Set subject competitions are intended to give members a greater challenge than " open subject " events, and tonight's competition produced an interesting number of variations on the theme. Perhaps because of the subject entries were a little down, with sunrises / sunsets being predominant. Jeff, as always, commented helpfully on each print, carefully awarding marks whilst giving advice regarding the lower-scoring entries. He held eight prints back for further comment, from which four entries received a maximum mrk of 20 - from Cassandra Simpson, Drew Malloch, Graham Wootton, and David Simpson. Congratulations are however due to all members who rose to the challenge!
Members were treated to a fascinating insight into the work of the Oxford Expidition to Egypt, presented by Paolo Scremin, one of the leading members of the team. This project, being carried out by a dedicated group of people from the UK, is aiming to fully document photographically the reliefs and paintings covering the walls of many ancient tombs in the area near the pyramids. The work is entirely self funded,with some finance from grants. The pyramids themselves were not included in Paolo's talk, but he instead concentrated on the many burial tombs, that date from around 2050BC.
Paolo, who has visited the area several times in order to continue with the project, showed us in detail exactly what was involved. The aim is to record as many of the fantastic details on the tomb walls as possible, as there is steady deterioration of the imagery in a lot of the cases, due to atmospheric changes caused by tourist visits, bat and bird invasions and droppings, dust and sand infiltration. He showed in particular what damage tourism can do, i.e. abrasion causing damage and discolouration, chewing gum stuck to the walls, even the eyes of a figure gouged out!
Paolo also showed us in detail the amount of equipment used,including special lighting, step ladders, huge tripods, not to mention special cameras. He finds things a little simpler since the advent of digital, this project having begun in the days of film photography which required even more cameras, including a large Hasselblad. Nowadays, such images can be corrected more easily thanks to Photoshop etc., not so easy in the darkroom. It is also possible to take single images of sections of a long painting and merge them with software to produce a more accurate reproduction of the original.
The most fascinating part of the talk was the wall paintings themselves, brought to life in great detail by the capture and enlargement of small sections of each one, which showed a huge range of people and animals, and many activities of the ancient Egyptians. The clever lighting used showed each one in sharp relief, making it appear almost three-dimensional. One has to marvel as to how this work was created about 4000 years ago, with primitive equipment. We also browsed several of the fantastic books that have been produced as a result of this work.
Although attendance was rather reduced at this meeting, due to an outbreak of seasonal viruses among members, those that did make it had a really fascinating and absorbing evening, due to Paolo's excellent presentation skills and touches of humour. Those on the sick list missed an exceptional evening.