in their own boats at an age where, in this country, they probably wouldn't even be let outside by themselves.

Laine and Jane's images captured many aspects of Myanmar life - and it was arguably through their portraits that one gained a sense of the calm and gentle nature of the Myanmar people and one can only hope that they will be soon allowed to resume their peaceful lifestyle.

Report by Jane Coltman

17th February 2021 (Part 1)

Ice Cold in Alnwick

Some memories don't last - it seems a long time ago that we were all talking about the freezing weather - and we all know that discussing the weather is a national pastime...

But members of Alnwick Camera Club were also set the challenge of taking photos that depicted the seasonal chill - and they didn't disappoint as they came up with a wonderful variety of images that they shared with members during the virtual February 17th meeting.

The images were collated and shown by Dawn Robertson who had asked members to take up the challenge the previous week, and in particular suggested that members might like to try freezing objects in ice and then photographing them - just one of many photo projects that is known to amuse photographers!

Members felt that this produced a variety of shots that had varying degrees of success but it was fun looking at the abstract images and learning how to and how not to do it from other members.

We also saw scenic shots, animals and birds and close-ups.

In the three images shown here we see a flower trapped in ice by Gerry Simpson. Members mostly agreed that the bubbles in the ice added to the abstract nature of the image.

Margaret Whittaker produced a charming photo of a little bird feeding on a fat ball - the ball and the bird having an uncanny similarity in shape!.

Sheep's wool on barbed wire imprisoned in ice was one of the photographs taken by Chris Goddard around Rothbury which was even more beautiful than usual with a covering of snow.

Thanks all...that was our last chance to take snow and ice pictures in 2021 - wasn't it?

Report by Jane Coltman

10th February 2021

Good Shot, Well Seen

That was the title of a presentation of photographs by club member Carol McKay.

As Carol explained, that is a phrase often used by camera club judges, but it was also a very apt phrase for the pictures she showed to members who attended the virtual February 10th meeting.

She showed images that many people would have failed to see and with the majority a sense of irony or humour was evident, either because of the subject matter, juxtaposition or because she went 'click' at just the right moment.

A budgie on a door handle, an unusual road sign and a shoe 10ft up a wire fence...illustrated here are just three of the curious little moments that had caught Carol's attention.

This was a very enjoyable way to round off the evening where we had previously discussed the clubs' entry into the annual NCPF annual competition where we, disappointingly, ended in 12th position.

Thanks Carol for ensuring we finished the evening with a smile on our face!

Report by Jane Coltman

3rd February 2021

Lockdown. There's no getting away from it.

TV, radio, conversations with family and friends - and now it has even infiltrated Alnwick and District Camera Club. It was the theme of the Set Subject digital competition which was judged by Alan Porrett from Whitley Bay.

Alan is a familiar face to the membership and we appreciated the obvious time he had given when considering the images. He explained that there were some images that would fare better in an open competition but as the subject was Lockdown his criteria when judging had to take into account how well the pictures fitted that brief.

All the images had to be taken in Northumberland and the photos were of an excellent standard with some quality images just missing out on the awards.

The first commended award went to Jane Coltman with 'Daily Run, Wait For Me', an atmospheric monochrome of an old dog watching a runner speed past.

A sense of humour was evident in Margaret Whittaker's Commended 'Covid Safe Air Mail Delivery' which showed her local newsagent in his PPE handing a newspaper to a client with some litter pickers and a bucket.

The third commended award went to 'Window Pain' by Dawn Robertson. An emotional image of an older woman seen through the leaded panes of a window, reflecting the pain of separation felt by many.

The three Highly Commended awards were then announced.

Firstly to Dave Dixon for 'Survival In Isolation'. A clever image of three stark looking trees that hadn't come into leaf and then standing at a distance from them a lone tree that was leafy and thriving.

Next Valerie Atkinson for 'Dreaming of Freedom'. Alan described this as almost sinister as this stark monochrome showed a grasping hand reaching up - an abstract and intriguing photograph.

Thirdly, Gerry Simpson's 'Social Distancing' showed a line of people enjoying a walk and very obviously they were obeying the distancing rules and the spacing was the same between each person.

