“Short Sets” Competition, March 4th, 2020

This week the society held its annual ‘Short Sets’ competition.  This is a contest judged by the attendant membership on the night.  There were 12 presentations each lasting up to eight minutes. The entries comprised either a selection of still images or an audio visual (AV) display.

The evening began with seven AV presentations commencing with Ken Rennie’s wonderful Waterfalls.  An avid and accomplished landscape photographer, Ken had accumulated hundreds of high quality waterfall pictures over the years and this presentation treated the audience to a masterclass in photographing moving water.

Keith Snell followed with a summary of his winter trip to Iceland.  His presentation included some excellent records of Iceland’s iconic landscapes, geysers, ice, snow, shorelines and the inevitable photogenic isolated churches in the snow.

John Macfarlane stepped away from the norm in that his AV was composed entirely of short video clips from his recent winter trip to Yellowstone National Park.  His entry included snow covered ruminating Bison as well as rather warmer specimens amongst the hot springs. There were clips of Otters, Elk, Moose and Wolves trying to eke out a living in this harsh environment

Julie Walker’s entry stemmed from her visit in 2015 to Myanmar where she was introduced to a unique culture and religious idiosyncrasies with gold leaf covered giant Buddhas, elaborately decorated Temples, painted faced children and market traders.  There were many cultural and traditional elements depicting the rural way of life.

Ronnie Gilbert, not surprisingly, provided some stunning photographs of the wildlife in and around the Chambal river in India.  This is one of the last refuges for that pointed nosed fish eating Gharial which lives alongside the Mugger Crocodile.  The river environs are also home to River Dolphins, Terrapins, Painted Stork, Ibis, Kingfishers, Thick Knees and many more species, few of which escaped Ronnie’s camera.  Ronnie’s AV was voted second in the competition.

David Rayment successfully added a pre-recorded narrative to his AV entry describing aspects of his visit to Venice.  He focused on the architecture, the Gondolas and the Gondoliers. Tongue in cheek, he showed how the boredom on the face of a Gondolier shifts to interest when an attractive lady passes by!

The final AV, and the winning one, was ‘A swift journey through Namibia’, prepared by Richard Jakobson.  In addition to the landscape images, Richard, unusually became a wildlife photographer including showing some stunning images of Elephant troops, Leopard, Hyena, Giraffe, colourful lizards, Pelicans and much more. His night sky images over the dunes of the Namib Desert were quite captivating, and I’m sure quite rightly contributed significantly to his success.

After a short break the competition moved to still images with David Woodthorpe’s Short Set entitled, The Indian Selfie, which was placed second in this part of the competition. It was a light hearted look at the Indian obsession with ‘selfies’.


Many people were seen to be holding and speaking into one smart phone whilst taking selfies with the other and taking selfies at tourist hotspots.


This was followed by Stephen Harris’ presentation of the Terracotta Army showing the enormity of the site of the discovery of the terracotta soldiers. He showed the extent of the excavation and described the structures which concealed the original work.


He explained that many more are yet to be revealed and his photographs showed many of those sculptures that were intact amongst those which were far from perfect.


Carol Minks showed us arecent trip to the edge of the Artic Circle.  Her presentation of Svalbard and the area around it included some spectacular landscape and wildlife images.


For two of the days she was unable to venture out of her cabin, such was the ferocity of a storm. Carol still managed to capture wonderful images of Walrus, whales and a distant Polar Bear, seabirds and waders.


Heleen Franken-Gill was the only contributor during the whole event whose photographs had all been taken in the Lake District, or indeed the UK! Heleen’s images were captured on a foggy day, commencing with a visit to Castlerigg Stone Circle where atmospheric and some minimalist landscape photographs were successfully captured.



Particularly stunning was a picture of an illuminated snow covered Causey Pike peeking through cloud and mist.



The final entry, and the winning one in this category, was called Division and Democracy by Deborah Tippett.  Deborah’s monochrome collection of still images captured during a recent trip to Berlin documented some of its tragic history.


Barred basement windows, bullet scarred walls and intense graffiti on remnants of the Wall were images set against the very positive and democratic icons which now define the unified Germany.


The very high standard of the Short Set competition was the best in memory and any one of the contributions would have been regarded a worthy winner.  Many attendees confessed that they really didn’t know which entry to vote for. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening enhanced by Deborah and Richard’s excellent entries.

David Woodthorpe