Inside this issue
An Exhibition by The Society of Scottish Landscape Photographers
Nicky is a Medical/Landscape Photographer based in Perthshire Scotland. Brought up in the Perthshire countryside, Nicky has a natural affinity towards nature. In addition to capturing the wild and rugged landscapes of Scotland Nicky's true passion lies in portraying the unique beauty of trees and woodlands throughout the seasons. Nicky's detailed study of decaying holly leaves entitled 'Beauty in Decay' won her the 'Your View' category in the 'Landscape Photographer of the Year' 2018 awards. Nicky has also been shortlisted and commended in several major photography awards, including the 'International Images for Science' awards.
I am a member of the Society of Scottish Landscape Photographers and following on from a series of successful group exhibitions, it was decided that the society would hold a series of regional exhibitions to allow more members to exhibit in their local area.
As a member of the exhibition committee, I accepted the task of organising two of these exhibitions. One of the venues I sourced was the Birnam Arts Centre, which is based in the quaint village of Birnam in Perthshire. I identified it as an ideal venue in which to hold the exhibition due to the location and beautiful hanging space which is filled with natural light.
Following a series of discussions with the venue, it was decided that the exhibition should consist entirely of black and white images, based on a mix of traditional landscapes and images with a more ‘creative’ edge.
The venue has held a series of 'traditional' colour landscape exhibitions in the past and wanted to offer its clientele something different, therefore the concept for 'monochrome' was born.
Initially, the exhibition was meant to feature photographers from the Tayside area, namely Davie Hudson (Society founder and Chairman), Katherine Fotheringham, Andy Clark, Donald McKenzie, Annette Forsyth, and myself. However, given the space available, we were able to open the exhibition to members based further afield, and Stuart Lamont and John Thow joined us.
Each photographer was allocated a space in which to showcase their work. The decision of layout, frame sizing and image selection were left to each member.
However, to add cohesiveness to the exhibition it was decided that all the frames should be black, and the work priced with the venue's clientele in mind, therefore a ceiling price was introduced.
The brief was embraced by some and found to be a welcome challenge by others who predominantly shoot in colour (myself included).
Back in the days when I attended college (nearly 30 years ago.... gulp!) and I was film-based, I shot, processed and printed in black and white, but I haven't, until recently, produced many black and white images from a digital file, therefore the remit really challenged my processing skills.
I began searching my archives for images to convert to black and white. I initially chose a random set including seascapes and mountain studies. I didn't feel that they 'gelled' as a set however and felt that I wanted my images to have a strong narrative, rather than just a random set. I am increasingly shooting more tree-based images, and that is an element of landscape photography that I enjoy the most, therefore I chose one image from my archive as a starting point, which was almost monochrome when I shot it, therefore it felt a natural step to convert the file to black and white.
I was hit by a stroke of luck in March when the weather turned unusually wintery and we had a full day of heavy snow, and the perfect conditions materialised that I had envisaged to shoot the remainder of my images.
During the summer months, I do a lot of location scouting and I knew the exact location of the trees that I wanted to shoot....it was just a case of waiting for the optimum conditions. The shoot turned out to be better than expected and I managed to produce four images, which completed my desired set of five.
I envisaged a 'fine art' feel to my prints, so I selected Hahnemuhle photo rag as my paper choice, as the textural quality really suited the images.
Each member of the group worked tirelessly to prepare their work, and the exhibition opened on the 31st of August to a welcoming crowd.
Here are some thoughts from the other exhibitors:
When the remit for this exhibition was announced I couldn't have been happier. With me having a leaning for the darker side of imagery I do a lot of work in monochrome, add to that the quirky aspect and in my mind I was doing a happy dance. The problem I was going to have was whittling down my large portfolio of Black and Whites down to the space I had, a space I’m happy to say was quite large due to my enthusiasm for the remit.
As with any exhibition (this is now my tenth in total) the knack is to suitably mix the images to both show the whole gamut of your work and have a 'crowd pleaser' and with my 7 images I think I have achieved that and I'm really proud of what I have produced and hung in the gallery.
