PLASTIC – ALL IS FORGIVEN!

The Polythene Bag – and other stories.    

Strange thing progress.  A bit of a double edged sword. Surrounded by the peace and perfection of the modern World we are, or in this case rather, you are, quick to presume everything will happily carry on smoothly.  Such over confidence soon gets to us, or rather to you, and you start examining the tiny things mainly because you haven’t got enough to worry about. It’s human nature, we all do it to a greater or lesser extent. We loose perspective. Think of all those times you didn’t go out when you could have done?  Well at least during this shut down we have been able to enjoy our gardens.

However it’s more the material things I have in mind here. Remember how not long ago shops and supermarkets were being forced to either charge for polythene bags or not supply them at all. The polythene bag – a tremendous invention being side-lined simply because some people couldn’t dispose of them respectfully and possibly more importantly our authorities couldn’t be bothered to find an effective way to encourage us to not throw them away carelessly. So they virtually banned them!

They hadn’t quite got around to banning plastic bottles but it was on the way. In most European Countries even fifteen years ago they had a very comprehensive and simple re-cycling system for pretty much anything made of plastic. Feed it into a hole in a wall and money comes out of another. Very encouraging. No limits, no size restrictions just plastic bottles of anything including in many cases the plastic crates you bought  them in the first place! As a result you never saw empty ones on the ground in Germany. These machines are every where on the European continent particularly at Supermarkets. Don’t tell me they couldn’t be adjusted to take English currency. I can only assume re-cycling is not quite as important for manufactures or organisations when there might be a cost elements to it

Tesco’s answer. The bottles have got to be a certain size, you can’t deposit more than 10 at a time and what you get back is a token only for spending in that store and pretty much right away – don’t leave and come back tomorrow. Hopeless system, ill considered and thus totally ineffective. I digress…

The polythene bag. For the past few years we have been encouraged to not use them. Instead to use old fashioned bulky, heavy and cumbersome canvass carrier bags – like people used to in the ‘50s when the lady of the house spent most of her week shopping for the quantity we can pick up in a an hour at a decent size supermarket – well before the Covid panic that is. Despite good evidence to the effect that such retrograde steps were more harmful for their so called carbon footprint when manufacturing and hygiene aspects were brought into the equation, we were still brow-beaten with the notion that plastic was bad and pretty much anything else was preferable. So at great inconvenience and against the logical and scientific evidence most of us we forced to tag along with this ill considered notion.

NOT ANY MORE!  In what does the food come that you get delivered to your door or even Click & Collect from the supermarket? Polythene bags of course. Oh what a surprise. The best, most hygenic and convenient way has been rediscovered. Without them, think how much longer it would take for the guys to unload your groceries from the van and think how much longer it would take for them to get away again bearing in mind you would have to empty their crates at the front door and wash and wipe every individual item before storing it away. They could be there hours. The home delivery system which is already under terrible pressure would be even slower. Just the same at the Click & Collect bays. Your food is brought out in polythene bags and they are not even charging for them now. Good heavens I had heard they were about to put them up to 40p each! What a turn around.

Its saves them huge amounts of time so suddenly they are OK.  I have been saying that for the last 10 years since the stupid idea of phasing them out first reared its head.  I am saving all mine after they have been quarantined. Got hundreds now and will re-use them. Now please be sensible when this is all over and lets get back to using the thing that has proved so useful.

Plenty of polythene in use now to speed door step deliveries

Not only that but Plastic is saving our lies in other ways. Remember all those  who were insisting that supermarkets cut out as much of their plastic packaging as possible and sell eveything separate. Well isn’t it convenient to be able to wipe everything you buy with disinfectant before you store it away. At east all those terribly naughty plastic containers with cellophane coverings. The plastic guaranteeing that even if the container had been handled by dozens of people  before, the contents hadn’t. I mean how would you wash an onion? I hope the fate of plastic and polythene bags will be re-considered in this light. At least given a stay of execution before something better is found to replace it

THE NHS

Did I hear the NHS COMPLAINING that they hadn’t got enough patients at A&E. Christ what do these people expect? They have spread the gloom and doom pretty thick– probably rightfully as it happens.   Showed us images of unattended patients coughing to death on the floors of hospital corridors and then think people will go into one of their establishments of their own accord. I wouldn’t. Of course you are hardly going to be put off attending if you break a large bone or cut a large chunk off yourself. So who are these types that the NHS are missing so much? Who are these people that can do without A&E.? Could be a good time to investigate.  Very probably the masses that get bored with waiting for an appointment with their GP for something trivial. Well that’s good then. Of course the lazy blighters that don’t want to work and have always used the sick note from the NHS to get off don’t need to do it now do they? They are already off and getting paid. My wife was asked to have a blood test to check the efficacy of her current medications. She phoned our multiplex style surgery expecting to not get through as has always been the case for the 40 years we have used it. Phone answered immediately. Not only that our doctors voice. Fair enough this was a recorded message but it’s the first time an actual doctor has lowered themselves to communicte at a verbal level with patients other than during an appointment. As one would expect there were then suggestions to punch various buttons but it worked and she was invited to come the next day!

(A note here to clarify as some people may have better service from their NHS doctors.) Up until the  currently slightly weird situation we have had  to wait at least 4 weeks for an appointment with the doctor of choice  still  a few days minimum for any doctor at all.  That was if you could get through on the phone. I had taken to visiting to make appointments it was quicker.  My private doctor, I keep for saving my life answers immediately and I reckon I could be confident in seeing him inside 12 hours from when I phoned, Never longer. All for £40.  Is there a message there?

I have long said the instant cure for the over demand on the NHS was to apply a filter. To charge a little bit for first admission or first GP or A&E visit whatever the reason or in what state you turn up even a traffic accident. Well, threaten them with catching a deadly virus seems to work just as well. It’s an up side. Don’t complain. This illustrates perfectly that one of the big problems  the NHS are having or were having of being over subscribed and over loaded with patients would seem to be that many of them,  if not most, were time wasting liggers who just wanted a day off work. It’s exposed that one nicely I think. Charge the lazy little buggers. CHARGE TO CONTROL DEMAND. But more important WAKE UP NHS and do it!

Then there was the anti car movement. The last official governmental broadcast on the TV advised and encouraged us to use our cars not the public transport. Well well, what a suprise. Little bit of exhaust smoke not so bad now is it?

COAL DROP YARD

However the last time I looked ANTI-CAR was still well in force. We ventured down to the outskirts of the abominable emission and congestion areas a month or two ago to take photos of the fancy apartments at Coal Drop yard built into the old gas-o-meters. Very imaginative. However I was wondering where you get curved furniture from. The same place as the people that live in light houses I suppose.

Anyway from way north just past Hampstead the road was painted with 20mph speed restrictions. This is a main arterial road. The famous Haverstock Hill. 20 mph? In not too long it was pretty much impossible to do more than that anyway but that’s hardly the point. We picked our way around the back of Kings Cross station being very careful not to dare venture South of the Pentonville Road in case we and incurred the wrath of the manic no go zones and the crazy fines  if you so dare to do.

SOME INTERESTING ROOF SHAPES ABOVE THE NUMEROUS RATHER PRICEY SHOPS AT COAL DROP YARD.

