Reports 2019-2020

Reports for the 2019 – 2020 Season

A Wet Assignment – Water – 4th March 2020

Tonight the 3rd Assignment Competition of the year was held. The theme was Water, to be interpreted by the photographer in any way that produced a good photograph. The judge for the evening was Doug Allan, long-time member of the Western Photographic Society, who was introduced by our President, Jeremy Broome-Smith.

Doug started by saying that he had no knowledge of photography or judging, a statement that we quickly learned was definitely untrue ! There was a very wide variety of subject matter submitted and our judge welcomed this variation. Naturally, rough seas and waves created by the recent storms were popular subjects, but there were also many tranquil scenes and some novelty shots showing splashes frozen by the camera’s flash.

Our judge was uncompromising but fair with his comments, and always explained why he had not awarded a higher mark. Often this was because the picture did not fit the brief: i.e. there was very little water in it or water was not the main subject. He pointed out that many of these photographs were in fact very good and might do well in a different competition.

The competition was divided into eight  sections, for Prints or Digital images, for Monochrome or Colour and for Intermediate or Advanced photographers.

The Intermediate Monochrome prints section was won by a very highly commended photograph of the waterfall on the Silverburn River by Steve Johnstone. Steve also claimed first place in the Colour section for his photo of “Sunset on Incoming Tide”.

In the Advanced section for Monochrome prints Jeremy Broome-Smith’s “Silver Surfer” and Chris Nicholls’ “Flowing” tied on points for first place, but Jeremy’s print was deemed to have the edge and he was awarded the winner in this section. Ruth Nicholls was the winner in the Advanced Colour prints section with her “Magnificent Cascade”. This image was also judged to be the best print of the competition.

In the Digital images, Beryl Quayle won the first place in Intermediate Monochrome section for a shot of Glen Maye waterfall with icicles (amazing!). In the Colour section it was another picture of stormy weather that won first place – “Stormy Waters” by Michael Howland.

Once again it was a weather photograph that took first place in the Advanced Monochrome Section and Sue Blythe’s “Storm Force” was the winner. The Advanced Colour section was won by Barry Murphy with an image titled “Manx Draught” – a peat-coloured stream that did indeed look like beer.

Finally, our judge rated Beryl Quayle’s image of “Glen Maye Waterfall” as the best digital image in the competition.

Our President thanked Doug Allan for the very thorough and detailed judging of all the photographs. The photographers of the Society were also thanked for their entries, as without their participation there would not have been a good competition.

 Richard Shafto

Antarctica, the Falklands, South Georgia, by Lara Howe 26th February 2020

Antarctica must surely be on most people’s “Bucket List” as a place to visit – and that will certainly include all photographers. It was a privilege therefore this week to welcome Lara Howe, one of our members, to give a digital slideshow of her visit there a year ago. Lara is an excellent photographer, and her career as a keen nature conservationist with the Manx Wildlife Trust gives a particular focus to her travels around the world – she has now visited all seven continents.

Her visit to Antarctica started and finished in Ushuaia, located on the Tierra del Fuego archipelago at the southernmost tip of South America. Her ship was a specialist expedition vessel, with only 100 or so passengers on board, amongst whom were expert speakers on the wildlife, photography and on Antarctica itself – so fully equipped for maximum information and advice. A small ship also has the advantage of getting close to shore, and allowing shore visits by ribs to get really close to the wildlife, especially penguins and seals.

The trip took in visits to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, Elephant Island, Deception Island as well as the Antarctic Peninsula proper. Fortunately, apart from storm conditions whilst crossing the Drake Passage, the weather during what is called the summer season was generally fair. Accompanied by friends Karin and Rebecca, the trio apparently spent their time on deck, on the water or on beaches getting as close to the wildlife and the ice as they possibly could – enabling Lara to gain some absolutely stunning images for our delight.

Wispy clouds over rocky islands, storm fronts approaching, ice and yet more ice, glaciers and ice bergs, albatrosses, whales, all the varieties of penguins seen in Antarctica except for the emperor (busy in the interior feeding their chicks), elephant seals, leopard seals, fur seals, the dereliction of deserted whaling stations – and all in glorious colour and really close-up with pin sharp detail. 800 images later and including a very informative commentary, her presentation gained a deserved round of applause from our audience.

Ruth Nicholls, Vice-President, gave the vote of thanks.

Chris Blyth

26th February 2020 Presentation by NFU Mutual of a cheque, a donation as thanks to the club.

This evening we were delighted to welcome David Wilkinson, Branch Manager of NFU Mutual. He presented the Society with a handsome cheque as a reward for the work the members had done to provide a stunning set of images to illustrate NFU’s Calendar for 2020.

Ruth Nicholls, Vice President, received the cheque from David, and thanked him and his organisation on behalf of the members. She said how much the members had enjoyed the challenge of capturing images of the Manx countryside at all seasons of the year, and that the Society really appreciated the generous figure which will be put to good use to enhance our projection equipment.

Ruth Nicholls

Masterclass on Practical Food Photography with Andrew Barton 19th February 2020

This week, on a wet and windy evening, we welcomed the return of local professional photographer, Andrew Barton, an Honorary Life Member of the Society, to give another of his occasional demonstrations and tutorials on a key skill – table top photography.

Honed by years of practical experience from the days of film and the necessity of using studio lighting for portrait and product photography, Andrew’s presentation became something of a masterclass for our members.

Club members enjoying the Food Photography workshop which Andrew Barton kindly guided us through. And some results!

