Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Member Profile: Neil Carver

My first interest in photography was in my teens when a newspaper I worked for had a darkroom with all the gear for use by the company’s photographic club.

Later, apart from family shots, all my photographs were black and white, home processed, enlarged and printed in various darkrooms built in lofts and spare bedrooms. This phase continued for many years until the advent of the digital camera which offered cheaper and easier photography  and the logical move to colour. All my film developing tanks, enlargers, chemical trays and their associated smelly chemicals were sold to a keen student of photography for 5% of their original price and I moved to inkjet prints via an Epson A3+ printer.

I have been a member of photographic clubs for as long as I can remember. My early black and white days were with Birkenhead Photographic Association before joining Hoylake Photographic Society when they used to meet upstairs in the Hoylake Conservative Club where the Society had a darkroom for its members.

Photography has had to take its place alongside my other activities over the years and as such has not received the dedication afforded to photography by most of the Club’s membership. My sporting pedigree as a competitor has included motor cycle off road trials and motocross, cricket and golf, although now only the latter receives my attention. 

As a result my photographs tend to be of a sporting nature. Being a Vice President of the Wirral 100 motor club who organise motor cycle road race meetings at Oulton Park and Anglesey, allows me to have good trackside vantage points.

Some years ago, after complaining about something, I was immediately brought onto the Committee and later highjacked to become the Hon Treasurer. My working alongside the rest of the dedicated Committee, has enabled me to see the rapid development of the Club. 

A small enthusiasts club has now become a more professional organisation, with state of the art digital equipment, the running of an acclaimed annual international competition and still enjoying the tremendous enthusiasm of its members.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Member Profile: Noel George

I’ve been a member of HPS since moving to the Wirral from Allerton in South Liverpool over ten years ago.  As it was my first photographic club, I have also remained a member of the South Liverpool Photographic Society which I joined in 1998.

The first camera I had was an Agfa Silette given to me as a birthday present by my elder sister.  When I became more interested in photography I bought a Pentax  Programme A with a 50mm f1.8 lens.  Cameras were so small and light in those days and I have always regretted part exchanging it for a Canon EOS 50E but I could not afford an upgrade to the Pentax equivalent.

I still use Canon equipment, currently an EOS 7D mainly with 15-85mm and 70-200mm zoom lenses and record raw files.  Because of the ease of use of its raw converter, I process my files in Adobe Lightroom and tweak them in Photoshop though I am relying on it more as I have learned to use Layers to better effect.  While I mostly make colour images, my preference is for monochrome.

My interest in photography was influenced partly through using the photographic process to teach aspects of chemistry and physics to students who had not progressed in science through the conventional route.  Whereas the chemistry of silver and optics might seem a little academic and dry, the processes  involved from initially pressing the shutter to producing the finished print can generate a good deal of excitement and make the science relevant.  Those of a certain age can still remember, as I do, their wonderment as an image appeared on a piece of paper in the developing dish. While not wishing to be too nostalgic for film photography, I did then understand what was happening when I made a picture whereas most of the modern processes are, as far as I am concerned, magic.

As a club photographer I photograph a wide range of subjects in response to competition titles and collect images when on holiday – but I don’t go on holiday for photographic purposes.  I like tabletop photography and portrait photography which have a great deal in common as in both genres the photographer should be in control of every variable.  The main problem with set piece photography is thinking of something original or even just a bit different.

Three other factors influenced my interest in photography. The first was attending a series of City and Guilds courses at Liverpool Community College where I learned how to make images and where I met some people who became my friends and who introduced me to club photography.  The second was finding the work of Robert Doisneau while on family holidays in Paris – his work is so human and humorous and something to aspire to. The third was joining a camera club where I made some very good friends and learned a great deal from others interested in photography.  I find that club members are sociable and very generous with their expertise – you will always find someone who can help you overcome your problems.

I have two tips to pass on to others.  One was given to me by a distinguished nature photographer and it is ‘get it right in-camera, it’s much easier than trying to remedy mistakes in Photoshop’.  The second is ‘make pictures for you own enjoyment; it is a bonus if others like them as well’
A Clockwork Orange
A clockwork orange was produced on slide film for a club competition called ‘Book or song title’.  It came second but was judged best slide in the following annual competition. I entered it into a Practical Photography competition and it won a prize of £1350 of Jessop’s vouchers and I used them to but a Canon EOS 3, a 28-135mm lens and a good flash gun – my first really expensive camera kit.
The Old Soldier
The Old Soldier has been successful in external competitions and was taken on St. George’s Plateau at a Remembrance Day service using Ilford FP4 film.  The ex-service people are always very willing to be photographed if the photographer is respectful of the occasion.
Powerless Structures
Powerless Structures and Balance are two more recent images.  The first was taken in Trafalgar Square on a visit to London and the still life was produced for a particular club competition.  
While Balance is a simple image it took a great deal of work selecting the correct glass, fixing the egg on the rim and deciding the arrangement of the various tone elements.  The work in camera and with the computer and printer was the simple part.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Member Profile: Les Pickstock

I’ve been a keen photographer for as long as I can remember. Before secondary school I saved pocket money for a month, and then my Mum made up the rest to have my black and white photos developed. My first plastic camera cost 1s 9d (about 8P to younger members!) and my uncle bought me a few rolls of film a year. The same uncle bought me a Brownie 127 for passing the 11+ exam.. and I promptly left it in a phone box on a school trip to London. Undaunted, I scrimped and saved and got all sorts of (now, in hindsight) rubbish cameras (including an ‘Instamatic’!), until, once working, at 17 I bought my first SLR – a Miranda F. I had a black and white darkroom at home, with a Leitz enlarger lens… the only time a ‘Leica’ has passed through my hands.

Nowadays I shoot with Sony digital cameras (don’t tell my wife about the “s” on the end of “camera”…), processing via Adobe Lightroom and mostly do my own printing on an A3+ Epson 1900. Family images, though, tend to be shown on TV these days. They can look very good in HD/BlueRay. Even better on an iPad.

I’ll photograph anything. But I love nature and ‘technology’ such as aircraft, and I record ships in the Mersey and Manchester Ship Canal. Although this kind of photography is mainly ‘record’ I do try to ‘stamp’ my individualism onto the images. Though sometimes that ‘individualism’ derives from my deep colour insensitivity (!) that can create good-hearted amusement in the club.. I’m not a ‘competitive’ person by nature, but I enjoy entering HPS competitions to both ‘join in’ the spirit and ethos of out society and also gain others’ insight into my photographic style (though I genuinely have no concerns if my images are not ‘winners’ or are criticised).

But my primary interest is landscape and nature… long days walking through the Yorkshire Dales are greatly improved if I return with that ‘special image’ captured in my camera. And in this photographic area, I have  2 main ‘ambitions’: to photograph a dragonfly on the wing and to learn to ‘stack’ macro images so the whole insect (or plant) can be sharp. But first, I have to digitise the ten thousand or so prints, slides and negatives I collected between 1960 and 2013 – when I retired. I say ‘first’… but there is plenty of time to start that.. maybe next year J….

Like many photographers, I have a web site – see - but I’m unsure why…..