Mark Littlejohn – On Landscape Meeting of Minds 2016

Mark Littlejohn – The
Aesthetics of Split Toning Suppose there’s that Littlejohn
chap isn’t there Do we need to introduce him? Mark is a photographer is that
a quite few people He’s been working not for a
long time I don’t think In the big scheme of things.
But his photography emerged with an identity people seem to start with an
influence and then find a path
and Mark walked his dog, saw things
he liked And photographed them. Yeah,
the thing I’m really impressed
about. He photographed them. Looking at his work, as you say
he Developed an aesthetic
unknowingly before he actually
started making pictures and then the camera
became the conduit for that
pictures That’s a rare thing I think and
real aesthetic. and a really amazing thing. The
really annoying thing About him is, is that not only
is he talented but he’s also a nice guy. He’s
fairly nice! It’s really
depressing that you know! So I think We’ll probably stop dribbling
on. It’s going to be a
fantastic weekend and I hope you all join
me At lunchtime there are the
various lightning talks by
various photographers Mr Cornish, Greg Whitton, Alex
Nail Erm Richard Childs doing one?
Yes! To many to mention! But do pop
in for those. If you’ve erm, see someone on
the list That you’d be keen to listen
to. They are 10 minute talks,
with a little of time afterwards for Q&A. and it’s about getting over
succinct points very quickly. I have a carrot and stick
incentive scheme sorted out for
that. So people don’t go over too
much. Hopefully that will work
very well. So without further a do, I
think it’s time for Mr
Littlejohn. to come up on stage and share
with us some of his incredible imagery! [Applause] [Applause] Good morning! Good morning! Welcome to Cumbria! I’m sure
most of us are sitting here
thinking Why are we sitting inside a
hall when it’s gorgeous snow
outside! I did think about doing a
runner first thing over
breakfast, but err not to today. Anyway, I’ve got
a variety of images. Can
everybody hear me. Ok? Yes, spot on. Slightly nerve wracking. I’m
acutely that err I first picked up a camera in
February 2010 so quite junior when it comes to
taking photographs Suppose for many years I’ve
been taking them in my own head
when I was walking the dog and the hills. I really
suppose the err the thing I’ve grown into is
split toning. Not entirely sure why I’d go
into that it’s not something. I didn’t take up
photography by reading a book
or looking up something On internet movies and things. And working out how to this and
how to do that. I basically
picked up a camera through a love of if you like
of Ullswater and surrounding
area and it was really to recapture
the little views in my head.
The little things that struck a chord and perhaps recreate
them in a certain that I Envisaged. Whether that was at
the time, some people know,
some people might not. I was a computer forensic
analyst with the police and had
been a detective for I think the last 26 years of my
service. But for the last 10
years I spent basically 10, 12, 14,
16 hours a day examining paedophiles computers, which as
you might guess is not the most
pleasant job in the world. As a result of that,
distressing, doing more walking. Taking more pictures and
sometimes I think. I don’t like
to over self analyse but sometimes it might be the
way I split tone is a way of almost a little
alternate reality if you like a reminder that there’s so many
beautiful things in this world
along side somethings. Which aren’t quite so pleasant.
So whether that’s or not that’s
the key the imagination or whatever. I
suppose when people think about
split toning I should say that I’ll
hopefully be on time, but I’ve
run through this talk 2 or 3
times and I think my fastest is 40
minutes. and the slowest is an hour and
an half. So it just depends on
how many tangents I go off! But when I talk about
split toning, a lot of people
immediately say black and white. Whether it’s cool
tones or warms tones. Whichever way. And in the first
image and I know it’s not a
landscape image That first image that was
successful if you like, as I
started to play with split tone. Sometimes they can be surreal
and sometimes a bit strange,
and really the whole, Concept for me if you like was
to trying to recreate the scene as I saw
it in my minds eye if you like
um There trying to recapture some
of the emotion because for me
all about as I’m not into reality, but
not a record shot. It doesn’t
matter to me if the colours change slightly. I
don’t do a massive amount of processing in the
technical sense, it tends to be
more organic again, I didn’t pick up a book
and study how to use anything. Because my day job was computer
forensics and was very precise
and you’ve got a precise clock on the table
and everything you do it timed and dated and everything, so
with processing, erm I didn’t want to have a
technical head on, I wanted to
play with it. I just wanted to be a total easy going way.
So I set myself A variety of rules, why I’d do
that, I have no idea as it
makes life awkward at times! But it it’s always a single raw
file. Most of the images you’ll
see will be without no selections, or tripod and
without filters. I tend to use the brush tool in
Lightroom and gradients er And I play with the colour,
darkness – obviously there’s a
fair bit of darkness added to
this. And this, as I say, was the
first shot where I was trying to recapture that
smell, you know, if anyone has been to the farriers and
it’s the smell of burning flesh
basically! And the heat and the warmth and
the whole feel of thing So that was, I played with the
image, with natural light
coming in through the stable door. Played about with
adding a bit trying to add a
bit of warmth to arms and
trying to get a bit of heat, let the
background I mean…I take
quite a lot of shots which are larger
aperture. Not something that’s
new, it’s something that I’ve
erm fell into that I enjoy doing,
playing with more focus
selective plane and playing with the woodland
shots later on er that really expand on that,
but this as I say and I thought I yeah I
quite like that that’ll do! The great thing as
well with Lightroom you do this and I’ve got a
preset just called ‘The
Farrier’ now and you can apply it all sorts
of things. I applied it to My cat! Dark and moody! Played
around with the tones And played about with
everything else, and if we go, give us a tick, go
into developer err If I go into develop module
you’ll see I’m not going to be hugely
technical with this But if we go into split toning,
you can see the settings on the
side and that’s what I tend to play with. So when I have this,
er, split tone. We’re on Tim’s
computer! So I can’t go to the left and
show you the little presets,
but it’s a preset Called Ronnie the Cat er. If we
go next image that’s also Ronnie
the Cat! So it’s an image that won the
Landscape Photographer of the
Year, but it just shows you With the preset you can do
pretty much what you want and just replicate it and move on.
Just exactly the same tones again. That just give it a for me it’s a quick way of
working, I processed this image
probably in 5 or 6 minutes and perhaps 1
or 2 little adjustments after
that er, start off from the raw
file, and sometimes I’ll go
through the presets I got masses of now and er click
on different ones and see how it goes and just come through
them. Erm that was a gorgeously wet
day! Er I’ve had a fabulous pile of rain in
from the right erm and it was just one of those
occasions the you really sort
of er as David saying before and
walking the view and a lot of people have talked
about the image and I called it
‘The Beginning and the end’ Obviously looking
at the image you can see the
beginning of the stream and the
end of the stream but for me it was
the transient nature if you like of the stream, as it’s not
something that’s always there.
It’s only there on a hideously wet day when the water really
starts to come off the front of
the mountain. It gathers itself and rolls
down and by the next day when
it’s not raining there’s not stream there, so
it’s the little anomalies in
the countryside and little things that catch
the eye that are more err my theme of photographing.
But when it comes to little country scenes I just
love wandering around seeing the light hit er
places. We were talking before
that other people love flat
ground seeing the light hit er for me when split toning You need some light, you need
some light hitting your subject matter,
just to give it that little of a boost er, and the split
tones really just sort of
emphasize the warmth, maybe it gives it a
painterly feel I’m not really fussed about
that. If it’s painterly, if
it’s a bit painterly. It’s not something that was an
intentional thing, Erm, when I look at, err, when
you talk about influences and inspirations, erm I gave a talk last year I
think, it was a group Of us, Julian, Paul Kenny,
Valda Bailey and whatever and everybody had to give a
little talk on there
inspirations and erm, Everybody had been into
photography for a quite while Like Valda did Chris Friel,
Paul Kenny mentioned Bill Brandt, and for
me, it was a moment I was walking my dog, up over Brown Hills and
Ulswater was laid out in front
of you And erm you’re looking down
straight down to St Sundays and
you can see er Kelders, Place Fell and it
was like low cloud lifting through the trees
and whisps rising up into the
air and little bit of light hit the
side of St Sundays and the lake
was quite still below but cloud even lower down just
laying in the side of the fell. And I can still see it in my
minds eye and that’s the sort
of image that really got me into
photography. It was, I think
that was In late January 2010 and I
bought the camera I think the
3rd February! 2010 as it was a case of try to
recreate what I saw I my head When I looked, I had the little
compact with me and I looked at
it erm and it didn’t replicate
what I saw in my head So I wanted to get the camera.
