This month, on Art of the Blur, I spoke to Wendy Kennett. Wendy grew up in Faversham, Kent and has owned some form of a camera for much of her life. It was her creative dance images that first caught my eye. Like the performers, they are full of beauty and grace and capture the essence and joy of that art form in our art form.
The style is painterly, light and joyous and I look forward to her next post all the time. Thanks for talking to AotB, Wendy.
AotB: Hi Wendy, would you like to tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a 50’s baby and grew up in the historic Beer brewing town of Faversham in Kent, an area known as the Garden of England in the UK. I am the eldest of three girls and count myself very lucky to have both parents still in reasonably good health. I haven’t strayed far from home and started married life in Broadstairs on the north-east Kent coast.
I now live in a village between the city of Canterbury and the quaint coastal town of Whitstable famous for its oysters. After leaving school I trained as a nurse at Canterbury Hospital and later specialised as a Sister in the Trauma, Orthopaedics and Rheumatology departments. In the late 70’s I married a police officer, and in the early 80’s I took a short career break to raise my two children who have now provided me with four lovely grandchildren.
I finally retired from nursing after almost 30 years with the NHS and had the opportunity to become a ‘Lady of Leisure’ but I use that phrase loosely, as I’ve never been so busy!
Finally, I had time to indulge in hobbies, gardening, and travel. We built a little studio in the garden for me to escape to and this meant not having to tidy up after every project. Watercolour painting, Alcohol ink creations, Quilting, Sea Glass jewellery making and anything arty crafty filled my days.
I have always enjoyed travelling and over the last 15 years have visited some wonderful places. An Alaskan cruise, several American road trips, 3 trips to Iceland and 2 trips to Lapland and are amongst my favourite longer haul trips. City mini breaks include Prague, Barcelona, Salzburg and Paris and travelling throughout the UK has opened my eyes to some stunning photographic opportunities.
AotB: How did you first develop an interest in photography?
I have owned a camera, well more of a toy camera, since I was about 8 years old as a result of being fascinated by my mum’s camera. I can recall standing on a chair to peer into a viewer on the top of the camera and looking down to see a fuzzy impression of an image in the glass. In my late teens and early 20’s, I used a Minolta Dynax 3000i and Minolta Vectis s-100.
Both were film cameras and it is my one regret that I didn’t have the opportunity to learn how to develop my own film. The long wait for Trueprint to deliver my results in the post seemed endless.
I have boxes and boxes of packets of photographs that will mean nothing to most but somehow I can’t bring myself to part with them. I made the switch to digital with Panasonic Lumix compact cameras as my family grew up and, tired of waiting for a disc or prints from Boots, the Chemist, I purchased a small printer that read the memory card or connected to the camera. Instant gratification but not much control.
Your favourite photography?
AotB: What kind of photography is your favourite?
My first love was landscape and nature photography. I enjoy the challenge of capturing wildlife in their environment and special light
in the landscape. I soon realised that I needed to improve the quality of my camera and take full control of the settings to achieve theresults I was after. In 2009 prior to setting off on an Alaskan cruise, I splashed out on the Canon 40D and hubby treated me to the 100-400mm lens for that all-important Whale shot. I hadn’t a clue what I was doing! ‘All the gear and no idea’ springs to mind.
On my return, I joined my local camera club and it became clear that if I was to start taking my photography seriously I needed to go the whole hog and invest in my first computer and a decent printer. Three years ago I upgraded to my first full frame camera, a Canon 5D MkIII. I love it but miss the extra reach for wildlife that the 40D gave me. I do still have that body but the weight of both camera’s is asking too much of my neck, back, and shoulders!
Finally, I am able to take full control of everything from image capture, editing, printing and mounting and I haven’t looked back.
AotB: What is it that interests you most about photography?
It is great to visit some iconic places and capture for myself the images that I have been inspired by others to take. I have found more recently that I am looking for something more. I am finding new ways of capturing and interpreting a scene rather than the straight shot that numerous others have taken and as my editing skills improve I have even more options at my fingertips.
AotB: Is there something you always ask yourself or think just before you push the button?
I think I can say, I no longer ‘Look’ – I ‘See’ much in the same way as when I started to paint in watercolours. I would gaze up at a moody sky and think to myself, ‘what colours would I mix together? Paynes Grey and a touch of Alizarin crimson perhaps?’
I am no longer a snap happy photographer despite digital images costing nothing like film. I try to consider each composition and make the most of my kit to achieve it.
AotB: What else influences you other than photography?
Apart from being inspired by the photography of others, I am a keen birdwatcher, love anything to do with wildlife and generally prefer being outdoors in all weathers. Living in this part of Kent there is such diversity in the coastline. The beaches range from pebbles, shells, golden sands, creeks and marshland and there are chalk and sandstone cliffs giving rise to a huge variety of habitats.
I live amongst an ancient deciduous woodland but don’t have to travel far for rolling downs, orchards, hop fields and forests. The quaint historic towns and villages have personalities of their own.
All of these experiences bring out an expression of creativity in me and a need to produce something lovely to be appreciated whether it be in the form of painting, sewing, planting or photography. Pure escapism and I am easily lost in the moment and lose all track of time, forgetting worries, responsibilities … meal times!
Your favourite photo?
AotB: What is your favourite photograph that you have ever taken? Show and tell us something about it.
