Peter Flower

This being the last Newsletter of 2018 it is time to reflect on the very successful half of our current season. There have been a number of extremely interesting talks, which we must thank Paul and Louise for organising. Reports on two of the recent events are included in this edition, with more (awaiting images) to follow in the New Year. An initiative overseen by Chris Worsley has seen three talks, under the banner 'Welcome', given by experienced members on photographic techniques for the benefit of newer members or those looking for advice on a particular topic. The most recent talks are commented on in this Newsletter. More are scheduled to take place in the new year. We also have reports on associated activities outside the society programme by new member Geoff Loughborough and Stephen Hewes.

Membership numbers appear to be on the up, with several new faces evident at recent meetings. It should also be commented that some of them have been highly successful in competitions. There is every indication that the society enters 2019 in a healthy state. I look forward to bringing you the news in the new year and wish you all well.

Rediscovering our Forgotten Heritage - Matt Emmett - 5 November 2018

Report by Peter Flower

The subject of this week's talk was Matt's involvement in a very specific area of photographic interest. This is one which attracts people sometimes categorised by the term UrBex, shorthand for Urban Exploration. Their principal interest is in visiting and photographing abandoned properties, very often those prohibited to public access. There is an obvious fascination in seeing and documenting derelict locations such as old factories, mines, power stations, mental institutions and medical facilities, and a variety of industrial buildings. Added to this is the frisson of excitement by avoiding security personnel or overcoming security measures that surround such sites.

Matt was first introduced to this world when a friend asked him for practical advice on his newly purchased DSLR and said that they should go somewhere with a specific focus to practice the skills. This happened to be a long-abandoned industrial location where, with heart pounding, he found himself outside the fence line of an ex-jet engine testing establishment. This proved to be the stimulus for his involvement in this type of activity over the following years.

© Matt Emmett

Photography often takes place in dark, damp or dusty conditions. Matt uses a mixture of Pentax cameras - Pentax K1, Pentax K3 II, Pentax KP, Pentax 645Z. He values the image quality of the Pentax lenses and the ergonomics and feel of the bodies, as well as their strong, robust, weather-sealed construction. He also uses a Canon EOS 7D that’s been IR-converted. He uses a number of techniques to get satisfactory images in the challenging conditions. He mostly processes from a RAW image, but might blend from, say, three exposures to obtain a satisfactory tonal range in the finished image.

In very dark conditions he makes use of portable Scurion lamps. These are robust lamps of a type that are often used by cavers. It was by the use of these lamps, and applying a light-painting technique, that Matt produced the following image.

© Matt Emmett – Finsbury Park reservoir

This photograph of a brick reservoir in London's Finsbury Park was selected as the best architecture photograph of the year at the Arcaid Images Architectural Photography Awards 2016. The image captures the brick arches of the covered reservoir, which was designed by the East London Waterworks Company in 1868. It was the first time in the award's four-year running that a photograph of a historic location had been given the prize.

Sometimes people like Matt might be given permission to access abandoned sites, but many had to be entered clandestinely. He described the general technique which was to attempt early access when any patrols might be less likely, to concentrate on the interior images and then the exterior. He told many stories about the successful forays into abandoned sites, but also some where alarm systems (especially in ex-MOD or government sites) had been triggered or patrols had discovered him and his colleagues. Some had resulted in brief arrest.

A particularly intriguing method of access to an underwater folly on an island was described. This involved him in paddling across the intervening water in a rubber ring.

