Dateline 18 November 2015

 

John Gall

Members were very concerned to hear of the recent heart attack that John had suffered. Initially in intensive care, he has now been released and is starting a slow recovery. We are told that this will prevent any further involvement in society activities for the immediate future. John did sterling work in his position as chairman and his absence will be missed by all, and in particular by members of the committee who will have to take over his responsibilities. It is important that the general membership should aid the committee in any way possible during this difficult time.

To John, his wife and family we send our best wishes for his successful recovery and the hope that he will return to us in the not too distant future.

 

Member's Presentations - 19 October 2015

Reports by Peter Flower

This evening there were two talks by members -

Namibia – Carol and Lester Hicks

(© All photographs in this article are copyright of Carol and Lester Hicks)

 

The mention of the name is likely to evoke images of giant sand dunes, sometimes with skeletal trees in the foreground, sand-filled derelict buildings and views of wrecks on the Skeleton coast. Carol and Lester's talk took us on a journey that they had made from the south of the country up to the Etosha National Park water holes. In the course of this they showed a much greater variety of images from the country. Some of the highlights of their trip are commented on below.

Some of their journey was made in a Toyota twin cab 4x4 vehicle and Lester commented on the good roads in the south-west of the country. Solitaire was one of the places visited and there were images of the rusting motor wrecks at this point. Lester is obviously interested in the interior controls!

No presentation on Namibia would be complete without images of the immense sand dunes. Carol and Lester made an early start to get to the largest sand dune at dawn. This enabled them to capture the low light sculpting the elegant curves of the dunes. However, despite this early start they found themselves competing with other tourists to get to ridges that had not already been trampled! The following images show the Sossusviei dunes at dawn, including the Big Daddy dune, as well as the immense amount of sand that Lester had to remove from his boots after their trek.

In contrast to the dry heat of the desert they experienced the cold and damp air, influence of the Atlantic Ocean as it meets the Skeleton Coast. The coastal town Swakopmund contains German colonial-era buildings. It was founded in 1892 as the main harbour for German South-West Africa, and a small part of its population is still German-speaking today. Nearby is the deep sea harbour at Walvis Bay which belonged to the British. The following photos show a hotel (part of the former railway station) and seafront from the Mole to the jetty, together the wreck of Zelia of Hangana and Cape Cross seal colony.

Lester has a great interest in geology so was in his element when visiting various sites. Quite apart from the interesting rock formations that they saw there was the added interest of the rock paintings at Brandberg, up to 5000 years old, and rock carvings at Twyfelfontein (Double Fountain), up to 6000 years old. Additionally, they visited a site of a petrified forest.

Brandberg, painted image of an oryx; Twyfelfontein, carved circle with spot means permanent water hole; Petrified forest, tree rings

During their trip they saw plenty of wildlife. Of the many images that they captured I found most intriguing the photograph of an elephant rearing up to reach the succulent leaves from a tree branch above. Elsewhere in Africa the elephants bulldoze trees to the ground, destroying them, but here they more eco-friendly!

The opportunity to spend the most time viewing the animals came at the Etosha NP. Staying inside the park they were able to observe a wide variety of animals coming to each of the three water holes. They were also able to photograph by red lights that were set up at night. Again, the elephants appeared to be the wisest of the animals. They were photographed drinking at the water inlet point where it was most fresh and clean. The following collage shows a variety of animals that they saw.

 

This was obviously an extremely interesting trip for Carol and Lester. The wide variety of experiences that they had, and talked about, provided us with an interesting insight into many of the less well-known attractions of Namibia.

 

Motor Mania - Stephen Hewes

© Photographs in this article are copyright of Stephen Hewes

I'm not certain if this was the actual title for his talk, but I think that it adequately creates the right image for the reader. This was a very different subject matter from that of the first part of the evening and was obviously designed by Stephen specifically for all the female petrol-heads in the audience! (Joking!) They would have been even more pleased with images of steam engines but this is not Stephen's forte.

