Dateline 16 March 2015 

 

Response from Chris Packham

In the previous Newsletter we included a tribute to John Packham, one of our long-term members who had recently died. His son, who had also been a member for a short time many years ago, has sent the following response to that item.

PF

Thank you for sending me the link to Newsletter 67 with the tribute to my father.

I read the tribute with a mixture of emotions both joy and sadness and I must admit a tear did creep into my eye on occasion as well as a smile come to my lips. I think the members that contributed to the article summed my father up very well and I was pleased to hear that he was able to contribute to the society over the years, in his own characteristic way.

What worries me on reflection is that I have inherited some of his traits, but rest assured I have no intention of taking up golf….. well not yet anyway :-)

I was very pleased to see and chat to Steve Lawrenson at the funeral representing the “Old Guard” of the Photographic Society.

 

Events reports

Many members will be aware that I was on holiday during the whole of February. This was both good news and bad. Although the heat and humidity of Sri Lanka was a little uncomfortable it was preferable to some of the cold spells that were endured here in the UK. On the other hand I did miss some excellent talks that would have been of particular interest. Fortunately I had been able to persuade three other members to prepare the reports.

These follow below. My thanks to each one of them.

PF

 

Caribbean Culture – 2 February 2015 – Grahame Singleton LRPS

Report by Stephen Hewes

 

On one of the coldest evenings of recent weeks, we were lucky to have our very own Grahame Singleton bring a dash of Caribbean warmth to our meeting. The warmth came through not only in beautiful beach scenes and vibrant carnival colours, but also the affection with which Grahame introduced the characters captured in his images.

 

Grahame explained how he was a fan of ska music before he met his Trinidadian wife. Many of the more evocative shots were taken in favourite club in Brighton, with dramatic light and shade capturing the character of the musicians and singers. The black and white format really suits this genre well, with some of the performers visibly carrying their years of experience. 

 

 

Generally younger and certainly more colourful were the scenes from the Notting Hill carnival. Grahame told us how the morning kicks off with “j’ouvert”, the start of the day, when people throw paint at each other. I enjoyed the images of paint-flecked faces of youth in high spirits and of dancers entranced by the music. Judging from the comments from the lads on the back row, Grahame’s capture of some of the dancing ‘curves’ was also well appreciated.

  

What rooted Grahame’s talk firmly in the Caribbean though were his images of Trinidad and Tobago, and also of St Lucia. We were introduced to a good friend who makes his own music in his remote house where friends surround the lunch table. We were then taken from the colourful decay of the back streets of Port of Spain, where locals are advised where not to ‘offload’ their Carib beer, to the natural beauty of Maracas beach and to the nearby rainforest. I particularly enjoyed the signs warning of falling mangos and am intrigued by iced green coconuts.

 

 

But for me, the common theme throughout the evening was the portrayal of people and their love of life, both in the photographs and Grahame’s accompanying narrative.

 

Exploring Oman in a 4 x 4 – 9 February 2015 – David Harford LRPS

Report by Lester Hicks

 

 

David Harford gave us one of the best speaker evenings of the 2014-2015 season. I suspect few of us would choose to travel and camp solo around any part of the Arabian Peninsula at the moment, even with back-up from a son based in the UAE, let alone do this 3 times. Add to his evidently intrepid personality, high photographic skill, and the ability to engage with all sorts of strangers in a totally different culture, and the result was an evening of pure entertainment.

 

David offered a flexible mix of polished AV, blending high-quality stills and music, some dramatic sound-track video (largely filmed over the windscreen of his Land Cruiser crawling round precipitous bends in the Omani mountains, or chasing racing camels across the desert) and pauses to cut in live commentary and answers to questions.

 

It’s hard to say what was more impressive; the landscapes, images of life in Oman (including fishing, trading in the souks, and a “male only” wedding feast in the desert), or David’s wide range of characterful portraits. For me, the portraits took the honours against this strong competition. They were mainly of men, but also, surprisingly, quite a few women. To achieve that in such a conservative society as rural Oman is truly exceptional, crowned by being allowed by a group of women to photograph them after washing clothes at a well.

 

 

Exploring Eritrea and Treasures of the Nile - 2nd March 2015 - Paul Whittle

Report by Les Dyson

Paul’s presentations were a substitution for the original event shown in the programme.