© Matt Emmett

Matt describes this adventure - “Neptune stands guard over one of the most sought after UE locations in the UK. He has a little help these days thanks to a big heavy double padlocked gate which wasn't there the last time people I knew had been to it! This was taken after a failed attempt to gain access to the secret beneath the lake. The stunning morning and misty, perfectly still lake more than made up for the disappointment of not getting inside. The statue of Poseiden sits atop an underwater dome where, back in Victorian times, guests would have been entertained whilst Koi Carp swam lazily overhead. Sadly, after making the effort of paddling out to it at 4:30am, a previously open stairwell leading under the island had been secured by a very heavily locked gate and I was left to simply climb back into the rubber ring, load up and paddle back to shore. An annoying fail but some of the most fun I've had alone in the early hours of the morning, on the way out I stopped paddling and sat quietly in the ring surrounded by a thick layer of mist that clung to the lake surface, above me a bright vault of stars shone brightly, just the sound of the water lapping at the inflatable. A magical and surreal experience, these are the kind of things I will remember when I'm old, as a result they worth every second invested!”

Visits had been made to various other countries in his quest for suitable abandoned sites. These included a coal mine, Italian cement factory and adjoining villa, a massive ex-military barracks in Hungary, ruined Belgian chateau, an abandoned asylum and many more. He made the comment that there tended to be much less vandalism and graffiti abroad.

© Matt Emmett - Barracks in Hungary: Coal mine near Liege in Belgium. The tower on the left is the disguised head shaft: Storage cupboards in an abandoned Italian psychiatric hospital: ECT suite at an abandoned asylum in Northern Italy

Some more atmospheric pictures. The dim interior lighting required the use of a tripod to cope with the extended exposures. Matt explained that the appearance of the shafts of light could be enhanced by tossing dust (readily available) into the air!

© Matt Emmett

As well as the large machinery there was interest in the controls, as shown in the following collage, including a blast furnace, Nine Elms meters, beautiful design for the control buttons and switches on the side of an autoconer found in a derelict textile mill, Battersea Power Station A side control room, currently being looked at by the project contractors as a possible venue for a fancy eatery in the new development. (The gauge cabinets would be preserved behind perspex panels to protect them whilst the wealthy dined and enjoyed the rich industrial heritage of Britain's past), and a control desk.

© Matt Emmett

In complete contrast, Matt showed the following image taken with infra-red converted camera. He had taken some regular colour images of this amazing building, referred to as the 'Hobbit House'. This was made by an artist over many years as a shelter for him and his sheep, this beautiful yet odd structure occupies the edge of a field somewhere in the Cotswolds. The land is currently owned by a private firm who do not like visitors coming to see this wonderful construction.

© Matt Emmett

Matt's presentation gave a flavour of the intense interest that he has in this genre of photography, and which he shared with the audience. His interesting commentary was accompanied by an amazing variety of images. The outstanding aspect of this talk was the superb quality of his photography. This report has only been able to touch on a few aspects of his work. For further examples of his work I would advise a visit to his web site Forgotten Heritage at the following link, plus other sites that will become evident with the search on 'Matt Emmett'.


Postscript – Following preparation of the article I received an email from Matt with additional images, taken recently in Hungary. I append these below.

© Matt Emmett – Barracks: Train yard: MIGs

© Matt Emmett – Power station

Also attached was the overall winning image for the first Historic Photographer of the Year Award 2017, shot by Matt and taken at RAF Nocton Hall, an abandoned former military hospital.

© Matt Emmett

Walking With Bears - 19 November 2018 - Andy Skillen

Report by Peter Flower

© Andy Skillen

Wow! This was a truly amazing talk, combining video with sound accompaniment, superb still photographs and an animated description by Andy of the bears and his method of capturing their images.

Andy explained that his love affair with the natural world started from an early age and that he currently travels extensively, spending up to six months per year in a variety of locations around the world. He has worked with such organisations as National Geographic and the BBC in the production of documentary programmes, as well as leading guided tours for wildlife photography. Although he photographs a variety of wildlife his talk concentrated on images from the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions.

Andy explained that it was advantageous to understand the attitudes of the bears. In much the same way as ourselves they could portray their moods by the way in which they acted. The position of their ears was a good indicator of either a placid or aggressive mood (with ears back). He showed an image of a young bear which was approaching him, and gave an animated description of this 'teenager' attempting to show just how tough he was. The ability to understand these moods enabled him to react appropriately and ,generally, to keep out of danger, although he admitted to a few close shaves. The following images show a young bear and an adult.

