Main Banner

Whitchurch-on-Thames Photographic Club

Thank you for visiting our website. Here you will find full details of our Programme, a large selection of images from our members, information on our competitions held throughout the season and reports from our recent meetings.

We have changed the format of our Programme this year.   We will be holding meetings at Whitchurch-on-Thames Village Hall every other Wednesday evening at 8.00pm along with fortnightly Zoom Meetings on alternate Wednesday evenings.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE LATEST MEETING

6 Sept 2023

New season

Starts tonight


14 June 2023

Themes and Journeys

Tonight’s speaker on Zoom was Stephen Dean LRPS APAGB. Stephen introduced his talk by saying there would be something for everyone from beginners to advanced photographers. He explained that his favourite subjects are urban landscapes and rural landscapes; he particularly likes the medium of black and white which suites these subjects well. Stephen showed us a large selection of his images, explaining the background to each and the photographic techniques employed.
Starting with urban landscapes, he showed us some images that included moving buses or trams. He discussed the best shutter speed to achieve movement blur and said that light coloured vehicles work best with this technique. His pictures of northern cities were engaging due to the use of strong shapes and angles and the inclusion of silhouettes and shadows. A key factor was the importance of waiting for the right light. Quite often, Stephen would wait for someone to enter the scene and press the shutter when they reached the best position. Stephen’s evening shots were engaging because he waited until it was getting dark but there was still some light in the sky which makes the image more interesting than a completely black sky.
Moving on to rural landscapes, I was struck by the dramatic skies in Stephen’s black and white photos. He said to expose for a dark sky, then in post processing, when converting to black and white, make the blue areas of the sky dark. He said a soft graduated filter also helps by ensuring the sky and the ground are correctly exposed. Stephen quite likes to use a 135 mm lens for landscapes as it gives some compression between foreground trees and the hills, for example. The trick is to ensure that everything is in focus by setting the lens to the hyperfocal length. He had a helpful analogy with a football field to help us to remember how to set it up (helpful if you’re into football I suppose).
This was an enjoyable and instructive evening and a high note on which to end this season’s Zoom meetings.


31 May 2023

Weird and Wonderful - ish

Tonight’s speaker on Zoom was Phil Cooling who gave us a talk called ‘Weird and Wonderful – ish’. We were not sure what to expect from the title, perhaps something along the lines of ‘Curiosities’, close to our chairman’s heart. What we got was a photographic journey illustrating Phil’s development from novice photographer playing with digital processing tools to an award winning FRPS panel.
Phil told us about his journey with wit and dry humour, showing us the many different genres he covers. These ranged from urban, travel, studio, portraits to natural history. He had a section on steam trains which got our chairman even more excited until we saw the photo of the Flying Scotsman producing a lot of steam and smoke on a foggy morning.
Phil gave us a few illustrated tips along the way such as composition being everything and lighting being key in landscapes. Lighting and composition can turn a familiar scene from being boring to having that wow factor.
Composites are Phil’s forte and he showed us many examples which were fascinating. Again, he had some tips such as including reflections of added elements in glass or wet pavements. He reminded us that if you flip an object that includes writing (such as a car number plate), you mustn’t forget to flip the writing back the right way.
This was a varied, entertaining and instructive evening, illustrated by Phil’s superb images.


24 May 2023

Monochrome Digital Image Competition

This evening we held our monochrome digital image competition, judged by Steven Galvin LRPS. There were about 50 entries with  a wide variety of subjects, making for an interesting evening. Steven offered much helpful advice about each image. He even commented on naming the image, suggesting it is helpful to be creative with the title so as to guide the viewer towards what the image   the image is about. In a number of images, he imagined he could see faces where none actually existed! Despite this, Steven’s marking was fair and these were the images scoring 20:
Nigel Glover-Wright: Lion Fight
Nigel Glover-Wright: Bedraggled
Nancy Massie: Scruffy Heron
Tony Bates: Cool Down at the end of the Day
Tilly Jamieson: Keep Taking the Tablets
John Sexton: Say Aah
The overall winner was Nigel Glover-Wright with ‘Bedraggled’