Most members will know that Stephen, along with some other members, is a motoring enthusiast, and many of the images which he enters into competitions reflect that interest. He is a regular attendee at motoring events such as the annual Festival of Speed at Goodwood (run each June/July) and at special motoring events which are regularly run at Brooklands. The latter venue is set on the site of the historic racing track which was opened in 1907. The track which featured a heavily banked section, part of which is still in existence, was the first purpose-built motor racing circuit in the world. Sadly, the circuit closed in 1939 at the commencement of World War 2 and the site was turned over to aircraft production. Subsequently surrounding developments encroached onto the banked area in particular and so this iconic racing venue could no longer continue in its original role.

Stephen presented a number of images from this venue including those below.

Brooklands – including Bugatti expecting rain? and Making it to the top of the test hill

 

In contrast to Brooklands that is mainly associated with historic events Goodwood presents motor sports events that cover activities in more recent times, right up to the current day. These include Formula 1, track racing and rallying. Motor-cycling activities are also catered for. Celebrities from major motor sports attend. Stephen showed shots of Stirling Moss and Jenson Button. There was an amusing story to this second photograph. Stephen had a 200mm lens on his camera, so as Jenson came towards him and his daughter he backed away to try to keep Jenson in frame, appearing rather stand-offish in the process!

Stirling Moss and Jenson Button

Stephen spent his time at these events moving around the different parts of the Goodwood site in order to capture a variety of motoring activities. A sample of these is shown below.

Having attended these annual events for a number of years he commented on the rapid gain in popularity. This is certainly a superb venue for motoring photography and many will be aware from his many competition entries of the excellent way in which Stephen captures the scene.

 

 

Match-a-PDI at Dorking - 26 October 2015 – Judged by David Eastleigh LRPS

Report by Stephen Hewes

Last year the Society’s match-an-image competition activity with neighbouring clubs was resurrected with an event with Dorking Camera Club. In the past it had been a match-a-slide, but moving into the digital age the PDI format has been adopted. It made for a fun evening and an opportunity to meet fellow photographers from just down the road and a chance to see 100 images on quite random themes.

After hosting last year and graciously allowing a win to our visitors, Dorking invited us to their venue for a return match. Jill, Peter and Mike had selected 50 images to field and having won the toss elected to go first. Reigate’s opening salvo was a couple of eggs provided by yours truly. They were quite cheeky eggs, so when Dorking returned with a cheeky posterior shot it was judged a match and the better image (it was the real thing rather than eggs pretending).

From then it was a challenge to hold Dorking back as they capitalised on underwater shots and managed to play images on themes previously played by Reigate. The half-time break provided a good opportunity to chat to our hosts who provided a wonderful variety of refreshments. I had the impression that in the second half Reigate managed to catch-up a bit, with a few clever matches, but clearly it wasn’t quite enough, and the final result was Dorking 54 to Reigate’s 46.

I felt the scoreline reflected the comparative quality of the images available to the selectors, with the Reigate selectors doing a good job with what they had at their disposal. Certainly the event was a success even if the scoreline wasn’t, and there was talk of a return match next year.

Lester Hicks was keeping score for Reigate and reports that of the 50 pairs of images shown Dorking was judged to have won with 27 and Reigate with 23.

A series of collages below show just a selection of our winning images.

 

 Annual Exhibition - 31 October 2015 - Community Centre

Peter Flower

 

Photos by Peter Flower

The exhibition was once again set up in the Clarke Hall of the Reigate Community Centre. This is a splendid location due to its high ceiling and large windows which provide excellent lighting for all the pictures on display. There was the added bonus of bright weather conditions to enhance this. Together with the coincidence of Halloween which brought large crowds to the town centre this held out the prospect of a fair number of visitors to the exhibition. Although the exhibition was only open for one day, between 10am and 4pm, there were a pleasing number of visitors. We do not record visitor numbers but the fact that we gathered 115 public votes for their favourite print is indicative of a popular event. There was a great deal of interaction between visitors and our members who were stewarding. Many asked about details of our society and there is a chance that some of the interest expressed may result in prospective new members. There were numerous comments from the visitors about the quality of the prints on display. In addition to the prints there was a constant display of digital images on a television set. Some people also sat down to view these but this form of presentation does not lend itself to the same random browsing as there is with the prints.

