Dateline 24 May 2016

May Savage – A Tribute

Peter Flower

It was on 2 April 2016 that members received an email from Carol Hicks informing us of May's death. She was relaying a message that she had received from Marion Gatland who was on holiday at the time - “I have just had an email from May's family. May passed away on Friday. She had been staying in a nursing home in Banstead and was taken ill with her breathing. She was taken to Epsom hospital on Thursday and passed away on Friday with her family around her. I have been in Cornwall all week and phoned her from there on Tuesday. At that time she was in fine form, moaning about the other residents, saying this place is full of old people.”

Although May had suffered a number of illnesses over recent years this announcement came as a shock to all of us. Our condolences go out to the family members. It is hoped that in this brief tribute we capture the spirit of someone who was for so long a part of our lives.

Many years ago I prepared a number of 'Profile' articles on some of our longer-term members. May was the subject of one of these. They were an in-depth study of the person's life as well as their photographic interests and involvement in the society. Sadly, this article was done too long ago to be still in my personal archives. It would have made the basis for a detailed review of May's involvement with the society. What follows is a small collection of memories together with some personal tributes by myself and two other members who were long-term friends.

I am indebted to Lester Hicks who painstakingly trawled through the records in order to research the extent of May's involvement in the society's activities. May was a fairly quiet person who did not seek the limelight, so with the passing of time it was all too easy to forget her extensive and valuable contributions in this respect.

May joined the Society on 7th May 1983, making her membership one month short of 33 years. Within a year, in May 1984, she joined the committee as a member of the Selection sub-Committee. At the 1986 AGM she took on the role of Syllabus (i.e. Programme) Secretary. 1987 was a particularly busy year. At the summer garden party at Reg. Seale’s home May provided croquet, crazy golf and a darts board. In November she expressed concern about her workload. In addition to running the Programme she was organizing the Annual Dinner and running the membership side. At the 1988 AGM she stood down as Syllabus/Programme Secretary but remained on the committee, clearly still very active in a range of support functions. In March 1989 she became involved in looking for alternative venues for Society meetings. She seems to have left Committee in 1990. However, she returned in 1993, and remained on it until 2002.

Lester also comments about other matters. Prior to our winning of the Albany Cup competition in 2012, mentioned elsewhere, we had also won it in two consecutive years, 1993 and 1994. In that second year May arranged for the display of the Albany Cup prints at Brewers (the company that provided the trophy). In 1996 she organised external print displays at East Surrey Hospital and Paul Whiteman Opticians. Although she continued work on the committee from early 1995 onwards she had to cope with the increasing ill-health of her husband and she was briefly in hospital herself in Spring of 1998. From 2002 onwards, outside the committee, she continued to participate actively whenever she could despite her own deteriorating health. The evidence of the 2012 Albany Cup triumph confirms that she could still produce outstanding work.

Looking back on this record, it is a truly humbling reminder of the debt that the society owes to May.

Marion Gatland, one of her closest friends, enjoyed May's company both within the society activities and outside. She contributes the following heartfelt comments on that long-lasting friendship.

I first met May when I joined Reigate Photographic Society in 1990. She was one of the first people to welcome me. We sat together most weeks and she encouraged me to enter my first slide into a competition, which I won. From then on our friendship blossomed and she was always giving me help and encouragement. When I said I would like to do some black and white printing she took me into her darkroom and taught me to print. Nothing was too much trouble for her. She was only too pleased to help.

Over the years she had served on the committee doing several different jobs. She was an excellent publicity secretary, walking all round town advertising the club and getting shops to put fliers in their windows. When new members joined she was first to greet them and make them welcome. May was always happy to help.

Black and white photography was her passion and she would go on many courses, one of which was on the subject of nude photography, not studio but in the woodlands, producing some tasteful images.

Reproduced below are some example of the photographs that May took on these courses, all in natural outdoor settings

   © Copyright May Savage    Evening Light                                                         Waiting In The Wood

                          Emma                                                                                        Woodland Family

                              Repose                                       Michael                                   Sarah In The Old Shed

       © Copyright May Savage                                   Frog Princess

May was a staunch CND supporter and went on many peace rallies and marches. She was at one time a headmistress and loved children and teaching.

