Last week’s meeting: John Boteler – landscape, seascape and people

Last week’s meeting: John Boteler – landscape, seascape and people


Before John’s presentation started Ivor had some good news regarding Tim Simmons: he is back home after his operation and though obviously weak he is on the mend. He thanks us for all the messages he has received.


It is customary for John to start his presentations with a photo of his granddaughter, and he treated us to the latest image he has taken of her. A reminder that photography is much wider than what camera clubs consume.


Shockingly, and well before the watershed, John showed a vintage photo of himself aged 21, wearing only what appeared to be an early prototype of the budgie smuggler. He was transporting us back to the world of film and gave a quick demonstration of how he ‘digitises’ a Kodachrome 25 slide he had with him using his mobile phone and a slide copying holder.


An avid camera collector, and a self-confessed occasional destroyer of some of them, John went through the history of some of his cameras. One of his early ones was an Olympus OM1, his first digital was bought in 2000 and was a 10.1 megapixel Canon 40D which he had with him and it still works.


However, he has moved on and, besides his digital cameras, one of the most used camera is his mobile phone which can automatically take HDR images – “Don’t underestimate the mobile phone” he advised us.


John lives about a mile away from a willow-lined stream running through fields. He showed us a series of dreamy impressionistic shots of pollarded willows in the early misty mornings. This misty morning theme was continued with images taken on his holidays at Barton-on-Sea, a cliff top village in south-west Hampshire.


Lots of early morning, after a storm rainbow, sun rises, sun sets, seascape shots, but the star of the show was the sky, which featured in many of his shots. Later on he had a superb shot in infra-red of stunning cotton wool clouds over the willow fields close to his home.


The sunrise and trees theme was picked up with shots of Brightwell Barrow and then on to trees in autumn and spring shots at Savernake Forest, which is located to the south of Marlborough. Trees featured in a shot on the top of a ridge near Lambourn and a circle of trees at sunrise near where he lives.


Then onto windmills – Chesterton and Brill – stunning in colour, black and white and infra-red and John’s signature subject: piers – Swanage, Boscombe, Eastbourne, Clevedon, and Paignton. All taken with a creative eye, low down following Ivor’s advice, using a big stopper, under the pier etc. He had a shot of women dressed in saris on the Southend pier train looking as if he was on the Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling line.


In the second half John focussed on photos of people – existing members, former members, long past members and members of the public (close up and personal).


A recurring refrain in his commentary was the phrase: “The judge didn’t like it, but I do” – wise counsel whenever our images are compared with others. The judge is always expressing an opinion which is the judge’s opinion, not the final say on the image. The most important judge is yourself and what the photograph means to you.


John’s enjoyment of photography – taking photos and looking at photos – was the overwhelming motif of the evening, and it was a joy to be part of his enjoyment. It is what the Oxford Photographic Society is all about – the enjoyment of photography.


Bravo John! Who’s next?

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