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Meeting Reports 2021-22 Season

13th April 2022

Images that tell a story – that was the criteria for members of Alnwick Camera Club who were considering entering the annual Reportage competition.

Unusually for a photographic competition, the format of the entry could be in any form; book, AV, prints, anything goes...

Of course this does not make the judging easy but thankfully that task went to seasoned club member and Vice President John Thompson who is very experienced in all modes of entry.

We started with ‘A day and night around Ullswater’ where David Burn and a friend camped out in the hope of recording amazing weather among the beautiful landscape.

The area was obviously familiar to David and handily he attached metadata to some of the photographs so we could see the technical details of the settings he used.

Whilst the hoped-for sunset did not materialise, they fared better at dawn when the sky was bathed in beautiful soft colours. David is known in the club for his stunning landscape shots but his AV demonstrated that this genre of photography is really all about the light…

His presentation contained a time-lapse segment of the two men erecting their tents – a bit of light-hearted fun that worked well.

John commented that David’s AV would make a very useful guide for people wanting to find out about that area of the lakes and that they would appreciate the factual details that David had shared.

Then we saw ‘Locations and images that evoke the spirit’ by George Nasmyth

Purposefully these pictures were not based on a theme, and we were presented with a series of photographs that were memorable to the author for different reasons.

One of the first pictures was of a man sitting in a moored motorboat reading a page of a magazine where the headline read ‘How to sink a battleship’ – an oxymoron if ever!

‘Get Chucked’ was taken at Florence station and as one of the members commented, it depicted someone who was downtrodden - literally and figuratively – as the footwear on an advertising poster appeared to press down on a homeless person sitting underneath.

Another evocative image was taken at a war memorial where reflections of people looking at the cenotaph merged with the names of the fallen.

John appreciated that all the images were likely to create an emotional response and enjoyed the challenge of the images making the viewer think about what they were seeing.

The skills of a local carpenter were on show in Jane Coltman’s AV which told the story of the last builder of traditional boats on the River Tweed. Ian Simpson of Norham was seen in a variety of photographs taken in his workshop accompanied by an audio track where he talked about the process and tradition of building the boats.

John remarked that the AV was a social documentary about a skill that may soon be gone.

Andy Kewin produced a short but sweet AV showing how he converted an Ikea chair into a rocking chair for his daughter-in-law to sit in when feeding her newborn baby. Making and gluing strips of mahogany and clamping them together with a former to create the required curve. Very skilful Andy and your well organised workshop was very impressive! The chair will no doubt be a well-loved piece of furniture within your family.

"A jewel of an AV" said John, "All 63 seconds of it. What a joy."

John had considered all of the entries in great depth and looked at each multiple times. In conclusion he announced that the winner was Jane’s AV about the Norham boatbuilder which told a story that may soon come to its own final conclusion.

Thanks to John for his judging and to all the entrants. Showing AV’s is one thing where zoom has its limitations, hopefully for next season we will be able to view things in person by resuming meetings in the club room.

Report by Jane Coltman

6th April 2022

Top Cat takes the top spot...

Peter Maguire from Gosforth was the judge for the last digital open competition of the season, and he was given the task of looking through a fine selection of monochrome images.

His judging was very enjoyable, but he has a reputation for studying images very closely and true to form nothing seemed to escape his observational eye!

In a very strong entry, the quality of the top images was superb.

Fourth place went to David Burn for ‘Upturned Boat’. A recognisable place visited by many but only a few will have captured a picture as good as this.

New member Laura Venus secured third place with ‘Window In Paris’. A well-seen and technically excellent architectural image where symmetry was crucial.

A striking portrait titled ‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes’ took Karen Broom to second place. The little wisp of smoke adds to the atmosphere in this gritty observation.

‘Let sleeping cats lie’, particularly while being photographed, is an attitude that paid off for Dawn Robertson as she took top spot this evening. One could almost hear her subject gently purring as it luxuriated in a cat nap – well done Dawn – a deserved winner!

Report by Jane Coltman

30th March 2022

Good things come in threes...

This week three club members showed their latest images, made all the more interesting because they are all at very different points on their photographic 'journey'...

We started with Sophie Kohler who is relatively new to photography, having started taking pictures in earnest a couple of years ago.

An online course gave her a good knowledge of the basics and from there her enthusiasm and inquisitiveness has led to her taking photographs with a wide range of subject matter.

From flowers, where she added her own artistic flair, to that old photographer's favourite - decay, to trees and even to gin - we saw a super set of images accompanied by Sophie's modest narrative.

Thanks Sophie, you've definitely caught the photography bug and have a talent for 'seeing' pictures. We look forward to viewing more of your work as you explore the world around you with your camera.

'15 out of 21' Not the score of my maths test but the intriguing title of Dave Dixon's presentation.

He showed us fifteen images he challenged himself to take in 2021. But that being too easy he gave himself some extra rules of engagement for the challenge.

The photos had to be taken on a 'proper' camera and on a photographic outing - no casual snaps to be seen here!

