Dateline 29 April 2016

May Savage

It was with regret that we learnt of the recent death of May, who had been a member of the society for almost 33 years. It is the intention to publish a tribute to May in the next Newsletter, with contributions from those who knew her. Marion Gatland is in touch with the family and it is hoped to obtain a small collection of her photographic prints to display at a future exhibition.

Peter Flower

British Wild Flowers – 11 April 2016 - John Negus

Report by Peter Flower

John Negus

John trained at Wisley Gardens and Merrist Wood Horticultural colleges. He enjoys sharing his passion for gardening and other outdoor pursuits, giving regular lectures on a variety of subjects associated with these. In addition, he broadcasts regularly on Radio Surrey and Sussex and contributes articles to magazines such as ‘Woman’s Weekly’. His CV also mentions answering e-mail and ‘snail-mail’ queries for ‘Amateur Gardening’. This last reference will give a clue to John's sense of humour!

Although John's projected images were proceeded by the title given above, the talk is listed on his web site as Wild about flowers with the description 'British wild flowers and where to see them. A fun presentation involving the audience in naming a host of the most striking native species we have.'

I apologise for yet again prefacing one of my reports with the term ”And now for something completely different” but I think that it is appropriate in this case. No mention of camera equipment, no mention of photographic techniques or any suggestion of it being a travelogue about some exotic destination. On the face of it just a series of wild flower images. However, we were soon disabused of any thoughts that we would sit quietly whilst watching a visual catalogue of flowers flash by in sequence, many which we might recognise but almost certainly not be able to name.

After a brief introduction John launched into the process whereby he split the audience into Teams A and B (either side of the central aisle) and, as indicated in his talk description, began asking for identification of the wild flower images that he showed. With John at the helm nobody, but nobody, nods off! With each species that was identified John added comment about such matters as the time of year that it flowered, where it might be found, the type of soil that it liked and sun or shade, plus the occasional Latin name thrown in for good measure. I must admit that my knowledge of flowers and plants, especially names, is fairly limited. I admire their beauty and have fond memories of times long past when there seemed to be a greater abundance of wild flowers in the countryside. However, almost certainly like other members of the audience, I found myself Increasingly absorbed by John's infectious enthusiasm about wild flowers and his encyclopedic knowledge on all aspects of his subject. Unfortunately, I cannot recall any images of daisies and dandelions being shown, so could not show my extensive knowledge of wild flowers by leaping in with an immediate identification!

One of the themes of John's talk was the way in which the flowers were affected by man and changes to the habitat. As one example, woodlands which had previously harboured our own delicate native bluebells had increasingly been taken over by Spanish bluebells or suffered hybridisation.

© Copyright John Negus – Bluebells

The importation of foreign species needed careful thought. John mentioned a lady who had brought a monkey orchid back from abroad. She had 'rescued' it (!) from a location where a new road-building scheme was under way.

© Copyright John Negus - Monkey Orchid

The use of insecticides and removal of hedgerows had also had an adverse affect. Changes to grazing could also be significant. The field of snakeshead fritillaries (photographed at a field near Stratfield Saye and Mortimer, near Reading) could not remain if grazing was allowed at the wrong time. (The second photograph was taken in my own garden) By the same token, many delicate flowers could not survive if grazing at the proper time did not control otherwise rampant weeds that would take over.

© Copyright John Negus - Snakeshead Fritillaries                    © Copyright Peter Flower

John mentioned a number of locations where particular species could be found in significant numbers. As an example, Kew had raised some lady's slipper orchids which were moved to a secret limestone-paving site near Silverdale, Lancs. Closer to home, there was a roundabout at the end of the Hogs Back where large numbers of cowslips could be found in the spring.

© Copyright John Negus - Cowslips

He also mentioned wild garlic which abounds on the Two Hangers Way walk from Alton to Petersfield. Later in the talk he mentioned Malham and the walk to Janet's Foss waterfall. Jill and I have visited this several times and the wooded area is full of wild garlic. However, the following image which I took is much nearer to home at Hatchlands Park, near Guildford, that we visited recently.

