Huntingdon Valley Camera Club lets local enthusiasts practice their craft

  • A walkway leading to one of the buildings at Bryn Athyn College — was from earlier this year. PHOTO COURTESY OF JERRY WEINER

  • Jerry Weiner’s photograph entitled “Preparing for Battle” recently won a competition among members of the Huntingdon Valley Camera Club. PHOTO COURTESY OF JERRY WEINER

  • The club meets in the Huntingdon Valley Library on Red Lion Road.

The lights are low in an up­stairs room at the Hunt­ing­don Val­ley Lib­rary on Red Li­on Road. 

About 30 people sit si­lently as Jerry Wein­er and his wife briskly pass por­trait-sized pho­to­graphs through a white, wooden dis­play case with lights shin­ing down on the pieces. 

The theme of the entries they’re show­ing is Yes­teryear, and the sub­jects vary: an aban­doned casino in As­bury Park, N.J.; steel mills from Beth­le­hem; bunks and elec­tric fences from Aus­chwitz. Else­where, a Victrola needle on a 78 rpm re­cord, a match­box car and an old pump that reads “Gas: 1 cent, Tax: 3 cents.”

Among them was one of Wein­er’s own pieces, Pre­par­ing for Battle, fea­tur­ing two Re­volu­tion­ary War reen­act­ors. It’s an old sub­ject but a new­er pho­to­graph, re­flect­ing the couple’s re­developed in­terest in the art. 

“When my wife and I were first mar­ried, we turned our bed­room in­to a dark­room. Then kids came along, and we star­ted tak­ing more snap­shots than pho­to­graphs,” he laughed. 

As a phys­ics teach­er, he loved both the sci­ence and the art of tak­ing great pho­to­graphs. It was a hobby he en­joyed from the 1960s through the ‘80s. His wife caught the bug in the mid-’70s.

Their chil­dren now grown up, the Wein­ers re­developed their love of pho­to­graphy and settled in­to the Hunt­ing­don Val­ley Cam­era Club after “shop­ping around” at dif­fer­ent area clubs. 

“We en­joyed it here,” he said. “Every­one’s friendly and it’s a lot of fun.” 

Mem­bers meet on the first Wed­nes­day of every month, of­ten for work­shops and ap­pear­ances from guest pho­to­graph­ers. They also or­gan­ize trips to visu­ally strik­ing sites like Beth­le­hem Steel or the Pennypack Re­serve be­hind Val­ley Road.  

And, like many cam­era clubs, Hunt­ing­don Val­ley holds reg­u­lar com­pet­i­tions among mem­bers, like the Yes­teryear series. It’s a friendly con­test — the kind that en­deared this group to Wein­er.

“Oth­er clubs can be cut­throat some­times,” he ob­served. “People can get up­set, or bick­er if they don’t do well. But we saw none of that here. Every­one is here to learn and en­joy them­selves.” 

On this night, it was up to judge Marty Golin to up­hold that tra­di­tion. After the ini­tial view­ing, the Wein­ers dis­played each photo again for him to com­ment on each and de­term­ine if it would go to the next round of judging. 

Golin spoke know­ledge­ably — if care­fully — about each piece, of­ten us­ing a laser point­er to punc­tu­ate his com­ments. “I like the tex­ture here,” he’d say, re­fer­ring to per­haps how the rough sur­face of an old table shows up on the print, and note when col­or con­tras­ted nicely or if he had trouble dis­tin­guish­ing where one ob­ject stopped and an­oth­er began be­cause their col­ors were too sim­il­ar.

Ul­ti­mately, he seemed to fa­vor eco­nom­ic­al com­pos­i­tions. On many pieces, he sug­ges­ted crop­ping the im­age much more closely to fo­cus at­ten­tion on the main sub­ject.

One piece, Take a Seat, was an ex­treme ex­ample. Them­at­ic­ally, it fit the night: an an­tique chair in what looks like a mu­seum. But, it was in the cen­ter of a pho­to­graph with plenty of oth­er ob­jects in sight. “I don’t want to say this looks like a snap­shot, be­cause there are con­nota­tions as­so­ci­ated with that,” offered Golin, but he offered plenty of sug­ges­tions to zero in on the sub­ject.

“He hit the nail on the head,” laughed Janet Rech. The wo­man be­hind the lens for that photo, she re­vealed that her piece was in­deed more of a “snap­shot” than a care­fully or­ches­trated com­pos­i­tion. 

Rech, who also paints and of­ten does so from pho­tos she takes her­self, finds the meet­ings and com­pet­i­tions edu­ca­tion­al. Hear­ing that her photo wouldn’t make it to the next round of judging didn’t faze her.

“All the judges like dif­fer­ent things,” she said. “Some people like con­trast a lot, he likes to only see parts of things. We all have our dif­fer­ent opin­ions.”

That thought was echoed him­self by Golin, who stressed that his judg­ment would, in part, re­flect his own bi­ases to­ward what he en­joys.

But the win­ning photo in the col­or com­pet­i­tion, Wein­er’s own Pre­par­ing for Battle, was one Golin ap­pre­ci­ated more than he en­joyed.

“It was the bet­ter im­age for the night’s theme,” he ex­plained. “It’s not my taste, but I try to push my taste as much as pos­sible.”

For in­form­a­tion and meet­ing times, vis­it­ing­don-Val­ley-Cam­era-Club••

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