|'A Passion for Landscapes'||2 October 2018|
On Tuesday 2nd October, we welcomed Ed Collacott back to Devizes Camera Club to hear his presentation entirled 'A Passion for Landscapes'
Ed started by explaining that he had always been fascinated with landscapes. As a young boy he enjoyed the countryside and would seek out books with landscape pictures. His favoured subjects at school were always Art and Geography. Later, as a young man he taught these subjects at a school where he was able to set up a darkroom as an adjunct to his Art curriculum.
His interest in photography developed to the point when, having left teaching to travel, he decided to try and make a living from his hobby. In his early years he travelled all over the world taking photographs, but over the last 20 or so years his images have been taken while travelling around the UK in his camper van.
The first half of Ed’s presentation concentrated on trees and woodland landscapes taken in all seasons, at different times of day and in varying weather conditions. Most of his images were shown in panoramic format or in a square crop. He explained that these had been taken either with his large format panoramic camera (6x17 cms) or with his medium format camera (6x6 cms). He told us that he does not use either polarising or grad filters, preferring to wait for the right light.
In his early days, he said he concentrated on black & white images and showed us a series of winter woodland images. One, called “Winter Woods”, was his most successful image, while another “Woodland in Mist” was one of his favourites. And there was a series of Winter Oaks taken in his native Suffolk.
He showed us several images of what he called the Salisbury Oak. However, having taken many images over many years from a distance, he eventually met the farmer and was able to walk across the fields to the tree to discover that it was actually a Sweet Chestnut! One of his images was a quadriptych showing the “Salisbury Oak” in each of the four seasons. Another quadriptych was of beechwoods during the four seasons.
There were several images from the New Forest, where he said he loves the variety and structural quality of the trees. There were atmospheric autumnal shots showing moody shafts of light through trees in the mist at dawn. He explained that he often has to wait patiently for the light and the composition to come together. He said the longer you stand in one place in the woods, the more you see in the scene and the more wildlife you will encounter.
Ed also like to photograph autumnal landscapes in places like Ashridge Estate in Herts, Stourhead, and Exmoor. He said that good images can be taken in these places a week or two before the peak of the colours, because fewer leaves will have fallen from the trees and there will be fewer gaps in the composition.
In the second half of the evening, Ed presented images of landscapes from around the UK. He started with some stunning images taken in Bath showing the Royal Crescent, the Circus and the weir at Pultney Bridge.
A wonderful panoramic view of Durdle Door was followed by the cliffs at Burton Bradstock in a storm, before moving on to Rhossili Beach on the Gower, Freshwater West beach in Pembrokeshire and a few shots on the Brecon Beacons. Then we saw a few great images in Snowdonia and the Lake District.
He described a day spent in heavy showers waiting for the promised sunshine before being rewarded with differential lighting and a rainbow over the Langdale Pikes. He also explained that he had avoided taking images of the over photographed Buttermere Pines until one morning he captured them disappearing into the mist, with early morning sunlight catching the mountain top, all reflected in the waters of the lake.
He showed two images of blood-red dawn skies reflected in the seas off Northumberland. One showed Dunstanburgh Castle as a small silhouette on the right and the other a slightly larger silhouette of Bamburgh Castle. Both very dramatic but ultimately fairly simple compositions.
On into Scotland with images taken in Glenco and Rannoch Moor. Ed said that, when he first took photos of Buachaille about 20 years ago, very few people went there and the vegetation was more plentiful. Now, however, thousands of people want to take the photograph and the ground has been trampled and worn.
On Skye, Ed often stays at the Sligachan campsite and he showed a number of dawn and early morning images taken in the vicinity, showing the Red Cullins and Marscoe. He drives up past Ullapool, where he took an amazing shot of a sunlit snowscape while it was snowing. In Sutherland he showed us a rugged landscape, shaped by ancient glaciers with no human habitation to be seen. At Cape Wrath he hiked the five miles to the wild and remote, but beautiful, beaches and dunes of Sandwood Bay.
And finally, he took us to the Outer Hebrides and to Harris in particular. Beaches to rival those in the Caribbean beautifully portrayed by Ed’s camera, a memorable image of a rainbow arch after a hailstorm and lovely sunset over North Uist rounded off a fabulous evening of wonderful landscape images.
In thanking Ed for a great evening’s entertainment, Steve, our Chairman, alluding to the title of the presentation said there was little doubt that Ed certainly has a Passion for Landscapes. A sentiment clearly emphasised by a warm round of applause from the audience. DF
Images © Ed Collacott Top: Magical Dawn, Right: Four Seasons, Centre: Winter Wood Bottom: Forces of Nature,Glencoe