Review - "The Art of Macro Photography" with Tony North, 12 May 2020

A review by Jane Tearle - "The Art of Macro Photography" via Zoom with Tony North BPE3 CPAGB
The Art of Macro Photography via Zoom with Tony North BPE3 CPAGB, Tuesday 12 May 2020.

Everyone settled and logged into Zoom at 7.30pm, and with 50+ participants it was an excellent turn out for what was to be a superb evening of macro photography, both the images and the shared kno-how.

Tony North is based in Manchester and although he has been a photographer for sometime, it is only in the last four years that he has taken up the challenges more seriously, with landscape and macro being his chosen specialisms. He enjoys and pushes himself to create better images for competitions; entering club, Federation, National Exhibitions (BPE), local and national calendar competitions as well as the various major Photographer of the Year awards relevant to his interests. Tony shared some of his successes in these competitions and the quality of his work is superb. He is also working towards the DPAGB in November.

From his university psychology background Tony explained the philosophy for his photography. His interest lies in the artistic outcome and he demonstrated this with examples from pictures that he has appreciated in history; from the Ancient Egyptians to the Birth of Venus, with their inherent stories; the light and shadow in a Caravaggio to the Cezannes and Monet where the story is less important than the beauty. He illustrated this with examples from his beautiful butterfly images, including a number taken at some of our own Dorset Wildlife Reserves such as Melbury Down, when he was on holiday here last year.

High praise was given to the Butterfly Conservation Website for Dorset where you can find the places to go in the county to find your subjects … as well as when to go and what you might find when you get there. The habitats are so important for certain species of butterflies.

Mention was made of several artists or photographers who have influenced his work. Paul Klee’s grid patterns translated with a collection of autumn leaves into Tony’s image; Henrik Spranz, https://www.spranz.org/index an Austrian photographer with a technique of blurring the background beautifully and which Tony was finding it hard to emulate. He also admires the work of Sandra Bartocha https://www.bartocha-photography.com/

Tony shared with us his detailed planning for a shoot as well as the technical details required to achieve the ultimate image. Examples included keeping the camera perpendicular to the butterfly; using a monopod, it being less cumbersome than a tripod; setting your camera appropriately, with the aim of a blurred background (bokeh) and a pin sharp subject; taking account of the wind speed and using natural light rather than a flash system were all covered in depth. Attention to detail was all.

A fascinating and detailed evening of macro photography which kept us all enthralled. The evening was rounded off with the treat of some of Tony’s equally beautiful landscapes from the Peak District and a memorable trip to Scotland at the tail end of Storm Dennis! Stunning light and scenery with stunning photography throughout.

~Jane Tearle