These street photography images were taken during some protest marches that she attended

      © Copyright May Savage         Veteran                                                       Trio In Trafalgar Square

We would always go on photographic trips together, whether it was society or U3A ones, with Roger, my husband, as chauffeur. Roger and I were members of the metal detecting group. When she found out she used to come with us and be the first one on her hands and knees digging to find if we had found anything interesting. May also loved her archaeology and went on many digs.

She was not in favour of digital photography but eventually did get a digital camera. We spent many afternoons helping her putting her photos onto her PC. She would be the first to admit that she never did get the hang of it.

May became a very good friend I miss her very much. Roger and I miss our afternoon tea and biscuits. She always made sure there were chocolate biscuits for Roger.

A lovely lady who will be missed by all her family and friends.

Jill Flower takes up this tribute with her own memories and the story of May's contribution to a recent triumph in an inter-club competition.

I have known May since she joined the society 33 years ago. May was a lovely kind and helpful person whose company I enjoyed very much. I always looked forward to seeing her at meetings or on outings and social events. May was a really interesting and thoughtful person and good fun to be with.

A few years ago I was co-ordinating the club entry for the Albany Cup, an inter-club competition. I remembered one of May’s large black and white prints of two statues and a man at a bus stop in Docklands from some years back. I went round and spent a happy afternoon looking through pictures and selecting the image I wanted. This image was the key for the panel which we put in and won the competition. In fact this was the first time we had won in many years.

                   © May Savage – Bus Stop, Canary Wharf                                          Albany Cup panel

I miss May very much. She was always so caring and a force for good as well as a great photographer. An hour spent in May's company was never wasted.

Peter Flower – As mentioned before, May was a superb photographer. She concentrated mainly on black and white photography. Over the years she produced a great number of award-winning prints, some of which are reproduced in this article. The following collage shows some of her landscape pictures from very different locations.

                                      Solway Firth In Winter                                      Approaching Storm

                                  Surf At Sorento Peninsula         © Copyright May Savage

The prints were produced by conventional darkroom techniques and this continued even when digital photography had become almost universally adopted by most photographers. In the most friendly way I used to rib May about her 'Luddite' tendencies. An example of this comes from a report that I wrote in the Newsletter on 20 March 2010. This was after a spell of illness when she had not been at meetings for some time.

More recently, May Savage has also made a welcomed return. May is another long-term member, renowned for her excellent black and white photographic prints. She is a die-hard film photographer, using trusty Olympus OM series 35mm cameras. Having said that she is a traditionalist, it has to be reported that she was once persuaded by her friend Marion Gatland to try out her digital camera. This was some time ago and, perhaps not unsurprisingly, May was NOT convinced that the new technology was for her! Now that she has returned it is to be hoped that we will once again have the benefit of experiencing what the traditional camera can produce in the hands of an experienced artist.

In a report that I wrote in March 2011 it seemed that May, whilst still not abandoning her conventional approach, was making a tentative step towards digital techniques -

May had relatively recently made the conversion from 'traditional' photography, using film and her trusty Olympus OM camera, to the digital world.

May won so many awards in competitions with her photographs over the years. There are others who have been just as successful but for me the significant factor about May's images is that they were so memorable. Marion, with the agreement of family members, was able to select a number of May's prints which we intend to mount in an exhibition. Looking through them, and re-photographing them to include in this article, I remembered the first time that I had seen them, despite the intervening years.

There are so many happy memories of the time spent in May's company. She was such an unassuming and gentle person, although as we know she held very strong opinions on subjects such as nuclear warfare. The important thing was that she did not openly voice these in the society environment. I will miss our gentle banter about her 'Luddite' tendencies, but hold fond memories of our friendship.

Like so many photographers May was more often behind the camera rather than in front of it. However, Marion was able to find the following two images which reflect May's character and her intense love of the younger generation. The individual photograph was taken by Marion at a U3A event. The group shot shows May with her great niece, Milly, and great nephew, Alex. These images are a happy reminder of the May that we knew and provide a fitting ending to this tribute.

Note: The photographic images that are reproduced in this article are just a very small sample of May's work. They have been re-photographed from the original prints which were sizeable enlargements. As such, and reproduced on computer screens, they cannot do full justice to the quality of the originals. All are © Copyright of May Savage.


Mention was made of May's photograph (Bus Stop, Canary Wharf) around which we based our panel entry for the Albany Cup. As explained before, this was a conventional print produced in the darkroom. This picture had been entered in a previous internal print competition. The judge studied this in detail and then made a statement along the lines, “It's a pity the bus stop is so close to the head on the left. It would be so much better if it was separated a bit further. That would be so easy to do in Photoshop”!