We started with some of Dave's favourite Northumberland views, Thrunton and Duddo being among his favoured locations. But then, to the delight of the membership, Dave reverted to type by showing some 'urban grunge', definitely one of his specialities!.

A monochrome photograph of a graffiti-daubed tunnel and a set of extremely colourful loos, again adorned with graffiti. It was good to see that after a slow start, 2021 continued to be a good photographic year for you Dave. Hopefully you are already working on your 2022 challenge? We hope you will share the results...

To round the evening off, John Thompson showed us some of his infrared images.

There are various ways of producing infrared images and John had had a digital camera converted. Infrared is quite a technical area of photography but thankfully John skipped through this quite quickly and got round to just showing us his beautiful photographs.

One of John's reasons for exploring infrared was a desire to get 'true' black and white images with black blacks and white whites and by converting his RAW files via Silver Efex he certainly achieved this.

Depending on the amount of chlorophyll in the leaves, different types of foliage resulted in different shades of grey producing unexpected effects. Sheep featured in quite a few of his images too, usually on a Northumberland hillside with a dramatic sky as the backdrop. And then on to one of John's favourite spots - Blyth - but views that were different to the norm.

Camera club outings are always enjoyable but many of us have faced the frustration of being out with John, standing a couple of feet apart from him, then seeing a wonderful image he has produced and asking ourselves 'why couldn't I do that?' when looking at our comparatively inferior shots.

The selection of images that John showed us this evening reminded me of that and of the skill John has with a camera in his hand.

But this evening we didn't try and emulate his work, we all just sat back and enjoyed the show - thanks John!

Report by Jane Coltman

March 23rd 2022

Members of Alnwick Camera Club were delighted to welcome back Veronica Congleton from Tynemouth to judge their Open projected competition.

As ever members are invited to submit three entries but because the overall entry had been so large Veronica was just given two images to consider from each member.

Commended awards went to:

George Nasmyth - Afternoon Stroll Amble; Karen Broom - Looking at Me; and Andrew Mackie - Early Morning in the Follions.

Highly Commended awards went to:

David Burn - Reflection at Sunrise; David Lewis - Magic of Colour, Confused Iris and

Ian Atkinson - Last Call to Prayer.

4th place went to Val Atkinson with Connected, a well-seen shot of a rusty chain link full of detail.

3rd place went to Margaret Whitaker with Clinging On , a vibrant image of a little frog, crisp and colourful.

2nd place went to Tony Broom with Fighting the Flow, an action shot showing the struggles of a canoeist.

1st place went to Alastair Cochrane with Out of Darkness, an atmospheric and beautifully toned woodland scene with a mystical atmosphere.

Report by Jane Coltman

March 16th 2022

When it’s cool to be square...

Members of Alnwick Camera Club were invited to think inside the square box when John Willmore from Morpeth was the guest speaker on March 16th.

John’s preference for square images ties in with his use of photo-sharing network Instagram.

But while the shape of the image may be constrained the subject matter certainly wasn’t – we saw a huge range of subject matter and the pictures just oozed quality.

A similar style of presentation connected the photos – bold white borders against a dark blue background producing a pleasing visual experience.

They were shown as sets of two or three which were linked by subject matter – sometimes obvious, sometimes less so.

As we saw multiple images together we viewed hundreds of great images – John certainly has built up a fantastic back catalogue of photographs.

John’s quiet commentary relayed the circumstances of the pictures and the taking of them – usually on his beloved Leica and sometimes on his smartphone.

Thanks John for giving us an evening of quality and quantity...

Report by Jane Coltman

9th March 2022

Alnwick Camera Club had a virtual visit from a new judge this week when Brian Coleman from Bridgend gave us his opinion on our entries in an Open Competition.

Commended images:
"Fairground chat" A mono shot of women gossiping in a fairground by Jane Coltman
"Dor beetle preparing for flight" by Dave Dixon
"Lone Tree" by Jane Coltman

Highly commendeds were awarded to:
"Deep in the woods", a photograph of fungus by Dawn Robertson
"Chair Chasers" by Tony Broom
"Cold day rising" by Tony Broom

4th "The Pour". Atmospheric social documentary shot taken by Karen Broom

3rd "Astrantia". Exquisite image almost like a botanical drawing Margaret Whittaker

2nd "On the edge". An image from a lost time, childhood at its best by Carol McKay

1st "Alone in a snowstorm" a perfectly balanced image of a winter scene by Margaret Whittaker

As well as a commentary on our work Brian also encouraged us to consider other shots that may have been available in the scene and often referred to the story contained in an image. A very enjoyable evening.

Report by Dawn Robertson

2nd March 2022

"A chronicler of our age", "he has a talent for revealing absurdity", "he focuses on the mundane with an honest eye" – there is an enormous variance of descriptions for Martin Parr.

But all agree that when considering British documentary photographers, Martin Parr is as good as it gets…

So, what a delight to enjoy a presentation from this legend of photography at little old Alnwick Camera Club!

With a ready smile and an engaging narrative, he took us on a journey of his photographic life.

Introduced to photography by his grandfather, at the age of 13 he knew he wanted to be a photographer.