I actually the Pentax nearly expired as I
took 25,000 pictures! The first year. As I said I
didn’t use a book or study on
the internet I just basically went out and
took pictures every single day
and I just played and just er
played captures pictures that I’d always seen in my head
and little scenes that had been
favourites when I was walking around. But it developed into
this more painterly style If you like. I suppose if I was
going to cite a influence nowadays it would be
erm English landscape painter James
Norton, beautifully atmospheric
stuff Erm Hudson River School, the
likes of Albert Bierstadt And you try and enhance that
little bit of mood, and that
what’s the split toning Is for me here. This is full
frame, it’s not cropped in. One
of your rules is I hate cropping er,
but this is with a Nixon DF erm, so it’s totally uncropped
but if it’s a horizontal picture then I always leave it full
width and if it’s a vertical
again I’ll leave it full width and the short sides are
unchanged. I hate cropping in,
I’d rather be far more precise. I know
when I took up photography I had a couple of zoom lenses
and auto focus, and I always
thought, why would anybody want manual focus and now I walk
about with a bag with no zooms
and about 30 manual focus primes in it! Does it make it easy
going up the hill but it’s far more fun I find,
far more, er freedom if you like creatively,
to to, use a prime lens and worth out
exactly how you’re going to
compose as compared to using loads of
mega pixels and cropping the
living daylights out of it! Not warm tones, erm, I was having laugh about
this earlier on because Er, this Stobb Dhearg and we
were having a bit of a laugh to
say this perhaps in gaelic that might mean the
mountain of the plagiarist! [Laughter] I’m a firm believer, because
I’m a obstinate grumpy old Scotsman, but I take
photography for me. Er, cos I take, when I was
working and the nature of my
work meant that Photography fed my soul, I
wasn’t interested in feeding
anyone elses. er, that’s why do photography,
and that’s why we should be really? I love the landscape
and I love being out there and
it’s the landscape that
inspires me. Er, it’s capturing these little
moments, this was This is reprocessed, as it’s
quite cool tones, yeah it’s been done to death. It sits at the
side of the road, it’s
majestic, it’s wonderful. I don’t see an issues with
people doing anything they want, I don’t like perhaps
anyone telling me what I should
be doing. Erm, but that’s perhaps just
me. Erm, it’s a difference in, going off
on a tangent, but erm, It’s something to believe in. I
don’t consider myself an
artist, I look at work by the work of Valda
Bailey and Chris Friel and I would use the word for them,
I nearly consider myself a
photographer. I was 30 years a policeman and
I didn’t consider myself a
policeman. Strangely, but I hate
pigeonholing and you’ve got to be this and that and stretch
yourself to this. Look at the
likes of Greg Whitton, Alex Nail, Stuart
Smith all these sorts of guys and they stretch
themselves mentally and
physically when they are going to these
mountains and climbing and
getting into these situations and we all do it for our own
reasons. So anyway. Off on a tangent. But yeah,
split toning here is really about coolness and
the ice mountain. I just love
the way the, water coming through. and just freeze nothing, just
lovely, just lovely, I mean just because something
has been photographed loads and
loads of times, doesn’t mean you can’t photograph it loads
and loads yourself. Weather is
always different, lights Coming from a different
direction and make the snow in
one bit as the wind is coming
from a different direction. I love woodlands, around here,
we had a horrible storm a
couple years, a year ago, that a lot
of the woodlands have changed.
Trees are down. It’s always changing, and most
these photographs, okay there’s a
couple from the Pyrenees the vast majority are pictures
from Scotland but from my neck of the woods. I was lucky enough to get
invited up to Ayr to give a wee
talk just recently and they were saying the
photographer who’d been on
before had this wonderful presentation
with little arrows pointing to different
corners of the globe where he’s
taken all the pictures and was
explaining to him before I went up, well
unfortunately all you’re going
to get tonight is half the pictures are 5 miles
to the left miles of the front
door and the other half are 5
miles to right of my front door! Err. I think sometimes we can to keen to from you know exotic
location to exotic location ermm A little image and I know this
isn’t a landscape again but it
is an example of the way that the toning can give a more
surreal edge I just wanted to capture the
richness of the remnants of life breathe a bit of life into old
tired furnishings. I did cheat a little bit with
this, I opened the window so
the wind would come and blow
curtains A little bit and give a little
bit of life. But the split
toning really is just to add a little bit of richness
and make it more about what it was if you like in
bygone days This is an old farmhouse at the
edge of Ulswater that’s been
just left as it stands from when the
farmer moved out 4 or 5 years
ago But I think it’s been turned
into holiday apartments now
unfortunately But such is the way of the
world. This is really just a
case of, sort of warming up reds just giving it a bit of
richness. Obviously changed the
angle slightly, erm, just to give it
little bit of a surreal sort of a glow. Again
another shot, just side of the road, it
doesn’t always have to be a 5
mile hike or 10 mile hike. Sometimes
the light is so nice you jump
out the car and have to take a shot. This is er Always makes me laugh when the
old Nixon 105 2.5 makes me laugh when Nixon
brought out a huge mega pixel
camera, and a lot of the
manufacturers Are saying the same, you’ve got
this lens, you’ve got to get
this lens to take advantage and are usually £1000+, when in
effect, you know this is an old lens,
30 years old and cost me £160 and copes absolutely fine with
36megapixel not an issue, but that’s a warm
sunlight tone put in. Again I just
wanted the background to blur out. Shooting at 2.5,
but again processing them in about 2
minutes erm and it really is a case of,
I just like the simplicity of being to be
able to hit a preset. Some folks might think that’s cheating and
think you need to spend 3 or 4
weeks 25, 30, 40 layers or whatever.
Erm, I’d rather not get into that scheme of
things. I was rather it was
about er just the moment itself. I not
into Dodging and burning to try and
create a pathway in. I’d far
rather just take a picture of
something’s that nice, that has
attracts my attention, takes my
eye Something that I love,
something that grabs you. Not grabs your emotions,
strikes a note with your heart. If you like, and sometimes if
you going out with folk you’re
like and I always say just point
your camera at something you
like and take picture of it. People’s
get often into this thing where you need to have leading line
and something leads you into
the shot And you almost end up with 2
pictures as you seem something
like this and then trying to
create a leading line. Well it’s the scene that
matters, it’s that little
moment, it’s that’s little bit
of light coming through It’s just the way the thing
reacts in you, for me, it went. I’m fairly chilled anyway, and
I tend to walk about quite a
lot with just a camera. No filters, just pointing the
camera. Sometimes it’s, yeah
it’s good with a tripod but you can slow down. I
appreciate some folk have busy
lives erm, they might want to take
things easy take things slower, relax
themselves down. Er, help the though processes,
help almost like connect better with the
landscape. I tend to move
around quite a lot and it’s
better with the landscape. It suits my approach but it’s
not, err, it’s horses for courses. I just enjoy
wandering around freely. I used to have a dog would
whine in about 20s time if I
would start setting up a shot so I
had to move on. Other little shots, little.
This is the key for me for, this is the raw file with
a little bit of processing, no
colours altered. One of my favourite shots
actually. Little bit by
Brothers Water. Again, it’s knowing your place
and time. I think it was Paul Wakefield’s talk, that
there was a stunning image by
Paul Wakefield last time. He’d got this incredibly
selective bit of light on this
piece of ice. And he’d been working, and he’s
noticed this little of light on this little ice and
noted the time and came Back the same time the next
time, so he was all set up,
prepared ready for this bit
light to come in, and this was much the same with
this. That’s the key about
knowing your local area. I passed this one morning and
realised that the light was
just coming over The grey crag at a particular
time, little bits of mist.