My favourite photograph is usually the one I have just taken! I find it hard to be objective about an image when I am still so emotionally attached to it. I take care to capture the image, get all excited to see it on the LCD screen, can’t wait to download and edit it and voila!
It’s only later when I revisit the folders that I spot hidden gems that I have previously overlooked or dismissed and scrutinise with a more objective eye. I don’t tend to delete as many as I should either but my theory is that as my editing skills improve, I will know how to fix them!
There is an image I took several years ago that did well in my camera club and went on to succeed at County level. I called it ‘Walk at First Light’. I was on a spa break in the Leicestershire countryside and watched hares chasing across a field. In my towelling robe and slippers, I grabbed my camera and went out into the cold frosty morning just as the sun came up. I noticed a lady wrapped up warm on her early morning walk in the distance and waited for her to enter the frame. My camera club fondly renamed the image ‘Dog Up a Tree’. Once you’ve spotted the dog shape in the branches on the left side of the tree it’s clear to see why.
A view may look great to the eye but to do it justice in camera is quite another matter so my thoughts are that some views are special but best kept as a memory. For me, the satisfaction of sharing with others the emotion and excitement that made me want to take the image in the first instance is what it’s all about.
AotB: How would you describe your style?
I think I am still trying to find my ‘Style’ but other photographers who know me and my work well think I’ve found it. My photography is constantly evolving and I love to dabble at something different from time to time. I tend to portray natural or muted colours but more recently have become a little more experimental. I am enjoying using layers and masks and creating composites which is something very new to me.
“My favourite photograph is usually the one I have just taken”
AotB: Do you ever collaborate with other photographers?
Being a member of a camera club gives plenty of opportunities to expand my knowledge. We have some great speakers and judges that critique our competition images and most members are very generous with sharing their skills. I also enjoy being inspired by the images of others on various social media sites which is how I stumbled across AotB.
I don’t have any formal photographic training and prefer to learn hands-on rather than reading from a book which is why I have participated in a number of photography workshops. I have found YouTube to be a brilliant resource too.
In June 2017, I took the plunge and presented a panel of 10 images to the Royal Photographic Society based in Bath, UK. I was successful in gaining my Licentiate membership so can use the initials LRPS after my name and include the RPS logo on stationary. I was thrilled that the RPS asked for my permission to include my panel in their promotional tours as an example of a high-quality Nature/Landscape panel.
Your favourite piece of equipment?
AotB: Is there any one piece of equipment that you would recommend?
Apart from my trusty tripod, I think using my circular polariser from Lee Filters produces one effect that cannot be reproduced in post processing. The difference it makes to the appearance of the surface of water, glare on glass and shine on plants etc is amazing.
AotB: What software do you use to edit your photographs and how important is editing to your final images?
I predominantly use Lightroom for my initial editing but more recently Photoshop CC has played a more important part of my image making as my editing skills improve. I also own Topaz Lab and Nic Efex software but have yet to find the time to really play with either.
AotB: If you had to choose one lens, which one would it be and why?
I find my workhorse lens is the Canon 24-105mm lens for its versatility and quality but often use my 70-200mm. The weight of gear is fast becoming the deciding factor for many of my photoshoots.
AotB: Do you plan on buying any new equipment and if so, what do you have your eyes on?
I have recently purchased a vintage lens from Russia on eBay. A Helios 44-2 that has been converted into a tilt and shift type lens. I also have a few of the Lensbaby optics that encourage in-camera creativity. All good fun to use.
AotB: What online spaces do you use to promote your work?
I was quite chuffed to have built my own website last year as I am not the most technically minded person! It is still a work in progress but the main thing is it does work! I have started to use Instagram and Flickr to raise my profile and enjoy seeing the work of others on these sites.
AotB: Tell us about something you’re still learning?
More recently, with a few more photoshop skills under my belt, I am enjoying creating composite images. There is so much to learn in Photoshop and all the various plugins and so many different ways of achieving the same result but I am determined to persevere.
AotB: Is there anything in the photography world that is overrated or underrated?
It is frustrating at competition level that at times images are not judged for their content and expertise in handling camera settings, etc but more for whether or not it is fashionable. I am not averse to enticing wildlife to feed in their natural surroundings after studying their movements but I am very anti set up shots that can often prove harmful to the creature.
Kingfisher shots suddenly sprung into fashion but on hearing that live bait was placed in submerged glass tanks where the Kingfishers often damaged themselves diving for their food, I found quite shocking.
AotB: Some photographers say that they see the world differently and that they have a different perspective on life. What is your perspective on the world and on life?
Sometimes photography for me is real escapism. I can become so engrossed on location or while editing and time just flies by. I don’t take anything for granted and can gain delight from the simplest of things. If I can’t grab the moment with my camera, my iPhone is always at hand and I’ve had great fun exploring the various editing apps available.
AotB: What would you like to be doing in 5 years from now? blurred dancer
Making the leap from turning my hobby into actually being able to earn an income from something I love doing has been quite a challenge. How do you put a price on something that gives you so much enjoyment?
I am loving sharing my skills and experiences with others and have set up Creative Dance Photography workshops, Landscape and Wildlife photography mini breaks and One to One and small group tutoring and give talks to local interest groups.
If the last six months is anything to go by, selling my images, my photography experiences and my skills with others will hopefully lead to meeting even more like-minded folk and traveling to some wonderful places.