Photographer Owen Clarke captures the beauty of the East Anglian landscape
- Credit: Archant
Photographer Owen Clarke enjoys painting with light as he creates colourful images which capture the majesty of the East Anglian landscape. Arts editor Andrew Clarke meets him on a field trip to Felixstowe Ferry
For East Anglian landscape photographer Owen Clarke creating arresting images is not just about pressing the shutter at the right time but rather is the result of how you see the world around you.
Owen’s startling work embraces both highly detailed shots which seem to exude a sense of heightened reality and atmospheric pictures which revel in their simplicity.
For Owen technology is a tool to be used or not depending on the requirements of the picture. Darkroom trickery is not something to be frightened of but, nevertheless he prefers to do as much as he can ‘in camera’ at the time the picture is taken rather than rely on post-production magic.
“For me, photography is about the whole process. From planning where to go, waking up in the pitch dark, travelling for hours, working to find a composition, praying for the perfect light, accepting compromises, knowing how to compensate for the weather or unforeseen circumstances, making the exposure and finally getting the images home for post-processing.”
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Talking to Owen it is clear that he’s a man in love with his art. He lives and breathes photography and has recently launched his own You Tube channel to pass on his knowledge to other photographers wanting to get the best from their kit.
Yet, for all his skill and enthusiasm, Owen recognises he’s still a relative newcomer to the art of landscape photography, having first picked up a camera just two-and-a-half years ago. “I am a huge music fan and I was at the Django Reinhardt festival in France at Samois-sur-Seine and I got the opportunity to use my first proper digital SLR camera and I spent the rest of the week taking photographs. I enjoyed capturing people’s expressions and found that I was in love with photography.”
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Having bought his first camera, he then spent all his time wandering around his home town of Bury St Edmunds getting to know his camera but also discovering what made a photograph.
“Using my camera as a tool, I capture what’s in my minds eye. I try and plan my pictures but you also have to be able to respond quickly to something that you just stumble across. You have to know your camera well enough to capture that happy accident before the light changes or the subject has gone.”
Some of Owen’s most spectacular pictures involve multiple images being overlaid to make one combined shot. He describes it as a still form of time-lapse photography – “painting with light.”
It’s this form of post-production sleight-of-hand that Owen has made his own. It’s a modern form of the old darkroom skill of dodging and burning. “It’s about realising your artistic intentions. While never altering the reality of what I have seen, I optimise colours, contrast and details.
“When required, I digitally blend multiple exposures of the same scene to reveal colour and detail in all areas of the image. As advanced as the sensors in modern cameras are today, at times they can still struggle to capture the full dynamic range of a scene within a single exposure. To overcome this, I do something called digital blending. I make multiple exposures of the same scene but metering for the variations in luminosity. For example: An exposure for the highlights in the sky and another for the shadows in the foreground. On other occasions I take a series of images over a number of minutes as the sun rises catching the variations in colour and light. These exposures can then be digitally blended together by hand using computer software to achieve an image which offers the truest representation of what the eye sees.”
Owen will be having an exhibition of his work at the Beyond the Image Gallery at Thornham Magna, off the A140. The exhibition entitled From the River to the Sea runs from August 31 to September 30, Friday to Sunday.
Owen has also developed a You Tube site to pass on his photographic hints and tips : https://www.youtube.com/c/OwenClarkePhotography