Published on 22. 3. 2012 at 2:46 pm
Being the owner of a 126 Kodak Instamatic at the tender age of six, Paul Isles lives and breathes photography. Now taking the role as studio manager and photographer for his own design, print and publishing company, Graphic Images, Paul has previously dipped his toes into a variety of different photographic projects that have lead him to where he is today: “I’ve been, and continue to be, lucky enough to have a career in photography. It’s continually evolving, I’ve shot travel, moved into social, gone on to commercial and at the moment I’m doing mostly editorial work, what comes next I’ve no idea!”
Citing ‘old school’ muses such as John Swannell for portraits, Charlie Waite for landscapes, and Murray Fredericks for his beautiful minimalistic landscapes, Paul plucks from a wide spectrum when it comes to creating his own images: “I’m a bit of a film buff, so cinematography will always inspire me; David Lean in particular knew how to build a scene. My greatest inspiration comes from nature though; the changing of the light and how it plays across the landscape really captures my imagination.”
Describing his own style: “I tend to work on subjects rather than themes, though having said that water plays an important part in my landscapes and at the moment I am looking at cloud movement to contrast against static subjects. I try not to pigeon-hole myself; I think photographers can get too caught up in themselves which leads to a lack of fluidity in their images. I’d rather take a subject and approach it from different angles until I have a set of images that explore different feelings and atmospheres.”
So what is it about film that Paul loves?
“Film is tactile: you buy it depending on the effect you want, smell it coming out of the package, load it into the camera, hear it as it advances, agonise over exposing it, unload it and wait for it to develop/come back from the lab. It concentrates the mind; it makes you focus on the shot.”
I’ll follow you into the dark, no blinding light or tunnels to gates of white…
“This photograph was shot on a tripod mounted Olympus iS300 using Ilford FP4 Plus film, shot 30 seconds at F8. The inspiration for the image came from narrative cinema; it’s a classic horror film image, it yells ‘what lies beyond’ to me. I spot metered off the left hand door and wall so I could get that shaft of light defined well and keep the right hand door deep in shadow,” says Paul.
“Black and White photography is a lot more difficult; Ilford FP4 Plus is a classic all round film, though Fujifilm’s Acros is good too. I really like Pan F 50 as it’s so finely grained,” he continues.
“The Olympus I used is a perfect ‘rucksack’ camera – small, light and with a nice sharp medium range zoom, all essential elements when exploring the ruined, inaccessible Napoleonic buildings in and around Dover!”
“This particular image was shot on a tripod mounted Canon EOS650 at 18mm, 30 seconds at F5.6 on Kodak Gold 200 whose grain pattern seems to work particularly well in old underground military bunkers, giving a desired ‘gritty’ feel to the image,” Paul explains.
“I wanted to emphasise just how far one has to descend into these WWII plotting rooms so I chose to use an extreme wide angle to convey the scene. It is, of course, pitch black beneath ground so I used a 150 Lumens daylight balanced torch to ‘paint in’ the light. I love the converging lines in the image and the graininess accentuates the decay of a long forgotten structure”
“Again, cinema has probably inspired me here”, Paul says. “The forgotten military bunker has formed a backdrop to many films with its sense of claustrophobia and horror (such as The Bunker, Downfall etc)”
Underneath the arches
‘Underneath the Arches’ was shot on my favorite, the Rolleicord III. Tripod mounted again, and shot on Ilford Pan F 50, exposure was set at around 1/15 at F11,” says Paul.
“I’ve visited this location many times and have a variety of shots from different angles and on different film stocks and formats. I love the repetition of the arches into the distance and the slight curve at the end leaves the viewer wondering what lays round the corner. I chose Pan F for its contrast and for its wonderfully fine grain and the square format works well here, but then I could happily shoot everything on 6×6.”
“I like contrast, so I tend to expose for the highlights; shadow areas make the viewer think about what information is contained within them. I’ll use ND grads a lot to control light, both in the sky and on the foreground (I like to let a photo ‘emerge’ from the frame)”
If Paul’s aspirations go to plan, you may even catch his work in an exhibition near you: “I have an ongoing project at the moment which is based on ‘the military landscape’ and how warfare (or the threat of it) from the Iron Age to the Cold War has left scars in the landscape. Hopefully I’ll get it to exhibition, whether it will stretch to a book I don’t know. Other than that I’m looking to produce a series of landscapes inspired by Murray Frederick’s work and I’d like to do more portraiture, it’s an area that I’ve never really explored to its full potential.”