Wooler Camera Club

BLURRED LINE: Digital technology has blurred the line between artist and photographer.

This was the message put over to Wooler Camera Club by John Peters ARSP at their meeting on February 16.

John lives and works in the Borders and travels extensively in Northern England and Scotland to get the landscape pictures he wants for both pleasure and competition.

He began by reminding his audience that the digital age has brought about a veritable revolution in photography and, because it is so much more clean controlled instant and exciting than dark room methods has attracted thousands of new people into the hobby.

This he explained brings its own problems.

One only has to go onto the internet and look up, say, images of Bamburgh Castle and thousands are available to use. All pictures of merit but in order to be noticed a picture has to have something that makes it stand out from the crowd. It was this something that he explored with his audience.

The two LLs are important - in his view the most important. As he put it ‘photography is an ’ell of an ’obby.’ So the message he got across was location and light.

It is a truism that all should suffer for their art. Photography is no exception.

So he exhorted us to do the early morning rising to get the best out of a sunrise, do a bit of rock scrambling or wading to get a picture of a waterfall or breaking surf that is just that bit different.

In this context he gave some practical and sensible advice about going equipped not only with the right camera gear but also the right clothing, footwear, bags wading equipment even.

The prudent outdoor photographer should also have an eye to the weather - what it is doing and is likely to do - not only for the sake of the picture but also for safety’s sake.

John meticulously notes where he has been and revisits scenes at different times of the day and year looking for those differences in colour texture and lighting that used selectively and blended together could make a good picture an eye catching picture.

A sky from one scene amalgamated with the same scene taken on another occasion can alter the effect adding drama or tranquillity as required. He pointed us towards what he called the golden hour, usually dawn or dusk, when the light is of the best quality and consequently most rewarding.

Good composition adds immensely to the effect that a picture has on the viewer. As before he illustrated this with his own work.

Leading lines, focal points, cropping, the removal or addition of elements and the rule of thirds when used thoughtfully make a picture easy on the eye and draw the viewer into the world of the picture.

He advised us to take time to visit art galleries and study the techniques used by water colourists and painters in oils.

With the digital techniques available in soft ware packages all these effects (even the frame), can be reproduced through the computer and put onto paper.

John urged members to use all the digital enhancement techniques available to get the best effect but he added a cautionary note which was that no amount of enhancement will make a good picture out of a bad picture - the two LLs have to be got right first.

As John’s talk developed he began to use the language of fine art talking of a palate of digital effects and we began to see where the traditional domains of artist and photographer begin to interweave.

Adding some emotion to the scene by including animals and children can also be used to give extra impact and make the viewer – maybe a competition judge - remember your picture after scanning through a further 50 other entries.