Bert Spence

IMG_0002-2Bert Spence has been a hard working member of Corio Bay Camera Club since 1984 and was awarded a Life Membership for his services to the club in 2008. Bert shared some of his thoughts on photography with us.

What is your photographic background?

I started taking photos many years ago, too long ago to remember, but I do remember the first camera I purchased, it was a Kello “E”. After I had made the purchase, the sales person told me how good the camera was but that I needed to have a light meter rather than just guess the shutter speed and aperture, so I got the double hit with the purchase. I still have the camera.

I graduated through the Pentax range with a K1000, then an ME, MX and Z70, using slide film with a range of lenses from standard, macro, wide angle up to a 600 mm mirror and many attachments that are all now museum pieces. All this finished when I purchased a Pentax K100D. The most disappointing thing in changing to digital is that many of the lenses I have will not operate with my digital camera.

What are your favourite subjects and / or locations?

Landscape, nature, flowers, beaches, sport are my main subjects. I enjoy going to the bush, beach and high country.

Who / what inspires you to go out and take photos?

With time catching up on me, my photography is restricted to subjects that do not move very fast. The weather also has a say in when and where I go. I am inspired by our younger members and the methods they use in there photography.

What do you like to communicate through your photography?

I like to see good work that has not been over emphasised or manipulated by the computer, but I do like to see good experimental work. Being an old slide worker, I like to see what you take with the camera is what you get. I appreciate that digital photography is here to stay, but do not appreciate a print being over manipulated by computer technology

What sort of gear do you use / have used in the past?

For the transport of cameras lenses and associated equipment, I just use a padded shoulder bag that carries my K100D, two lenses (18 – 125 and 70 – 210) & a set of 1-2-4 close up lenses. I also have several tripods from a professional Manfrotto to small easy to carry tripods. I also use a compact digital Olympus C-55, 5X sport zoom– 5.1 Mb camera that was purchased very cheaply in an Op Shop. Among our equipment we also have many filters and gadgets, most of which are now in the “seldom used” box but which sometimes get an airing.

What is your favourite piece of kit?

For many years, the K1000 was my choice of camera. It was easy to operate and if problems developed, it was easy to repair. Having used a range of Pentax equipment before I went digital, the Z70 would have been my favourite as it was auto.

Which of your images is / are your favourites – why?

My choice would be anything in the high country, especially around the Falls Creek area, and my favourite place to photograph would be in the area around Wallace’s Hut.

What do you think is your greatest photographic achievement?

Over the years there have been a number of achievements that I am quite proud of. (My wife) Coral and I have been involved with Vigex for many years and we received recognition from Vigex for our services over those years. I have also received Service Honours from the Australian Photographic Society (SSAPS) and the Victorian Association of Photographic Societies (SSVAPS). For achieving the required level of skill in national and international exhibitions, I was awarded the photographic honour of Licentiate by the Australian Photographic Society (LAPS). Finally yet no less importantly, I was awarded Life Membership of the Corio Bay Camera Club in 2008.

Is there anything you would like to improve in your photography?

My wish would be to understand digital photography.

Do you have any favourite photographic books, magazines or websites?

Australian Photography was always popular and we subscribe to it through our APS membership. The Image magazine was once the official magazine of APS; it had much useful information, but is now only available to members via the internet. We have just purchased a book called “I Pad for Seniors” so we can learn a little more about this latest computer trend.

Is there a photographer that you particularly admire? 

There are too many and I will just mention a few. Rob & Cynthia Watkins for their nature photography, especially birds and insects. David Mahony worked in monochrome; he always had a very strong message in his photography and provided detail throughout his prints. Graham Burstow received many awards in Vigex. His work was serious but he also shows humour in some of his photography. Local photographer Hans Kawitzki is an acclaimed slide worker who was excellent with his artistic achievements and now produces stunning digital work. Finally, Roger & Meredith Briggs love to go to the high country and have produced many audio visuals of their trips, especially in the Mt Buffalo area.

Any other thoughts?

I have particularly enjoyed the friendship and camaraderie of belonging to various photographic groups. It was always interesting to go on the trips with the Victorian Nature Photography Group as it consisted of people from all walks of life but all with a common interest in nature and photography. We exchanged many ideas with our lectures and open discussions and as the leaders of the weekend trips are locals they have a great knowledge of the areas we were in.

The APS conferences (Apscon) are held usually in each state in turn, and when possible we make the conference our holiday. The conference runs for a week and is full on with visits to galleries and local places of interest. We normally take the week before and after the event to do some touring around the area. Many overseas lecturers speak on various subjects and several workshops are held and it is an opportunity to meet old friends, some we only see once a year at the conference.

Whereas Apscon is Australia-wide, The VAPS muster is conducted each year in various towns around Victoria. It is held over a weekend with the Monday available for those who want to spend a little time with a special landscape photographer. Many top photographers pass on their knowledge with lectures and workshops. These weekends are well attended and the informative.

Corio Bay Camera Club is my local club and Coral and I appreciate the many activities provided for our enjoyment. The “Click and Chat” sessions on Thursday mornings are popular with members and our club nights are great to get together with fellow photographers. The inter club competition nights allow us to make contact with like minded people from other clubs.

Below is a selection of pictures that Bert has chosen

Airplane in the Barwon River. This was one of my earlier photo’s, when I did not know anything about aperture or shutter speeds, it was taken from near the rowing sheds. The aircraft was stolen and an effort to fly it failed and so ended up being lifted from the water with a mobile crane. I took it with my first camera a “Kello E” many years ago.

Aeroplane in the Barwon River. This was one of my earlier photos, when I did not know anything about aperture or shutter speeds, it was taken from near the rowing sheds. The aircraft was stolen and an effort to fly it failed and so ended up being lifted from the water with a mobile crane. I took it with my first camera a “Kello E” many years ago.

The Shearing Sheds at Mungo National Park. Returning from an APS convention we diverted to Mungo National Park and spent two nights camping. The afternoon light highlighted the structure of the building. As well we took many photos of the natural sand hills in the area.


Cray Boat and Pots at Port Fairy. The sunlight shining on the red balls of the Cray pots caught my eye, this photo has been successful slide for me in international exhibitions.


Lake Daylesford Tea House. My eye was attracted to the clouds in the sky and the reflections in the lake. Unfortunately I think a fire has destroyed the tea house.


Surf Boat at Ocean Grove. We liked to go to surf carnivals and try to catch the action because we could walk out in amongst the boats and competitors into the water and get close to the action.


Board Rider. Bells Beach was an interesting area. We would set our tripods under the cliff face and I would prefocus the camera at a predetermined spot and as the board rider approached the area the photo was taken.


Jinchilla Gardens. Not sure of the location but we visited the gardens during an APSCON conference. I liked the colourful flowers and the structure made a suitable background. The building was used for afternoon teas and as a lookout.


Going Bush. I liked to go to the high country for photography and the races which were spectacular. This race was a rider, horse and pack horse along a valley and over a mountain range and the thing I liked is that you could see the entire race from our vantage point.


Wallace’s Hut. The first of two photos of the hut on different days and angles.


Wallace’s Hut. The second photo of the hut from a different viewpoint.


Silky Waterfall. The much photographed waterfall in the Otways, taken on a CBCC outing with time exposure.


Zebra. A visit to the Werribee Open Range Zoo provided me with many interesting animal photos. As the zebra turned its head toward me I was fortunate to capture this photo.