Photocraft welcomed Ken Scott to the club for his TOUCHING THE LIGHT presentation.
What we saw and heard was built on 42 years in photography, beginning in Snowdon in 1978.
Ken can trace his beginnings to using a Pentax SLR and 50mm prime. He worked with colour slide film and so only had one chance to get the picture. He has maintained that approach even with digital and caused a few raised eyebrows when he told us that he shoots jpegs!! If it’s right in camera, then there will be no issues. Oh, and why waste the millions of dollars or yen spent by the camera companies on research? They’ve done all the hard work so make use of it! Coupled with that strong observation, Ken is also an advocate of the 80/20 rule and he does not feel let down after all the years of taking pictures. He will keep the original jpeg safe and always edits (to a very small degree) on a copy jpeg.
He now uses a Sony mirrorless and only strays to raw images if the light dictates.
Ken admitted at the start that he struggled to classify himself but settles on being defined as an outdoor person, enjoying walking and climbing. Alongside these, photography is his perfect companion – plus his friend Wayne.
Driven by his passion for these activities, Ken told us that he is responding with his camera to the landscape around him. His belief is that you let yourself become immersed in your surroundings and the photography then comes naturally.
Among his favourite places are the Alps and Ken has undertaken Pyrenean walks as well as got around almost the entire British coast on foot.
During any of his time in the landscape, Ken’s aims are straightforward:
· Make the photography speak.
· Make the light work.
· Don't expect, just respond.
· Immerse yourself in the environment.
For Ken, it’s not about places; light is how the magic happens. With that in mind, it is far easier to enjoy the experience of where you are and find a more natural and spontaneous way to work. Ken does not use a tripod, preferring to react when the moment and light are right. The aim is to use the light as a compositional tool in making the image. Ken often takes a “reference picture” of a place that he will return to when he knows the light will be “right” or, in the case of the "layby landscape" below, he will park the car and walk for as long as it takes to get the light where he wants it to be.
I suppose it is quite natural as an outdoor person for someone to know about outdoor things but it was still something to hear how much knowledge Ken has acquired over these years in relation to the weather, light and times of the day and as a result, he can pretty much know when and where to be to get the image he wants. Living near the coast and the South Downs in West Sussex, Ken often scans the skies and plans his time to catch the moment. In effect, he is using weather conditions as creative assistance and the natural atmosphere gives his photos that extra dimension.
Ken admits it is often difficult to make something fresh in a familiar place, so his advice is simple: break the rules. Don't be afraid. Do your own thing away from the crowd.
And on top of that, we can also allow ourselves to work with familiar places and as we have heard elsewhere, we can challenge ourselves to go to the same place and take something new each time in different conditions or time of day.
We enjoyed a selection of images where Ken showed us how he has made excellent use of his weather knowledge. Examples included:
· Rainbows – these can be predicted when you know how the weather and light will combine.
· Fogbows – not something seen a great deal around Wallington, but Ken knows a spot near
his home and you can guess where he will be at the right time…
· A Glory Ring.
· Cloud inversions.
· And finally, the Brocken Spectre….nothing to do with James Bond!
Some of Ken’s most creative moments come from his embrace of the whole. For example, when reaching the summit on a climb, he will enjoy the whole mountain, not just the top. He can return to base and celebrate the day in the bar after experiencing all the day had to offer. This can be summed up by saying, “Don't use photography as a substitute for the experience... it should be a natural part of the enjoyment of the day and occur naturally. Enjoy the process of taking the picture, not just the outcome.”
In recent times, Ken has been engaging more with the natural textures and patterns in the landscape and what place nature itself occupies. In this way, he is taking more intimate images of what is around him.
There has been one big, ongoing project for Ken that began in 2008 and is still going strong and that is his “Project Infinity”. This began with the aim of taking a photo every day in 2008 and he is yet to stop…at time of writing, I believe it is up to 4451 days of consecutive photography. Simply put, Ken said it has helped him see far more naturally.
Ken cites as his main inspiration the work of Galen Rowell – which can be found here: www.mountainlight.com
He has also been influenced by Shinzo Maeda, a Japanese landscape photographer. I cannot find a website so have sourced Wikipedia:
Ken left us with a question that is at the top of this blog and it is a good one! I think it makes a fine point on which to conclude this blog and thanks very much for staying to the end plus a big thanks to Ken for a very insightful evening.