Brothers Water can tend to hold the mist in September and
certainly into October. Really
great times down there. errrrm I think right OK then, make
sure we’re in this area the
next day. The light was even better than
been it had been the day before And again for me. The pointer
is here somewhere! For me in addition to all the
colour, it was All about this wee tree at the
back. And I’m really quite errm OCD about, although I don’t use
a tripod, really quite OCD about where I’m going to put
everything. So it’s a case of
when I stand in the woods. I always stand with one eye
closed, just to make it even easier to sort
out, find the exact point where It’s forward, where it’s back,
whether it’s left or right. Swaying trying to find the
absolutely precise spot. So I
must look an absolute idiot standing at
the edge of woods trying to work at that precise,
exact spot. Where the shot works best or if
where indeed, if I can’t find
that spot then there isn’t a shot.
But when I split toned it I made it slightly darker but
erm It’s not always about
increasing the saturation if
we’re coming to the basic OK, I had to brighten it up
quite a bit, but the saturation
has decreased at the bottom
there. Ermm Because I’m playing about with
the individual colours, so when I went to final, as
everything goes into Photoshop
in the end and may be a screen
layer just to brighten that up or do
a slight Gaussian layer with
the sharpness layer just usually with misty trees
to give it a little of soft
sharpness if you like. But although I
don’t spent a lot of time err In the actual but I do tend to play about with the particular
colours because what I’ll be
looking at is little things for me that
key in, so just the little differences in colours. The
start of a different seasons,
just lovely for me. Just when it changes
to, you know you just start to get those
yellows and reds coming in. Little bits of yellow,
little bits of orange. So
really just playing with those. I tend to
use selective colour and on this occasion
it’s just been the yellow. Maybe a little bit on the
green. Even after I’ve finished
split toning I will sometimes just out a little
separate colour just to play
with. Again no pathways sort of
needed. It’s got it’s own pathway if you
like. In woodlands I tend to I think it was, err, someone
said to me that Joe Cornish. uses a phrase ‘conversation
between trees’ I tend to use relationships. I
always think I’ve been in a relationship with my
wife for 20 years, but
conversations, that might be a different thing! [laughter] But
it’s you know when I’m in woodlands,
it’s this tree there which
strikes a chord with me It’s sitting at the back, other
people will see different
things but obviously the light really helps. Errm A little of light on there just
to show this other tree coming
in from the side. A couple of folks said to me
well why didn’t you shift this this, stick. Problem is you
shift a stick in a mossy woodland and it’s not going to
bring like about 20ft sq with
it! It’s there anyway. If there’s a
little bit of gardening to do,
I might do But I don’t tend to move things
like this. It is what it is. Errm. But just you know, the
arrangement I think of these as the guardians in woodlands.
It’s just about creating Maybe a slightly more surreal
sense to the scene. But that I mean that was all
the images I was going to show
you know. I slightly diff. I wasn’t going
to talk about the technical
aspects of split toning. all I did was play with it.
There are loads of split tones on the Internet. I tend to pick
up a few ones. I then I change them, they are
just a base, a starter for 10.
If you don’t like processing and you like
Lightroom It’s just good fun you can play
about. The key is always trying
to use the tones in such a way to
enhance the mood but with out
making it look Perhaps over the top. Well, I
don’t think they look over the
top but it doesn’t matter if
they do anyway. It’s the finished product, if
it’s something you like, It’s
something you like. then that’s it. I don’t try to
question it overly much. That’s
it about the carpet of bracken, I
think this was something like
October 22, 24th something like that,
last year. Holme Fell, looking
across to the Pikes, and it was really
just playing with the yellows and the oranges and greens. The
old Nixon,I think 35- 70 which I only zoom I brought it
for. Ease of travelling when I
abroad, but a lovely old lens. But it’s
really just trying to capture The warmth of the mood, just
trying be an inviting fore
ground. in contrast to the darkness of
the Pikes in the background,
which was lovely that they were actually darkened out by
the lack of sun, but we had the
light every where else. So it
was just really suppose a combination of front
and back. And yellows and greens erm, are really something that
erm, I quite love. Single colours,
great fun with split toning
because there’s no sky in here.
Sometimes you have to be very
careful with erm certainly when you’re doing
highlights, if you bit of sky in the background,
there’s an image coming up,
well, probably explain that
better But you always have to be
careful, quite often it might
just be the shadows that Are split toned but the, you
know the larch is a favourite
of mine, is toned. Quite simple, there’s a shaft
of sunlight, lighten up the
branch, dropping down I just enjoyed the mood. Late
autumn, I think it was November last year, it was just
great fun Wandering through the woods,
picking up little moments here
and there. erm, and sometime it’s just for
me, it’s just about the, the
picture might be, Just a combination of two
colours, gold and green. I did
a wee series of gold and green. I think, you
know, I look at Erm, I looking forward to Bruce
Percy’s talk as he’s an
absolute master when it comes to combination of colours, shape
and composition. I don’t know why
it is. I’ve never really
questioned it or Examined it. You’re not going
to get a cerebral talk from me as you did from David last
time, that’s for sure! I just go with, erm, what I like and this case, I just loved the
combination of the green ferns,
they hadn’t quite er changed yet and the golds
getting lit by a lovely bit of
sunlight Coming through from behind me.
A little bit of mist, though
it’s Coming through from behind me.
A little bit of mist, though
it’s cliched mist, but again you do
what you like and I just like The simplicity of that woodland
scene with the two matching
colours and again yellow and green.
Simple composition. I love the tree
within the curve Just coming through from the
side, protecting it in the
background. I do realise there’s quite a
number of silver birch here,
but huh, I’m not going to apologies for
that either, I just love the
silver birch. It’s really is a
tree that doesn’t matter what season,
they give you something. Erm It’s just, I mean, they are
almost denuded of leaves at the
moment after the last few days, but
they are coming into sort of
different shape and form. Different sorts of fun! But
yeah, this is all about Just the yellowness of the
grass and the green. And play again with the, you
know, the exact, luminance It’s really more of playing
with the colour. If I started
playing trying to split tone the highlights in this,
then the surrounding sky would
go, which I didn’t really want
that. I wanted the background to be
erm, Just straight forward opaque
mist. I didn’t want coloured
mist, as mist can be quite awkward, as it can really
attach some colours in there. So it’s really a case of
thinking about the specific tone and using the
colours. Blue and green This is Brother’s Water, lovely
little morning. I just love it
when it’s that little softness reflection, not
to much, not little Caudale Moor there, if anybody
is in the area for a wee while and want to see
some old mines and stuff. Just
a bit of local crack, just go past the
Brother’s Water Inn and just
this little bit here which is an easy going path,
it’s not that bad. There’s some old mines in here
that are just fabulous and from
there you’re looking Straight down Brother’s Water
into Ulswater. I just, but I
just love way the cloud was curving over,
but really it’s a case of
marrying In the greens here and the
blue. Just sort of, getting a
tone that fitted in between the two.
Just getting them right in my head.
A little bit of more luminance into these
green, tone them down slightly
after the initial splits toning, just trying to match in
the colour sometimes you can be
happy with one colour and not with another and greens
tend to be, tend to be a little
bit awkward at times, but it’s a case of
just, I suppose it might five minutes to process an image and
you look at it later on and
it’ll maybe take another 25
minutes just to work out the balance and the
relationship between the colours Which is a bit thing for me
just to try and get er that all done nicely. Greens are quite awkward in
this because, it was quite,
really had sunlight! The light was coming through. I
usually me, this is actually a
stitch I had a 105mm lens on er, and
this this cloud was not going to wait for me to
er, change lenses but it was just a lovely shape,
mirroring the shape of the
trees. Just a lovely little bit with
the light coming through at the
exactly same time. So it was a quick stitch or two
with the 105 in portrait, but
again greens were quite hard with
this and even on the final tiff file that’s gone through
Photoshop I’ve changed the, err, if fact
I think it should, not sure if
it’s on here. I’ve changed the
err, Err. I come out of the greens, so you can see there that, I’ve brought the hues right
down and the greens just to to bring them, bit more maximum
a bit more mormal shall we say, or just to
fit better within the picture again, if I’d tried play with
the split toning with that then this cloud just loses,
loses, err It’s colour, it becomes paler.
