" Light, Colour, Texture, Style " with Les McLean - Tuesday 8th December 2015.

                                 

On Tuesday 8th December 2015, Morpeth Camera Club were delighted to welcome Les McLean AFIAP, who gave a presentation entitled “Light, Colour, Texture, Style. Les has been described as one of the UK’s finest fine art photographers and this was one
of his last presentations in England before retiring. Les has exhibited at numerous exhibitions, and has written magazine articles
and books on photography. News of his presentation brought visitors from other clubs in the north east, many of whom were
known to Les which led to an evening of banter and laughter, especially when Les told of his many experiences, tricky situations
and dialogues with characters he encountered on his travels.

Once a coal miner, Les also travelled the country with his band, moved into accountancy and in 1976 discovered photography.
He set about learning the skills of making photographs by reading books, attending one or two workshops, and of course exposing lots of film and making prints from the resultant negatives. After several years spent soaking up information, teaching black and white printing and writing monthly articles for magazines, the beginnings of a career in photography was under way. Finally, in the early 90’s he gave up his boring accountancy job to concentrate on fine art photography and writing.

Living in the heart of the Cheviots, Les showed images of beautiful snow covered valleys and examples of his beautiful prints of Roughting Linn waterfall with its prehistoric rock art display, explaining his use of shutter speeds along the way.

He led the audience through his journey of photography with coastal scenes in Aberystwyth using multiple exposures, producing amazing detail in rocks and swirling sea, and landscapes in Zion Park, Utah, where Les explained his treatment of cloud detail with the use of filters. Abstract shapes and rock layers in Antelope Canyon in both monochrome and in vibrant colour; atmospheric scenes of Death Valley sand dunes in textured black and white and in contrast, a study at sunrise of the same dunes in delicate grey tones, were among the beautiful photographs he displayed.

Views of Canadian Rocky Mountains set against dramatic billowing clouds contrasted with Mark Rothko style images of a rotting silo in bronze, yellow and orange and a Mondrian inspired study of the illuminated National Theatre in blocks of red and blue. His visit to an American scrap yard produced abstract studies of a rusty Chevrolet in textured tan and blue, in contrast to gleaming steel images of Harley Davidson motorbikes.

In his visits to Northern Ireland for a portrait project, we saw dramatic monochrome photographs of children in the Falls Road, street scenes, and portraits of politicians and the people of Belfast, strong evocative images with a very interesting commentary on how they were achieved in sometimes menacing situations.

A story to tell with every photograph, Les continued with colourful Gay Pride scenes and dramatic Iron Maiden concert shots in brilliant colour with smoke and lights, high key shadow and light patterns in modern architecture, club and funfair scenes taken at very high ISO settings creating grainy, moody, atmospheric images.

With such an eclectic range of subjects, from sharply defined graphic images of canyons and modern architecture, to soft, pastel studies of ripples over sandstone rock patterns, minimalist studies of light and shadow on snow, with thought provoking portraits, together with captivating dialogue, Les provided the audience with a truly enjoyable evening.

Chairman, Glyn Trueman, thanked Les for putting on such a wonderful show and for his generosity in sharing his techniques with the audience, after which there was a question and answer session and an opportunity to view a selection of Les’s wonderful prints on display.

Steph.