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Back in 2003 when I was chairperson of Bridgend & District Camera Club I was approached by our nearest rival photographic club to ask if we would be interested in sharing a coach on a day trip to Ironbridge. I put it to our members and between the two clubs there were enough of us to make the trip financially viable. I suggested to the other club we might have a joint evening following the trip to share photographs and look to see how others have interpreted their day, which was agreed.

The day arrived and the Bridgend members met at the pick up point to join the other club and we commenced on our journey, which was very lengthy as I’m convinced the driver had not done his homework beforehand and lost his way more than once as we circled through a couple of places twice.

I had decided that I would take a few snaps on my new digital camera, a little Sony, but the majority of photographs would be on black and white film using my canon EOS 50e with a 20-35mm lens. For good measure I attached a red filter to darken the blue skies. Conditions were ideal, bright blue skies, large fluffy clouds, and the wide angle lens I had chosen to use suited the subject well. I used up two rolls of film, 72 shots, that was a lot in those days, and I was satisfied in my mind there’d be a few useful pictures in the rolls.

Later, when I’d developed the films, I set about scanning the negatives to print on my Epson 1280 printer; I wasn’t disappointed with the results and printed off a large number on A3 paper before deciding which ones I was going to mount to show at Camera Club when we had our get-together. In the end I mounted about 20 and whilst they were on the floor laid out I realised I might just have the makings of a panel of photographs suitable for consideration by the Welsh Photographic Federation for an Associateship (AWPF).

The next stage was to build a frame on which I could place these prints so I could see exactly what they looked like when displayed as a panel, this took a week or so and was large enough to hold twelve 20″ x 16″ mounted photographs in three rows if pictures were in landscape format or fifteen prints in vertical format. I constructed this to be easily dismantled to be able to transport in my car.

Once the prints were on the display stand I realised there was probably not quite enough variety to put a cohesive panel together, I needed more of a similar style but of other locations and an opportunity soon arose. My mother’s sister lived in Cornwall and I used to take Mum down there every few months to see her, mostly on a day trip, but occasionally staying overnight. I’d usually drop Mum off and then go off and do my own thing with my camera and I knew I needed Cornish tin mines to complement my Ironbridge photos.

With tin mines captured on film, all I now had to do was print some up and add them to my growing panel. I had looked on the internet to find out the criteria for panels submitted to the WPF and learned that I had to submit twelve, so carefully planned where each photo was to be placed; I had decided on a format of four photographs in three rows. The day before the assessment however, I learned that I couldn’t submit in three rows as they only had stands with two rows, so had to submit in two rows of six. Apparently this was on the printed rules. When I pointed out there was no mention of this on the rules on the website I think I confused them but they were adamant, two rows of six. This spoilt my carefully balanced layout and I had to rethink but not before I had expressed my disapproval and disappointment.

On the day of the judgment I was horrified to discover that the prints were shown at a distance from one another, not really as a panel at all, more like separate photographs, albeit in the order in which I had requested, but about a metre apart, not my thinking of a panel at all. I had supplied a proof of how I had planned the photographs should have been presented and requested the judging panel should be shown this, which thankfully they were.

I did get my AWPF and pleased to say that by the following year the rules had been amended to allow prints to be shown in two or three rows and a recommendation that thumbprint pictures of the layout also be submitted. Also in subsequent years prints were shown more correctly as a panel about 15 to 30cms apart. Anyway, here is my 2003 panel in the format in which I intended it to be seen. The panel will enlarge a little if you click on it.

Mike Stokes' AWPF panel 2003