Some of the reds aren’t quite
right with the projector, by the way,
there’s little bits colour that
don’t replicate too well, but it’s trying to
get a balance between all the
images and all the presentations, so there are a
wee bits which don’t work
right, but you notice if you’ve been
playing with the colour for an image for a while and then
look at on the big screen but
again, just just a simple wee scene, just
something that you see at the
side of your eye and really is a case of if I’d
been, I mean if I’d been taking
shots with the tripod, I just
wouldn’t have got it at all. It
was a case of turn And fire two quick shots with a
view of stitching them later on. Little bits in front of Holme
Fell, just selective lighting again, which
was what we were saying before.
I suppose when I look every image there’s very few
which are flat light, err
whether or that’s something I should work
on or look at more? But really
when you look at the Hudson, the
likes of James Norton and and the Hudson River School.
That’s all about the
exaggeration of light so without light, really, I
struggle to be honest. Err, sometimes you can see a
shape and form and it can work, but more often or not that will
be a black and white image for
me, it won’t be a colour image. Apart from the first three, I
don’t think there’s any black
and whites there in here. There are one or two
which are more about shape, but
for me It’s just the light hitting the
silver birch and the shape of
the birch and I always think
the trees saying before, but the
relationship with trees, err, but for me each individual tree
is different, and I tend to
surround them Because like people they have
good side and a bad side! Ermm, so I’ll surround a tree
base and look all the way
around, Look from front, from back,
from side. Move slightly higher
up, move slightly lower down trying to work out exactly
it’s being placed. and this is one from the
Ulswater Steamers, err, I spend a few weeks sailing up
and down the lake, pretending to work! serving coffees,
serving beers, and insistent that we only
serve Cumbrian lager as opposed
to Peroni which is quite good fun! Err, but the other good thing when
you’re on the Steamers, and you
can see someone and this is a line of
silver birch on the side of
Place Fell and really trying to emphasis
that this is March so they are not coming into
leaf yet. But as the sun comes
up and comes round the side as the fell comes down, it sort
of lights up little diagonal
lines, this section, but not the next
and it’s great fun just going
along because you can, although
you’re on the boat, it’s easy
enough to go up to the skipper
and say can you go left a bit, right a
bit, left a bit, right a bit,
just to get the err, just to get the right
perspective, which is quite
handy! works very well. But again
playing with the lights and dark so that almost exaggerate the
shapes. This is what I was
saying before about the silver birch because
you know you know you can play With the colour in March, with
the the colour in summer, the
colour in autumn, you can play with the colour in winter,
err, and you can decide whether
you want the image warm image stark, want the image to
be inviting, want to be cold. Err, I suppose that’s the thing
for me with tones, I’m not
changing I’m not changing them massively, I’m
changing them more to the way I
like to see them in my head. And each time
that I perhaps look one of
these images or take one of these images and
think back to that day in my
head, it is in my head how you see it
on the screen, err. So, it’s not a case of look at
the screen, I shot carefully and then try and
replicate everything I see,
it’s a case of Err you see it in your minds
eye, when you see it. When you take it, when you
process it, and I realise that
might be changing reality but err, reality isn’t
much fun sometimes. Err, again from the boats. One of those days when you are
going to work, this was October
last year, before the rains, and err, I just called this the
Belle of the Ball. There’s
trees lit up here and by using a long lens,
I think it was 180mm across the Pier At Glenridding
and the sun comes up way across
here. This is Place Fell up behind
so, It’s always a case that it’s about 9.45 it starts
to sneak round here and it
lights up so these trees are just in
behind, right, this line right
across the front this tree’s just out the front
and I’ve tried get this tree a
couple of times actually. But it changes colour, Quite early and then about a
day and a half later it’s empty! It’s always the same, it
changes quite beautifully And then you think that tree be
perfect tomorrow, and you come
in the next day and just you know, just empty! So
really was a case on this
particular morning I came into work and I think we
were late into work I was
driving the minibus, due to advanced years, I was
about the only one who was qualified to drive the mini
bus on my licence, and err, So there were about 6 or 7
Steamer employees all trying to
get into work and I was stopping every 5
minutes to take photographs,
cursing The fact that I was going to
work whether or not it was at
the Steamers err but when I got onto the boat,
The Raven, and sailed out, this
tree, just Presented itself, so sometimes
you just at the right place at
the right time for a reason. Maybe not a
case of protesting all the time, as
we’re in the wrong place at the
right time, or the right place
at the wrong time! Erm, just being at the right
place at the right time just
once or twice makes up for all that sort of thing. I
suppose showing 2 or 3 single trees might be simple,
but I quite like the idea of a sense of place with the
trees, it’s like the silver
birch are synonymous with this little area. You’ve
got Tom Heights beyond, this is
sort of Holme Fell toward Oxen
Fell Err, just lovely elegant
shapes, just late afternoon. I mean Holme Fell is just
fantastic, whether that’s in
the morning or whether it’s At night. First light you’ve
got the sun coming straight
across there, start lighting up all these trees and just after
that it’s lighting up the pigs
which are Immediately if I turn 180
degrees the pigs would be on
other side! And that the end of the day as
you’ve got this lively side
light as the suns up across
here just lighting up the fronts of the tree, just soft light
across the sides of the fell,
giving you a bit of Idea of the ridge lines, and if
I actually turned 90 degrees
left I have Coniston and it’s a doddle
to get the rays coming across Everybody goes to Hodge Close,
but walking up Holme Fells, no distance, it’s about 8
minutes to the tarns, and about 5-6 to get beyond that,
although it might be slightly
longer sometimes. Marriage of greens and blues, I
mean this is spring time in
Eden Valley, Eden Valley is a fantastic
place for conditions and for I suppose
for the romance for conditions
and for the early morning mist and the
sunlight coming over the
Pennines Quite an interesting spot as it
gets more than it’s fair share
of mist. It sitting nestled behind
Penrith and you have the Pennines, and
in fact the highest point of
the Pennines cross Cross Fell, in fact if you
could see through this mist,
Cross Fell is just about there! Err, so you get the mist coming
in and the sun comes over the fell and gives
you just a lovely little
quality of light and again It’s again just trying picking
out the marriage between this
little of blue and the green
down below. Not a lot of colour, still in
tree but this is the early foliage, and
I just like trying to be Suppose restful kind of a feel,
is what I was trying achieve with this. Not trying to be in
your face, not trying to make
it spark anything else. Just a nice peaceful,
springtime, morning really. Simple as that,
nothing complicated. Nothing complex, not trying to
overwhelm the, err, mind. Err sometimes a more
complicated scene. Err, I won’t necessarily
complicate it, I think I called
this Lost errm, as I think I was possibly
was actually! Err this is a little bit down
White Moss, and I love playing with greens and soft
greens, and whether Or not that’s growth, in fact
to be honest looking at I think
I probably prefer err, quite a few of the late
summer if you like, Err, spring is great, you know
me, sort of, in the Lakes, and you get err, some lovely variations in tone and this
would be I think early September, and
again a time of year I love, It’s just playing with the
split tones and look at it,
trying to give it feeling Of a lushness verdant growth,
again softness caused by the mist.
