Although Ralph Bennett is a regular attender at the weekly meetings of the Bangor and North Down Camera club it has been quite a while since he has exhibited any of his pictures. In fact the last time was in 1997 when the club met at the premises of the Royal Naval Club. That was also the year when Ralph was awarded a Distinction by the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain, one of the most prestigious bodies in amateur photography.
Quite a few members, especially those who have joined in recent years, have never seen his work but they were treated to an eye-opening presentation of Ralph’s talent on Friday evening. Dividing the night into two halves he displayed both colour and monochrome prints, most of which had won or been placed in club competitions and many of which had gone on to achieve commendations in the Northern Ireland Photographic Association contests. His black and white prints, in particular drew admiring comments as they demonstrated Ralph’s prowess with the infra-red technique – a process very rarely seen these days due to the digital advent and the expensive nature of the film.
His subjects ranged from a Donegal farmhouse to the Palm House at Botanic Gardens but it was the depiction of everyday objects seen in a different light which attracted the highest interest. A twisted metal fence, a lone tree in a meadow or the menace of approaching storm clouds – given the Bennett touch with a polarising filter they each told their story in emotive shades and hues. He also explained the painstaking procedures involved in the infra-red process, demonstrating how the film required to be loaded in complete darkness inside the confines of a black coverall body bag. He admitted that this was one manoeuvre he didn’t miss! Continue reading