Editorial Note: In these Newsletters we often present images in which the high definition is mentioned, or comparisons are made between the results from different cameras. Whilst every effort is made to present these in a form that will make this definition evident the limitations of internet publication may not show this on your choice of viewing device. It should just be stated that the comments, and comparisons, are made on the basis of scrutiny of the full-scale original images on an HD monitor.

Saturday Natter – Denbies Vineyard – 6 May 2017

Peter Flower

Once again I am indebted to others for their contribution to this report. Lester's comments prove that discussion is not always about photographic topics!

Lester Hicks

At the servery end of the table, Carol and Rosemary spent some time discussing the wedding of Rosemary's son Dan on Easter Sunday, at a ruined abbey on an island in the Firth of Forth. Carol's second son Ed was the Best Man (they are old school friends from St. Bede's) and Rosemary was describing Ed's speech. Being a barrister this took the form of "evidence for the prosecution", one exhibit being a bag of dried apricots. (The rest of the story is classified).

Ian Hunt gave an interesting account of the occasional pitfalls of working as a freelance photographer for local papers like the Surrey Mirror, and national publications in his special area of interest such as Classic Car Buyer. This led on to the difficulties of coping photographically with "creative" lighting at motor shows, and, with Pete Welch and Phil Johns, considered the best place to photograph the Historic Commercial Vehicles Run, due to pass through Redhill towards Brighton the following day.

One thing we failed to mark, at my end of the table at least, was that Saturday 6th May was the end of the year that had started on 7 May 2016 with the Reigate PS 100 Days Challenge. Les Dyson, not present at this Natter, was the only one to have chosen to extend his challenge to a full 365 days. This meant that Les’s full year extension ended the day before. Many congratulations to Les on his stamina and for such an inventive set of images and titles. His final image is on the 100 Days Flickr Group and is reproduced below.

© Les Dyson Day 365 – A Bore's End

PF

Many of the members had brought along cameras, to compare the various different formats that are gaining in popularity, discuss techniques and maybe get advice from others. As well as the usual DSLRs there were a number of more compact models including bridge cameras and the so-called travel cameras. Regular readers will be aware of the experiments that I have carried out over many months, with adapted lenses fitted and comparing relative merits of different models. On this occasion, in addition to my main Panasonic GX8 camera, I had also brought along an old (in digital terms) Canon A640 compact camera together with wide-angle and telephoto add-on lenses. It was interesting to compare the results with current models, and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with the results.

© Peter Flower – The top two photographs taken with the Canon A640

The bottom two taken with the Panasonic GX8

Pete Welch had brought along another interesting camera, the Sony QX10. This is a portable 'camera unit' that clips onto your smartphone (or can be controlled remotely by it). By using Sony's PlayMemories Mobile app you have complete control over the camera, and photos you take are automatically transferred to your mobile device. The QX10 features an f/3.3-5.9, 10X optical zoom, equivalent to 25-250mm paired with an 18.2 megapixel 1/2.3" BSI CMOS sensor. It is, in effect, a very compact camera with its own controls and memory card – only lacking a screen to show the image being taken. This is, of course, where the mobile phone comes into play. I had read details about this, and similar models in the Sony range, but never seen it in action. Pete used the camera to take some group shots, a photo of John Fisher at a distant seat, and a 'table-top' shot where the unit was triggered remotely from his phone, rather than being attached to it.

© Pete Welch

At the end of the morning session PeterTucker and I got together to compare images taken with his Fujifilm X100S camera and my Panasonic GX8. Following my comments published in Newsletter 93, in which there were comparison photographs taken with his Nokia phone, it had been decided to have a 'shoot-out' at which we would make a fairer comparison. Unfortunately, the jury is still out on this one. In order to get the same angle on the photographs of Modesto and Stephen, Peter handed his camera to me for the comparison shot. As will be obvious from the following examples I did not realise that Peter's camera was set for a narrow centre focus point, with the result that the background chairs were beautifully sharp! This was not immediately obvious from the review display on Peter's camera, so the highly unscientific comparison saga continues. The right-hand photograph, taken with the X100S, has been enlarged and cropped to show the focus error.

© Peter Flower and Peter Tucker

Monthly Theme

Stephen Hewes

Congratulations to Carol Hicks on winning the Red theme in a close-fought contest, with 6 stars for her red tiles, compared to Mark and I's best of 5 each. The 3 entries / 3 votes scheme seems to have worked well in giving a close result across a very healthy entry of 37 images. Also very well done to Mark for getting 25 likes for his 'point marker' altogether including non-members. Carol's winning photograph, 'St Mildred's Church – glowing tiles', is shown below.