Studio lights have an enormous benefit for the photographer – they are totally under his or her control. Very specific effects of light, shadow and depth of field can be created, so that the final image can be exactly as the photographer’s, or client’s, “vision” of the intended shot. For someone working, for example, for an advertising agency, and needing an image for a magazine or newspaper, being able to provide the exact image required isn’t just helpful – it’s essential to a career and perhaps being paid.

Aided by his colleague, Sue Jones, three set-ups had been arranged – each with a set of lights, and each with a different colour background – white, black and blue. The products to be photographed included fruit, cakes and sweets, and a red pepper. For portability, Andrew’s demonstration used mostly umbrellas – both “shoot through”, translucent and reflective – whereas in a more permanent studio set-up, he would recommend softboxes which offer greater controllability. With his camera tethered to a lap-top for immediate review and comment, we moved through the various arrangements, making small changes to the lighting to show the effect on the image. It became clear that even very small changes to the position and angle of the lights and their intensity could and did make enormous differences to the final image. It was also clear that practice (lots of it!) could only be of benefit to our own work…..

Jeremy Broome-Smith, President, gave the vote of thanks for a really interesting and helpful practical demonstration.

Chris Blyth

3rd Open Competition 12th February 2020

This week, the 3rd Open Competition provided a wealth of entries, both prints and digitally projected images, to test our judge, Eddie Fryer. Eddie is a member of the Western Society and on his own count, has been visiting and judging at the IOMPS for over twenty years – so very experienced and always welcome, with a carefully considered yet apparently effortless commentary and critique of every image.

Richard Shafto enjoyed a good start to the evening with a lovely image of the viaduct in Groudle Glen taking the top spot in the Intermediate Mono prints, followed by images from Jonathan Carey and Steve Johnstone. Steve got his reward in the Intermediate Colour section with a superb print of a snow-covered hillside at Montpelier, again with close competition from both Richard and Jonathan. In the Advanced class, Ruth Nicholls’ classic image of a cypress tree driveway in Tuscany, the drive and trees giving a strong lead-in to a villa in the background, gained the judge’s preference in the Mono section, just pipping Ron Shimmin and Sue Blythe. A sensitive colour print of two novice monks in Myanmar, with saffron robes and parasols in a well-chosen composition, earned Sue Blythe top marks and best print of the evening, with Ron Shimmin again close behind.

There was a large digital entry in all classes, Beryl Quayle taking top place and best digital image of the evening in the Intermediate Mono section with a close-up of a tree stump, the eroded woodwork providing a star-shaped pattern which intrigued our judge. Steve Johnstone and Martin Sanderson were runners-up. In Intermediate Colour, a lovely image of a green chameleon got Richard Shafto his second win of the evening, with Janet Henry and Martin Sanderson gaining the same score but placed just behind. A view looking down into the atrium of a building pleased the judge in the Advanced Mono section for Chris Nicholls, the geometric shapes of windows, balconies and stairway providing an interesting composition.  Sue Blythe and Barry Murphy were close behind. A stunning image of the main hall of the Natural History Museum from Claire Schreuder took the honours in the Advanced Colour with Sue Blythe and Barry Murphy again in close contention.

Jeremy Broome-Smith, President, gave the vote of thanks.

Chris Blyth

Studio session with models 5th February 2020

Take three different studio lighting set-ups, include three different models, add twenty or so keen photographers, and stir gently for an excellent evening of “foto fun” and practical entertainment – this was exactly what transpired at this week’s meeting of the IOM Photographic Society.

Two of the three studio lighting arrangements were standard studio flash equipment (two or more flash heads plus softboxes) provided by members Tony Curtis and Chris Blyth.  These need a trigger to fire, which means that only one photographer can use the set at any one time. The third arrangement, supplied by Nigel Owen and Jeremy Broome-Smith, was of continuous LED lights – lower power but the big advantage of continuous lighting is that multiple members can take their shots at the same time – a significant benefit when we have a good number of members attending.

Photos by Sue Jones, Ruth Nicholls, Tony Curtis, with thanks to Gwenael La Sirene,Steve Corfield, and Peter Crellin, and Tony, Nigel, Barry and Jeremy for the lighting and guidance.

Our three models represented three different styles – Steve Corfield came as a swordsman, Peter Crellin as a Viking, whilst Gwenael La Sirene was dressed as a belly dancer and was talented in her ability to move her body in beautiful sinuous curves – with all three guest models moving around the various lighting arrangements to provide our members with their photo opportunities. As always, it was a very popular and intriguing evening, with members requested to provide sample images to the models for their portfolios – a modest reward for their efforts but likely to include some top-class photographs.

Jeremy Broome-Smith thanked all involved for their input and participation.

Chris Blyth

Presentation by Antony Hamilton, The Camino de Santiago de Compostela, 29th January 2020

Images by Antony Hamilton, the Camino de Compostela, northern Spain.

Antony Hamilton is a Life Member as well as an ex-President of the Society, and with his wife Sandra, much travelled. His travelogues – an occasional but fairly regular feature of our programme – are always carefully prepared and meticulously presented with lots of top-quality images and an excellent commentary. This week was no exception – a presentation on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain, otherwise known as The Way of St James.

The pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela is the third most important in the Christian calendar after Jerusalem and Rome, more than 300,000 taking the route in 2018. There are several different routes to the destination, Antony and his wife chose the route from San Sebastian, known as the ‘French route’, starting close to the Pyrenees and the French border, and covering more than 650 kilometres. There are also several different methods of travel – to gain a ‘passport’, stamped at various points along the way,  to prove the pilgrimage,  a walker needs to have have walked at least 100 kilometres of the route, and a cyclist at least 200 kilometres. There is also a ‘luxury’ version of the pilgrimage involving only modest exercise, a coach and a week or so staying in top class hotels, known in Spain as Paradors.  This was Antony’s very sensible choice!

Starting in the Basque city of San Sebastian the trip included Pamplona, famous for the author Hemingway and its bull run, Logrono, Burgos, and Leon, each with its own richly decorated cathedral with spires and high altar. Antony’s presentation showed these, all beautifully depicted and he carefully explained their history. Local food from tapas bars varied from city to city, each having its own specialities, whilst any visit to the region has to include a winery, in this case, one in the Rioja area. The Peninsular War and the 1809 Battle of La Corunna also got a mention, an image being shown of the memorial to Sir John Moore (the defeated British Commander) which interestingly was commissioned by his French adversary, Marshall Soult. The effort made by the pilgrims was also clear – their tired arrival in Santiago  proving that earning a passport certificate is indeed hard work!

Ruth Nicholls, Vice President, gave the vote of thanks for an excellent presentation.

Chris Blyth

2nd Assignment Competition – Shapes & Patterns – 22nd January 2020

The assignment competition for both prints and digital images was on the subject of “Shapes and Patterns” – a topic which members found to be more difficult than the committee had expected. Our judge was the ever popular Ray Kelly – the author and photographer of three beautifully illustrated books on Manx Tholtans. He has an artistic eye for a good image, and as always, gave us a commentary demonstrating his knowledge and experience and a willingness to share it with us.

The meeting opened with the Intermediate print entries, Steve Johnstone taking the honours in both the mono section with a very busy image of a ‘Starling Murmuration’, and in the colour section with ‘Water Droplets on Glass’, which also gained the judge’s approval as his favourite print in the competition. Steve was kind enough to explain his technique for this latter shot – basically a mixture of water droplets and glycerine on glass overlaying a colour image, suspended over four toilet rolls, the colours being reflected back into the droplets – it certainly proved a very successful process with a wonderfully bright and bold image resulting. In the Advanced group, Nigel Owen’s mono image of a flight of steps was outstanding – the interplay of lines and shadows showing high artistry, whilst Ron Shimmin demonstrated his skills in the colour section with ‘Shipshapes’, a bright image of a boat’s prow, it’s colours reflected in the water.

Despite strong competition from Beryl Quayle, Steve Johnstone and Richard Shafto, Martin Sanderson proved to be the one to beat in the Intermediate digital class, taking the lead in both the mono and colour sections – his mono shot of ‘Concentric Windows’ showing good detail as the rectangular windows repeated into the distance, whilst a symmetrical winding hedge called ‘Snakes in the Hedge’ won the colour section. Similarly, Sue Blythe swept the board in the Advanced digital class, with ‘All Heart’, an imaginative arrangement of matches in the shape of a heart leading the mono class, and in the colour section the historic U Bein Bridge at Mandalay in Myanmar, with spectators silhouetted against a sunset in the colour section. This became the judge’s favourite digital image in competition.

Ruth Nicholls, Vice President, gave the vote of thanks for an excellent evening.

Chris Blyth

Presentation by Diane McCudden, the Masai Mara, Kenya  15th January 2020

This week we were treated to a wonderful presentation on the Masai Mara in Kenya by one of our members, accomplished photographer Diane McCudden, CPAGB, BPE*. Diane is particularly good at nature, wildlife and people pictures and her experience shone through in her presentation.

Her visit to the Masai Mara National park some years ago was illustrated by many very interesting and varied images, accompanied by traditional vocal music of the area. We saw the comfortable tented accommodation that she and her husband used, complete with flushing bathroom facilities! And the not-so-comfortable jeeps that the group were transported round the park in, under the careful eye of their guide, John. She noted that many of the local Masai tribesmen had British names. Their tent was not fenced and at night they could hear wild animals close by, and woke to find footprint evidence in the morning.

Nearby was a well-filled river, with crocodiles and hippopotami. Nothing daunted the group’s meals including breakfast were served outside, and no-one came to any harm.

Diane captured many photographs of the famous Marsh Pride of lions, male, female, and young. We also saw leopards, cheetahs, gazelles, and perhaps most impressive was the migration across the Mara river of thousands of wildebeest. They leap into the crocodile-infested water, to swim across in search of greener pastures, and on the other side, the slippery muddy river bank is so steep that many animals fall back, breaking their limbs and  never make the trek successfully. Diane’s images flowed into each other so smoothly that it was almost like watching a video.

We also saw hippos, buffalo, elephants, zebra, jackalls, giraffes, Secretary birds and of course the ever-present scavengers, hyena, circling vultures and storks.

Diane had some fascinating photos of the Masai Mara people, no longer ‘warriors’. Their houses are built from sticks and mud, living with their animals and cooking and sleeping on the floor. They wear vivid coloured clothing, often red, multicoloured beads, and sometimes a headdress made from lion fur. They pride themselves in how high they can jump.

When President Jeremy Broome-Smith thanked Diane, he said it had made him ever more determined to go and see for himself.

Ruth Nicholls

President’s Evening and Laxey Challenge 8th January 2020

A fascinating start to the second half of our season – Society President Jeremy Broome-Smith treated the members to a travelogue on India, followed by images of Laxey taken by a number of members, as a non-competitive challenge.

