Mike Birbeck – The Tyred Photographer

We had a great evening with Mike, who proved to be a very good ‘people’ photographer, an interesting storyteller and even a poet. It seems he has a queue of beautiful women waiting for him to create their portfolios and his wife doesn’t even object (she’s also a photographer, with an ARPS). He’s a member of Taunton Camera Club and he travelled to Warminster for the evening.
After reading an amusing poem he wrote some years ago, Mike explained his two-way communication with the people he photographs, which can be formal portraits or candid, shot in interesting locations such as Appleby Horse Fair, Whitby Goth fair, or on holiday in the Netherlands or Dominican Republic. The stories he told around the images were as interesting as his images, and he was happy to explain the exact settings and focussing he uses (always focus on the eyes). He generally uses wide apertures (even f2.8) and obviously likes mono images (even explaining that he prefers to use the Camera RAW settings to change the colours to arrive at the blacks and whites). A preference for natural light when travelling means that models may be invited to his hotel room (also approved by his wife). Being confined to a wheelchair (hence the “tyred” photographer) but often using an accessible motor bike means it is difficult to transport studio lights!
Mike also showed formal portraits, taken in his studio, both of adults and children. Often only with one studio light and a reflector, they were particularly effective. Lots of images of ladies, tastefully captured, underwear or nudes (or just tattoos), displayed the range of his images. Fantastic skin textures were noted by members and the light used explained by Mike.
For a number of years, Mike was the official photographer for a special needs school; he used to come and go as he pleased, to capture the moods and the way of the school, its happy pupils, teachers and other adults. These images obtained FIAP gold medal, PAGB gold, RPS International recognition; all to add to the array of distinctions he already has – Fellow of the RPS and on their Advisory Board, Fellow and President of the Disabled Photographers Society and FBPPA (Fellow of the British Professional Photographers Association).
Mike is sponsored by Fotospeed and has used their papers and inks for many years to obtain the quality he needs. He brought some samples and catalogues for Club members. Just for WCC members: see the discount code for Fotospeed in the Members Area.


Images: Geoff Sims
Report: Marny Thompson LRPS

Wanderings In S.E. Asia – Andrew Folker

After adorning the walls with flags and maps, Andrew opened his presentation with the words that he was going to present his “holiday snaps”. The images turned out to be anything but.
Andrew spoke of his long held desire to travel and the lack of opportunity when he was working. However after retirement he has been making up for lost time and a favourite destination is South East Asia. In ,particular Vietnam.  Adverse to “package” trips,  Andrew likes to get off the beaten track. His trips are unscheduled and flexible. He spends as long or as little time in each location as he wishes. He also prefers to live alongside the locals in basic accommodation. Unfortunately Mrs F prefers five star and beaches so he travels alone!
Andrew enjoys the cultural diversity of the countries he visits, the different way of life, the sounds, the people and their smiles.  Eats with the locals and on the streets and claims to have had only one “dicky tummy”! Happy to use local buses and trains and seems to enjoy the discomfort that both can bring. Raised a laugh when he explained that he wasn’t always sure where the transport was going but if in doubt just take a bus and catch the same one back. After the introduction Andrew presented his images. Sri Lanka. Some odd highlights from this part of the trip were included in the presentation. Clearly delighted to be able to hire an “almost new” Honda moped. A home visit and meal with a Tuk Tuk driver who had conveyed him around the villages. I’m not too sure from the family photo that they enjoyed a gift of a Calendar of our Royal Family. The look on Granny’s face said it all! Plenty of photos of children at school (Andrew was a teacher).
On to Myanmar (Burmah) were he spent his time in and around the old capital of Yangon (Rangoon). Plenty of photos showing us the local transport, street traders, boats on the Irrawaddy and traffic jams. In case of difficulty communicating with the locals think about using the finger trick (don’t ask). Lots of ladies with their faces painted with Thanakha .  Burmese girls use Thanakha to protect their skin and for beauty purposes.  Andrew ran up a batch for our ladies (and Ray) to try.
Finally on to Vietnam which clearly holds a special place in Andrew’s heart.  He has visited Ho Chi Minh City several times and has struck up a close relationship with Dr Tang and his students at the university where he is a guest speaker when he visits the country.
A very interesting presentation and no “holiday snaps”. More a record of daily life for the hard working masses.  Thank you Andrew, may your wanderings flourish.


