Regarding Melissa #50

…..Previously

“When you’ve been out on Group weekends, do you never watch how the members go about their shots?’

‘Not really,’ he said, ‘I just want to make sure that everyone has everything they need and to sort out the transport.’

‘Come with me,’ she ordered him.

She showed him how to scout out the area and to appraise the option for the most promising aspects such as light, windspeed and direction, foreground, interesting angles and so forth. Having chosen a viewpoint with him, she explained what factors would determine the settings she would use and how she was going to set up her camera. All of this before she even removed her backpack from her shoulders.

Continued…..

‘Wow!’ he said.

She passed him her backpack while she set up her tripod and, retrieving it from him she took out the camera she was using’

‘Is that from the shop?’ he asked, shocked.

‘Yes and No,’ she answered, ‘It’s the one that my dad bought from the shop in May – do you remember?’

He nodded.

‘He said that I could borrow it for today and put it through its paces.’ She told him.

At each stage of setting up the camera, checking light levels and wave height, she explained what she was doing, and let him see on the Live View screen the effects when she was focusing or attaching filters. When she was ready, she took the shot and showed him the result on the screen.

‘I see now why your bag was so heavy,’ he said when she declared that she was ready to move on. ‘At least let me carry that and you just take your tripod.’

She agreed and he used his smartphone to summon a taxi to take them to the Marina.

Over lunch he had a shedload of questions to ask her regarding the things that determine what factors will lead to a properly exposed and sharp photograph. She told him to enjoy his lunch, and to watch and listen while she worked around the waterside. She’d continue to explain as they went and she promised to spend as much time as necessary on the return train journey dealing with any further questions.

Some of the time that they spent in the afternoon, she borrowed his camera and explained how he could make similar adjustments to settings to those she was making. She watched him trying and checked what he’d done before telling him to press the shutter button. He was completely delighted by the results and by what he’d learned. By the time that their train pulled into the station, Mel was exhausted. Jamie, on the other hand, couldn’t wait for an opportunity to put into practice what she’d told him.

‘You’re a really great teacher, Mel,’ he said when they reached the station car park. ‘It’s no wonder that it’s you the regulars always want to talk to.’

‘I’m not just a pretty face then?’ she teased, laughing.

Featured Photo

In keeping with this blog episode, I’m posting a second photo from the archives – another that I took in Hull of the Humber Bridge

I used my Pentax K-1 36 MB full-frame camera at 25 seconds at f/11 and 24 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was tripod-mounted and post-processed in Lightroom.

Regarding Melissa #49

…..Previously

‘Good God!’ he said, ‘What have you got in here? Those must be bloody heavy sandwiches.’

‘It’s the cakes, biscuits and wine,’ she said, ‘then there’s the corkscrew, glasses and plates.’

He looked at her to see if she were serious.

‘Don’t be daft!’ she said, most of the weight and bulk is the camera, filters and so on.’

He nodded.

‘Of course,’ he said, ‘What else would it have been knowing you?’

Continued…..

The conversation between them on the train was easy and comfortable. She relaxed. She’d never really asked him much about himself before. She was still puzzled why there was no mention of a girlfriend – or boyfriend if he swung that way, though she doubted it. She had knocked around with people at university who’d been gay and was sure that she had a fairly reliable gaydar. She didn’t probe and he didn’t volunteer any information along those lines.

She’d been going to walk to the bridge, but he insisted on getting them a taxi.

‘More time for you to take photos,’ he said, and she was happy to agree in this instance.

Neither of them had seen the Humber Bridge before with its impressive span and, when they got out of the taxi, they just gawped for a moment.

‘That is quite some bridge,’ he said.

‘Oh my God,’ she said in agreement.

Jamie’s luggage had comprised a small shopping bag and, from it, he took out a small point-and-shoot camera, pointed it in the general direction of the bridge and clicked the shutter. When he turned to look at her, to see if she was doing the same, he saw that she was almost bent double, creased with laughter.

‘What?’ he said.

‘Jamie,’ she said, ‘you sell some of the highest specification cameras in existence. Has no-one ever shown you how to photography scenes like this with them?’

He shook his head.

“When you’ve been out on Group weekends, do you never watch how the members go about their shots?’

‘Not really,’ he said, ‘I just want to make sure that everyone has everything they need and to sort out the transport.’

‘Come with me,’ she ordered him.

She showed him how to scout out the area and to appraise the option for the most promising aspects such as light, windspeed and direction, foreground, interesting angles and so forth. Having chosen a viewpoint with him, she explained what factors would determine the settings she would use and how she was going to set up her camera. All of this before she even removed her backpack from her shoulders.

Featured Photo

In keeping with this blog episode, I’m posting a photo from the archives – one that I took in Hull of the Humber Bridge

I used my Pentax K-1 36 MB full-frame camera ay 1/100 seconds at f/11 and 24 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was tripod-mounted and post-processed in Lightroom.

Regarding Melissa #48

…..Previously

Lucy was disappointed. She really liked Mel – not just as an employee. She’d seen how Mel and Jamie got on together.