In 1975 he moved to Hebden Bridge where he observed the people involved in chapel life and produced his acclaimed series of black and white images, The Non-Conformists.

It wasn’t until 2013 that the images, accompanied by words from his wife Susie Parr, were published in a book bearing the same title. (Currently in the No.1 spot of my favourite photo books!)

But it is his colour photography that Martin is mostly renowned for.

Turning to colour at a time when it was expected that serious photography would be monochrome, Martin quickly forged his own style with saturated tones and strong lighting, but to this viewer his technique is immaterial, it is his subject matter that holds the attention.

And this subject is people – in all their absurd, traditional, funny, familiar and wonderful uniqueness.

If the question is ‘what makes us human?’ The answer is to be found in Martin’s images. He has such a talent for recording human life, looking at his pictures one gets a masterclass of observation.

And so for a couple of hours on a dreary Wednesday night the members of Alnwick Camera Club were transported to another place and invited to explore the world as seen through the eyes of Martin Parr.

What a treat that was...

Then it was back to earth. Martin readily answered our questions and we wished him well - hopefully he will soon be able to get out and about with his camera again.

And we are now inspired to get out and about with our cameras and see if we can look at the world with our Martin Parr glasses on – this could be fun!

Report by Jane Coltman

23rd February 2022

Who loves a bit of grunge and grime?

Members of Alnwick and District Camera Club of course!

Particularly when sourcing photographs for their projected set subject competition where the theme was ‘decay’.

We welcomed back judge David Ord to tell us what he thought of our efforts - a task he had found enjoyable with a good variety of image style and subject matter to consider.

A commended award went to Carol McKay with 3rd Floor Stairs, taken in a house that had definitely seen better days.

A favourite subject for photographers, rust, saw Karen Broom gain a commended with her image ‘Just A Tad Rusty’. Somewhat of an understatement.

The same could be said for Val Atkinson’s ‘Work Required’ –undoubtedly a doer-upper!

Highly Commended went to Chris Goddard for ‘Cobweb And Rust’ , vibrant colours and intricate pattern contrasting with a spiders web highlighted in the sunlight.

Richard Stent’s ‘Rusty Chain And Pulley’ was one of the few black and white images in the competition, the monochrome treatment bringing attention to the shape and form of the chain which was also awarded a Highly Commended.

Val Atkinson gained another mention, this time a Highly Commended, with ’Out Of Use’, a colourful and well-seen image of an aging drainpipe against a derelict wall.

Beautiful colours and shapes combined in Laine Baker’s ’Green Door And Steps’. This image of a photogenic corner in Puglia gaining her 4th place.

Third place went to George Nasmyth with ‘Abandoned Ship’, that favourite subject again, rust, but this time on an old, grounded ship. The rusty oranges contrasting well with the blues from the sea and sky.

Dawn Robertson’s ‘Light Switches’ was awarded second place. The light and shadow added depth to this delightful study with a gentle colour palette taken in an abandoned house.

An abandoned house was also the setting for the competition winner: Dave Dixon’s ‘Mannequin Mausoleum’. What’s not to admire in an image featuring broken body parts and some dripping blood! Wonderfully macabre – well done Dave!

Report by Jane Coltman

16th February 2022

We had a bumper number of entries to this season’s progress award – eight club members, who had not been placed 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in a club competition at the time of entry, each submitting three images.

These were then judged by three experienced club members.

This time the honour went to Laine Baker, Margaret Whittaker and Richard Stent.

It was apparent they had given considerable time to their judging duties and gave informative and constructive comments about each image before the scores were added up and the results announced.

On some points the judges were in complete agreement. On other points they disagreed and gave quite divergent opinions.

This demonstrated to everyone that people react to pictures in very different ways.

The judging showed there is not necessarily a wrong or a right when assessing a photograph, but when the three judges agreed on a point that they felt detracted from the image, maybe the photographer should consider their opinions carefully.

The photographs were all of a high standard and covered a wide range of subject matter.

The results were very close, with just a few points between them all.

In third place was Sophie Kohler.

Machinery abandoned in a field, a pink daisy-type flower and a lifebuoy at a beach. All high quality images and well observed.

In second place was Mike Nixon who entered three images all featuring the sea. The first two were close to home, Holy Island and Amble, the third from more distant shores and was a beautifully composed image of whales cutting through the water.

The winning images were entered by Liz Gordon. First was a carefully composed animal portrait of Eric, a very cute little dog. Then a colourful image of The Sage. All three judges commented that it was taken at ‘just the right time’ as far as the light was concerned. And finally, a seascape where ominous looking clouds created an atmospheric scene.

Congratulations Liz, well done to all the entrants, we really enjoyed looking at your photographs, and thank you judges – at least tonight we were all listening to you!

Report by Jane Coltman

2nd February 2022

The built environment was the subject in this season’s Northumberand Plate competition for members of Alnwick and District Camera Club.

All of the images have to be taken in Northumberland and members eagerly waited to see what corners of our beautiful county would feature.

As well as it being the first time that this topic had been given to the members to deal with it was also the first time we had invited Arjun Nambiar to be our judge.

