Ian Murray - Photographer

Ian Murray, Probus member and ‘An Old Fashioned Photographer’

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Teaching new dogs some old tricks

In these new, fast and digital days, it is a real pleasure to see a remarkable exhibition of photographs that have been 'hand made' from film negatives via an enlarger, photographic paper and chemicals. This classic collection of over 70 large format portraits and landscapes is the work of Ian Murray, Coleraine resident and A.R.P.S. (Associate of the Royal Photographic Society), and can be viewed at the Flowerfield Arts Centre in Portstewart until 24th March.

Ian started his lifelong interest in photography as a boy of ten, when an uncle showed him how to use a camera and develop the film. By the time he was a teenager he had made a darkroom out of his bedroom, with some plywood across his bed and a bucket of water to wash the prints. Later, as an engineering apprentice, he build his own enlarger with an old camera lens and some steel pipe and plate. Ian served his National Service in Germany, and began using a twin lens reflex camera.

The subject matter for Ian's photography is simply anything and anyone he sees in his daily life. The skill is then how Ian manages to capture the people and everyday images into works of art. The exhibition portraits, which are around half of the prints on display, seem to show the natural essence of the person in the photograph, and they appear to be both familiar and yet someone you would like to meet.

The prints themselves have a quality and tonal range that a digital printer cannot match in the spectrum from black to white. They are the result of much skilful and careful manipulation of the print making exposure time - known as 'burning' and 'dodging' - and illustrate Ian's skill in the second side of the traditional photography process.

The exhibition is a 'not to be missed' event for anyone interested in photography. It is both a demonstration of excellence in composition and a master-class in print production. Flowerfield must be congratulated for making this superb display available for us all to view, and realising that 'the new' can find something to learn from 'An old fashioned photographer'!