‘I do hope that she gets over it soon,’ Lucy said, ‘She’s such a lovely girl. Wouldn’t it be nice if they were to become closer personally? I’d love her as a daughter-in-law.’

Tracy laughed.

‘You’re a real matchmaker aren’t you, Mum? I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I think that Mel wants a career more than a man.’

Continued…..

CHAPTER TEN

August, 2015

A day out with Jamie

They’d arranged the trip on a Friday during a lull in business. Mel had asked for the Saturday afternoon off out of her annual leave. She’d noticed that the weather forecast looked promising. Jamie had agreed but had asked Mel what she had got planned for the time.

‘Don’t be nosey,’ she’d said, but had noticed that he’d blushed.

‘It’s okay, Jamie,’ she’d said, ‘I’m only kidding.’

Sometimes she wished that he were a little less easily hurt. It was difficult sometimes to engage him in normal banter.

‘I want to spend the afternoon getting some things together for a trip I’m planning for Sunday.’ She told him.

‘Anywhere interesting?’ he’d asked – risking a further rebuke for his question.

‘I’m catching an early train to Hull,’ she’d said, ‘to photograph the Marina, the Waterside and the Deep aquarium after I’ve taken some shots of the bridge.’

‘Oh!’ he’d said, ‘I’ve never been to Hull. Would you mind if I came too?’

Mel had been taken aback. Was he asking her for a date or just an opportunity to see somewhere he’d never been? She’d looked at his face for answers and made an immediate decision. This was Jamie asking, not Craig, and Jamie would have been horrified to know some of what she’d been thinking. If it had been Craig, he would have been wanting to control her outing.

‘Jamie, that would be lovely,’ she’d said, ‘I was just thinking that I’m going to be getting up at stupid o’clock to catch the train. Won’t you miss your Sunday lie-in bed after your working week?’

‘I’m always awake early anyway, Mel,’ he’d said, ‘and I could pick you up at your house if you want and park at the station.’

Out of habit, she couldn’t help thinking that knowing that he’d be driving would control  how she’d be getting home that night – and she felt unease – but again she dismissed the idea of Jamie being another Craig.

She’d told him the time that the train would be due in at their local station and that of the train she’d planned to return on. She told him that she’d be taking a packed lunch – she didn’t want to waste her day searching for a café and waiting ages to be served on a Sunday lunchtime.

As she expected, Jamie was a few minutes earlier than they’d arranged, but that was Jamie for you. At least she wouldn’t be pacing the floor because he’d been late.

She lugged her backpack and tripod out to his car. He’d already opened the passenger door, but when he saw what she was carrying, he opened the boot compartment also. She noticed his car – a recently registered Volvo estate. She might have guessed. She’d noticed the car at the hotel when she’d been for a meal, but hadn’t known who it belonged to.

‘Good morning!’ he greeted her, smiling broadly, ‘Can I put that in the boot for you?’ he asked, reaching for her backpack.

She passed it to him.

‘Good God!’ he said, ‘What have you got in here? Those must be bloody heavy sandwiches.’

‘It’s the cakes, biscuits and wine,’ she said, ‘then there’s the corkscrew, glasses and plates.’

He looked at her to see if she were serious.

‘Don’t be daft!’ she said, most of the weight and bulk is the camera, filters and so on.’

He nodded.

‘Of course,’ he said, ‘What else would it have been knowing you.’

Featured Photo

A couple of week’s ago, I went to New Brighton – a resort on the north Wirral coast in Merseyside to photograph the sunset. There was too much cloud to see the actual Sun, but I liked the light anyway. Today’s photo, the final one in this series, shows the Perch Rock lighthouse again just as the Sun set that evening, with the spine of rocky blocks, seen from a different angle, stretching out towards the Irish Sea.

I used my Pentax KP 24 MB cropped1/80 seconds at f/9 and 24 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was tripod mounted and post-processed in Lightroom.

Regarding Melissa #47

…..Previously

‘I could probably do most of that on the back of the Group outings,’ she said. ‘You told me that I’d retain copyright on any photographs that I took on those trips. It would be great if I could get some of those published – and I’d hope for a share of the profit from gallery sales of my images. I’d also expect to keep all the income from any further magazine work, competitions, or outside exhibitions – if I ever reach those dizzy heights. Does that sound cheeky?’

‘Well,’ he said, ‘I hadn’t through that far ahead. I don’t blame you for thinking big. What you’ve said sounds reasonable in principle to me. I’ll mention that too.’

She thanked him.

Continued…..

Jamie looked across to Tracy, ‘She’s not been with us six months yet and she’s planning a takeover already.’

‘Not a takeover, Jamie,’ she said, ‘just my bid for some personal independence from men. I don’t intend to be a kept woman.’

Tracy clapped.

‘Good for you, she said.

Jake chipped in from the other side of the table, asking his wife if she had any regrets about being married. She denied it adamantly.

Lucy, sitting next to Jamie, commented on how well the young people at their end of the table seemed to be getting on.

