I have been a member of Bridgend & District Camera Club for some twenty years, hard to believe now that when I joined I was one of the youngest members at 43 years of age, I think there were just two younger than myself, but not by very much! During the summer months of June and July on meeting nights the club traditionally met at local venues for a photographic evening, these always tended to be the same sort of location, mostly churches or other old buildings, castles etc. and generally the evenings were rather dull. Some four or five years ago I decided to liven up the summer photographic evenings and organised visits to locations the club might not otherwise have visited and set out a challenge to members to share, via social networks, their photographs of the evening and then enter them into a competition at the end of the summer. This worked well for a number of years but for this year decided to hand over the reins to another younger member who has the enthusiasm to take on the challenge of finding new and different locations for the club to visit.

Aerial view of the rivermouth at Port Talbot showing where Santa was discoveredAnd so it was we found ourselves on the first summer evening’s visit of 2012 at the seaside location of Aberavon. The beach was not the destination of our visit however and we were guided a half mile walk to the Afan river which forms part of the entrance to the old Port Talbot docks. It was the sort of location I like with its industrial grime and the steelworks providing a grand backdrop to the whole dismal scene. The sky on this evening was overcast which added considerably to the overall gloom. There were about twenty or more members all jostling for position with some of the shots so I hung back and bided my time until they had moved on.

Santa Claus at Port TalbotI noticed there was a flurry of activity over one particular spot with members huddled in a group so guessed there was something interesting to be photographed there. When I arrived at that place later I discovered it was a fibreglass or plastic Santa that everyone had been raving over and photographing. Well, it was there, so might as well have a go at it myself, I did have the idea I might make it my flickr digital Christmas Card for this year so, like countless members before me, I re-arranged the grubby discarded decoration into the position I wanted to photograph it. The results were interesting and although I posted one of my pictures of Santa immediately to my flickr pages, the others I kept for possible amusement at the forthcoming festive season.

I had completely forgotten about the photographs I had taken until yesterday when a message was circulated on the Club’s e-group e-mail service with an attachment. It was a photograph of the said Santa Claus. Unbeknown to me, one of our lady members had dragged it back to her car and taken it home where she lovingly cleaned it up and, with a bit of lighting installed, now has an illuminated Santa Claus as an interesting Christmas decoration. Well done Pat for seeing the potential in that filthy piece of riverside junk and having the foresight and determination to drag it home, may you and Santa have many happy years together!

Pat Lathey's photograph of the renovated Santa

Thanks to Pat Lathey for allowing me the use of her photograph, very much appreciated Pat!