His eloquent and considered critique of our photographs was very well received by the membership. He respected the decisions made by the photographer as he offered his interpretation of their work.

Members are already hopeful that he will be able to give us another visit soon – maybe even in person if we resume meeting in person next season - who knows!

Commended went to Dawn Robertson with ‘All The Fun’, a vibrant image of a fairground at Amble.

Liz Gordon’s ‘Manmade Castle’, a clever take on the set subject, was also commended.

The third commended went to Chris Goddard for ‘The Bridge At Pauperhaugh’, a gently toned monochrome where the bridge stood out from its natural surroundings.

Highly Commended went to Jane Coltman with Ship Ahoy – a moody monochrome image of the Dave Stephens Centre in Blyth which resembles a ship.

‘Freshly Painted’ by Karen Broom was a striking image of Longstone Lighthouse on the Farne Islands where you could see the painters at work on the red and white structure. It too was awarded a Highly Commended.

A little bit of tattiness always appeals to a photographer as Dave Dixon demonstrated with his Highly Commended ‘Former Shop, Love Lane, Berwick’ where the subtle colours helped to demonstrate the effects of the passage of time.

Fourth place went to Gerry Simpson with ‘Inverted Reflections, Amble’ – the originality and clever interpretation of the competition theme appealing to judge Arjun.

Carol McKay’s ‘Fire’ was awarded third place. The subject being Tom Maley’s sculpture that is officially named Fire but affectionately known to locals as Robin of Pegswood.

Richard Stent was awarded second place with ‘The Cutter, Woodhorn Museum’, an image where the beautiful tones highlighted the contrast of the geometric architecture and the soft but dramatic clouds.

‘Well Built’ was the title of Val Atkinson’s winning image. Val’s careful handling of the light was key to the success of this well seen and well photographed image taken at Belsay Hall. Well done Val!

Report by Jane Coltman

5th January 2022

New members bring in the new year.

Alnwick and District Camera Club membership is thriving!

Of course, the club has had to adapt to pandemic restrictions but adapt it has and the members are very supportive.

As we are not yet meeting face-to-face, we haven’t had the opportunity to get to know our newer members so they were invited to give a presentation about themselves and their photography.

What a super evening it was – we saw an abundance of talent, a variety of photographic interests and it definitely was a good way to get to know them a bit better.

We started the evening with a presentation from Celia who invited us to ‘Walk a mile in her shoes’.

We saw a selection of images from her travels and it was evident she is a fan of street photography. She then showed some images of her family and she had experimented with these photos after she completed a course on photo editing and manipulation. What fun she had with her pictures – transforming images of grandchildren with swirls, colour and snow. Photography should be fun and it was great to see that this was certainly the case with Celia.

Next George transported us to London in 1977 – and the Queen’s silver jubilee. While his picture of the golden coach passing by may not have been what he wanted, he showed us some fantastic images taken when he turned his focus around, so he was watching people watching the procession. These were strong black and white images that really captured the moment.

He also showed some images created from scanned slides but felt that the tonal quality wasn’t as good as he had hoped for. He then shared his love for all cameras Sony, explaining the pros and cons of the Sony’s he’s had, he has, and he’s got his eyes on!

The pictures shown by Jonny were mainly taken over the past year.

Members were fascinated by the variety of cameras and techniques he used – and appreciative of his experimental methods and the atmospheric images he created. A fan of film, home-made lenses and using coffee as a developer – who knew!

As Jonny explained the emotion of an image was more important to him than any technical rule book and his resulting pictures were full of feeling. Particularly charming were photographs of family members – he has produced some beautiful memories with his photography.

Mike Nixon started his presentation with some images from Iceland where he was lucky enough to witness the aurora borealis. His images of this were stunning – and his expertise was evident as these are not easy photographs to take.

It was also evident that Amble is one of his favoured locations closer to home. However, for many members their favourite picture was of three owlets who had just emerged from a nesting box. Fantastic – lucky him to see them and well done for capturing them on camera!

Our final presentation was from Rhys. He also favours wildlife photography and had a particular passion for six red squirrels he helps to look after.

His pictures of them were superb, their character came shining through and technically they were excellent. All the more credit to Rhys as he explained he is paralysed down his left side following a bout of meningitis when he was young which means that photography for him is not as easy as for most of us. He has an enabler Brian who helps with physical tasks such as driving but as far as photography is concerned the ability and skill was all from Rhys.

Thank you one and all for an evening of super photography. What a lucky club we are to have a great array of new members. You gave us plenty to think about and we look forward to getting to know you even better in the future.

Report by Jane Coltman

8th December 2021

Alnwick Camera Club’s December 8th meeting was President’s Night where Gerry Simpson entertained us by showing us images he had captured over the past few months.

We started with a trip to Kielder where Gerry and his wife Elaine visit regularly with the Calvert Trust who specialise in outdoor adventure holidays for disabled people.

It was a delight to see the pleasure on Gerry and Elaine’s faces as they whizzed along a zip wire ride and took part in a selection of adventures that aren’t normally readily accessible to wheelchair users.

