Insights - Tony Gill, 03 Jun 2020

Insights - occasional articles about our club members - Tony Gill, 03 Jun 2020
'Insights' is a series of occasional articles about our club members. We see each other, we chat and we even sit next to each other on Club Nights but do we know about their path to photography. Each month or so we will chat to two of our club members to find out.

During this time of self-distancing, it was great to have the opportunity to chat with Tony Gill about his photographic journey.

Like many people he was given a camera when he was young – remember the Kodak Pocket Instamatic (110 format), with which he took hundreds of terrible photos, but that sparked his interest which has continued since. When he was about twelve he got his first serious camera, a Pentax ME Super. After that he was always taking pictures on family holidays or near to where he lived.

For Tony, photography is really about trying to make sense of, and being connected to, whatever he sees around him, and that goes for all genres of photography, not just landscapes. For him, being out in the landscape at any given time, whether it’s the early morning air or the evening light, is as much about the experience as anything else. Taking his camera kit with him is the best way to create something that’s both personal and memorable - that’s his motivation. Although it can be quite a solitary pursuit he is more than comfortable with that!

With regards to where to visit, there are many places that naturally lend themselves to being photographed (so-called ‘honeypots’) and plenty of these get ticked off, but actually it’s a combination of the time of day or year and the weather that will make the decision for him. Local haunts can be just as rewarding and there’s a local wood he visits during each season. If he is visiting somewhere for the first time, he will do some online research - it really helps to know the lie of the land before setting off. It can be interesting to see what other photographers have made of a place, but he feels it’s crucial to find your own approach rather than be influenced by others. For return trips to more familiar places he will normally let the conditions dictate what he shoots and has often moved on to a different location if his original choice just wasn’t working out.

There’s plenty of publications keen to dispense advice before you set off on any venture, but simply put, he says it’s about giving yourself enough time (no-one takes a good picture when they’re rushed) and treating the landscape with respect when you’re out and about. Another good tip if you’re heading out early, is to quickly turn on your camera the night before, this way you’ll know immediately if the battery needs charging and if there’s a memory card inserted. We’ve all heard stories of people going out with a near empty battery or worse still, no card in the camera! In terms of style it’s really important to plough your own furrow and be prepared to make your own mistakes photographically; it’s all part of the learning process.

Keeping your wits about you is also important, even when exploring the landscape. One morning when he was walking around Chase Woods he met a chap coming the other way in a Land Rover. He asked if Tony had seen any deer and yes he had early on. He then said how he used to work at the nearby golf club, but now worked on the estate - ‘Greenkeeper to Gamekeeper’ was his phrase - and pointing to the rifle on the passenger seat explained that he did a different kind of shooting. “By the way”, he shouted as he drove off, “Best to stick to the paths, just in case I mistake your tripod for a set of antlers!”

Of all the images he has taken, he feels some have dated better than others, so perhaps in time these will be the ones he will treasure most.

For those of you who like to know Tony’s camera preference, currently he has a Canon 6D II, plus a Mark I and 5D II as back up. For a full frame camera, the 6D II is light, relatively cheap and controls noise very well. Lenses vary from a Canon 16-35mm right through to a Tamron 150-600mm so he has all focal lengths covered and usually keeps something wide on one body and a telephoto on another. That way he doesn’t have to waste time changing lenses out in the open. This all adds to the weight of course so at the other end of the spectrum he is just as happy walking around shooting handheld with nothing more than a Fuji XT-30, which is a great little camera and very versatile.

As for the future, there’s some styles of photography he avoids that involve set-ups or lots of post-production work, which he just doesn’t find that interesting. Landscape-wise he is more into anonymous places these days, which can be just as rewarding as any of the big, celebrated locations. In addition, he is also doing plenty of ICM - Intentional Camera Movement - work: the more manufacturers push the technology and megapixels the more he’s interested in producing images that are lo-fi, more impressionistic and distinctly indistinct!

Watch this space!!

~ by “Camera Shy"