Top photography tips from Cheviot to India

Colours of rust, by Dave Dixon.
Colours of rust, by Dave Dixon.

Morpeth Camera Club

It was a club exchange night on Tuesday, January 26, and Morpeth Camera Club welcomed members of Alnwick and District Camera Club to showcase their work.

Cheviot Stile looking towards Hedgehope Hill, by Barry Robertson.

Cheviot Stile looking towards Hedgehope Hill, by Barry Robertson.

Barry Robertson, a keen walker in the Cheviots, Alwinton and Wooler area, gave us a splendid array of scenes taken on the Border Ridge. Barry looks for a focal point, such as stiles and fences, to anchor his landscapes.

Sweeping views of Windy Gyle with snow clad fences, dark cloudy skies reflected in peat bogs, golden sunlit grass emerging from snow, wild goats near Yeavering Bell and Davidson’s Linn waterfall taken with a slow shutter speed were among Barry’s beautiful photographs.

In scenes of Hedgehope, wonderful views from Hethpool onto St Cuthbert’s Way, pink stone set against milky waterfalls, and frozen signposts, all set in beautiful light, Barry had succeeded in portraying the quiet, serene atmosphere of this lovely landscape.

Dave Dixon followed with images of the man-made Branton Lakes, near Powburn. A boat moored in soft evening light, greylag geese in flight, Oystercatchers in the sky, and an Exmoor pony served as an introduction to his collection of photographs of the original gravel workings and equipment.

Koli Girl, by Valerie Atkinson.

Koli Girl, by Valerie Atkinson.

He is fascinated by the aging of old metals, exploring rust colours and creating shapes, structures and shadows. There were dramatic wide-angle shots of conveyors resembling huge animals, angled metal work creating crisscross patterns, pipes, motors, fuel tanks, metal flakes, nuts and bolts to form abstract images, close up shots of cracked oil pipes, and chains covered with spider’s webs.

Dave’s work captured the feeling of solitude and isolation, and he concluded by stating that one should always take photographs when the opportunity arises because when he later returned to this location, it had been cleared.

Valerie Atkinson gave us an illuminating talk on her time living in Mumbai, India. Witnessing the colour and liveliness of the city, she soon realised that she needed a better camera to illustrate her surroundings.

In the monsoon season we observed scenes of old tower blocks set in dark moody skies, and shanty houses swathed in protective blue plastic sheeting. A huge city with continuous demolition, there were building sites and construction workers in flip-flops, contrasted with colourful fruit and vegetable markets, women in vibrant saris, and brightly painted plywood houses decorated with plastic flowers.

Horn trio, by Richard Stent.

Horn trio, by Richard Stent.

There were busy street scenes with auto rickshaws laden with whole families, dilapidated classic cars, shop fronts, temples and mosques, coffin makers, tailors, bathers and swimmers in polluted dark water, colourful washing on rooftops and bonnets of cars, Hindu festivals, and street food.

Valerie stated that images create a mixture of emotions, witnessing the contrasts of living conditions. With a very interesting commentary, Valerie perfectly captured the atmosphere, colour, vibrancy and way of life of this amazing city.

Finally, Richard Stent entertained the audience with his experience of darkroom work. ‘Welcome to the Dark Side’ illustrated how to set up a dark room and the problems associated with resourcing film, paper, developer and fixer, and having decided finally to purchase a freezer so that he could bulk buy.

He demonstrated the stages of processing, then compared the costs of producing negatives against the costs of hard drives and their capacities, costs of developing fluids against printing inks, the time taken to enlarge, and to produce test strips, dodging, masking and burning compared to manipulation using Photoshop.

He went on to describe his love of photographing musicians and musical instruments, with a variety of photographs of street musicians, an accordionist in Prague, a saxophonist in Central Park, Jazz musicians at the Edinburgh Festival and a series of monochrome photographs of an animated conductor at work.

Other examples of his work were shop windows, crowds taken from above, the Lennon wall in Prague, and graffiti in stone.

Richard loves the element of surprise with film and movement, such as a scene at the Musee D’orsay with eerie pedestrian’s legs which appear to float, and passengers on a platform with just one face in focus.

He finished with an illustrated story of a photography shop in Florence, the interior of which is covered with archive photographs of the city, together with shelves of negatives, estimated to be in the region of 500,000. The proprietor is making it his life work scanning and digitising the negatives for posterity.

Chairman Glyn Trueman thanked the visitors for a very entertaining evening, after which coffee and tea were served.

For further information regarding the club, its programme and gallery, please visit our website at wwwmorpethcameraclub.co.uk

If you have an interest in photography, want some advice about your new camera, or just like looking at pictures, why not come along and have a chat with some of our members. Anyone is welcome to attend three meetings with no obligation to join the club. There is, however, a small cover charge.