© Andy Skillen

Andy stressed the requirement to be aware of your surroundings at all times. The bears moved very quietly and could appear at close quarters quite unexpectedly. He showed a photograph that he had taken across a short stretch of water to where a group of cine photographers were relaxing. They were blissfully unaware of the bear approaching them from behind over a rise. Unfortunately this humorous photograph could not be made available for this report due to copyright ownership restrictions.

In terms of general photographic technique, Andy utilised long focal length lenses which were used hand-held on the camera. This enabled him to move around much more freely and to react to the changing scene in front of him. He also stressed the importance of adopting a low stance for shooting, which showed the animals in their habitat to much greater advantage. The following photographs demonstrate this.

© Andy Skillen

Andy described a four-week expedition to capture images of newly-born polar bears as they emerged with their mothers from hibernation in the spring. This was carried out in extremely cold conditions, with temperatures down to -53 degrees C. requiring very good thermal clothing.

© Andy Skillen

Their problem was to find the location of the bears in the vast expanse of the snow and ice landscape. Despite their constant searches using snowmobiles the first three weeks passed without any success. However, their efforts finally paid off and Andy was able to capture a large number of charming photographs similar to these.

© Andy Skillen

As stated earlier, the projection of his photographs was interspersed with some very professional videos. Two of these can be found at the following direct links -

Alaskan Grizzly Bears


Grizzlies of the Nakina


It should be said that this section in Andy's video shown on the evening had the sound track of 'Only the bare necessities of life' – highly amusing!

Summing up, the combination of his stunning still images, video and an interesting commentary provided us with a wonderful evening's entertainment.

Footnote: It is obvious that Andy also enjoyed the evening. I found the following comment on Andy's Facebook site - “23 November. It's been pretty busy since getting back, and I'm finally surfacing from the world's biggest pile of admin! Thanks to Reigate Photographic Society for hosting me this week - a great fun evening.”

Leica D-Lux 7 camera


Leica D-Lux 7 camera – Showing connectivity via the Leica FOTOS app, deluxe camera case and clever optional automatic lens cap

On 20 November 2018 Leica announced the D-Lux 7, the latest compact camera that is effectively a Panasonic Lumix DC-LX100 II wrapped in a modified body. The camera uses a 17 megapixel Four Thirds MOS sensor. The D-Lux 7 captures up to 7 fps in burst, features a maximum sensitivity of ISO 25,600 and features a 4K Photo capture mode and 'post focus' mode, the latter of which enables focus adjustments in post-production with compatible programs.

The optically stabilized lens uses the same 24-75mm equivalent F1.7-2.8 Vario-Summilux lens as the LX100-based D-Lux Typ 109 from 2014. Like that camera it uses a series of crops from a Four Thirds-sized sensor. In addition to the physical aperture ring, the top of the lens features a dedicated physical switch to swap between shooting ratios, including: 3:2, 16:9, 1:1 and 4:3. On the side of the lens is a matching switch for selecting the different focusing modes.

The electronic viewfinder has a 2.76M dot equivalent display and the rear screen uses a 3" 1.24M dot LCD touchscreen display. The camera relies on Leica's 1025 mAh BP-DC15 lithium-ion batteries and can be charged through an outlet, computer or a USB battery pack via the on-board Micro USB port.

Built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi work together to provide iOS and Android connectivity using Leica's FOTOS app. In addition to sharing images on-the-go, the FOTOS app also enables remote control of the D-Lux 7 and live view display. Leica also includes a CF D Flash Unit with the camera.

Park Cameras currently lists the camera priced at £995. The brown leather case is £110 and the Auto Lens Cap is £45.

Note: Newsletter 110 gave news of the Panasonic LX100 II camera, virtual equivalent to the Leica model. The current price at Park Cameras is £799 (including £50 cashback) and the lens cap DMW-LFAC1 is £29.99.

