Review - "The Dragon in Monochrome" with Margaret Salisbury, 08 Feb 2021

A review by Janine Scola - "The Dragon in Monochrome" with Margaret Salisbury FRPS MFIAP FIPF FSITTP FSINWP AWPF APAGB, 08 Feb 2021
An evening with a difference, and a pleasure for us to welcome Margaret to our latest meeting. Margaret resides in Prestatyn in Wales and is well known in the photographic world as the ‘Welsh Dragon’, quite simply because of her signature on her many prints. Margaret is a committed ‘print worker’ as in her words, ‘print is the final act in the performance’ that is photography, and as a result she is sponsored by Fotospeed.

Margaret started her photographic journey by going to evening classes, because every now and again she borrowed her husband’s camera, he tried to teach her the basics - and then enrolled her on a course! From this point on, the ‘Welsh Dragon’ went from strength to strength; she joined a local Camera Club which were so supportive and this in turn increased her confidence and interest. For Margaret, it is not simply the process of composing and taking her picture, but also the story behind it and the emotion that evokes. This was shown by her images of the Welsh slate valleys and of an industry long since gone – although originally taken in colour, Margaret decided to convert them to mono – this changed the whole impact of the picture and the rawness of the harsh landscape. Her first Fellowship was based in the north of Wales and these very slate areas. A little-known fact – the internal ceiling of the Sydney Opera House is built from Welsh slate.

Within her landscape images, she showed her favoured ‘triangle’ as a compositional style – from the slate valleys to the snow-covered pine forests. Amazing images, with one referencing the ‘S curve’ which leads the viewer into the picture, giving it depth – this is known as ‘Hogarth’s line of beauty’ – and the image was certainly that! In another image, Margaret had taken a dramatic view, with a tree in the distance, but by simply altering the perspective and bringing the tree nearer to the foreground, this changed the dimension of the image.

Light of course plays a huge part in landscape photograph, as does the weather. In Margaret’s forthright, but very humorous style, she brought a whole new meaning to the ‘hotel shower cap’ – which can make an easy and on-the-spot waterproof cover for the camera!

During the last twenty plus years, Margaret has spread her wings and travelled to many countries. For her the people of Africa presented some wonderful portraits, whilst the magic light of New Zealand gave stunning landscape images. The maxim of her travels is simply that “your photography should remind you of a wonderful experience and in so doing, memories”.

This led us to the stunning portrait images of the people and children of her travels through Ethiopia and the harsh landscape in which they survive. She reminded us of the importance of getting to know your subject, and in so doing, giving a more natural response to the camera, as well as the background which can make all the difference to the impact of your subject. Sometimes by cropping into a face, by looking into the eye, you are almost looking into the soul of that person and their story. Amazing images of hands gave another different perspective and in mono, really accentuated “the life they had led”.

Animals have also featured on her travels and none more so than the elephant and taken in mono, this showed the hairs on their trunk which would otherwise have ‘disappeared’ in colour. Margaret’s fun story of being able to photograph the Komodo Dragon, whilst she admitted it was not her best image, it provided her with a happy memory and experience in her wish to see these mystical creatures.

Creative also features in her photography genre, where she likes to have fun and experiment. This was highlighted by her image of the Red Arrows in formation, being led in equal formation around them by puffins – of course you do, and what fun and many a smile by our members.

A wonderful and interesting evening, taking us on Margaret’s outstanding photographic journey and along the way making us think a little ‘outside the box’ and how, by converting an image to monochrome, it can bring a whole new meaning to your story.

~ Janine Scola