Just how important May's photograph was to our success can be seen from my report at that time -

Albany Cup Competition - Judged by Ken Scott ARPS - 20 February 2012

(A Tale of Suspense, and SUCCESS !)

Postscript – Looking at the engraving on the Albany Cup after the event we were able to see that we last won it in two consecutive years, 1993 and 1994.

Our society has been a regular contender, sadly without success in recent years. Members may remember that Jill Flower presented some ideas about potential entries at a meeting earlier in the year. Various themes had been explored,with most of them centred on ideas such as bronzes, statues or mannequins. For those involved in the preparation of the competition entry (Jill, Gerry Stone and myself) the concept of bronze statues was favoured, and this was endorsed by the general membership at that meeting. The thought had originated with Jill's recollection of May Savage's memorable 'Bus Stop, Canary Wharf' which would form an excellent starting point for a set of pictures on the chosen theme. There then took place a lot of agonising over the choice of another three, and editing them to form attractive individual images as well as a cohesive combination.

There was an immediate problem in that May's picture was a genuine 'silver' print, and unfortunately the original negative could not be located. This meant that it had to remain as it was and the other three digital images had to be made a close match. Jill carried out some skilful work on two of the images, entitled 'Brotherhood' (by myself) and her own 'Silent Witness'. These had to be converted from their original colour to form 'punchy' black and white images. The fourth image 'Chinese Chequers' was by Gerry Stone, originally taken on negative film and then digitally scanned. From this point Gerry took over the process of printing, which took some skill in order to match the appearance of the digital ones to May's original, and framing to a standard size. The panel name of 'Metalmorphoasis' was chosen.

Saturday Lunch at Denbies – 7 May 2016

Peter Flower

About twenty members attended this event which replaced the annual dinner. This had two purposes in that it replaced the normal monthly Saturday morning natter, but also marked the start of the 100 Day challenge for those who were going to participate. A number of tables had been reserved to ensure that members would be able to congregate together because the Denbies restaurant is a popular venue for visitors at the weekend. Vivienne Gordon-Graham, one of the newer members, had her camera on hand and took the following photograph of just four of us who were present for the lunch.

                                                             Photo by Vivienne Gordon-Graham


Photo Safari – 9 May 2016 – Organised by Jill Flower

Report by Peter Flower

This was the first of two fun events that were held at the close of our conventional programme. Members had been asked to bring their cameras with them. In the first part of the evening members were given the challenge of going out around the immediate area of the town, mainly Priory Park and the High Street, in order to photograph any of four very generalised subjects. From the word 'Go' they set off in all directions in small groups. A report of the event would not be complete without mention of THE WINDOW. (If you do not already know the story of Stephen Hewes' acquisition of this object with its distorted glass panes, and the reason why, he will be happy to explain!) A small group of us followed Stephen, rather like the Pied Piper, as he and prospective new member Irik trundled this object to the Cage Yard, onto the High Street and up into the Castle grounds.

Numerous photographs were taken in the Cage Yard, much to the amusements of drinkers in the bar. Then we went up to the High Street and across it. This must be the first time that traffic has been held up by a moving window! The following photographs are just a few taken on this intrepid trek.

Photographs – Jill Flower – Distorted view of chairs and tables in the Cage Yard. Peter Flower - Holding up the traffic, and Irik reflecting on the madness of helping to carry a window around Reigate.

Returning to the hall at about 9 o'clock members were able to enjoy refreshments whilst Jill undertook the task of loading up chosen images from the memory cards of the participants. Then these were shown, without any entrant identification, for the members to judge. The favourite two images were chosen and then the scores totted up by Mike Weekes, Carol and Lester Hicks.

The winning images and some others, selected at random, are shown below.

