Wednesday 28th September 2011 – Clubnight

As announced last week, members were asked to bring along their cameras for an opportunity to try their hand at studio shooting.

I took the opportunity of explaining how the backdrop was lowered, drawing special attention to the clutch mechanism and the need to pull down to release before unwinding or rewinding.

The explanation also covered the use and positioning of the lights.   Bill Nesbitt was once again ‘volunteered’ to be model.  Anne kindly brought along her imitation collie dog which also served as a model.

Mark kindly helped out with the shooting along with Bill whilst I sorted out a memory card problem for Helen  and configured a new Canon 7D brought along for Robert Greer.

A friend and neighbour of Deborah and Angus, Paul visited us tonight.   Apparently he came to the club many years ago when the club met in the Naval Club.  I  spent some time with him discussing the club activities now.

There was a tremendous buzz in a packed room tonight and most people just wanted to chat.

Earlier I showed my Audio Visual of the St. Petersburg Hermitage Museum.   Mark showed his Canada and Alaska AV which he had reworked using the technique of manually synchronising the dissolves withe the musical rhythm.  It was very well done.

After a chat with Angus and Deborah regarding print mounting, I suggested that he should get some prints done and buy a sheet of black mountboard.   If they bring it next Wednesday, I’ll teach them how to cut photo mounts.



Friday 23rd September – Clubnight with David Foster, the Ragman

“The Prince of Darkness” is his title in Russia – to the rest of the world he’s known as The Ragman . The name on his passport is David Foster and he’s a County Down man whose photographs are the link between a small studio in Millisle and online friends on every continent.

David presented a fascinating account of his international adventures to the members – a welcome return to the Ward Avenue venue where he’d been a member and Competition Secretary for many years. Five years ago another interest, hockey called him away and since then he has been restoring the fame and fortunes of the University of Ulster Ladies’ team. However he never lost his passion for the clicking shutter and merely diverted his enthusiasm into the internet via Red Bubble, an international community of photographers and artists. David’s online name,The Ragman far from being derogatory is a compliment to his ability to see potent, dramatic images in the most banal ,everyday situations and objects. Railway lines, manhole covers and brick walls feature regularly in his portrayals and with the creative use of lighting he illustrates the difference between merely looking and seeing.

David Foster with Eddie Wright and Trevor Craig

The “Prince of Darkness” sobriquet is a nod to his penchant for high contrast, monochrome pictures with a touch of intrigue, mystery or even menace. His style is now widely recognised and he illustrated his portfolio with audio-visual presentations.

Red Bubble is like a vast, international camera club, he explained but instead of fifty or sixty members seeing your images there could be hundreds or even thousands viewing, assessing and offering feedback on your entries.The site attracts up to half a million visitors a day and given the Irish influence in America there is added interest from that country  in any contributions from this part of the world. The community also caters for specialist interest groups and David administers one which specializes in pictures of Northern Ireland. Many lasting friendships have been forged over the message boards and David has visited members from Spain and Cornwall as well as receiving visitors from various European countries. He related the delightful story of one couple from Greece who arrived at his village and not knowing his real name or address proceeded to knock on doors and ask where they could find The Ragman!

Although there is a commercial side to the site- members can offer their pictures and designs for use on tee-shirts, hoodies and  the like, David enjoys it mainly for the bond amongst photographers of many different races and cultures.

John Bennett

Wednesday 21st September 2011 – Clubnight

Well, here we are well into September and the Autumn already.  There’s already quite a nip in the air.

Once again we had a really good turnout tonight.  Several of our visitors from last week came along and as far as I’m aware have formally joined.  A big welcome to you all.  There seemed to be a crowd around Peter Gibson of people renewing their membership and paying their subs.

It was my turn this week to be at the front and after a wee bit of adjustment after Noel’s replacement mountings for our projector, we set off with John Bennett’s Audio Visual featuring photos taken on his recent visit to Yorkshire.  One of the many great photos took my fancy   It was of a very long viaduct stretching across the countryside.  I’m sure I’ve seen it before on television.  I would love to have been there to capture it at different times of the day.   Another was of the tall span bridge over a river. (Forgotten the name of the town).

Michael once again treated us to some creepy closeups of garden spiders.  Small male and huge female with nipper type jaws and spines on her legs.  Poor little fellow didn’t stand a chance once she got her claws into him!   (Sounds familiar, eh, fellows!)

Anne showed us some of her photos taken on our recent very damp outing to Argory plus some nice macro shots of the point of her finger.

Harry has had a play with the trial version of Pictures to Exe and used his photos of the Red Arrows display team.   I commented that it was extremely well synchronised to the music plus some appropriate transitions.   When I complemented Harry and suggested to him that he should no go ahead and buy the full version of PTE,  I think I heard a lone voice mutter something about Proshow Gold from the gloom near the back of the room.

Mandy, a long time member came along to the Wednesday Club for the first time with a memory stick with Canon Raw CR2 files and a query on how to process them.    Amongst the advice given was the purchase of Adobe Photoshop Elements which with the correct Camera Raw Plugin, could solve her problem.  Harry rightly pointed out that the DPP software supplied with her camera was very able to do all the necessary post processing she might need.