Paul introduced his presentation as two examples of his many traveler’s tales. He makes these presentations about a hundred and twenty times a year and his fee income helps support a number of children’s charities in India and Myanmar. He began by showing us the title images for some of his other travels to Alaska and a train journey north of the Trans-Siberian Railway.

The first half of the evening featured ‘Exploring Eritrea’ and Paul gave us geographical and historical information about a country that has been torn apart by conflict over the years. We were shown images of the port of Massawa on the flat coastal plains, and taken through the 7000 foot high mountains to Asmara, the capital. The country has very hot temperatures, and when rain comes flash flooding rages down from the mountains.

Eritrea became an Italian Colony in the 1880s, and the architecture reflects this influence. The Italians also brought the railway, and narrow gauge steam trains and a few of the slightly more luxurious diesel cars still operate on the line between Massawa and Asmara, and Paul’s images took us on that journey over mountainous passes and past derelict relics of conflict. During the sixties and seventies much of the railway had been sabotaged by warring factions and has only recently been renovated and restored by dedicated railway men.

The conflicts, with landlocked Ethiopia who wanted access to the sea, were supported at times by both US and Russia and between 1949 and 1952 Eritrea was administered by Britain as a United Nations trust territory. Independence came in 1993. However, border disputes continued and became full scale war between 1998 and 2000 with over 70,000 troops killed. The conflicts and disputes continue today with the border area still dangerous, and it leaves a country run by a totalitarian government, with conscription and many of the population desperate to escape.

The second part of the evening featured one of Paul’s visits to Egypt, ‘Treasures of the Nile’. This journey first took us on an overview of Egypt as part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, Napoleon, Britain’s involvement and the building of the Suez Canal. From 1922 Egypt was independent but under British control, becoming a Republic in 1953. Followed by the Suez Crisis in 1956.

We were shown images of traffic congestion in Cairo, where we were told traffic drives at night without lights, simply as there is no law compelling motorists to switch them on.

Then we continued to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo to see Tutankhamun’s Death Mask, and on to a taxi full of fish in Alexandria!

We are shown the 15th Century fort built from the stone reclaimed from the ruins of the lighthouse which stood for a 1000 years on the Island of Pharos.

After El Alamein we move on to the Pyramids and the earlier stepped pyramid of King Djoser at Saqqara.

At Aswan we are shown the British built lower dam, and after a quick visit to the market we see the High Dam built by the Russians and Egyptians. Images of the Temples that were moved to accommodate the rising dam waters with their statues of Rameses II. Paul told us that the Temple was originally built to allow the sun to shine directly in only twice a year, to mark Rameses II’s birth date and his Coronation. The relocation of the Temple achieved missing the correct dates by a day.

The Temples at Luxor and the Valley of the Kings were the final port of call, and after a few shots from a hot air balloon we were returned to the Treasures of the Old Schoolroom.

Thanks to Paul for his interesting presentations at very short notice and the knowledge he shared with the group on his many travels.

**** Action This Day **** 

Make a note in your diary of the revised date of the AGM - Monday 11 May.

On Monday 23 March there will be the Creative PDI competition. Please take part and remember that, even if you are going to be away on that evening, there is no excuse for not submitting your entries in advance!

'Camera Shake Up' by Gavin Hoey is due to take place on Monday 30 March 2015.

Fuller details are on the Home page of this web site. If you have not already done so please buy your tickets for this event and encourage friends and non-members to attend.

 

AV Variety – 9 March 2015 – Members of Tonbridge CC Audio-Visual Group

Report by Peter Flower

Tonbridge Camera Club has a large membership and within that a number of sub-groups who concentrate on different aspects of photography. One of these is the Audio-Visual group, a number of whose members were visiting us to present a comprehensive programme of varied AVs. The meeting started with a verbal introduction by Philip Smithies, followed immediately by a brief AV entitled 'Introduction' by Lol Beacham which set the scene. There followed a series of 8 AVs in the period up to the tea break. These are briefly commented on, together with static images from some of them.

Something In The Air by Don Foster contained a series of exquisite infrared images.

We Will Remember Them by Lol Beacham was based on images from the recent commemorative display of poppies at the Tower of London. A clever touch was the presentation of the blood-red poppies against a monochrome background.

Rain by Philip Smithies. This showed that a combination of interesting images could be conjured up from less than ideal weather conditions, provided your camera had adequate water-proofing!