Fourth place went to Carol McKay's 'My State Of Mind'. It is one of those pictures that draws you in as you explore the gnarled and twisted structure of the tree trunks and branches - very effective.

Third place went to 'Rainbow Wave' by Jane Coltman. A smiling young girl leaning out of a window which had a rainbow decorating it. Nice to see the human element with the now very familiar rainbows.

It was Jane's lucky night as she was also awarded second place. This was with 'A Walk In The Woods' which showed a man strolling through trees that framed him and increased the sense of isolation.

"Ingenious" - that was the verdict of the judge for the image that took top spot.

And the membership wholeheartedly agreed. Richard Stent's cleverly composed 'Passing The Time' was indicative of the past few months in so many ways. Puzzles, a TV guide, biscuits, a cuppa and predominantly a game of scrabble. The letters on the racks spelt out the now well-known motto 'Stay Home and Save Lives' but then the penny dropped that every word on the scrabble board had a connection to the pandemic - zoom, test, fat, jab and more...clever stuff and a worthy winner.

Report by Jane Coltman

20th January 2021

A wild journey with Alan Hewitt.

Renowned wildlife photographer Alan showed members of Alnwick and District Camera Club that he really is a master of his craft when he gave a virtual presentation on January 20th.

We saw a series of stunning animal portraits taken in a variety of locations ranging from his Northumberland doorstep to sub-saharan Africa, but as well as showing the images Alan explained the context in which the portraits were taken.

And it is this understanding of the animals, their environment and his fieldcraft skills that make Alan a photographer to be admired.

In 2017 he looked to replace his digital SLR with a mirrorless camera and opted for the Fuji X range of cameras. A pairing that has resulted in Alan now being a brand ambassador for the camera manufacturer.

And the clarity of the images we saw is undoubtedly a great endorsement of cameras and lenses he now uses.

Alan was more than willing to share the technical aspects of his photography and explained the challenges to overcome with the different creatures and locations.

His knowledge of nature means he can predict much of the behaviour of the animals he is focussing on and this is a key factor in capturing his images.

For example knowing from which direction a puffin on the Farnes is likely to fly when returning to it's young with a beak full of sandeels, knowing how close you can safely get to a Black Mamba snake or the mating behaviour of lions in the Masai Mara - this fieldcraft is key to his photographic success.

Composure and context were also discussed. Yes often the photographer needs to get in close, but it is also important to take wider shots too to show the environs of the animal and also to aid the composition - sometimes the space in a photograph is just as important as the subject.

All-in-all an evening of impressive images and enjoyable discussion - many thanks Alan.

Report by Jane Coltman

13th January 2021

Another evening of home-grown talent entertained the membership of Alnwick and District Camera Club on January 13th.

Andy Kewin was the first to show an audio visual presentation, and this was based on a day out in Durham which had been taken just before the first lockdown. An image of a rowing boat on the river reminded us how much things have changed over the past year - no way would four people be allowed to exercise so closely together these days! Shots of the quaint streets and the impressive cathedral were shown with music of just the right tempo and together it was a very pleasant viewing experience.

A journey from Pickering to Whitby on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway was the subject for John Strong's presentation. Lovely images of the spring scenery were mixed with shots of the trains and platforms and detailed shots from the stations. All very evocative of a bygone era - one almost expected to see the Railway Children and Bernard Cribbens on the platform. It was obvious John had enjoyed taking the images and we enjoyed viewing them.

Next was the rather more exotic destination of the Azores thanks to an AV from Chris Goddard. It was an eyeopener for the majority of members who had never been there before. Most people were surprised by the colourful architecture and street art that was shown alongside verdant greenery and dramatic landscape scenes. These volcanic islands, even with their unpredictable weather, came across as a great place for any avid photographer to visit - put it on the list!