Mel had missed most of the other conversations that had led to the raised voices she’d occasionally noticed. The occasional bits that she’d heard all seemed to be political arguments about Brexit.

She didn’t get much chance to talk to the grandparents until later – after the meal when they managed to get some room to sit together and talk over coffee.

Duncan, Tony’s grandad came and sat by Mel. She had lots of questions to ask him about his being a wartime military photographer, and he seemed to enjoy regaling her with details of the nature of the work and the equipment that he’d had to work with.

She asked him about how he’d come to be chosen to do that kind of military service. He explained that, before the war, he’d been training to be an optometrist and that he had a good knowledge of lenses. His hobby had also been photography.

In turn, he quizzed her about her graduate studies and about the portfolio that she was still building. He seemed to have remembered all the Malham photos that she’d shot on the outing. He asked about the camera she’d used and how she’d chosen her viewpoints. They talked about cameras they liked. He too had owned and been fond of Mamiya cameras. Like Alec and Carol, he was curious about her reasons for wanting to work in the shop.

By the end of the afternoon, the only people that she hadn’t really had much chance to talk to were Tony and Lucy.

Mel’s dad came to collect her from the hotel and was pleased that she was able to report that it had been an enjoyable and interesting occasion.

Mel had left the family still talking together.

Duncan, Alec, Tony and Jamie were sat around on end of the table while Carol, Fiona, Lucy and Tracy occupied the far end. Baby Elaine was in her buggy between Carol and Fiona.

Jamie mentioned the conversation that he, Tracy and Mel had been having about Mel’s hopes for the future. Tony said that it was still early days, though he could see some merit in the idea of the shop offering some type of photography services to its customers.

‘What’s the problem?’ Alec asked. ‘Are you worried that if the girl starts taking some of your customers’ photographs for them that they won’t be buying cameras from the shop?’

‘Put like that,’ Tony answered, ‘it isn’t really likely, is it?’

‘Anyway, Dad,’ Jamie said, ‘Some of the people who still want to have a professional photographer taking photos of their big occasions may not be shop customers otherwise. Mel might be able to drum up some custom for cameras and so on from people at such events.’

‘It’s all extra income,’ Alec said, ‘it would fit nicely with your limited passport photo business – don’t you think?’

‘Okay, okay,’ Tony conceded, ‘I’ll have a word with her – but that means that she’ll sometimes not be in the shop to do the work that we took her on to do.’

Duncan took his turn in the discussion.

‘Whatever you do Tony, lad,’ he said, ‘don’t lose that girl. She’s bright and she’ll more than earn her keep. I like her. You’ll not get one better.’

Tony gave up and tried to change the subject.

Meanwhile, Tracy and her mum were in deep conversation about Mel’s apparent antipathy to men.

Lucy was disappointed. She really liked Mel – not just as an employee. She’d seen how Mel and Jamie got on together.

‘I do hope that she gets over it soon,’ Lucy said, ‘She’s such a lovely girl. Wouldn’t it be nice if they were to become closer personally? I’d love her as a daughter-in-law.’

Tracy laughed.

‘You’re a real matchmaker aren’t you, Mum? I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I think that Mel wants a career more than a man.’

Featured Photo

A couple of week’s ago, I went to New Brighton – a resort on the north Wirral coast in Merseyside to photograph the sunset. There was too much cloud to see the actual Sun, but I liked the light anyway. Today’s photo in the series shows the Perch Rock lighthouse again with what I think of as a spine of rocky blocks stretching out towards the Irish Sea.

I used my Pentax KP 24 MB cropped1/60 seconds at f/9 and 35 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was tripod mounted and post-processed in Lightroom.

Regarding Melissa #46

…..Previously

Alec picked up where he’d left off.

‘You were saying that you felt happy to have your job at Hannays. Would you like to say a bit more about that? I’d have thought you’d be still on the lookout for an opportunity as a professional photographer. Surely it can’t be because of what this ex-boyfriend said?’

Continued…..

‘No, but not many firms are recruiting graduate photographers who don’t have a history of published work. And free-lance photography is insecure. Craig was right to say what he did in a way. Family portraits – photographing babies, toddlers and even weddings are now being done more by family members. If they don’t have a camera, they’ll have a camera phone. Couples who are budgeting will often sacrifice an expensive professional album for digital images they can look at on a TV screen or a computer monitor.’

A waitress approached to announce that their table was ready.

Alec returned to the conversation, walking beside Mel as the party was being led to their room.

‘So, have you given up on the idea of professional photography?’

‘No,’ she said, ‘but working at the shop, I’m now able to keep up to date with the latest in pro equipment and, since Jamie let me loose on a recent Group outing, it looks like my photos will be getting seen in a respected monthly magazine. If I get more opportunities like that, I’ll be getting the best of both worlds – an audience for my work and a regular salary. The shop will get good advertising from it. It’s a win-win situation.’

‘Does Tony know how you feel?’ he asked as they reached their table.

‘I think he may do,’ she said, ‘but it’s not something that I’m deliberately hiding.’