Actually parking around the Coal Drop Yard itself was easy for us – we found a space but it was pure luck. The area it has to be said is comfortably pedestrianised because it was built to that spec. However throughout the drive back through Kentish Town (don’t go there) we were beset with so many threats, restrictions and traffic traps as to make the process most unpleasant. Yellow boxes at complex intersections where it was too easy to get stuck- they clearly hoped you would, bus lanes with no clear indications of when they were active so you simply had to avoid them all the time which doesn’t help traffic flow and they know that, 20 mph speed limits everywhere even on wide main roads not just in school areas, red routes and nasty little tricks like width restrictions with small signs that tell you, or  would clearly rather not, when you can go through them.  Those we already know are a license for Councils to print money!

THE GAS-O-METERS CONVERTED INTO APPARTMENTS AT COAL DROP YARD KINGS CROSS

 Yes town driving, has always been a bit fraught but these restrictive ideas for the sake of them or for money more like, have spread to the main highways now. The entire UK Police Force were and still are, dead against the so called ‘Smart Motorway’ idea. A huge hindrance to emergency vehicles. A total death trap for the occupants of broken down ones and a magnet for traffic jams. I cannot imagine what  deranged quango thought the idea up but they couldn’t have been motivated by safety – there has to be money involved there somewhere and I don’t just mean fines.  The same ‘herberts’ that paint the 20 mphs’ all over the place would, I think, really rather simply paint GO AWAY on their roads. Ok we will and watch what happens to your high street shops then. It’s a pity cos. Coal-drop looks inviting and has some wonderful restaurants. We used the Lighterman. Not cheap but not a clip joint either and very good food and service. Like eating in the West End on a good day. When normality returns I would still have advise the railway to Kings Cross to get there even if it uncomfortable and unreliable, its really close and it’s much more difficult to get nicked on the train!

MORE BUILDING IN PROGRESS. THE RED AREAS WERE DECORATIVE FLAGS AND NOT PERMANENT.

So if we don’t use our cars how do we get about. In their infected trains and busses or in cabs that could have had anyone in them? Not for me. You can’t cycle everywhere if you have equipment to carry. Use the car. 

And while of the subject of automobiles especially new ones.  Not this lovely GT40 that was built in 1969 and is entirely mechanical. It hasn’t even got proper window least of all electric ones. My Marcos (below in Red) is actually the same vintage but did have electric windows but nothing like a computer controlling so much as is it seems mandatory now. Furthermore it had an opening sun roof and  I had been know to exit that way and so has at least one lady friend when she broke the interior door catch. These came from the days in the 60s when it was worth having a decent car and driving could be a really enjoyable experience. My neighbour across the road, a middle aged lady who’s husband died a few years ago and left her with a very fancy Mercedes sport which she clearly loves is in all manner of a pickle now. She didn’t take our advice to turn the engine over a bit regularly and of course all the electronic gismos and location, detection and stat nav. and parking assistance frills has flatted the battery. Pretty common in less than two weeks I am told for this model. Trouble is its got electronic locks too. No battery so not locks so she can’t get in to open the bonnet and re-charge the battery.

I used to enjoy driving and did a great deal of it. I had lovely sports cars in the 60s and I am glad I did because now it’s become a nightmare mostly because authorities would rather we didn’t do it.  And why not? They say that they are reducing road traffic accident deaths. Well clearly by inference they will never be happy until it is zero. For that we will have to stop driving altogether. Point proved I think. Wonder if any of these clever dicks have come up with a plan to reduce Covid 19 deaths? No, didn’t think so They are not quite up to that. Just inexperienced, power crazed pen pushing graduates who in Bob Dylan’s words…’Have got knives and forks and have to cut something.’.

Lots of people finding out about flat batteries or will be soon when trying to start their unused cars. The RAC and AA must be rushed off their feet and that’s more person to person to contact. There is a lot more speeding about too what with the roads being  clearer and looking like they might have in the 50s. Trouble is so many parked cars.  I wonder how one goes about arresting a person nowadays and still stay 2 meters apart. Tasser them in the leg I suppose then drag them off by the feet using gloved hands.

I see the anti-motoring brigade are already encroaching onto more pieces of road with their wretched cycle lanes in the hope that when people start going back to work they will use bicycles. Sure, fine if you have nothing to carry and no tools whatsoever and even then only if you live in a sensible bike ride from your work – great idea. Trouble is that is only a tiny fraction of the working population and there is still a far greater chance of coming into contact with someone when riding a bike than when driving your vehicle. The motor car is the way. Try going food shopping on a bike!

RATHER RARE EXAMPLE OF COUPE E TYPE. PRESUMABLY QUITE OLD (1960) BUT IN GOOD CONDITION

It will be interesting reading this in years to come or even in a few months. The general opinion is that the situation is fluid. Well yes, as epidemics do actually have a habit of behaving strangely sometimes  towards their latter stages. The 1918 ghastly Spanish Flu (so called, as actually it came from America) came to a very abrupt halt but that of course was in the days when the medical research  was slight, medical procedures  almost non existent and governments in complete denial. It just petered out. Sort of burned itself out.  Could be Covid gives us a surprise but it has still got to rage through the third World first and then we have to stop it coming back to us again at that point. Its complicated and I must be one of the only people that believes this government has done a perfectly adequate job of balancing death with economy because they have to be balanced.  The original estimates from scientists was that we in the UK would loose 130,000 persons. Well it’s a long way short of that so thanks! To Boris and Dominic. Yes even him.

We live in a ‘blame someone’ society. Its not possible to actually blame a virus although people could start by thinking about the Country in which this originated and their hygiene record and generally cranky eating habits like shark fin soup and ground-up Tiger bones as a ‘so called’ aphrodisiac. Everyone blames this government because they are the government. Please remember the NHS said that they were prepared for this before it came. I knew they were not but it seems they didn’t. You look at what happened in the USA and its identical to over here. They are blaming Donald Trump for playing it down in the early stages. What was he supposed to do? Big it up like the idiot media did over here and have the sort of food buying panic we were forced to endure. Governments are not in that business. Their business is to calm things down. All the separate states suddenly wanted Federal control and federal help with PPE supplies but they had been quite happy to want to go it alone until then without interference.  What did the American public want, for Donald to sit there wringing his hands and telling them they were doomed. It’s exactly the same as with the so called UFO conspiracy cover-up.  It’s blindingly obvious to any person who has done the smallest amount of research that beings from other planets have been here and are currently, interacting with us. (I love all that SETI stuff- listening for sounds from distance galaxies indeed!) It’s a load of smoke screen bollocks. NASA know, The USAF know the RAF know but of course the powers keep it as secret as possible and pour scorn and much more powerfully – ridicule – on those that disagree. I mean the history we understand is what we have been fed from early school. Not that we are most probably all part alien and there are scores of them about the place and have been on and off for tens of thousands of years.

Even you are already thinking – hello, Dave’s gone a bit cranky. Good – you think that. If the majority of the population knew what was true both in this situation and many others you would not have peace as you know it. Sadly ignorance is often not just bliss but absolutely essential for our sanity. Governments understand that – they aren’t trying to mislead you for the sake of it. Good luck and stop watching the skies, if they we’re coming for us they would have done it long ago. 

