11th February 2015 - 'Wild West Country' with James Osmond

When you think of an image of a landscape does something like a Constable rural scene spring to mind? Or maybe gentle rolling English hills or the Peak District? Well how about the mud flats of Sand Bay north of Weston-super-mare?
For James Osmond who presented his excellent talk ‘The Wild West Country’ recently you can find beauty in any of the above and his pictures certainly proved it. Taking a picture of dry caked mud is one thing but being able to turn into something worth looking at is a skill that comes with many hours of working with and understanding the landscape.
James showed a wide range of images of Somerset and the West Country revealing a painter’s eye for shape and tone and an understanding of the harmony of the landscape. A fairly common shot of Burnham lighthouse was transformed by the use of different viewpoints whilst a view of Cheddar Gorge came alive from a high viewpoint enabling a snaking s-shape of car lights to be offset against the imposing cliff face. An ability to read the landscape was also evident in James’s work. He is always looking for what he called ‘acceptable coherence’ – how elements in a picture work together. So whilst the lone cloud or the lone tree are fairly stock motifs to use in a picture, what lifts the image is the ability to counterbalance this with other aspects of the land.
In the second part of his talk James explained some of his techniques in pre and post production. The advantages of bracketing exposures enabled a perfectly exposed shot despite shooting directly into the sun whilst the unorthodox use of a hand in front of the lens reduced flare spots. Finally he amazed the club with a range of shots involving focus stacking and image stitching culminating in a fantastic image of Symonds Yat composed of no less than 60 frames!