Everyday, I spend a lot of time looking at what people do. I look at blogs constantly, trying to find blogs I can show you, or trying to find what people are doing. It is important to keep up with what people are doing. Today’s Introduction is a blog I’ve been following for a long time and I don’t know why I didn’t think of introducing him earlier. I apologize James for not thinking of you before, but I love the photos you show on your blog Walking with a Smacked Pentax.
His work brings Catherine and Heathcliff to mind, or a 60’s cop on a motorbike. His subject matter has a wonderful air of romance and history. Perhaps I should go to my first question.
I asked James where in the world he was.
I live in a small market town in Yorkshire, England, near the famous Ilkley moor – about 12 miles from Haworth where the Bronte sisters lived and 30 miles from where James Herroit practiced.
There is something quintessentially English about the countryside that he is photographing. Country lanes, stone fences and a sparseness to the landscapes. I love them, and ever since reading Wuthering Heights in high school it is a place I’ve wanted to visit. I would be walking around calling out to Heathcliff.
The second question was how long he had been taking photos and why.
I started taking photos about 40 years ago. My friend was into photography and I was curious. I bought a Praktica slr and started photographing anything I saw. At that time I was living in a small flat but I converted the bathroom into a darkroom and even mixed up my own developer from some recipes I discovered in an old BJP magazine. I even progressed to developing colour using Cibachrome and C41. As I got better I started selling photos to magazines and newspapers and became a freelancer for the local rag. I had a couple of exhibitions and photographed the local bands and even the occasional wedding. It was a nice sideline and eventually I earned enough money to do it full time.
At that time I was living with a crazy woman, and one day she accused me of having an affair (I wasn’t) but in a jealous rage she poured boiling water all over my negatives and slides and destroyed all my work. I didn’t pick a camera up again for 20 years.
About 5 years ago a mate of mine rang me and asked if I wanted to buy his old camera – a Pentax K10D. I was uncomfortable with the idea but he persuaded me to try it and I have been hooked ever since.
Why do I take them?
For the 20 years that I didn’t have a camera I felt something was missing from my life – and I didn’t know what it was. Getting behind a camera again just opens your eyes, you see the world differently – clearer. The day I took the Pentax out changed me. It felt ‘right’ to be behind a camera again and I felt almost ‘healed’. It just felt so natural.
The colours and things he finds to photograph where he is are wonderful, there is a great sense of mood in his images. The clouds fit perfectly with how I think the Moors would be.
I asked about inspiration.
These days I take nothing but landscapes. I am surrounded by the moors. I love them, they are wild, bleak, beautiful and even haunted. They are very special and many of them contain traces of our prehistoric ancestors with strange rock carvings, stone circles and burial mounds. I love exploring and photographing these. I can spend a full day on the moors and not see a soul.
I think how James just described the Moors is far better than what I could say and when you look at his images you see the wild, the bleak, the beautiful and the haunted. Perfect description.
Then there is the question asking if there was anything special about the way he worked.
I have recently been asked to provide the photographs for a book on the Mythic landscape which a local author (and very good friend of mine) is writing.
What would an introduction be from me if I didn’t’ show some winter shots. You all know how much I love photos of snow. I don’t think I really realized that it would snow there and these images were a treat to find on his blog.
The last question, as always, concerned gear.
I have no interest in photographic gear one bit, and I don’t know one camera from another these day. I sold the Pentax a year ago as it was just too heavy (try lugging it on a 30 mile walk with 2 extra lenses and a backpack). I chose a Nikon D3200 as it is much smaller and lighter. I have a 70-300 but have never even taken it out of the box yet. I have a tripod but never use it, and I don’t use filters either. Everything is done with the kit lens – although I would like a super-wide angle – maybe a 12 – 16 mm.
I use Lightroom for cataloging and do almost no post-processing.
I would like to thank James for giving me permission to feature him and his work here on my blog. I would invite you all to go and take a look at Walking with a Smacked Pentax. I have put some of my favourite images from his blog into a gallery for you now, I’m sure you will find lots and lots more great one on his blog or his website, James Elkington Photography.