Cat’s Corner

Long serving committee and honorary member Cat Humphries is kindly writing a blog series on her camera gear experiences. First instalment below – enjoy!


The Last Pentaxian in Croxley

There comes a time in every relationship where you have to assess whether you stay or you go. This is true for camera gear as much as it is for marriages. When you first decide on which camera manufacturer you go steady with, it’s all new and exciting. You’re amazed by the clarity of the images the relationship produces and you go on to add to your family of camera gear.

Suddenly you find yourself 20 years down the line, with a bag (or in my case cupboard) full of lenses, but the manufacturer you supported just isn’t keeping up their part of the bargain. You don’t get excited by them anymore, you know their flaws inside out, and you start to wonder whether they care about what they’re giving back to you. Are you worth more than they’re giving you?

This is how I feel about my relationship with Pentax cameras. They were the first SLR I got my grubby 5 year olds hands on, and I spent my formative years completely in love with my Pentax MX. We travelled the world (well, to Canada anyway), spent hours people watching, going to museums or the occasional Wimbledon final, and we took our first steps into the world of theatre photography together.

Later on, as both of us grew older, the world around us changed. Photography was going digital and in 2007 I took the plunge and bought a K100D. A new world of possibilities opened up. No longer was our relationship constrained to 36 exposures and processing fees. We had the freedom of a 1GB SD card and an A4 printer!

Slowly we evolved together, with new features drawing me deeper into the Pentax DSLR world, the K100D became a K20D and then, as the theatre beckoned me back, the K5II was so alluring with it’s low light processing and faster auto-focus. One body became two, and my collection of lenses grew to ten as I explored new genres and hoped that I could find photographic utopia. My evangelism knew no bounds – the two most popular religions in the imaging world held no allure for me. I would not be a slave to the tribes of Nikon or Canon like those I saw around me.

But like most utopian visions things became dystopian after a few years. The cracks started to show and what was once a great idea had started to turn sour. I searched around for a new body to replace my ever aging K5II, but alas Pentax removed the features I had relied on so much. They raved about their new full-frame cameras, but they were not what I wanted in a relationship. Too big, too heavy and with the same level of focussing options – they couldn’t satisfy my evolving creativity.

All around me lens manufacturers were abandoning the long-established third way. Limiting what was available to loyal Pentaxians like me. We saw our future stretched out before us, not the utopian vision we’d hoped for, but now a dystopian nightmare. Stuck in the past, hampered by unsupported gear and old fashioned lighting kit.

Despair surrounded me like a dark and stormy night, but after a while, the realisation struck me like a ray of light through the clouds. I didn’t have to stay in this sort of relationship. I was worth more than Pentax was giving me. I could be free to choose my future, unchained from the restrictions of the brand I had been loyal to for so long.

I could rebuild my camera gear collection. I could evolve.

Next time: Finding a New Way: From Pentax to What?


Left – Cat’s beloved Pentax MX – which still contained film at the time of writing!

Right – Selection of MX printsclockwise from top left: Venus Williams serving for the Championship at Wimbledon in 2007, couple on Lady Godiva Plinth 1998, Nuneaton Man (whole area was demolished to make way for a shopping centre), Strange Times at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 1998, Swamp Donkey at the Godiva Festival 1998


Club night summary – 3rd September

Another first for the club last week when we held our first virtual ‘Welcome evening’ to herald the start of our new season. It was great to see some new faces and to welcome back some more familiar to our clan of talented photographers. It was a well attended night on ‘Zoom’ (our now well trodden platform for weekly club meetings) with a great atmosphere full of anticipation for the season ahead.

Our brilliant committee carried out a review, which featured a look at the trophy winning Images from last season, External competition Info for the various challenges against other clubs this season. Ant gave us a great preview of his work in portraiture and studio work, accompanied by some stunning Images.

We had a brief look at the coming programme with particular focus on the guest speakers, some of which are experts in their field and live some distance from the club. One of the benefits of ‘Zoom’ gives us access to these speakers, which would not normally be able to travel so far, to deliver their talk. We had a few Important words on finance and some useful reminders on entering competitions with photoentry.

Our summer extended programme was a huge success and we were able to show a few highlights from the various challenge competitions that were held during the summer months. Some excellent Images produced during this period!

All in all a full and enjoyable night with some great relaxed banter from the various members in Zoom boxes displayed on our screens. (How the World has changed!)