Credit for the detailed layout of of the exhibition must go to Colin Hodsdon and a band of helpers (refer to his note that follows) and thanks to those members, too numerous to mention, who assisted in the set-up beforehand and stewarding during the day.

Notes from Colin Hodsdon -

We started planning some weeks ahead of the exhibition to liaise with the Community Centre staff, confirming room booking and general admin arrangements. Nearer the time of the exhibition, a small group of us spent a morning going through all the prints, over 175 of them, selecting and matching the prints to the boards. This saved a lot of time on the day and enhanced the overall presentation.

We exhibited 168 prints, and a large number of digital images. There was also a selection of cards and prints for sale from RPS members. No prints were sold but visitors bought £25 of cards. During the exhibition, members of the public were asked to vote for their favourite print. The feedback from many people was that they found it quite difficult to choose one print over all the others because of the generally high standard. At the end of the exhibition there were 115 public votes spread widely across 63 prints with the top three favourite prints as follows:

 

1st 'Faces in the Storm' by Dave Lyon (9 votes) WINNER

 2nd equal 'Skagarfoss Iceland' by Tony Peacock (5 votes)

'Great Spotted Woodpecker feeding young' by Dave Lyon (5 votes)

'Where did you come from?' by Paul Renaut (5 votes)

3rd equal 'Spiny Mice' by Dave Lyon (4 votes)

'Muck and Mayhem' by Don Morley (4 votes)

 

Panel Competition – 2 November 2015

Peter Flower

 

The concept of this competition is to submit a panel, either as prints or as PDIs, each composed of three photographs. Members who submitted panels were encouraged to make brief comments about the subject matter. Judging was done by the members. Marks could be given in the range from 10 down for each panel. There were over 20 panels submitted in the PDI section which made it difficult to decide on the favourites. The lower number (3) of print panels made the task much easier. However, the variety of imagery and involvement of all the members in the judging process made this a very pleasurable evening.

The winning panels, both by Stephen Hewes, are shown below.

A touch of red 

 

Valletta 

Notes about the new print display panel -

The late John Packham fabricated the original print display easel. As reported before, this version was table-mounted, on top of a sturdy box. Erecting the easel involved a two-person effort, struggling to fix struts with numerous wing-nuts. (Anyone who attempted this will remember, with horror, the number of times that wing-nuts went spinning off onto the floor during this process!) I modified this some years ago so that the panel slid onto an upright support in order to make it easier to erect. However, its sheer weight was still a disadvantage. This event witnessed the first appearance of a new panel designed and fabricated by Gerry Stone. This is a lighter weight device, based upon a wooden artist's easel. The channels that support the prints have been specially tailored to cope with large mounted prints, either in landscape or portrait format. (These could be a problem with the former easel) Lighting is provided by a colour-balanced strip LED bar.

 

London to Brighton Veteran Car Run - 1 November 2015

Photos by Ian Hunt ©

Ian Hunt made an early start on the morning of this annual run to capture many of the historic motors taking part. A half-page report in the 5 November edition of the Surrey Mirror contained several of his images. Two of them are reproduced below.

A car from the 1953 'Genevieve' film --TV presenter Edd China, passenger in another car

 

Portrait Photography - 9 November 2015 - Jon Gray FBIPP

Report by Peter Flower

© All photographs in this report are copyright of Jon Gray

Jon's experience as a professional photographer spans decades and he is able to boast an impressive CV, far too lengthy to detail here! Sufficient to say that he has done work on behalf of numerous big-name companies and covering such diverse activities as advertising, fashion and product photography as well as formal lecturing and talks. He started his career as a film photographer. Although the techniques which have come with digital photography have made life easier he commented that the early disciplines remain with him. Taking pictures with plate cameras demanded extremely accurate exposure for colour transparency film, within 1/6th of a stop. He still prefers to get the image right in-camera rather than relying on post-processing correction.