St Albans Competition

St Albans 24 shots in 24 hrs, Photo Competition June (2019)

Ages ago now the organizers of the annual St Albans Film Festival opened it up a bit to us ‘still’ photographers by organizing a slightly unconventional competition. Take a shot of 24 different St Albans set subjects and return them by 11am the next morning hence the title 24 n 24hrs.They chose a Saturday and as it happened the very one that coincided with that finger of red-hot weather which crept up from the scorching European near continent early June ‘19. They could never have expected the sort of heat we got not even in blazing June. Top temperature I  measured in the shade was 35C at about 4pm! Thankfully this included a pleasant breeze and relatively dry air however still a severe test for photographers as the event was outdoors and went on all day and night!

In the circumstances 24 subjects simply meant that it was unlikely anyone would get a very strong set, there was simply not enough time. There would have to be many weak images but ‘fun’ trying. Something of a photographic treasure hunt. I say ‘fun.’ This is what we did. We being my wife Sue and I. Sue being usually a shade better at this sort of thing than me now. She uses mostly a high spec. compact Panasonic and a small Nikon but is getting a bit jealous of my new Olympus OMD EM1 Mkii. This a mirror-less, four thirds with photo stacking (which is what I bought it for) but much more importantly extraordinary ‘in body’ stablisation which allows pin sharp stuff right down to 1 or 2 second shutter timings – hand held! As you can imagine very useful. I rarely have to wind up the ISO just slow down the shutter. It stills feels odd shooting sometimes at 1/3 sec and getting perfect results! Anyway back to the comp…

Bombs Away! Well hopefully not as its St Albans not the RUHR
Continue reading

RADLETT AERODROME

 What can be achieved by one person if it’s important enough to him.

It was Spring 1980 and a colleague of my wife’s who was working with her in Hampstead mentioned that every morning on his way in down the main line rail from Harpenden where he lived he went past a large expanse of flat open land which looked a bit like an old aerodrome and on which were parked hundreds of cars. News cars, all very close together. We had moved to Boreham Wood only the year previously and part of the reason we had chosen the house we had was because it was adjacent to a large open space (Park Fields) just west of the aforementioned railway line but somewhat further south. It was only a couple of hundred acres and already threatened with golf course expansion. The reason large open spaces were vital to me was simply that as a member of the British Model Flying Association the BMFA (formerly the much grander  SMAE or Society of Model Aeronautical Engineers) I participated across the UK and Europe in Free Flight Model Aeroplane competitions.

To this end it was useful if I had a local site to test  adjust and practice with these often quite sizeable home made machines. The local field was not really large enough so the information from my wife’s colleague was more than interesting. A look at the map revealed that he must have been referring to Radlett Aerodrome which up until that moment I had presumed to have been built on – seemed it hadn’t. I went up there and took a look.

The easiest entrance, indeed the only entrance I could see at the time, was from Park Street – the old A5 – in through the side of a building that advertised itself as Granada Publishing. This entrance would have been just a little to the north of where now stands a truly horrendous  residential development  called Fredrick Place. (Sorry in every way if any  of you  live there.). Around the rear of the now long since defunct piece of light industrial building  was a decent six foot fence but in it a pedestrian size gate which wasn’t just unlocked – it was wide open. I got out of the car a walked through it and onto a disused aerodrome  – astonished. To me this was a vision of inestimable beauty. I walked the full length and width of it. Nearly a mile long and at it’s widest a good half mile. True, up in the north east corner quite close to the railway line was a huge collection of Vauxhall cars presumably  awaiting export or at least loading off to dealerships. They would hardly be in the way. Everywhere beautiful grass intersected by a north/south runway and two similar shorter ones running approximately east-west and north west-south east. Deserted. Not a sole. I was alone on Handley Page’s old factory aerodrome vacated a decade earlier and still in perfect condition. Perfect for me. Such fields are not so much rare as non existent – you can imagine my excitement. Put it this way. Pretend you are a fisherman and overnight a trout stream appears at the end of your garden. That excited!

senator-no1-radlett-1983-email
During the winter of ’83 I often flew there in sub zero temperatures and in dead calm air over thick snow

The next afternoon I returned with a machine that needed adjusting and set myself down on the upwind edge and made a few very successful flights. As the Summer wore on I was on the aerodrome practically every calm evening until dark and never saw a single person apart from the occasional barn owl that would come past wondering what on earth my owls were! I have to explain that these were (and still are) free flying models, totally silent but quite large and very fragile. That’s what doubtless intrigued the owls – the silence. Whilst airborne – and they can stay up for many minutes which is indeed the object of the exercise – they travel across the field at the speed of the wind at the time so calm conditions are essential otherwise distances become enormous.  Airborne a long time they quickly out-fly a space even the size of an aerodrome in any breeze. No control from the ground. Completely stable but entirely on their own.

sue-hipperson-with-sst1-radlett-1986-email
This was about as big as they got. Such a rubber powered machine, only weighing a few ounces can stay airborne for 10-15 minutes.

After a while I discovered another way on at the very north end of the field convenient for when the wind was from that end. Radlett I knew had, in it’s Handley Page days, been used as the venue for some massively well attended All Britain Model Aircraft Rallies of the mid 50’s when as many as eleven thousand people turned up just to watch. As I could see the potential of the place for proper organised competitions I did some investigating regarding the current owner. It turned out to be in the hands of Cork Gully a firm of receivers on behalf of the Handley Page Estate. I risked blowing my cover and contacted them. They were puzzled by my excitement and although they had no objection to my continuing my private use of their land as long I did no damage, they could not let me use it officially because to do so would require a change of use. When I mentioned the Vauxhall cars parked at one end the man I was speaking to sounded slightly surprised and interested. It would appear they had not got change of use to a ‘car park’ as the next time I visited all the cars were gone and they never came back! This was 1981 and for the next few months I continued visiting unimpeded but all the while wanting a firmer arrangement with the view to the possibility of organising some small flying events on behalf of my BMFA. The stumbling block was first the change of use. So I changed it’s use!

Continue reading

The American Moon Landings!

WERE THEY A HOAX?

Around this time of the year, Christmas, I find myself remembering those initial trips that man made into space. This year of course we are all being reminded  by way of the excellent coverage of the UK’s newest and only second astronaut, Tim Peake who has just successfully started a few months stint on the International Space Station. This ranks as the most convincing excuse for escaping the Christmas shopping in Oxford Street that I have ever heard but presumably he was just lucky with the timing. So why is it that, for me, this time of the year is so significant regarding space flight? Well, slightly unusually but I am pleased to read in-step with many historians, I consider man’s greatest achievement in space  to be not actually setting foot on the moon, however momentous that was, but to have risked leaving earth orbit at all and travelling there in the first place,  orbiting it and returning home. In the final days of 1968 these were the first men to leave the Earth’s gravity. Their names were Jim Lovell, Roger Borham and Bill Anders and boy were they taking a risk! In terms of technology, it was  the equivalent of comparing The Wright Brothers of 1903 with  present day air travel!

Apollo 8 with the three of them aboard took off on 21st December 1968 and after ten laps of the home planet re-adjusted its trajectory slightly (great accuracy but very little effort is required in zero gravity and a vacuum) to head off into deep space. Three men starting on an explanatory voyage that in terms of miles would, in one trip, exceed in distance the voyages of all the explorers on earth that had ever gone before them! It took three days to reach the Moon even at their colossal speed.