Err, no real thing of thing of looking
through just err, Looked at that and thought I
like that. This is one that has caused me
problems. As I was saying
before, I mean, I think it was 50mm
lens, and it was 2.8 and ISO 3200,
the reason for that being that when I was saying before about
getting the perfect point and the perfect point mean I
was balancing on the edge of a
wee bit of a slope. which would have mean that if I
was going to get the tripod, I
would have needed legs of 200ft
long! Which was bit of a non starter
really! I don’t think even
Gitzo would even supply a model like that. It was really a case
of balancing on the edge like
that. and playing, with a bit of
heavy rain And where it was coming
through. I’m not against shooting at
high ISO. A lot of latest
models out of wonderful
different ISOs as well It was a Nixon DS, that was
quite comforting and you know,
a lot of the latest models
coming out quite cheerfully The one which won the Landscape
Photographer of the Year thing
was shot at ISO 800 errm, hand held because it was
pouring again. So I have no
issues with shooting High ISO, as the problem is
obviously you introduce a bit
of noise and then you split
toning the your split toning has a bit
of noise and it’s slightly more
awkward. So I was very impressed with
the the Sony A7RII. Tim brought
one round and I took of my dog at ISO
10,000 and then brought back the shadows, increased the
exposure and then split toned
it, and it still wasn’t that
noisy. Which was, err, fabulous, as it
will introduce a bit of noise
when you got this haze up above, so you
know, really trying to increase
the richness of the greens and play about
then, it will have an effect
with with other aspects of the
image, so it’s always something
to be careful when you Look at it. I don’t mind a
little of unnatural, but erm,
to much of it can just go across. Just still
concentrating on the greens. Errm and the highlights again.
You know, really being careful,
because the key for me was the zebra type markings on
the silver Birch, just them coming out of
this bed of green. So I really
wanted to make green vibrant, which was key
for me in this image, was to
give the greens at the base, the ferns, that
little bit of a pop, that would
make everything sort of, you know, these trees rising
out. Usually when I’m doing
trees, I like to see the bases. Everything else, but I love the
way these just rose straight
out of this lovely verdant sort of, err, bed of ferns. You know, still
sticking with ferns, and with greens and sort of a
darker mist, and err, again again you can see, playing with
the wee bits of orange, just trying to
get them to come up. Just tiny little bits,
sometimes on a small picture,
you can’t really see the the effect of these. Just move
that across there. Errm, on this really, it’s just
a case of these precursors of The autumn. Spiders webs at the
bottom, just that lushness again, that wet,
verdant, swampy Just a local moss. It’s quite
nice to actually see younger trees coming up, as
there’s a lot of areas now
where there’s no younger trees
coming up at all. Errm, so it’s quite nice just
to see, you know, sort of, a
child of the forest. and…. Some occasions, two series now
err, when they are from one
morning. Two different locations, this
is a location in the Eden
Valley, a lovely bit of woodland, looks like it
could be in the middle of
nowhere, but it’s like 5 yards
from the road! It’s a narrow woodland, maybe
about, 800 to 1,000 yards long, but not very
wide at all but by pointing the camera err
carefully you can make it appear as you’re in the
middle of a rain forest or
whatever. Errm, again, I think in this
series, there’s 4 pictures in
this series, they are all 50mm hand held as I was moving
about the light was changing so they are all F4, maybe 5.6, I
think one’s 2.8, err . Just these little splashes of
colour, they are played with
individually. Err, playing with the tones,
errm, and I just love the depth
going through, just like shooting
with, there nowt new about with
a larger aperture, I just enjoy it just
to give a sense of depth. I
mean when you think about it, with the mist that’s in there
anyway, everything in
background is going to be soft,
so Why should you be shooting at
F13, F16 when you can’t certainly in low light if F13,
F16 hand held, but err. I see
no issues with shooting at F4 or
something else, have a nice
sharp front edge, and let the background fade away, create
even more of a sense of depth
if you like it doesn’t really matter, this
background is going to be soft.
I do quite like playing with little different
bits of colour that are in an
image. Err, just to give it that bit
of a bit, little of a err, different, well, just a splash
of colour I suppose to break up my greens and it’s amazing how
much they can change with
selective colour tool. I mean, I think
was shot at 2.0 this was shot at 2.8, errr
there’s no Err issues really with the
sharpness through. err gorgeous light coming form
the side. I’ve been trying to
capture this scene for ages. So it’s one of those images
that I like and it’s an awkward Sort of thing sometimes when
you’ve got a picture in your
head and and you go out, go out, because
you don’t get a lot of mist up
here, you don’t get it’s quite awkward of the light
as well. So I’ve gone up a few
times and finally got it in the conditions I wanted. I
suppose you attach far more
importance to it than others would have. It’s another
shot that would have been taken
the window of a passing car. Errm, I just
love the way that the You’ve got these gorgeous
silver birch coming up it’s almost like the arms of
the oak are sort of protecting
it the trees, it’s sort of how it
felt to me. It’s like a guardian or school mistress keeping all
the kids in the play time. I always think, err, you know.
That’s the way my my mind
works, I think with woodlands scenes, err, for me it’s the
imagination that was err. I mean one of the ways
I used to describe it was, errm was like a kid when you look up
and you see the clouds passing
by and you make up shapes, and I thought that was
originally thought and then Joe
Wright I think it was put someone on Twitter, it was
a quote from someone saying
exactly the same thing from
years ago! So, you know, there’s no
original sort of, thinking, from me. Everything’s
been thought of! Everything’s been done before.
I do think, but I do think, you
know, imagination and just being a kid. I was
just talking to Julian before
and sometimes you find I’m lucky. A lot of these
photographs are 5 miles left to the left of my
front door or 5 miles right to
my front door and I got Out walking the dog every day.
So I’m amongst this, I’m
relaxed, I’m chilled, I see it. Other people come up
and perhaps 2, 3, 4 days. They come out, jump out the car
and then have to take
photographs straight away. It’s does take time just to
sit, chill, take the bag off,
put the camera down and don’t think
about taking a photograph as
it’s the landscapes The key for me is for me.The
landscape is the thing that’s what you have to connect
with, not through kit, not to
thinking about formulas, not
thinking about styles, not technique, not
anything else. It’s a case of
like just forget about the bag,
forget about the camera, just
get out the car just wander, just chill and
think bloody hell that’s nice. Just simple as that. Just a way
of chilling, relaxing and err enjoying and then maybe have a
play with the resulting image. Errr, again, little of red down
the front I quite liked. Err, just to give it a little
of a base. But yes, So for me, it’s err, all about
relaxing err it shows you the difference in
the light, these are about 10
minutes apart. And initially when the light
hit, I looked at this and
thought oh WOW! Really like that, and actually
I far prefer is the one which
is a lot softer. A little bit earlier on. That’s
shot at F4 and I think the
other one is about 5.6 I think,
but err I just love the softness of
that compared to the hardness and breakness of
that, but the again everyone is
different. Errm, but it was intriguing,
that you know I’m was sitting
there softer light, taking the shot
waiting for the light to come
through. And then with hindsight it did
come through after. It was the first shot I really loved.