All the fun of the fair was next: Brian Rogers gave a very informative presentation titled Night Photography at The Fun Fair. To get the abstract images of swirling shapes and colours from the fairground rides isn't as easy as one might assume and Brian generously passed on the lessons he had learnt from many evening trips to different fairs. A wide angle lens, a hand-held shutter release, manual exposure and an abundance of patience are a must. Brian produced some fabulous colourful images full of impact and therefore it was all the more surprising when we saw these images after he had converted them to black and white. Somehow they seemed to be even more dramatic and impressive even though all the vibrant colour had gone. Great pics - and hopefully the membership will be inspired to have an evening trip to the Hoppings - when we are allowed!

Report by Jane Coltman

9th December 2020

Three of the best...

It was home-grown entertainment on December 9th for members of Alnwick and District Camera Club when three presentations were on the agenda.

A load of balls!

That was the topic from Gerry Simpson and Richard Stent who had both been experimenting with lens balls.

Gerry's presentation was first and he started with photos taken at the Calvert Trust where he had been for part of lockdown. It was interesting to see the different effects that were created with varying focus points. Sometimes the point of focus was the image within the ball and the background was blurred. At other times, with a different f stop, the inverted image in the ball and its surroundings were sharp all the way through.

He continued his project at home using interior and exterior locations. Personally, one that I thought worked very well, showed converging lines from a fence railing by his front door.

Richard had decided to take a more scientific approach, maybe to be expected from a former physics teacher!

He had set up his own rather Heath-Robinson arrangement of lights, tripods and lasers. From the images it was clear that Richard had enjoyed these experimental sessions and developing the project. When he decided to add some vapour to highlight the laser beams the difference was amazing - colourful beams of light could now be seen entering and leaving the lens balls - very clever.

Richard continued his experimentation when he came across an old dolls head and the different lighting methods he used were interesting to see. We all enjoyed this presentation by our own (in the nicest possible way) nutty professor!

Next it was something completely different...

Laine Baker showed the images taken on a recent trip to Edinburgh zoo.

Her pictures were a reminder of the beauty of the natural world - shots of colourful and detailed flamingo feathers, geometric patterns of zebras, the texture of rhinoceros skin and the like.

It was impossible not to put human emotion interpretations on her images showing a group of monkeys and their family interactions - from the leader of the pack bearing his teeth to babies wanting a cuddle - it was all there to see.

We then finished with a few pictures from a birthday treat - afternoon tea at The Dome - where the Corinthian columns and marble pillars made a luxurious setting in what was formerly a bank. A tasty delight!

Report by Jane Coltman

2nd December 2020

Back to normal...almost...

Club members welcomed Dave Phillips from Hartlepool to give his judgement on our Set Of Three digital entries, and seeing and hearing from such a familiar visitor the evening felt almost like a club night.

There was the same welcome reception, the images were seen as they would be if we were in the club room and there was friendly chat at the end.

Missing elements were the raffle, coffee and biscuits but for now that is the new norm.

Seventeen sets were entered and standards were as good as ever - it was interesting to see such a wide range of subject matter and it gave Dave plenty to talk about.

He did so in his usual considerate, constructive and chatty way - it was obvious he had taken considerable time studying the images before deciding on the placings - thank you Dave, we appreciate it.

Dave awarded Commended to Margaret Whittaker for Up Hill And Down Dale, to Ian Atkinson for 75th, and Karen Broom for Freestyle Jet Skiers

Highly Commended went to Gerry Simpson with Wood Knot Abstract - as the title suggests Gerry focussed closely on something many of us wouldn't even notice - the swirls and patterns of knotted wood.

Richard Stent gained a Highly Commended with Illuminated Globes - the science teacher genes must still be active as Richard had experimented with lens balls, coloured lasers and refracting light to produce his set of three.

Urban grunge came next and we all knew these images would be by Dave Dixon. This well-seen and gritty set, Urban Steps, saw Dave awarded a Highly Commended too.

Fourth place went to Jane Coltman with Impressions Of Thrunton Wood, a mixture of reality and creativity.

Tony Broom was awarded third place Wild Water - three pictures of some determined and hardy canoeists - a set of great action shots.

Armour-Plated Rhinoceros by Laine Baker was awarded second place. Yet again Laine's aptitude for monochrome showed in this well-observed set which included a headshot and two close-ups of the animal's skin.