I stood and gazed at the bright full Moon, so clear that I partly expecting to see a tiny white dot in the blackness somewhere between us and it. I actually hoped I could see Apollo 8! I couldn’t of course but it was there! They orbited it  for something like 20 hours and on the fourth pass as they appeared from the dark-side it was Christmas Eve and Roger Borham and his crew read out an appropriate piece from the Bible. Whatever one’s religious persuasion it hit home as immensely appropriate. However what they didn’t know was that in a few minutes they would do something so outwardly ordinary but so cataclysmically future defining as to change our World forever. They took a photograph.

How cool is this? It’s the end of ’68 and with St Pepper still ringing in his ears Bill Anders already very tired from excitement and lack of proper sleep as all of them were, with one hand on the controls of a space ship orbiting the Moon and the other gripping a state of the art Hassleblad loaded with colour film – opened he shutter. He was coming back around the shaded side  to see rising over the horizon – the Earth. “Earthrise” is quite possibly the most important photograph ever taken by man and in this case thankfully by an amateur! Immediately it captured the delicate balance that was and still is our global existence. That thin blue envelope that distinguishes the earth and our home from the myriad of inhospitable ones. What we have done and how we have interpreted that picture since we saw it is still open to debate but that photograph could not lie. Seven months later – “Tranquillity Base – the Eagle has landed”. Then – “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Immediately the conspiracy theorists were at it. Can’t blame them – so much of what we are fed now and even then, is what the powers that be want us to think. However this one – I don’t think so.

I have been asked by a local paper for my opinions on the possibility that the whole thing was faked. Shot in an aircraft hangar somewhere in the Mohave Desert – photos and all. Sure it could have been done like that but how would they have been able to keep up the deception all this time particularly as it involved so many hundreds of persons and most of them Americans at that? No. It happened all right, although I think they were very lucky. At least the NASA  used to broadcast their attempts unlike the Soviets who we believe lost a lot more men than they let on about.

There was enormous pressure to get to the Moon before the Russians and there is nothing better than a bit of necessity to push along invention. They took huge chances but made great strides working to get success inside the very tight time framework that President Kennedy had left them when he told us all that the USA would go to the Moon in this decade. (The 60s in this case). It was complete news to NASA – they had no idea he was going to say that! Much was made of it being for mankind in general. If you watch the documentaries of all the space exploration high points right from Sputnik  onwards the theme is always that it was good for all mankind. Absolutely not the case. It was a  military exercise first and foremost with prestige running a close second and that goes for both sides US and USSR.

So we come back to the unexpected spin off and in this case I don’t mean all the useful advances in materials and technology that the Space Race spawned and that we are still benefitting from in our day to day lives. I mean that picture of “Earthrise.”

260px-NASA-Apollo8-Dec24-Earthrise

EARTHRISE  by Bill Anders

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the first time we saw what our planet looked like from Space and how thin that wisp of blue atmosphere surrounding it was. So when the scientists began to explain how our very existence was hanging on the fact that this blue wisp stayed unmolested people began to listen because now they could visualise it. They had seen the picture. Everyone in the World had seen the picture. Whether our planet’s well being is actually being threatened by things we humans are doing or whether the changes are due to forces of nature far beyond our control is still not proven either way but at least now we knew what the thing we were trying to maintain looked like!

Paradoxically we now turn back to our friends (well they are now) the Russians to set the seal on all this conspiracy nonsense. I was reminded of this by colleague and Space Buff, Bill Cooper LRPS AFIAP and Secretary of the most distinguished XRR Photographic Society in Watford. He visited the recent Cosmonaut Exhibition at the Science Museum in London. There for us all to see were the paraphanalia and vehicles from the Russians race for the Moon. They were some months possibly years behind the U.S but they were on the right track and at the time they hadn’t got a democratically elected government nagging away at them that they couldn’t afford it like the Americans had. However the day the Stars & Stripes flew in the Sea of Tranquillity they stopped. They ditched the lot. Now you don’t do that on a hoax. They would have had intelligence from inside NASA. The would have had people working there. Of all people they would have known. They are our guarantee if you need another one that the Americans got there and got there first. If they had not the Russians would have blown their story.  I rest my case.

Well just before I do and to leave the door slightly open I give you these two images.TOWARDS TRANQUILLITY (EMAIL) by Dave Hipperson

TOWARDS TRANQUILLITY taken by myself through the capsule window on the way to the Moon and below  SPACEWALK taken by Jamie White a member of New City Photographic Society from the International Space

SPACEWALK (EMAIL) by Jamie White

Station as it passed over Australia and a crew mate popped outside to do a little repair work.  You could also take another look at that movie Capricorn One it’s bound to be on sometime over the holidays period. In the mean time Merry Christmas.

NORTH WALES

This has become a regular visiting place for us over the past couple of years. We pop up to keep an eye on Sue’s mother who lives in Llanberris. Since we have been visiting in the Summer as well as the obligatory trip at Christmas I have greatly warmed to the place. Its one of the locations that is often improved when the tourists turn up. They dilute the

SOME WELSH SUNSHINE ON THE FAMOUS HARLECH CASTLE

SOME WELSH SUNSHINE ON THE FAMOUS HARLECH CASTLE

Welshness a bit and bring a bit of colour. The Welsh seem to take it all so seriously particularly their language. As the visitors are invariably keen walkers and mostly stick to the well worn trail such as the hike up Snowdon they never get in the way but when you do bump into them you can at least understand what they are saying. The popularity of this particularly climb being such that on a clear day one can sit in my mother-in-laws lounge and see (naked eye, although more fun through binoculars) the snake like procession of humanity making for the summit on foot – hundreds of them. Little do they know that just across the valley there is something much more interesting and involving proper skill and effort. The old Dinorwig slate mine above the little lake at Llanberris , Lyn Padarn, is a magnet to rock climbers.

THIS GY CAME PAST THEN HIS FRIEND. NOT EVEN A HARD HAT BETWEEN THEM I AM DELIGHTED TO SEE. WONDERFUL EASTHERF FOR IT - SO RARE. THE CLIMB IS NAMED

THIS GUY CAME PAST THEN HIS FRIEND. NOT EVEN A HARD HAT BETWEEN THEM I AM DELIGHTED TO SEE. WONDERFUL WEATHER FOR IT – SO RARE. THE CLIMB IS NAMED “THE CLASH OF THE TITANS’ AND IT’S DINORWIG SLATE MINE. LLANBERIS.

Those in the know can get a fair way up by car. We often head there if the weather is fine and calm – although it is actually protected from some directions. The few days leading up to last Easter (2014) were wonderfully warm and sunny (not so lucky this year) and we were high up taking pictures when this guy and a couple of others came past climbing a near vertical slate surface. They hook onto existing eyes or drive in their own new ones for safety in case they slip but they climb the rock face they don’t pull themselves up on the ropes. It makes walking up Snowdon look a bit naff. Obviously we do the popular spots too. In the right light Harlech castle can be great both from the

HARLECH BEACH AT SUNSET WITH SNOWDON JUST VISIBLE TOP RIGHT

HARLECH BEACH AT SUNSET WITH SNOWDON JUST VISIBLE TOP RIGHT

inside and out and there are some tremendous views from the main road south down the coast towards Barmouth. More touristy type locations can still make interesting places to take pictures and I have even a few from Port Meirion (with a little enhancing) – that make it look a little more like something the original architect probably had in mind but I am not so sure that Patrick Mc Goohan would have approved.