Smile! You're on camera

Peter Flower

Gloucestershire police have unveiled Britain’s biggest speed camera. Called the A417, the portable camera can catch drivers violating laws from roughly 1,100 yards. On the front of the camera is a Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS telephoto zoom lens.

The 'Long Ranger' speed camera with Canon 100-400mm lens

The camera is dubbed “The Long Ranger,” and it can capture clear video and still photos of people inside their cars from great distances. It is being deployed on the major route between Gloucestershire and Wiltshire to help police catch driving offences such as speeding, tailgating, and using a phone while behind the wheel. While traditional speed guns and cameras can usually be seen by drivers from a distance, allowing them time to change their behaviour, the Canon 100-400mm paired with a 1.4x teleconverter provides a 35mm focal length of 560mm enabling the camera to clearly capture drivers before they are aware of its existence.

Nikon Museum

Peter Flower

A visit to this site via Google Maps allows you to see inside the Nikon Museum. Some are still shots but others allow you to rotate around and circulate through the rooms of the museum. Tip: When facing a display cabinet the mouse 'forward' scroll will take you nearer to the individual cameras and lenses.


Photokina – next show postponed to May 2020


In 2017 Photokina's organizers announced the world's largest trade fair would change to an annual event timed for May each year. Naturally, it was expected the next Photokina event would take place in May 2019, but plans have changed. According to the German Photo Industry Association (PIV), conceptual sponsor of the trade fair, and Koelnmesse, the event's organizer, the 2019 Photokina event has been postponed a year, meaning the next Photokina event will take place from May 27th to May 30th 2020.

Canon R and Nikon Z sales in Japan


The first official sales figures from Japan indicate a healthy launch for Canon. According to sales data from BCN Retail, the Canon EOS R has sold around twice as many units as the Nikon Z7, and is even outselling Sony's most popular models. Until Canon and Nikon entered the fray Sony enjoyed a 99.5% share of the full-frame mirrorless market, with 0.5% belonging to Leica.

With the arrival of the new competitors Sony's share has dropped to 67%. The Nikon Z7 gained 10.4% market share, while the Canon EOS R stole 22.1% of Sony's previously impressive sales. These are significant, considering that the Canon only came out in October, while Nikon's camera was released in September.

More alarming for Sony is that the EOS R (despite its limitations according to many commentators) is outselling the Sony A7III and the Sony A7RIII, which are highly regarded.

It should be noted that market shares in different areas of the world vary, and as yet I have not seen statistics for other markets. Also, I have seen no figures that show the impact on DSLR sales by Canon and Nikon as a result of (one assumes) new models being sold instead of existing ones in the range.

'Welcome' event – Depth of Field, Differential Focus -21 October 2018

Peter Flower

© Cass Elbourne – Briefing by Peter Flower in Cafe Nero

This was a well-attended meeting to discuss depth of field, differential focus and perspective. Following a briefing in the upper room of Cafe Nero we went into the High Street and then on into Priory Park to experiment with the techniques discussed.

© Peter Flower – comparison photographs showing effect of different aperture settings

© Peter Flower – Priory Park, flower bed in front of cafeteria: sundial

'Welcome' event – Street Photography - 18 November 2018

Chris Worsley

© Pete Welch – Briefing by John Fisher in Cafe Nero

John Fisher led an excellent session on street photography at the November Welcome session. This prompted a discussion about encountering people in the street who object to being photographed. It has been suggested to the committee that maybe members should be issued with a card to explain the club in such circumstances. On reflection the committee has decided not to pursue this, on the basis that discretion is the better part of valour. In the summer, we had a situation where concern was raised on Mumsnet.com about "middle-aged men taking photos of children in Reigate Park". Fortunately the club wasn't identified specifically. However, the committee would inform members:

Some years ago Don Morley sought a statement from the Association of Chief Police officers about street photography. We have now put this Guidance for photographers on the website in the Technical Resources section.

