Newsletter. Bracknell Camera Club

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1 Newsletter Bracknell Camera Club Issue 94 August 2013 With another new season for our club about to begin, we can look forward yet again to the varied programme that Caroline has organised for us. I really do not know how she does it! I believe our membership is up to full strength yet again, and I offer my personal warm welcome to all new faces. As Steve Buesden says below, do not hesitate to ask for information or help that you may want. Over the summer, Richard Reynolds has been working on a new web site for the club. I have had a flavour of its design, and it promises to be brilliant so that is something to look forward to in due course. Your committee has been active over the summer, including a committee meeting held at our home. There are several new faces since last season, so I had to learn new requirements for half-time refreshments! Thanks to the contributors for this issue of the newsletter. It has turned out to have overlapping themes of London and street photography, in three very interesting articles. But do remember that it is your newsletter, not mine I am simply the facilitator. If you want a newsletter, you have to contribute! Our summer weather has been mixed, but Alan and I escaped the really hot spell in July when we visited Ladakh in the extreme north of India. So I will have a story to tell about that awesome trip and its photographic opportunities in the next newsletter. Click on the author s photo to navigate to the article of your choice. Tony Moussali led a trip to London for street photography. His companions have something to say! Alan Drabble talks about two very different photographic exhibitions in London this summer. Peter Ellis describes a street photography workshop in London with Arena photographer David Mason. Attention new members! Information from Steve Buesden about workshops, aimed particularly at new members BCC Newsletter Issue 94 Page 1

2 This story includes contributions from Tony, Cyril, Dorothée and Patrick. - Ed It all started with a chat with Cyril Maple and Dorothée Luke on street photography and London, and being a frequent visitor and explorer of the capital, I suggested a walkabout. There s no better place for such a pursuit than Brick Lane and the surrounding Spitalfields and Shoreditch areas (Camden and the South Bank trailing behind) with its rich history (not everyone s piece of cake) and frenzied local and visitor activity, particularly on Sunday market day in Spitalfields, Brick Lane (not to mention the profusion of Bangla restaurants), Petticoat Lane, Shoreditch High Street and Colombia Street specialising in flowers and plants. Additional interest lies in the varied architecture covering about five centuries, the proliferation of wall art and the whole gamut of posh, ethic and street food (best experienced in Whitecross Street Market, Barbican). There is also a lingering influence from the various refugees who established themselves in the region over the centuries. From the protestant Huguenots escaping Louis XIV persecutions, via the Eastern European Jews evading the progroms of the 1800s, to the Bangaladeshis in the 60s who all left their mark on the area. Joining us three on the walkabout, were Patrick Morley and Ivan Dickason. I followed my camera to Brick Lane thanks to Tony who had organised the outing. It is an area that I did not know well apart from my visits to the photographic exhibitions kindly organised by Brian in June. We met at Dirty Dick s, Liverpool Street, and Tony, who knows London comme sa poche (French equivalent of like the back of his hand), gave us some interesting facts on the way. Fifteen minutes later, we were in a different world. We found ourselves in Brick Lane, a busy street full of fascinating things. First the décor: graffiti, wall art, posters, bricks, old walls and old wooden doors and the people who were also the attraction with their hair, shoes, legs, bums!, hats, clothes etc I really could have stayed on the same spot photographing for hours. It was also interesting to see the various stalls selling exotic food, leather, shoes but also people playing chess or having a haircut! A super atmosphere I thought. We wandered the streets, some quieter than other full of market stalls, but with plenty of interest. There was just so much to see We ended up at the flower market on Columbia Street, and there again was a different atmosphere with delicate and strong colours everywhere, not to mention the shop windows behind the stalls full of character and the huge school wall covered with mosaic. BCC Newsletter Issue 94 Page 2

3 Having visited London on numerous occasions for business meetings and sometimes social, this was the first time for a dedicated photo trip. Tony confidently demonstrated a very good in-depth knowledge of our capital, not just geographical but also cultural, political and its history which served an excellent basis for pursuing specific image material. My personal aim was a first time venture into street photography, specifically London markets. One aspect I found most surprising was the casual acceptance of the public to being photographed, indeed many instances posing was the norm! My kit was Canon 5D body with 50mm F1.8 lens, whilst lacking in focal length it was less conspicuous which occasionally helped. Overall, this was a very enjoyable experience, accompanied with some interesting group discussions during the day. Yes, I will be revisiting London but next time with a lot less apprehension on street photography! BCC Newsletter Issue 94 Page 3

