This evening we joined Philip Quarry on his ongoing journey through the medium of photography across the last decade. He took us to places been and things seen, on subjects old and new. Along the way he explained some of the various techniques he uses for composition, exposure, lighting and post-processing in trying to maintain an individual visual style. It turned out that he had last visited Photocraft in 2009 and this was a good chance to discover where his camera had taken him since then.
Philip has a well-exercised eye for noticing varied and interesting shapes and has a voracious appetite for minimalism and small details (he said he was well on the way to filling his 8TB hard drive!). He enjoys experimenting with different textures and shapes and various angles of view. His images took us ‘here and there’, from Tate Modern to Death Valley, with intriguing extra travelogue details – such as telling us the colour of Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco (by the way, it’s ‘International Orange’).
He doesn’t do a lot of post-production or, as he called it, ‘manipulation’. In fact, he had a ten-minute rule: if it doesn’t work in ten minutes of post-production, it’s never going to work! Philip confessed that he wasn’t really a ‘people photographer’, but was happy to include people in his photos if they could be part of the overall pattern of the image.
There were a number of distinct themes in his talk. Philip began by focusing on abstracts and macro. He said he liked to leave space in his images and did not slavishly follow protocols such as the ‘rule of thirds’. Abstracts could be found absolutely anywhere – including, as he demonstrated, inside a purple wheelie bin! As a retired building surveyor, he also relished taking pictures of buildings from different angles. He then introduced us to some of his forays into ICM (intentional camera movement). After that he shared some of his water images. Philip liked water to show some shape and movement and resisted the temptation to make it just look ‘like cotton wool’. He shared a useful tip if you get sea spray on your lens – duplicate the image as a background layer in Photoshop and apply lots of Gaussian blur to remove spots from the sky.
‘Depth of Winter’ was Philip’s next theme, followed by more general images of his travels. He had clearly enjoyed going on specialist photography tours, such as ‘Photoventures’ run by Roger Reynolds (who judged at Photocraft back in April this year). Watching on Zoom, I missed some of Philip’s words and couldn’t hear clearly the conversation from people in the hall, but Philip’s images were intriguing and evocative. It would have been interesting to have found out a bit more about how he achieved some of his effects.
For my money, Philip’s stand-out images were a sequence of pictures that he’d taken at the start of each day from the window of a holiday cottage. They were simply of the sea and sky, with the horizon dead-centre. There was a wonderful progression of texture and colour in this panel of images. I really appreciated Philip’s experimental and playful approach to his photography.
The evening finished with fine images of Venice and Philip’s highly topical (given COP26), though deeply sad, advice to visit Venice before it disappears under water for ever. Could that be our next Photocraft outing?