John was a member of Oldham Photographic Society for 45 years, joined the OPS Council in his first year and served on the Council for almost all of his time with the Society, with very few breaks, until stepping down in September 2020, due to ill health.
He first served as Exhibition Secretary in the 1970s and continued to be involved in the organisation of exhibitions at Werneth Study Centre for several decades. During the 1990s and 2000s, John organised OPS exhibitions at Uppermill Museum and liaised with Gallery Oldham on many other occasions, helping to frame and hang the exhibition prints and sometimes cutting all the mounts. Split between several different occasions, John served for many years as secretary and on many subcommittees. He was Oldham PS President in 1983, 1996 and 2002. He wrote the code for the society’s first website, one of the first in the Federation and most recently served as Oldham PS Treasurer from 2013 until 2020.
John joined the L&CPU Lecturers List in 2010 with a talk on stitching panoramas. He became interested in the mathematics of panoramic projections, the different ways in which the same set of images can be mapped onto a curved surface to produce a panorama. When stitching software was primitive, corresponding points had to be marked up on each image pair manually, the computer was left to calculate the transformations required to join them together…and there was plenty of time to have your evening meal while waiting for the stitched panorama to be produced. He gave up lecturing in 2014, once panorama stitching became automatic.
Although he never joined the L&CPU Committee, he frequently gave up his time to help to hang their Annual Exhibitions over the last 20 years and to greatly support Christine when she was General Secretary and President and in her later roles. In February 2021, John was awarded the Roll of Honour Life Membership of the Lancashire and Cheshire Photographic Union at their AGM. Although he was told about the award a few days before, he was unable to be presented personally, as he sadly died two days before the ceremony.
In his photography, John’s technical knowledge was first class. He obtained his CPAGB award in Dumfries in the early 1990s but was not really interested in competition or winning awards. His interest lay in the science of photography and in experimentation.
In recent years he had begun to photograph macro nature subjects but he also retained a keen interest in panoramic photography, which was the subject in which he lectured…and was prepared to do any technical talk to the society. His talks were always immaculately prepared and well presented. He had a way of making a difficult subject more easy to understand. Some of his articles are published on his website – please click the button below.
The images on this page are copyright © John Widdall and may not be used without the permission of John’s widow, Christine. (In the UK, copyright and the Artist’s Resale Right (ARR) last the photographer’s lifetime plus a further 70 years after death).
Page updated by Christine Widdall 27 July 2021