Earlier in the evening we reported that following our recent survey and subsequent committee review. We will continue online using Zoom (as most other camera clubs) until such time as we have sufficient confidence that we can safely return to our community centre hall. We will monitor the situation and carry out another survey with all members at the end of October and then share findings early November.

We thank everyone that managed to help us with the survey and as always value your feedback to the club.

Steve


Club night summary – 27th August

Here we are at the start of another season, despite the pandemic we are fit and ready to go once again and looking forward to another successful season. A number of camera clubs have struggled to keep together during these very stressful times, but with the help of ‘Zoom’ the online support and our wonderful committee, we have managed to keep everything going. Not only did we complete our season but we extended the programme into the the summer period, with a lively programme of photography challenges and catch up informal chats, which were always entertaining and produced some great Images from our talented members along the way.

We understand that meeting online isn’t for everyone, but it has been the only alternative when the Coronavirus struck and it has proved a successful formula. We would love all members to embrace this method of meeting to start the new season this Thursday 3rd September. It is very easy and not as daunting as it may appear from the outside. Please contact if you need any help in enabling this to happen, we would be delighted to assist. A warm welcome awaits everyone.

We will announce our season meeting plans this Thursday evening, following the results of the recent survey, which we thank everyone who participated. It was very Important that we gauged everyone’s thoughts regarding physical meetings again. Everyone’s safety is paramount in our thoughts and it is most Important that there is a majority of confidence for when we meet in the hall.

However we meet, you can be assured we will have our normal programme of events from great speakers (experienced experts in their field), workshop evenings and of course Competitions. You can download the programme from below link.
Lots of Inspirational topics for our members creative minds to occupy, while the world gets back to some sort of normality!

Meanwhile our last summer programme session ended last Thursday with a great evening of Informal chat, covering a number of Interesting topics raised by the attending members. Everything from different types of filters filters, Infra red photography including film use, locations for great shots and discussion about Introducing a help/advice format for members. We were even treated to ‘Ant’s’ talk and great Images, regarding his recent Portrait social and the Importance of a planB.

Looking forward to seeing everyone this Thursday for our Welcome evening to start the new and exciting season.

Steve



Club night summary – 20th August

hank you to everyone who has already responded to our mini survey, regarding how we feel about regrouping and holding meetings in the near future. If you haven’t had a chance yet, please take a few minutes and give us your feedback as soon as possible. It’s your club and we want to get the decisions right for everyone . The link is the Members Area.

One of the many great things about being in a camera club, is the bringing together of like minded, creative people. Last Thursday was another great example, with our latest photography challenge ‘Natural light portraits’. Once again we had a very entertaining evening with some great Images produced and shown, demonstrating natural lighting technique, at its best. Our winning formula, of each author showing an Image and providing the narrative to the other members, on both technical and Inspiration behind the photograph, was used to great effect. We had 30 excellent Images shown, which made the two hour meeting fly by. You can see the Images in the members area of our website.

Sadly that’s our last summer programme challenge before the new season, which starts on the 3rd September, it has proved a very popular topic and presentation theme with some great work produced by all that have entered the various challenges. Watch the newsletter for additional challenges of a similar nature, to find there way into our Autumn / Winter schedule! Thank you to everyone that has entered any of the the excellent summer challenges and produced such a high standard of photography.

More good news, some kind of normality has been resumed, with ‘ Ant’ managing to safely and successfully hold his first portrait social, following the lockdown. A great Indicator of things gradually Improving, prior to our exciting new season.

Steve



Club night summary – 13th August

With the week’s now fast disappearing towards our new season starting on 3rd September we now need to focus on where we will meet and the shape of future meetings.
We have been given the green light to resume using the Community hall on Thursdays, naturally providing we meet the current law on safe distancing and overall safe practice regarding numbers etc. We will also need to carry out a risk assessment to ensure we meet the stringent compliance practice.

However this could be academic at this time, because the Important question is how do all our members feel about meetings. Understandably everyone will need to feel comfortable and confident in physically meeting in the hall. We feel that a short survey will help gauge everyone’s current feelings regarding resuming hall meetings or continuing as we are currently doing using online Zoom meetings. Please help us by completing the below survey. We value everyone’s Input to help decide the direction, which of course will be decided by the majority vote.