"It’s Mad!" said Gerry as we watched one of his videos. Yes, it was mad – in the best possible way!

Next some more sedate pictures, but still with Gerry’s inimitable quirkiness. He showed a selection of images taken on a flatbed scanner where the subjects ranged from leaves to flowers and his own hands.

Gerry sees things from a different viewpoint to many people and he made the most of this as he showed his ‘ground view’ photographs. A keen observer he noticed things many of us would miss…leaves in various stages of decomposition, dead animals such as a squashed frog, puddles, reflections and of course it wouldn’t be Gerry without a selection of bird poo pictures which he then invited us to interpret.

But as well as having a unique look at life, be in no doubt that Gerry is a very accomplished photographer.

This was evidenced when Elaine gave him a surprise presentation of two certificates that he had been awarded because he had images selected for the Northern Counties Photographic Federation portfolio. Well done Gerry.

A very entertaining evening showing us Gerry’s perspective on life and the joy he gains from his photography. Many thanks for sharing it with us Mr President!

Report by Jane Coltman

1st December 2021

This week Alnwick Camera Club welcomed Alan Porrett back to cast his experienced eye over the projected image set of three competition. Images covered a wide variety of subjects from seascapes to fungus and Alan offered us his judgement on each image as well as on the set. This type of competition can be a challenge because as well as having three strong images that are connected in some way, they should also work together to produce a combined effect. Before beginning Alan outlined several aspects to consider when making a set, I think some of us will be taking that into account next time!

Commended images: Margaret Whittaker; images of a moorland shoot, and Dawn Robertson; rust abstracts on an old tractor.

Highly commended: Chris Goddard; reflections of boats in a harbour with intriguing patterns and shapes, and Jim Kirkpatrick; excellent nature photos taken in the Highland Wildlife Park.

4th George Naysmith; First Light Embleton Bay, beautiful images telling the story of a sunrise over Dunstanburgh Castle.

3rd Sunflower Variations by Gerry Simpson; three very different images of sunflowers with the final image having an almost a Monet effect.

2nd Playing with Light by Jane Coltman; dramatic and technically perfect images of light painting in Alnwick Garden.

1st The Potter by Laine Baker; a superb set that made us feel we could almost touch the clay. In Alan’s words, ‘clearly the winner’.

Report by Dawn Robertson

24th November 2021

Question Time

This week club members shared some of their knowledge of the various ways of processing digital images and the different software they used.

Dawn Robertson started by showing us two ways of adding a border to a photograph in Photoshop. Firstly, how to do this by using ‘stroke’ and then she demonstrated how to add a drop shadow. This process took slightly longer but produced a classy look that will enhance virtually any digital image.

She then demonstrated one of Photoshop’s 'new tricks'. Using the Content Aware tool she showed us how to get rid of an object in an image. No more fiddling around with the cloning tool…select, modify selection, press the button and voila – the object has gone and the space has been filled by Photoshop – and most of the time it does a pretty good job at it too. Magic!

Photoshop is not the only software available as demonstrated by Chris Goddard who, using ON1, converted an image to black and white and explained the many choices available by using presets and sliders. He then demonstrated the Silver Efex filter which can be used as a plug-in or as a stand-alone monochrome convertor. So many choices and variables – but making the decisions about what to do with your pictures is surely part of the fun?

Jane Coltman showed how she placed multiple images into one document – a little bit of maths required but thankfully Photoshop does most of the work. Then she demonstrated more trickery when looking at the new Neural Filters in PS. She had an image with a bit of snow capping the hills – a couple of clicks and it was transformed into a full-on winter scene…who knew!

Subtlety was one of the key skills demonstrated by John Thompson when he showed us his workflow. He starts by masking the sky or the land and then uses levels to alter the exposure as he wanted . At times his handling of the image was so careful it was hard to see the changes being made but when he toggled between the original image and the end result the change was clear to see. Again, a gentle touch was required when he used the dodge and burn tools to enhance various aspects of the photograph. They say less is more and this was ably demonstrated by John during this mini-lesson that will be helpful to us all.

An interesting evening and hopefully educational too, and for any anti-manipulation photographers out there just remember that some of the most iconic photographs of the 21 century were enhanced greatly after the picture had been taken – the only difference was it was using the skill of the darkroom printer and not the computer user. The camera has always lied!

Report by Jane Coltman

17th November 2021

Do you live to eat or eat to live?

Whatever your answer, the important thing if you are a member of Alnwick Camera Club, is to remember to photograph what you eat!

Food, Glorious Food was the theme for their latest event, the digital Set Subject competition.

From tempting images of fruit cake to unusual treats such as caviar on crumpets; from the brutal reality of a pork butcher to a portrait of the humble spud, the entries provided a feast for the eyes – particularly those of judge Bill Broadley from Blyth.

Bill had obviously given great consideration to his judgement and gave positive and constructive feedback to the members.

Commended awards went to ‘The Humble Jacket Potato’ by Gerry Simpson, ‘Unhealthy, Look The Other Way’ by Alastair Cochrane and ‘Juicy Melon’, also by Gerry Simpson.

