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Details of Dartmoor

Brian Northmore takes our understanding of landscapes to a different level!
Our latest speaker, acclaimed photographer, Brian Northmore, successfully demonstrated how he seeks to tell stories through his landscape photography. It was an entertaining and informative evening, with something for everyone to ponder on, and one that left all of us with a desire to have a go at a different take on landscape photography.

A native of the West Country, Brian learned his art through his grandfather and father’s love of the camera, and he himself retains an impressive collection of their vintage cameras, as well as an enduring passion for the countryside that surrounds his home near Dartmoor. His presentation, entitled “On Dartmoor” says it all really, as this is where he spends hours of his time, equipped with stools, shelter and steaming beverages, taking time to really get to know all that this environment offers photographically. He certainly convinced many of us that there is more to it than we had thought!

Brian treats Dartmoor as a blank canvas on which he seeks to record his emotional reaction to the environments in which he immerses himself, and that he observes and examines carefully, with an artistic eye. He takes things slowly, and experiments with light and tone, colour and detail, all of which he encouraged us to do in the context of our own photographic journey.

Through Brian’s lens we enjoyed the often stark and barren, wide vistas of a Neolithic Age- the granite caps and the standing stones of long ago in which forests have come and gone, and are once again reappearing as the earth continues to warm. His work, often in mono, not only portrays the ancient remains of the hunter gatherers, their stone circles and long abandoned settlements that provided the backdrop for the film “War Horse”, but also the more familiar towers and ruined remains of the tin mine era, and latterly the soaring cliffs and tranquil waters of the abandoned granite quarries. However, his work goes far beyond the usual landscape images because he looks for small details inherent in the wider view, recording the vibrant textures and changing contrasts of the light and the land on which it falls, experimenting with colour pallettes and tones and all in his own time! These images are beautifully composed and he sometimes crops to square- a format not often favoured by traditional landscape photographers.

Brian explained the history of the places, exploring the moss and lichen covered trees of the ancient forests describing the challenges they pose, as well as the interiors of the tiny churches nestling in remote corners, and proclaiming the beauty to be found in the detail of the rocks in the rivers, streams and waterfalls that tumble from on high. We were left in no doubt that Brian takes his time, planning his outings and attending to every detail, so that he tells the stories of change-stories he often exaggerates but keeps believable, looking for small details and returning time and again to record the points of detail that make his work stand out from the rest. He was warmly thanked, and is assured of a request for a return visit in the future, such was the obvious positive impact on the assembled members.

We gather socially next week before our Christmas break and members are reminded to bring along 5 7x5 festive images for some light hearted fun, and to bear in mind that we will shortly require entries for POY 2023.

Jenny Short. 08.12.2023