Chris Rigby is a Birmingham-based fine art photographer with a passion for Winterbourne. He has recently begun using a vintage analogue alongside his usual digital cameras and the gardens have provided no shortage of inspiration. Below, Chris shares some of the resulting images and tells us why experimenting with film will make you a better photographer in the long run.
“I think it’s important to understand the basics of photography, as well as keeping up with the latest gear. I don’t shoot solely in film. I also have digital cameras and of course the camera on my phone. In the field, I’ll have a camera and combination of lenses, macro tubes and filters, a light meter, some film, a tripod and a shutter release. My favourite Camera is currently my 30+ year old Olympus OM-1. It is fully manual and only requires a battery for the light meter which doesn’t work in mine!”
“Film is more forgiving. It has a tendency to retain details in shadows and highlights that would be lost in digital. It gives you texture and grain, true double exposures and greater dynamic range. Things like film grain are being emulated in digital photography and post processing. You only need to take a look at some of the Instagram filters to know what I mean.”
“Some aspects of film are simpler. There are 3 dials and a light meter on my manual SLR. If you brought an entry level DSLR, you’d be confronted with what is essentially a computer operating system which can distract from learning the fundamentals. Yes, there is a certain technique to loading and developing film, but in today’s YouTube jungle of information, there are some fantastic people out there vlogging the do’s and don’ts.”
“The different techniques used provide a different perspective, and change how I feel about an image. It’s a speed thing. With film you haven’t got the instant playback of checking the LCD on the rear of the camera. By removing that instant touch, it makes me step back and think deeper about what I am capturing. Plus there is the added wait in anticipation to see whether the settings and conditions have been right for the shot. They don’t always come out as expected and along the way you introduce that element of chance in the work.”
“There is a space for clear, low noise images, but I like the imperfections of analogue and the fuzziness around the edges. Imperfections are unique qualities that have been part of the journey to creating the final image. I recently shot the great white cherry in full blossom and there were some complications which didn’t make for a perfect rendering of the scene. By chance however, what I did get was an ethereal other worldly photograph, and one of my favourites of all time.”
“I first visited Winterbourne in 2008. My mom actually put me onto the place as a must visit. I’m glad I listened! What is great about Winterbourne is our kids are both very familiar with the House and Garden. We can give them a little more freedom to run around and enjoy the open spaces. Both my partner and I share a passion for photography so the kids have been brought up with it. This can make things even more exciting. Sometimes we will give them their own camera to join in the fun, or include them in one way or another.”
“Although I know the place very well, there is always something new to see, or a different vantage I’ve not used yet. I love springtime when the blossom is at its best. I love the full bloom of summer with bees and damson flies. I love the autumn for the beauty in the decay, and the colours in the leaves, and I love the winter for the frost on the bare branches and ice across the pond. I recently photographed the Gunnera manicata leaves back lit against the sun. They are one of my favourites. Down here by the pond and bridge is truly tranquil.”