It is perfectly legal to photograph people in a public place. However if you do encounter some resistance, then remain polite and friendly, rather than insist on legal rights. If you are asked to delete a photograph (which is a reasonable request), then it is best to do so.

Some members carry their own cards with them with contact details, and may offer to email the photograph to the people concerned when challenged, and this has been well received.

Selection of street photos, selected at random from the Reigate PS Flicker site

© Malcolm Bews: Pete Welch: 308

Brooklands Calendar

Stephen Hewes had the following photograph chosen for inclusion in the 2019 Brooklands wall calendar.

© Stephen Hewes

Coffee Break


A surprising find on the internet!


I came across this by accident, an item on the Photocraft Camera Club, Wallington, blog site.

A second item - A newly published video called "Sketches" from Russian motion graphics designer Vladimir Tomin shows the world around him being edited using video editing tools. The experimental work presents a variety of scenes in which cursors appear to cut and paste birds, type text created from twisted crane pieces, and scrape the painted line off a road.


Saturday Natter – Denbies Vineyard – 1 December 2018

Peter Flower

About a dozen members attended this meeting. As always, with this number extending over a couple of tables, it is not possible to report on all the subjects being discussed. At my end of the table I got into conversation with Don Morley on the subject of lens performance. This discussion was triggered by a recent article by Bob Newman in Amateur Photographer, which we had both read, which had posed a question about modern lens design leading to them being so bulky. In theory modern mirrorless cameras, with their lighter and more compact bodies, should be matched by lenses that were also lighter. The fact that they were not was that the design was much more complex than those which were available with DSLRs. He cited the new Nikon 50mm f/1.8 S for the Z cameras which contained 12 elements, compared to the F-mount 50mm f/1.8 G lens which had just 7. Going back in time, he mentioned the Nikkor-H.C 50mm F/2 lens from 1946 which had only 6 elements. This type of lens provided a trade-off between centre sharpness and corner definition, the argument being that the subject at the centre of view was usually the most important to have sharpest. Bob Newman argued that manufacturers should make smaller, lighter and faster lenses available as an option.

Don said, that in his view, modern lenses were of the highest quality available, but agreed that the criteria of measuring performance was not necessarily the best, sometimes disregarding contrast in favour of definition measurement.

Julian Shepherd had brought along his Nikon DSLR. He had been receiving advice from John Fisher, another Nikon owner, but they also got into conversation with Don on camera functions and techniques.

Another attendee was Jan Adcock who sought Don's advice on some recent photographs that she had taken. Don, being a SPA judge was obviously well-qualified to pass judgement.

It is always difficult to report on activities at these events, other than to give a limited flavour of topics being discussed. I did ask for a report from the other end of the table – only to be told that discussion did not involve photography!

Looking Back

Peter Flower

In Newsletter 110 I reported on the 1912 Doppel-Sport Panoramic Camera that had been taken aloft by a pigeon to obtain aerial photographs. Reading a book on the subject of aerial photography I found that this was far from being an early example of this type of photography.

In 1858 a Parisian photographer, Gaspard Felix Tournachon (with the pseudonym of 'Nadar'), attempted to take out a patent on his examples of aerial photographs from balloons, but without success. His initial attempts were disappointing due to a number of factors. The tethered balloon tended to spin in high winds and the release of hydrogen from the vent valve of the balloon contained impurities which affected the wet collodion plates used in his camera. It should be mentioned that this process required the plate to be coated in the dark, the exposure made in-camera whilst still wet, and then the 'fixing' process made, all within about 15 minutes. The fact that collodion was mainly light-sensitive to the blue and UV end of the light spectrum was also a handicap, especially affecting exposure time requirements.

Nadar overcame these initial problems and, by 1863, had built a very large balloon named Le Geant with a two-storey wickerwork car containing a photographic darkroom, a small printing room and a dining room!