4 When Tony suggested a trip to London to photograph Brick Lane and surrounding district, I thought it sounded quite interesting, but that I wouldn't take a "serious" camera, just a compact "point and shoot" job (point and hope in bright sunlight). Well, the other four all had DSLR's -- though Ivan's turned out to be unusable due to a damaged lens protector -- and I felt under-equipped until we arrived at our first objective, Spitalfields Market and started shooting, when it became clear I'd have been using the DSLR in point and shoot mode anyway. The little camera did a good job, and it was my own slow reactions which lost me the transient situations in people shots, rather than any shortcomings of the camera. Other subjects include graffiti and what can only be described as wall art, market stalls of course, and their keepers, and street sculpture. Altogether a highly enjoyable outing; left me with an appetite for more. And I shall probably return with a more serious camera. Back to top BCC Newsletter Issue 94 Page 4

5 By Alan Drabble Whoever chose the Natural History Museum to host an exhibition entitled Genesis was a genius. Spiritual home to Evolution and Natural Selection, the NHM houses a statue of Darwin, and (belatedly) a portrait of Alfred Russell Wallace. However, what drew Eileen and me to the museum wasn t the zoological or geological exhibits, but an exhibition by Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado. I ve long been a fan of Salgado s work since seeing his Workers exhibition. That exhibition portrayed men and women at work in very tough environments, often in grainy and high contrast monochromes. Genesis was also totally in monochrome. Now I have to confess that I m not the greatest fan of monochrome: in fact I ve described it in the past as a bit of a dinosaur. That is on the grounds that if the first photographic images had been in full colour there wouldn t today be the same cult following that monochrome attracts. Yet it has its place, and I have to admit that it is a good way to emphasise and draw the viewer s attention to form and texture. Every time I see a mono image I ask myself why is this image in black and white? The second order questions of what is the author trying to get me to see?, and what is the author trying to hide? help to answer the main question. And I m often left with the question wouldn t it be better in colour?. While Workers succeeded brilliantly I felt that Genesis was much less successful. Some images cried out for full, in-your-face colour, while others, such as the larva cactus on the Galápagos really needed to show the subtle greens and oranges against the black larva to make the point. And the subtle colour variation in a gannet s head and neck feathers is completely missing in monochrome. In fact, I would go as far as to say that natural history subjects are rarely improved in monochrome; not even zebras! There are good reasons why animals, plants and the rest of the natural world are coloured, and I felt Salgado missed an important aspect of some of his subjects. Yet it wasn t all bad. The monochrome treatment obviously suited some subjects, and Salgado s standard of photography cannot be faulted. However, it was only as I left the exhibition area and returned to the main museum that I realised just how close all those monochrome images were to the dinosaurs. A week later, we visited the Arena members exhibition at the Menier Gallery, their largest for several years. It was interesting to walk round and see the names of several people who have been speakers or judges at the club in recent years. Membership of Arena is by invitation only, and they currently have about 26 members. About half the members were exhibiting at the Menier, including David Mason mentioned in Peter s article below. I was particularly struck by the first set of images: a panel by Chrissie Westgate. She had been asked by a disabled woman called Sophie to help show her world to people who didn t have her difficulties. And it was another monochrome panel! This time the black and white treatment really enhanced the story telling aspect of the panel by removing irrelevant and distracting elements, and focusing on the spatial problems faced by a wheelchair user. Images such as a station platform that was undergoing repair work showed how vulnerable Sophie was as she was forced to be too close to the edge. Others, for instance where Sophie was at a bar trying to get served with lots of people standing up, showed how socially isolating it was to have to sit in a wheelchair. A really thoughtprovoking panel. There were many other impressive sets of work on show by other Arena members, and I would highly recommend a trip to see the work of Arena photographers. Some of the work exhibited at the Menier Gallery has been transferred to Bath and will be shown at the Royal United Hospital until October 16 th. More of Chrissie s work, and other Arena members, can be seen here Back to top BCC Newsletter Issue 94 Page 5