17 May 2023

An Organ Builder and His Camera

Tonight’s speaker on Zoom, Charles Hall, was a member of a long-running family organ repair firm based in Cambridge. He had also been a member of the Cambridge Camera Club for many years, taking on many roles, including President. So Charles was amply qualified to explain everything there is to know about organs and to illustrate his talk with photographs.
The history of organs can be traced back 2000 years. The first organs were ones you blow into, which we now call pan-pipes. The first organ using pumped air was first recorded in 6th century Egypt; Charles showed us a drawing of four men pumping the instrument.
Charles went on to explain how present-day organs work, starting with a detailed guide around the console of an organ in Cambridge (the console is where the organist sits to play the keyboard and operate the many stops). Using drawings, Charles explained how the pressing of a key makes air flow across the relevant pipe to produce the musical note. He then showed us photos of the different types of pipe and explained how the different shapes produce different timbres to mimic various instruments such as trumpets, oboes and clarinets.
Now that we were fully versed in the technicalities of pipe organs, Charles showed us photos of a number of organs in and around Cambridge. Charles continued his talk by showing us images he’d taken over the years, including interesting stained-glass windows. Particularly fascinating was an early flight simulator that worked on the same principles as a pipe organ, using bellows and pneumatics to produce the movements required.
This was an unusual insight into a world unknown to most of us; Charles’ anecdotes about the characters he’d met during his career helped to offset the technical nature of his subject.


10 May 2023

Picture of the Year Competition

Our annual Picture of the Year Competition was judged by Micki Aston CPAGB McloJ. Members submitted their best images from this year’s ladder competition in the hopes of winning the title. Naturally, the standard was very high and Micki had her work cut out to select the Picture of the Year. Micki’s style is direct and to the point and she delivered her review of each image with fairness, clarity and much humour. I, for one, learnt much from her comments and felt royally entertained by the end of the evening.
Having scored each image, Micki ended up with seven 20s, reflecting the high standard of the entries. She then had the unenviable task of selecting just one of those as Picture of the Year. The seven 20s are:
Nigel Glover-Wright HUMMINGBIRD
John Sexton TIGER
Nigel Glover-Wright A DUSTY STROLL AT DAWN
Nigel Glover-Wright TOSS UP
Tony Bates FOG IN THE WOODS
Tilly Jamieson STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN
Tony Bates CORFE CASTLE
And the Picture of the Year is……...HUMMINGBIRD by Nigel Glover-Wright!


3 May 2023

Judges and Composition

Our speaker tonight on Zoom was Peter Warner ARPS. His talk was called ‘Judges and Composition’, so we hoped to pick up some tips to improve our scores in competitions – we were not disappointed.
Peter covered a lot of ground, explaining key concepts of composition very clearly, beautifully illustrated with his own images. Peter talked about the criteria involved in composition, including creativity, technical aspects and impact (the wow factor). He urged us to consider what makes a great image compared to a good one. Peter went on to discuss a the many choices we need to make when composing our images and the effect they have on the final photograph. Those choices are both in-camera while shooting and in post-production.
Peter made the point that audio-visual (AV) presentations allow us to show all of our good images, not just the ones we pick to enter competitions. He showed us three of his AV presentations which amply illustrated the point.
Finally, Peter went through a long list of things that judges hate. I shall refer to my notes on this when entering the next competition! However, he reminded us that photography is supposed to be fun, so if you like an image, don’t worry too much about what a judge said about it. Good advice, but I’m sure we’ll all be able to improve our photographs after hearing Peter’s talk.


19 April 2023

Bhutan – The Land of the Thunder Dragon

Harry Kingman took us on a tour of Bhutan showing us many little-known treasures. He had visited this small country on a birding trip and discovered many unusual places along the way. Bhutan has an area of approximately 40,000 square metres and a population of just ¾ million who are mainly Buddhist. Harry started by explaining that Bhutan is at the foot of the Himalayas and that on his last leg of the journey there, he was able to capture photos through the aeroplane window of the peaks, including Everest.
Particularly striking to see in Harry’s images was how the country maintains its culture both in its buildings and in the way people dress. Even the terminal buildings at the airport are in traditional style. Harry showed us photos of the birds he’d gone to Bhutan to create but also of the many shrines, Buddhist stupas, chortens, prayer flags and prayer wheels. He also showed us aspects of life  in Bhutan, such as the feral dogs who have a good relationship with people since they may be a person’s ancestor.
This was a fascinating evening, learning through Harry’s photos about a country we’d known little about.