Top spot went to Chris Goddard with Gardens By The Bay. The set showed the man-made 'Supertrees', as tall as skyscrapers that light up the night sky over Singapore. Adorned with hanging gardens, the trees as photographed by Chris, were a beautiful sight - well done!

All the placed images can be seen on the Camera Club website.

Report by Jane Coltman

18th November 2020

The Northern Counties Photographic Federation is the umbrella organisation for camera clubs in the north east of England and this evening members of Alnwick and District Camera Club saw a selection of the best images that had been entered into the federation's annual competitions.

Once the main competition awards had been decided a separate panel of judges chose the 'Alliance Selection' - these are images that will go forward to Inter-Federation competitions, known generally as the Alliance Competitions.

After the Alliance entry had been chosen a further panel of NCPF Judges looked at the remainder and selected a portfolio of prints and images designed to reflect the work of individual members.

As always there were some superb images shown - which is as it should be as these images are meant to be the best from across the federation area.

It must be said that there were a good number of nature images yet again but maybe not as many 'creative' images as in some other years.

Members were delighted to see that one of our own had a photograph that made it through to the selection - lots of clapping hands could be seen on the zoom thumbnails as Richard Stent's name was announced and we saw his image Millenium Bridge.

This was definitely a 'creative' photo and Richard explained he had been experimenting with multiple exposures through a window that looked over the famous bridge on the Tyne to create this abstract image.

Well done Richard!

Report by Jane Coltman

11th November 2020

'infrared', definition, adjective: (of electromagnetic radiation) having a wavelength just greater than that of the red end of the visible light spectrum but less than that of microwaves. Infrared radiation has a wavelength from about 800 nm to 1 mm, and is emitted particularly by heated objects.

That all sounds a bit technical and indeed the beginning of our presentation from Gerald Chamberlain contained a lot of technical information.

For those members with a scientific aptitude I'm sure this was very enjoyable and understandable. And we do have a lot of members who have a science-based background.

However for some members (me for one) it was a bit high-brow and I began to wonder if the whole evening would pass me by in a scientific mist.

But as Gerald progressed to showing us his images it became apparent that this was not the case and we were treated to an evening of excellent photography.

Of course the sciency bit was the basis for Gerald's work but not understanding wavelength and spectrums did not mean we couldn't appreciate the beauty of the images and the unusual appearance that infrared creates.

Gerald had converted a digital camera body to infrared use and the images we saw were a revelation.

Wintry looking scenes created in high summer and white surfaces glowing with an ethereal brightness - that's just two of the effects infrared photography can create. Most photographers turn their IR images into black and white but Gerald experimented with different tones of blue, yellow and magenta too - the end results a matter of personal taste but all very striking.

He also made good use of his 8mm lens - the very wide-angle adding drama and impact when combined with his skill.

Members noted the locations Gerald had been to - thinking ahead to possible camera club trips the Jupiter Sculpture Park, Threlkeld Mining Museum and Lowther Castle are now on 'the list'.

We saw some very 'different' images from Gerald and for that we thank him - perhaps we will now look at infrared in a new light?

Report by Jane Coltman

4th November 2020

Less grass, more concrete.

That was a phrase used by Dave Dixon during the November 4th presentation at Alnwick and District Camera Club and it pretty much summed up the evening too!

The talk given by club member Dave was titled 'Photographing The Urban Landscape ' and reflected his passion for Newcastle but the images we saw were not just record shots of the city's wonderful architecture. They were his interpretation of the city's underbelly of gritty, often brutal and certainly less-observed sights.

As well as being seen from his unique viewpoint, by the time Dave added his HDR 'treatment ' the photographs were in a style very much his own.

To quote Dave further, this 'split-level city' with it's 'uninterrupted Tarmac' was 'photographic gold'.

Landmarks such as Swan House, Manors, the Civic Centre and Northumberland Street intermingled with shots of multistorey car parks, the central motorway and many back alleys and underpasses that were never far from the more presentable face of the city.