                                      Winner – Lester Hicks                        Joint second – Peter Tucker

                                             Joint second – Carol Hicks          Third – Carol Hicks

Different Images (Pros and Cons) – 16 May 2016 – Organised by John Fisher

Report by Peter Flower

This was the second of two audience participation evenings. The idea, dreamt up by John, was to provide a 'slightly different' evening. Members were invited to submit, in advance via Dropbox, any unusual images that they might hesitate to enter into normal competition. These would be provide a gallery for other members to study in advance and to let John know if they would like to provide a critique – for or against any particular images. The idea was that all submissions would be anonymous. After any comments were made the photographer had the option to reveal him or herself or to remain anonymous. This was a truly fascinating event. Some images brought out very polarised opinions from members of the audience whilst others were the subject of fairly unanimous appraisals. Perhaps what was most noticeable was a general lack of nit-picking on specific aspects of the images (not observing rules of thirds, bright points in the corners etc) that are often involved in conventional judging of our competitions. It did show the value of consensus evaluations. In many respects this is similar to the public or popular votes that we call for at exhibitions. Those can be criticised for favouring what can be regarded as more conventional images, but given greater acceptance by society members of more 'way-out' ones the outcome can be fairly reliable.

A number of images shown on the evening, chosen at random, are shown in the following two collages.


Leica M-D - Turning Back The Clock


Leica has announced a new M digital rangefinder camera that has no LCD panel. The Leica M-D (Typ 262) will be almost exactly the same as the existing M (Typ 262) but without a rear screen for reviewing images and working the menu.

The company says it has produced a camera with only the ‘essentials of photography’, or ‘Das Wescentliche’, and that it will help photographers concentrate on the important elements of image making rather than getting distracted with the camera functions. This isn’t the first time Leica has produced a digital M with no rear screen, as the company launched the limited edition M Edition 60 to mark the sixtieth anniversary of its rangefinder camera system. Leica made only 600 of these models and they sell for about £12,000, but the M-D (Typ 262) will be the first full production model without a rear LCD.

This new model will feature the standard 24MP CMOS sensor, will have an ISO range of 200-6400, and will have brass base and top plates. The viewfinder has bright-frame markings for 35/135mm, 28/90mm and 50/75mm lenses. The body has no traditional red dot as Leica says it wants the camera to be discrete, and the single frame mode uses a particularly quiet shutter cocking system. Users will have control only of aperture, shutter speed and ISO settings, and the camera records in DNG Raw format only.

The Leica M-D (Typ 262) is due to go on sale with a price of £4650. The M (Typ 262), which does feature a rear screen, actually costs less, at £4050, but it doesn’t have the quiet shutter or brass top and bottom plates.

The promotional tag line on the Leica web site reads - 'A step back to the future'.

Instant Pictures – The Polaroid Story

Peter Flower

Reading the above article it is difficult to understand the apparently perverse logic of providing a model with less facilities at a higher price (ignoring minor construction details). It is understandable that Leica want to simplify matters by removing the ability to control camera settings via a menu system. However, it is difficult to understand why a photographer would choose to abandon the capability of checking the image when this facility is available on just about every other camera or smartphone on the market. The ability to see the taken image as soon as possible has been an aim for camera makers since the inception of photography. The concept of a camera in which the photographs are processed, and can be viewed quickly, date back to the very earliest days of photography. In 1839 Fox Talbot recorded in his notebook a suggestion for a daguerreotype camera in which a hot iron bar could be inserted in a special plate-holder containing mercury, so that the mercury vapour could develop the image as as it was formed on the plate. Other suggestions involved in-camera baths of developing fluid, in effect turning the camera into a mobile darkroom. Perhaps, fortunately, these concepts did not become commercially viable.

The breakthrough was to come in 1947, due to the genius of Edwin Land. This followed a vacation in New Mexico late in 1943 when the fundamental ideas for instant photography came into his head. The inspiration came from his daughter Jennifer. She was 3 years old.

Dr. Land wrote afterwards "I recall a sunny day in Santa Fe when my little daughter asked why she could not see at once the picture I had just taken of her. As I walked around the charming town I undertook the task of solving the puzzle she had set me. Within an hour, the camera, the film and the physical chemistry became so clear to me." A little more than three years later, on February 21, 1947, Land demonstrated an instant camera and associated film to the Optical Society of America. Called the Land Camera, it was on commercial sale less than two years later.

             Edwin Land, with a Polaroid self-portrait from an adapted view camera, that was shown to the Society

Polaroid originally manufactured sixty units of the first Model 95 camera. Fifty-seven (including one demonstration model) were put up for sale at the Jordan Marsh department store in Boston before the 1948 Christmas holiday. Polaroid marketers incorrectly guessed that the camera and film would remain in stock long enough to manufacture a second run based on customer demand. All fifty-seven cameras and all of the film were sold on the first day of demonstrations. The Polaroid Land Camera Model 95 sold for $89.75.