© Carol Hicks

Carol has selected 'Texture' as this months theme.

Coffee Break

Peter Flower

This is not strictly a photographic item, but the reason for its inclusion will be become clear. Whether the name Tony Hart is familiar to you will depend upon your age, but his career in television did span a considerable time. He was an English artist and children's television presenter with a whole host of shows, such as Playbox, Vision On, Take Hart, and Hartbeat to his credit. He became famous for his presentation of drawing, painting, and teaching children how to design art features and use everyday items to make objects. From the 1970s he often appeared alongside the animated Plasticine stop-motion character Morph, created by Peter Lord of Aardman Animations. (Aardman Studios is the British animation studio based in Bristol, known for films made using stop-motion clay animation techniques, particularly those featuring Plasticine characters Wallace and Gromit)

In more recent times (2014) Aardman Studios created a short series of new stop-motion videos featuring Morph and his pal Chas. Get yourself a coffee or tea and enjoy their antics with a Canon EOS 550D (Sloped World) and mishaps with a selfie (Selfie).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lQ2by8rRQc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPX02jAxbZE

Phase One monochrome medium format camera back

Techman

Acknowledgement – image from Phase One web site

This company has announced a mono version of its 100MP IQ3 medium format camera back. The $50,000 camera has no colour filter array or IR filter, so should produce higher levels of pixel sharpness as well as offering greater sensitivity. It can integrate with its IQ3 XF camera as well as being compatible with a range of other medium format cameras. Removing the Bayer colour filter array removes the slight blurring effect of demosaicing while also allowing around 1EV of extra light to reach the sensor. This is not the first time that a mono sensor has been used with a camera. In our review of 2015, which appeared in Newsletter 77, we reported on the Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246). This used a full frame 24MP CMOS sensor that, like its predecessor, had no colour filter array. Essentially a monochrome version of the M Typ 240, the M Monochrom Typ 246 offered an increase in ISO range up to ISO 25,000 (up from a maximum of 10,000), a more modern 3" 921k-dot monitor (as compared to the original M Monochrom's dated LCD specification) and all of the benefits of live view shooting including focus peaking and 10x magnification.

The impressive picture definition provided by the IQ3 can be judged from the two images that follow. The first is captured directly from the Phase One web site. The second is from an on-screen enlargement which has been cropped further.

Acknowledgement – image from Phase One web site

Charwoman to dowager

Peter Flower

There is no doubt that digital photography has brought much greater ease to manipulation of images. In the days of film and darkroom printing you required considerable experience and skill to make noticeable changes from the original image on the negative to that which was shown on the final print. It was quite feasible to substitute a dramatic cloud-filled sky for the bland one in a landscape, but more complex revisions were beyond the capability of most photographers. However, I recently came across an example of what can be achieved. This is in a set of three photographs exhibited by the Beetles+Huxley gallery in London, featuring the work of Cecil Beaton. In it we see Cecil Beaton showing his skill in photograph retouching. He was renowned, amongst other things, for his photography of elegant ladies. With this triptych he shows the process of transition from the rather unflattering image of his charwoman to what appears to be an elegant society lady. Notes attached to the photograph mounts explain. “INSCRIBED BEATON CAVALCADE: 89A, B & C' AND WITH THE FOLLOWING NOTES ON LABELS FIXED TO FRONT OF MOUNT, '89A MANY OF BEATON'S PORTRAITS OF WOMEN ARE SKILFULLY RETOUCHED TO FLATTER THEM. TO DEMONSTRATE AND BURLESQUE HIS METHOD BEATON DECKED HIS CHARWOMAN IN JEWELS AND ORCHIDS, POSED AND PHOTOGRAPHED HER AGAINST A PEDESTAL IN HIS DRAWING ROOM (HIS FAVOURITE STUDIO).', '89B TYPICAL BEATON RETOUCHING DIRECTIONS ON THE PORTRAIT OF HIS CHARWOMAN AS A DOWAGER.'

THREE SILVER GELATIN PRINTS, PRINTED BEFORE 1945, EACH MOUNTED ON BOARD.”