Err. Another morning, this was one
single morning that err April I
think it was Err, I split tone to emphasis
the very very clay-y soil. Blues at the
top as this mist is just fading off and err, just gone a wee
bit yellowy there just with the colour should be paler than
that, but that’s one of those
things. But I so this was one morning, and I
all I really loved, Was the split tones are
tweaked, usually what I like
doing is a split tone is tweaked and it’ll be called Ronnie the
cat or old like like me or called anything and then
quite often all the images are the same
that morning, so you just apply
the same split tone, or the same the same preset and go from
there, but other mornings, the
conditions always change. We talk about
what we said before About relationships, and I
always thought of this as the
dancers. I just love the the combinations of trees. With
this you, you can you can, warm it up, cool it
down and the atmosphere changes. As you go through by simply
sliding the temperature errm and that’s the thing with
the tones you know, err. It used to be that I always
err, process images listening
to music But errm, but you’d get vastly
different results depending on
who you listened to! It’s like when I’m in the car
and I’m listening to my Leonard
Coen, I’ll get about 50 miles
per gallon If I listen to The Romones I’ll
get about 25 miles per gallon! errm, really music has a big
effect, err, so much so, errm, so really music has a big
effect, err, so much so, I used to process listening to
music, but err, that I’ve
actually I’ve stopped now and enjoy
doing it in the peace and quiet
now actually, just err, thinking about the picture. But
yeah again, that’s again a slightly warmer split tone,
err, you know, these are all within
about 100 years of each other. Errm and all within about 15-20
minutes. It was one of those
mornings when, err, a 50 year
old Bloke running about like a
nutter err in the woods,
sweating profusely err thinking just go across
there, just go across there Errm, and it’s just like erm One of the things, that err, a
discussion with Julian Calverley we were discussing
last year, and even moments
like this For me are an adrenaline rush,
a thrill seek, err, and I might sound daft, you
might associate thrill seeking
with err paragliding off the side of a
mountain or mountaineering
itself But err, I was on the workshop
with last few days with Tim and
Len and err, we were down by the
shores and I was stood beside
Scott who’s Just up here somewhere, and we
saw this snow storm coming
across Derwent Water and I carrying a load of
injuries from some falls last Err month but when I saw the
light coming in and the snow
storm coming off I’m running across wet slate
and down a slope and mossy rocks and everything
else, and I’m thinking just be
a more sensible please! But when the light and the
conditions come, that’s you know It doesn’t need to be herds of
wildebeests sweeping
majestically across the plain,
it can just be and for me that little bit of
light and just you’ve got get
in the right position at the
right time and that for me landscape
photography is about and that’s
what feeds my soul, that’s what
makes me makes me come out again. I
don’t think I’d taken a decent
photograph in Months before this little
series, but I took few this morning, on
that particular morning, again, just combination of trees all
the darker silver birch there. In this lovely little V with
the light, the colours and the
hoarfrost at the top and you know, go out for that morning and the
pressure’s off. I don’t need to
think about taking a decent photograph for
ages, I don’t if it’s that? If
it’s the pressure of trying to produce another
decent photograph or just the fact of being there to be
honest, it’s an awkward one. One I didn’t really rate it is
this but I really quite like it now, it really does show the
condition off, it shows off hoarfrost, bit of fly tipping
there in the background One of those things, these
things happen these days,
there’s rubbish bloody
everywhere errm a pet hate of mine. Yeah,
but it shows you that’s you That’s a series from one
morning and they’re all just
slightly different, they’re all
slightly different split tones, err. Some mornings you
can get away sort of with one,
some mornings you’re really playing with each
individual one. And sometimes I use the split
tones if you like to highlight err, if you like an anomaly,
err a change in the season.
This was, I was actually stood With err David. This was at
Douthwaite Head. It was meant
to be an Eden Valley workshop,
but With err David. This was at
Dowthwaitehead. It was meant to
be an Eden Valley workshop, but but when you get snow late on
in April, it’s a case a of Via off the chosen path to try
capture some different conditions. Shot with
a slightly larger err focal
length and a and a slightly larger aperture
because I love the way the
larger aperture and the longer focal length,
and just some of the snow is
tiny and the longer focus
length just Errm, you know, you come in, to the back there and you can
see you know, the snowflakes
and it just but it is really just sort of
concentrating on on the warmth of the larch and
the coldness of the snow and then lucky enough last week it
was a similar sort of thing
where the trees are still got their
autumn colours on and this is Great Manor Fell,
if you look on a map, you’re up
for getting up for a few days And there’s snow forecasted,
it’s for what ever reason it’s
a snow magnet err and I did drag a client up
there that particular morning Errm, I conned her really, I
asked her how far it was a case of just round
this corner, this corner, just
round this corner! Because it was such a beautiful
morning, it as no way we could
miss it! But it’s only The whole hill is about 1700ft
but the snow line is way under
1000 and you’re walking from about
500 so it’s not hard and sometimes it’s quite gentle
just instead of err White’s are slightly blown
there but errm, instead of errm you know instead of a pale
grey, just emphasising the greens which
are still there. Pale blue sky,
err, and just give it a coolness if you like,
just a Softer feel. Doesn’t, it
doesn’t with that kind of conditions, I’ll go back to
a, I really like a soft grey
and I don’t tend to Errm, use any other tones. I
don’t tend to split tone the
black and white I tend to use a preset in
Lightroom. I mean in Photoshop, just
because I like the soft grey So I have a wee action in
Photoshop that just converts
everything to soft grey errm and I never tend to change
it really just leave it as is. Sometimes, I was going to say
an old Scottish joke here but I won’t as it’s dreadful,
it’s about a cake and a
meringue, but err But I just like playing
sometimes with the split tones and just err, and just really
concentrating on the different
layers and it does have quite a nice
effect just to apply it quite simply. It
doesn’t need to be complex, it
doesn’t need to be a big range
of colours, it really is Only one colour there. So it’s
a case of trying to get a good
colour match in between the two and again that’s yellower up on
here that it is in real life as the snow has to
stay white in the sky and in real life as obviously the
snow has to stay white in the
sky and err is like an off white. One from
the cir de tomuse. And again two colours err going
between err the last rays of the sun
lighting up these huge cliff face. I was here October really researching for a
workshop next year. and it is these most amazing
place. It was actually, I
always thought I always Inverpolly would be
impossible to match but the
Pyrénées was just absolutely phenomenal.
Just these, you can all the the earth being made,
just the geology Is just so immense, it’s
absolutely fantastic err, I loved it but just again two
colours. The warmth of the sun
hitting behind and then the blues off the
foreground err you know, another example of
geology if you like. The folds, you can see the, you
know the earth just being
created It’s like some, I don’t know,
it’s like some big dough ball
and over the years It’s been folded and turned
over and changed and churned
errm and just an absolutely err, an
immense, an immense place Err and sometimes it can just
be, you know, driving back past the in laws live just
along from here. I just loved
all the wee birds trying to fit into
one tiny tree. But it was
really a case of warming up the sun hitting the branches, err Sheep in the distance, shot
with quite a long lens, and
quite a big, I think it was a
Nixon, the 135 about 2.8, just trying to be
silly, again just a sharp edge, and just trying to soften
everything and hence the sheep
and the trees beyond being soft. And
sometimes it’s about toning might be a colour.
That’s just the side view, the
light of coming up from we were
talking about Stob Dearg coming up from Etive and I
think people talk about Err yuo got you got to be a
composition and you know, light
and composition etc etc and I Just loved the textures, I just
loved the feel of it, so much
so that, I did it a big print and put it
in the house err It was just that warmth the
light just coming through and
just the patterns and the little bits of snow,
the little bits of ice err, I
just loved it. Split toning it just gave it
that kick, that little bit of
boost and sometimes you just go a bit
silly err That’s a little bit trying to
get the reds right on the big
projector doesn’t quite work. But I was watching the Tim
Burton film when I was
processing this and somebody
was on Internet saying about you know
processing so I bugger it, let’s do a Tim Burton edit err
so I suppose How would Tim Burton edit a
digital photograph I don’t
really know?! But the bracken last year was
fantastic, it had yellows,
greens, rusts, reds Err everything, absolutely
fantastic, so I really didn’t want to miss
this, I’m not one for picking
out the foreground And everything else, And even
with the wide angle lens
Glennridding Patterdale Place
Fell St Sundays, Heron Pike etc to
the right, well Glenridding
Dodd actually, errm And sometimes it can just the
earthy tones. I’ve previously
I’ve only done this as a black and white but I thought the
earthy tones play about with the earth tones
might match the primordial feel
with this image. Errm I quite like the way it
finished up. Errm, just again playing with the
depth of field but you know
it’s a real the trees have a really
malevolent sort of feel to them
I think so the earthy tones worked in quite well. And
just again playing with little
tones. And colours this is High Cup
Nick this is a shot from the
side this is actually if you come up
here, You see the little walkers? It
gives you a sense of scale of the whole place, it’s
absolutely fabulous If you get a chance to go to
High Cup Nick, it’s about a 6
or 7 mile round walk but it’s
not too bad It’s quite easy goingish. December last year, I didn’t
like really to take many pictures though trying to take
advantage photographically if
you like from the misfortune that
everybody had. But I did take
one from err earth tones and just love the
grass coming through. Everything disappearing off in
the background. Really just didn’t know if I should clone
out the wee birds but they were
there. If I was printing I might Think about it but I’m really
not fussed that’s there but It’s natural, it’s there
anyway. But just again playing
with the earthy tones just playing with the sort of
rougher aspect And again another one from the
boat. Just a reflection shot not changed the weave or anything
else in that I’ve split toned
it. Just trying to emphasis these lovely silver
birch and again that’s when
we’re, I really loved it so I don’t think the skipper
was too keen to go as close as
he did but I did really want the shot so
you know. Errm it is quite nice on the
boats if they will actually
give you a shout when you’re
downstairs if there’s a good light. So it’s
Mark to the wheelhouse and the
camera is always up there
anyway so Lovely bunch of folk. Err and I
always finish off with a picture of my
dog, which has always of my
dog, which has always been
Harvey But unfortunately he’s no
longer with us, so this is Red. And the reason I tended show a
picture of my dog, was because
it was for me It’s all about enjoyment, it’s
not about sort of, the
discussion on the internet has
been about challenging yourself and doing
this and doing that. We all do
it for different reasons but we should it because we love
it, we should all doing it
because it’s about enjoyment And this is Red in the field at
my in laws and it was the first
time he got the first time he got the chance to get off
the lead and run and he just As you can see enjoyed himself.
