Adrian was billed as a 'master printer', so some people might have expected a rather dry evening of technical dark room secrets. If so, they were in for a pleasant surprise, as Adrian also wove into his story of learning and practising his trade as a printer, rich and fascinating details of his own photographic journey. He was a low-key speaker, understating his own achievements and dropping names of the great and famous with disarming nonchalance. He illustrated the steps he had taken along the way with family photos and beautiful images from his experiments with light and cameras as well as with various styles of printing and processing.
From an early apprenticeship with family and friends, Adrian progressed - and then gamekeeper turned poacher, as he described it, he started to link his interest in taking photographs with experiments in how to best process them. He heard a story about a deserted cottage in Ireland with an old man's suit still hanging in the closet and so he set off to find and take that image. He likes such stories and has had great success with shows and exhibitions, his images rich and deep in tones, the result of his consummate skills in balancing developer, fixer, paper and time in the alchemy of the dark room. He recreates mood and atmosphere in his images, often tinged with nostalgia. He is in no rush to go digital.
Sometimes, our meetings don't run quite as planned: this was an informal competition night for black and white images - same rules though, of two prints and two digital images. It was informal in that we are in the middle of adjusting our membership year, so the official competition league starts again in April, giving us the opportunity to try out a few different formats.
It didn't run quite as planned, as our invited guest judge, R.Cleveland Aaron, was not able to arrive until half time. (See his website:www.clevelandaaron.com/)
However, serendipitously, it was a great way to share and discuss our images: we ran the DPI entries through twice and Jools (Competition Secretary) led a lively commentary. After the break, Cleveland looked at the print entries and talked about some of the digital images he had seen during the break. We dispensed with marks, due to the time pressure, although we had intended to try out the 10 for technical skills and 10 for creativity for the first time.
So, many questions to ask you to comment on:
It felt like a good atmosphere with great participation - do you agree?
R.Cleveland Aaron was a delightful and helpful guest - would you like us to invite him back? He offered to lead a walk and shoot sometime. This was our first Black and White competition - we had a good number of entries, so it seems to have been a popular event - should we do it regularly?
Many thanks - your responses and comments are very helpful!