Lucy was, by now, herding people into places around the table. She placed Mel in between Jamie and Tracy. Tracy had been assigned to an end-of-table position with the baby in the buggy, though she was standing at that moment rocking her baby to soothe her. Little Elaine was making herself heard, probably irate at being recently changed. As the howling gradually lessened, Tracy sat with the child in her arms and showed her to Mel.

Mel made the necessary, expected cooing sounds.

‘I assume that you don’t have any children yet,’ Tracy said, ‘Certainly not with a figure like yours. I can’t wait to get my shape back.’

‘Not yet and nowhere in my future either,’ Mel told her, ‘Anyway – I’m off men. They’re not part of my plan at all.’

Tracy laughed, ‘Hmm, I heard about your ex,’ she said, ‘but you can’t let one bad apple put you off fruit.’

Elaine was now asleep, and Tracy got her settled in the buggy before she turned back to Mel.

‘Sorry about that.  You were saying…’.

‘I’ve realised that I want to build up my career,’ Mel said, ‘and I hope that I can do that working for your Mum and Dad – perhaps by showing them that I can work both as shop assistant and as the resident photographer for the business. You know, doing portrait and weddings for the folks who still want a professional job doing.’

Jamie had been keeping quiet, but he had been listening to their conversation.

‘Actually,’ he said, ‘I haven’t discussed it with dad, but I’ve been thinking along the same lines. How would it work though?’

Mel waited until they’d told the waiter what they’d chosen to eat and drink.

‘I’d see anything that I did in or for the shop as being extra income for Hannays’ – done as part of my salary – though I’d hope that I could use kit from the business to do it. I’d probably also need use of the shop’s upstairs front room as a studio – you know, the one next to the gallery?’

Jamie said, ‘Okay, I’ll talk to dad about that. What about your personal work, done outside the shop?’

‘I could probably do most of that on the back of the Group outings,’ she said. ‘You told me that I’d retain copyright on any photographs that I took on those trips. It would be great if I could get some of those published – and I’d hope for a share of the profit from gallery sales of my images. I’d also expect to keep all the income from any further magazine work, competitions, or outside exhibitions – if I ever reach those dizzy heights. Does that sound cheeky?’

‘Well,’ he said, ‘I hadn’t through that far ahead. I don’t blame you for thinking big. What you’ve said sounds reasonable in principle to me. I’ll mention that too.’

She thanked him.

Featured Photo

A couple of week’s ago, I went to New Brighton – a resort on the north Wirral coast in Merseyside to photograph the sunset. There was too much cloud to see the actual Sun, but I liked the light anyway. Today’s photo in the series shows a long exposure of the Perch Rock lighthouse again with rocks in the foreground being washed by the incoming tide.

I used my Pentax KP 24 MB cropped sensor camera with a Pentax 24-70 mm f/2.8 lens. The EXIF data were shutter speed was 30 seconds at f/9 and 24 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was tripod mounted and post-processed in Lightroom.

Regarding Melissa #45

…..Previously

‘Why don’t you and Jamie find somewhere to sit with your drinks to wait for everybody,’ Lucy said, ‘somewhere that’ll give us room to spread out preferably until we get asked to go to our table.’

One of the pub staff at the bar seemed to have been listening – she called to a passing waitress and asked her to show Jamie and Mel a suitable place – close to the room that had been reserved for the party. Mel followed the waitress with Jamie, suspicions aroused as to the possibility of matchmaking going on.

Continued…..

They’d hardly had time to sit before both sets of grandparents arrived to join them. The two sides of Jamie’s family had all come in their own cars – Alec and Carol had brought Duncan, Alec’s dad.  Ninety-five years old Duncan was using a stroller to support him, though he still, otherwise, looked spry for his age. Mel took an immediate liking to Duncan. In his blazer, white shirt and regimental tie, he dressed like an ex-military man, but he had a twinkle in his blue eyes.

Mel wasn’t sure of the protocol in these circumstances, but to play safe, she started to stand when Jamie’s grandfolk approached. When Mel rose to stand, Jamie followed suit – whether to avoid embarrassing her or from family politeness Mel was unsure.

Lucy’s mum, Fiona, was the first to introduce herself to Mel – before embracing her and kissing her on the cheek. Mel understood Fiona to be recently retired, but she looked very young to be a pensioner. Neil Cameron, her husband didn’t look much older than Fiona and he was dressed as if he’d just come straight from a game of golf.

‘You’re every bit as beautiful as Lucy told me,’ Fiona said, ‘isn’t she, Carol?’

‘Well, Lucy wasn’t the one to tell me, but you are even lovelier than Tony described you,’ Carol, his mum said, ‘he probably didn’t want to make Lucy think that your looks were the reason for taking you on.’

Mel knew from Jamie that Carol, his dad’s mum, was a few years older than Fiona, but she too looked young for her age and she certainly didn’t dress like an old-age pensioner. She too embraced Mel.

‘On those grounds, I’m saying nothing in case it incriminates me,’ Alec Hannay, Tony’s dad said, ‘I’d better just shake hands. Lovely to meet you, Mel.’

Neil Cameron, Lucy’s dad, greeted Mel in a similar fashion and everyone sat down with their drinks.