© Copyright Peter Flower

The following image was obtained by doing something which is much frowned upon - picking wild flowers. John wanted a photograph of meadow cranesbill but could not find a convenient grouping. One flower is still in situ, but the other two are in the grasp of a hand which is just out of shot at the bottom of the picture!

© Copyright John Negus - Meadow Cranesbill

Here are just two more of John's images -

                                            © Copyright John Negus - Sea Holly                                   Teasel

The second part of the talk was largely illustrated by images from the Chelsea Flower Show. It has to be said that much of the fun was lost because John had put labels on the images, thus denying us the challenge of identifying the flower species and shouting out the names! Chelsea is renowned for the magnificently arranged displays of flowers, often of a particular species. This is illustrated by the following display stand of lupins.

© Copyright John Negus – Lupins at Chelsea Flower Show

(Coincidentally, a photograph of lupins in their natural habitat in New Zealand which won the International Garden Photographer of the Year 2015 competition has featured in recent magazines. Refer to the following report.)

However, the Chelsea show is not limited to displaying flowers, as shown by these photographs of well-organised vegetables.

© Copyright John Negus – Vegetable displays at Chelsea Flower Show

It is difficult within the limitations of this report to comment on all of the of the matters discussed. These ranged from dealing with the threat of snails, which gave rise to a hilarious suggestion about improving the effectiveness of copper wire as a barrier by connecting to the mains (!), to John's advice on plant watering. Despite his years of experience he admitted that he didn't always get things right. Such things as weather and soil conditions could defeat the intentions of even the best gardener. However, his main message was that greater knowledge would enable everyone to appreciate the profusion of wild flowers that surrounded us and to enjoy those in our own gardens.

John's lively talk successfully mixed facts with a good deal of humorous anecdotes. This was a most entertaining evening, filled with images of the wild flowers that can be enjoyed in our countryside and information about them.

Richard Bloom – Tekapo Lupins

Peter Flower

© Copyright Richard Bloom – Tekapo Lupins

International Garden Photographer of the Year 2015 winning image

As commented upon in the previous report I coincidentally came upon this superb image in EOS magazine. Richard Bloom is a Suffolk-based professional photographer but the photograph was taken near Lake Tekapo on the South Island of New Zealand in early summer. The image was taken using a Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera with EF 24-70mm f/2.8 USM lens. As reported in EOS magazine Richard commented “The landscape was already amazing, scattered with drifts of naturalised lupins, which gave an almost psychedelic, wonderful feel. The banks of this stream were bristling with masses of different coloured lupins stretching toward the distant hills and out of shot to the west, giving the sense that they went on forever.”

I am indebted to Richard who gave his permission to reproduce this stunning image in our Newsletter. More of Richard's images can be viewed at his web site -

http://www.richardbloom.co.uk/

More winning images from the competition can be viewed at this site -

http://www.igpoty.com/

 

BRBAC exhibition – 14-16 April 2016 at the Harlequin Centre in Redhill

PF

Congratulations to the winners of the public vote at the BRBAC exhibition. We received over 200 public votes. Best pictures were chosen as Paul Renaut’s Red Kite and Mick Higgs' Honey Bee. These were equal first, each receiving 16 votes. Jill Flower's Latvian Snowstorm was a close runner-up with 14 votes.

© Copyright Paul Renaut - Red Kite                                 © Copyright Mick Higgs - Honey Bee

© Copyright Jill Flower - Latvian Snowstorm

Thank you to everyone who helped with stewarding, and especially to Colin for a smooth operation.

Attendance at the exhibition was fairly low during the earlier part of each day, but large numbers looked around at the time of the evening performances. Les Dyson provided the following image of crowds at one time! (Note: Although they are all crowding around some of Les's images he still did not win the public vote!)