In the first half of the evening Jon projected many portrait images, mainly glamour style and taken in a studio environment. He used these to illustrate the lighting techniques that were used to accomplish good images. It is not possible to cover all the points that Jon mentioned in his rapid run-through but some are illustrated by the images that he has provided. In general terms the female face was best suited to soft frontal lighting whereas the character of the male face could be revealed by harder directional illumination. The following two images show this.

The female portrait also illustrates another point, the importance of positioning lighting to separate the hair from the background especially if the hair colour is dark. The use of colour gels can also add interest to the image. When working with models it was important to set up a dialogue. Many would have their own repertoire of 'looks' which could be recognised and used to advantage. It was also useful to vary the poses, perhaps taking high, medium or low viewpoints and having the model take an off-camera 'infinity' glance rather than looking directly into the lens. Another variation in lighting could replicate the Hollywood style of image. Variations on this theme are shown below.

The first photograph was taken with a light fitted with a freznel lens which gives very controlled directional lighting. Jon emphasised the need to control the lighting, both on the subject and the background. This was one of the reasons why he used softboxes rather than umbrellas for soft lighting effects. Umbrellas provided soft lighting but also tended to scatter the light too widely.

The following image illustrates a situation where the lighting had to be well balanced and controlled in order to provide this dramatic portrait.

 

Although faces were the main focal point for portraiture Jon explained that hands could be a problem. Not only in the way that they were posed but sometimes in their appearance. Jon told the story of a brief advert film that was made many years ago for Blue Stratos, a fashionable aftershave for men. In this the hands shown in close-up were not those of the person starring. He went on to say that it was not at all unusual for various body parts such as hands, feet, legs and even 'bottoms' to be used in films.

The following photograph shows a very different technique.

Most people would guess that this was taken with a strobe flash sequence or achieved by combining several images in post processing. Jon explained that it was in fact produced with a long (bulb) exposure in total darkness. The ballet dancer moved an agreed distance at brief intervals and the electronic flash was fired by hand. The process required experimentation but ballet dancers provided elegant poses and could generally cope with the precision required for movement in the darkened room.

Reverting back to the subject of using more aggressive lighting set-ups for photographing male subjects, Jon showed the following photograph that emphasises the physique of this model.

He then went on to explain the method by which it was produced. As can be seen, the reality of the situation is somewhat removed from what you might envisage! For further information, the water from the watering can includes an amount of milk so that it shows up better.

Jon's talk included many humorous tales. One of them suggested that being his assistant was not necessarily fun at all times. The project involved photographing some scenes in a hospital environment. A 'patient' was required and Jon's assistant was 'volunteered' to pose in several scenes.

Being pushed down the corridor in a trolley was not a problem, but playing the part of a patient being operated on was somewhat more fraught. The operating theatre was properly set up and fully manned, ready for the shot, but the matron pointed out one problem – they would not operate on a hairy body. The result was that, much to his annoyance, the assistant had to be shaved. Jon was not his favourite person for a while, especially due to the itching as the hair grew back in the following weeks!

In the run-up to the break Jon showed some examples of his product photography. He explained the detailed methods that he used to ensure that the objects were well-lit. Two examples appear below.

