John Patterson: A journey into Scottish Country Dancing photography

We’ve recently featured photographer Loralee Hyde and videographer Pat Reesby, and the part they’ve played in recording Johnsonville Club’s history.

Loralee drew on her vast collection of photographs to reflect on the happy memories she has of ‘dressing up’ for Scottish Country Dancing over many years, and Pat talked about her lifetime of filming and how that led to her Scottish Country Dancing videos being viewed all over the world.

This week we hear from John Patterson.

Loralee, John and Pat at the Johnsonville 50 Golden Years Celebration in 2016

John has been a Johnsonville Club member since 2008 and ever since joining, he’s turned his hand to all sorts of activities that have benefited the club.

He is our resident ‘techie’, dealing with sound equipment issues, loading tunes from new CDs onto the club’s music database, and helping Rod out with any related music/laptop problems. In the past he also took on the massive task of converting the club’s collection of over a hundred CDs to digital format.

John has a long-standing interest in photography, and brings his technical perspective to that as well. In May we read about his photo interpretation of a tartan puzzle – employed in a bid to find out more about his great-great-grandfather Neil Patterson.

Fortunately for us, John is also happy to take photos at our many club events. These range from his informal photos at the club’s 50 Golden Years celebration in 2016, to photos of club members on the bowling green and dance floor at last year’s summer bowling ceilidh.

John at the far right filming The Saint Nicholas Boat at the Johnsonville 50 Golden Years Celebration in 2016. He used Pat’s camera to video the dance so Pat could dance it herself.
John at the far left photographing the piper and First Foot arriving at the Wellington Region 2019 Hogmanay which Johnsonville Club organised

John gives us a brief glimpse below into his photographic journey, accompanied by a few ‘odd’ photos he took along the way.

Odd photos

My first camera was a Brownie style plastic camera which took 8 photos on a roll of film. It couldn’t focus, so it didn’t, as in the following photo taken in 1959. In spite of that I still like the photo.

Later I used the money from my paper-round to buy an Agfa Silette 35mm camera. Now I could focus and use Kodachrome film.  The photo below taken in 1961 shows the old floating dry-dock used to maintain boats at Kaiwharawhara. On this day I found out I had passed School Certificate.

This is my first attempt at Astro-photography. Rodney Austin, who discovered several comets, helped me. My neighbour Beatrice Hill also used the New Plymouth Observatory. Married as Beatrice Hill Tinsley, she was a famous cosmologist. (“Bright Star” by Christine Cole Catley).

The Scow Echo in 1964 is one of my favourite photos of Wellington. It usually sailed between Wellington and Karamea. I now had a second-hand Canonet camera.

More recently I maintained an Electron Microprobe at Victoria University. Photos from this equipment were all in black and white. Some are shown on the walls in the following photo of the Electron Microprobe, taken in 2010.

I have jumped forward a few years, missing out University, Hydrology, DSIR, Antarctica and a few other adventures.

My photos of Scottish Country Dancing can be seen in various newsletters.

I worry about light and I always spend some time setting the camera to do the right thing rather than processing later.

The Duke of Atholl’s Reel at the Johnsonville Final Night in 2017

I also enjoy travel photography and occasionally collecting interesting cameras.

John Patterson
21 October 2020

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