I have heard it said that you should never meet your idol’s, they will only disappoint. Outside of my circle of friends and family there are few people I am truly impressed by. Trey Ratcliff is one of those people. When I first picked up a DSLR back in 2013 I was determined that I would learn how to make most of it, after an abortive attempt to get into photography as far back as 2001. His website (StuckInCustoms.com) turned up a lot as I began to search google for photographic tips, tricks and techniques. I was immediately struck by the beauty of his images; a beauty that just didn’t seem to be apparent in the mundane shots which were coming out of my own camera. Although I didn’t realise it at the time this was my first introduction to something called HDR, or High Dynamic Range – the ability for a single photographic image to render detail in both the brightest and darkest parts of a scene.
Fast forward two years and many (not all) of my photographs employ techniques I have learned by following Trey on his journey. He publishes a new image on his website every single day and it is one of the first things I look for when I open up my daily feed aggregator. So, when he announced that he was coming to London to host a free photowalk around the South Bank area I decided this was too good an opportunity to pass up. Of course it being Valentines’s Day meant that I could double up and treat the wife to a rare visit to the capital. Which is nice.
The sheer number of photographers who turned up on the day is testament to Trey’s popularity. I can’t hazard an accurate guess as to how many were there but it must have been between one and two hundred people. Weather conditions were not great; the sky was leaden with bulging cloud, with little, if any sign of the sun. An eerie sense of expectation had settled over assembled photographers as we waited for Trey’s arrival outside the National Theatre. And he didn’t make us wait long. Bang on time he appeared stage right, unassuming and with time for everyone. He walked around the the assembled crowd shaking hands and taking an interest in everyone he met.
Meet and greet complete Trey then climbed the steps of the National Theatre to address us all, touching briefly on his equipment (oo-er), and thanking those who has purchased items from his shop or joined the Arcanum, before outlining the afternoon’s agenda and setting off on the walk. And what a walk it was. London’s South Bank area is a thriving and busy Metropolis at the best of times and I kind of felt a little sorry for those folks trying to push against the tide of photographers, all desperately trying not to lose sight of the head of the snake. In a route which took us along the South Bank of the Thames, across the Jubilee Bridge, through Trafalgar Square and Past Downing Street and on towards Westminster, Big Ben and the London Eye, Trey stopped at various points along the way to explain his choice of shot and the camera setup, inviting questions from those in earshot….
There however was the problem. Because the group was so large it was often difficult to keep Trey in sight, never mind hear what he had to say. However this didn’t detract from what was overall a fantastic experience for me. It isn’t often I get to visit London and this visit has succeeded in whetting my appetite for more. Trey has acknowledged the problems with people not being able to hear him and has promised a solution for the next walk (London 2.0, he calls it). I don’t know when that will be – it was 5 years between this visit and his previous one and Trey is a busy man, I am sure!
Sadly, my own shots from the Photowalk don’t match up to some of the excellent photo’s out there. If you want to really sample what it was like then search Social Media for the handle TRLondon2015
Thanks to Trey for a fantastic day!