Monday, 21 October 2013

Member Profile: Noel George

I’ve been a member of HPS since moving to the Wirral from Allerton in South Liverpool over ten years ago.  As it was my first photographic club, I have also remained a member of the South Liverpool Photographic Society which I joined in 1998.

The first camera I had was an Agfa Silette given to me as a birthday present by my elder sister.  When I became more interested in photography I bought a Pentax  Programme A with a 50mm f1.8 lens.  Cameras were so small and light in those days and I have always regretted part exchanging it for a Canon EOS 50E but I could not afford an upgrade to the Pentax equivalent.

I still use Canon equipment, currently an EOS 7D mainly with 15-85mm and 70-200mm zoom lenses and record raw files.  Because of the ease of use of its raw converter, I process my files in Adobe Lightroom and tweak them in Photoshop though I am relying on it more as I have learned to use Layers to better effect.  While I mostly make colour images, my preference is for monochrome.

My interest in photography was influenced partly through using the photographic process to teach aspects of chemistry and physics to students who had not progressed in science through the conventional route.  Whereas the chemistry of silver and optics might seem a little academic and dry, the processes  involved from initially pressing the shutter to producing the finished print can generate a good deal of excitement and make the science relevant.  Those of a certain age can still remember, as I do, their wonderment as an image appeared on a piece of paper in the developing dish. While not wishing to be too nostalgic for film photography, I did then understand what was happening when I made a picture whereas most of the modern processes are, as far as I am concerned, magic.

As a club photographer I photograph a wide range of subjects in response to competition titles and collect images when on holiday – but I don’t go on holiday for photographic purposes.  I like tabletop photography and portrait photography which have a great deal in common as in both genres the photographer should be in control of every variable.  The main problem with set piece photography is thinking of something original or even just a bit different.

Three other factors influenced my interest in photography. The first was attending a series of City and Guilds courses at Liverpool Community College where I learned how to make images and where I met some people who became my friends and who introduced me to club photography.  The second was finding the work of Robert Doisneau while on family holidays in Paris – his work is so human and humorous and something to aspire to. The third was joining a camera club where I made some very good friends and learned a great deal from others interested in photography.  I find that club members are sociable and very generous with their expertise – you will always find someone who can help you overcome your problems.

I have two tips to pass on to others.  One was given to me by a distinguished nature photographer and it is ‘get it right in-camera, it’s much easier than trying to remedy mistakes in Photoshop’.  The second is ‘make pictures for you own enjoyment; it is a bonus if others like them as well’
A Clockwork Orange
A clockwork orange was produced on slide film for a club competition called ‘Book or song title’.  It came second but was judged best slide in the following annual competition. I entered it into a Practical Photography competition and it won a prize of £1350 of Jessop’s vouchers and I used them to but a Canon EOS 3, a 28-135mm lens and a good flash gun – my first really expensive camera kit.
The Old Soldier
The Old Soldier has been successful in external competitions and was taken on St. George’s Plateau at a Remembrance Day service using Ilford FP4 film.  The ex-service people are always very willing to be photographed if the photographer is respectful of the occasion.
Powerless Structures
Powerless Structures and Balance are two more recent images.  The first was taken in Trafalgar Square on a visit to London and the still life was produced for a particular club competition.  
While Balance is a simple image it took a great deal of work selecting the correct glass, fixing the egg on the rim and deciding the arrangement of the various tone elements.  The work in camera and with the computer and printer was the simple part.