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Endframe – Granite and seeps, Tasmania by Chris Bell

Len Metcalf discusses one of his favourite pictures

Len Metcalf

Leonard Metcalf is the director of Len’s School located in Sydney that specialises in innovative small group offerings for dedicated amateur photographers who wish to grow. Len exhibits his photography regularly and is widely published. His intimate portraits of people and nature show a unique and very personal vision of beauty of the world though his photographic art.

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When I stop to think of my favourite photograph one of my own comes to mind. Then as I think further other images of mine come to the surface. And I am left lost wondering where my favourite photographs from other photographers are and how could I possibly be so self involved with my own work.

Initially I return to Dombrovskis, my first and greatest inspiration for wilderness photography, yet I find myself hard pressed to nail one photograph down as my favourite. A feather on the beach is memorable from my teenage years from his wilderness diaries, then some kelp swirling out to sea, then I am emotionally taken back to the Franklin river and memories of one of my wonderful trips down it. Fortunately his work is so rich, so beautiful, so gentle and evocative, so bountiful, that choosing one of his images doesn’t do justice to the others.

My second inspirational wilderness photographer was Eliot Porter while I was at art school, hence cementing my love for the 4 x 5 vertical frame composition. This is the dominant composition of Peter Dombrovskis as well. My favorite of his has to be the image of autumn leaves floating on water with blue and gold reflections that graces the cover of “In Wildness Is the Preservation of the World”. (Tim has this image reproduced in his article on Eliot Porter). I look forward to seeing some of his original dye-transfer prints rather than the poor reproductions in the books from my collection.

There are quite a few I love to talk about with students in photography classes, ones that inspire passionate controversial conversations such as Gurnsky’s ‘Rhine’ river, it rates as very memorable for me as I find I can easily describe its subtle nuances without having to revisit an actual print. Again I find great inspiration in Gurnsky’s work, yet I really struggle to find my own personal favorite. I wonder if it is my personal revolt of humanities destruction which he so freely comments on and that I avoid like the plague.

So I have to redefine favorite, and can present to you the most influential photograph I have encountered recently. It was whilst running a photography workshop in Tasmania where I visited The Cradle Mountain Wilderness Gallery and was inspired by Chris Bell’s stunning exhibition “The Apparent & The Abstract”: Nature. The exhibition was jaw droppingly stunning. Every image in the two large rooms of large format Tasmania wilderness photographs captured my heart and soul in a similar way as to when I was inspired by Dombrovskis many years before.

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