                                                   Polaroid 95 and Subsequent 95A models

The following diagram shows the internal workings of the camera.

The process entailed exposing the film and then developing the negative at the same time that the print was made. A system of rollers squeezed the exposed film up against the paper that was to become the print. As they were pulled through the rollers broke open a small sealed pod attached to the paper. The pod held developing chemicals that the rollers spread between the negative and the paper as a sandwich's spread is applied. At first the system yielded sepia images, but in 1950 it was altered so that the pictures came out in black and white. The Model 95 Land camera became the prototype for all Polaroid Land cameras produced during next 15 years.

From the beginning sales increases were amazing. In 1949 photographic sales of the Land Model 95 exceeded $5 million. In the period 1950 to 1954 sales exceeded $23 million and over 4,000 dealers in the US alone were selling Polaroid cameras, films and accessories.

Just a few statistics indicate the explosive sales growth: 1950 - 1 millionth roll of film produced: 1956 - 1 millionth camera produced: 1959 - Polaroid expands to Canada and Europe: 1960 - Polaroid expands to Japan: Polaroid products were now distributed in over 45 countries worldwide: 1962 - 4 millionth camera produced: 1963 - 5 millionth camera produced: 1972 - 7.3 million cameras produced: 1973 - 5000 SX-70 cameras per day are produced (plus 50,000 per day SX-70 films): 1974 - Polaroid estimates over 1 billion instant prints made this year. In the 1960's a Polaroid marketing executive estimated that half the households in the United States had acquired Polaroid cameras. In the period from 1948, when the first Polaroid Model 95 was sold, annual sales had risen to $140 million by 1964. Although the following graphics do not contain actual figures it does indicate the scale of Polaroid sales versus imports in 1963. It is also interesting to see the relative values of 35mm cameras, 8mm cine cameras and total Polaroid instant ones. America obviously had a very different photographic market to the one in this country.

A range of models was introduced in the early years, all of which used the same folding camera design. An example is this Polaroid Model 100, introduced in 1963, which was the first fully automatic pack film and exposure control camera.

1963 was also the year in which Polaroid introduced Polacolor, the first instant colour film. Whereas the early models had used roll film the future models utilised a film pack, with cut film and paper, that was loaded into the camera. An exception to this was the stylish and low priced Polaroid Swinger camera which was released in 1965 and was extremely successful with the younger generation. This could produce a black and white photograph in ten seconds. The price was just $19.95. The Swinger was part of a new trend away from folding cameras as can be seen from the following image. Also shown is the simple but ingenious system for exposure control. Below the optical viewfinder there was a second 'window' with a mosaic pattern. When the shutter release was rotated this altered the image in the window until a 'YES' appeared. This indicated the correct exposure.

The camera was announced with a catchy commercial "Meet the Swinger", with the jingle sung by Barry Manilow and featuring a young Ali MacGraw. You may be amused by watching the original commercial at this site -

Referring back to the Model 100, there were a number of succeeding models in the 100 range which were much cheaper because they had plastic bodies and lenses. An interesting feature on the model 104 was the manual focusing system. Rather than a rangefinder it had a single viewfinder window in which markers could be moved to set to the size of a person's head! The following image shows how this appears.

1973 saw the introduction of perhaps the most iconic new model. This was the SX-70.

The SX-70 was a folding Land Camera produced between 1972 and 1974. It was the first instant SLR in history, and the first camera to use Polaroid's new integral print film, which developed automatically without the need for intervention from the photographer. This was revolutionary at the time, and a precursor to the later 600 and Spectra ranges. The camera folded down into a compact form to carry and then sprung up into the shape shown in the image for picture taking. The film pack, which had an integral battery, loaded into the front base of the camera. The prints automatically ejected from the front and developed outside, not needing the previous peeling apart of negative and print. Over the years a number of upgrades were added, including sonar autofocusing and optional flash bars.

It is notable that the leading actor, Sir Laurence Olivier, was used in the advertisement film for this camera. The commercial, which shows the ingenuity of the camera design, can be viewed at this site -

A much simpler model, called the OneStep, with a plastic body and fixed focus lens but using the same film was released in 1978. This became the best-selling camera, instant image or conventional, in the U.S.

The following montage gives an impression of the rash of different designs that were introduced in following years.

In the bottom row can be seen the MiniPortrait camera, used to produce 4 simultaneous passport photographs. Also the 'Wink' electronic flash which could be used as a fill-in light in dark conditions.

