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This is Bradford Photographic Society website's teaching and activities section, where you can find advice and stories from members.
Along with reports of our meetings.
We hope to eventually have a good collection of interesting and entertaining articles on different aspects of photography.
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!
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!
On 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?
There was a record submission of 103 prints for the three trophy competitions being held on 25th October, our first official competition evening. Once 3 that would not fit the trophy definitions had been withdrawn, we were left with a round 100 images to be judged on the night.
We started with the 24 entries for the W H Hammond Trophy, which provided a wide variety of styles of portraits, people and figure studies. It was won by Terry Kolonko‘s “Evacuees”.
Next was the Norman Stow ‘Applied’ trophy, with another healthy entry of 24 prints. Since this covered the diverse ‘Record’, ‘Natural History’ and ‘Photo Travel’ categories, it offered a wide range of images, and posed another kind of problem for the judge.The winner was “Agricultural Mechanics” by Rais Hasan.
After our tea break came the monster 51 print entry for the J W Murray pictorial trophy. From the varied range of subject matter, both the winner “Gold Hill, Shaftesbury”, and the highly commended “Whitby Abbey” were classic scenic images beautifully executed. Both prints were the work of Steve Swiszczowski – an impressive double!
Thus ended a remarkable tour-de-force by Andrew Rothery, our judge. He managed to provide useful, constructive comments on every image in spite of the impossibly tight time frame. These are particularly valued by the majority of members who are still looking for ways to improve their images. So a big thank you to Andrew for his efforts and well done particularly to our new members for diving into the first competition evening with such enthusiasm.
As 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.
This is a list of past presidents of the Bradford Photographic Society, as originally compiled by Colin Sutton (deceased), and later added to. The apparent gaps in service are due to insufficient records being kept.
1860-61 John Vennimore Godwin
1861-62 Robert Parkinson, PhD
1898-99 Alexander Keighley
1915-16 William H. Hammond
1916-18 Fredrick Toulson
1918-20 Charles Edward Lawson
1920-22 J.H. Hudson
1922-23 Leonard Moore
1923-24 Bernal Riley
1924-26 G.T. Illingworth
1926-27 Alfred Greenwood
1927-28 Charles Edward Lawson
1928-30 Arthur Marshall ARPS
1930-31 Edgar Rawnsley, ARPS
1931-33 Alfred Greenwood, ARPS
1933-35 E. Bottomley, LDS, RCS
1935-36 George Halford, ARCA
1936-38 M. Bentley, ARPS
1938-40 E.B. Johnson
1940-42 John F. Mather, ARPS
1942-44 Norman A. Scurrah, ARPS
1944-46 Harold Mitchell
1946-48 H. Montague Storey, ARPS
1948-50 Councillor Fredrick Patrick
1950-52 G. Eric Sunderland, ARPS
1952-54 Vernon B. Lloyd
1954-56 L.B. Cummings
1956-58 A.R. Alderson
1958-60 Norman Stow, ARPS
1960-62 Donald H. Halliday
1962-64 John W. Murray
1964-66 Eddie Whitaker
1966-68 A. Cyril Walker
1968-70 John H.B Radford, MM, ARPS
1970-72 Charles V. Mitchell
1972-73 Lewis Braybrook
1973-74 Jack Hanson
1974-75 Leonard Dinsdale
1975-76 Kathleen Overend
1976-77 Leslie S. Foulger
1977-78 Clement Burlison
1978-79 D. Allan Walker
1979-80 Douglas Longbottom
1980-81 Stanley Barker
1981-82 Arthur E. Hardiman, JP, LCP
1982-83 Ralph B. Turner
1983-84 Geoffrey Speight
1984-85 Tom Scatchard
1985-86 Geoff Richards
1986-88 Ken Wilson
1988-90 Don Crabtree, LRPS
1990-91 Graeme Mitchell
1991-92 Ken Austin
1992-94 Dorothy Smith
1994-95 Ken Russell
1995-97 Graeme Mitchell
1997-99 Wendy Richards
1999-2001 John Smithson
2001-04 Colin Sutton
2004-06 Kenneth Taylor
2006-09 Graeme Mitchell
2009-12 Paul Richards
2012-14 Kath Bonson
2014-16 Tom Heggie
2016- Rais Hasan
Last Saturday 6th October, the first round of this year's Interclub competition took place at Normanton hosted by the Normanton Camera Club in the Canon O'Grady Memenorial hall of the St John the Baptist Catholic Church. The event was well attended except that the Bingley Camera Club, who were expected to be involved this year, failed to appear reducing the total number of clubs to eleven.
The evening started with a competition to choose the best image that scored 20 in the 2012 Interclub series. It was interesting to see the best of last years images again but an unenviable task for the judge to make a selection from such excellent collection. In the end, she awarded third place to Graham Pile's 'Work in Progress'.