I loaded her selection of photos into Lightroom and illustrated the basic principles of post processing which she can follow in Camera Raw, if she goes that way.   Indeed, Mandy’s photos straight out of the camera where excellent and needed minimal, if any, correction.

I ended the evening showing a small selection of photos taken in the Hermitage Museum and various Cathedrals in St. Petersburg, Russia.   In the coming  weeks, I’ll put together some PTE AVs on these.

I suggested that next week, members bring their cameras and some props and we can try our hand at Studio Flash.

David Roberts

Friday 16th September 2011 – My way with photography – Members presentations

Helen Fettus and Trevor Robinson

The entertainment was of the in-house variety at Friday’s meeting of the Bangor and North Down Camera Club. Various members had been coaxed, cajoled or coerced into giving a presentation entitled “My way with photography”; the heading deliberately vague to allow for a variety of interpretations. The club chairman Nigel Snell adroitly contrived to arrive at a good mix of experienced  photographers and beginners and any first time nerves were quickly dispelled in the usual friendly atmosphere of the weekend gathering.

Noel Maitland opened proceedings with a vintage display of slides (real transparencies shown on a real projector!) which ranged from his early days on the farm to local scenes and landscapes amassed over 40 odd years behind the lens. He then introduced a competitive edge to the proceedings by offering prizes of chocolates to whoever could correctly identify the locations. We are assured that the amateur status of the winners will not be compromised !

Noel completed his enjoyable contribution with a very watchable audio-visual display rather poetically titled “Flowers and Stuff”.

Helen Fettus represented the female membership with a thoughtful montage of family shots cleverly making use of available sunlight in a variety of settings. Helen, who is one of the newer members recently celebrated achieving an A Level in photography and has been enjoying expanding her experience and expertise at the Wednesday evening workshops which ran throughout the summer break.

Jack Thompson displayed his usual creative approach to things photographic when he based his talk on five “wow” moments he has experienced over the years. Starting with a  simple box camera and then progressing through student days and  a part time job in a professional studio he gradually grew to love images of plants and local beauty spots . More recently Jack has been concentrating mainly on Audio-visual presentations  in which medium he has achieved quite a measure of success .

Another new member, Trevor Robinson took the nostalgic path in his journey. Introduced to the magic of images by his father he displayed the actual plate camera he had used in his early days and traced his photographic time-line with various other pieces of hardware he has used over the years. Having dabbled in the nerve-jangling pursuit of wedding photography on occasions Trevor more recently has been glad to relax and enjoy the relative freedom of snapping anything from motorcycle racing to beetles.

The enjoyable evening ended with a masterful presentation by Nigel Snell in which he demonstrated that when it comes to bird photography he is well versed in capturing that elusive magic moment.

John Bennett

Wednesday 14th September 2011 – Clubnight

I was really amazed at the turnout tonight.   We had 5 new first time guests tonight.  Welcome to Stephen, Michael, Alan, Bill and Paul.

It seems to prove that our exhibition at the Flagship Center in Bangor continues to be a major source of recruitment.  Indeed, if we continue to get new recruits at this rate, we will begin to exceed our specified limit.   Thanks to diversity though, not everyone turns up at the clubroom on the same night.  I don’t recall having seen as full a house as last night.

As always we spend some time welcoming new guests and making them feel at home.   Indeed one gentleman said that he had contemplated joining a nearby club but had heard of the reputation of our club and came here instead.

Whilst I was engaged, as were other members, with the guests, Mark took centre stage and the evening was devoted to viewing the large number of memory sticks placed at the computer. One of our guests, Stephen, who has an interest in Honda motorcycles, brought his photos for viewing.  Mark selected a small number out of a very large selection and we preformed our usual critique.  Stephen had a privileged viewpoint at the Ulster Grand Prix and took some excellent shots of bikes and riders.

Using the freeware software Faststone Image Viewer, Mark indicated how simple levels adjustments could be made to increase contrast particularly in black leathers and dark backgrounds.   Essentially a camera on automatic mode will attempt to turn blacks to 18% grey and whites likewise.

Next up was Michael Rice’s super photo set about the birds and the bees!  Using his 105mm macro lens and without a pin in sight, we were treated to a series of  stunning close-up shots of bees and wasps on thistles and in the air.   Great material for the Audrey Argue Wildlife Competition later in the year.

New member, Angela, treated us to great photos of Vietnam, where very few, if any of us have visited.  From water buffalo in paddy fields to motorbikes laden like a local grocery store to a beautiful shot of a little girl in a hat.  Well done Angela.

Anthony has dipped his toes into the world of digital audio visual and showed us 2 AVs, albeit made with the limited trial version of Pictures to Exe.   We were treated to a visit to Utah and the Canyonlands and the Rocky Mountains.   Anthony, no problems here.  Go ahead with the full version and show us more of your stunning worldwide photos.