An unusual model was the Polaroid I-Zone camera, released in 1999. This produced a print measuring 24mm×36mm (the same size as a 35mm film negative) with an adhesive backing. This was designed to appeal to teenagers who could then stick the resulting photos in albums.

There was even a throw-away camera called the PopShots. This came with an addressed envelope to send the camera back to Polaroid for disposal after it had been used.

The instant camera process was not limited to personal cameras. A limited number of 20 x 24-inch and 40 x 80-inch instant cameras were developed to produce high quality art reproductions for museums. Artists and photographers, including Ansel Adams, Chuck Close, Robert Frank and Andy Warhol were given free access to these cameras in return for some of the prints they produced. From the 70s onwards the Polaroid Collection grew to between 16,000 and 24,000 photos shot by some of the world's greatest photographers.

These images show one of the large studio cameras; a reprint from an original Polaroid negative taken by Ansel Adams of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park; Ansel Adams taking a Polaroid photograph.

An example of the use of the very large format cameras can be seen in the image of Arsenal football team members.

                                                            Image credit: Google Cultural Institute

Another amazing, one-off model was also constructed, about the size of a one car garage. One of its uses was in the aftermath of the 9/11 destruction of the Twin Towers, New York. American photographer Joe McNally, using the world’s only life-size Polaroid camera, created a project called “Faces of Ground Zero,” which travelled throughout 2002, became a book, and helped generate approximately $2 million for the relief effort. It is considered by many museum and art professionals to be one of the most important artistic endeavours to evolve from the 9/11 tragedy. 90 seconds after making the exposure you have a positive image. But it’s a Polaroid. While the photographer directs the picture outside the camera there are two assistants inside, working in the dark with night-vision goggles! The lens alone weighed fifty pounds. The giant film was unspooled along one wall and held in place by suction from a vacuum cleaner. Not easy to do, but very worth the degree of difficulty. What results after the 90 second chemical processing is a life size, virtually grain-free image of your subject that, when framed, is 40 by 80 inches. When you confront the picture it’s very akin to actually meeting that person as can be seen from the following images.

Although the sales continued an impressive rise the history of Polaroid was not without the occasional failure. Polavision was announced in 1977. This was to be the cine system equivalent of the instant photograph. The problem was that Sony had announced its Betamax video recorder system two years earlier. The early Sony system required a weighty tape recorder and so lost out to the light Polavision cine camera made by Eumig in Austria. On the other hand the Polavision's cassettes were only three minutes long and had no sound, whereas Sony tapes recorded for one hour, had sound, and could be reused. However, there was subtler difference at work. Much of the appeal of instant photography is that it is 'instant' and draws people closer together. Polavision could not be viewed until after a development process in a different processor/viewer. Land's unsuccessful Polavision instant movie system was a financial disaster.

In general terms, Polaroid cameras combined a strange mix of cheap construction with precision parts, often advanced electronic control systems, plus bulkiness. Whether they would have enjoyed continued popularity is difficult to guess, but like Kodak they were overwhelmed by the introduction of digital photography. Ironically, Kodak supplied film that was used by Polaroid in their process. That company did introduce its own instant film camera system but was forced to abandon this in 1985 after being sued by Polaroid for infringement of several of its patents.

The Polaroid name lives on but, as with Kodak, this is purely a trading name of newer companies. There has been a resurgence in interest since a company called Impossible set up manufacturing of a number of newer formula instant films that can be used in some of the old Polaroid cameras. Refurbished models from the era of the sixties onwards can now fetch high prices. Another company called Zink (for Zero Ink) is producing paper that provides instant images, either in cameras or portable printers. The prints are relatively small but they do provide novelty value. This product works on a totally different basis, with heat activating the colour dyes embedded within the paper.

Polaroid Snap Instant Digital cameras are currently available at a price of about £90. They only produce small 2 by 3 inch colour prints, using the Zink process, but can retain the 10 Megapixel images on a micro SD card.

