The power of the imagination

Floral abstract by Peter Downs.
Floral abstract by Peter Downs.

MORPETH CAMERA CLUB

On Tuesday, November 8, Morpeth Camera Club welcomed member Peter Downs, who gave a talk entitled What If and Why?

Peter, who settled in the area ten years ago from North Warwickshire, is also a member of Alnwick Camera Club.

He explained that he had a background in the arts, having been accepted at Slade to study fine art, and even though his career path led him into physiotherapy, he has never lost his love of art.

Advice passed on by his art tutor — see, look, observe and absorb — has been applied to his photography. He considers himself a picture maker, with the camera and computer just tools, a starting point, and its one’s vision through the lens which makes the picture.

He sees a subject and asks ‘what can I do with this?’. He stressed that it is important to observe objects and scenes, visualise, look deeply, absorb and use your imagination. In his opinion it is not important how or why one takes a photograph, it’s the end result that matters.

We saw examples of his ‘fractalius’ work, vibrantly coloured flowers, glowing daffodils and butterflies on buddleia, suggesting that by letting your imagination go wild one can enhance details in everyday subjects to create surreal works of art.

In bad weather conditions, the use of software filters can bring out the detail in clouds, resulting in dramatic monochrome landscapes, and by converting photographs from colour to mono one can produce stunning alternatives.

Among Peter’s images, autumnal woodlands and sweeping moorland with rocky outcrops contrasted with massive cable laying ships and oil rigs. There were windows and doors with cobwebs, street scenes and candid shots of shoppers, farmers and spectators at sporting events.

He went on to discuss competitions and how some of his images do well at international level, but not at club level. Judging is subjective so don’t be discouraged, and if you don’t submit your work you don’t improve.

There are ‘fads’ or fashions in photography, which some try to emulate. Should we follow the crowd?

Should we purposely attempt to develop a personal style?

Peter thinks not, a personal style evolves through time and with constant use of your imagination. One can sift though photographic magazines which explain apertures and shutter speeds, but it is only with experience that you can achieve the results you want.

In conclusion he showed examples of his abstract work, of steps, chimneys, cranes and power lines, and stark simple images in strong monochrome.

Peter may call himself a picture maker, but the audience recognised the inner artist.

In a question and answer session he explained the use of cloning to remove unwanted distractions and ‘dodging and burning’ to darken and lighten areas.

The chairman thanked him for stressing the importance of observation, simplicity and imagination.