Welcome to our monthly focus on one of our Society members.
For July 2018 we talk to Mike Parmee ARPS CPAGB.
Can you tell us what first got you interested in photography?
I became seriously interested in photography when I was in my twenties, I had my own darkroom but only for black and white as I couldn’t afford the enlarger and equipment for colour. For colour work I used Kodachrome 64 slides which left no room for error.
As family and career came along I became a simple family snapper and like others mainly recorded the family as it grew up. My interest in serious photography was rekindled when digital started to come of age which for me was about six years ago.
What type of photographs do you most enjoy taking?
Sometimes I think that I should be specialising in a particular genre of photography but I enjoy taking pictures of just about anything although as I belong to the RPS Visual Art Group many of my images tend to be on the “arty” side of photography.
I enjoy Macro as this lets us see many things which the human eye passes over. I gained my Licentiateship of the Royal Photographic Society in 2014 and my Associateship of the RPS with, mainly, macro images of plant seed heads in 2016. I achieved my CPAGB award in 2015. I really believe that working towards these distinctions helped me in my photography hugely.
I enjoy the manipulation of images both in camera and on the computer and feel that a good image should often have a feel or a mood to it that engenders some sort of feeling or emotion in the viewer and as I rarely achieve this straight from camera I create it in post production – photography is, to me, an art form and nothing (within the rules) should be taboo.
What type of photographic equipment do you use?
My first camera was a Zenit E which was Russian made and seemingly carved from a solid block of metal! I progressed on to Nikon and used a Nikon Fm and FG for many years. When I came back to digital I stayed with Nikon mainly because I could continue to use some of the legacy equipment that I had kept.
I currently use a Nikon D810 and for most of the time I have a Nikon f2.8 24 – 70 mm lens attached. I also have the Nikon 70 – 200 mm lens, a 50 mm f1.8 and for macro I use the Sigma 105 mm f2.8.
Can you identify some photographers that have inspired you?
I am aware of most of the great photographers but can honestly say that I have not been overly influenced by any of them and have really decided to explore on my own.
Belonging to the RPS Visual Art Group continually inspires me and current Photographers like Nicki Gwynne – Jones, Viveca Kho, Irene Froy and Colin Trow-Poole are constant sources of inspiration. I believe that it is important, for me, to be involved with competitions, exhibitions and salons at local, national and international level.
Two things happen – one you get to see some superb work which begins to tell you what standards of photography are achievable and secondly you get the chance to find out if your work is at or near that level.
After a while of absorbing photographic work of that standard you will ” instinctively” know a superb image from a good one.
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?
I had seen wonderful images of the Norfolk Coast and came back with a card full of very disappointing images. After attending an Irene Froy workshop I was enthused by her ability to produce stunning images from what can only be described as pretty ordinary files. I used some of her techniques and a few that I invented myself to create what I had intended to see in Norfolk.
All the Way to the Sea
Another one of the Norfolk Coast that got the treatment. I wanted to show the great empty sands with the estuary winding out to the sea. I added the birds to give the feeling that they were also heading to the sea. Lots of treatment to get the misty indistinct seascape and removal of all unwanted bits/figures.
Blue Flowers and Grasses
While travelling through Spain and Portugal in the Motorhome I came across these beautiful grasses with their seedheads and felt that I could incorporate the into an image, I wanted a high key image with a dash of colour and spotted these little blue flowers in the garden. Soon had a table top set up using garden fleece and what was lying about as props. Lots of work post production to get the effect that I wanted with those startling little blue flowers against the high key background.
A Stitch in Time
Originally enthused by my friend Eric Tatham who talked to me about the light painting of Harold Ross. I just had to have a go so I unearthed the old sewing machine which had been languishing down in the shed for years, got it onto my tabletop studio and, after a bit of grunging and dressing, I light painted it with a torch using about eight exposures which I then blended together. Back into my files to find an appropriate figure to set behind the machine. Both that image and the background were from a workshop at the black country Museum. I thought that it gave a context to the old sewing machine.
Through a Broken Window
I kept walking past my rather sad looking greenhouse and kept seeing those poppies behind the broken glass. I knew that it was a picture that I had to take, so I did.
When I got it into the computer it just wasn’t quite right. The piece of poppy showing through the window was not strong enough, so I found another poppy, cut it out, fiddled and diddled till it fitted and put it in then added a layer of raindrops and a few other poppies behind the glass. The original file is just a canvas that I can “paint” on.
Waiting for Dad
I swore that I would never do what I call ” dressing up” set up photos but I was persuaded to go on a two day workshop with Smethwick PS at the Black Country Museum in Dudley. I did enjoy it! This is one of my favourites from the day and although these little ” child actors” love hamming it up I just caught this one off guard for a moment as she stared into distant space. Some cleaning up/cloning out and “punch” gave me the image that I was looking for.
For me titles are important as they will immediately steer the viewer to what you want them to feel when they view your image. If I cannot very quickly think of a title that I like and suits the image it often means that, to me, the image does not work because it does not have a strong point to make.
How do you see your photography developing in the future?
I sometimes feel that I am only just starting the Photographic journey as there is so much to learn and so many pictures to take. As was truly said ” The best picture that I shall take is the one I shall take tomorrow ” or words to that effect.
I want to get better, I want to take “Superb” photos not simply “good” ones. If I ever achieve that I shall be content ( momentarily!).
I am often goaded on by remembering what the picture editor said to the young cub photographer when the young snapper asked how they could take more interesting photos “Stand in front of more interesting things” said the editor.
Thanks Mike for sharing these insights and a few of your superb images.