The Real India, by Jeremy Broome-Smith

Jeremy, in the company of two friends, Mahindra and Bob,(the former himself an Indian and clearly delighted to show off his home country), spent several weeks in 2011 touring the country by car and taxi. The resulting images and videos showed a country of extremes – of wealth and poverty, of grandeur and ordinary, of busy roads and quiet countryside. It started with a video of the traffic conditions from Delhi airport to their first stop-off point – and the quite terrifying volume of vehicles, constant sound of horns, and apparent lack of “normal” road safety rules – an interesting introduction to the country and which fortunately they survived! From there we moved around, visiting the Golden Temple of Amritsar, the Red Fort of Delhi, the Taj Mahal and various palaces and religious sites, as well as a visit to the traditional summer stop-over of Shimla – the architecture, the people and the scenery all very obviously much enjoyed, with great hospitality being shown to the tourists, the presence of Mahindra a great help in ensuring that arrangements went smoothly.

The second half saw images of Laxey from Nigel Owen, Ruth and Chris Nicholls, Chris Blyth, Barry Murphy and Steve Johnstone, all taken to show the different interpretations by each member, given the same brief. Whilst most of the images could be described as “poster shots” of Laxey scenes, Barry’s excellent sporting images were all of a football match between Laxey and Rushen (the action being particularly well caught), whilst Nigel had chosen to emulate the well-known American photographer Elliott Erwitt with a highly artistic sequence of shots taken from low down (a “dogs-eye view”) of the Laxey tram station, the railway tracks leading off into the distance and of the church.

Chris Blyth

Presentation by Andrew Haddock  11th December 2019

This week when we were pleased to welcome Andrew Haddock as our guest speaker. Andrew has recently retired from the IOM Police force where he was a SOCO – Scene of Crimes Officer, with a particular specialisation in photographing and documenting reported incidents. In the first half of the evening he told us about his recruitment into the force and how he unexpectedly became their forensic photographer.

It very quickly became apparent just how meticulous a SOCO photographer needs to be in recording the scenes of incidents, be it a traffic accident or criminal activities – particularly in light of possible court action thereafter and cross-examination as to the evidence being presented. Everything needed to be carefully measured and recorded, nothing could be discarded which might prejudice a possible verdict. A particular feature of Andrew’s presentation was just how much his job had changed over his 25 years’ experience. At first, film cameras, often heavy and very bulky, with specialist equipment for recording fingerprints for example, and needing darkrooms and wet processing, with all the uncertainty and stress of not knowing just how good a job had been done, – to the modern day when lightweight digital cameras or even a mobile phone can provide an equivalent performance, and instantly able to be checked for accuracy and exposure.

The second half was filled with Andrew’s own personal photography – images taken almost exclusively here on the island, mostly when walking our hills with his dog. And what a pleasure – images that proved that one doesn’t need to travel to far-off places to get some fantastic scenic shots, nor highly expensive equipment – just a very good eye and the imagination, artistry and creativity to “see the picture”. Oh – and a willingness to put on the walking boots and climb up into those hills!!

Club President Jeremy Broome-Smith thanked him for a wonderful evening.

The Society is now to take a short break for the Christmas holidays, with our next meeting planned for Wednesday, 8th January, when Jeremy will be giving a presentation of some of his work. Given the acknowledged excellence of his images, this will be a meeting not to be missed.

Chris Blyth

2nd Open Competition  4th Dec 2019

At this week’s meeting we had the 2nd Open Competition for both prints and digitally projected images – ‘open’ in the sense that the images on display could be of any subject. Our judge, from the Western Photographic Society, was Pat Tutt, well known as an architect and keen photographer and a popular visitor to our society, with a reputation as a good speaker with an excellent eye. And so it proved – she was quick to identify areas for improvement such as a colour cast or a highlight spot which drew attention from a main subject, but also scrupulously fair in identifying the good points of composition and the hard work or artistry of the author in getting the shot.

In the Intermediate Mono Prints, Richard Shafto did well with a lovely, well printed image of a Dutch windmill, just gaining the edge over Steve Johnstone’s image of a grey heron. Steve however dominated the Intermediate Colour Prints, with a superb image of a red kite in flight taking the honours, as well as the award of Best Print of the evening. The Advanced Mono Prints saw Barry Murphy get top score with the thoughtfully titled ‘Eccentric Framing’, a characterful man in a window set to one side in the composition. Chris Blyth’s attractive portrait of Georgia, taken at a recent club studio evening, scored top marks in the Advanced Colour section.

Minimalism and natural history proved the winning themes in the digital image sections. Janet Henry’s shot of trees in snow – the heavily frosted branches and trunks beautifully reflected in still water gaining her the top spot in the Intermediate Mono section, whilst Steve Johnstone’s lovely shot of a chiffchaff eyeing an insect for its meal did the same in the Colour section. Sue Blythe dominated in the Advanced group, taking top spot in both Mono and Colour sections – her minimalist photograph of posts emerging from a white mist on Derwentwater gaining the Mono award and a natural history action image of gannets arguing over a fish taking both the Colour section and Pat’s favour for the overall winning Digital image of the night. Club President Jeremy Broome-Smith gave the vote of thanks.

Chris Blyth

Members’ presentations, Richard Shafto and Kevan Osborn – 27th November 2019

Some of our members like putting together a digital show of their work to present on a club night. But for others that is something they wouldn’t wish to do. It is perfectly OK just to attend our meetings and sit back and enjoy looking at the work of other members and gather ideas and inspiration.

