On Wednesday 29 March, we were treated to a double bill of excellent speakers.

First,  John Curd with pictures of dragonflies and damselflies.  Then former club Chairman Bernie Raffe with some historical images.

Our very own John Curd, a self-confessed “dragonfly obsessive”, provided a delightfully illustrated talk – “Odos in Oz” – about his 2022 trip to Queensland, Australia, to photograph odonata (aka, dragonflies and damselflies).

There are 324 species of dragonflies and damselflies in Australia, compared with a mere 45 in the UK, and 24 in Bedfordshire.  And John found 79 of those species in Oz, 48 he’d never seen before, to point his lens at.  They all have fancy Latin names of course but John helpfully provided their common names on his images.  While some of these were quite prosaic, many were more exotic.  John’s marvellous images included the following.

  • Palemouth
  • Black Knight
  • Slender Reed Hawk
  • Painted Grass Hawk
  • Graphic Flutterer
  • Yellow-striped Flutterer
  • Zircon Flutterer
  • Tropical Rockmaster
  • Slender Wiretail
  • Black Tigertail
  • Elusive Archtail
  • Giant Petaltail (the world’s largest dragonfly with a wingspan of 160mm)
  • Tropical Flatwing
  • Silver Wisp
  • Flame-headed River Damsel
  • Tropical Needle
  • Rainforest Mystic
  • Tropical Evening Darner
  • Pretty Relict
  • Green-striped Darner
  • Common Glider
  • Charcoal-winged Percher
  • Flame-tipped Hunter
  • Water Prince
  • Clavicle Tigertail
  • Spinehead Dragon
  • Yellow-spotted Emerald
  • Australian Tiger
  • Short-tailed Duskdarter

John also dispelled the notion that all damselflies sit with their wings held along their bodies and, to prove it, some of his images showed damselflies with their wings out sideways!

For good measure, John threw in a few bird shots – Pied Cormorant, Masked Lapwing, Comb-crested Jacana – and some other wildlife – Red-bellied Black Snake, Northern Death Adder, Water Spider.  He even played us the sound of 100,000 cicadas!

After all that, we welcomed retired portrait and wedding photographer Bernie Raffe AMPA ASWPP back to the club.  He gave us a fascinating stroll through “100 Interesting, Funny and Sometimes Heart-breaking Rare Historical Images”.

Bernie explained that he had always enjoyed looking at other photographers’ pictures and this was a more-or-less random selection of images that had caught his attention.  There were many famous pictures, but also some less well-known subjects.  The fascinating photographs included the following.

  • “Miss Atomic Bomb” (1953)
  • The traffic chaos in Sweden on the day they switched from driving on the left-hand side of the road to the right (1967)
  • Acrobats on the Empire State Building (1934)
  • The first MacDonald’s outlet in the USA (1955)
  • Emmeline Pankhurst being arrested outside Buckingham Palace (1914)
  • An early car crash (1914)
  • “Lunch Atop a Skyscraper” (1932)
  • “Tank Man” (1989)
  • “Falling Man” (2001)
  • “VJ-Day in Times Square” (1945)
  • Demi Moore naked and pregnant on the cover of Vanity Fair (1991)
  • “The Shoe Shiner“ (1839, believed to be the first photograph to include people)
  • “Napalm Girl” (1972)
  • Betty Grable pin-up (1943)
  • The first picture transmitted by a cell phone (1997)
  • Early portrait of Winston Churchill (1895)
  • Captain A L Kahn’s Giant Manta Ray (1933)
  • Annie Edson Taylor with the barrel in which she went over Niagara Falls” (1901)
  • Cynthia Plaster Caster with some of her plaster casts of celebrities’ penises
  • “Salvador Dali Takes His Anteater for a Stroll in Paris” (1969)
  • Game of human chess in Leningrad (now St Petersburg, 1924)
  • Hindenburg crash (1937)
  • “The Most Beautiful Suicide” (1947)

The two excellent presentations comprising the Curd/Raffe Double Bill were mainly about the superb images.  But both were greatly enhanced by their two engaging and entertaining speakers.  This was a most enjoyable evening.

More about Bernie’s photographic courses can be found on his website at https://www.becomeabetterphotographer.co.uk/ and on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/user/bernieraffe?app=desktop

He is also on Facebook and Twitter.

John Curd – Click to View Full Size

Bernie Raffe – Click to View Full Size