The Zoom meetings, in both completing last season’s competitions and programme and the recent light summer schedule have been very successful but we appreciate it hasn’t been right for everyone to attend online.

Zoom has been a learning curve for most of us. We would love to help assist any current or potential new members in using the Zoom system, if you would like to join in. Please contact to let us know your needs.

The excellent challenges and Informal catch up sessions we have run over the last few weeks have been well received by the members and have produced some outstanding work. Some examples can be seen below from the various challenges, or you can see more detail in the members area of our website.

We have a great camera club, but like many other clubs at the moment are suffering with not being able to recreate the meetings as they were. This of course can put a strain on communications.

We value every member and would love to be able to harness our loyal membership for another season of exciting events and Inspiration for all. Things will change along the way as the world eventually gets to grips with this awful pandemic and we return to some form of normality.

In the meantime please complete the survey to Indicate your preferences and if possible, if you haven’t already done so, get signed up for another year (details below) and we will come out of this period together and stronger as a club.

Steve


Club night summary – 6th August

It’s hard to Imagine in four weeks time our new season will start. There are still many unknowns regarding how and where we will meet. There are a lot of considerations ahead to ensure that we can meet safely in the community centre hall, to ensure compliance with social distancing safety measures etc.

In the clubs sixty years of existence there has never been a more challenging time at the start of a new season, a conundrum currently shared by all camera clubs. One thing is for sure, we will be up and running on the 3rd of September either online using ‘Zoom’ or back in the hall when we all feel comfortable with the safety arrangements. We have an exciting programme planned for this year with all judges for competitions, guest speakers etc confirmed and ready to go, either on ‘Zoom’ or in the hall. We have a number of members already renewed their subscription for next season and it would be great to get the same commitment from all current members prior to the start of next season.

In the meantime, last week we continued our wonderful light summer programme with the latest challenge. This time it was a post processing challenge. Three Images were provided to download from our website to edit as our talented photographers saw fit. In addition there were further Images provided to create a composite Image using their Imagination to create a scene.

Once again the members excelled in their creativity and gave great documentary on how they had gone about their editing process to create the stunning results.

Another fun and Interesting night which ensured we are still keeping together during these difficult and uncertain times.

Steve


Club night summary – 30th July

One of the things we all miss from not meeting in the community centre each Thursday is the social Interaction. The opportunity to just talk to like minded people about anything and everything, normally photography related, but always Interesting and often Informative.

Our weekly summer programme tries to provide a platform to have the opportunity just to exchange views and share Information within the group. Although it’s online and we are viewing each of us sitting in little boxes, it does provide a forum for two way communication within the group.

Last week was a great example of this relaxed evening where we exchanged many Interesting topics, from discussing lighting for both indoor/ outdoor shoots, the merits of each product and of course the all Important budget to finance the purchase.
We talked about, if you want to share your Images to the outside world and the various platforms on social media etc to creating your own website.

We also managed to fit in a discussion on photo books comparing the various providers and the ease of putting a book together.

In addition to the exciting challenges we have issued and had a great response too during this period of online activity. The blend of Informal get together on Zoom has proved a winning formula for the difficult time we are all currently experiencing in the world.

Thursday evenings online are open to every club member, with easy access Instructions in the members area to join.

We look forward to seeing you this Thursday 🙂

Steve


Club night summary – 23rd July

As we get further into our ‘summer’ programme with a more relaxed approach of weekly meetings, the enthusiasm for our love of photography never wains. Whether it is one of our summer ‘challenges’ or just a meet up to discuss anything photography related it has been a great series of online meetings. We have had a number of Interesting photography challenges so far, which have produced some excellent Images.

 Last week we Invited everyone to step outside their normal photography comfort zone to create a ‘stop motion animation’. This presented a whole series of challenges, which involved different techniques in both shooting and software use. In addition much more time needed to be devoted to the production of this challenge. As with all of the tasks set so far, our dedication members set about producing a number of creative and well thought out stop motion animations.

It was great to both see the final clips on Thursday and hear from the authors who managed to find the time to produce. All the members that managed to produce clips agreed, it was a good exercise, going into previously untrod territory and learning new techniques. The clips can be viewed in the members area the website.

Thank you to all that attended the meeting and in particular to those members that took up the challenge and produced such Inventive stop motion clips.

We look forward to the next few challenges during August

Steve