These, and the other photographs, have been held in an American private collection for over 60 years and were brought back to London, where this unique group were put on display for the first time at the Beetles+Huxley gallery. (Note: The display will be ended before this report is published)

Acknowledgement to Beetles+Huxley gallery and to collection owner

Nature Walk – 13 May 2017 – Organised by Anthea Post

Report by Peter Flower

Eight of us gathered at Anthea's house for the start of the ramble which was to take a circuit from the Holmethorpe estate and out into the country which took in many of the lakes and small streams towards Nutfield and then returning past the Watercolour estate. Jill and I were able to admire Anthea's garden while we waited for the others to arrive. Following our health and safety briefing (!) Les, Modesto, Gill and Jim, Jill and myself plus Peter (Tucker) set out towards the Holmethorpe estate, going under the railway arch into Trowers Way. Although I have driven into the estate a number of times I never spotted the tattered railway crossing gates that form part of the fence to the building on the corner with Holmethorpe Avenue. Jim pointed out the short length of railway line which exists behind these, a relic of a line which ran from the British Industrial Sand Company. This was situated the other side of the railway arch at the far end of Trowers Way. The original track ran from this site, the length of Trowers Way and crossed Holmthorpe Avenue at a level crossing and joined up with the main line. They had their own diesel engines and trucks to transport the sand. In 1963 Jim worked as a brickmaker for that company.

It transpired that Jim had been born locally and worked for a number of companies on this estate, so he was a mine of information about the history. In 1958 he worked in Stout's Thermometer Factory, Holmethorpe Avenue, in the building now occupied by American Autoparts. I had often seen large American cars driving around the area but been unaware of this sales outlet. Naturally we had to take photographs of these cars, such as Cadillac and Chevrolet (I would guess from the late 50s onwards), that were on display in the open.

© 1. Les Dyson 2 & 3. Peter Flower

Jim also told us that in 1962 he worked as a hod carrier for a building company called Bridgewalkers. They worked on White and Cottels Sauce Factory, no longer there, directly opposite Stouts.

From the industrial estate we walked further east, under another railway arch, into the area which has many lakes and ponds. We had been promised plenty of wildlife to photograph, but this was not to be on this particular day. The nearest we got was a small herd of animals in the lake (cows not water buffalo!), a few sheep with lambs and some water fowl. Anthea was able to use the extreme length of the zoom lens on her Panasonic FZ200 to get the distant shot in which it is just possible to identify the ear tag numbers.

© Anthea Post and Peter Flower

We had a lunch stop at the Inn on the Pond. Nearby is the Nutfield Cricket Club ground where we observed the match in progress as we continued on our way. This took us on the far side of the lake from the Watercolour estate.

The final collage of images include a couple taken by Les Dyson who had brought along a 'genuine' camera (his Nikon 1 J1) as well as the iPad mini 4, plus a couple of group photos taken by Anthea.

© Les Dyson and Anthea Post

This was a very pleasant ramble, with the added bonus of interesting facts about the the history from Jim and Anthea who are so familiar with the area.

Polaroid

Peter Flower

Example of old Polaroid camera

In Minneapolis on 12 May 2017 it was announced that PLR IP Holdings, LLC, the owner of the Polaroid brand and related intellectual property, has been acquired by a group of investors led by the Smolokowski family. The new owners acquired 100% of the shares on 5 May. The leading investor in the new ownership group, Wiaczeslaw (Slava) Smolokowski, is a Polish businessman and investor with holdings in the energy, biotech and real estate sectors. More importantly, he is also the majority shareholder of The Impossible Project, the company that purchased the last remaining Polaroid factory in 2008 and continues to manufacture instant film for legacy Polaroid cameras. This bodes well for continuing resurgence of instant photography, bringing together the originating legacy company and a source of instant film material. 2017 marks the 80th anniversary of the venerable Polaroid company’s founding. Regular readers will be aware that the subject of Polaroid has been well documented in past articles, including those in Newsletters 81 and 82. Although Fujifilm continues to produce its own brand of instant cameras under the instax brand name (also the basis for the Leica Sofort camera introduced recently) it ceased production of film compatible for some older Polaroid models.

Photo Safari – 15 May 2017 – Organised by Jill Flower

Peter Flower

in the first half of the meeting members were invited to take their cameras out into the local surroundings to photograph three broad categories of subject - Close up or details, In the park and In the high street. This would be done until about 9pm when we would return and Jill would attempt to load selected images onto the laptop computer. Thanks to her instruction that images, jpegs only, should be on an otherwise clear card this process went much more smoothly during the tea break than on previous occasions.

In the second part of the evening the chosen images were shown with comments by the authors. Les Dyson's and Jill's photos were transmitted directly from an iPad and iPhone respectively; the others from the laptop. Whilst there was a considerable variety of subject matter it was obvious that certain objects and scenes drew more attention than others. These themes are reflected in the following collages. An abandoned Morrisons trolley in the park attracted attention, but others also featured.

There were images from the park, including many of a group of youths who seemed pleased to have their photographs taken, and some very sinister ones taken in the poorly-lit multi-storey car park.

The contents of windows in the High Street also attracted a good deal of interest.

