Inside this issue
Exhibition at Joe Cornish Gallery
Born in North Yorkshire and having spent most of his life in the area, Rod Bennington now lives near Northallerton, a base he regards as ideal for landscape photography, being midway between the North York Moors and the Yorkshire Dales. Another of his passions is image quality, so, despite the vast quality improvements in digital cameras in recent years, he continues to shoot on transparency film using a 5"x4" large format camera to achieve astonishing levels of detail and tonal variation in his prints.
Although I'm essentially an avid photographer of the wilder landscape, in recent years I have become captivated by the more cultivated and tranquil charms of Thorp Perrow Arboretum, Bedale. My visits there began over 30 years ago when it was first opened to the public, but in the last 5 years my relationship with the arboretum has developed to the point where it really is my second home. During this period, I've made more than 150 visits and enjoyed over 700 hours there with my large format camera, shooting exclusively on 5"x4" transparency film.
The current exhibition reveals a small section of that broader work, concentrating exclusively on flowers, their remarkable diversity and individual characteristics. I am very much indebted to Jo Rose, curator of the Joe Cornish Gallery, for suggesting that I focus exclusively on flowers as the theme for the exhibition to complement their summer promotion of the UK cut-flower industry. The selected images do not encompass the huge range of flowers that can be seen at Thorp Perrow, they are simply my most-loved genera and species.
I like to think my approach to floral studies is much the same as any portrait photographer, in that I aim to capture them looking at their finest, in their natural environment and with favourable lighting. For me, this usually entails shooting within a couple of hours of sunrise when the flowers are in prime condition and before the wind rises: wind movement is the most difficult aspect to contend with in close-up large format photography, especially when exposure times are rarely less than 1 sec. My ideal weather conditions are gentle overnight rain followed by the faintest trace of the early morning sun, but if I find these elements together with the perfect subject then I do consider it a real privilege.
I firmly believe that knowing one's subject well and being passionate about it are key factors in any form of photography and my floral portraits are mostly the result of numerous visits to some of my favourite plants, shrubs and trees, often over several years. They frequently involve lengthy set-up/composition times and extensive waits for the rain to stop, the wind to drop, or the best light. Occasionally, however, they arise from chance encounters with unfamiliar subjects and magical lighting conditions and it's moments such as these that sustain my passion for Thorp Perrow.
I would like to express my gratitude to all of the Ropner family for their consent to hold this exhibition, their support in my photography at Thorp Perrow Arboretum and for their dedication and enthusiasm in restoring and maintaining this special environment for visitors to enjoy.
Floral portraits: Rod Bennington
Saturday 28 July - Thursday 30 August 2018
Joe Cornish Gallery, Northallerton