“Design in Mind” by Rod Ireland, November 21st 2018

The evening’s talk was given by Rod Ireland and was a change to the advertised subject. Rod is a professional photographer who lives in Askham near Penrith. He runs landscape photography courses, workshops and trips, both locally and further afield. As would be expected from a photographer who has achieved success in a number of prestigious competitions, including Landscape Photographer of the Year and the Scottish Landscape Photographer of the Year, he entertained us with a superb collection of images. He is passionate about  photographing the varied landscapes  of the  British Isles and this, combined with his love of the outdoors, was noticeable throughout the evening.

Rod’s theme for the evening was his own personal journey of discovery into the elements of design. As with many photographers, his own approach until recently had been largely intuitive rather structured. More recently he has studied in detail the principles behind a well designed image. Rod now looks at six key elements. These are: lines and edges, two dimensional shapes, three dimensional form, colour, pattern, and, finally, texture. During the evening he went through these six principles in detail, illustrating each with a selection of his own images taken from various locations in the British Isles.

Rod started with lines and explained how different types of lines can create various moods.

Jagged lines for example can create unease and tension, while straight vertical lines, such as trees, can create a feeling of peacefulness.  Rod showed examples of images he had taken using lines as the main element including trees, fences, walls, jetties, shafts of light and steps. These were simple, but striking, images and they demonstrated that often less is more.

Rod took the same approach with shape, showing once again that the combination of simple two dimensional shapes can create powerful images. He also pointed out the importance of negative space which photographers often overlook.

In moving on to the third element, form, Rod explained that directional light is the key to understanding the three dimensional aspects of shapes.

After the tea break Rod went on to talk about colour, patterns and texture. He again illustrated each of these with simple images that were based around just one element from which other distractions had been eliminated.

When looking at texture he again emphasised the importance of directional light.

Finally, Rod showed a number of images where several, or in some cases, all these elements had been successfully combined.

This was the first time Rod had given this particular talk, but it was a polished performance delivered with both clarity and humour. Rod invited participation from the audience and there were numerous questions and comments which reflected the high level of interest in his work. It was a most entertaining evening and both experienced members of the audience and those less experienced learned something from Rod. I will certainly look at my approach to photography in a new light.

Alan Walker