The story of Polaroid and Edwin Land is a fascinating one. The product was one that virtually sold itself, as witnessed by its introduction in 1948. One had only to demonstrate the camera to arouse the 'wow' factor. The process was not without its flaws and often new cameras or films were released onto the market before really thorough testing had been done. Image quality could be variable, bearing in mind the fact that the development process was taking place in different temperatures. There were also the problems of disposal of the waste products, bearing in mind that this included the backing paper and film containing residue chemicals. This problem was solved when the film for the SX-70 was introduced. The cameras generally had small aperture lenses, enabling the use of fixed-focus ones or simple zone focus systems. However, to compensate for the potential problems of low-light capability there were films of 600 and even 3000 ASA rating at a time when conventional films were often limited to 400. (ASA figures equal current ISO ratings)

On Land's insistence, and to aid the process of even more capable cameras, huge sums were spent on product development – a far higher proportion than that of most companies. It was this factor that probably contributed to Polaroid's eventual financial troubles and ultimate demise. Of course, the introduction of digital photography was also a huge factor. However, as shown by the current availability of models that combine digital and instant print capabilities in one model, they could perhaps have survived. Indeed, they did carry out research in this area but not to any significant effect.


The following image shows my daughter, Lesley, posing with a Polaroid Swinger camera that I owned at the time. There was no film in it, but perhaps this was the start of her subsequent interest in photography!

Ironically, the very first photograph that we have of Lesley was taken shortly after her birth in Redhill General Hospital. It was taken by a maternity ward sister with an instant Kodak camera!

On Saturday, 21 May 2016, a small group of us visited Somerset House to visit the Photo London exhibition. In amongst the many pictures on display by the Danziger Gallery I spotted two very small original Polaroid prints by Andy Warhol – a self-portrait and one of Debbie Harry.

                                                             Warhol with a Polaroid camera

          Small Polaroids taken by Andy Warhol - Images from web sources. Acknowledgement to Danziger Gallery


Ultra-large detailed photographs of works of art.


A new robotic camera system Google has developed called 'Art Camera' has made it possible for the organisation to add digital images of works of art faster than ever before. Google has built 20 Art Cameras and is shipping them to museums around the world for free, enabling the organisations to digitise their artwork and documents. The new cameras can complete the process in less than an hour. Previously it could take almost a day to capture an image. Now a one meter by one meter painting can be photographed in about 30 minutes. The camera is set up in front of a wall where a painting is hung. Its operator then points the camera at each edge of the image. Once the camera knows how big of a space it's working with, it'll set off to work, automatically moving inch by inch, taking extreme close-ups. Those close-ups are then sent off to Google's servers to be turned into a single gigapixel file, ready to look at just a few hours later.

The following images that I obtained from the Google site on the internet show the astonishing detail captured. The first image shows the image of 'The Ambassadors 1533 by Hans Holbein the Younger – The National Gallery, London'. On this I have marked the area enlarged into the second one. The camera is also shown.

                                           Acknowledgement to the Google Cultural Institute

Further details of this, and many other pictures, can be viewed at the following web site -


Annual General Meeting – 23 May 2016


In the absence of our Chairman, Lester Hicks took on the role of chairing the meeting, assisted by Carol and Angela Vickers. He gave the report on the society's activities during the season just ending, which was generally positive. Angela Vickers, who is giving up her post as Treasurer after many years, was able to report a healthy balance sheet. In an item on the agenda it was proposed that a minimal increase should be imposed on membership fees for the coming season. (The fees had been fixed for the previous three years) This motion was passed unanimously. We then came onto the problem of appointing a new committee. Carol reported that at this stage there were only four nominations, insufficient to run the society. The meeting was suspended at this point so that discussion could take place by members in order to attempt to resolve this problem. Carol is also leaving the committee but she must have been well pleased (as well as amazed) that her final act resulted in 10 nominations being received, the exact number that were required!

Following the closure of the formal meeting we moved onto the annual awards presentation. Don Morley did an excellent job of handing out the certificates and trophies. He made joking and kind comments about each of the recipients. Modesto Vega had taken care of the engraving and polishing of the various trophies, whilst Les Dyson had been responsible for the design and printing of the award certificates. On this subject, we would like to quash the rumour that, because Les did the printing, he had prepared some bogus ones for himself! You can be assured that they were all genuine.

The final part of the evening was taken up with FREE teas and coffees, plus enjoyment of the various nibbles that members had contributed. An altogether satisfactory ending to the season.


And Finally . . . . . .


In a departure from our normal format, but in keeping with the theme of instant pictures, I provide a link to a video about a fun project. Unlike Kodak, Fujifilm were able to continue marketing instant picture cameras. These are still available today. The project involved the taking of pictures with an Instax mini 25 camera attached to a drone.