Thoughts On My First Photo Exhibition

After a long wait, and quite a lot of work, my first ever solo photo exhibition is now up and running (runs to 9th May 2015).  Details at http://www.nigelyoung.co.uk/exhibition

OK, so it’s not a big venue in New York, London or Paris, but it’s a start – it’s at our local Community Arts Centre here in Market Drayton, Shropshire, UK.  They have a gallery area that local artists and photographers can book for a 3-week exclusive exhibition. Its completely free of charge, and the space available – 2 long walls, will take around 30-35 decent sized photographs. The audience is obviously friends and family, and of course the mainly local residents who use the facilities like the cinema, and education, fitness and leisure classes. I don’t claim to be a great photographer – years of practice does NOT make perfect, but an exhibition is something I’ve always wanted to do, and this opportunity was a no-brainer

Yesterday was pretty hectic – getting all the mounted prints hung level, labeled, and the supporting promo material setup, so I didn’t really get chance to appraise how it looked.

Today, however, I went back to the venue (with a relative who was keen to see my pix) and it was a really emotional experience – I guess we look at our individual images time and time again on the computer, but there is nothing, believe me, that compares with seeing a set of 30 good-sized prints of just one’s own work up on the wall!

Although I’ve been taking photos for a long time (the oldest image on show dates back to 1974!), I’ve always favoured landscapes with maybe a few architecture/urban images included, and don’t often take photos of people.  I did include some street/people photos in the exhibition, mainly to add some variety. What really struck me today was how compelling the ‘people’ photos are compared to landscapes and urban scenes – I constantly found myself drawn back to the photos of people, rather than landscapes.

So now I find myself more confused than ever – I was planning to ‘rationalise’ my photo interests to landscapes, and maybe some building/urban scenes, but am now questioning whether people photos are the way to go (for me…) I don’t feel a particular affinity for photographing people, and don’t even feel I’ve got a flair for it, but if I get satisfaction looking at the results, isn’t that enough?

I’m really interested to know whether fellow photographers struggle to define what ‘kind’ of photographer they think they are?

Here are a few of my favourite photos from the exhibition…

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EDIT: Festival Drayton Centre have extended the exhibition until 30th May 2015 – yippee!

Digital Infra Red Photography

My, how this has changed since the days of film cameras! Then, it involved special infra-red sensitive film that could only be developed in complete darkness – not even a safelight could be used when developing IR film.  Digital is so different – just pop an infra-red blocking filter onto most cameras, and shoot pretty much as normal.  Providing it’s a bright day, then anything remotely green (leaves, grass etc) will be rendered as white (or near to white), and sky will go a very dark grey. Not all digital cameras are suitable for infra-red – it depends on the sensitivity of the sensor, and some lenses create ‘hot-spots’ of a lighter exposure in the centre of the frame due to internal reflections.

DX140720-43These photos were taken on my trusty Fuji X100S camera – the fixed 23mm lens displays no hot-spots at all.  The optical viewfinder is very helpful, as once the infra-red filter is in place (in this case a Hoya R72 filter) so little light comes through to the sensor that the image on the LCD screen is very dark indeed. Exposures are always much longer than usual, so a tripod is essential. These photos were imported into Adobe Lightroom, converted to mono (I’m not a fan of colour infra-red) and the levels and contrast adjusted – its as simple as that!

If infra-red really ‘floats your boat’ then many cameras (certainly all the Fuji X series) can be converted  – this costs around £250 and involves removing the IR blocking filter and replacing it with a special pass through filter. Different options are available depending on whether you want to do full colour, or just black & white.