The Set Subject was 'The Forties' and our entry 'Can I Shoot Him Now Captain Mainwaring' by Graeme Mitchell scored 20 and won the section! In the Photojournalism Set Theme section, Rais Hasan's 'HM The Queen in Saltaire' scored a respectable 18.
In the open section, we scored 18 for 'Industry Has Left the Building', 17 for 'Little Hogan', and another 17 for 'The Waterloo 211 Bus'. Predictably, the judge suspected Sandra's image of being two superimposed - ah, well!
Our overall score of 90 was good enough to place BPS second equal with Holmfirth in the final results table which was topped by Leeds with 94. The consistently high standard of our images stood us in good stead for an encouraging start to the season. Let's keep it up - Rais says we should win the whole contest and we all know he has his methods!
And I have found a good judge for one of our competitions next year - so a jolly good evening all round!
The Bradford Photographic Society once again held an exhibition of members' work at Shipley library, between Tuesday 3rd July and Saturday 14th July, 2012.
We held an exhibition here last year, as part of our 150th birthday celebrations. So, after the very positive responses that we received from both the members and visitors, we decided to do it again.
The exhibition was officially opened on Tuesday 3rd July by the Society's patron, the Lord Mayor of Bradford.
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 competition was won by Jacqui Gibson with her submission Time Slip, an innovative marriage of Photography and Photoshop. Bill Longbottom came a creditable 2nd (only one vote in it). Congratulations to the winner, and thanks to the other 10 entrants. Jacquie's entry will appear on the gallery shortly.
[Reproduced from the booklet produced to mark our centenary in 1960]
Although photography was first practised in 1839, the early processes (Daguerreotype and Calotype) were for various reasons so restricted in scope that amateur photography was very rare. But the invention of the "wet collodion" process (Scott-Archer, March 1851) increased enormously the field of work and soon text books and periodicals appeared and photographic societies formed. At the formation of our Society there were thirty-two other societies in existence throughout the world. Twenty of these were British but it appears that very few have continued without a break, these include Leeds (1852), London-now the Royal Photographic Society (1853) and Manchester (1855).
"Wet-collodion" had its merits-so great that it has only recently been superseded in the sphere of process-engraving. It gave negatives of excellent quality, prints were made-by daylight-on "albumen paper" which in handling and appearance resembled the "P O P" which all old photographers remember. Many examples have survived, some are shown in the exhibition. But there were great disadvantages, too. The photographer had to make his own plates. He coated glass with collodion (a solution of gun-cotton in alcohol and ether) containing soluble bromides and iodides. After evaporation of the solvent the plate could be stored. Just before use it was soaked in silver nitrate solution, exposed wet, and developed at once. If it dried out or the silver nitrate crystallized, the plate was ruined. This meant that for outdoor work it was necessary to carry, as well as the camera, a portable dark room or tent and all necessary chemical solutions. As enlarging was impracticable the plate had to be as large as the final print-in Bradford 10 x 8 inches was the popular size. For this the total weight to carry for a day's work would be fully 50 Ibs. It was essential to get a friend to help with the load-the lure was the promise to teach him photography and to give him prints. It is not surprising that a member in January 1861 thought landscape work "too laborious to be entirely pleasurable".
There was constant endeavour to reduce the load-mostly by adding deliquescent substances to keep the plate moist. Zinc chloride, sugar, treacle, beer, and scores of other substances were seriously advocated.
Much better were the complicated tannin and albumen treatments which made the so-called "dry" plates figuring in the first year's syllabus but which had only one-sixth of the speed of the wet plate. Another popular way was to use the smaller stereoscopic camera taking 6½ x 3¼ inch plates. It seems that away from home most of the first members used these cameras and "dry" plates thereby reducing the load to 14 lbs or so. If however work was within two or three minutes of their own or a friend's dark-room a larger camera with large wet plates could be used.
Cameras were rather clumsy versions of the present "stand camera". A firm stand was required on every occasion, shutters were unknown and although the wet plate was ten times as fast as earlier processes, exposures were rarely, if ever, less than half a minute-thus a lens cap moved by hand was quite adequate for exposing. The "dark tent" for developing was light enough to work in for it had a large window of yellow fabric. The "changing bag" for loading "dry" plates could safely be made entirely of this fabric.
The reports of the meetings held by Bradford Photographic Society
Reports of BPS Exhibitions and talks held by others
Articles on the history of Bradford Photographic Society
Reports about Bradford Photographic Society photowalks and shoots
Articles on how to improve photographic techniques
Other articles about Bradford Photographic Society or photography in general
Reports on the various competitions in which BPS is involved