Ken Rennie, 15th February 2023

15th February saw Keswick Photographic Society welcome back specialist landscape photographer Ken Rennie with his presentation entitled “Finding Beauty in Nature”. Ken had been an important member of the society up until last year, but living near Brampton made attending our meetings an increasing challenge. He has had work accepted in a number of prestigious exhibitions including Landscape Photographer of the Year and Edinburgh Festival Exhibition and has been published in Landscape Photography Magazines and in the past contributed significantly to Keswick’s success in both international and national photographic competitions.

 

 

Ken described the main categories of photographs that he has pursued over the years commencing with “Grand Landscapes” heavily featuring the Scottish hills as well as Cumbrian fells and valleys but also some epic areas on the Continent, some of which he travelled through on his bike. His is keen to revisit favourite spots and showed us different pictures of the same vista taken over a number of years as he searched for the perfect combination of light and weather conditions. He warned against being seduced by a pretty view and not taking into account the subtleties of maximising the most satisfying composition with the important elements sitting in a pleasing position. Not averse to removing distracting elements or adding in others at the processing stage, even if it is only lightening appropriate patches to simulate sunlight, he is not out to achieve total realism but create something believable, which shows what attracted him to take the photograph in the first place and which hopefully creates an emotional response. He will always ask himself at the time if he has made the very best of the location and the conditions that he could.

 

 

Such perseverance and attention to detail was also evident in his pictures of the next section of the talk concentrating on “Waterfalls”, both in the large scale and in small details. He is a master of slow shutter techniques, but will often blend three or more images to have elements of sharp stationary foliage together with blurred milky water, and/or detail in both a bright sky and in dark rocks in the combined result. He is very skilled at this and other processing manipulations but stresses the importance of processing manipulations not being evident to the final viewer. A section of “Monochrome”, (black and white), images included a number of waterfall shots, especially those focussing tightly on small cascades and the swirling effects of foam on the “splash pools” under the waterfalls, that appear with a long  exposures. Many of these require delicate positioning of both himself and tripod over some wet and mossy areas and Ken stressed the importance of being on the right side of precariousness when manoeuvring.

 

Other favourite subjects for monochrome included winter trees with those combined with snow and perhaps a stark fence being especially successful.

 

“Nature” subjects were not neglected with some exquisite flower and insect macro-photography and a few “People shots”, most memorably of a prettily dressed tourist standing in a lavender field in Provence which he made especially timeless by digitally removing the rather annoying arm and hand holding her mobile phone! A more recent project has been a concentration on “Seascapes” often combined with “Intentional Camera Movement” where the camera is moved slightly during a slow shutter opening in order to deliberately capture a pleasing and atmospheric blur.

 

It was a real pleasure to see both Ken and his work again, many of them images we have been familiar with over the years, but with plenty we had not seen before. Although he delivered his talk with projected images, he brought along a number of his exquisite and highly accomplished prints for us to view at the tea-break and after the talk itself.

Tony Marsh