‘I believe that you’re a very promising young photographer, Mel,’ Alec said, ‘You did know, did you, that Tony never really expected to be able to recruit someone who actually knew one end of a camera from the other?’

‘No, I didn’t know that – they never said,’ Mel replied, ‘but I was unemployed and just happened to see the notice in the shop window. Just good timing as far as I’m concerned.’

‘Aren’t you concerned that you may be wasting your talent in the shop?’ this was Carol.

Mel explained that, since she’d graduated, the role and prospects of a professional photographer had changed.

‘Everybody who has a smartphone thinks that they’re a photographer now,’ she said, ‘My recent boyfriend said that no one needs photographers like me: it doesn’t take any training to be able to click a button.’

‘Is that why he’s your “recent” boyfriend?’

‘That and the fact that he was a control freak.’ Mel replied.

‘Is there any truth in what he said though?’ Neil asked.

‘I suppose there is, and that’s why I feel lucky to have my job at Hannays’,’ Mel said.

At that point Tracy and her husband, Jake arrived together with Lucy and Tony. Tracy was pushing Baby Elaine in a small buggy. As soon as Mel saw Tracy, she saw the family resemblance to Jamie. When she was introduced to Tracy, Mel asked if she could have a peep at the wailing baby.

Tracy apologised, explaining that she was going to have to take her to the Ladies’ room to change her nappy.

‘She stinks something rotten’, she added, ‘I’ll bring her across to you when she’s fit for inspection.’

Alec picked up where he’d left off.

‘You were saying that you felt happy to have your job at Hannays. Would you like to say a bit more about that? I’d have thought you’d be still on the lookout for an opportunity as a professional photographer. Surely it can’t be because of what this ex-boyfriend said?’

Featured Photo

A couple of week’s ago, I went to New Brighton – a resort on the north Wirral coast in Merseyside to photograph the sunset. There was too much cloud to see the actual Sun, but I liked the light anyway. This next photo in the series shows the Perch Rock lighthouse at New Brighton.

I used my Pentax K-1 36 MB full-frame camera with a Pentax 70-200 mm f/2.8 lens. The EXIF data were shutter speed was 1/125 seconds at f/11and 200 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was tripod mounted and post-processed in Lightroom.

Regarding Melissa #44

…..Previously

‘Well,’ she said, ‘Thank you very much. I’m flattered. If you think that they’re okay for display I’m chuffed.’

‘Hey, listen,’ Tony said, ‘You need to believe in yourself more. I could see your potential when you brought your portfolio in back in February. What are you doing on Sunday afternoon?’

‘Have you got another outing lined up?’ she asked.

‘Yes and no,’ he answered. ‘How would you like to come and have your Sunday lunch with me and the family. We want to thank you for all your hard work and my grandparents are eager to meet you too.’

Continued…..

Late July 2015

Meet the Family

Sunday lunch had been arranged at a hotel just outside Codmanton. They’d booked a small function room to enable comfortable service for the party of eleven adults. To Mel it seemed like a gathering of the clan. Other than Tony, Lucy and Jamie, they were to be joined by Jamie’s sister, Tracy, Jake, her husband and baby Elaine. Duncan, Jamie’s great grandad, Alec and Carol, his dad’s parents, and Neil and Fiona, Lucy’s parents were the older contingent. The only time that Mel had ever seen such a family meal had been one Christmas, at home some years ago.

She had heard her dad mention the place. He and her mum had attended business-related functions there on a couple of occasions, but she had never been there herself. It was a former manor house with a grand entrance and magnificent tall, Georgian windows. It was set among sixteen acres of wooded and lawned grounds. Her dad had driven her there, and when she got out of the car, she could hear a peacock’s shrill cry. She was both impressed and concerned that she might be under-dressed.

Mel still visited her own grandparents, on both sides, quite often – but seldom saw all four of them at once. She’d bought a dress especially for this occasion – it was the only dress in her wardrobe. Even her work clothes were all separates – mix and match. On the Saturday afternoon, she’d been to the hairdresser – again this was not a regular occurrence. She tended to look after her own hair as much as she could. Her shop earnings were better than social security topped up by cash-in-hand pub work, but professional hairdressing was, for her, a luxury expense.

She was keen to make a good impression. She’d really enjoyed the Sunday outing and the interest her images had aroused. She was looking forward to the possibility of working with a magazine. Other than submitting her work on her own initiative for consideration, this was the nearest that she’d come since university to work as a professional photographer. Mel hoped for more opportunities like that.

As it turned out, she had nothing to worry about. The older generation were pre-disposed to like her based on everything that they’d heard from Tony and Lucy. Duncan, the founder member of the family business and a trained photographer himself, was keen to discuss some of Mel’s images that Tony had shown him.

Jamie’s sister’s interest lay in a different direction. She’d heard her brother praising Mel and had wondered whether his interest was more than professional. Her mum hadn’t thought it likely, but Tracy wanted to see for herself – and if she were to see any unusual interest on either side, she wanted to assure herself that it would be a good thing.