Images: Geoff Sims
Report: Peter Clarke

 

An Evening In Two Parts

Lightroom Update
Paul gave a short presentation of the new Lightroom, available from Adobe, showing a youtube video. There are 3 new features to be aware:
You can synchronise everything and backup/store on the cloud
Cloudy magic – you can process using the cloud
Easier to use
The new version is now called Lightroom CC, the old (existing) version is Lightroom Classic. Existing catalogues can be upgraded.
You don’t have to move to CC – Classic is still being upgraded.
Options:
1. £9.98 per month              Lightroom CC plus 1 TB cloud storage
2. £9.98 per month              Lightroom CC, Photoshop, Lightroom Classic and 20 GB storage
3. £19.97per month             As option 2, but with 1 TB storage
If you already have CC, you have Option 2.
Adobe have lots of video tutorials for both Lightroom and Photoshop on youtube – check them out if you want to learn more.

Road Trip to South West America – Bernard Clifford
(Possibly subtitled ‘Not just a load of old rocks’)
Bernard returned to the club on Tuesday and gave a great presentation on his trip to America last June. Carol and he flew to Denver and drove about 2500 miles, crossing the Rockies en-route and visiting many National Parks and Monument Valley.
They started at 5400 feet and most of the trip was at high-altitude (6000 feet) and noticed this when walking. The areas they covered are old inland seas with amazing rock formations, mainly from weather erosion and some great scenery. For any of you thinking about a similar trip, it was easy driving, fairly quiet and they moved around on main roads, with side road trips throughout (thanks for the descriptions and maps Bernard). It is cheaper to get National Park tickets for the holiday duration. Most of the snow had gone by June.
Bernard had many images of some fascinating rock formations – and they all seem to have names – for example, The Three Gossips – it was easy to see why this name was given. There were images of tunnels, bridges and arches. Bernard did not seem to have any problem standing on some of these, with sheer drops below (but Carol kept away!). Some of the trees in the area are hundreds or thousands of years old – they start to die and take a long time dying.
Everything has a red hue even when in a different area. Some areas visited, such as Canyonlands, are part of the same system as the Grand Canyon – but a lot quieter. Antelope Canyon is run by local Native American Tribes, who make a living from selling trinkets, so you find a small market place – where you can also buy loaves pre-filled for an easy lunch/picnic – often needed, as water and petrol were not always easily available. There was also Zion National Park (and a trip to ‘Wildcat Willies’ for lunch), Bryce Canyon, and Dixie National Forest. Some great images, so much to see – captured by Bernard (and possibly Carol?)
The petroglyphs (at least 5000 years old) were one reason for choosing the area for visiting; they are 30 feet up on the rocks; some of these images display the same figures as in South America and immediately recognisable as some depicted in Eric Von Daniken books – are they visitors from elsewhere?
A fascinating presentation Bernard – thank you so much for returning to the club and good luck with the house move.


Photos: Geoff Sims
Report: Marny Thompson LRPS

Members’ Presentation Evening 24th October

An evening of two halves with Brian as acting chairman … and he acted rather well.
Six people (Maurice, Mil (not present due to being in Derbyshire), Judy, Richard, Brian, & Anjalika) displayed their results from the evening with Brian Tarling and the Low Light evening. They showed how, with varying degrees of success, they had coped with the low light situations and ended up with some very good and interesting images.
In the second half Carol presented on her trip to Newfoundland, or her extreme beach holiday as it was also known. She said that there were three types of picture – why? Arty-farty, and okay. Her pictures conveyed the remote, foggy landscape in atmospheric,  subtle colours. Carol noted that when conditions were less than ideal for photography you should enjoy what you see and show what is there. Many little coves, all deserted, provided nice setting and there were lots of pictures of ice. Really lots of ice as it was the time that Newfoundland had the most pack ice for years, extending out 50miles out from island. A very enjoyable window on to a unique place.
Thanks to all who participated in another good evening.


Images: Geoff Sims
Report: Paul Duckworth