Catchlight………..Robert Quig

A series of articles turning our focus on club members. In this article we look at club founder member and first club president, Robert Quig DPAGB / EFIAP.

“Buachaille Etive Beag” by Robert Quig

 With the club’s opening competition of the season fast approaching, it seemed like an appropriate time to look at the person behind the much-appreciated Quig Quaich. Fiona Wallace met up with the club’s very own Robert Quig to find out about both the man himself and the competition.  Kilmaurs Photographic Club’s very own Robert Quig originally hails from Crosshouse but he has stayed in Kilmaurs since 1974. After spending almost 50 years in the engineering industry, he retired just over 5 years ago and is now busy with family life as well as his photography.   If that wasn’t keeping him occupied enough, Robert is a self-confessed DIY enthusiast and derives enormous self-satisfaction from building and repairing most things.

His involvement in photography started about 40 years ago when he bought a small camera to record the construction of his house in Kilmaurs. Says Robert:  “As I started to enjoy taking snapshots, my wife Anne, bought me a Practika SLR as a Christmas present (which she probably regrets to this day) and the hobby took off.”

“Eilean Donan” by Robert Quig

As his early ventures into photography happened in the days of film, Robert confesses to having been very much a slide worker in the very beginning. Of this early period he says: “I enjoyed projecting onto the big screen rather than printing my own in the darkroom. I did try darkroom work but found it time consuming and sometimes frustrating.”

Nowadays, Robert uses the digital medium in his work and his enormous appreciation of the medium is apparent: “The digital era has been a revelation in developing the art of photography and although it was almost a specialised subject, everyone can now easily take pictures using phones and be able to send, process and print them with ease.”

He continues: “However with the more versatile DSLR cameras, the fact that you can instantly see the image at the taking stage and make adjustments if necessary is a huge advantage over film plus storing and processing on computer in daylight rather than in the darkroom. The various software available allows the ‘traditionalist’ to post process with minimal adjustments to enhance the final image, and you can also be more of a digital artist if you have the skills and imagination to creatively produce composite almost surreal images.”

He adds: “I myself post process using Photoshop, and display digital images in both Colour and Monochrome (if suitable). I also have them commercially printed at Loxley Colour Lab.”

“Beach Walkers” by Robert Quig

Robert would describe himself as a fairly serious amateur who likes to challenge himself to capture the best images he can when out in the field, even under extreme weather conditions. His main genre is landscapes, and like many of us, is happy to say that he feels extremely fortunate to live in a country of such outstanding natural beauty that constantly inspires him to capture it in all seasons with the quality of light and changing weather conditions.

Robert frequently visits his holiday cottage in Lochaber which allows him to explore and photograph his favourite areas throughout the year. His top locations are in the Northwest Highlands and Islands including Skye, Wester Ross, Sutherland, Assynt and the Outer Hebrides. His other favourite genre is  natural history which he photographs mostly in macro which can, he claims with enthusiasm: “throw up amazing images in the miniature world of nature.”

Although an Olympus user in the film era, Robert is now a Canon devotee after making the call between that and Nikon. His choice was made on the basis of Canon having a larger range of lenses suitable for his type of photography. He says: “I have four lenses which range from 11mm up to 400mm and I regularly use all four within the landscape.”  Robert also has a Canon 100mm f2.8 Macro lens for close-up nature images.

“Orange Tip on Lady’s Smock” by Robert Quig

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For many of the newer members of the club, our first encounter with Robert comes as man whose name is on the first trophy of the club year and who devotes a considerable amount of time to judging our entries. No-one can argue that the Quig Quaich has been anything other than a success and the fact that it still gives rise to a good hundred plus entries each year is testament to its popularity.    I asked Robert what had inspired him to put up the Quig Quaich. His response was simple: “As a founder member of the club and first president I thought should like to donate a trophy which I would sponsor and judge. The competition was based on one run by Paisley Colour P.C. and our own version sets out to achieve the same purpose: to challenge members to photograph set subjects over the summer recess.”

He continues: “It has now been running for 20 years and objectively has developed individuals’ skills and imagination on different genres over the years. Moreover, it has produced some stunning images. “Perhaps part of the Quaich’s success is that entrants know that it is being judged by a man whose own photographic pedigree is shall we say rather impressive. Part of Robert’s “serious amateur” status is considerably enhanced by his desire to compete at national/international exhibition level against like minded individuals worldwide.  I asked him where he got the enthusiasm for such ventures and how successful he has been. His reply reveals a drive: “Having been into photography for the best part of 40yrs I have won most of the trophies at club level so it was time to test myself on a bigger stage. I started entering International Salons many years ago achieving my DPAGB accreditation with a portfolio of images many years ago. More recently having had over 500 acceptances + awards in International Salons I also obtained my EFIAP distinction.”

“A highlight was receiving a FIAP Blue Badge in the Yorkshire Salon for achieving the accolade of being the best author with 16 acceptances out of the 20 entered which I will likely never repeat but will enjoy trying. More recently, I also received a ‘highly commended’ and the ‘John Muir Trust’ award in the overall category of this year’s Scottish Landscape Photographer of the Year’ competition.”

Robert’s advice regarding competitions in general is straightforward: “If you’re new to club photography, entering your first competition can be quite a daunting experience but you will benefit from having some free criticism from respected judges and fellow photographers. Competitions are also a great motivator especially when you receive a positive response from the judge(s) to your entered images. This will drive you on to improve and develop your skill level.”

“Winter’s grip” by Robert Quig

Lastly, I asked Robert what advice he would give to fellow photographers – beginners, improvers and even long-established photographers alike. His words were as upbeat and inspiring as we would expect them to be: “For beginners/improvers get to know your cameras features and understand its functions. Joining a club is a great way to learn and develop your skills as many have done at Kilmaurs. Read magazines, listen to tutorials on-line and club lecturers for guidance. Get out there, take plenty of pictures, learn by your mistakes and you will improve.   Try to develop your own style but don’t take it too seriously and just enjoy the fun of taking pictures.

For the experienced photographer, keep searching for that elusive ‘Perfect Picture’ if you haven’t already found it, and for the landscape photographer follow Colin Prior’s motto ‘Explore – Discover – Inspire’ as I try to do.

Inspiring indeed.

NB Entries for the Quig Quaich should be handed in during the club meeting on Monday September 23rd.    A reminder that the entries should be six images taken over the summer recess with two from any three of the categories of the Golden Hour: Farm Animals: Flowers: Toys:  Something Weird: A Touch of Red.    Images can be any combination of DPIs, colour and mono prints.  Standard judging scoring applies (i.e. maximum points for any image being 20) and entrants’ scores will be tallied up with the winner being the one with the most points.