2016 02 - No name

14th February 2016
Retford & District Photographic Society - Press Release - Joy Allison
11th February 2016

The Talk with No Name

The Talk with No Name was revealed when Gary Langley came to speak at Retford. Gary, from Nottingham, is Vice President of the redoubtable Rolls Royce Camera Club, widely recognised as one of the best in the world and regularly prolific winners in our own regional NEMPF competitions. Having heard that the thirty five members, of whom eighteen are very active with their photography, enjoy at least five or six specialised workshops a month it is easy to see how they develop their prize winning skills.

Gary told us that he struggles to find names for his photos to the point where a fellow club member renames them, so this talk had no name because he couldn't think of a suitable one. He is now favouring 'Faces and Places', which members agreed summed up this collection of his work well.

Gary is known for gritty Goth / punk style images. He showed a wide selection taken at Whitby, Bristol and other venues which attract followers. Those who style this way and attend the events enjoy having their photos taken and are willing to pose. Gary does not take candid images so he finds somewhere he knows will work for him and invites his subjects to come and stand in his preferred location. He always hand holds his camera and shoots without flash at these events and likes a location with a plain background and in the shade to avoid harsh shadows. Recently he has taken to replacing the background in the final image, so chooses a location where the existing background will be easy to replace.

The development of his technique has resulted in portraits with startlingly compelling eyes, which he revealed he achieves by over sharpening them while softening other parts of the image. This works well for prints but less so for digital projection. Gary passed round some of his prints and displayed others on a range of papers and it was fascinating to see the differences the characteristics of the papers impart to the resulting work.

Gary showed a wide range of images, including some taken when his partner Louise, who accompanied him, persuaded him to go to a flower show at Harrogate. Initially a reluctant companion, he had realised the potential of the event and will be taking her next time. We were shown a selection of macro shots of parts of flowers which worked very well. Another plant hunting trip led to a garden centre where he had occupied himself very productively photographing the fish in the aquarium tanks.

Despite his success with portraiture of a very modern nature, Gary said his favourite genre of photography was natural history. He revealed he and Louise keep tropical insects and photograph their pets – see ‘Dragonfly’. He showed a set of four taken in a light tent, emphasising that they are never dead or chilled to achieve the poses. The pictures were impressively very like biological illustrations. In a series of posed pictures of insects, we heard that the backdrops were large prints of images of out of focus foliage used to enable the photographer to concentrate on getting the subject sharp without distractions in the background and without having to compromise the shot of the subject to achieve it. Members were interested to hear that Gary and Louise bring their collections out to offer workshops - an opportunity we are likely to explore further.

Members asked Gary about his choice of equipment for this work. He takes all his images in colour and converts his monochrome work in the computer. He uses a cropped sensor camera for sport and wildlife, but a full frame for portraits and landscapes. He likes to take portraits with a 50mm lens, meaning he is only inches from the subject as he shoots, resulting in somewhat distorted faces, which is the effect he wants. He quoted the saying 'If the results aren't good enough, you aren't close enough.'

For other images Gary used a 17 - 70mm lens, often near the 17m end. He dislikes HDR, which he finds gives an artificial look, but described his technique using Photoshop or Silver FX to achieve similar, but more natural effects. He also described how he layers with white, selectively bringing through the parts of an image he wants to draw attention to. He described a lonely beach scene, entitled ‘Beachcomber’, where the sky came from one place, the mountains in the distance from two other places and the beach from two further places, cleverly mixed together to give a very natural look.

The 'places' element of the talk included numbers of crisp, sharp images of church interiors, angels on gravestones, landscapes and a series of seascapes.