© Copyright Les Dyson

 

Action This Day

Members are reminded that a new photographic challenge is being organised by Stephen Hewes. The challenge is to take a picture every day for 100 days. The pictures will be uploaded to a common Flickr group site. The challenge will commence on Saturday 7 May 2016, which coincides with the meeting at Denbies for an annual lunch.

If you wish to participate in this event please contact Stephen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so that he can invite you to the Flickr group.

Then and Now

Peter Flower

Members who have been in Reigate High Street recently will probably be aware of the large painted panel, looking rather like an old black and white photograph, on the side wall of Boots Chemists shop. The painting was done by artist Adam Green and was inspired by a photograph of Reigate High Street, 1911, from the Francis Frith Collection. I photographed this, and the current view of the High Street, today. Unfortunately, due to present traffic conditions, it was not possible to get exactly the same angle. However, it is interesting to be able to identify quite a few of the buildings that have survived the town's development within the intervening 105 years. In earlier times there was two-way traffic in the High Street. This remained in place until the early 60s. Not immediately obvious to the casual observer is that the corner 'towers' at roof level on the old Town Hall have been removed. Whilst taking the photograph I got into conversation with a lady who was also admiring the painting. I mentioned Reigate Photographic Society and she then told me that she was the daughter of Malcolm Pendrill. Malcolm was a professional photographer based in the town and gave a number of talks to our society.

Photographs by Peter Flower

As mentioned above, two-way traffic operated in the town centre until the early 60s but the situation became so chaotic that the current one-way system was introduced. An example of the chaos can be seen in the photograph, which appears to have been taken from the old Town Hall, that I obtained from the web.

Lens calibration for DSLRs

Techman

In a previous report in Newsletter No. 70 (which in turn referred back to a problem with Nikon cameras in Newsletter No. 67) there was mention of the fact that really accurate focusing on DSLR cameras required individual lens calibration. This is because there may be minor, but significant, variations in the alignment of the mirror systems that direct light to the separate focus sensor. (This problem does not apply to mirror-less cameras, or if the live view system is used. In both these cases focus is measured directly from the image sensor)

Anyone interested in the subject can obtain fuller information from the following web site -

https://photographylife.com/how-to-calibrate-lenses

As can be seen from this article the calibration process is time-consuming. Nikon has just announced a new facility, termed AF Fine Tune, which is available for their latest models, the D5 and D500, which makes the process easier. There is no news about possible updates for the firmware in older models. Detailed information and a video about the new process is available on the DP Review site at the following link -

http://www.dpreview.com/news/3468248279/nikons-automated-af-fine-tune-explained

 

Earthquakes in Japan

Techman

Press releases from two companies give an indication of the disruption caused by earthquakes in the Kumamoto region in recent times. The first is from Sony which is a major supplier of image sensors. The second is from Nikon which uses Sony sensors in many of its models.

Sony press release - 18 April 2016

Operations at Sony Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation's Kumamoto Technology Center (located in Kikuchi Gun, Kumamoto Prefecture), which primarily manufactures image sensors for digital cameras and security cameras as well as micro-display devices, were halted after the earthquake on April 14, and currently remain suspended. Damage to the site's building and manufacturing lines is currently being evaluated, and with aftershocks continuing, the timeframe for resuming operations has yet to be determined.

Nikon press release - 20 April 2016

The new Nikon compact digital cameras, COOLPIX A300 and B500 will be available in May 2016, the COOLPIX A900 and B700 will arrive in July 2016 and the Nikon KeyMission 360 action camera will be available in October 2016 as more time is required for software adjustment.

The new COOLPIX products were originally scheduled for release in April and the KeyMission 360 action camera was announced for a spring 2016 release.

In addition, the premium compact cameras, Nikon DL18-50 f/1.8-2.8, DL24-85 f/1.8-2.8, and DL24-500 f/2.8-5.6, will be delayed due to the serious issues with the integrated circuit for image processing built into the three new premium compact cameras, originally scheduled for a June 2016 release.

miggo Kickstarter project for iPhones

Techman

On 20 April 2016 miggo issued a press release for a proposed new camera grip, called 'Pictar' to enable better control of the camera functions on Apple iPhones.