PORT MEIRION -NORTH WALES.

PORT MEIRION -NORTH WALES.

Wild weather can be the best weather if you want some dramatic sea effects but it is useful to get to somewhere that has man made sea defences for the storm to compete against . Natural beaches certainly present splendid chances for long and breaking waves

CRICCIETH JETTY IN A DECEMBER STORM

CRICCIETH JETTY IN A DECEMBER STORM

but it is difficult to control the scale effect and sometime the pictures of a frightening day on a beach can look anything but frightening when you get them home. A jetty however and things can get very ‘sudden’ and if you are lucky and have someone with you brave enough for the art that will risk it in a swimming costume and holding a brightly coloured umbrella – then you are well away.

PAVED WITH GOLD by Sue Hipperson. A wet Caernafon. Sue's picture  - my feet. I had to do this little walk loads of time before she got it.

PAVED WITH GOLD by Sue Hipperson. A WET CAERNARFON. SUE’S PICTURE BUT MY FEET. I WAS MADE TO DO WITH LITTLE WALK MANY TIMES BEFORE  SHE GOT THIS SHOT.

Then of course the rain can often be turned to advantage. We had endured a complete day of rain last Christmas driving around the perimeter of Anglesey to finally find ourselves back on the main land and in Caernarfon just before dark when eventually it stopped. Wet paving and cobbles are always an inviting subject, plus the added effect of the huge Christmas tree. Note it’s not quite dark so still some interesting blue in the sky.

CAERNARFON TOWN CENTER AT CHRISTMAS.NOT EXCEPTIONALLY BUSY!

CAERNARFON TOWN CENTER AT CHRISTMAS.NOT EXCEPTIONALLY BUSY!

USING A CAMERA FOR A PURPOSE.

Photo-journalism or Sports Photography all sounds a bit grand. It’s really a case of being able to return and document an activity hobby that I had done a great deal of in the past. During last Summer we were able to visit three fairly big model flying events and take pictures of our old friends. This secured the job of photographing this year’s (2015) British National Free Flight Championships at the end of May for the AeroModeller magazine. It went very well although hard work. On your feet dawn till dusk for three days carrying at least two cameras and trying to always be in the right place at the right time. I will post a collection of the best images here as soon as the issue of AeroModeller which will carry some more of them is published. I would recommend seeing this next year if you are in the area. Although its a minority activity just about everyone who does it in the UK comes to this event. If any of you are interestedTrevor Payne (EMAIL) it’s Whitsun remember. This year the weather was kind – that is to say it was never really windy and we had hardly any rain – pretty unusual for Lincolnshire late May! So the contestants had a good time with the minimum of breakages. Obviously being ‘free’ flying models, when in the air they drift along at the speed of whatever wind there might be. On a windy day that can involve contestants walking, running and cycling  dozens of miles to retrieve them often way outside the aerodrome into farmland!

We had a slight problem when the inverter on our motorhome blew on the morning of the second day while I was working on some photos on the laptop. With no mains electricity officially available on the aerodrome the organisers set about conjuring some up for me from their huge generator supplying lighting to the entrance gate buildings and toilets and so forth. They could not have been more helpful. A company known by the initials S.R.P who’s specialise in event management – tents and so forth. I would recommend them.

SOME TYPICAL MODEL AIRCRAFT ACTION.

SOME TYPICAL MODEL AIRCRAFT ACTION.

Be Ready….

It’s also rewarding to ensure you have some sort of camera with you all the time and not just when you have deliberately gone out to take pictures. I was lucky with a couple of elderly customers of mine. They are 96 and 93 respectively Fred and Beryl and when they appeared in these matching jumpers I simply had to get the camera. However it was a very basic Kodak pocket job (8mp) but actually from previous results quite good. The reason this picture works is entirely down to them and their posing skills – none on my part. They were more than happy with the copies I sent them.

BERLY & FRED 189 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE BETWEEN THEM!

BERYL & FRED 189 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE BETWEEN THEM!

There is this documentary maker in me. You have seen those silly notices I have captured. They are one thing but I find, especially if I have been horrified by something, I feel better about it if I can take a photo. Really crazy parking or motorcar activities generate a lot of attention in me – must send them all to the local paper one day with all the number plates! Most New Year’s I take a somewhat morbid delight in snapping discarded Xmas trees and then again the next month and the next as they slowly decompose in gardens and on peoples patios.

NOTE THE WIRES AND THE CONTROL BOX STILL ATTACHED - BIT DISSAPPOINTED THAT THEY WERE NOT ACTUALLY STILL PLUGGED INTO THE MAINS!

NOTE THE  LIGHTS, WIRES AND THE CONTROL BOX STILL ATTACHED – BIT DISSAPPOINTED THAT THEY WERE NOT ACTUALLY STILL PLUGGED INTO THE MAINS!

I have some illustrations here. Strange how people seem to find it impossible to just cut them up a bit so they fit into the green waste bins. Most councils only collect bins if the lids are shut so the ones you see here were like this for a couple of months! This year I have even seen artificially trees thrown away into the garden complete with their plastic stands and the rotting remnants of the cardboard box they came in. Have they no idea? The  shot here on the right is of a tree thrown away with the lights still on it. However my best was sadly before I carried a camera all the time. Someone had discarded their tree into their back garden. It was there going browner and browner for months. Infact twelve months. It made the year and was then joined by the next year’s tree! I think they both still had their price tickets on them too. Oh what a picture that would have made!

WONT FIT! SO COUNCILS DONT TAKE THEM AWAY. OWNERS HAVENT DISCOVERED SECATEURS YET. ONE BOTTOM RIGHT WAS TWO MONTHS OLD.

WONT FIT! SO COUNCILS DONT TAKE THEM AWAY. THE OWNERS HAVEN’T DISCOVERED SECATEURS YET. ONE BOTTOM RIGHT WAS TWO MONTHS OLD.

FOUND THIS INTERESTING ONE. NOTICE HOOK IN THE BOTTOM OF THE TRUNK. WAS THIS EXAMPLE HUNG INVERTED THROUGHOUT THE FESTIVE SEASON? THE OWNERS WERE FROM NEW ZEALAND SO IT'S A POSSIBILITY.

FOUND THIS INTERESTING ONE. NOTICE HOOK IN THE BOTTOM OF THE TRUNK. WAS THIS EXAMPLE HUNG INVERTED THROUGHOUT THE FESTIVE SEASON? THE OWNERS WERE FROM NEW ZEALAND SO IT’S A POSSIBILITY.

In the mean time you don’t all have to go to these lengths but what I would recommend is that you take pictures of the mundane. Your high street. If possible every month, year in, year out. You will be amazed at the changes. It doesn’t have to be time lapse exactly. Select a point from where the view looks interesting and take a photo in the same direction every month. Even your own street from your bedroom window. If you had a record of say a ten or twenty year period it would be worth a thousand fancy computer enhanced pretty-pretty shots! The first day of that sequence has to start sometime – it could be today. Do it.