Mel arrived after Tony, Lucy and Jamie but before anyone else. She was pleased – she hadn’t wanted to be the last to arrive and to have to make excuses. Lucy told Mel that she looked lovely, and Mel returned the compliment. Tony asked Mel what she’d like to drink, and she asked for a fruit concentrate drink – she’d decided to try to keep a clear head. Getting bladdered in front of strangers was bad enough in any circumstances – let alone in front of your boss’s family.

‘Why don’t you and Jamie find somewhere to sit with your drinks to wait for everybody,’ Lucy said, ‘somewhere that’ll give us room to spread out preferably until we get asked to go to our table.’

One of the pub staff at the bar seemed to have been listening – she called to a passing waitress and asked her to show Jamie and Mel a suitable place – close to the room that had been reserved for the party. Mel followed the waitress with Jamie, suspicions aroused as to the possibility of matchmaking going on.

Featured Photo

A couple of week’s ago, I went to New Brighton – a resort on the north Wirral coast in Merseyside to photograph the sunset. There was too much cloud to see the actual Sun, but I liked the light anyway. This first photo in the series shows the Liverpool waterfront skyline, on the opposite bank of the River Mersey.

I used my Pentax K-1 36 MB full-frame camera with a Pentax 70-200 mm f/2.8 lens. The EXIF data were shutter speed was 1/125seconds at f/9 and 150 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was hand-held and post-processed in Lightroom.

Regarding Melissa #43

…..Previously

Back at the shop she promised to email a copy of the ‘Lone Tree’ photo to Damian and he assured her that he’d be emailing her soon to arrange the next move or moves. Once she’d found her way through the Group members back to her dad, she saw he seemed to be deep in conversation with Jamie. They turned to her. Brian asked did she want a lift home with him or was there anything she needed to do in the shop. Jamie told her to get off home. He thanked her for her contribution to the day and he’d see her tomorrow to discuss their respective feedback about the outing. 

In the car with her dad, he wanted to know how she’d enjoyed her day. In turn, she asked him how he’d enjoyed it and what he’d been talking about with Jamie. He told her how impressed Jamie was with her. 

Continued…..

Feedback at the shop.

Jamie was already at the shop when Mel arrived – Tony had given her a key of her own to use some weeks back. She returned the equipment that Jamie had lent her for the outing and handed him the media card from the camera.

‘Yesterday’s shots,’ she said, ‘I processed them last night and copied the edited files back onto the card for you to look at.’

‘Your shots – your copyright,’ he said, ‘but would you mind letting me have a copy of your processed shots.?. There might be some that we can use in the showroom or in the gallery.’

‘Thanks, Jamie,’ she said, ‘I wasn’t sure about who’d own the copyright since it was shop equipment and I was being paid to be there.’

‘Yes, you were being paid to be there,’ he said, ‘That’s right. You were working for the shop and you did a great job yesterday. I want to talk to you about that, but as for copyright, you were the artist and you own the copyright.’

‘That’s amazing,’ Mel said, ‘so I could enter some shots into competitions and so on? You’d be okay with that?’

‘Yes, of course,’ he said. ‘Now listen, I’ve had Damian on the line already this morning. He’ll be speaking to a magazine publisher today. You really impressed him and he wants some photos of you to include in any article that he can swing. He knows which magazine he can probably arrange it with, but there are others that are almost as good.’

Mel blushed, ‘Who’d be taking the photos?’ she asked.

‘The way he sees it, they’ll fix up a photoshoot on location somewhere picturesque and send you, plus a photojournalist from the magazine and a well-known landscape photographer. You and the pro would choose your shots and be prepared to explain to the journalist why you chose the viewpoint and your settings.’

‘Can I borrow that kit again?’ she asked.

‘There’ll be no need,’ he said, ‘In effect he’ll want you to act as a brand ambassador without that being specified in the article. He’ll lend you whatever kit you need. He’ll almost certainly want you to use their top professional gear and to showcase it through your shots. What do you think?’

‘What? Pitting me against a top pro? That’s not fair,’ she said.

‘Listen, Damian saw the images you showed him on your iPad. He believes in you.’

Jamie tried to convince Mel to believe in herself.

‘In the end,’ he said, ‘you and the pro will both be using great gear, in similar surroundings. Whoever gets the credit for the top featured shot – that will be down to your respective judgements as to your settings and the specifics as to how you framed the viewpoint that you chose.’

Mel still looked doubtful.

‘Come on,’ he said, ‘Look at it this way, even if the pro’s shots get picked for top feature, the readers will know that he’s a pro and you’re an amateur. It will still allow the shop to get some great publicity in the magazine.’ ‘Anyway,’ he continued, ‘suppose that the editor picks one of your images. Think what that will look like if you ever get asked to do an exhibition.’

‘Whew!’ Mel said, ‘Not much pressure then.’

Their conversation was interrupted as a customer entered – the first of the morning.

Later that day, Mel stayed behind after her normal hours, helping out with a change to the window display. Once the door had closed after the final customer had left, and the “Open” sign had been swung around, she made cups of tea for them all, while Jamie and Tony looked through her images of the outing on the shop’s monitor.

