Photographs by Betty Billingham


Betty began taking photographs during the war with a Zeis Icon and later with a Rollei but became seriously involved with photography in 1947 at the Prince Rupert (a British Army) School in Wilhelmshaven, Germany. They were interesting times, as equipment was in such short supply that we had to share cameras and manufacture our own darkroom equipment. The next step forward took place in Trinidad, West Indies, where my husband was a Field Exploitation Geologist posted to a 13-family camp in virgin jungle. Here we bought a Konica F, one of the first new-style SLRs, in order to take pictures of the wonderful butterflies in which we became particularly interested.

But it required huge packs of ice to keep darkroom temperatures down long enough to develop anything worthwhile. Colour, in the form of Kodachrome I, had to be sent back to England for development. With its faster speeds, Kodachrome II was a luxury.

Press Photographer
On returning to the UK in 1963, I acquired a Yashicamat TLR and began supplying photographic support for articles in regional newspapers. But by 1967 we moved to South Africa where my husband had accepted a post as Sub-editor on the Johannesburg Star. I continued press photography for the Star and Pretoria News and others, and attended Pretoria Tech where I received a Certificate in Photography and subsequently opened my own studio. By then I had also bought a Horseman 6x9cm field camera.

I left all my equipment with my son in South Africa when we returned to the UK in 1992, thinking my days with photography were over. But it was like being without my right arm and I quickly acquired an Olympus AF300, and, for want of a darkroom, attended a Professional course on Photoshop. Went on to restore old and damaged photographs for the Genealogy Society. Joined the Royal Photographic Society and earned my LRPS in 1998. A variety of cameras soon joined the stable.

Digital Delight
During this time I found greatest pleasure in the enhancement of photographs for artistic effect. The techniques involved proved popular with digital photographers and I quickly found myself giving demonstrations to the RPS Digital Imaging Group as well as many local clubs.

My earlier experience with the newspaper industry and later the publishing of Technical magazines stood me in good stead when I was asked to produce the Kingswood Photographic Society quarterly magazine and later the Newsletter of the Western Counties Photographic Federation.

In January 2001, I joined the PSA and soon found myself involved with the Study Groups. It wasn't long before I was hosting Group 9 and soon after took on the Creative Group 11 and the Gallery of Nations as well.

In 2003, I was asked to judge the Web Site Competition run between PSA affiliated Clubs and organisations.

I work on a PC and input pictures via both slide and flatbed scanners. Once I had tasted computer imaging, a digital camera became a necessity and I now use a Nikon 8800 exclusively.