PERHAPS THIS IS THE RIGHT STRATEGY - CUT OUT THE MIDDLE MAN - CHUCK IT STRAIGHT AWAY BEFORE YOU UNWRAP IT - SAVES A LOT OF FUSS AND  CLEARING UP. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

PERHAPS THIS IS THE RIGHT STRATEGY – CUT OUT THE MIDDLE MAN – CHUCK IT STRAIGHT AWAY BEFORE YOU UNWRAP IT – SAVES A LOT OF FUSS AND CLEARING UP. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

PHOTOGRAPHY TRIPS

We have recently invested in a pricey piece of photographic equipment. Indeed the most costly piece we have ever bought. Namely a motor home. We have had them in the past but this is a modern conversion of a long wheel base Citroen Relay panel van and although not huge is economical, very comfortable to drive,

Mumbles , South Wales' at low tide on a warm September evening.

Mumbles , South Wales’ at low tide on a warm July evening.

quite fast and although not actually sprayed in camouflage colours, which had been a thought of mine, is at least a neutral silver blue which blends in better with outdoor landscapes than those huge white plastic boxes on wheels. Sue discovered quickly

"BOTTLE & TWO GLASSES" the vertical blur was created simply by moving the camera slightly during the  exposure. Low light helped this. The other trick is to get movement in one direction only.

“BOTTLE & TWO GLASSES” by Sue Hipperson.
The vertical blur was created simply by moving the camera slightly during the exposure. Low light helped this. The other trick is to get movement in one direction only.

that as well as being able to take us to places to photograph it was just as useful as a mini studio inside and took this popular image quite early on. Available light with bottles and glasses on our cooker top. If you look carefully you can see a plug socket on the right. No one has mentioned that yet. Four proper trips so far – Devon and South Wales, North Wales, Norfolk and ten days in the north of Scotland. Astonishingly during all this time we had no proper UK weather – that is it didn’t rain incessantly through any days – well very few. Indeed the trip to Scotland was clear, dry and warm throughout. Only South Wales gave a bit of trouble. Devon was a case of revisiting many previous haunts – Exmouth and Barnstable being favorites. South Wales started

Lansteffan beach with castle in the far background slightly to the right.

Lansteffan beach with castle in the far background on the hill slightly to the right.

A small section of the well maintained  wall around the castle at Lansteffan. Despite signs informing us of opening hours the place is available day and night as two enterprising folk had realised. You can just make out their very neat tents tucked in between two walls - top of the picture. It's what castles were designed for i protection from the elements.

A small section of the well maintained wall around the castle at Lansteffan. Despite signs informing us of opening hours the place is available day and night as two enterprising folk had realised. You can just make out their very neat tents tucked in between two walls – top of the picture. It’s what castles were designed for, protection from the elements. What a spot!

at Mumbles in a semi-Mediterranean heat wave but the real find was Lanstephan beach and castle. On the return we photographed Dryslwy castle and it was here I managed to slip descending a steep bit whilst holding two cameras one with a flash unit attached. The fall involved some spectacular rolling – down a thankfully grassy slope but one that had been recently ‘populated’ by a large flock of sheep. A bit messy and although the cameras were fine the flash unit did not survive.

Norfolk We visit Norfolk when we want to get away in the height of Summer to somewhere that is not too busy. Sadly as with everywhere now, due increasing populations everywhere, even North Norfolk, is getting busier and it’s beginning to notice. Of course it brings with it improved facilities in the form of ever greater choices of eating establishments but the farmers are resenting it. One of our visits coincided with the start of the Autumn harvest a tough time in the agricultural business. Holiday makers simply get in the way. The crops have to be gathered at just the right

The van at Thornham Harbour - North Norfolk. It's just a creek really but one is reminded of the sea when on occasions high tide covers this road with a foot or two of water!

The van at Thornham Harbour – North Norfolk. It’s just a creek really but one is reminded of the sea when on occasions a high tide covers this road with a foot or two of water!

moment and this often means intensive periods of activity – harvesting day and night – literally. One has to have sympathy – it’s their living and they don’t get a second chance at it – however it was a little unnerving to see roads closed or roads claiming suddenly to be private. Roads which we had driven down freely before. Generally a proliferation of Go Away notices! The holidaymakers can doubtless be a pain but then they too are an income. Too much resistance and they will take themselves and their money elsewhere and Norfolk will go back to purely farming as it’s major income.

Scotland

We got really lucky with this one. Not only did we visit just a week before they had their referendum in September to decide whether they wanted to stay UK or go it alone which

This is a spot in Glen Etive a little South of Glencoe. Very special weather for this area.

This is a spot in Glen Etive a little South of Glencoe. Very special weather for this area.

kept the news on the radio pretty well entirely Scots based for the time we were there but also it coincided with a period of dry, warm and calm conditions. Hardly a drop of rain fell during our week.

Quite a large proportion of the trip was spent on Skye where we had never been before. In a few days we managed to explore just about every road on the island. An island now joined to the mainland with a very convenient bridge which somewhat

Same early morning techniques used for this one of Loch Lurgainn. Slight problem with the midges this time but not as bad as it can be.

The beauty of being in a motor home is that those early morning shots are never quite as daunting. After all you can have a quick look and go back to bed if the weather is unsuitable. A slight problem with the midges taking this one but not as bad as it can be.

surprisingly had no toll. We found a spot for a couple of nights with fantastic views of the Cuillin range of mountains. Very early the first morning I heard some soft voices outside. It sounded like a radio on very softly. A professional photographer was explaining

Portree - the 'capital' of Skye.

Portree – the ‘capital’ of Skye.

Spent a couple of days here on Skye with beautiful views of the Cullin HIlls.

Spent a couple of days here on Skye with beautiful views of the Cullin HIlls. Also below.

THE CUILLINS - SKYE BY DAVE HIPPERSON DSC_4113 DSC_4183to his pupil the rights and wrongs of shooting this particular landscape. They had already got question one correct – they were there at dawn. There were tripods and filters all sorts of stuff  ready. Trouble was there was a fair bit of cloud so what should have been the dawn’s rays striking the top of the range turned out to be a very flat light and very little of it. In a word dull. However he had booked the time so he stuck it out for an hour or two, it was still a lovely morning. I steadied a camera (already prepared) inside my motor home and shot a few frames in case I was missing something. (I did the scene the courtesy of opening a window). I went back to bed and re-awoke and made breakfast at a much more civilised hour after which we explored outside. Our professional was long gone – I do hope he was somewhere else as stunning – as by 10am it was beautifully sunny and stayed so all day. It was hard to imagine that the more traditional weather for this area can include 90 mph gales and rain. This was Mediterranean in all but the water temperature.

 Weather perfect for this shot of Loch Maree.

Weather perfect for this shot of Loch Maree.

Off Skye we ventured pretty well as far north as you can go and in so doing found the astonishing road to Applecross, a pretty night stop by Loch Maree the beautiful beaches of Gruinard Bay.

"NOT TOO DEEP" by Dave Hipperson. Taken at Gruinard Bay -  it was 21C.

“NOT TOO DEEP” by Dave Hipperson. Taken at Gruinard Bay – it was 21C i in September

Here Sue was able to add to the attractions for an hour or two.

Finally the stark and slightly disappointing bleakness of Scourie before turning south and east and following the bank of Loch Shin eventually to Dingwall and Inverness. This city although really small when you have lived in London, appeared very busy compared to the remote areas we had left. From there down the edge of Loch Ness in the sunshine and that was truly busy as it was another Sunday. It was from the hills around Loch Ness that I was able to get the rather interesting  shot you see below.