After the break a large black backdrop was erected, two electronic flash units and some reflectors in readiness for portrait photographs to be taken. Jon explained the equipment that he was using. The Bowens flash units, on height adjustable stands, were fitted with two different types of reflectors and controlled by wireless triggers. The triple reflectors were also fitted to an adjustable stand. Jon explained that these had silvered surfaces which he preferred. He then showed how he measured and balanced the lighting. For this he used a Sekonic hand-held meter, and explained why this was preferable to reliance on the camera exposure system. In a proper studio situation he would have a much greater distance between the backdrop and subject, but the limitations of the temporary set-up in the hall precluded this. This would make it easier to avoid unwanted shadows falling onto the backdrop, but also allow room to position background lighting. He said that many home 'studios' would lack the necessary height and depth to position the subject and lighting in ideal positions. Additionally, in an ideal situation the walls would be grey or black, but this might not go down well with the family in the house! (As explained, light walls reflect light, making it difficult to control the effect required. It is much easier to add light than reduce it from unwanted reflections) It was also explained that the 100mm lens that he used (for his full-frame camera) was far preferable to, say, a 50mm one. The reason was that facial features were not distorted by the longer focal length lens. For reasons of image quality he worked with the aperture set at f/11 and used a fixed focal length (prime) lens.

Having explained the equipment, Jon then chose Tony Peacock as a model for a series of portraits. Three of these are shown below.

During his professional career Jon has amassed a wealth of experience and so is well qualified to talk in depth on the subjects that he did. As will be obvious from the comments above he did so in a way that was both informative and entertaining. The combination of advice and humorous anecdotes was full of interest for all of us.

More of Jon's work can be viewed at the following web link -

http://jongrayphotographer.co.uk/

 

Senegal Exhibition - Hannah McGettrick

PF

At the meeting on 16 November 2015 members had an opportunity to preview this new exhibition of prints in the corridor of the Hub Cafe at the the Reigate Community Centre. The photographs were taken by Hannah during a volunteer placement with Y Care International in the Ziquinchor region of Senegal. The placement was made possible through the International Citizen Service (ICS) scheme, a UK government funded programme that brings together young people to help fight poverty overseas. With support through ICS, Y Care International sent volunteers to work with local YMCAs in Senegal.

Hannah and the other volunteers worked on a number of projects, including helping ChildFund to distribute shoes, interviewing beneficiaries of Comic Relief Funding and helping a group of disabled entrepreneurs with their soap-making business.

The photographs in this exhibition are just a small selection of those taken during Hannah's involvement in the project. They show many of the beneficiaries of the aid that was provided and include charming pictures of the the young children assisted in their education and supplied with footwear.

The printing for the exhibition was funded by the society, using a bequest made many years ago by Arthur Hutchinson to encourage and support young photographers. The mounting of the exhibition was a joint venture by society members. In addition to Hannah, Jill Flower who originated the idea and arranged printing and Cass Elbourne who used her graphics design skills to arrange the images and prepare them for printing.

Photographs taken on the opening night are shown below.

Hannah McGettrick                 Hannah, Jill Flower and Cass Elbourne    Photos by Peter Flower

These are just a few of the photographs in the exhibition.

© All Senegal photographs copyright of Hannah McGettrick

Note: The exhibition has a limited run until midday on Tuesday 24 November 2015.

 

Smartphone technology leads again

Techman

For quite some time the majority of DSLR cameras have failed to keep pace with technical innovations that have appeared elsewhere. New features to add capability or that aid the picture taking process seem to come with the latest smartphone. Whilst outright quality could still be expected from a DSLR the smartphone is more convenient to carry and use, together with providing images that satisfy most needs. The small sensors in smartphones limit the ultimate picture quality, especially in low-light conditions. However, improvements in sensor technology, the use of inbuilt HDR capability and (for one maker) the latest development in electronic flash promise to close the quality gap.

The smartphones introducing this new flash technique are the Nokia Lumia 950 and 950 XL models which were launched on 6 October by Microsoft.

In addition to an innovative flash system, described later, the overall specification is very attractive. The rear-facing PureView camera has a 20-megapixel advanced BSI sensor. (BSI sensors provide improved low-light performance compared to previous designs) The camera has an f/1.9 Zeiss lens complete with optical stabilisation. There is a top sensitivity of ISO 12,800, an ability to record in RAW and 4K video as well. The phone also has a 5-megapixel wide-angle front-facing camera. However, the feature that stands out is the new flash technology.

