Our Members

Insights - Jane Lee, 21 March 2021

Insights - occasional articles about our club members - Jane Lee DPAGB, EFIAP, BPE2*, 21 March 2021
In the days when we were able to hold our meetings in the Brownsword Hall, Jane was always the friendly face to greet and chat with you on arrival – she still does, but now in our virtual world of Zoom!

So how did Jane find her interest in photography and where did it all begin for her? Like so many of us, she always enjoyed taking photos on holiday, but became more interested after she got married to Stephen. This was due mainly to his hobby of videoing trains and in the process, Jane had to find something to do and started taking record shots of the locomotives. She was not totally sure of what she was doing, or how to use a camera properly, and says the Auto setting was ‘her friend’ for many years!

The first person who really inspired Jane, was an amateur photographer she met in Glacier National Park, Montana in 1997. Amazingly, he was the chef at the hotel where she and Stephen were staying and in the evenings, he would give a slideshow set to music of his incredible images of the mountain scenery. As a result, Jane started taking pictures of trains in the landscape and changed to slides, before going digital in 2002. In addition, he was their inspiration for making Photo Harmony AVs.

Jane joined Dorchester Camera Club in 2006, at the suggestion of a friend who, sadly due to illness, could not continue. However, Jane carried on and gradually got to know people by getting involved, initially helping the then Competition Secretary, Margaret Homan-Berry. She had early success in the B Section competitions which kept her motivated to improve.

This motivation has indeed carried Jane through to the Advanced Section in the Club, alongside gaining various distinctions. Jane’s thoughts on this are, firstly you don’t need letters after your name to be a good photographer and, just because you have letters, it doesn’t mean you are a better photographer than anyone else. However, that said, the process of gaining distinctions may help to improve your photography. If anyone decides to ‘give it a go’, there are several different paths to follow – PAGB, RPS, BPE and FIAP. Jane would advise to get all the advice you can from other experienced Club members, along with external advice, which can also be helpful. However, at the outset, you need to realise that trying to gain distinctions can be expensive, frustrating, stressful, time consuming, and requires meticulous records – but most importantly don’t get downhearted if you receive low scores in Salons. As we all know, judging is very subjective, the same picture can get an award in one Salon and ‘bomb’ in the next! On the plus side, it is enjoyable and can be addictive!

As we have witnessed, certainly in Club competitions, Jane and Stephen love being in the mountains, by the sea or in snowy landscapes – so they have been to lots of cold places. Scotland ticks a lot of boxes for them (as long as they miss the midge season!) – the other advantage is that it is relatively easy to get to by car, when Jane doesn’t have to worry about squeezing everything but the kitchen sink into a suitcase! In contrast, they also love travelling to the Canadian Rockies where there is spectacular mountain scenery, wonderful wildlife and lots of trains! How to plan for such trips? Well if they aren’t going on a specific tour with a professional photographer, then their trips are meticulously planned in terms of time of year, locations, and getting the right accommodation close to the places they want to visit. Jane is always looking for somewhere where she can just roll out of bed for a sunrise and go back for breakfast (my kind of girl!) – but that doesn’t always happen! Jane will invariably research for the best locations and buy OS Maps, and any available photography guide books just to get them started, particularly if the destination is new.

As for a favourite destination, well apart from Scotland she also loves Cornwall, which is much easier to get to and has lovely rocky coastlines but no mountains though! I think like most us, they just try to avoid the crowds and these days, that is not always easy. In terms of a favourite journey, then Yellowstone National Park is high on the list, not only because of the wildlife, but for the snowy landscapes and also Seal River (near Churchill) in Canada where they were fortunate to photograph Polar Bears in the snow from on foot.

One of the best pieces of photography advice Jane can recall came about on a workshop with David Clapp. Having arrived at a new location, with the group scrambling to get their tripods set up, he told everyone off and encouraged them to step back and take their time, walk around, look for different angles and observe the light. For Jane, she can’t take too long or else Stephen will bag the best spot!

With all this travel, there has to be a story to tell and probably several! One of Jane’s favourites is when they were in Illulissat Icefjord, West Greenland. They were on a small ship Expedition Cruise in June 2008 when at that latitude, the sun barely sets. Jane woke early and looked out of the cabin window where she saw mist hanging over the sea – she made Stephen get up so they could go on deck. It must have been around 5am and they were the only ones there as they glided through the still water with the silence broken only by the occasional sound of small pieces of ice scraping along the hull. They stood and watched the mist hanging over the enormous icebergs which had calved off the Illulissat Glacier – a truly magical moment.

Of all the photography genres, landscape is at the heart of most of Jane’s images, but as she has to travel a good distance to get snow scenes and mountains, or rocky Atlantic coastlines, she feels she gets most satisfaction from her nature photographs. Jane admits that she is not a wildlife expert like some others in the Club, but she does know the difference between a wagtail and a warbler!

So, going back to the start of this article, it will be no surprise to learn that Jane’s favourite image is the one hanging over her desk of ‘Morant’s Curve’ in the Canadian Rockies taken in November 2009. The curve is on the main railway line which snakes through the Rockies and is named after Nicholas Morant (1910-1999) who spent over fifty years as a Canadian Pacific Railway photographer. Stephen has Morant’s book which is full of iconic railway pictures, but none more so than the one taken at that spot in the winter of 1980. Jane had always wanted to take some pictures at the same location and knowing a train was coming, she had plenty of time to set up in the right position – the weather conditions were just luck! This image, along with some variations, have served Jane well with 42 Salon acceptances, including three Gold medals and two trophies – what a bonus. That aside, it is still her favourite photograph.

Now some of you may be thinking, what kit has Jane got in her bag. Well recently she took the plunge to full frame mirrorless. She already has a Canon M6II, which is a great little camera and so light to carry, but last year, Jane decided to ditch her trusty Canon EOS 5D IV for a Canon EOS R5. At the moment, she only has one RF lens – the 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM – but can use some of her EF lenses with an adaptor. Like so many of us, the camera hasn’t had very much use apart from photographing the birds in the garden and the immediate area due to being practically housebound this past year. However, Jane is very impressed with the results from her new camera and lens and looking forward to being able to go further afield in the near future.

With Lockdown providing plenty of time to try something different, following Bill Ward’s talk last summer, Jane has been interested in ICM. Although opportunities have been limited, she is certainly looking forward to doing more. It’s not as easy as it looks to achieve the right results and very much trial and error – but she loves the way that even the most ordinary of subjects can have potential. Every picture will be unique, as no one will ever repeat it exactly even if it is a well photographed subject. With the advantage of Zoom, Jane has started an ICM Special Interest Group which has been meeting monthly since October; this has provided the opportunity for everyone to share images, get ideas and learn from one another. We will look forward to seeing more of these images.

~ Janine Scola
Jane Lee - Morant's Curve, Canadian Rockies