"WAVES"by Dave Hipperson. Quite a small part of a landscape but I was taken with the contradictory appearance of the recessions. With all that haze and blue it looks like the sea until you notice the trees in the foreground!

“WAVES”by Dave Hipperson.
Quite a small part of a landscape but I was taken with the contradictory appearance of the recessions. With all that haze and blue it looks like the sea until you notice the trees in the foreground!

Very telephoto. and it has to be said some electronic noise. What you see here is  part of a larger original image.

Before we left Scotland we stayed the final night just south of Edinburgh and the Pentland Hills in a very quite river valley that we had discovered some years before when we used to visit the area each year for the Scottish Free Flight Nationals. Rather suprisingly it was completely unchanged. The drive home from here was just short of 600 miles and done in less than 10 hours.

Judging Progress

It has been a couple of years now that I have been able to do this. During this time I have visited thirty or so clubs in the Chilterns Association – a number of them two or three times. What has struck me and what contributes to keeping it interesting is how no two clubs run their competitions entirely the same way. No – I would go further than that. No two clubs run their competitions in anything like the same way! I would have thought it impossible to have come up with as many permutations and combinations of what essentially are a simple set of fairly straight forward rules – but it can be done!

That ideal scenario of walking into a club and being able to view the competition prints arranged around the walls or on stands or tables rarely happens! Often they are in a pile somewhere! Then when I have judged them they are invariably spread out and arranged beautifully for us all to study but not in advance. For me, they are kept a sort of secret till the last moment. I would have thought the members themselves would have rather seen them in advance and had more time to study each others work. But often they don’t seem to want to.

Then there are clubs that combine printed and projected work on the same evening. Some clubs do this very well. Then some clubs also split both projected and printed periods up into Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. That ‘ability’ demarcation is actually very helpful when judging as one knows when to tread careful. However it all gets a bit complex for a simple chap like me when, as one quite large club does, they then further also split the evening in half again with an Open (any subject) and a Set Subject. It is then that there can and have been moments when I forget just what I am supposed to be judging and why! Club organisers don’t always appreciate that it is quite difficult for visiting judges to adept quickly to such a complex regime. It is of course one which has plenty of merit as it maintains interest but can be confusing for a judge not conversant with their particular system. On the other hand it is even more daunting to be asked to do a complete evening of PDIs all open subject, no ‘ability’ classifications and possibly as many as100 images. In one run through you have to have put into the back of your mind the worst shots and the ones you are likely to hold back and score the highest mark. All with just a couple of seconds to see each one before you are taken back to the first image to embark on the final judging! Phew – I need a bit of a lie down just thinking about that scenario – thankfully it only happens a couple of times a year.

I see a great many images. All the time hoping for one I can go properly overboard about. From time to time it happens. The image here is one such however I wasn’t in a position to make any public pronouncement when I saw it as it was on a Park Street competition night and from a member of my club and I wasn’t judging.

THIS IS THE TREMENDOUS TABLE TOP EFFORT BY CONNIE FITZGERALD OF PARK STREET CAMERA CLUB. SIMPLY STACKS OF STAPLES ARRANGED ON A SHINY BLACK SURFACE - "BLOOD MOON OVER CITY OF STAPLES".

THIS IS THE TREMENDOUS TABLE TOP EFFORT BY CONNIE FITZGERALD OF PARK STREET CAMERA CLUB. SIMPLY STACKS OF STAPLES ARRANGED ON A SHINY BLACK SURFACE – “BLOOD MOON OVER CITY OF STAPLES”.

Thankfully the person that was, saw it the same as me which was a relief. It is from Connie Fitzgerald a leading member of Park Street Camera Club and capable in all genres of photography from table top still life to landscapes. This of course fits into the cityscape category. Or rather you might think it does. In fact it doesn’t. Its a table top shot. Looking to all the world like the typical iconic image of a modern metropolis with the obligatory lake or calm sea in the foreground. In fact and the clue is on the title – it’s a stack of staples! Putting in the moon is relatively straightforward but to have the foresight and the imagination to see the potential of unused staples to make such a scene – that’s going some.

She was ‘just tidying her office and thought they might be interesting’. Don’t you hate it when people make it sound that easy. Entirely made by the clever lighting of course – when I saw the original I could swear I could see individual windows in those buildings! This is one of my favourite images of the year. I am not sure I could even have got that many stacks of staples to stand up let alone get the picture of them!

USING PHOTOGRAPHS

Using Photographs

In the world of competitive photography we can sometimes loose sight of the fact that images can be just enjoyable, decorative and even useful as well as simply a tool for scoring points. I have realised this more and more since travelling around and seeing so much of other peoples work. When judging I always try to stress that the scoring part is only a convenient way of putting the images in (my favourite) order and who is to say if that is right. I am very suspicious when someone refers to an image as a “20 anywhere!” Suggesting that any photograph is a winner wherever it appears is dangerous territory. Nothing is set in stone. I have only recently had a picture scored the full 20 one week and 12 in a similar event two weeks later!  I am please to say that I would have put it half way between those scores  – about 17 both times!   Judges – what do they know?

I have always enjoyed using pictures to document things just as much as taking them. I have a large collection of images of useless and unnecessary notices for instance. Amazing how many of these you see. It just makes me feel better if I can photograph them. No one seems the least bit interested in seeing them – that doesn’t seem to matter somehow.  You are going to see a few here whether you like it or not.

5mph?

Obey just what exactly?

Hotel Taps!

I should jolly well hope so!

Silica Gel

No! keep it, eat it later!

Car Parking made easy

My current favourite – just how difficult do we have to have it for goodness sake?

There is quite a long history of the notice that states “Do not throw Stones at this notice”. I have been told one such does exist somewhere in West London. It is in this vein that these either confusing or worse  b****ing obvious  statements are shown here.

I presumed this first one applied to vehicular speed. The exclamation mark I find Orwellian – almost offensive.

Has it  really  got to the stage where we have to  be warned about pretty well  everything including hot water that might come out of a hot tap. In this same hotel suite and not more than a few inches away from this suggestion there was an equally worrying notice imploring  guest to “Please close the bathroom door when taking a shower otherwise it will set the fire alarms off!

As doubtless the fire alarms would only be a pre-cursor to the sprinkler system cutting in we face an interesting paradox if we are already in the shower!

“Do not eat” could really be applied to anything that isn’t food and some that is.

This sort of packet pops up in packaging everywhere that hopes to protect its contents from moisture. I think the addition of “Throw Away” annoys me as much as the commands regarding diet. In the same way as instructions on anything nowadays infuriatingly  repeating themselves numerous times in virtually every conceivable language  they go into great detail as how you dispose of the product even before you have had a chance to learn how to use it, wear it out of break it!

This  next one is slightly unfair but I couldn’t resist it. It appears to be beauracracy just trying to work out a way of making car parking even more difficult just for the sake of it. In fact it is an honest attempt by a firm in this case “Complex Cleaners” to direct customers to their own car park rather than have them suffer the wrath from other residents.

Long before I started in competition photography I used to make sure I constructed our Christmas and birthday cards around our own photographs. Much more fun and meaningful  when you haven’t had to compromise your ideas and send a card with

Xmas card flat print. Small rectangles are labels for presents. All prints in one go on a sheet of A3.