It is always a pleasure to see members volunteering to present their work and to see their approach to photography and any special interests they may have. So it is a bonus when two members offer to make a presentation – which was the case this week when both Richard Shafto and Kevan Osborn each showed us some of their work.

Underwater photography by Richard Shafto

It transpired that Richard had been a very experienced scuba diver, with over 500 dives in Manx waters during the 20-year period from 1989 to 2010, plus other dives as far afield as the Red Sea, Australia, the Maldives and the Caribbean. During that time he used a Nikonos film camera to take hundreds of images of underwater life and – despite the difficulties of filming underwater which he explained in some detail – was able to show more than 200 images all of which had been scanned digitally for the purpose of his presentation. The images included many superb shots of fish both large and small, crustaceans such as crabs and lobsters, beautiful corals and anenomes and – scarily – some rather close-up shots of sharks. The macro shots in particular, aided by the use of flash to improve the lighting conditions, clearly demonstrated the vivid colours, stunning variety and beauty of life underwater.

by Kevan Osborn

By contrast, Kevan’s presentation was perhaps more typical of most members’ work – holiday shots taken on a trip to Australia via stop-overs in Dubai and Singapore – but proved equally enjoyable. The vibrant life of Dubai and Singapore, the “bling” of skyscrapers and their modern architecture, the hustle and bustle of their shipping and streets was all well shown. However, the main focus was on Australia with, in particular, Sydney, the harbour and the iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House, together with shots taken during one of the cricket Tests against England. Despite some technical difficulties, Kevan coped brilliantly with an amusing and much enjoyed presentation.

Another presentation to look forward to, on 11th December, will be given by Andrew Haddock from the Manx Police on the use of photography in the fight against crime.

Chris Blyth

1st Assignment Competition – On the Beach – 20th November 2019

This proved to be a good topic with a wide range of interpretation, and one fully explored by our members. Our judge was well known local professional photographer, Clare Payne, who specialises in wedding and social photography. She proved a very capable and articulate judge with an excellent commentary on the various images presented, and with interesting asides as to her own experiences with a camera.

She opened the evening by explaining her judging criteria – firstly the composition and the viewpoint taken by the author, then how well the technical aspects have been handled, and finally the creative elements and input of the photographer – which set the scene for her marking of the entries.

In the Print sections, only two Intermediate members participated, with Steve Johnstone taking the honours over Richard Shafto in both mono and colour with pleasing images of the beaches at Port Erin and at Glen Mooar. The Advanced group saw an excellent Print entry, with Sue Blythe’s image of Brooklyn Bridge in New York topping the mono section, whilst Claire Schreuder’s dramatic and well-saturated shot of the beach at Cranstal emerged as the judge’s choice for the colour section and as the ‘Print of the evening’.

There was a large entry in each of the digital categories, Janet Henry’s image of Glen Mooar beach winning the Intermediate mono class. Clare faced the dilemma of liking equally two images in the Intermediate colour class, but since both were by Martin Sanderson, it was less of a problem than it might have been – her preference in the end being a lovely shot of waves on Laxey promenade taken from the pier. Laxey Pier again featured in the winning shot in the Advanced mono class, Sue Blythe’s image of a storm surge breaking over the outer pier proving the judge’s choice, and Sue’s entry of a tern in flight also proved the outstanding image in the Advanced colour section and as the ‘Digital image of the evening’.
Society President Jeremy Broome-Smith gave the vote of thanks for a superb commentary and a much-enjoyed evening. Our next competition, on 4th December, will be our second Open Competition of the season, including both prints and digital images, with Pat Tutt from the Western Society to judge for us.
Chris Blyth

Presentation by Howard Parkin, Astronomer 13th November 2019 ‘The Space Race’, and ‘Cruising’

This week the Society had the pleasure of Howard Parkin as our guest speaker.  Howard is an excellent and very experienced speaker, having been a teacher and lecturer. He is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, and has an exceptional knowledge of astronomy and space exploration.  This expertise has recently led him into the area of guest lecturing on board cruise liners – with the added bonus of travel around the world at cruise company expense.  As he freely admits, it’s a tough job but he’s lucky enough to have it!

2019 is the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin with Apollo 11 in 1969 and this provided the material for the evening’s first half, a mixture of video and sound clips of the history of space flight.  Spurred on by the Russian launch of Sputnik in 1957 as the first Earth orbital flight and the subsequent launches of a dog called Laika and then astronaut Yuri Gagarin, the then US President John F Kennedy determined to recover the initiative and the USA landed a man on the moon no later than 1969.  This, ever afterwards known as the “space race”, was explored in considerable historical detail via the successive and ultimately successful developments of the various Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions.  Howard’s presentation of that epic 1969 event – “one small step for man – one giant leap for mankind” – included the numerous scientific discoveries (for example, teflon and memory foam) that have followed, and has today led to the possibility of commercial flights and space tourism, as well as a new US initiative to send Man to Mars.

The second half covered Howard’s experiences as a lecturer on astronomy on board ship, and the various cruises he has been fortunate enough to have enjoyed in recent years.  These have sometimes been linked to major astronomical events such as eclipses and aurora. And as cruise ships have become ever more sophisticated in terms of the “experiences” available to their customers, his input to the design and inclusion of planetaria in their on-board facilities . 

Howard received an enthusiastic round of applause for a well-paced and authoritative delivery, the clips of the space race in particular reminding us all of the many historic moments we have seen on TV and in film.

