“Creative Photography in Camera” with Keith Snell, October 4th, 2023

Our speaker at the latest meeting of Keswick Photographic Society did not have far to travel, nor did he require much introduction. Dr Keith Snell LRPS MPSA EFIAP is a longstanding member and a past Chairman of the club. His topic was ‘In-Camera Creative Photography’, specifically the techniques of intentional camera movement (known as ICM) and multiple exposure photography. As Keith pointed out, both of these techniques are possible to simulate with computer software such as Photoshop, but his preference was to achieve the effects in the field and using the settings available in the camera. He felt that this was a more intimately engaging experience as he could modify the camera settings in response to the landscape environment and conditions at the time of taking the images. The intention in his talk was very much a ‘how to’ description of techniques, together with examples of the kind of effects that could be created by their application.

 

In the first half Keith discussed intentional camera movement which requires that the camera settings should be adjusted to achieve a slow shutter speed, anywhere between 1/10 second and many seconds. While the shutter is open, various movements of the camera by the photographer will blur certain areas of the image, often producing an impressionistic effect or even an abstract image where patterns would predominate over representation of the subject. He emphasised that there were no rigid rules but he described a range of movements and illustrated in his images the effects that they produced. A striking image of the night-time lights of Funchal in Madeira was produced by rotating the camera around a fixed point and a circular movement, which tracked the tumbling waves of a stormy sea at Maryport, invoked something of William Turner’s impressionist painting style.

After the break, Keith moved on to the multiple exposure technique where each image is superimposed upon the preceding one; in the time of film cameras this often happened when inadvertently forgetting to wind the film on between exposures! With digital cameras it can be achieved in a controlled way, visualising the emerging composition in the viewfinder or on the back screen of the camera. Between exposures it is possible to change some of the camera settings and Keith described the effect of using different modes of blending of the exposures on the final image. He also showed the striking effects of changing the white balance setting in the camera between exposures. Most photographers use the camera’s automatic white balance setting which adjusts the colour cast to compensate for the different ambient colour temperature of a sunny scene or a cloudy scene for example. But one can set the colour temperature manually and create unnatural colour casts on the separate exposures which, when blended, produce striking abstract images. One of Keith’s examples was the interior of the Oculus building at Ground Zero in New York.

Keith also described the effects achievable by keeping a subject in close register during a series of exposures, producing an impressionist style of image. The other approach is to ‘sample’ different elements of a scene, or even different scenes, in separate exposures and blend these together. After showing many examples of the variety of final effects one can achieve with multi-exposure photography, he finished his presentation by describing what is possible with mobile phone cameras and showed an example of a multiple exposure scene at the Manchester International Festival this summer taken with his iPhone.

Altogether, this was an intriguing talk exploring some creative approaches to photography which were new to many of the members. With Keith’s revelations of the techniques needed, it is possible that many members will be tempted into the ‘dark arts’ of trying them out. They were certainly inspired by the variety of images on display and showed their appreciation for a thought-provoking talk with enthusiastic applauses.

There is an opportunity to view the photographs of our members at our Annual Photographic Exhibition at Keswick’s Theatre by the Lake from 12 October to 11 November.