Traffic in the High Street and lighting also featured in the images of a number of photographers.

This was intended as a fun evening when members could buddy up and learn from each other. In this aim it was a great success, and there is an indication that a similar event will be included in next season's programme.

Comment

As the formal programme for 2016-17 drew to a close I reflected on the value of events such as this to the increasingly friendly atmosphere and spirit of co-operation within the society. This has been engendered by a number of initiatives which I think deserve recognition. John Fisher was responsible for setting up the mentoring system which enabled newer, possibly less experienced, members to gain knowledge from others in the society. It should be added that this could also extend to existing members who wanted to take advantage of advice on specific techniques. John was also responsible for starting the monthly programme of Saturday Natters at Denbies vineyard. As will be evident from recent reports, these events have become increasingly popular and participating members have increased. These Natters have been a valuable forum, not only to socialise with other members, but also to exchange information on potential camera choice, compare experiences and discuss photographic techniques. The Extra Events programme, largely the initiative of Stephen Hewes, has also been instrumental in bringing members together to share in photography of specific external events. This was initially aimed at filling in the period between that of the formal September to May programme of events, but they now occur throughout the year. Recognition should also go to the many members who organise the events in that programme.

Photokina

Techman

Photokina is one of the premier events that focus on the entire photographic and imaging sector. Exhibitors from across the world showcase their latest products and services. In the past it has been held every two years. It has now been announced that the show, held in Cologne, will now take place annually. This decision has been made to reflect the fast-paced nature and the ever briefer innovation cycles of an increasingly digital-based technology. Additionally, there are plans to diversify the show to include products and technologies beyond its historical focus of cameras and photography. These will include technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, cloud computing, content management, social media, and smart home applications. From 2019, Photokina will take place in May instead of its historical September slot. The most immediate impact of these changes is that Photokina 2018 will adopt a shorter, more focused schedule, from September 26-29.

Cyanotype

Peter Flower

The cyanotype process was one of the first non-silver technologies used to create photographic images. The English scientist and astronomer, Sir John Herschel, discovered the procedure in 1842. Though the process was developed by Herschel, he considered it as mainly a means of reproducing notes and diagrams, as in blueprints. Anna Atkins created a series of cyanotype limited-edition books that documented ferns and other plant life from her extensive seaweed collection, placing specimens directly onto coated paper and allowing the action of light to create a silhouette effect. By using this photogram process Anna Atkins is sometimes considered the first female photographer. Subsequently the process was not utilized in mainstream photography and was adopted as a copying technique, becoming known by the term "blueprint", with its blue background reproductions of large architectural and mechanical drawings.

175 years after Herschel's discovery, Jill enjoys the process in a big way !!

Blue on Brighton beach

Jill Flower

I have been experimenting with many different styles and types of printmaking on my course at Brighton University. I decided to have a look at the cyanotype process which is an old photographic process often known as blue prints. This uses UV light such as sunlight to create blue and white images. The images are processed in water and can be further treated and toned using everyday things containing tannin such as tea, coffee or red wine (cheapest is best!).

I thought that it would be fun to produce a large piece of work on the beach using the sunlight, found objects and processing in the sea. I bought a roll of lining wallpaper from Doves in Reigate and set off for Brighton. I got some of the students and technicians together and enlisted help for my plan. We coated up 33 feet of wallpaper in the dark room and dried it. We put it in to a black bin bag and we all went to the beach. Two students agreed to lie on the paper and one of the technicians produced some hand-cut Japanese Kimono stencils which we put onto the paper. Other students placed pebbles and objects, including a half finished bottle of pinot grigiot and print making tools onto the paper.

It took about 15 minutes to expose in the sun after which we quickly gathered it up and waded into the sea to wash it. It proved quite challenging to handle 33 feet of paper in the sea, even though it was low tide and very calm! We dried the print in the sun on the beach before returning to Uni. We had not worked out how to display a 33 foot print so after some deliberation we opted to cut it into 4 pieces and put it up in the print studio.

The final piece was very pleasing and had a sort of underwater feel to it. The seawater seems to create a very rich blue tone, probably due to the affect of the salts. I have been complimented on the work but mostly it was just a fun thing to do.

And finally . . . . . .

PF

Another two this time. I sent the following image (taken in an antiques dealership in Lewes) to Les Dyson, because I knew of his love for mannequin hands, with the following message - If you "need a hand" there is an antiques dealer in Lewes who can help you in a big way !! The almost predictable response - “Thank you Peter, I knew a shorthand typist that might have appreciated that”.

© Peter Flower

This photographer has the right idea. Who could fail to watch this birdie !!

Acknowledgement to Zoltan Gyori