Composing in Black and White – Arthur Farmer – (author James Allan)
Arthur Farmer was guest speaker at our March meeting. I can say that I really enjoyed his presentation. He gave a talk on Black and white photography. Arthur has a preference for monochrome slides. With the switch to digital media it is getting a lot harder to do nowadays. His favourite film has gone out of production and he needs to send it away to the US to print his slides. I took some rough notes from Arthur’s talk. I would like to put some of his images into this article. Hopefully I will be able to add some as they become available.
It was apleasure watching the skillfully crafted images. Arthur mixed his slides with explanations of his approach to photography. “Photography is representational and not just representative”. He quoted widely, Will Nolan, Ken Rockwell, Ansel Adams, Edward Weston. “Simplify and Exclude” was the mantra of Ken Rockwell. The ‘s’ from simplify and the ‘ex’ from exclude make the acronym sex. “Removing colour stripped back an image to its elements”, Arthur explained, “black and white is the essence of the subject, the root of art.”
Arthur exhibits a high level of technical competence. His landscapes are sharp from the foreground to the back ground. He handles highlights and dark areas well, preserving detail where possible. He uses texture to good effect. Arthur explains, “The first impression of an image is emotional and therefore important and often better than analytical or logical evaluation.”
Quoting Edward Weston he exhorts us to pre-visualize the image before taking it. Arthur believed in composing pictures. He uses lines to lead to the subject. Silhouettes can be powerful, as can movement. Curves, textures, Shadow, foreground details are all important. Real life has too much detail. The photographer has to simplify things. Get in close. It is OK to crop things out of the picture. Keep it sharp.
A longer article from this session has been posted in Camera clips. So make sure you have a read. As said previously, I really enjoyed this session. It gets back to the joys and pleasures of taking photographs. To quote Arthur, “’amateur’ comes from the Latin word ‘amore’, meaning to love. That’s why we take photographs, because we love it.”