Some shots were monochrome, usually to reduce colourful distractions or to focus the viewer on shape and form. His colour images often had a dark and grungy look with highlights of colour such as a blue railing or yellow lines that really popped.

Having the right connections helped Dave get photographic access to places most other people would struggle to gain permission for and among these was the Civic Centre. A love or hate building and in Dave's case definitely the former.

We also learnt about the development of the city and giving credit where it's due we were told about Newcastle politician T. Dan Smith, now notorious for criminal wrongdoing but who aimed to improve the housing, art, architecture and education on offer to local residents.

Dave went through the proper channels to get permission to take pictures in Central Station and the city centre Metro Stations, the form filling definitely being worth it if the superb images were anything to go by.

And then the graffiti....while Dave doesn't condone it he wasn't going to let opportunity pass him by and he used the street art very effectively in his urban portfolio.

A hugely enjoyable and very impressive evening of photography.

When circumstances allow us to be together again Dave will be persuaded to give members a tour of 'his' Newcastle. After this presentation of striking photographs he will be like the Pied Piper with all of us following eagerly behind. Can't wait!

Report by Jane Coltman

28th October 2020

Here, there and everywhere...

Members provided another great night of home-made material this week and choice of topics must surely have provided something that appealed to every member.

We were shown six audio-visual presentations - we will be looking at the technology to see if there are ways of improving the smoothness of the image display and the sound quality - but minor issues didn't dampen members enjoyment of the evening.

Chris Goddard started us off with photographs from a 2016 trip to Newfoundland - this appeared to be an island with a great deal to tempt photographers - bright wooden buildings, stunning scenery, wonderful light and beautiful icebergs and set to Newfoundland folk music we gained a great impression of the place. Somewhere that has now gone on the 'Places To Go' list...

Lockdown through the lens of Val Atkinson was next - her images reminding us of how much has happened in the last few months. Val told her story from March to June - Joe Wicks, cake, NHS clap, cake, garden projects, cake, socially distanced shopping, cake.... I think you get the flavour of the presentation! Bittersweet memories indeed.

The animal life of Florida was the theme with John Thompson who transported us to the Okefenokee Swamp - a shallow wetland straddling the Georgia–Florida line in the United States and then to Merit National Park where a wonderful selection of wildlife was seen. Surprisingly a lot of the animals are seen in the UK too but of course there were more exotic species too such as the Great White Heron and the Brown Pelican - and last time I checked we don't have any alligators in Northumberland. John saw a few of these beasts and thankfully managed to evade their snapping jaws.

Our globetrotting continued when Carol Mackay took us to Morocco. Firstly to ANIMA Garden, a fantasy landscape of exotic plants and quirky installations framed by the Atlas Mountains, which was the brainchild of Austrian multimedia artist André Heller. The bright sculptures contrasted with the verdant green plants and deep blue of the sky - wonderful! (Note to self - somewhere else for the Places To Go To list...). As Carol is a plantswoman of course she also had to visit the Marjorelle Garden which was made in the 1920s by the French painter Jacques Majorelle. After years of neglect, the stunning garden was then taken over and restored by the fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Berge. She then showed images from Marrakech which at times she found challenging - but doesn't make it all the more satisfying to get good images if they aren't that easy to take?

Barney The Bear has a very adventurous life - he must be as well-travelled as that more famous bear Paddington - and Ian Atkinson helped the pupils of a local first school give him a trip to remember as he and Mary took Barney with them on a trip to Bali. Barney looked to have a fascinating holiday - and I think Ian and Mary enjoyed their period of foster care too!. The trip gave Barney lots to tell the children about when he returned home - thanks Ian for sharing his adventure with us too!

A couple of weeks ago members were asked to submit some of their animal pictures and the AV made with these images gave us a fun way to finish the evening. The AV was compiled by Dawn Groves who very aptly used music based on the film Beauty and The Beast and once we had viewed all the images members had time for a little chat, the consensus being a jolly good evening had been had by all.

Thanks to all the contributors who made it a such a fun evening.

Report by Jane Coltman

21st October 2020

A tropical treat...

