On Wednesday 11 October, Jonathan Vaines LRPS CPAGB AFIAP visited us again.

His mission was to offer us an alternative to “mainstream camera club” activity and explain his artistic approach to photography.

Jonathan took his first photograph in 2011 and joined a Camera Club in 2012.  His newfound hobby soon turned into a significant part of his life.  He has had many successful images and acknowledgements and is a London Salon medal winner.

He is a member and past President of the Cambridge Camera Club.  He is also a judge, the judges Secretary for the East Anglian Federation, an Educator for the Royal Photographic Society, and an online tutor (regularly teaching processing skills to folk in North America and other corners of the globe).

In addition, he is a Paper Spectrum sponsored lecturer and an Affiliate for Wex Photo Video and for DxO Labs (known for the NIK Collection).  And he is also a member of the Beyond Group (which aims to “encourage the furtherance of photographic talent”).

Jonathan is not concerned with recording what the eye can see.  He uses his camera to create, paint and even manipulate images with various in-camera techniques such as multiple exposures and intention camera movement (ICM).  And all before he gets to post-processing.

He aims to produce “visual art”, often abstracts or a twist on real life.  He wants to convey the feeling experienced at the time of taking and offer the opportunity for viewers to see subjects in a different way.

To that end he takes a very structured, project-based approach.  He plans his shooting in detail and pre-visualises his images, often as groups, sets, or panels.  “Time planning the outcome and visualising the print before pressing the shutter release is time well spent.”  He almost always goes out with a clear plan and feels most uncomfortable if he doesn’t have one.

Jonathan encouraged us to “think inside the box” – ie, the camera – to develop a real understanding of what it can do.  Playing with depth of focus, shutter speed, metering, and/or other camera settings can “change reality”.

It is also important to understand what can be made to happen in other boxes, such as the computer and the projector.

Jonathan considers his images to be “simple pictures”.  He showed us some fascinating images of paving slabs.  Very simple shots.  Just one step in post-processing was used to make huge changes and turn them into his visual art.

Jonathan also believes an image exists only when in print.  He usually has the finished print in his mind when he takes his shots.  And he had brought 60 of his beautifully evocative prints to further illustrate his entertaining and inspiring PowerPoint presentation.

His subject matter varies from the paving slabs to Salford Quays and Imperial War Museum North, from boats on the water to trees in the woods, from beach huts to flowers, from big buildings to plexiglass bus shelters, and from sand and rocks to patterned shower curtains, with much else besides.  He reckons you can photograph anything.

He usually aims to get sets of 25 (but sometimes more) images of any particular subject.  As this often involves taking multiple exposures, he may have to take more than a hundred shots to get what he wants.  So he works quite methodically and slowly.  He then “polishes” the results in post-processing as required, usually nothing too complicated – maybe playing with the White Balance slider, or changing colours, or mirroring all or part of the image, or something of that sort.  And he produces both mono and colour prints.

Jonathan’s overarching theme was “the only thing needed to make Art is your imagination”.  And he is able to sell his visual art to help fund his projects, although he self-deprecatingly suggested that his target market is “the downstairs toilet”!

Wrapping up, Jonathan offered five key bits of advice:

  • Plan your objective;
  • Work in sets/groups of images;
  • Know what your camera can record;
  • Visualise the print; and
  • Work the project over time.

This was another entertaining presentation from Jonathan.  He has both judged and critiqued at LBPC on several occasions and Zoomed in to gave us his “Compose Yourself” talk back in 2020.

Jonathan’s words were richly illustrated by the splendid high-quality prints on display and their digital equivalents on the screen.  He is always interesting and his enthusiasm is infectious.  His take on visual art will inspire many to take a more imaginative approach to their photography.

More of Jonathan’s work can be found at https://blueroomphoto.site123.me/

A 10% discount on Paper Spectrum products can be obtained by using the code XVAI2