6 By Peter Ellis Do you remember the summer? Well, at its hottest in early July 10 club members set forth on a Dave Mason East London photographic walk. You may recall that Dave re-visited the club this year in May and inspired and amused us with his street photography. As a result, a couple of our members got in contact with Dave and this particular day s event was arranged. Our morning s rendezvous was the entrance to Aldgate East tube station. Half of the expedition members suffer from a morbid fear of being late and had been in a nearby coffee shop hours before the start time. The rest of us, i.e. those with the utmost faith in the reliability of South West trains and the underground network, arrived four minutes before time and promptly demanded our own coffee stop. Dave detected a certain amount of resistance from the group to leave the café and get hot outside but the expedition finally got underway. Starting off for the Commercial Road Dave noted an obvious lack of preparedness in the group and gently suggested that cameras be taken out of bags and that lens caps should actually be removed. It seems that with street photography you gotta be prepared, be on your toes, locked and loaded etc. You will be unsurprised to learn that moving around in a pack of 10 trying to do street photography is not very practical so Dave would point out a certain landmark and suggest we do our own thing, photographically, and meet there at a certain time. And wait for Bruce. Another rendezvous point would then be identified and we d disperse in all directions, clicking away until it was time to wait for Bruce. It was soon discovered that four of the party (Dave included) were using the new fangled Olympus OM-D micro four thirds camera. As a result, much of the day for us camera fashionistas was taken up comparing and debating lenses, camera straps, optional grips etc. Moving into Middlesex Street, which was still being set up for the Sunday market, we blazed away at graffiti, rubbish heaps shop fronts etc before we arrived at Old Spitalfields Market. A market has stood here since 1638 but the fruit and vegetables have long gone and been replaced, on a Saturday at least, by fashion and food. More exposures took place here before lunch time was declared. Stuart led a determined party into the nearest pub while the other half of us decided to head for the ethnic food delights of nearby Brick Lane. The choice of food here both from stalls on the street and inside the old Truman s Brewery buildings is both wonderfully extensive and very good value. I had a trip down memory lane by going for a Burmese beef dish while Bruce went for an interesting Jamaican goat dish whose preparation, he presumed later, had included the dynamiting of the animal into sub-atomic bone particles. Even at such a cornucopia as Brick Lane you can t win them all. BCC Newsletter Issue 94 Page 6

7 Brick Lane was as crowded as it always is with hordes of tourists taking photos of each other. We felt less inhibited and very much at home here with our cameras and a number of the group (Jon in particular) struck up meaningful photographic relationships with passers-by (women) sporting impressive tattoos, neon pink hair and the like. Bruce excelled here by getting invited in to, and then thrown out of, a ladies hairdresser. He got some good photos, though, before his ejection. The OM-D brigade meanwhile had moved on to agreeing furiously that the Lumix lens was far superior to the but still found some time to document the ever changing monumental graffiti and capture something of the street life in this area. BCC Newsletter Issue 94 Page 7

8 By late afternoon the heat was starting to take its toll on some of us but by then Dave had led us around some very interesting locations in this fast-changing part of London and an excellent day was enjoyed by all. It wasn t until I got home that I discovered that Bruce had somehow managed to infiltrate himself into the corners of most of my photos, in one instance stealing the focus, literally, from a very pretty young lady I had been stalking (see above). Photographically, I hasten to add. I thought about resorting to Photoshop to fix the problem but somehow Bruce has mysteriously become an integral part of the photo and of the day. So, in he stays. Dave Mason runs a number of London Photo walks details can be found at: Back to top By Steve Buesden Bracknell Camera Club runs a series of workshops each season. The first of these workshops is for the benefit of our new member intake (and any members who joined us part way through last season who would be interested) and is run by a selection of the committee. This is an opportunity for you to find out more about the camera club. There will be an outline of the club s programme for the coming season including details of the other workshops that are available to help you improve your photographic skills, particularly those of you relatively new to photography. There will also be an explanation of how the club s competitions work, who to talk to for specific areas of advice, and information on some of the clubs Special Interest Groups and activities. All you need to know about settling in and getting the most from your membership of Bracknell Camera Club, this is an informal session with the opportunity for you to ask questions and to meet other new members. You will find a detailed workshop programme along with this newsletter, which includes simple instructions on how to book your place on the workshop. This workshop is free and is being held at Coopers Hill (Room 5) on Tuesday 17th September, starting at 8.00pm. It would be great to see you there, so please book your place so we can gauge the level of interest; if you are interested in entering the clubs internal competitions please bring along an image or two so we can ensure you are placed in the appropriate competition category. Back to top is published around six times a season, from August to May. I welcome and need your contributions. Articles, with pictures, should ideally be of a photographic nature; but they don t have to be if you have something to say. See the Newsletter page on our website for guidelines of what is required. Ed. BCC Newsletter Issue 94 Page 8