Tony Broom, a new member of the club, transported members to sunnier climes this week which gave us the opportunity to enjoy his photographs and also to get to know him a little bit better since no members have been able to meet up with him, or his wife Karen, face-to-face yet.

They now live in north Northumberland after many years in South Stafford.

Tony is an honorary life member of Tettenhall Wood Photographic Club and is one of that endangered breed - a photographer who dabbles in the mysterious arts of darkroom work!

There was nothing monochrome about tonight though as we were shown a colourful selection of images during a virtual tour of Hawaii.

Tony's pictures and narration revealed what a land of contrasts it is.

From cloud covered hills to blue skies and beaches, from verdant green tropical mountains and exquisite blooms in the brightest possible colours to the harsh and stark landscape formed from the larva flows of dormant and active volcanoes.

Tony's record of this huge variety of terrain, flora and fauna was delivered to us by a series of musical audio visual presentations interspersed with nuggets of information gleaned during his holiday there.

Thank you Tony for giving us a brief taste of a life far more exotic and it was good to get to know you and Karen a little bit better - we hope you enjoy being members of the club.

Report by Jane Coltman

14th October 2020

A change of seasons...

This week rounded up the activities of last season, which was coming to an end as we went into lockdown, and also looked ahead to the new season.

The final print competition results were never presented at a meeting so our print secretary Val Atkinson showed the placed images from the colour and mono open competitions and read out the comments of the judges.

The colour competition was judged by Stephen Fowler .

Commended went to Carol McKay for Super Stairwell, Ready To Face The Room by Gerry Simpson and A Little Bird by Stanley Trafford.

Two Highy Commendeds were awarded - one to Dawn Groves for The Paint Shed and one to Jane Coltman for Iceland Blue.

Fourth place went to Val Atkinson for Window Light - a simple but beautifully lit image where the light had been sympathetically handled.

The Moon and The Milky Way gained Richard Stent third place - the judge said it worked well from a pictorial point of view and the composition was excellent.

It was impossible not to say ahh as we viewed Margaret Whittaker's second placed image Harvest Mouse - an appealing composition and technically very well photographed.

Sometimes less is more and this was certainly the case in Laine Baker's first placed photo, Evening Light at Amble. A beautifully serene and calming image thanks to the limited colour palette of greys and blues with little bursts of colour from the buoys in the water.

Next on to the monochrome prints that were commented on by a new judge to Alnwick, Keith Archer.

Commended awards went to Laine Baker for Parlour With Straw Hat, Carol McKay for Lindisfarne and again to Carol with Field Shadows.

Then the Highly Commended awards went to Dave Dixon for Two Boats Boulmer Haven, Christine Grey for Hang On A Minute and again to Christine for I'm All Ears.

An atmospheric image by Margaret Whittaker, Trees On The Pond, was awarded 4th place. Who knew dead trees could look so good!

The judge acknowledged the clever composition of Bespoke by Laine Baker which was awarded third place - it was a clever title too for the picture which was a close-up study of bicycle spokes. This was proving to be an excellent evening for Laine as she was then awarded second place too - with Spanish Doll, the judge commented that it was well composed, exposed and very sharp and the black and white handling certainly produced an eye-catching image.

On The Prowl was the winner - Jane Coltman's close-up of a cat that was clearly focused on searching for something to pounce on!

The results of these competitions were included with all the others in an AV that was to have been shown on presentation evening. Dave Dixon had expertly put together the video which served as a reminder of the superb images that had been shown by club members during last season and included the announcement of the league results.

It was an evening for girl power as the Projected League and the RE Thomas Challenge Cup was won by Dawn Groves who pipped Laine Baker to the top spot by one point.

However Laine can't have been too disheartened as she won the Print League and the Arthur Spence Rose Bowl - the clear margin of six points rounding off a very successful season for her.

The Presidents Cup is one of the oldest trophies the club has and each year it is presented at the discretion of the president.

Unfortunately Gerry Simpson couldn't join the meeting in person but as his announcement was made we saw a very 'presidential' image of Gerry who suspiciously looked like a certain Mr Trump with a cut-out head of Gerry stuck on. Even if our president wasn't there in reality he was certainly there in spirit!

