Report of Bradford Photographic Society Meetings

The reports of the meetings held by Bradford Photographic Society

On the 10th January 2013 Leeds photographer John Dolan came to talk about his 365 and 52 photography projects and also about his portrait photography. This entertaining and informitative talk had been postponed from the 16th October when John had been due to do a co-talk with fellow photographer Si Cliff, who also does inspired self portraits. John spoke about what inspired him to start his 365's and the difficulty in comleting the projects whilst working full time as a teacher. John is an active member of the Leeds flickr group and you can read more about John and view his work by viewing his website.



Our first projected images competition evening of the season took place on 15th November. The Novice trophy was for the best set of four images, and attracted ten entrants, while the open JF Mather trophy was for sets of three images, and had 18 contenders. If you do the arithmetic, that gives a very healthy total of 94 images that were shown in the evening!

In the Novice trophy, third place was taken by Peter Kurton, with a consistent set of images of Bolling Hall, scoring 68. Chris Ingleson, with 70, came second with images of a variety of subjects, all scoring 17 or 18. Bill Clark’s winning set scored 72, and included the only two 20s in the competition: for ‘Strawberry Splash’ and ‘Keep Calm’. He was accused by the judge of being drunk when he took his impressionistic floor-level shot of ‘Boogieing on the Dance Floor’ – which Bill happily confirmed afterwards.

The Open trophy generated an impressive number of high-scoring images, with three 20s. These were awarded to Graeme Mitchell’s ‘Wast Water Screes’, Bill Longbottom’s ‘Footbridge’, and Graham Pile’s ‘Aurora’ — all stunning images. Overall, Bill came third with a score of 56, while Graham and Graeme tied on 57 points — the decision going to Graham Pile in the end.

Richard Townend, our judge for the evening, employs a detailed scoring system, awarding partial scores for sharpness, exposure, composition and artistic merit, which he adds up to give the total score. He left his score sheets with these details, so, if anyone wants to know how their images were scored, please contact me.

It was another great evening’s competition, with a large selection of fine images in contention.

With a large turnout of members on 8th November, it was an enormous relief to Graeme and Tom when Ian Beesley finally arrived at 8pm! That M62 has a lot to answer for.

A consummate professional, both as a speaker and a photographer, Ian was unruffled by his little local difficulty and swung rapidly into his illustrated talk. This time he told us of his work in themed portraits and commissions for hospitals. His project to photograph centenarians produced a series of anecdotes, including being sent away by one old lady who would only have her photograph taken by someone ‘properly dressed’ in a jacket & tie. The pictures showed some real characters, and revealed that vital connection between the subject and the photographer.

Being the first photographer to do a bespoke project for a hospital, led (he says) to his becoming an ‘expert’ in photography for hospitals. Personally, I think the quality of the images and the imagination might have had something to do with it! Developing the project for the corridor to the Bradford Royal Infirmary MRI scanner into a trek along its axis all the way to Cumbria was one splendid illustration.

Showing the odd failure, along with the hard work involved in creating the successes, Ian clearly demonstrated the importance of relating to the people involved in each project—both the subjects of the pictures, and the intended consumers. His pragmatic tip for relaxing a rapid sequence of children in a studio—let the parent take the picture!

Hearing him speak and seeing his work, it is not difficult to understand why the Royal Photographic Society has just awarded him an Honorary Fellowship for his continuing dedication to photographically documenting social and industrial topics in the UK.

His latest project for Bristol University involves research on mid-life—shouldn’t be too much of a crisis!

Leaping Salmon by Bruce Pickering

On 1st November, we had another fascinating talk by Bruce Pickering about wildlife photography. Billed as a training night, Bruce's talk was especially interesting for those of us who want to learn how to take better wildlife pictures. He reviewed his own equipment - cameras, lenses, lens adaptors and tripods. In each case he explained what it was good at, what it was bad at, and, even in the case of a shelf clamp, why it was a total waste of money!

A comprehensive description of the particular photographic techniques required for specific subjects was very useful. The common theme was planning and lots of patience - lots of patience! That includes being prepared to keep going back until you get the shot. Showing pictures that did not work well, with an explanation of why that happened, was very useful. Taking that theme to a higher level, Bruce also showed several pictures that most of us would have been delighted to have taken. He then explained why these would not gain top marks in a competition, and gave us an insight into what judges are looking for. It's almost impossible, really! Still I suppose you never win a high level competition on any theme without producing an exceptional image.

The only disappointment of the evening, for those of us who enjoyed his last talk, was the non-appearance of that gillie suit! Our thanks to Bruce, and also to the silent Helen Hall, whose contribution is clearly key - Christmas Day on a nature reserve even!