Bill gave a Highly Commended award to Chris Goddard for ‘Crumpet And Caviar’ – a well photographed but arguably unusual food combination!

‘Oranges Are The Only Fruit’ by Jane Coltman also gained a Highly Commended. The oranges giving a colourful contrast to the blue Moroccan wall behind.

‘What No Chips’ by Ian Atkinson was a graphic image of a fish market taken on his travels and it too gained a Highly Commended.

Fourth place went to Carol McKay for ‘Lunch’, an image of mushrooms on toast that was so well photographed it looked very tasty and tempting!

‘Pork Chops’ by Ian Atkinson left nothing to the imagination as this image contained so much to look at and showed a woman dissecting every part of a pig in a market setting. This photo was awarded third place.

Tony Broom photographed a rapidly shrinking fruit cake to produce ‘Not Much Left’ which gained second place. An expertly lit and photographed picture.

First place went to Jane Coltman for Fish Market. Beautiful light captured the texture and detail of the seafood and the composition of one hand coming in to grab some fish worked well.

A good set of images from a set subject with a difference...

Must dash...I’m feeling hungry now!

Report by Jane Coltman

10th November 2021

'Close encounters of the travel photographer kind' with Steve Newman.

Fancy a job travelling the world for free and taking pictures and writing as you go along?

Well that sounds rather glamorous doesn't it? But the reality is slightly different as members of Alnwick and District Camera Club found out when they listened to a presentation by travel photographer and writer Steve Newman from Belford.

Yes, he gets to travel the world.

Yes, he gets to see some fantastic places and have some amazing experiences.

But underlying all this is the fact that it is his job and to earn a living he needs to continually produce pictures and copy that is wanted by editors of a variety of magazines and publications. The fact that he's made his living by doing this for many years speaks volumes about his ability to do so.

Steve started our global tour with a beautiful photograph of snoozing seals on an ice flow, taken during a Hurtigruten expedition.

His pictures have to show the location but as he explained a small fault such as a person with an unappealing expression or the ship seen from the wrong angle can mean the difference between the image being usable or not.

As we continued, we saw an Asiatic Lion in Gujarat, a frigate bird and a rarity known as a Rattleless Rattlesnake. Initially Steve was pleased to get the photograph of the snake but when he realised it didn’t show the tail, and therefore didn’t demonstrate that it was ‘rattle less’, he was disappointed as this made it unusable.

It was refreshing to have a photographer willing to show us his ‘failures’ as well as his successful images.

Further destinations included Martinique, the Tobago Caves, the Orkneys, Andorra, Iceland and Belize.

Closer to home there was Beadnell where his image of a sand artist illustrated the need to think about dead space in an image where text could be placed.

Steve was a member of Alnwick Camera Club back in the 1990s and it was good to welcome a local lad back to give a presentation.

Thanks Steve for giving us an insight into your professional life.

Next time you leaf through the travel brochures day dreaming about your possible destination, take a closer look at the images and spare a thought for the photographer who has had an amazing opportunity to be there taking the pictures and remember that for some, it’s all in a day’s work.

Report by Jane Coltman

3rd November 2021

Painting with Light

It was only 6pm but the sky was black and the weather cold and wet. In fact on occasion it was very wet and members of Alnwick & District Camera club found themselves testing the quality of waterproof seals on their cameras as well as their winter coats and hats.

About twenty members were on the beach at Alnmouth having been invited by Dawn Robertson and Jane Coltman to a workshop on Painting with Light and photographing the results. Both hosts are good organisers and natural teachers but the general impression given off from some of the main group at the outset was – what on earth are we doing here – black dark, cold and wet.

However, flash lights were produced and boxes full of interesting and colourful objects/apparatus appeared. Dawn and Jane demonstrated some broad principles of ‘painting with light’ and what we might capture. With lots of chatter about the cold as well as how to set the camera, gently cursing stiff tripod grips, covering cameras with plastic hoods, picking up the occasional dropped camera and cleaning off the wet sand, we got stuck in.

Each group was provided with colour wands, coloured torches and other light emitting objects. While one or two people switched these toys on and off and waved their arms and whole bodies around in the darkness those of us behind the tripods and cameras searched for the best aperture/time settings to capture the results. There was lots of trial and error and the giving and taking advice but capture the results we did.

Some of these were totally abstract while others were more deliberately pictorial. Swirls, lines, wiggles and wild waving produced beautiful mixes of shape and dramatic colour. More deliberate ‘drawing’ with a light source produced body shapes, flowers, fish families, houses and gardens in profusion. The wet sand created wide colourful reflections which added hugely to the drawing efforts of the Light Painter.

Despite the earlier protestations two hours or more rushed past and with the tide advancing we retreated to our cars well satisfied with the experience as well as the photographic outcomes. Many thanks to Jane and Dawn and those other members who happily did some Painting with Light.

See the gallery of members images here

Report by John Thompson

27th October 2021

This evening members of Alnwick & District Camera Club were joined by Lynda Golightly of Whickham Photographic Club via Zoom to judge the 2nd competition of our season.