One of the problems of using flash is that the colour temperature of the light (usually at the blue end of the spectrum to match daylight) may not match that of the ambient light in the scene. The Nokia system overcomes this problem. As can be seen from the above image the flash unit consists of three LED components. These are red, green and blue. Automatic selective firing enables the output to automatically match the colours of the ambient light. This means that if you’re taking a photo outside at twilight the flash will produce a blue light to complement the bluish colour of the scene. If you are taking a photo of a candlelit dinner the flash will adjust to expose candlelight.

The following photographs, taken from a Blog of 16 October 2015 by Juha Alakarhu, Director, cameras for phones at Microsoft, show how it also works very well in daytime as a fill-in flash. This is a photo of his sister. It was a bit of a grey day, but he used the flash to add some sparkle. The first image, captured from a computer screen, is of the photograph as shown on the Blog. The second is one that has been created by enlarging a portion to show the excellent detail within that image.

Image captured from the Blog of Juha Alakarhu, Microsoft

 

Leica SL – Typ 601

Peter Flower

This camera, announced on 20 October 2015, is Leica's first full-frame mirrorless camera with autofocus. Leica calls this an L-mount which supports both SL (full-frame, weather-sealed) and TL (crop) lenses and depends on the lens for image stabilization. The SL uses a 24 megapixel CMOS sensor, similar to that found in the Leica Q, together with the company's latest Maestro II processor and a 49-point contrast detect AF system. The SL is built out of solid aluminium and is unusual in that it has virtually no "hard" buttons. Instead, buttons can be customized to handle nearly any function. It has an ISO range of 50-50000 and saves its Raw files in DNG format. Burst shooting is an impressive 11 fps. The shutter speed range of 60 - 1/8000 sec with an x-sync speed of 1/250 sec. 4K video can be at both 4096 x 2160 (24p) and 3840 x 2160 (30p). Other features include a touch-screen LCD panel, dual SD card slots (one of which supports UHS-II), USB 3.0, Wi-Fi, and GPS. Initially, just one L-mount lens, the Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-90mm F2.8-4 ASPH, will be available but further ones are in the pipeline. These features alone make it one of the most exciting Leica cameras to be announced, but the feature that commentators regard as most significant is the electronic viewfinder, which the company brands as 'EyeRes'. This is a 4.4 million dot electronic viewfinder, which has a magnification of 0.80x - larger than that of the Canon EOS 1D X or Nikon D4S. Reports say that the resolution is amazing.

Comment: Leica is a conservative company, renowned for the superb quality of its cameras and lenses. As reported in previous Newsletters it has not made a trouble-free transition from its legendary film cameras of the past into the provision of class-leading digital models. Even their most enthusiastic fans have experienced frustration due to technical problems with some models. Whether true or not, Leica normally appeared to be introducing new developments or features much later than other companies. As an example, it has only recently made the transition to the use of CMOS sensors rather than CCD ones. (It can be argued that CCD is superior in many respects, but Leica remained out of step with all other manufacturers)

With the introduction of the Typ 601 Leica has incorporated most of what have come to be regarded as the leading-edge features currently available on competitive models from other manufacturers. The incorporation of a really high resolution electronic viewfinder is indicative of its intention to market a professional grade full-frame camera to challenge the conventional DSLR cameras with optical finders.

 

And finally . . . . . . .

Peter Flower

The following image was inspired by my recent brief 15 minute talk on the subject 'Taking Another Point Of View' and the close-up photograph of a donkey by Darren Pullman (published in Newsletter No. 74).

I would like to claim that this was taken after a strenuous climb into the highest pastures of the Engadine, in Switzerland, with a local mountain guide during a recent holiday. Jill and I were taking the rail journey over the Bernina Pass down to Italy. We did in fact trek on mountain paths at over 2400 metres (8000 feet). However, I have to admit that the shot was taken simply by pointing my camera at a very large print on a wall in the Hotel Rosatsch at Pontresina !!