Insights - Malcolm Macnaughtan, 21 Sep 2020

Insights - occasional articles about our club members - Malcolm Macnaughtan, 21 September 2020
'Insights' is a series of occasional articles about our club members. We hope you have been enjoying reading these short articles about some of our members and their journey so far in photography. On this occasion, here is an insight into Malcolm Macnaughtan.

Like so many members in the club, Malcolm’s journey into photography grew by following in both his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps. His father had his own dark room in the attic and so it was ‘watch and learn’ from a young age. His first camera was an Ensign Selfix 120 roll film camera, after which, having saved up his pennies, (those were the days!) he bought himself a Nikon FE SLR in his early teens.

A school trip to London and the Tower of London were his first steps on his journey, particularly after he won a prize for the best photo following that visit. However, landscape photography had not joined his agenda at this stage, but the thrill of the motor racing circuit and action photography certainly did. In those days, entry around the circuits and pits was much easier, partly because the cars were a bit slower back then! Brands Hatch was a favourite and many a weekend was spent getting up close – and watching getting into the action. Today health and safety rules prevent the public from getting anywhere near! He continued covering this style until about 2004, taking his son along too on several “boys” weekends.

In the intervening years, he did a bit of presentation photography for a local Building Society who sponsored various competitions, at the same time taking an evening class in photography at Bournemouth College. This led him to the college library and a book by Ansell Adams – and who could not be inspired by his stunning landscape images. So, the thrill of the track faded and following a weekend in Wales back in the late 1970’s, with its stunning landscapes this was the turning point which fired up his desire to switch to landscape photography.

Following a wonderful family holiday in Scotland, and a later business trip, he yearned to return to explore this part of the country further. Whilst digital has played its part in Malcolm’s journey, his passion is his Ebony 45S large format 5x4 and following a one-to-one course with Paul Gallagher using a similar camera, there has been no stopping him on his many return journeys to Glencoe and Rannoch Moor. He finds he can return to these areas time and again, with the ever-changing light, not to mention weather, creating different images and with it different emotions of the stunning landscape that lies before him. Like his father, he has his own dark room in the attic and so produces his own images. Since joining the club in 2008, we have been privileged to see these images in both competition and exhibition. He is a member of the RPS and an accredited judge.

Before he sets off on one of his ‘little adventures’, planning becomes a military operation in the Macnaughtan household, in terms of everything that has to be taken and packed in the car. Firstly, he decides on where he intends to go in that location, but to be flexible due to the unpredictability of the weather, which also needs to be catered for, including a shovel! And of course, an emergency kit.

On one journey to Coupal Falls early one sunny morning, he arrived to find one or two other photographers also taking advantage of the view, with Buachaille Etive Mor in the background. Malcolm found his spot and with the misty clouds moving in, he set up his Ebony camera ready to make the image, not digital much to the surprise of those around him, who watched what he was doing. In a very short time the warmth of the sun quickly lifted the mist, leaving just a small ‘puff’ of cloud just above the peak and in that moment, Malcolm exposed sheet of fllm. Within seconds it was gone – they had been so busy watching him, they had missed the shot!

With a large format camera in mind, Malcolm’s mantra is to “take your time, look for the view and ‘see’ the photograph and record as much information in the negative as possible. In his opinion, it is all too easy to simply take a number of pictures in the hope that one will be good with the necessary time spent in Lightroom!

Of his many visits to Scotland, Glencoe and Rannoch Moor are firmly high on his list and a call at Loch Achtriochtan, where the vista stretches out before you; it is easy to sit and simply look – a very contemplative place in its tranquillity and stunning scenery.

So, very much a ‘film man’ enjoying his `Ebony 45s, along with a selection of fixed focal length lenses ranging from 75mm wide angle to 300mm short telephoto, Lee filters and a sturdy Manfrotto tripod and geared head. Following in the footsteps of Ansell Adams he also has a Pentax spot meter, calibrated for the zone system! As Adams has said – “the negative is the score and the print is the performance” – how true!

Malcolm is not looking to deviate from landscape, but would like to develop (sorry for the pun!) his printing technique to a higher standard. Alongside that, he has a project in mind to produce a book from his many and various images taken in Scotland – and just may be in the future, work towards an LRPS or ARPS – he should!

~ Janine Scola