‘Okay,’ she said, ‘What’s the verdict?’

It was Tony who answered.

‘Well, if you hadn’t been there,’ he said, ‘Jamie wouldn’t have had any photos to bring back of the trip. He was too busy with Damian and the Group members.’

Jamie joined in, ‘And even if I had found time to take some shots, none of them would have been as good as these.’

Tony came back in, he pointed to some images, ‘We think that these two should replace some that are hanging in the shopfloor – and this one,’ he pointed to her “One Tree” photo, ‘a copy of that should definitely go in the gallery for sale. What do you think?’

‘Well,’ she said, ‘Thank you very much. I’m flattered. If you think that they’re okay for display I’m chuffed.’

‘Hey, listen,’ Tony said, ‘You need to believe in yourself more. I could see your potential when you brought your portfolio in back in February. What are you doing on Sunday afternoon?’

‘Have you got another outing lined up?’ she asked.

‘Yes and no,’ he answered. ‘How would you like to come and have your Sunday lunch with me and the family. We want to thank you for all your hard work and my grandparents are eager to meet you too.’

Featured Photo

A change of scenery again. I took this shot a couple of weeks ago near Gathurst train station in Lancashire. A group of young horse riders had just crossed the main road and were entering a field. I asked if it was okay for me to take a photo and they agreed.

I used my Pentax K-1 36 MB full-frame camera with a Pentax 24-70 mm f/2.8 lens. The EXIF data were shutter speed was 1/50 seconds at f/11 and 35 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was hand-held and post-processed in Lightroom.

Regarding Melissa #42

…..Previously

Damian sat with Jamie on the outward journey, Mel had sat near the front with her dad who was a long-established member of the Group. She’d been telling him about what she’d learned from Damian. Most of the members knew each other well – and those who didn’t were quickly assimilated into the conversations around them. As the coach manoeuvred its way around the, often twisting, narrow lanes approaching Malham, the excitement was almost palpable. Mel rose from her seat and made her way along the aisle, distributing details of the programme for the day. These had been planned with supplier some days ago and had been printed by the supplier and stapled to some of its promotional leaflets.  

The plan was to start with a walk to Malham Cove for the opportunity to take some photographs of the famous landscape ‘pavement’. Damian would be remaining with the Group to demonstrate the use of the new products to them and to let them handle the equipment for themselves – the aim being to stimulate the well-known photographers’ nemesis – GAS – Gear Acquisition Syndrome. This is the feeling that, in order to become a better photographer – one needs always more sophisticated equipment.  Even some experienced members of the Group would not be immune. 

Continued…..

While Damian was busy, Mel had agreed with Jamie that she could ascend to capture some images of the ‘Malham Tree – a single, weather-beaten small tree that, though it stands outside the limestone, is usually photographed to best effect with lines of the ‘pavement’ as foreground leading towards it. By the time she returned to the Group, they were already walking back to the village for refreshments before the afternoon’s proceedings. 

Damian cornered her as she was making her way with her drink to a table. He asked how she’d fared taking her shot. She waited until they were seated with their drinks before them on the table. She removed her camera and iPad from her backpack, connected them with a cable and let him scroll through her images on the tablet screen while they waited for their meals to be brought to the table. 

‘Wow!’ he said at one of the shots. I know that yours is not the latest in our line-up, but would you let us use this image.  He outlined a plan for commissioning a magazine article in which it  would be used – possibly as a cover, if he could get the publisher to agree. Otherwise, what he had to say was pretty much what Jamie had hoped for. 

The afternoon continued as planned, starting with a walk to Janet’s Foss waterfall for more photographs. Damian wanted to show off the capabilities of the new prime lens. Mel took her own shots. The final stop was at Gorsdale Scar – though very little water was falling that day. Damian used it to demonstrate his wide-angle lens while Mel was busy photographing the Group members as they listened and as they took their own photographs. As the Group made their way back to the coach, by agreement with Jamie, Mel took a different path back, photographing images of a stream and of a clapper bridge.  

On the return journey, Mel and Damian sat together. By the time that the coach got back to the shop, Mel felt that she’d been interviewed all over again, but understood that he’d needed to know enough about her capabilities to be able to sell his idea to his company and to the magazine publisher. They’d discussed copyright – she’d insisted on retaining control but was prepared to permit agreed uses. 

Back at the shop she promised to email a copy of the ‘Lone Tree’ photo to Damian and he assured her that he’d be emailing her soon to arrange the next move or moves. Once she’d found her way through the Group members back to her dad, she saw he seemed to be deep in conversation with Jamie. They turned to her. Brian asked did she want a lift home with him or was there anything she needed to do in the shop. Jamie told her to get off home. He thanked her for her contribution to the day and he’d see her tomorrow to discuss their respective feedback about the outing. 

In the car with her dad, he wanted to know how she’d enjoyed her day. In turn, she asked him how he’d enjoyed it and what he’d been talking about with Jamie. He told her how impressed Jamie was with her. 

