James Kerwin must have achieved the record for most distant guest speaker at Ilkley Camera Club. On Friday 9 October, he broadcast his talk from 2,800 miles away in Tbilisi in Georgia, thanks to the wonders of Zoom technology. English-born James is now based in the Georgian capital as he develops a thriving business with photographing abandoned architecture at its core.
He said, “This beautiful country on the east of the Black Sea has many abandoned buildings, including palaces and churches, which make strongly emotional subjects.” He illustrated his talk with many of his stunning photographs and discussed how he locates his subjects and negotiates access. Often bottles of vodka and money for repairs can facilitate good progress.
On the technical front, James described the importance of lighting. This may involve selecting the best angle to convey depth, raising a little dust to generate eye-catching rays of light, and dodging and burning in post-processing to help images come alive. He also advised carefully checking the white balance to ensure colour rendering was authentic, particularly in early morning or late afternoon light. Because of strong variation in light within his images, James regularly takes several exposures and combines them. Similarly he often uses focus stacking to ensure that his images are sharp right the way through. This is particularly important in some of his commercial advertising work where products or models are placed in the foreground of special locations.
James summed up by saying, “Whatever I do technically, I always try to put the aesthetic of the location first. I like to show people that I have credibility and a passion for the buildings I photograph. I hope I can give something back because I care deeply about keeping these wonderful places safe.”