A slightly edited version of their press release follows -

'Key features of Pictar include:

- Five user programmable wheels/buttons for full user control.

- Ergonomic grip for one handed use.

- Revolutionary communication between hardware and App via ultrasonic sounds.

- Compatibility with most iPhone models (4-6s and planned support for future models).

- Control over iPhone camera features not possible in the native App.

While the digital camera incorporated in each new generation of the iPhone has improved dramatically, what has stayed the same since its introduction is the way consumers hold the device and navigate its features and settings. With that in mind, when it comes to taking a photo, it’s not very ergonomic and simply does not compare to the traditional experience offered by that of a dedicated DSLR. Advanced shooters welcome a DSLR’s physical controls which put frequently used settings right at their fingertips - something Pictar was designed specifically to replicate. By bringing these physical controls to the iPhone, Pictar offers unprecedented control and transforms the way they use it to take photos and video.

As the adage goes, the best camera you have is the one you have with you,” said Guy Sprukt, co-founder of miggo. “It’s no secret that one of the most popular smartphones in the world is also one of the most widely used digital cameras. The image quality of the phone can rival that of some of the best digital cameras on the market. With Pictar, we’re looking to give users – whether they be professionals or social shutterbugs -- the ability to DSLR their iPhone and completely unleash its full potential.”'

Comment – Perhaps the most unusual feature of this device is the use of ultrasonic sounds, rather than conventional wi-fi, Bluetooth or NFC, to pass signals from the Pictar camera grip to the phone. Whilst these sounds will be outside the range of human hearing it will be interesting to see the effect on dogs or bats!

(For some reason, best known to themselves, the company insists on not using a capital letter in the company name, which is why we have used italics in this article)

New Hasselblad models – H6D-100c and H6D-50c

Techman

In Newsletter No. 77 we featured the introduction of the Phase One 100MP back for its modular XF medium format camera system. There are now competitors, in the nature of two new models from Hasselblad. This company has added the H6D range to its medium-format line-up, offering the H6D-100c with 100MP CMOS sensor and 4K video along with the H6D-50c with 50MP CMOS sensor. The H6D system offers a new, faster processor, a 3" 920k-dot touchscreen monitor, dual card slots, built-in Wi-Fi and USB 3.0 connectivity. With 50MP the H6D-50c claims 14 stops of dynamic range and is capable of 2.5 fps continuous shooting. Both cameras offer full HD video capability, and include mini HDMI and audio I/O ports. Hasselblad has updated its H series of lenses to support a top 1/2000sec shutter speed when used with the H6D system. The H6D-100c includes 4K/UHD video recording in a proprietary Hasselblad RAW format. The 100MP variant also provides a higher ISO range up to 12800, continuous shooting at 1.5 fps and claims 15 stops of dynamic range.

As might be anticipated, the prices are slightly above the average keen amateur photographer's budget! The Hasselblad H6D-50c will cost £21,480. The H6D-100c is priced at £27,120.

The announcement of these new models, to add to existing ones in the range, marks a significant point in forward plans for Hasselblad. Looking back at Newsletters 64 and 65 readers will be reminded of what can be regarded as an unfortunate experiment by the company to launch lower-priced models in a different segment of the market place. These were models such as the 'Stellar' and 'Lunar' that were rebadged versions of existing Sony cameras. These could only be described as 'bling' models, priced well above that of the Sony cameras on which they were based.

And Finally . . . . . .

American astronaut Buzz Aldrin may not have been the first man on the moon, but at least, he had the accolade of taking the first space selfie. Tweeting about it years later, the famed Nasa spaceman wrote, 'Did you know I took the first space selfie during Gemini 12 Mission in 1966? BEST SELFIE EVER.'

Acknowledgement - Photograph courtesy of NASA