Chris Blyth

Presentation by Charles Guard, 6th November 2019

Herring Tower
Part of Douglas

We were delighted to have Charles Guard as our guest presenter this week – a passionate speaker with a love of the island, highly articulate  and with great knowledge of all aspects of our history and culture.  He is, of course well known as the “face” for many videos of the island, but perhaps less so as a music composer and (once upon a time) as a member of the island’s Planning Committee.

Peel Castle

Our evening with him came in two halves – the first, an exploration of the island through drone photography and a comparison with filming via helicopter to get similar aerial images. It was quickly evident that drones give better access, ready availability and an affordability not possible with a helicopter.  Historic sites such as Cronk Sumark, the tholtans of the Sulby Valley, Peel Castle and Castle Rushen, the mine workings around the Laxey Valley, Bradda Head and Maughold, were all explored in great detail. Charles’s experience in the Planning Committee also made a contribution – a liking for much of our urban landscape such as Douglas promenade, and the town centre of Peel, though perhaps not the tower at Peel Power Station….  A striking sequence of images showing coastal erosion on the island’s west coast made for a major discussion – the erosion now endangering housing in the Kirk Michael area, the displacement of the gravel banks at the Point of Ayre and continuing erosion around the old Wrights Pit East tip will in the not too distant future cause severe issues for government.

Port St Mary
Cronk Sumark

The second half of our evening covered the island’s activities during World War Two – including the conscription of many workers, the cessation of tourism and resulting economic difficulties for the hotels and boarding houses, the use of the island as an internment centre, the development of Jurby, Andreas and Ronaldsway airfields and their use for training of aircrews, and the 4 radar stations built around our coastline. The remnants of these activities – e.g. the bunkers, pill boxes and bomb stores – are now almost unique in the British Isles, and thus well worth preservation as being of major historic significance, but need government action to protect  them – which is yet to happen.

Society President Jeremy Broome-Smith gave a well-deserved vote of thanks for an excellent evening.

Chris Blyth

Members’ Autumn and Macro Images 30th Oct 2019

This week we had the pleasure of seeing all the entries for the October Challenge ‘Autumn’. Without a doubt our biggest participation ever for this non-competitive format with an amazing 39 images in total being put forward. Especially pleasing to see so many of our new members taking part. Special thanks to Beryl Quayle for selecting a great theme. Bearing in mind many of these images were taken on mobile phones and without editing, the quality of the entries was extremely good.

This is our second season running this regular challenge, we have tried to make it as easy as possible for people to enter with few restrictions or rules, no sizing, no uploading etc. The emailing of the images has been successful to date, but unfortunately this month 2 images failed to get through, apologies to Andrew Cairns.

Bearing in mind I do this totally voluntarily and in my own time, the volume of submissions is making this more time consuming than initially envisaged. I don’t want to make rules for this, but to assist me I am going make some special requests with regard to titles & submitting for next months challenge. See our members Facebook page for more details.

The November Challenge has been chosen by Jonathan Carey, it is to be ‘Bridges’, these must be taken on the Island, and NOT in a Glen. Now that is a challenge!

Barry Murphy

We also had members showing their images from the summer macro challenge held at Ballaghennie.

The brief was two hours in a restricted area to study and photograph the smaller things in our world.

All photos were to be taken between 11am & 1pm within walking distance of the Ballaghennie car park with members given the challenge of photographing insects, plants and flowers and shoreline.

The macro challenge and the monthly challenge together gave us in excess of one hundred images many with commentary from the members who took the images.

By Jeremy Broome-Smith

First Open Competition 23 Oct 2019

Underwater Kingfisher by Sue Blythe

The Isle of Man Photographic Society held the first Open competition of the year. Open, meaning that any subject was eligible. There was a good entry spread over colour and monochrome images, in both prints and projected digital images.

We were delighted that Dennis Wood had accepted our invitation to judge the images. Dennis is an active member of the Western Photographic Society, and is no stranger to judging our competitions. He gave us his considered opinions on our images, explaining how he formed his decisions, taking into consideration the range of tones in an image, the composition, use of light, the story-telling nature of the picture, the quality of the image and any post-processing.

All sections were well supported, and the scores given were generally high, with no images gaining less than 14 out of 20 possible marks. The winner in the Intermediate mono print section was a lovely print of a train ‘On the Embankment’, by Geoff Atkinson. And the Advanced section winner was Ruth Nicholls with an image of old memorabilia, entitled ‘Precious Memories’.

In the colour print sections Nature images did particularly well. In the Advanced colour prints Nigel Owen’s artistic interpretation of a thistle head gained top place and the winner in the Intermediate section was a beautiful image of a grey squirrel by Steve Johnstone, entitled ‘Lunchtime’, which was also chosen as the Best Print in the competition.

After refreshments and some friendly chat, came the projected digital images. The judge’s choice as the best Intermediate mono image was of a ‘Dandelion’ seed-head almost silhouetted against the sky, by Janet Henry, and in the Advanced mono section he chose a view of the ‘Mountain Road’ by Annette Slater.

Colour PDIs followed, and another Manx image was the judge’s favourite, the Snaefell tram ‘Starting the Descent’ with a beautiful view of the North of the island and the distant hills across the sea, by Geoff Atkinson. In the Advanced section, the photograph that stole the show was an amazing capture of an ‘Underwater Kingfisher’, with outstretched wings, air bubbles streaming off it, and fish swimming round it. Dennis awarded it Best PDI, and also the Best Image Overall of the competition, by Sue Blythe.

