“We live in a wonderful place!”
John Miskelly left his audience in no doubt that although he had photographed breathtaking vistas from the architectural wonders of Venice to the Imperial majesty of India there was still much to marvel at on our very own doorstep. Pictures of North Antrim’s rocky splendour and the misty Mournes mingled with atmospheric dawn and dusk shots of secluded little bays and beaches in his array of landscapes which illustrated his talk to Bangor and North Down Camera Club on Friday evening.
John had already carved out two successful careers ( as an audio engineer and an accountant) when he decided that what he really wanted to do was to take photographs so he followed his heart and became a professional photographer. Initially the bulk of his work entailed weddings and commercial assignments but after a life-changing visit to Venice landscapes became the central focus of his output and he gave the members an insight into the amount of dedication required if one is to succeed, or at least fulfil ones own ambitions in this medium.
To utilise the best lighting conditions he normally works at dawn or dusk. In “the golden hours” the colours are enhanced and the scenes take on a richer hue. Rising at four or five o’clock on a cold winter’s morning to drive to a desolate beach or mountain is part and parcel of the job. Sitting for hours waiting for the clouds to disperse and the sun to break through and returning to the same scene a dozen times to ensure the right conditions is par for the course. The hardships of the way of life was brought home vividly by a picture of John wading chest deep through the icy waters around the Western Isles of Scotland. He had been so focused on the shot he was taking he hadn’t noticed the tide coming in and surrounding the rock his tripod was standing on.
It can be a lonely existence as well as usually these trips are unaccompanied and the landscape photographer needs to be happy with his, or her own company for long periods. As well as all the photographic gear- camera, lenses, flash guns etc John packs essentials like wet weather gear, cooking stove, small tent (sometimes) ,torch, map, phone and food. He has to be prepared to negotiate unknown and sometimes very rough terrain ; this can involve potentially dangerous ventures particularly on mountainous regions or cliff tops.
There are many ingredients in the making of a good landscape picture but the most important,according to John, is the emotion the scene invokes in the photographer.
John’s website is www.johnmiskellyphotography.co.uk