We were amazed

Underwater Flower by Collene Slater

The first person to arrive tonight was our speaker Collene Slater who had driven all the way from Wales. Luckily she only had to go home to Brighton afterwards. The usual folk from SCC were there and a short time later there was a great gaggle of visitors, who were of course very welcome, A large number of them were from Steyning CC, who are our great friends, plus some Henfield and Worthing members.

Collene started by telling us a bit about herself. She started off as an artist, teaching art as well. Then she had a spell as an Antique dealer in Brighton until the Internet spoilt that, so she turned her hand to photography having been inspired by some pictures of flowers taken underwater.

So, Collene dreamt up a setup with a fish tank filled with water lit by sunlight, but using coloured sheets of gel to make her shots colourful. She had started by showing us her recent FRPS panel which was great but which sadly failed. I am sure she will get her honour when she re-submits. Her images were so distinctive and we saw all of them and many more on screen. When flowers are immersed in water they give off oxygen which emerges as a series of bubbles along petal edges. So with very precise focussing  and using the depth field preview, she takes some shots, and then checks her results on the computer as she goes along to see that she is getting the results she wants.

I have seen Collene’s work at another club, once seen never forgotten!

Next we were shown some of her other Macro photographs of flowers and many insects, grasshoppers being one of her favourites. I thought that I took some half reasonable insect images, but mine are rubbish compared with those we saw this evening. All her images are pin sharp and  with brilliant colours. Collene says that her favourite way of taking pictures is lying on the ground. This way she gets a better image at about the subject's level.  Clear backgrounds, which do not come easily when photographing insects, are another feature of her images. Insects are renown for not lingering, so Collene waits till late in the day, or very early in the morning, because once insects get cold they cannot move.

After the break we were shown the gear that Collene uses. She has two camera bodies both Canons, a 7D and a 5D Mk IV, used nearly always with her trusted 100mm Macro lens. She uses a very stout carbon fibre tripod with no centre column so that the legs can go right out virtually flat, with a clamp attached on an arm to anchor waving plants. Collene diffuses bright sunlight with a smaller lighter tripod on which she mounts a white umbrella. A bright overcast day is best-like a giant umbrella.

For hand held shots she has a twin flash set-up to freeze the subject. By using different settings on each gun she gets good modelling light. She also showed us a brilliant Gismo attached to the camera which, used with her mobile phone, allows very precise incremental increases of focus, which the software combines to give magical stacked pictures.

Finally we were shown some of the other macro images Collene has taken including fungi and an interesting series of shots taken on Brighton beach of both natural objects like seaweed or man made objects like discarded drink cans, pulls and all manner of other random objects. Lastly, we saw a series of images taken inside and out of a couple of telephone boxes on Brighton seafront, all macro.

We were treated this evening to the most amazing collection imaginable of a very varied range of  Macro images, but the most amazing ones for me were the insects.

Thank you very much Collene. I am sure several people in the audience will go out with macro lens attached inspired by your brilliant pictures which we all enjoyed so much.

Submitted by Derek Grieve on Wed, 07/11/2018 12:02