Lynda is an experienced photographer and an insightful and sympathetic judge of the work of others. She recognizes the heavily subjective nature of the broad span of photography but can identify styles and genres which garner rather more agreement amongst photographers as requiring a touch more objectivity.

The 55 monochrome images in this evenings competition included examples of nearly all the standards – landscape, portrait, natural history, documentary, urban environment, travel, abstract, record, minimalism, high-key, low-key, action.

Without the intrusive effects of colour we were able to appreciate the structure of many of the images and see the importance of getting the light right; the power of leading lines, of triangles or other sets of three, the sheer delight of dense velvet-like backgrounds as well as splashes of extreme high-key lighting. There were portraits beautifully rendered, some with a full range of tones others very limited and possible more powerful because of that.

The urban environment was well represented with some images going beyond the document to engage the viewer in mood. Stark, gritty images; carefully captured elements in pools of light; high-key points of view in otherwise dark and shady settings.

Not everyone, including the judge, would like everything but that is where the subjectivity comes in. However I think the majority of watchers this evening would have been impressed with the way the monochrome challenge had been met.

Commended Awards to George Nasmyth for ‘Stay Safe January’ a thoughtful image drawn from lockdown; to Jane Coltman for ‘Dewar’s Lane’ a piece of social documentary from Berwick; and Margaret Whittaker for a delicate study ‘Hellebore’ – a circle in a triangle in a square.

Highly Commended Awards to Laine Baker for a beautifully caught portrait ‘Man in Shades’; Dawn Robertson for ‘Picnic on the Steps’ a pool of light shot; David Burn for ‘Those Rocks’ the rocks being on the beach under Dunstanburgh Castle but looking impressively like a volcanic larva flow.

4th Place: Alastair Cochrane with ‘Spectators’ a beautiful minimalist image. Two small portraits in a large jet-black background. What are they looking at...what are we looking at?

3rd Place: Richard Stent for ‘Blyth Staithes’. Riverside industry caught in lovely light.

2nd Place: Jane Coltman for ‘The Potter’. Wheel, hands, face all caught in a circle of delicate action around the pot in this beautiful close-up portrait.

1st Place: Dawn Robertson for ‘Tree Honister Pass’. This image says everything about Honister on a not-so-good day: stark, moody, cold, wet, desolate, isolated. Beautifully composed with the light in the image used to the very best effect.

Report by John Thompson

20th October 2021

What pleases Jim?

Our guest presenter was Jim Welsh from Blyth.

A familiar face to the majority of our members as most seasons we ask him to judge our images.

This time though the tables were turned as Jim displayed his pictures for us to scrutinize.

But whatever we thought of his images was not of high importance as he showed us images that had a story to tell or had a special connection to him for some reason – hence the title of his talk ‘What Pleases Me’.

He started by showing us a series of portraits. Some were quite formal and taken in a studio where Jim showed that he was very proficient with studio lighting. We also saw more candid images, some of family members and some from street photography.

Jim doesn’t have a photographic speciality though; he happily points his camera at anything that grabs his attention.

This meant we saw a huge range of subject matter. Landscapes in all weathers and geographically it was apparent that the north of England is a favourite location – from the dales to the lakes and many sites in Northumberland. Beamish Museum was obviously another place on Jim’s popular places list as it featured frequently.

The natural world also featured in Jim’s favourite photos – birds, dogs, otters, deer – and some lovely images of the steel horses at The Kelpies.

Thanks, Jim, for showing us such a great variety of images – it was good to find out what makes you tick!

Report by Jane Coltman

13th October 2021

Keeping it local...

Over the last couple of years, we have all had to deal with changes to our travel plans as the pandemic has restricted our movement.

And it is no different for photographers who have had to stay close to home when looking for places to focus on.

Thankfully, here in North Northumberland we are blessed with many fantastic venues to visit with a camera and surely The Alnwick Garden must be one of the most popular!

Club members were able to enjoy the luxury of having the place to themselves for an evening shoot thanks to the generosity of the Garden team.

And as can be seen here a great variety of images were captured as members wandered between the plants as the light faded through dusk until dark.

The Garden is such a visual delight - both man-made and natural shapes combined with the changing light to give the membership lots to focus on.

A very enjoyable photographic trip – thanks Alnwick Garden for being such great hosts and for being such a great place!

See the gallery of members images here

Report by Jane Coltman

6th October 2021

Competition season off to a good start.

Members of Alnwick and District Camera Club were delighted to welcome back a long-standing friend to judge their first competition of the season.

Dave Phillips from Hartlepool had cast his eye on the entries of the 1st DPI Open and members were receptive to his considered and constructive comments.

The first image on the screen was strong and vibrant and that standard was maintained throughout with a good variety of subject matter too.

The commended awards went to Laine Baker for The Potters Wheel: Dave Dixon for Piano And Stairs, Antwerp Mansion and to Carol McKay for Evening Catch At Amble.

Tony Broom was awarded Highly Commended for Smooth Moonlight – a lovely, serene image of the evening light over the Farnes.