Whisky Tasting On Islay by Dave Brooker. Having myself been treated to a tour and whisky tasting at the Ardbeg distillery on Islay I was particularly interested in this AV. This covered not only the distilleries but also the boat trips to and fro.

 

War And Peace Revival 2013 by Lol Beacham. There were many images of military vehicles and equipment, plus characters in uniform. These included US, British and German military. I was surprised by the amount and variety of equipment on show that had survived from the WW2 period. It is comforting to know that if defence cuts continue we might have reservoir of backup to call upon!

  

 Trailer by Carole Lewis. This featured images of a number of characters from some theatrical performance. Carole had cleverly woven them into a black and white movie trailer in the 'silent' style, which consisted of very over-dramatic poses.

 At The Crossroads by Richard Gandon. Istanbul is, of course, regarded as the crossroad between east and west. There were numerous images of both the exterior and interior detail of many of the iconic buildings.

 

My Big Digger by Ann Paine. The images of both small and big diggers were woven into this AV with the humour coming from the background song (full of double entendres!)

 

After the break the entertainment continued with another varied batch of AVs.

The Empty Chair by Don Foster. The combination of infrared images and poetry made this a very moving AV.

Terminus by Philip Smithies.This is based on the eponymous Ralph McTell song about a couple who are parting for unknown length of time. It featured images all taken at St Pancras station.

The View From Bunkers Hill by Dave Brooker. This was like a stop-motion video, but with variety provided by the seasonal changes in a tree and the general landscape of Ashdown Forest. I was intrigued to know how Dave had maintained uniformity in his images over the course of a year. It was obviously not possible to leave a tripod in position over this extended period of time. He explained that there was a concrete bench on which he could rest the camera for vertical alignment and that marks on his viewfinder enabled him to align accurately in the horizontal aspect.

 

Shadow Of The Silk Road by Chelin Miller. This included images of both scenery and the people of this region.

 

Scotland and Cumbria by Ann Paine. This contained superb colourful shots of the scenery in these two locations, including a brief video section.

 

Burj Khalifa by Dave Brooker. This is the world's tallest building. The AV included numerous shots of this amazing building as well as the spectacular views from the highest point available to the public.

I've Never by Brian Whiston. This was an amusing item in which graphic images had been used in combination with the music hall song 'I've never seen a straight banana'

 Village Green Preservation Society by Philip Smithies. This contained a collection of the colourful signs that adorn village greens in some counties. One has to admire the craftsmanship and artistic skills that go into their design and construction.

 

 

Join With Us by Lol Beacham. This was a promotional video produced at a time when membership of the AV group had declined, to encourage other members to join.

 The Nightmare Judge by Don Foster. An amusing AV, backed up by a poetic commentary, that reminded us all of the judging comments that make us all cringe.

This was a highly entertaining evening, showing us the way in which many still images can be presented without leading to boredom in the audience. Philip Smithies rightly pointed out this fact. The interest and enjoyment was raised by the fact that the AVs were so varied in their subject matter and the way that they were compiled. All of the Tonbridge members who attended, and some who were unable to be there, are to be congratulated on giving us such an excellent evening's entertainment.

If the thought of trying this for yourself appeals, or if you would like some background information, you can find advice on the techniques and software used at the following web address -

 

http://www.tonbridgecameraclub.org.uk/clubinfo/AVGroup/AVprog.php

 

The Albany Cup - 16 February 2015

Sadly, our entry this year was not highly rated by the judge. We will not comment further, but show some of the photographs taken by John Fisher who attended the event.

 The images include (top line) spectator taking a close look, judging our panel  (bottom line) the winning panel and a closer view of our entry. 

Nikon Coolpix P900

Techman

The superzoom war in compact bridge cameras continues. Nikon has raised the bar by announcing its latest entry in this sector. It offers a 16 megapixel sensor and a mind-blowing f/2.8-6.5 24-2000mm equivalent zoom. It also features built-in Wi-Fi with NFC, 7 frames per second burst shooting, built-in EVF and a fully articulated 3" 921k-dot LCD. The P900 is capable of 1080/60p video recording and uses a new Dual Detect optical image stabilization system, claiming up to 5 stops of shake compensation.