Nadar and others of that era would surely have expressed amazement if they were able to return to the present, with thousands of remote-controlled drones having the ability to fly aloft and transmit their pictures back to ground.

Trip Tip – Ibera Wetlands – Geoff Loughborough

As a new member and having recently returned from a trip to Argentina I felt compelled to share what I thought was a pearl of a photographic destination with other members. . .

The Ibera wetlands is the second largest wetland on the planet (after The Pantenal in Brazil) covering some 1.3 million hectares in North East Argentina (comparable in size to Okovango). The strange thing is – hardly anyone has heard of it! That is slowly changing partly because of investment by a Douglas Tomkins’ foundation (Douglas Tomkins made his fortune from North Face and had already purchased a million acres in Chilean Patagonia before turning his attention to Ibera) – which has bought and is converting a third of Ibera in to national parks.

With, hitherto, no tourist penetration to speak of the area is unspoilt and wildlife abounds – caimans, capybaras, monkeys, deer, foxes – and over 300 species of birds (over a week my guide recorded sightings of over 200 species!).

I stayed in a boutique ‘hotel’ (i.e. 3 rooms) in the town of Concepcion which is in the heart of the wetlands and is also a gaucho town - horses far outnumber cars – another rich vein to mine for photographers.

The cost of going to such exotic places usually runs in to the thousands of pounds. My accommodation though cost $60/day full board ($50 s/s) and a knowledgeable guide/4x4 $50/day (4/6 hours). With the Argentinian peso having halved in value over the last few months Argentina is very cheap indeed.

A visit to Ibera could be neatly sandwiched between a few days in Buenos Aires and the spectacular Iguazu Falls.

If anyone would like further information please give me a call (07710 404 380). If anyone has other overseas pearls to share please also give me a call!

Geoff Loughborough

Redhill Sinfonia - by Stephen Hewes

One of the interesting aspects of our hobby is the diversity of the forms it can take. Earlier this year we had a request from Redhill Sinfonia, a fellow member of the Borough of Reigate and Banstead Arts Council, to take some pictures of them performing so that they could update their social media.

I immediately said ‘yes’, and then gave it further thought. Anticipating that light would be limited and that this would be a great opportunity to use my new 50mm F1.4 prime, I was keen to explore using limited depth of field. I had in mind to be able to pick out individual musicians but figured that on the night of the performance, the audience wouldn’t thank me for moving around between them and the orchestra, so I joined them at their rehearsal the night before as well as the event itself.

The guest soloist, Michael Foyle, was also there to rehearse one piece, Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor. It was fascinating to hear him and the conductor discussing a few aspects of the piece, and similarly the conductor with the orchestra. They were clearly well practiced as it was very few minor tweaks, and the musical terminology used was like a foreign language to me! It was all done with good grace and a bit of banter, which enabled me to try to capture these lighter moments.

I was able to skulk stealthily between several vantage points – the main challenge was disturbing backdrops of a relatively bright curtain in one area and hanging lights from the ceiling. On the night itself I was glad to have gone to the rehearsal as the room was packed, there were obtrusive microphone stands, and I was having to use a 200mm instead of the 50mm – though on the other hand everyone was very smartly dressed!

Several hours of editing followed making backgrounds recede and brightening up the main areas of focus. All in all, it was very enjoyable, and the standard achieved by the Sinfonia really merited having a well-known soloist share their stage.

And finally . . . . . . . . . .

Peter Flower

In Newsletter 112 we reported on discussions at the Saturday Natter about action photography and published some images by Don Morley. Whilst Don is very experienced in this respect I don't think that he had ever thought about the following technique!

Acknowledgement - The image comes from Motoring Through PUNCH 1900-1970. This book brought together cartoons about motoring that had appeared in the pages of PUNCH magazine. The cartoon first appeared some time during the 50s.

Apart from being very amusing, the image does demonstrate the lack of 'elf'n'safety at this time, with reliance on empty oil drums for public protection!