He just loved being out there
and that’ really sort of the thing I’ll finish
with is that for me, it’s just
about getting out there Enjoying yourself, not giving a
bugger about anybody else as
you do it for yourself Not for somebody else. You
can’t take pictures and think
what would Mark Littlejohn or Julian
Calverley or Joe Cornish or
David Ward think? It’s nothing to do with
that, it’s about what you feel
about how you connect with the
landscape and err what bit of the
landscape you want to take away
with you and how you want to present
that. You might want to be more
artistic and might want to be more conceptual and might want
to be straight forward
representational you might have limited time off
work so you’re going to use the
location book and go from place
to place to place as opposed to
exploring and seeing different
aspects with your own Eyes as opposed to others. But
I think the key is to be like
Red, just get out and enjoy yourself
and doesn’t really matter how you look at times!
Basically that’s it folks! [Applause] [Applause] [Applause] And that’s actually I’ve ever
been to the time! As you would say spot in. Very
well done Mark. Cheers. Thanks
to Mark for that really good to see errm Red,
yeah Red, very good to see Red Red has more followers than
Mark I think on Facebook? I was going to start off with a
wee bit when I walked in last
night nobody commented on My pictures, nobody said how
you going, how’s the trip the
Harris, How was the pyrenees, I think
the first day everybody asked
about the dogs yeah, yeah, and I think you can
tell from this, this, his talk that he’s a very modest man and
there’s lots of that’s well
that’s just a reflection
photograph and that’s just a picture of a
tree and but some stunning
images and it’s lovely to get some
insight into the way you work
the intuitive way that you work Errm, we’ve got a little break
now. A comfort break 25 past if you can be back in
the auditorium then for Len Metcalf. I’ve got
to err Drag Mark into the lecture
theatre for torture now where I interview in-depth about what
he’s been doing. Can I have a
pint! Can you have a pint? Well I don’t know about that,
yeah! So err, 25 past back in
here please folks at the latest for the
next talk. That you very much
indeed Welcome to the green room! As we call it. I think it’s
sometimes hostility in
television where I have the task today of
interviewing Speakers after their talk and
really getting down to the nuts and bolts of what they
were trying to convey. That’s
right isn’t it? I’m not entirely sure what I
was trying to convey I’m joined here by Mark
Littlejohn, who’s just finished
his talk Err where he, as you’ve seen,
described some of the processes that he went through for making
split tone images and really mostly talked about
err How you felt them. Would that
be fair to say that it’s much more intuitive
than err? It’s more a more
emotional approach I suppose To errm a technique based or
anything else. for me I suppose it’s the key
point was really was err Picking a number of images last
year for the Meeting of Minds,
no Master of Vision exhibition and I went through
them and I realised that I was
picking a certain type of image. I was picking errm
out of the 19 images I picked,
I was picking there was 18 which were hand
held and no filters And from just wanders and were
quick images that I saw and
snapped. So it was more about feeling
the landscape I suppose to
setting up and being very
considered. You know, moving the tripod a
tiny amount at the time. Errm it was all about for me
just little wanders and seeing something
and snapping it. That’s
interesting for me Because I feel my photography
reactive as well but I take but
I take a slower approach partly
driven by the camera that I’ve historically used
with the 5×4 But also for me it’s about the
distillation and one of the
things that I find really incredible
about your work is that You many to distill it in that
moment. That you you see the stuff and capture
it. Do you, you know, be very difficult question to ask.
But err how Many of the images do you make
do you actually convey that? Not a massive amount, it would
be hard say. I mean most of the
image that you’ve seen today had been
when I’ve taken I’ve Thought Chings, other times I
just enjoy taking photographs I enjoy taking photographs
every day but I’m well aware That a majority of days you’re
going to take a photograph and
think it’s not going to be that thing but it’s little
mementos of each day. And some
days Are just more memorable than
other, some moments are more
beautiful than others err I’m well aware that when I
take some that they’re nice but
they’re not Going to be earth shakers and
other people aren’t going to
look at them but I enjoy them.
I enjoy them, I enjoy taking photographs and I think
one of the the first things I
said I take photographs to feed my soul, no body elses,
so I’m well aware that some of
the photographs I’ve taken I’ll
never show. Some other people Might see them and say I really
like that but you know, it’ll
be taken for me taken during a wander and it’s
me just keeping on playing with
the camera, playing with the Lightroom and enjoying myself.
Well I think is the key, I would never make
a picture to please somebody In fact I was having a chat
with Julian Calverley earlier
who’s got a very successful commercial career. I said to
him that I don’t have a success
commercial career Is probably because I fed up
taking pictures for other people that it had to be
personal for me. Err you’ve been sending some
your questions on Twitter and err Paul Gotts errm
said It’s an obvious question but
have you any plans to make a
book? Mark? Errm yeah I’m sort of errm fairly well through sort of
chapters outline pictures for a woodland sort of book that’s
in my head. Hopefully that’ll
be sooner rather than later. But I would hope that would be
sort of finalised and sorted Errm, next year, just liaising
with someone else trying to
sort of design and really trying to work out
in my head how much it’ll be Err when I say that, quantity,
quality whatever errm when you start when you
finish but I’d really would
like to do a woodland book. That would seem err to be the
obvious choice considering your vast number of
pictures of trees! Errm but I
know when we were working together
on a workshop earlier This year that you were being
very quite specific that you were going down the route
of it being a Eulogy no not a eulogy, errr in
praise of silver birch has it broadened out? It’s
broadened out into woodland
because there’s other pictures that
aren’t silver birch which I’d
love to include It started off with silver
birch a tree for all seasons
sort of thing but it’s
broadened out into all woodlands, it just feels a
better idea, fairer idea just
because You know, if you talk about,
look some of the pictures will
be about trees and a sense of
place Scots pine in Caledonia, sort
of thing err silver birch in various areas, slate quarries
in the lakes. Oaks just it’s got to be all
encompassing little hawthorns,
there’s all sort of trees out there. If you really
going to have a little section
on sense of place Then you can’t have one kind of
tree, it’s got to be more than
that so. You had some lovely images in the
presentation from your trip
with Giles to the Pyrenees That was just phenomenal, the
Pyrenees were just absolutely Most amazing place I’ve been.