Ruth Nicholls

16th October 2019 – A Practical evening of Studio Photography – a session with the IOM Burlesque and Steampunk Group

The five models from the IOM Burlesque and Steampunk Group

It is unusual for our society to have live models to photograph, but on 16th October we were treated to a visit by the Island’s Burlesque and Steampunk group. Steampunk is a fashion that combines historical elements with anachronistic technological features inspired by science fiction. Burlesque is older and includes the revealing costumes from a bygone era of variety and cabaret. Both styles provided ample opportunity for exotic photographs. The colours and variety of the garments we saw were dazzling.

The Art Society’s meeting room was well prepared for the evening, with three mini photographic studios. Thanks to Barry Murphy and Jeremy Broome Smith for this. Each area had provision for lighting the models by flash and the backdrops needed for serious photography were  set up by the more experienced photographers in the IOMPS. About thirty members attended the meeting, all with at least one camera.

Of course, the stars of the night were the Burlesque and Steampunk Group members, Steven, Hazel, Trees, Georgia and Gareth. As expected  the costumes were outrageous – they had to be! During the evening some of them changed costumes to provide even more variety. At the start we were advised to ask the models to pose as we wanted and that is exactly what they did over a one and a half hours, with only a short break for refreshments.

There is insufficient space here to describe all the clothes in detail. We saw Georgia in a gorgeous red dress, Trees with her fans and Steven in a long black coat with a sci-fi gun. Hazel wore a sexy green corset. Just when we thought that the evening’s photography might be over, a late arrival by Gareth in his exotic red outfit and stunning headdress amazed us all. At the end of the evening all the models posed together for a group shot. I realised I did not know the difference between Burlesque and Steampunk – but does that really matter ? Everyone there had a wonderful experience.

Richard Shafto

Technical Evening Report. October 9th 2019

Being a member of a photographic club sometimes isn’t just a case of being able to “point and press” the button on a mobile phone or camera and taking a shot, but also of developing skills to show one’s work to best advantage – whether as a print or as a digitally projected image. So the meeting this week of the IOM Photographic Society was both a social evening with the opportunity for members to discuss their shared enthusiasm, but also a “technical evening”, designed to explain the intricacies of mounting a print and of preparing a digital image for competition purposes and projection on to a screen. This was an evening aimed first and foremost at our new members – of whom there are a pleasing number – but also at existing members as a refresher session and to answer any queries that may arise.

The mounting of a print was covered in demonstrations by Ruth Nicholls and by Jeremy Broome-Smith – the first and cheaper method essentially being a simple adhesive application to the back of a print and placing on to a single mountboard (a rolling pin being very helpful to ensure no air bubbles are left behind!). The second is a “sandwich” or “window” process requiring two boards (and hence slightly more expensive) – an aperture being cut into a top board of a size to suit the print, and then both fixed to a lower board.

Preparing a digital image for uploading to our competitions website was explained by Nigel Owen and Chris Blyth, both showing fairly simple processes in editing software such as Photoshop – but also requiring an understanding of the rules and the necessity of ensuring compliance such that we all enter competitions on a standard footing.

By Chris Blyth

An image taken by Jeremy Broome-Smith at Port Mooar was used to demonstrate how to window mount a print for competition during our recent “technical evening”

2nd October 2019 ‘Manx Countryside’ Calendar for NFU Mutual

This week the Society welcomed David Wilkinson, MD of NFU Mutual based here on the island, together with two of his staff, Voirrey Horne and Natalie Mason, for a showing of more than 150 images offered by the membership as possible shots to be used in the NFU’s 2020 calendar. The theme of the calendar was broadly “The Manx Countryside”, and the images shown included some of the very best aspects of the island – from our beautiful landscape and seascape scenery to farm animals and our wildlife, from sunsets and star shots to images of our national glens and wild flowers.

David and his team had taken considerable time to make their selection of ‘winning’ images – their selection included some obvious ‘calendar’ shots straight off a Christmas card or a biscuit tin, but also some quirky shots with a definite touch of humour.  After showing all the entries, the evening finished on a climax with the thirteen images actually chosen for the calendar, one for each month plus one for the cover.

It was a particular pleasure to note that many members contributed images to the display, including several who do not normally participate in club competitions but who are highly regarded photographers – and so a pleasant surprise that Brenda Shimmin’s image of the Calf of Man in the snow earned a place as the image for January, whilst two of Sue Jones’s landscapes have also been included. To his considerable surprise, Steve Johnstone was our ‘star on the night’, achieving three images in the calendar whilst other members work to be selected included Jeremy Broome-Smith, Barry Murphy, Sue Blythe, Jonathan Carey, Mike Howland and Ron Shimmin. The cover image, revealed as the last of the evening, was of loaghtan sheep enjoying a feast of hay, entered by Beryl Quayle – a shot that gained a big round of applause from our audience.

Club President Jeremy Broome-Smith thanked NFU Mutual for entrusting the Society with the calendar, Barry Murphy and Jonathan Carey for their help in gaining the assignment, as well as all the members who had contributed – truly a massive co-operative effort, but with an excellent result and a ‘showpiece’ calendar for NFU, demonstrating the best of the island.

The Society is most appreciative of the support that NFU Mutual has pledged towards our funds.