Highly Commended also went to George Nasmyth for Early Morning Tranquillity – a photo taken in the pastures in Alnwick with stunning light on the castle and the foliage he had used for foreground interest.

It was back to a night-time shoot for the third Highly Commended which went to Dawn Robertson for The Bathing House – taken at Howick and the beautiful blue tones produced a photograph full of atmosphere.

David Burn’s strolls around Amble paid off as Snow At Signal Cottage gave him 4th place. Lovely light combined with a passing winter storm making a cracking image.

Third place went to Dave Dixon for Fly Agaric. A beautiful study of a colourful fungi – pictures like this usually come about after a lot of time is spent searching for the perfect specimen – well done Dave for having the patience to find one.

Washday by Valerie Atkinson is an example of less is more. The minimalist image of a dwelling and a washing line is full of atmosphere, taken on Skye amazingly it was captured on a mobile phone!

Dave Philips awarded first place to Going For It by Tony Broom. A superb shot full of action and energy. An example of right place, right time and right photographer. Well done Tony!

Report by Jane Coltman

29th September 2021

A special and spooky visit...

Alnwick Camera Club members girded their loins, gritted their teeth and tested their mettle as they headed to Britain’s ‘most haunted castle’ for the latest destination in their extended programme of Wednesday Wanders.

Chillingham Castle is already known to most members but this visit was all the more enjoyable as we had the place to ourselves when we were admitted after normal opening hours.

Amazingly, some of the members appeared to capture a mysterious and spooky figure in the great hall. What a coincidence that the members who produced images of ghostly apparitions are all experienced users of Photoshop...just saying!

Apart from the ‘creative’ images there was plenty to hold the attention of the photographers as they toured the 13th century stronghold.

The building is filled to the brim with objects gathered by the castle’s owner Sir Humphrey Wakefield. What an eclectic mixture of items!

From mannequins and mandolins to stuffed ferrets and life size models of horses, the interior contains some unusual sights but the castle is also a lived in and much loved home and this was apparent with the cosy, yet classy arrangement of soft furnishings, personal objects and art.

Many thanks to the castle for accommodating our visit, it really is a house of hidden treasures, and we look forward to visiting Chillingham again to continue our investigations...paranormal or not!

See the gallery of members images here

Report by Jane Coltman

22nd September 2021

Camera club on the right track...

Members of Alnwick and District Camera Club had a great time exploring Aln Valley Railway as one of their Wednesday Wander outings.

The railway is a great venue for taking pictures – colours, patterns, big structures, tiny details and rust – so much to see that appeals to photographers!

We are very grateful to the Railway for allowing us to visit after normal visiting hours - it was a pleasure having the place to ourselves and meant we didn't obstruct the view of members of the public either.

It is always fascinating to see the variety of images produced when a group of photographers are in the same place – everyone views the locality with their unique vision and produces unique photos – check out the gallery of members images here

Report by Jane Coltman

15th September 2021

The first Member’s Night of the new season was ‘What I Did This Summer’ and these evenings are always a favourite as members show us what they have been up to since we were last together.

Firstly, we were given a presentation by George Naysmith. As a new member this was a good way to be introduced to him and he gave a very informative talk while showing some lovely landscape images taken at the crack of dawn – but the early starts were worth it going by the images from around Ulverston. Among the photos we saw was one taken at 8.14 am and another just 4 minutes later and the change in the light and the sky was pronounced – it just goes to show it’s worth waiting for just the right moment!

The constraints of the pandemic restrictions led to Peter Ayres exploring his relatively new surroundings of Alnwick and he and his daughter took exercise by exploring the town and its surroundings on foot.

His images were taken on three walks and all on his iPhone – and because of Peter’s ability and with the quality of mobile phones these days were just as good as those taken on a traditional camera.

Local landmarks, historical features and viewpoints kept us all attentive and it was very pleasurable to join Peter on these strolls which reminded us how lucky we are to live in such a lovely area.

‘Lovely’ probably isn’t the adjective people would use to describe the images Dave Dixon showed us. Antwerp Mansion is a grimy, grungy and dilapidated old house in Manchester and through Dave’s photos it was also fantastic!

The building is hired out to photographers and filmmakers and with its graffiti-laden walls, spooky cellars and rooms full of discarded mannequins and tatty furniture it is easy to see why it appealed to Dave. It also appealed to many other members who are hoping for a club trip there when circumstances allow!

We were then transported to Lisbon, Orkney and Glasgow through the lens of Chris Goddard. The colourful, ancient and modern architecture of the Portuguese capital produced vibrant images before we moved to Orkney with it’s brooding skies and ancient standing stones. Then it was Glasgow with the famous suspended heads in the Kelvingrove museum. A great variety of images from Chris.

Andrew Mackie surprised us all with his abstract images created with whirls of smoke coming from an aroma air diffuser. Well done Andrew for showing us all something completely different and enjoyable.

The evening finished with an AV presentation compiled by Jane using pictures from the previous week’s enjoyable evening boat trip to the Farne Islands.

It feels like the new season is well underway now – with hopefully lots more evenings as enjoyable as this one to come.

Report by Jane Coltman

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