Shirley has been to the local Grey Point Gun Fortress at Helens Bay with her camera.   I can spot that a bit of imagination has been applied to her composition.   We had a little bit of hilarity and controversy at what looked like her bath plughole, until Mark brought us back to order and explained that it really was a guard plate to prevent wee boys like himself climbing down a winding tunnel to the armoury. Obviously the Wednesday evening chats are paying off.

Same goes to Julie.  Great photos of Ballintoy taken using a tripod.   The one thing explained to Julie was that whilst using a tripod, she could use a very small aperture to enhance depth of field and further improve her great shots.   She let slip that she was using the full manual settings on her camera.  I’m really proud of how she has advanced and absorbed and applied the advice given here at the club.

Kevin’s fireworks shots at Groomsport were well worth a look.  Mark played with the levels to darken some backgrounds.

Finally Harry brought along a draft of the new 2012 Guide Dogs Calendar for comment.  Apart from a few typos, it was welcomed.

Feedback on topics for Wednesday evenings would be welcome.

By the way, Annual Subscriptions are now due.   See Peter Gibson, Treasurer.

David Roberts


Friday 9th September – Andy Hipson. Photography Goes Pop

Andrew Hipson

is a photographic artist. It’s a job description crying out for explanation and the members of Bangor and North Down Camera Club were treated to just such a revelation at the weekly meeting on Friday last. Andrew left his previous employment to escape from the stress of everyday pressures and returned to photography, his erstwhile hobby, as a replacement means of earning a living.

Realising that he would need to offer something innovative if he were to make inroads on a very competitive market he set about finding an artistic direction which would eventually evolve into a distinctive style on which he could base his work. The photographic part of the venture is, as he freely admits, merely a means to an end. Beginning with local landmarks he experimented with Adobe Photoshop enhancement software to find how he could embellish the images to mould them into a unique “look”.

This he demonstrated graphically by exhibiting a picture of Donaghadee lighthouse set against a yellow sky with a violet lifebelt as an added attraction. The bandstand at Bangor seafront shimmered amidst yellow grass and a purple sea while other iconic images like the giant cranes at Harland and Wolff’s were similarly portrayed against attention-grabbing hues. Andrew favours the strongest of primary colours for his surroundings but insists on retaining as much as possible of the integrity of the main subject of the image. Like a dramatic print of the giant fish at Belfast harbour his work offers a new perspective on some well known objects and for this reason is particularly popular with expatriate customers in Australia and Canada. Indeed at present he is preparing for a forthcoming tour of the USA , and New Zealand.

He has also exhibited at The Waterfront and House of Frazer in Belfast and The Curve Gallery in Bangor but even though his style has developed to the point where his work is easily recognised he still continues to refine his approach. He demonstrated some of his latest images, including a striking likeness of the McKee clock in Bangor produced by the screen printing process.

Andrew’s presentation added some fuel to the age-old discussion about whether or not photography is an art form and certainly seemed to suggest that the two are at least compatible.

John Bennett

Friday 2nd September 2011 – Clubnight

As befits the start of any new term there was a distinct air of anticipation around the shoreside premises of Bangor and North Down Camera Club for the first meeting of the new season. Greetings and gossip gave way to discussions about new equipment purchased or new software investigated and soon the members had slipped effortlessly back into photo-mode for the business of the evening.

The Chairman, Nigel Snell welcomed everyone ,especially some new members (some of whom had been drawn by the images on display in the annual exhibition at The Flagship Centre. Others had been attending the informal gatherings on Wednesdays and Fridays during the “off-season”.)  As has become traditional over the past few years the first night was reserved for a showing of the Audio-visual displays of the members’ holidays. Hardly surprisingly the images on show covered a very wide spectrum of interests and geographical areas – from Switzerland to Newtownards and from Vancouver to Ballyholme. The local interest was provided by Jack Thompson’s natural history slides taken between Bangor and Groomsport ; David McVeigh focused on some derelict buildings in Newtownards while Alan Hartley and Davy Cooper produced thoughtful records of club summer visits to Benburb and The Argory.

On the theme of transport Drew McAvoy’s presentation was a fast moving depiction of motor-sport while Noel Maitland opted for the slightly less hectic but perhaps more graceful environs of the River Shannon for a boat rally. The railway journey to the summit of Snowdon captured the imagination of Lawrence Henderson ; Jane Richardson brought back memories of a trip to the Swiss Alps and Gerry Coe invoked the sound and sights of flamenco and Spanish sunshine with his Iberian adventure.  France was the magnet for Nigel Snell ; his long lens captured some fine flora and fauna. For others it was carnival time. Peter Gibson followed the music and fun in Tenerife (he doubled up with a look at the joys of summer in Tuscany) while Hugh Rooney investigated the esoteric masks favoured by the partygoers in Venice. Bill Cardwell enjoyed the delights of Vancouver and shared them with an appreciative audience.

The club continues to meet every Friday evening with informal gathering each Wednesday at eight o’clock. Anyone interested in photography will find a warm welcome at the clubroom which is situated at the junction of Ward Avenue and Seacliff Road.

John Bennett