Interview with Black and White photographer Bill Allen

Interview with Black and White photographer Bill Allen


1. How and when did you become interested in photography?

My love of photography started in March 1982 when I purchased my first camera, a Pentax M E Super, 35mm film camera and assorted lenses.

In May 1995 I move to Cannon and purchase an EOS5, and later that year enrol in a city & guilds photography course at Brighton Polytechnic of Art & Design, working with film, covering everything from studio lighting to developing, printing and darkroom technique.

In August 1996 I pass with distinction. December 2006 my gear of choice changes to Nikon and the digital format.

I was born and raised in Sussex on the UK’s south coast, and have never lived more than 2 miles from the sea, which may explain why water features so much in my work.

2. Is there any artist/photographer who inspired your art?

Aside from the obvious such as Ansell Adams, Bresson, Brandt, Levin, Kenner etc., most of the photographers I are admire are very current. Joel Tjintjelaar I’ve followed for years and in my opinion one of the masters of long exposure photography spending 80 hours working on his images is not uncommon (more patience than me). Olivier Du Tré based in Canada constantly produces some wonderful work, then there’s Hengki Koentjoro who luminous work is spell binding. Suffice to say the list is endless; I love black & white imaging.

3. Why do you work in black and white rather than colour?

I’d guess 95% of the images I make are monochrome, however favouring black & white as my main medium was not a conscious decision I made, but one I seemed to have gravitated towards since my days of working with film. I feel black & white tends not to distract from the context of the scene and allows me to focus and give attention to the composition, lighting, and perspective of the image.

4. How much preparation do you put into taking a photograph/series of photographs?

I tend to scout out location beforehand rather than venture out on a whim, like most of us my phone tends to be with me at all times, and I’ll use it to make notes for future shoots, sometimes months later when the season or the weather has changed, and I have that certain something that will enable me to get the image I’m striving for.

Once on site my nd set up tends to not change an awful lot, BW 110 10 stop + 0.6 std 2 stop & 0.6 grad 2 stop, sitting on my Nikon on my Manfrotto for between 3 & 6 minutes.

I’ll concentrate a lot more on composition rather than the technical aspects of a shoot while I’m in the moment, I do very little cropping, in post I guess this go’s back to my days with film.

Once back in front of my Mac I’ll import the raw files in Lightroom, convert to B&W in Silver Efex Pro and any pixel punishing I’ll do in Photoshop.

5. Where is your photography going? What projects would you like to accomplish?

Like most photographers I have my bucket list of locations to shoot and right at the top of mine is that B&W photographers mecca Iceland, how that turns out remains to be seen.

Bill Allen Website: www.bill-allen.com

© Bill Allen Air

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© Bill Allen Binturong

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© Bill Allen Bodiam Castle

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© Bill Allen De La Warr

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© Bill Allen Eastbourne Pier

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© Bill Allen Harbour

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© Bill Allen Hope Gap

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© Bill Allen Lar Gibbon

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© Bill Allen Making Milk

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© Bill Allen Outcrop

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© Bill Allen Rhino

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© Bill Allen Scope

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© Bill Allen Seven Sisters

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© Bill Allen West Pier

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