Taking part on the exhibition was a gift for me as Black & White is what I do. Whether it’s because of my colour blindness or not, I just find it so much more satisfying to work in Black & White than in colour.
I am a Highlander and want to display the highlands as they really are to local people. So my images are not great landscapes with mountains sweeping down to the sea, they are of things like passing places and single track roads, dry stane dykes that wend their way over a hill .
I am not interested in making images that have huge popular appeal or induce the ‘wow’ factor. I follow the writings of Guy Tal and find he gives expression to all the things that I have felt but didn’t have the skill to state them. For example, he speaks of how the inner rewards of creating anything are “… much more powerful and enduring than short lived spikes of happiness rooted in such things as productivity, popularity, sales, etc.” That’s so true.
When I first heard the exhibition remit I was a little apprehensive! I decided I wanted my images to work together as a group, complimenting each other and with a similar feel. I love taking photos of trees and foggy conditions so felt for me those images were an ideal fit. I edited quite a few images that I felt fitted my remit and also worked in B&W, and three of my four images were all taken the same winter within three weeks of one another and just felt right together. The fourth image, "on the edge of the field" I felt really complimented the others, as they all have an atmospheric, almost fairy-tale quality to them.
My passion for Landscape Photography came about when I joined my local Camera Club some 18 years ago, this also fuelled my interest in Black & White photography after seeing some of the work club members were producing. I decided I wanted to take it a stage further after seeing some Infrared work in one of the monthly magazines and therefore I decided to convert an old Nikon D200 to Infrared.
The shots below were all taken during the summer months which are particularly good for Infrared as the trees are in full bloom and there is a good contrast with the blue sky behind. If you get the right subject matter you can produce some lovely images.
When the Black & White Exhibition was announced earlier this year I immediately thought that showing some Infrared work would give the exhibition an added extra dimension which I hope the viewers will enjoy.
While I mostly work in colour, I have always enjoyed creating black & white images for their timeless quality and slightly more abstract nature and was delighted to be part of the exhibition at Birnam. For my final choices I decided to go for mountain scenery and coastal images as I knew a few of the other photographers were into treescapes.
Two of my chosen images “Shifting Light on Beinn a’Chearcaill” and “Torridon Wilderness” were taken on a very atmospheric day in February when the cloud lifted and descended at will. “Lower Falls, Glen Nevis” and “The Needle, Quiraing, Isle of Skye” are images from more well known locations that I personally enjoyed. Sometimes it can be a good idea to include a few images that people recognise and may have a connection with.
To match the exhibition brief I chose ‘Shimmering Birches’ captured using ICM (Intentional Camera Movement) which gives a blurred and mystical view of some magnificent silver birch trees in Glen Lyon.
‘Fogbound’ is an image of the new Queensferry Crossing over the Firth of Forth. A fleeting moment in time captured by a hand held shot when I spotted a bank of fog rapidly approaching the bridge. I enjoy the simplicity yet complexity of the moody monochromes captured in black and white photography.
The brief of black and white images struck fear and horror into me as it wasn't something that I dabbled with too much. I already had one black and white image, 'The Frandy Tree' that I was keen to use, so it was just a case of taking two more images that would complement this image.
'The Praying Hands' is one of my favourite places to visit and I was keen to include it in this exhibition so when I was in the area with snow falling and an atmospheric mist flowing down the glen I grabbed the opportunity to bag the second photo of my three for the exhibition.
My third photo came on an equally miserable cold and snowy day. I had Ossian's Hall at The Hermitage in mind, so when I woke to heavy flakes of snow falling, I headed up to the location to capture the envisaged scene.
Preparing a solo exhibition is hard work (as most photographers will identify with), but having to collaborate with seven other photographers was more challenging. Luckily they were a great bunch of people to work with which made my life a lot easier!
Communicating back and forth with the venue, printers, framers, exhibitors, and collating all the information, organising all the press releases, promotional activity etc was not without its challenges and was a very time-consuming but enjoyable experience which I have relished. Will I do it again?.....yes! We have another exhibition coming up in November!
The ‘Monochrome’ exhibition is open to the public until Saturday the 28th of September, from 10am until 5pm, at the Birnam Arts centre in Perthshire. Entry is free.