Simon Parsons: 'Through An Older Eye'.


I have to admit that I was not particularly looking forward to last night's talk. As I am relatively new to photography, hardly ever used a film camera, I'm truly in the 'digital era' of photography and have little interest in the history of cameras.

How wrong I was. Last night was a really fascinating talk by Simon Parsons about his experiences of using plate cameras that are over 120 years old, also his experiments and experiences of learning the techniques of taking and developing the photographs.

I was so absorbed by this talk and Simon's engaging manner, that I didn't take any notes! So this report is somewhat lacking in details! However, his website is great and has loads of info and images, also the list of historical photographers who have influenced him - well worth a look.

As a one time science teacher, he was well placed to understand the science involved - I have to admit that the science did go over my head (often happens these days!!). He told of his experiments and showed us the final images that he had taken, developed and printed. Because of the very long exposure times, fruit and veg were popular subjects. The results are spectacular, with beautiful qualities. He had many of these images on show for us to look at. He talked about his search for alternative papers etc that were not financially prohibitive. He found Veterinary X-ray paper to be suitable. He then printed the images on a range of papers to get the desired effect.

The second half was something of a magic show that had us all 'spellbound' and intrigued! Using his plate camera, Simon showed us the process of loading the photographic paper into the camera and proceeded to take a photograph of his audience, a 7second exposure. He then put the plate in a black bag and put the paper in a developing tube, with the addition of magic liquid and other magic utterings, in about 1 minute he produced a developed negative in front of our very eyes!! Little short of magic!

I took a photo of the negative with my phone, which I will convert from a negative (does it then become a 'positive'??) later and send it round. {Added below}

Much to my surprise - a great talk, another coup for our retiring Programme Secretary.

On that note, the Chair was pleased to tell the meeting that we have now filled that position, with 2 lovely ladies who are taking on the duties between them, with a little guidance from some members of the committee, if needed. So a big thank you to Sarah Adams and Gail Cropper. I'm sure everyone will give them their full support. I will be emailing you soon with a couple of requests, so expect a couple more emails from me shortly!