 

Canon Report – Late January 2015

PF

Canon's release of its 2014 Q4 financial report showed an overall profit increase but a continued slump in camera sales. Its quarterly operating profit in the three months leading up to December 31 rose 5.4% compared to the previous year. Its imaging business saw its operating profit fall 6.2%. Sales in that segment fell by 7.3% with the biggest decline in sales coming from the Americas, down 11.9% from 2013. Smartphones were cited as a big cause for the slowdown in camera sales. In 2015 Canon anticipated that its compact camera sales will be only 7.8 million units, which is a substantial decrease from 2014's 9.03 million. It also predicts that interchangeable lens camera sales will remain relatively the same at 6.4 million units.

These figures confirm the trends in the analysis which was published in our 'Market Trends' in the previous Newsletter.

Perhaps better news, especially for Canon enthusiasts, is the announcement that the company plans to increase its production at home in Japan. It plans to shift manufacture of cameras, copiers, and printers to production in Japan over the next three years.

 

Multi-shot images for high pixel count

Techman

An interesting way of capturing very high definition images without the need for sensors with very high pixel counts has emerged in recent times. The first came with the announcement of the Hasselblad H4D-200MS medium format multishot camera. The only snag was the cost. The latest model, the H5D-200 Multi-shot body with a suggested price of £35,874 (body-only) is available from Dale Photographic at £32,995. Add in the cost of $4506 for an HC 120mm Macro II – f/4 lens from Wex and you need to be on friendly terms with your bank manager.

The camera aims to produce the highest possible quality images by taking up to 6 shots of the subject, which must be static, and then using clever software to merge these shots into a final image. In the six-shot mode four images are produced by applying a different colour filter to each pixel position, and then a half-pixel move is made in the up and sideways direction to produce the final two images. The camera can be used in single, four or six-shot mode. The single-shot images are excellent, as might be expected from this medium format camera, but the 6-shot images result in the most accurate colour rendering and resolution available on the market today in the medium format.

This process for the six-shot mode, together with the resulting images, is illustrated in the diagrams below -

 

The downside is that a 6-shot picture will produce 8 bit TIFF files at 600 megabytes each.

You will need a fast computer with plenty of RAM to handle the camera’s output in a busy work-flow situation.

A similar capability has now been added to the recently released Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark 2. Although it features the same size 16 megapixel sensor as its predecessor a sensor shift function allows users to boost resolution up to an equivalent 40 megapixels. In effect it is using the 5-axis stabilisation system of the sensor to make the small incremental shifts that are required. It should be stressed that this also brings the limitation of using it with a tripod and with static subjects.

Needless to say, the Olympus comes at a much more reasonable price. It will be interesting to see if other camera makers adopt the technology.

Comment

The recent holiday to Sri Lanka enabled me to observe the antics of photographers of other nationalities. There were large groups of Chinese and Japanese tourists together with Germans, French and British, to name but a few. As might be expected a large number were using smartphones or tablets to take photos. There were a significant number of more 'serious' types who were lugging around weighty, and expensive, DSLRs. What I found amusing was how many of the DSLR users were taking photographs with the camera at arms length, using the rear screen to frame the view, despite the glaring sunlight conditions. However, the man who most amused me was carrying a hefty DSLR, complete with expensive lens, slung around his neck who then took several photos with his smartphone!

P.S. I know that he might have wanted to transmit picture from his phone, probably not possible from his DSLR, but he did not take two sets of photos.

Early Selfies

PF

A very interesting article about early self portraits was published on the web by Phil Edwards on 29 January 2015. His guess about the first self portrait is one by Robert Cornelius who took a daguerrotype just two months after its debut by Louis Daguerre. However perhaps the most interesting early photograph that could properly be described as a selfie was taken by Joseph Byron (January 1847 – May 28, 1923) an English photographer who founded the Byron Company in Manhattan. The photograph, taken with a wide angle lens, is shown below.

 

 Byron in self portrait circa 1920     Source: Wikipedia

 

The method of taking the pictures is shown in the following images.

 

 Acknowledgement: These images come from the article by Phil Edwards. Original source – Museum of the City of New York/Getty Images.

 The full article can be viewed at -

 http://www.vox.com/2015/1/29/7873387/first-old-real-selfies

 

And finally . . . . .

 

Variations on 'Watch the birdie' !! I hope the second one has a macro lens fitted.