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About Us

This website is structured around the theme of the Elements. Reviewing the first drafts of the site, I realised that there was no section for 'fire'. What an omission, given the site name I chose! But there is a reason of sorts.

Image-wise, 'Fire' might turn out too restrictive to convey the intended range of imagery, so I was going to head that section 'Energy'. The action of Energy produces heat and light.

Leaving aside the science of Physics, I see that it is the interaction of energy with the other elements that produced the universe as we know it and all the subject matter that fills the trillions of images captured on camera. Energy suffuses all the other elements. Energy is light. Photography is expression through light. Did I really need a section on Light? on a photography site!

My Personal History - in Cameras

Image of Jeremy Ornstin

A Barrister and then a solicitor for several decades. I took up photography as an interest around 1975. My first adult camera was an Olympus XA - a tiny rangefinder. I can't remember what photos I shot with that. My earliest memory from the time was using a Pentax MX with a 50mm lens in the gloom of late Autumn on Hampstead Heath trying to capture ducks landing on one of the ponds. This was at a time when I had signed up to a photography evening class so we were working with black and white film, experimenting with the processes of the dark room.

Then Canon launched their EOS system cameras and I went through quite a few models as each one boasted different gimmicks - I remember the EOS 3 and its auto eye focus system.

A New Era - Digital Photography

The whole era changed with digital. And another host of hardware. By this time, I was into transparencies - only shooting slides and of course, displaying the results onto a 5-foot projector screen was a precursor to seeing them on a wide screen monitor.

The pace of technological innovation meant that I changed camera on an annual basis. I must have been a marketer's dream. Tottenham Court Road, London was then the Mecca to go to. Sales of digital SLRs are said to have plateaued over the past 18 months; that's down to me: I haven't purchased a body in the last year.

Lost Years

So, after upwards of 35 years, and having lost all my digital files up to 2007 - around the time I started to realise the complexities and fragility of digital storage (unlike the boxes of slides (not difficult to mislay but a pain to review, edit display) I have the time and inclination finally to store, manage, edit and publish the images that most inspired and excited me.

The process has imposed a sense of direction to my aspirations. Having thousands of images stored on a variety of hard drives is pointless. Choosing the themes of this website has allowed me to articulate at least to myself what I want from this hobby/pastime/passion and leant a cogency to my 'workflow' as it is called.

A Dangerous and Destructive Obsession

I am sure it has all been done before, and that there is nothing novel about my approach. I am not sure what value to put on a search for originality. If you look through that prism you should guard against endlessly comparing your images with the millions of others that are out there; that can develop into a dangerous and destructive obsession. Trust me, you won't do anything creative - you won't even pick up your camera, if you are burdened with a preconceived idea of originality.On the other hand, I do not want my work to be representations of photographic clichés.

A Solution to the Conundrum

Thinking about it as I write this piece, I think the answer is somewhere contained in the concept of 'interpretation'. We see, breath, touch, smell and inhabit the same Earth and all the elements comprised in it, but our responses are personal, individual, and those responses are determined by our interpretations of what we observe via our senses. Those are not merely subjective, but heavily influenced by our minute to minute emotional state.

The process of taking worthwhile photographs is the alchemy of interpretation by internal emotional condition of all the elements reflected in the external world. It's elementary.

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