Portraits to the fore with John Gardner

On Monday 25th March our “resident” professional John Gardner gave one of his excellent presentations. However before he had chance to get going, Steve Wood, our president made a presentation to John to express the thanks of the club for all the contributions he has made over the years. For those that know John and his work he has a real passion for wildlife and his images of the same are often spectacular. It was appropriate, therefore, to present John with the trophy for the natural history competition which no longer takes place. John in his thanks said that it was the prize he was always trying to win.

John started his talk with a little introduction to himself for new members and then outlined his topic for the evening – Portraits. In both his professional and personal life he is often taking portraits whether of corporate staff or models. He has found that he enjoys photographing people and has turned his hand to street photography in its widest form. As you are not normally in control of lighting and action then you have to work harder at street photography to get the results you would like. For portrait work he lights to shoot with wide open apertures to try and isolate the subject(s). For his studio and commercial work he always uses flash to create a balance with available light to create an even exposure.

As usual John’s talk was combined with a continuous parade of superb images to illustrate all the points he was making. This made it a very practical talk giving tips and reasons for choosing lighting/exposure/situations to get the image.

In the second half he concentrated on pure studio work with flash and no natural light. He explained how he set things up and why, the technical details of the shot and some of the processing he does with the images. He has started to do some composites, dropping in a totally different background to the one used in the model shoot. He explained how he uses dodging and burning to enhance the image and to create the shadows and highlights he wants. This allows him to (say) emphasise cheek bones and/or muscle tones. It helps to create real depth in the image. To help understand the effects he showed us before and after images of some of the shots and the results were at times dramatic. Towards the end John showed us some of his “dressing up” shots including American diners and zombies.

It was another great evening from John which was warmly appreciated by the audience. Everyone is looking forward to his next club event. Thanks John.

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