12 April 2023

Digital Competition Number 6

Tonight we held the final round in our series of ladder digital competitions with no set subject. Our judge was Amanda Wright who made the long journey from Ealing to view our images. There were 39 images submitted by members and these covered an enormous range of subjects which included many Natural History photographs, stunning landscapes, street photography and a number of creative images.
Amanda gave us some very constructive and helpful feedback on our images. She commented on composition and suggested ways in which our images could be improved and she shared her views on the use of key lines around the image to produce a better effect.
Being the last round of the competition, the overall standard was very high which resulted in a total of six images receiving the maximum score of 20 points, each photograph having been taken by six different authors.   These were:     
Dust Storm by Richard Tilson
Toss Up by Nigel Glover-Wright
Into the Sun by Ian Nash
Musk Ox by David Massie
Singing Dunnock by Nancy Massie
Sunflower by Geoff Storey
Our technicians were then able to announce the final results of the ladder competition  -
First Place  -  Nigel Glover-Wright with 228 points
Second Place  -  Richard Tilson with 224 points
Third Place  -  Tony Bates with 223 points.


5 April 2023

177 Years of Photoshopping

Susan Clark was our speaker tonight. She gave us a lively, pacey and fascinating talk about the history of photoshopping. Yes, photoshopping with a small ‘p’ as it has entered our vocabulary rather like hoovering and googling. Of course Photoshop has only been available on our computers for 33 years, but the techniques available in the software, such as dodging and burning, are very similar to the techniques used since the invention of photography.
Susan explained that the first evidence of photographic manipulation dates back 177 years; the negative has survived, so we can see the change that was made. Many of the early monochrome photos were hand painted to add colour and retouched to remove wrinkles and beautify a portrait. Today we can create painterly effects in Photoshop, but Susan explained that that there are situations where monochrome is better, such as when shape and texture is important.
Early lenses were not as good as today’s and they had poor depth of field, straight line distortion and vignetting. By making many negatives of a scene, the parts could be manually assembled to produce an improved result. Poor depth of field led to the invention of the stereograph to create a 3D image. Today we can print 3D objects at home.
Clever photo manipulation enabled hoaxers to create photos of ghosts which many people believed. Fake news is nothing new and Susan showed us many examples where history has been re-written by adding or removing people from photos of politicians as they went in and out favour.
Today’s technology enables us to manipulate photos in many extraordinary ways, including making women look much younger or thinner for advertising purposes, facial recognition and artificial intelligence.
Susan ended her talk by showing us examples of her own work followed by a surreal portrait of Salvador Dali. This was a climatic end to a riveting evening.


29 March 2023

6 x 4 Competition and Discussion Evening

In the first half of the evening, we held our popular annual 6 x 4 competition. This harks back to the days when you sent your film for processing and back came an envelope of your enprints measuring 6″ x 4″. Each entry consists of a panel of 5 enprints mounted on backing card. Each member could enter up to two panels. This is a fun, informal competition and the winner is determined by the votes of the members. The images varied from a street carnival to woodlands and garden flowers. The winner was David Belcher with a superb panel of images of birds, mostly shot in his garden.
The second half of the evening was a discussion about what we’d like to do next season. We discussed the state of our finances which are tight since membership numbers dropped after Covid. Some ideas were floated to try and increase membership and raise funds. The discussion moved on to next season’s competitions. We agreed on two set subjects in addition to the open competitions. In the light of the success of the recent print competition we decided to hold two print competitions next season, one colour and one monchrome.


