Seeing the unusual in everyday landscapes

Gearr Aonach and Aonach Dubh.
Gearr Aonach and Aonach Dubh.

Morpeth Camera Club

For our first meeting of 2019 Morpeth Camera Club welcomed Dave Dixon, of Alnwick and District Camera Club, who gave a presentation entitled My Landscapes.

Landscape photography is considered by many to be easy so he decided in 2018 to concentrate on rural and urban landscapes with a difference. But how to make a landscape more interesting?

There could be mist, sunbeams or receding hills. Lead-in lines, such as fencing and pathways, could be included, with big skies and cloud formations to add drama.

Dave asked whether colour or mono would have more impact. We saw great examples of both in his photographs taken at Windy Gyle, Davidson’s and Routing Linn, wispy cloud formations over Holy Island and rock pools at Howick Rocks.

Although he doesn’t like to include people in pictures, there are times when it helps to add scale.

He has grown to appreciate minimalistic scenes, such as a lone wind turbine, a skeletal tree or an isolated stone under big skies. Eerie monochrome images of towers and ruins under storm clouds in the Borders and industrial scenes of Lynemouth contrasted with serene coastal scenes of Beadnell and Boulmer.

The audience enjoyed lovely landscapes in the Highlands and Cheviots. The addition of the unexpected — a gibbet, folly, hill fort, goats or low flying aircraft — gave added interest.

Feeling in a bit of a rut with rural photography, it was suggested to him that he look at urban landscapes.

Urban landscape photography isn’t simply taking record shots, it gets the feel of a place and becomes a photographic challenge. We saw angular patterns of car parks and curves of Newcastle’s motorway. With no traffic, they had an almost graphic quality.

Dave explained his methods when using a wide angle lens and the difficulties that can arise, such as converging verticals. His sparing use of high dynamic range (HDR) effects in post-processing enables him to make urban scenes more gritty without looking artificial.

Moody images followed, taken in underpasses and subways. With Dave’s wide angle lens the tunnels appear elongated, and with shafts of light, water stains and moss, his photographs are full of atmosphere.

Following a complex application process to take photos on the Metro system, the resulting shots of escalators and tunnel entrances, with long lead-in lines formed by tile work and platforms, were well worth the effort. Taken in early morning it was an ideal time without pedestrians present.

The speaker added that there are always opportunities to find unusual angles of everyday life in our rural surroundings.

Chairman Mark Harrison thanked Dave for his interesting and entertaining presentation.