Feb 2019 Ken Monk

Welcome to our monthly focus on one of our Society members.

For February 2019 we talk to Ken Monk.

Hi Ken!

Can you tell us what first got you interested in photography?

As a youngster out in Singapore. My father used to do his own monochrome developing and printing. He bought me a Box Brownie and led me through doing some contact printing.

Then there was a darkroom at school for the sixth form, but I didn’t have a camera at that point.

I bought my first “real” camera when our first son was born – a Rollei 35, the compact camera of the time. A windfall many years later allowed me to buy an SLR.

Some years later a friend at work took me along to his camera club – and I was hooked.

What type of photographs do you most enjoy taking?

I started with family snaps, then started taking landscapes. Via that camera club I was introduced to Nature photography and find it fascinating when done at the macro level. Details appear, especially on a big print, that are simply not visible to the naked eye.

What type of photographic equipment do you use?

My first SLR was a Minolta 700. I have stayed with this range ever since, even when they stopped production and Sony took over their development. Earlier this year I upgraded from a Sony Alpha 77 to a Sony Alpha 7Rii. Via an adapter, most of the Alpha 77 lenses fit the 7Rii, including the macro lens.

Can you identify some photographers that have inspired you?

For the Nature interest the one photographer who really got me started was Laurie Campbell. I came along to the lecture he gave put on by DPS some years back. The club I belonged to at the time, Northampton CC, arranged two coaching sessions with Tim Newton which gave me better skills and more incentive to do better in the Nature area, particularly the macro side. This was when I first bought a macro lens.

Can you show us a selection of your photographs each with a short explanatory paragraph ; what inspired you to take the photograph or process it in the way you have?

Longhorn Beetle

This is an image taken back in 2007 at the summit of Skiddaw in the lakes. We had just finished lunch when this insect landed next to us. Identified for me by Tim Newton, the comment made was that it was not a rare insect, but not one usually found at that height (over 3000ft). Just after this a sawfly flew into my wife and again Tim identified the bug – with the same comment about location!

In this image I noticed that the leg joint closest to the camera looks like a ball joint – but it has no apparent means of control. This is what I mean by seeing things not usually visible with the naked eye. I find these details fascinating.

Bearded Dragon

The above image was taken in 2006 on the back lawn of my son’s home out in Western Australia. The house was close to one of the swamp areas remaining in Busselton. The viewpoint is very low (quite appropriate, I think) because I was lying flat on the lawn to get the image. This image was “developed” in ON1 Photo RAW, my current favourite photo software.

Brecon Panorama

This next image is the very first panorama I created. It was taken from an old Roman fort to the north of the Brecon Beacons – on film. This is six scanned images saved in .bmp format and merged in Panorama Factory.


This image is an HDR created from five digital images of a small chapel (a historic property for the area) near a township called Manjimup in Western Australia. It is an early example and it demonstrates just how difficult it used to be to get a good result back in 2009.

The image is a combination of the output of three different HDR programs none of which gave the tonal balance I was after. It is much easier with modern software!

Norbury Church

This next image is a church interior. They are very difficult to capture in full detail in a single exposure because of the extremes of light and dark. One of the older members of Northampton CC, Gordon Groome, gained his Fellowship of the RPS with a set of church interiors. It took 10 different exposures on paper to produce a single monochrome print from his 5” x 4” negatives. Digital is so much easier nowadays. This image was produced from 5 exposures.

Sgwd Ddwli Uchaf

This is a recent landscape taken on a waterfall walk down a valley near Brecon. In a club competition, the judge didn’t like the water – it was not blurred enough! Both my wife and myself prefer this image to one at the same place with more blurred water, proving that judges are not always right. They seem to have expectations for some types of image and don’t approve if you do something a little different.

Australind Drive

The final image is another from Australia. We took a drive to a small township called Australind, just north of the larger township of Bunbury. As we were leaving Australind we spotted this “fake” old cottage. Look carefully and you will see that it is all a sham – there is no rear wall to the property. The man and the dog are dummies. It was in the “front yard” of a larger property; one obviously with an owner with a sense of humour. I enjoy finding these quirky images.

How do you see your photography developing in the future?

Trying to improve the quality and range of my Nature images, perhaps photographing more birds and mammals. I can’t stop the landscape side, though, even if it is not currently “fashionable” in competition circles. The inspiration here is the magazine “Outdoor Photogaphy” which I have read from issue 1.  The current issue at the time of writing is 238. Laurie Campbell has had a column in the magazine from the start!

Thanks Ken for sharing your thoughts and images. A superb selection of photographs and fascinating insight into some of the techniques used over your years as a photography club member.