22 March 2023

Finland’s Wildlife in Four Seasons

Tonight’s speaker on Zoom, Jenny Hibbert, has been with us before and she didn’t disappoint with her talk about Finland’s wildlife. Her talk was structured around the four seasons, starting with Winter. Jenny showed us some stunning images of birds in their snowy environment. The species ranged from golden eagles eating prey to the tiny Siberian jay. Jenny explained how she had to wait for hours in a freezing cold hide to capture the images, but her patience and endurance certainly paid off.
Spring was a good time to photograph brown bears going about their activities. The cubs were particularly cute and amusing. The bears were still around during the Summer when Jenny had the opportunity spend the night in a floating hide to capture images of the bears with lovely reflections in the pond and walking amongst the cotton grass. The floating hide was also a good vantage point to photograph beavers. Jenny showed us some images of wolverines taken in Autumn by waiting in a hide overnight. It was a real treat to see these rare animals that have a reputation for ferocity and strength.
We were privileged to see the results of Jenny’s skill and patience in capturing the superb images of Finland’s wildlife which made for a very enjoyable and educational evening.


15 March 2023

Print Competition

This was our first print competition since the pandemic disrupted our face-to-face meetings, so it was a real treat to view members’ images in print. There were two competitions tonight - monochrome and colour.
Kevin Day was our judge. He gave us constructive comments about each image which helped us to appreciate the image as well as learn how to improve our own images both while taking the photo and during post-production.
The top scorers of the monochrome competition were:
David Robinson: Guitar Virtuoso
Tony Bates (winner): Pre Flight Check
The top scorers of the colour competition were:
Ian Nash: Winter Fog
John Sexton: Linx
Tony Bates (winner): Thames at Goring


8 March 2023

The Why not the How

Tonight’s speaker was Peter Downes LRPS who gave a talk on Zoom called ‘The Why not the How’. Peter came across as a bit of a rebel, perhaps even a Marmite photographer. He said some competition judges marked him down heavily, while others gave him top scores. So he simply creates images that he likes rather than worrying about what a judge may say; a good lesson for all of us, probably.
Peter likes to create extraordinary abstract images from pictures of ordinary things. Sometimes he does this by creating an excessively contrasty monochrome image, sometimes by manipulating the colours until the image becomes abstract. Another technique Peter uses is multiple-exposure, sometimes done in-camera, sometimes in Photoshop. Peter showed us many examples of his work which were surprising, intriguing and inspirational.
Peter’s talk shed a new light on the possibilities of our craft and gave us much food for thought.


1 March 2023

Digital Competition ‘The Letter C’

Tonight we held our fifth digital competition; the set subject was the letter C. Our judge was Rojer Weightman. There were many interpretations involving the letter C with a few crocus images, catkins and some more obscure image titles containing the letter C.
Rojer gave us some very constructive and helpful feedback on our images. For example with landscapes, much better lighting is to be had around the beginning and end of the day when the sun is quite low in the sky, highlighting the relief and contours. The images scoring 20 were:
David Belcher CURLEWS
David Belcher CORNWALL
John Sexton COUGAR
Tony Bates CORFE CASTLE
The winning image was John Sexton’s COUGAR. David Belcher was the highest scorer.


22 February 2023

A Grand Tour of China

Tonight’s meeting was on Zoom, given by Marilyn and Mike Steward. They had been on ‘A Grand Tour of China’ and they had many photos and stories to share with us. Their tour started in Beijing where they visited most, if not all, of the iconic sites including Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Olympic Park and the Summer Palace. Immediately striking was the ornate architecture, particularly the roofs.  Marilyn and Mike moved on to show us images of the indoor market and the narrow streets of the Hutong.
Continuing their tour, Marilyn and Mike showed us images of the terracotta warriors in their original location near Xi’an. Their tour was quite extensive and included river trips on the Yangtze and Li rivers. Many of the images were quite hazy and they explained that this was due to pollution. Despite this, the landscapes looked dramatic and unusual.
On the return leg of Marilyn and Mike’s tour, they visited Shanghai where their images showed the stark contrast between the old and the new.
This was an interesting talk, covering a part of the world most of us had not visited.


15 February 2023

Botswana and the Masai Mara

Tonight, we were fortunate to have two talks from our very own Nigel Glover-Wright LRPS.  Nigel is our undisputed champion of natural history photography and he has been on many African safaris. In the first half, Nigel presented ‘Botswana – An African Jewel’. After the break, he presented ‘Masai Mara – The Great Migration.
There were many stunning images of the animals, birds and butterflies that Nigel encountered on these two safaris. Nigel’s favourites are the cheetah and the lilac breasted roller. Most compelling were the action shots that Nigel had succeeded in capturing ; some quite scary, some humorous. Nigel enlivened his talks with stories about what the animals were doing, often with an amusing twist.
Nigel’s images of the  great migration in the Masai Mara were a highlight, with rivers of wildebeest, zebra and other herbivores on the move. Where the animals have to cross an actual river presented many photo opportunities. Nigel conveyed the reluctance of some animals to cross and the danger they faced from the current and crocodiles.
This was an evening we shall not forget.