Final front and back of the card that cost me so much to produce! Christmasy Snowy Willows shot taken by my wife Sue for the front with some rain drops on an Aston Martin’s bonnet for the back. Those little rectangular items between the two cards (two versions – model aircraft in one , camera in the other) are labels for presents. Thought that while I was printing such a large expanse (that’s an A3 sheet!) I wouldn’t waste any. Did the same when I printed the inside slip (below) this time the reverse of the labels, just holly motifs.

Xmas Card Parts

The reverse of the card – or what became the inner leaf as the paper chosen had a shiny reverse side and would not take ink. Note the reverse side of the tags as well here. No paper wasted – well, it was already costing enough!

someone else’s picture. Actually it has made the job of Christmas cards in particular  much more of a pleasure than chore even if sometimes I get a bit carried away with the production and the cards finish up costing me a great deal more than they needed to!  This one I have illustrated here got complicated because the paper I had chosen for the front would not allow me to print on the back (too shiny) so I had to print a paper insert! This also meant having to insert the insert and stick it in place on every one of the one hundred or so cards! Material and time costs went through the roof! However I did manage to print two  cards on each sheet but they were A3. The whole deal finished up costing £1 each card in material alone. Imagine buying a packet of ten cards in a shop and being asked to fork out £10. You wouldn’t do it but when it’s your own images and your own words and your own ideas it’s no contest and it still feels great. Here is a pic of the finished card on ‘test’ paper standing on a sheet  of the flat artwork.

XMAS Card parts

Now bang up to date – the beginings of the 2013 Christmas cards some of which was  shot only a few days ago (7th Dec) in the busiest part of London’s West End. That main shot of the red cobbles has already won awards for Sue the front of the card depicting  a frosty scene has still not been rolled out infront of a judge. It was most of the shots inside the card that we took recently including an obligatory Regents Street lights picture.

2013 Christams Card Production

Hot off the press – the 2013 Christmas Cards! Secret is to fold them first then trim them with a scalpel and straight edge as it’s the folding part that can be inconsistent. The more you do the better you get at it.

Simply printed on high quality glossy paper but with a reverse side mat enough to also allow printing more than just text. Not as well as the front of course but mat enought o take ink but not so porous as to blur at the edges which does occur with some papers. Alittle experimentation is required. For quite some time I used a very reasonably priced paper available from Tescos – sadly no longer.

Power duration model in flight over Woodbury Common

The pole suspending the model is just out of shot top right. Nowadays we would not have had to be so cunning and simply taken the pole and line out  on the computer. On reflection I am rather glad it was difficult.

Some years before digital became the norm I was already using my own photographs to create cards. I was competing regularly in model aircraft competitions and we decided that we wanted our card to illustrate one of my models in-flight and not only that, in flight over one of our more senic of  English venues that we use each year for our contest. In this case Woodbury Common in South East Devon. We drove all the way down there on a promising day. We needed calm, clear, sunny, dry. We got it. Did a load of film photos with the aircraft in question suspended on a line from a tremendously long carbon fibre roach pole. Then off home hoping we had got a useable shot. In those days you couldn’t look at them seconds after you had taken them – imagine! Well the result is here. Aircraft with background just as we wanted it and even a bit of sea in the far distance! Very satisfying. The aeroplane has been scanned and used many times since including in the mega expensive card job described earlier. (You can see it top right on the illustration of the fronts of the card.) Nowadays this job would be no easier  to take but the digital technology would have taken away the fear of failure wondering all the way home if we had got anything worth using.

BOB DYLAN  from "Times They are a Changing Album"

The Bob Dylan CD cover. This is a very special edit. There was more available but I cut it down to the acoustic set as I felt his electric live stuff at that time was horrid. Not the material – it was just so badly mixed . Live was often a bit of a disappointment back in the mid sixties! I was at this concert and walked out so as not to witness the audience jeering him.

Came by some wonderful old Bob Dylan recordings the other day and made a CD for a friend who was too young to remember 1966 but loved the music. With a shot taken of the iconic “Times They Are a Changing” album cover flipped over I was able to produce an illustration for the front of the case and the CD itself. No space for this with an MP3 player. Got the tracks and track times inside as well, all possible through the miracle of I Tunes. Taking the photograph was the least of it really.

As I have mentioned before some camera clubs run special competitions that encourage a panel or even montage of pictures. This gives authors a chance to illustrate something or tell a story with a group of pictures and that takes some of the pressure off the need to have perfection in every shot. The message is carried by how all the shots work together. I judged a night like this recently and gave the prize to a lady that had taken four simple but very clear images of her Bickerton foldingAmy & Angus Wedding bike and the runner up a series of kitchen utensils both in black and white coincidentally. In this case the images formed a panel of small separate photos. However with the power we have at out disposal in photographic computer software all the separate images can be electronically manipulated on the screen into one – which I prefer to call montage.  So much more to look at and talk about – Celina & Toms's Weddingand a clever author can lead you around the pictures just by they way they lay them out. It’s a great artistic trick and well worth practicing. Its what the advertising world makes it’s money doing.

I have used this device for a couple of weddings that I covered as back-up photographer. Great fun putting together a complete day as a single image and well received on both occasions. My wife created an interesting study of canal life with such a montage and even more oddly a show of the strange knitting pieces that were attached to Saltburn Pier last year just prior to the Olympics. You can see these below. More difficult than it looks to get the images working together – especially those of the Saltburn Pier knitted dolls. Shot in the rain I believe!

Canal Life

The Knitting Olympics

No56 Grasvenor Avenue

All this was shot in less than an hour and then put together in a couple more using Photoshop Elements Eight.

Just before the night I showed “Wish You Were Here” I created another such montage as I was allowed two entries. I just walked around outside a friend’s house for forty five minutes on a sunny morning and was able to put together an interesting illustration of his home in a very short time when I got on the computer.  The trick is to find a subject that you can’t really cover with a single photograph. Saw a fantastic one done some years ago of the inside of a 1953 Pre-fab. house with all the fixtures and fittings of the time beautifully shot. I also know of a panel – just simply ten separate prints – of tools in a garden shed shot and treated so expertly that they won the author a Fellowship to the RPS! You don’t have to travel the World necessarily to produce award winning pictures. I wish I could show you that FRPS series but I am afraid you will have to make do with mine for the time being. This is my favourite – “Wish You Were Here” Shot around Exmouth and Dawlish Warren in South East Devon on one of the rare occasions that the sun was shining.WISH YOU WERE HERE (Email) by Dave Hipperson

Then finally as you have stuck with me so long a shot taken of same lady as in the above this time on the banks of the Elbe in Eastern Germany. The original image has been through a filter – “Radial Blur” to be precise and then that layer has been erased in certain places to maintain interest but retain some vestiges of modesty!

AMAZOOMED APPARITION  copy

Judging Photo Competitions the final part – Actually Doing It!

Judging Photo Competitions the  final part – Actually Doing It!

I have left a bit of time before explaining the trials and tribulations involved in actually putting a photo competition judging education into practice.  Anyone who has survived a judging workshop – a cross between the Spanish inquisition and an X Factor audition – will have done the tough part. The real thing is much more pleasant. At the half dozen or so clubs that I have visited as a judge since the course I have enjoyed enormously being treated as if I knew what I was doing. This tends to rub off! By the end of the second one even I was beginning to wonder whether I did perhaps actually know what I was doing. So it has all gone rather well. I hope you will excuse me if I don’t detail the actual clubs involved.

Continue reading