Club Meeting, "What if and Why" with Peter Downs - Tuesday 8th November 2016.


On Tuesday 8th November 2016, Morpeth Camera Club welcomed fellow club member Peter Downs, LRPS, 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 rather than photography, having
been accepted at Slade to study fine art, but even though his career path led him into physiotherapy, he has never
lost his love of art.
Advice passed on to him by his art tutor - See, Look, Observe and Absorb has been applied to his photography work;
he considers himself to be a picture maker, with the camera and computer being just tools, a starting point, and its
ones vision through the lens which makes the picture. He sees a subject and asks ‘what can I do with this? ‘What if
I...? He went on to stress that it is important, as in art, 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 with this method one can enhance details in everyday subjects to
create surreal works of art. In bad weather conditions, the use of software filters can be used to bring out the detail
in clouds resulting in dramatic monochrome landscapes and also by converting photographs from colour to mono one
can produce stunning alternatives to the original.
Among Peter’s images, autumnal woodlands and sweeping moorland with rocky outcrops contrasted with massive
cable laying ships and oil rigs; windows and doors with cobwebs, cracked paint and rust contrasted with street scenes
with candid shots of shoppers, farmers and spectators at sporting events. Textures on farmhouse walls, rusty oil cans,
lichen covered rocks, groynes receding into sea mist; golden cornfields against blue skies, and a clapperboard building
in vibrant lime green and red were all included in his eclectic selection of photographs.
He went on to discuss competitions and how some of his images do very well at international level but not at club
level, judging is subjective so don’t be discouraged, if you don’t submit your work you don’t improve. There are ‘fads’
or fashions in photography, HDR, dancers, ethnicity and multi imaging which some photographers 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 used 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, directional arrows in car parks, chimneys,
cranes and power lines creating sharp vertical and diagonal patterns and stark simple images in strong monochrome.
Peter may call himself a picture maker but the audience recognised the inner artist this evening.
A short question and answer session followed where he explained the use of cloning to remove unwanted distractions
and ‘dodging and burning’ to darken and lighten areas, Club Chairman thanked him for stressing the importance of
observation, simplicity and imagination, after which coffee was served.