It’s the fact that it had a
real primordial feel to it. You could take a picture of the
rock and as I said before It’s like some pudding bowl,
you can see the layers that are
changing and rolling around like on an ocean floor
or an ocean wave should I say! Err it’s just fantastic. Well
of course in some cases it is
the ocean floor! Well it is! That’s why I said
it that it that way. But I mean it’s the waves it’s
just fantastic!, So So this comes through again,
ermm you’re driven by a very deep enthusiasm for your
subject? Well I think if you’re a
landscape photographer you’ve
got to be enthusiastic about
your subject I think a lot of people are
might be more technique and kit
driven I mean if whether it’s men of a
certain age errm Perhaps like err equipment,
like particular camera, the
latest lens comes out, whatever, they’ve
got to have it. They have to
have the latest Lee Filters whether to not the shot needs a
filter or not, you know and I think a technical side of
it has never bother me. Err it’s really just getting
out in the landscape, and it’s
really one the things I said
before is when you come up and you
have a busy schedule you come
from London, or Manchester or
Liverpool, whatever And you really need to take the
time to put the camera down put the bag down and appreciate
where you are. Appreciate where
you are the wonders of what are
surrounding you. As opposed to
get straight out the car and pick the camera out the bag and
starts, bring it to the eye and
go snap and snaps Well it’s a balance isn’t it?
Because a lot of your errm Images were very reactive, you
saw a moment you saw that cloud over the
trees? You not going to see that
moment and just calm and just
chilled and just wandering
around Err you used the distill and
you’ve really got to sort of differentiate it all.
It’s only when you sort of calm
down And you chill and you relax and
you start to appreciate the
sense of wonder of it all, whether that’s a
child like wonder or whatever
else you’ve got to approach it With enthusiasm and love, err
otherwise everything just going to be good dry, and
not going to be any emotion and
it’s the emotion that’s key. Yeah, I think it was Bill
Brandt that we need to see with
the eyes of a child. Where everything has a
freshness in order to be really
appreciate it. Totally agree And one of the things that I’m
very keen to kind of errm press home with clients on a
workshop is that they have to
spend time to connect and I’ve seen you
work on workshops and you’ve seen me work and it’s
about this err, 10, 20 times more just
wandering around looking Than you do actually with the
camera in the hand? Yeah exactly, the thing is
you’ve got to be in situation
where you get to a place and just happily sit
and watch it without taking a
picture because you’re recording it all
in your head anyway, but… In fact sometimes I think
that’s the thing to do! We as photographers it can
become err to much of a compulsion sometimes and
sometimes you need to
appreciate the scene and live with it. And I think
some you talk about taking
people out and sometimes people attach too
much pressure to themselves. They arrive and expect to get a
picture within the first 5
minutes and not calmed down. Taking more pictures and see
someone else taking lots of
pictures and they say what’s wrong with me?
Sometimes you might look and
sometimes there’s isn’t a
picture there You might look at a scene and
think that’s gorgeous and let’s
think about it and work out a
composition let’s work out trying to take
an image and you realise that Err it’s bloody lovely to look
at but it doesn’t make a
photograph but of course people will
attach the inability to make
the photograph to themselves. they’ll attribute that to a
fault in their own approach and
it’s nothing to do with them It’s nothing wrong it’s just a
case of there might not be a
shot there. It’s what I call subject
failure. They get too tied up. Yes! People expectations are a
serious Issue I think. We’ve got
another question for you from
Twitter. Richard sorry YouTube. Wonderful work
and fascinating to hear more
talk About your photography and
process and he wants to know
how it’s evolved? Naturally. Organically?
Organically yeah I mean it’s an
arty farty word, but it did. It wasn’t a
case , of the questions a lot of people ask, is err,
how do I develop my own style? The thing is, your style will
find you because. You keep taking the photographs
you take. Don’t think about taking photographs
like yourself, like Joe
Cornish, like Julian, like me like Len or anybody else. Orr
think, somebody emailed me a little while back and
enclosed 2 pictures and said
I’ve taken these 2 pictures,
which one is the best one? I said doesn’t matter a bugger
what I think, the best one is
the one that you like the most. That’s the way to
evolved. I mean, I’ve really
gone through in, it wasn’t a case of, I
didn’t, I’ve listened to people
say well I realise there was a niche for
this or I concentrated on that.
I’ve never thought about it
that way. Me neither. It is really a case of, you go
out and take pictures that you
want to take and present them the
way you want to present them
and sooner or later people can recognise your shot
a mile away and you think OK
then. Yeah, I’ve for a long time
thought that stye is normally err described as a particular technique that someone uses. So
somebody could say your style
is errm, split toning, but it’s not
split toning, it’s the the, sum of all the things you
do and those should, really are a proper style as opposed
to stylistic should be about The photographs reflect, truly
reflect what you find fascinating and once
you find that thing you relate
to then the style appears. I
totally agree with that,
totally agree I mean there’s no point really
expanding on it. That’s the way
it is You’ve, the one thing I try to
reiterate to people when they
go out find something you like. It’s
basically a case of wander
around and find something you
like. See something you like, try and
relax, see things through the
eyes of a child, point your camera at it and
press the shutter release. I
think….that’s a starter for
10. I think it’s very relevant
particularly to your photography cause I think a lot of people
feel that you arrived on the
scene with a very different style
from other photographers. But
to me all that says is I suspect as you described in
the talk we’re not really being influenced so much by
other people. I mean, I’ve always, I mean if
you went to my house before I
took up photography there loads of books on painters and
artists and everything else but
there was nothing on
photography. Err so that’s just the way it’s
been. Err so I suppose it’s more an
artist you know, looking at the
Hudson River School and really
only the Hudson River School only really arrived because
other people said that’s a bit
like Albert Bierstadt or
whatever err and then you see people
like James Norton or whatever
who’s got a lovely lovely err,
style With landscape photography and
yeah, it’s all about mood,
atmosphere and emotion Well you’re not alone in being
influenced by Hudson River
School many people suggest that Ansel
Adams was to some extent
influenced By the Hudson River School
because as painters they were
perhaps amongst the first to depict the landscape without
the influence of man. We’ve got
one last question errm, Andy on Twitter that you err, I
take photographs for me. Do you think people,
err do you think people to much about uploading images onto
social media And err and waiting for the
likes to come in? I think photography has got
very competition based. You
know, you’ve got travel
photography, outdoor photograph You’ve got landscape
photography, Scottish landscape
photographer, you’ve got you’ve got Telegram, you’ve got
all sorts of competitions all
the way through. You are of
course the winner of a competition.
Try to avoid swearing there. You’ve got
Facebook, you got Twitter, you
got Instagram And it’s all…I mean these
likes, competition, they are
all sort of competition based and you’ve
got people going to camera
clubs and it’s competition
based and people think you know, and
they’ll an image And it’ll get 50 likes and
stick up another image up and
it gets 5 likes and you think
that other one is better than te and it’s not necessarily the
case. The best one, going back
to what we said before, is what you like the best. Errm
you really can’t be worried too
much about How many people like things and
how many people don’t like
things, you take pictures for
yourself. Errrm and you it’s lovely if
you put a picture on Facebook And it gets err 50 likes but
then again I’ve got to the
realisation that I can take a landscape shot that I love
and put it on Twitter, it’ll
get a few likes. I take A picture of my boxer bloody
dogs and they get 3 times as
many likes! So you know it’s just a case of
chilling, going out and taking
more pictures and just enjoying yourself. I
think there’s err a mismatch
between subject and a good photograph a
lot of the time. People will
like a photograph of something that’s a very well
known subject or in the case of
your dogs, they love your dogs! Well Mark
thank you very much indeed for joining me here today, I’m
sure you’ll continue to amaze us with some of your
wonderful photography. I’m a
huge fan I have to say. When I first
saw that winning photograph I
thought that was a real breath of fresh air in the
world of landscape photography
and errr thank you!

7 thoughts on “Mark Littlejohn – On Landscape Meeting of Minds 2016

  1. I'm eighty now and have been keen on Photography since I was twelve. Mark has proved here that I'm still learning. A really great talk and video. Need to work harder don't I ?

  2. Hello Mark and David, I only stumbled upon this video today which I enjoyed immensely. I am also from the beautiful City of Edinburgh and remember very well when Mark won the UK Landscape Photographer of the Year and gave a talk in the City of Belfast and I just had to make the long drive down to meet him – And I was not disappointed. I was so, so, proud of him. Regards, Allan Davies…

  3. Very much looking forward to my Ullswater steamers trip this week! Some incredible images Mark, never tried split toning! your subtle edits are fantastic!

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