8 February 2023

Aspects of Composition

Tonight's Zoom meeting was a talk called ‘Aspects of Composition’ given by Michael Farley LRPS. He gave us a fascinating insight into how our brains perceive what we are looking at and how we can use that to our advantage when composing photographs. Many of the principles have been known about about and used by painters well before the invention of photography. Michael went on to discuss how to create the perception of depth and perspective in a two dimensional image.
Michael emphasised the point that composition is just one component of a successful image; the subject, intent, vision, technical aspects and the viewer’s response being the other components. He also covered how to use the colour wheel to advantage and aspects we often hear about from judges, such as frames, diagonals and triangles.
Michael illustrated his talk with many of his own images, bringing to life the many techniques he talked about. This was a comprehensive review of composition which was helpful both to beginners and more experienced photographers.


1 February 2023

Digital Competition No. 4: Set Subject ‘H’

Our fourth competition of the season was judged by  Brian Burden LRPS. The set subject was  the letter H. There were a healthy number of entries with a wide variety of images and some creative ways of including the letter H. Brian made the point that technical competency, such as images being in focus, is almost a given these days; a successful image needs to invoke  an emotion or tell a story. The results were:
First: Richard Tilson with 39 points
Second, 3 equal places: Nigel Glover-Wright, Geoff Storey and John Sexton all with 38 points
Third: Brenda Belcher with 37 points.
The winning image was ‘Heaven’s Gate’ by Richard Tilson


25 January 2023

River Severn/Matlock Cable Car

Tonight’s talk on Zoom was given by Christopher Stone. In the first half of the meeting,  Christopher took us on a journey down the river Severn from source to estuary. After the break, Christopher showed us the construction of the  cable car near Matlock, called the Heights of Abraham.
Christopher told us that the river Severn is about 120 miles long and rises in the Cambrian mountains in Wales. He took us on a photographic journey along the river, visiting many picturesque and historic towns. We finally reached the estuary with its two suspension bridges and the Severn bore.
Christopher was allowed to photograph the construction of the Heights of Abraham cable car in 1984. The steep terrain meant that a helicopter had to be used to bring much of the equipment on site. His photographs showed how cold the weather was during construction and how casual health and safety rules were in those days. It was fascinating to see how the cable car was built and the photographs form an historic document of the construction work.


18 January 2023

Natural History Competition

Tonight was our annual Natural History Competition with stunning images of animals in their  natural habitat and beautiful flowers. Our judge was Gladys Perrier LRPS who hails from the Bracknell Camera Club. She gave us very constructive comments about each image which helped us to improve our photography whether the comments were about our own images or someone else's. The top scorers were as follows, with Nigel Glover-Wright the overall winner.

Nigel Glover-Wright NAMAQUA CHAMELEON AND GRUB 20
Nigel Glover-Wright FEMALE MAGNIFICENT HUMMINGBIRD 20
Nigel Glover-Wright WHAT DO I DO NOW 20
Debby Reynolds ZENAIDA DOVE 19
Debby Reynolds BUGS AND BUGLOSS 19
John Sexton MOUNTAIN HARE 19
Tony Bates PELICAN 19
David Robinson BEACH MORNING GLORY 19

11 January 2023

The Camera Doesn’t Lie (But Photographers Do)

