Timing is everything. For those of us who love photography, we are familiar with the act of waiting it out to get the perfect shot. Read The Whole Story to learn more about Peter Bryenton and his dedication to his craft. Befriending Peter through Instagram has really enhanced my life - he is so knowledgeable on so many subjects I find myself googling what he comments about just to learn more!
I practically always carry my smartphone with me, using its camera at any opportunity as a scratchpad or a notebook, trying out ideas, seeing what works and what doesn't. It's a really great way to keep my "eye for a picture" in good health. I compose at the taking stage, a technique endorsed by British master photographer John Blakemore, who once told me in one of his master classes "Use what the camera gives you, Peter". It was excellent advice which broke my almost compulsive approach to over-cropping my prints (which habit had actually been editing out many subtle and worthwhile details). Another influential mentor, British darkroom guru and fine monochrome worker Les MacLean stopped me "taking" photos and started me "making" pictures. There's a world of difference between the two.
This image was made during a ten-minute wait while my partner Jane was shopping. I sat on a bench in a busy arcade, observing how the feet of approaching passers-by landed, momentarily stationary on the floor tiles, level with me, before moving past. I thought it would be interesting to see how I could convey an impression this complex motion in a single picture (video wouldn't have done so) by using an app called SlowShutter, which simulates a long exposure time (i.e. a slow shutter speed). I chose settings which suited both the pace of the movement and the low available light levels. I compensated for the time delay (lag) in the iPhone camera's "shutter mechanism" by visually fixing a point just out of frame, chosen so that when a person arrived there, releasing the taking button would eventually capture their foot when it landed where I predicted.
I made several manual exposures, reviewing each one, before luck placed this boot correctly for me. As Minor White once famously said "No matter how slow the film, Spirit always stands still long enough for the photographer it has chosen.” Louis Pasteur said that chance favours the prepared mind. You get the idea: make your own luck.
I edited the final version on my iPad because I prefer its larger screen. I used my go-to picture quality editor (Snapseed) to "pull up" the underexposed and low-contrast camera original. Finally I chose to remove the colour, because I felt that the wide range of random brown hues in the marble flooring was overwhelming the black boot.
My life-long passion for photography has earned me professional qualifications. I studied the subject in depth for three years Art College, where I was a technically competent but artistically impoverished student, outshone by some really talented people. I hadn't then discovered the artist within me. But my love of the medium gained me entry to jobs in print labs, darkrooms and studios. It furthered a completely absorbing career in BBC Television (specialising in lighting). It rewarded me with a gold medal for portraiture from the Photographic Association of Great Britain. It produced a winner in a Kodak Print Salon and, above everything else, photography has always provided me with a reliable focus (literally) for that essential balance in life between work and play. My most rewarding and successful recent photographic challenge has been teaching photography to blind children, but that's another story.
As a boy I used to read classic Science Fiction stories about heroes who used handheld communications devices. Now, that old fiction has become fact, and I think smartphones are unbelievably brilliant picture-making tools. I am in constant awe of the latest technology, where mobile devices and low-cost apps offer photographic artists seemingly endless opportunities to make pictures. I can't wait to see what's next.