As he made his announcement it was apparent that his award was going to Jane Coltman - someone he felt contributed a lot to the club. Jane gratefully received the accolade but knows she is just one of a group of people who work together for the benefit of the club.

We were then transported to Tasmania and Sydney by Karen Broom - a new club member who showed us images of the creatures she encountered down under including a Tasmanian Devil which she had longed to see and a very cute looking wombat.

The evening finished with a quick look at the winning images from the Wildlife Photographer Of The Year competition - amazing images and maybe inspirational too?

A long report but it was a busy meeting!

Report by Jane Coltman

7th October 2020
1st Open DPI Competition

More than twenty members of the club logged in on Wednesday October 7 for our first competition judging of the season.

This was a digital open competition and Stuart Skelsey from Whitley Bay was the person whose opinions mattered.

It proved to be a mammoth task given the number of entries and the in-depth analysis of the images that Stuart gave.

It was apparent how carefully he had considered each photograph and as well as reflecting on technical aspects he commented about his reaction to the story that the picture told.

As we listened to Stuart's comments the pictures were displayed thanks to the technical ability of Dave Dixon.

Seeing the pictures full screen gave the viewer an excellent opportunity to study the images in great detail themselves.

Stuart didn't award any Commended's but saw fit to issue three Highly Commendeds.

One went to Carol McKay for her striking monochrome photograph titled 'Razed' which showed the remaining infrastructure of a collapsed building.

'Scotch Mist' by Dave Dixon was the apt title for his atmospheric picture of mist rolling over the top of a hillside - taken in what could be said to be typical Scottish weather!

David Burn's 'Bridge To Nowhere' wasn't familiar to the judge but some club members will know it is at Belhaven near Dunbar. The bridge crosses a tidal stream and when the tide is high both ends of the bridge are submerged in water.

Fourth place went to Laine Baker for Rock Patterns - a wonderfully colourful abstract image which reminds us that it's worth taking a close look at our natural surroundings.

We went back to Scotland for third place with David Burn's image 'Buachaille At Dawn'. Buachaille Etive Mòr is a mountain at the head of Glen Etive in the Highlands of Scotland and David captured the rugged landscape beautifully with the cloud curling over the mountain and the long exposure enhancing the water.

Chris Goddard's second placed 'Johnny's Shed' was a feast for the eyes - Johnny certainly had a lot of stuff - a potty, old trophies, a horseshoe and well...lots and lots of 'stuff'! Chris handled the lighting, both inside and outside, expertly.

An image taken during one of the club's Wednesday Wanders took the top spot.

Jane Coltman's 'Window Seat' portrayed a happy chap enjoying a ciggy while perched on a window above The Sand Bar in Amble.

A picture to make the viewer smile? Maybe that's just what the doctor ordered in the present circumstances!

Report by Jane Coltman

30th September 2020

Hello...Is anybody there?

Well thankfully the answer was yes as Alnwck and District Camera Club held their first ever virtual meeting on Wednesday September 30.

Eighteen members logged on and thanks to skillful handling by the man at the helm Malcom Biles, everything went smoothly.

Malcolm ensured everyone could speak and hear and then Dave Dixon gave us a very useful set of guidelines for participating in a zoom meeting.

Programme secretary Richard Stent showed us the outline for the next few weeks and members were encouraged to participate in future evenings with a 'This is what I did'... style presentation. We already have a few presentations and judgings lined up. Please don't be shy to show us some images - with normal contact being restricted it's lovely to catch-up with people and see how they have found the last few months.

Chairman Jane Coltman welcomed everyone and then showed a few images of what has been keeping her busy lately - lockdown rescue dog Bonnie!

David Burn then showed us some of his fantastic landscape images. He modestly announced that a couple had got through to the second round of the Landscape Photographer Of The Year competition - no mean feat! j

It was interesting to note how well the screen sharing facility worked and the quality of the images we saw was excellent.

So here's to the rest of the season - it's a brave new world out there!

Report by Jane Coltman

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