Tonight’s talk on Zoom was given by Graham Dean  who gave us a fascinating look into photographic manipulation.
He started by showing us a number of examples of how the eye and brain can fool us without any deliberate manipulation at all; for example a dress that looks to be gold and white stripes to some, but blue and black stripes to others.
Graham then gave us a whistle-stop tour of the history of photography. Even a simple pin-hole camera with the film exposed for several months shows us something we cannot normally see – the trails of the sun’s progress across the sky. Just one year after the invention of the process for permanently recording an image, a photographer had made a composition of multiple images.
Graham said there are two main reasons for manipulating images:
    • Political/propaganda
    • Artistic
Graham showed us a number of images of groups of politicians where one of the group had been removed after falling out of favour. Postcards are often touched up to show a tourist location in a favourable light. Graham went on to show us a number of images manipulated in creative ways to create art, for example cutting up a number of images and pasting them together to make a collage.
You may think that manipulating images is something new, made possible with software like Photoshop. However, up this point in Graham’s talk, all the manipulation had been done in the darkroom or in a studio.
In the second part of his talk, Graham brought us up to date by showing us some of his own images; he explained how he had created each final image using Photoshop.


14 December 2022

Audio Visual Competition and Christmas Buffet

Tonight was our traditional last meeting before Christmas. The first half was a variety of audio visual presentations created by members and this was followed by a buffet and drinks. Five members showed their audio visual creations with topics including:
    • Disney World
    • The Last Days of Steam
    • Tulips in Amsterdam
    • Church Chimes and Organs
    • Rock ‘n Roll Road Trip
Members voted for their favourite presentation and David Belcher’s Disney World was voted the winner.
A very varied and entertaining evening and a chance to catch up over a bite to eat and a glass of wine.


7 December 2022

Route 66

Ian Lyons presented a talk on Zoom titled Route 66. He told us that the road runs from Chicago to Santa Monica in Los Angeles County, a distance of approximately 2,450 miles. Only short sections of the original road remain, but Ian followed the direction of Route 66 during an 18-day road trip.
Ian presented images of the historic towns, trading posts and gas stations that he visited along the way. There were many curiosities, such as giant statues and memorabilia at gas stations maintained in the period (40’s and 50’s). Other buildings were in a state of managed decay, but had a certain charm about them. Particularly strange were the Cadillac and Bug ranches in Texas where cars were half buried nose first at an angle.
This was a fascinating and quirky presentation, well illustrated by Ian’s images


30 November 2022

Digital Competition Number 3

We had 57 entries for our third digital competition with no set subject. Our judge was Mark Buckley-Sharpe who made very helpful comments on each entry and emphasised a number points, including
    • Getting the timing right when the subject is moving
    • Finding the best viewpoint
    • Being there at the best time of day for the lighting
Tony Bates was the overall winner with 38 points. The top scoring images were:
    • A Dusty Stroll at Dawn by Nigel Glover-Wright 20*
    • Seasons by Tilly Jamieson 20*
    • Fog in the Woods by Tony Bates 20
    • Where is the Sea by David Belcher 20


23 November 2022

Making the Most of Travel Photography

Brian Law was our guest speaker tonight with a talk called ‘Making the Most of Travel’ delivered over Zoom. Brian’s talk was inspirational and full of practical information to help us make the most of our travel photography.
Brian explained how to make our images different to everyone else's and how to make them more that just postcard shots. Techniques include:
    • Use of the colour wheel to emphasise the exotic
    • Making images that interpret the scene rather than just illustrating it
    • Being creative and experimenting with blur, abstraction and intentional camera movement
    • Using a local guide to introduce you local people and their customs
    • Being alert to revealing images that other people don’t see
In addition to all of this, Brian covered what equipment to take (ranging from all of it to just an iPhone)  and how best to present your images on returning home. This was a comprehensive talk and we left inspired with ideas for our next trip away.


16 November 2022

Practical Photography Meeting

We have our annual audio-visual competition next month. So this practical photography meeting was about learning the skills needed to produce a suitable sequence. Ably lead by our chairman, Alan, who demonstrated his mastery of the topic. We sat with laptops at the ready, to make a competition entry. The audience included a whole range of expertise from the complete beginner to those wanting a little refresher after months of lockdown and those who just enjoyed the evening amongst friends.

We were not disappointed. Alan showed us how to use ‘PicturesToExe’ which is available as a free trial download. We learnt about importing photos, preparing them as a sequence and how to include a range of transitions. We added audio tracks and learnt how to export the resulting sequence as an executable file.

Thanks, Alan, for an informative and friendly evening. No excuse not to enter the competition now though.