Chris Blyth

Opening Night 25 September 2019

The new season of regular weekly Wednesday evening meetings for the IOM Photographic Society started with a real “tour-de-force” – a large audience including a pleasing number of both new and returning members was given a very warm welcome by our new President, Jeremy Broome-Smith. His opening remarks made clear that the key objective for him and for the committee was that members enjoyed their photography, shared their knowledge and expertise, and had fun whilst doing so – and the programme was geared to achieving this.

Once details of the programme had been explained, and as had been requested for the meeting, a dozen or so of the membership provided images of their summer activities – a total of some 120+ images resulted, with each member providing background information on their selection. It started with Jeremy’s own images – images with an emphasis on his particular interest in both macro shots of insects and in long exposure landscapes which produces interesting results for clouds and seascapes. Family holidays, both home and abroad, featured large – children and grand-children, and landscapes of Italy and Switzerland, a Mediterranean cruise, Spain, the Lake District and USA were shown by a number of members, including Janet Henry, Chris and Ruth Nicholls, Jonathan Carey and Chris and Moira Blyth. Steve Johnstone showed his continuing fascination with natural history images with some excellent shots of birds, a subject also enjoyed by Beryl Quayle. Jiri Podobski provided some lovely images of his hobbies – of folk dancing and scootering, Barry Murphy’s interest in macro shots, stimulated by a practical session in our last season, provided a further sequence of shots, whilst Martyn Parnell’s enthusiasm for motorcycle shots of TT racing was clearly evidenced with a dozen or more shots, all pin sharp – the bikes in various states of “flying” at top speed.

Chris Blyth

IMAGE: Tandem Hang Gliding, Switzerland by Chris Nicholls was one of many excellent images shown by members on the first evening of the new season

Summer Newsletter

Dear Member,

 I thought it would be good to make contact now with some good news.

(1)  Website. Richard Shafto has spent much time migrating our website to a faster service and it is now back up and running. It is much faster. Passwords for members’ access remains the same as before.

(2) Manx calendar. The closing date for uploading your images is 31 July. The format needs to be A4 . For uploading to the website they must be 1400×1050. Barry Murphy has had meetings with the NFU and judging will take place towards the end of August. It is planned to show the images and announce the 12 winners on a special club night 2nd Oct . Please note that at present the thumbnails of the calendar pictures don’t appear after uploading an image but the title is visible and an option to delete or add further images remains. Richard Shafto is aware of this glitch in the software which he will resolve after 31 July. (Note, now resolved, all Competition upload sections are working.  Sept)

(3) Programme. You will be pleased to see that it is now published on the website. It is not fully completed yet. The committee has been working hard to produce this varied and interesting programme.

(4) The Isle of Man Bank have withdrawn their sponsorship , so in future the trophy will be called “ The Bank Cup “ . The set choice/assignment this season is “Nature“ . The criteria/definitions  are the same as  our guidelines for Nature in our Annual Competition and the Competition Rules can be found on the website under Documents.

(5) Funding from the Arts Council. An application will be submitted during July to request some funding to cover the cost of our Annual Judge. The application forms have become complex, requiring a lot of detail, and letters of support. Thanks to a few dedicated people on the committee the application is practically complete. (Note, Sept. Application accepted by the Arts Council, funding for the Annual received. We greatly appreciate the support we receive from the Arts Council)

(6)  Annual Judge. We have been extremely fortunate that Rod Wheelans has agreed to visit us and judge our competitions which will be held on Wednesday April 1 and Thursday April 2. ( this is because Rod has to return to U.K on the Friday ). Rod is well-known in the club scene, he adjudicates for PAGB qualifications, and has lots of photographic letters including FRPS , MPAGB , MFIAP .

(7) Photo  Challenge. Laxey. The object of the exercise is to try to have a ‘theme’ for your project. There are lots of possibilities. the harbour, the beach, the station, the trams, the tram-lines, the wheels (two of them), the people, the river, the village shop-windows, the quaint houses, the gardens, the flour mill, King Orry’s grave, or a ‘Tourist Board’ brochure, etc..
If you can do a few more than 10, that’s great. Let’s say up to 20, no more.And if you can sequence them so that one leads nicely to the next, so much the better. Make them the usual 1400×1050 size, no need to fill in with black, put them on a flash drive to plug into the club laptop, and bring that to the club on the night.
We expect to arrange for you to show your pictures and talk just a bit about them (again not strictly necessary) about halfway through the first half of the programme, ie a bit before Christmas. Again like the Summer Project it is non competitive , just for fun , not point scoring .

(8)  Assignments . (set subjects ) out of 20 suggestions the chosen 3 are “ On the Beach “~~~ “ Shapes & patterns “ ~~~ “ Water “ .

Images taken for the Laxey project can be used again in the assignments!

(9). Events / Summer Outings .  on July 20th there is a boat trip to the Calf. Contact Barry Murphy on Facebook or by e mail .

There will be a get-together on  Saturday 3rd August 2019 at 10.45am – 1pm @ Ballagennie Plantation carpark (on road to Ayres Visitor Centre) Bride. for a Macro session, details on our Facebook page. And we hope to run a similar Fungi day, later.

(10)Facebook . Some members have reported pictures posted by them on the club Facebook page have been copied without permission. The only advice the committee can give is to make sure the images are no more than 800 pixels on the longest side , this will render them too small for most cases of plagiarism.

So enjoy the summer and take your camera about to capture things you’re involved with here in our Island, or away on holiday, and explore Laxey to take some for that project! Also keep the assignments / set subjects in mind .

Take care .    Jeremy ( President )