Dingwall Camera Club

Dingwall Community Collage
DINGWALL CAMERA CLUB
 
In 1972 a public meeting was advertised to discuss the proposed formation of a camera club in the burgh. There was a fairly healthy attendance but some people got the impression that the majority present were in favour of a cosy holiday snap appreciation society. Fortunately the enthusiasm of the latter dwindled and a hard core of fifteen fairly dedicated photographers emerged to draw up the constitution of the present club. At least half of these were keen print workers mainly in mono as amateur colour work was in its infancy at that time.
 
Thanks to prudent management and a forward looking committee, by 1978 the membership had soared to 45 (later it reached a peak of 60) and after some success in an SPF sponsored national competition it was decided to launch a National Slide Exhibition on an annual basis. It was the only one in Scotland - and still is. At that time there was a nucleus of expert slide workers and the reasons for the venture were to put Dingwall firmly on the map and give it some prestige on the British scene which would encourage Southern lecturers and judges up to our Highland isolation. This has certainly happened but there were some members who felt that after the initial enthusiasm and perhaps the eventual departure of the elite nucleus the club might be left with quite a heavy ball and chain every year. However, we have soldiered on - it is a big chore for a small club but we hope that our regular customers consider it worthwhile. The original Exhibition Chairman, Roy Millett, APAGB, left in 1979 to work in Derbyshire and started the Claycross Exhibition which is run on very similar lines to our own which produces a live A/V show with music and commentary to at least a dozen clubs on both sides of the Border.
 
Premises were always a problem and at one time we had to post a member at a couple of previous venues so that arrivals could be redirected to a third hastily arranged room or small hall. One such place was the old Academy Buildings where the janitor appeared every Monday evening at 9.20 pm. looking ominously at his watch ! The big break came in 1982 when the District Council agreed to give us Eagle House, an ancient listed building beside the Town Hail, for a nominal rent provided we took it over in its very sorry state and brought it up to modern standards. That winter very enthusiastic work parties including joiners, electricians and painters worked every weekend to transform the dingy premises into its present welcoming state which includes a projection room for forty people completely surrounded by black wall panels for print display. Upstairs there is a darkroom, studio and committee room.
 
Competitions form quite a large part of our syllabus. Every AGM produces a heated debate on "Open versus Set Subject" and at the moment "Open" is winning. Unfortunately the total entry always drops for "set" subjects. Our judges are requested to award credits to 20% of the entries for all categories and these are added at the season's end to find the various cup winners. A three tier system operates but due to natural progression we now find that the advanced section is more than top heavy leaving the "general" almost empty therefore some drastic action will need to be considered at the AGM. Somebody suggested promotion and relegation and it sounds like a good idea.
 
Most work is well above average and presentation has improved vastly over the past few years. We have a well equipped darkroom big enough for practical lectures which even at £1 hire per session is grossly underused. This is possibly a sign of these affluent times when after a couple of teaching sessions the pupil goes out and invests in all the necessary gear.
 
Bob Hunter - President - (Dec. 1999)
 
 
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