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An Onyxpected Evening

Hi peeps.

Tonight we was entertained by our judge of a few weeks back.

Mr. Roy Essery.

Welcome Mr. Roy.

Roy wanted to talk to us about making photographs.

Not taking, but making photos.

Any fool can press the button and the camera will happily record what you’ve pointed it at.

You have taken a photo … congrats.

But to make a photo …

He gave us a brief glimpse of the history of photography, from its inception, a hundred and eighty five years ago until now. It didn’t take long, maybe within fifteen years, before artists were pushing the boundary’s of this new phenomenon. Creating images from their imagination. Can you even begin to imagine how difficult it was to combine various images into a single photograph in those days?

Roger Fenton, (founder member of the Royal Photographic Society just fifteen years after the first photo was taken) allegedly wasn’t afraid of creating an image. His ‘Vally of Death’ image, taken on St. George’s day, 1855 at Sebastopol, (called this by the troops because of the constant shelling by the Russians) has the feel of being staged because there he has another image where someone has added/moved some cannon balls to make it more poignant. Another 1800’s photo shown was the product of some thirty plus individual images, cobbled together to create something grand. Another creation ‘Last Breath’ showed a reclining young girl, her mother at her feet with a book, her sister up by her head & her father standing, looking out of the window in anguish. All put together from five or six different images. Then there’s an Ansel Adam’s quote about how he took an image, then, in the darkroom, made a photograph.

The whole point being that, with a little thought, a good photographer can make a great photo.

He went on to show right from the beginning, before you step out of the house, you can have an idea of what you want to achieve. He tells us he shoots RAW but often  double this up with a B&W jpeg because, sometimes, he wants to convert the final image. Of his notebook, with ideas for future projects scribbled down. He also showed us one of his past projects where he chose suicide as a topic and the trials of completing that set of images. Another project came about when he picked up a local artist’s book of Colchester images. He was amazed about how much he didn’t know about his home town, and set that to rights by photographing this artist’s views.

The second stage of your creativity can be choice of equipment. Do you need a flash, what about the lens, monopod or tripod, even the camera can be a deciding factor. Perhaps a small compact for those unobtrusive, candid images. Maybe a film camera or an infra red set up. Does your plan require props. Perhaps some red shoes or a bear trap?

Now, about that lens. Are you going to need filters. A neutral density can lengthen the times required for your image, smoothing out a sea or giving that waterfall a milky glow. Howsabout an anti Newton ring glass filter? (Newton’s rings are a phenomenon that occurs when two pieces of glass touch, creating concentric coloured rings. To combat this, they rough up the side of one of the pieces of glass minimising the touchiness of the glass) This roughed up glass can give your images an ethereal glow. What about a polariser?

Perhaps shooting through some Vaseline (on a piece of glass, never on your lens) or a hole in an opaque carrier bag. All these mean you are making an image.

So, we’ve looked at conception and the shooting of the image, that just leaves post.

Many peeps pooh pooh the use of photo manipulation.

"I do all my work in camera”

Yeah, we’ve just covered that with the concept and construction of the image

But if you have the time and inclination, what you’ve achieved so far is just the beginning.

Don’t like that dog in the shot … clone it out.

I wish it was rainy/sunny/misty … no problems.

That building is leaning too far … straighten it

The sea is running downhill … level it up

Is that geezer in the wrong place … move him

It’s too grainy … dial it out

Don’t just wish … do it

Don’t forget, this malarkey has been going on for a hundred and fifty years plus, you are not breaking any taboos by adjusting your image. I think Roy said as much the last time he came and judged one of our competitions …

"I judge what you put up on the screen, that’s what you want me to see”

The whole evening was interspersed with before and after images.

Has he ever been called out? Maybe.

He tells of one of his suicide images (which took many iterations before the final product, regaling us with tales of his camera up on a monopod, high above his subject, being controlled by his phone) in an exhibition, of how a visitor said he had to stop and compose himself because this image had touched him so deeply.

But it was not all doom & gloom.

Waves crashing over the Newhaven sea wall.

Doorstepping London Fashion week

There it is, go and have fun and make the images you want to.

Next week is our final print competition of the season.



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