Featured Photo

A change of scenery again. The bluebells season is just about ended, only to be replaced by dandelion seeds being blown everywhere. Today’s shot is a close up of a dandelion seed head.

I used my Pentax KP 24 MM cropped sensor camera with a Sigma 70 mm f/2.8 DG macro lens. The EXIF data were shutter speed was 1/10 seconds at f/5.6 and 70 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was tripod mounted and post-processed in Lightroom.

Regarding Melissa #41

…..Previously

‘I’ve still never used PowerPoint in anger,’ she said, ‘but it’s probably straightforward once you get going. It’s another reason for doing it here. That way I can get some practice using the shop’s laptop – and if  I get stuck, I’ll shout for help.’ 

‘I’d rather you used the phone,’ he said laughing. ‘When do you want to make a start?’ 

‘Can I do it tomorrow morning?’ she asked, ‘That will give me time tonight both to think about how much I’ll be able to put across in the time, and to think about what images I’ll want to use. I’ll do a rough draft of the text tonight and put some photos on a memory stick to bring in.’ 

‘That’s great, Mel,’ he said, ‘I’ll brief Jamie and I’ll sort the posters and invitations by this afternoon. Thank you.’ 

She made her way back down to the shop where Jamie was talking to a customer. When he finished, he came across to her to ask what was going on. She told him that his dad had phoned down and asked for him to go up as soon as he had time. 

‘What? Now?’ he asked. 

She nodded. In her mind, she was already rehearsing key points for what she’d want to say on Thursday.  

Continued…..

Later that week 

The evening presentation went every bit as well as Mel had hoped. 

It had taken her most of Tuesday to put it all together – screens to display plus presenter notes for off screen. Fifteen people had turned up – more than she’d expected: Some had come without an actual invitation – they’d just responded to the posters displayed in the shop. 

Mel had done a first-rate job of explaining and the photographs that she’d used to support the concepts that she was explaining had been excellent examples. After the presentation, several people had wanted to ask questions that had shown their interest. 

Tony acted as chairman of the meeting and thanked her. She was given loud applause and, when Tony declared the meeting closed, half-a-dozen or so people from the audience gathered around Mel to congratulate her or to ask further questions. Tony had to ask them to allow her time to pack her things up and get home to her bed. 

When they’d gone, Jamie looked at her, nodding. 

‘Wow!’ he said, ‘That was brilliant.’ 

Tony agreed and said that he couldn’t have asked for more from her. 

‘We’ll know who to ask to do the next presentation,’ he said to Jamie. 

Mel blushed. She was happy that they were pleased with her – and even happier about the overtime pay she’d be getting. 

Mid-July, 2015 

A day out in Malham 

It wasn’t raining after all. When everyone gathered outside the shop that Sunday, early morning, waiting for the coach, the skies were blue. Mel had been making a tick against the names of everyone as they arrived. Jamie had introduced her to Damian, the rep for the UK supplier. He had homed in on Mel’s reason for being there. In turn, she had been pumping him for information about the new equipment he was promoting.  

Damian was probably in his mid-forties, a good few inches shorter than her, broad, smartly dressed and with a good head of dark, nearly black hair that was greying above the ears. His accent was vaguely of the English midlands, but Mel wasn’t familiar with that part of the country and its regional variances. 

The headline item he’d be showing-off was a new top-of-the-line camera with more than 50 megapixels. To complement the camera, he’d brought along two new lenses – a 35-millimetre prime lens and a fast wide-angle zoom lens. The most innovative of the gear he’d brought was the brand’s new mirrorless camera. Mel didn’t expect to be too impressed by this last item. The company hadn’t yet developed a range of lenses to bring out its potential. Other firms were well ahead in that field.  

Damian sat with Jamie on the outward journey, Mel had sat near the front with her dad who was a long-established member of the Group. She’d been telling him about what she’d learned from Damian. Most of the members knew each other well – and those who didn’t were quickly assimilated into the conversations around them. As the coach manoeuvred its way around the, often twisting, narrow lanes approaching Malham, the excitement was almost palpable. Mel rose from her seat and made her way along the aisle, distributing details of the programme for the day. These had been planned with supplier some days beforehand and had been printed by the supplier and stapled to some of its promotional leaflets.  

The plan was to start with a walk to Malham Cove for the opportunity to take some photographs of the famous landscape ‘pavement’. Damian would be remaining with the Group to demonstrate the use of the new products to them and to let them handle the equipment for themselves – the aim being to stimulate the well-known photographers’ nemesis – GAS – Gear Acquisition Syndrome. This is the feeling that, in order to become a better photographer – one needs always more sophisticated equipment.  Even some experienced members of the Group would not be immune. 

Featured Photo

Staying with the shots that I took in my local park on 28 April. Today’s photo shows a Rhododendron flower.

I used my Pentax KP 24 MM cropped sensor camera with a Pentax 28-105 mm f/3.5 to 5.6 lens. The EXIF data were shutter speed was 1/25 seconds at f/10 and 53 mm. The shot was handheld. I post-processed the shot in Lightroom.