Big Event, Hot & Cold with Alan and Julie Walker - Tuesday 28th February 2017.

     
    

On Tuesday 28th February 2017, Morpeth Camera Club staged its Annual Big Event that featured Alan Walker, MPAGB,
ARPS, EFIAP, MPSA, and Julie Walker, ARPS, DPAGB, EFIAP, EPSA, who presented "Hot & Cold " a photographic journey
from tropical Northern Argentina, through Chile’s Atacama Desert, down to Tierra Del Fuego at the southern tip of South
America to Antarctica, continuing on to the Falklands and South Georgia.

The couple, from Ambleside, spoke to a capacity audience of their 6 week journey, describing the extremes of dramatic,
arid landscapes of South America to the harsh environments of Antarctica together with anecdotes and interesting facts
related to this amazing part of the world.

Their journey commenced at the Iguazu Waterfalls. A multitude of waterfalls coloured by silt and sediment from flood
water, a third of which is in Brazil and the rest in Argentina and was formed by a volcanic crack which can be reached
by a series of walkways. Although this is not an ideal environment for photographers due to the 500ft spray, the Walkers
witnessed the 400,000 cubic feet per second flow rate, the greatest on the planet, together with the thunderous roar of
water, demonstrated by a short video clip that provided the audience with the scale and volume. On the Brazilian side
magnificent rainbows are formed reaching 200-270 feet in height; a magical place where Great Dusty swifts nest and
an abundance of vultures can been seen soaring through the spray.

On the more accessible Argentinean side also accessed by walkways, Devil’s Throat birds, cormorants, green kingfishers,
Little Blue Heron, Capuchin monkeys, toucans, Great Kiskadee and Green Honeycreeper have formed their habitat.

Their journey continued to Purmamarca village in the Jujuy province of northwest Argentina set in the striking, multi-hued
mountain called the Seven Colours Hill; ethereal colours created by mineral deposits over the millennia. With a population
of only a few hundred, shots of colourful market stalls selling an inordinate number of hats, pictures of local children and
street scenes captured life in this remote area.

On their route to Chile, we saw amazing shots of snaking, high altitude roads through the Humahuaca Gorge and listened
to tales of the difficult, bureaucratic time consuming border crossing where guards go on strike at will. The Atacama Desert
to Bolivia followed, providing Alan and Julie with amazing photo opportunities to capture aquamarine salt pans layered in
pastel blues and gold formed by salt residue. Considered to be the driest place on earth, the Rhea, grey fox, Tinamou or
mountain hen, Puna teals and the Andean, Chilean and James species of flamingos can be seen, it is a wonder that wildlife
can survive. In fact their biggest threat is from ‘man’, due to mining of salt and borax. We were treated to a series of
shots of flamingos, forming pleasing patterns, in flight, and ‘walking on water’ before take off. Alan explained that although
the dominant vegetation is desert grass, every 5-7 years the magic of El Niño transforms the landscape into a carpet of
red and violet flowers. Although few people live in this harsh environment due to strong winds, active volcanoes,
geysers and thermal fields, the area is used by NASA to test potential moon/planet landings.

The Boca district in Buenos Aries followed, a dangerous but photogenic place, we saw colourful photographs of street
tango dancers, café culture, graffiti, and street life. An encounter with a professional photographer led to a promise of
a photo shoot of tango dancers in a studio, resulting in dramatic angular shots of the dancers in action, depicting the
aggressive and powerful nature of the dance.

Part two followed with travels to Tierra del Fuego shared by Argentina and Chile and due to the position of the Andes,
provides a sub Antarctic rainforest environment. Above snow capped craggy mountains rest dramatic cloud formations
controlled by the huge cold landmass of Antarctica, this region encounters a variety of weather patterns which were
reflected in the Walkers beautiful photographs.

Their journey then took them through the Beagle Channel, the gateway to Antarctica and out to the Southern Ocean.
Departing from Ushuaia, their home for the next three weeks was the ‘Akademik Sergey Vavilov’, which was described
by Alan as ‘adequate’, taking them to the Falklands, 8000 miles away from the UK. Comprising of two main islands and
700 smaller ones, it is home to millions of penguins, brown browed albatross, kelp geese, tussac birds and dolphin gulls.
Humourous photographs of Rock Hopper Penguins nest building and squabbling yet living mostly in harmony with the
albatross followed. Landing in South Georgia’s St Andrew’s Bay they were met with 180,000 pairs of King Penguins, a
feast for the senses, especially from the pungent smell of fish. Happily co existing are the elephant seals, young are
weaned for six weeks when they parents leave them, left to their own devices, they soon realise that they have to
fend for themselves. With 700,000 occupying the area the audience saw images of elephant seals fighting over territory,
three ton males, and wrinkly youngsters snoozing. There were beautiful pictures of penguin life, queuing up to venture
into the sea, their ungainly return from the water and striking shots of head detail in orange, grey and back. Images of
the customary pouring of whisky over Shackletons grave, an abandoned whaling ship in stark monochrome, a whalers
church whose congregation originated from North West Scotland who came to make their fortune, pintail ducks bathing,
viscous fur seals fighting, all set within their wonderful surroundings, followed.

South Shetland with its mighty glaciers, made for difficult landing in their Zodiac, stepping ashore on to snow and ice
but it was well worth the effort to witness images of the charming Gentoo penguins, , courting, nesting on high ground,
rock stealing, trekking to search for food like lemmings to reach water, fearlessly flying into the sea, porpoising and
humourously walking in line. Witnessing these penguins, in their natural environment, set against huge glaciers, gave
perspective to this massive landscape.

In the Southern Ocean, there were gasps from the audience at images of rough seas and giant waves. Enormous almost
sculptured icebergs in vibrant blues were taken in temperatures so low that slush slopped about in the well of their zodiac,
which, when it returned to shore, was encrusted with ice.

The evening flew past with Alan’s fascinating commentary together with their wonderful images, bringing to life their
personal journey, a talk which exuded enthusiasm and portrayed their passion for photography whatever the extremes
of climate. Chairman, Glyn Trueman, thanked Alan and Julie for their excellent landscape and wildlife photography and
commentary, he thanked members of Morpeth Camera Club for their organisation and contribution to the evening and
to Morpeth Methodist Church staff for their help and support.

Morpeth Camera Club would like to thank Fotospeed, London Camera Exchange, Loud & Flashy Studios, Morrisons, Paper
Spectrum (Pinnacle), Permajet, Rothbury Family Butchers, Sanderson Arcade, Stait Photography, Tallantyre, T & G Allen,
and members of the club for their kind contributions to evening.

Steph.