Si CliffOn 16th October, his co-presenter’s car problem left Simon Cliff to make a solo presentation on the topic of personal projects — and he rose to the occasion very well. We were treated to an account of the highs and lows of undertaking these ambitious self-imposed projects.

The traditional 365 project (taking a photograph every day for a year) is a daunting challenge for most. But if they all have to be portraits, self portraits even, it sounds impossible! However it has certainly be done, and done well creating a huge variety of impressive images on the way.

For a 365 project applied to general portraits, the problem would seem to be finding enough models. We were assured that this is quite straightforward if you just approach people in the street and ask their permission. So add charm to the list of technical abilities you need for success!

Having heard something of the daily challenges, pitfalls and tribulations, the audience could only be astonished by the imagination, artistic flair and sheer determination demonstrated. Also it seems to become addictive – as soon as you finish one project you are driven to plunge into another, apparently!

Are we inspired to try it? There was some muttering about once a week being more possible – a 52 project anyone?

Artists vs PhotographersAs scheduled, the much anticipated casual internal competition between the Club's 'Artists' and 'Photographers' took place on Thursday 11th October. We were not disappointed! The ten categories corresponded approximately to those in a standard photographic competition. One example of an art work and a photograph were placed side-by-side for each category, and members voted for their preferences.

The bald statistics show that the 'Artists' won 6 categories of the 10, and scored 123 total votes compared with 104 for the photographs. However that is only a small part of the story. The author of each image said a few words about its creation - and that was pure gold!

For the uninitated, it was quite overwhelming to hear about the inspiration, techniques, skill and painstaking patience involved in producing an art work. Whether it was the skill needed for Kath to dash off a charcoal and chalk seascape in ten minutes, or Graeme to capture the detail and dynamism of a water skier with the blunt instrument of a palet knife. Or Sandra's account of inspiration from Jackson Pollock and Vivaldi, and Rais by traditional Persian art. Or the huge commitment and sheer detailed hard work of Kath drawing a dry stone wall in pencil, Graeme making a portrait from strands of wool and Rais building up his large woodland scene over many weeks and layers of paint and money! Don's explanation of his still life of his painting equipment, which he did specially for the meeting over the previous fortnight, offered several pearls of wisdom about compostion and light that apply equally well to photography.

While many of the lessons in the 'Photographers' explanations may be more familiar to many of us, it is still inspring to see what you might be able to produce by just going back to a location until the light is right, using monochrome instead of colour, or using the classic compostition conventions like leading lines. Then there's the ever elusive 'eye'.......

In the end, the preconceptions of painting as an art, and photography as a technique, was destroyed for me, at least. There is a lot of hard-earned technique in a good painting and a lot of artistic thought in a good photograph. Here endeth the lesson!

The evening was great fun and I hope it will be an annual fixture in future years.

The Society is now on it's Summer recess after an enjoyable and sociable final meeting. Regular Thursday evening meetings will resume at the beginning of September and a syllabus will be published during the summer. The committee is finalising the programme, but we hope that everyone will enjoy the mix of speakers, competitions, instruction and social events that we are lining up.

One major event during the summer recess will be our 150th Anniversary Celebration Exhibition at Shipley Library. This will feature work from over 20 members in a range of styles and with a wide variety of subjects. The preview night will be on Wednesday 20th July from 7.00pm and everyone is welcome to attend. There will be refreshments, a slide show and lots of members on hand to chat with about the Society. The exhibition will continue until Friday 29th July.

We hope to see you there!


The Next BPS meeting, on the 24th March, is the last portrait night of the season. Bring your camera and tripod.

Please check your ISO for your camera and Flash sycro speed. Most are 1/250 sec, but check your manual.

We have arranged a model, however, please bring a costume to wear, and we could have a fun night.

I will supply the studio equipment.


Next Meeting: 17th March 2011. Ossett Camera Club vs. Bradford Photographic Society.

The Annual battle between Ossett Camera Club and the Bradford Photographic Society. Defending winners BPS will host the Competition this year. Let the action begin at 7.30pm this Thursday.


It's time to dust off your camera and join in the Still Life Techniques.

Bring your camera, flashgun and tripod, plus a prop. The more different the better, from flowers to droplets, or, even better, something NEW!

Fun starts at 7.30pm, Thursday 10th March.



BPS training night - March

This monthly session is all about using software to create Audio Visual Shows.

Past President Kenn Taylor will be showing you how to use "Pictures to EXE", and Past President Graeme Mitchell will be showing you the virtues of a product called "Photodex Producer".

Training nights are open to the General Public, and entrance is free. Come along and see this different type of photography. Impress your friends.

AV software

This week sees our annual A-V Competition. Entries on the night are allowed. Shows last about 4–10 minutes.
Software can be downloaded to do this kind of work. See if you can be a film producer from your own library of still images.
Also, last chance to get your prints in the forthcoming Print Competition.