Hugh Milsom specialises in fine art landscape photography. He has an empathy with the landscape and captures his feelings by carefully controlling the tonality and colour of the image.
Hugh’s background is in science and technology but became interested in photography in his early 30s. Gradually the interest grew into a serious hobby and then with family and work pressures easing, it became a passion and a way of life.
His early interest was in landscape monochrome photography, mainly making his own prints in the darkroom. With his continuing drive for perfection, he became a fine printer, carefully controlling the tonality and key of a print to capture the atmosphere as interpreted in the landscape.
His landscape work ranges from studies of the wide-open landscape to the close-up studies of the intimate landscape. It is in the latter he finds immense satisfaction; these are the subjects that most people will walk past without seeing, let alone appreciating them. Here is a wealth of subject matter: from the delicate colours of rocks in the inter-tidal zones, the intriguing shapes of sand patterns on the sandy beaches, the assorted shapes and colours of fallen leaves and the detailed structure and colours of lichens.
With no formal training in art, he learnt about arrangement and design, quality of light and tonality by avidly reading and studying work of other photographers. But the biggest change and influence was to come with the introduction of the computer. He had experimented with colour printing but felt frustrated by the lack of control and variability of the colour printing process. Even though labelled as ‘computer illiterate’ during his working days, he quickly became adept at using the computer to obtain consistently the requisite colour harmonies that he had been previously unable to achieve in the darkroom.
He has moved seamlessly from his earlier monochrome work to the present delicate colour images. Here we also see the influence of his love of watercolours and their subtle understated colours that he feels are relevant to the Northern landscape.
He uses exclusively 35mm cameras and nowadays exclusively digital capture. Using extreme wide-angle lenses (down to 12mm), he is able to concentrate on arrangements of foreground detail, which show some individuality in composition. Other images concentrate on simple, almost minimalist compositions that give broad washes of colour that provides the prevailing mood of the image.
He has photographed most notable locations in Britain and Southern Ireland. His passion is for the extensive beaches that lie along the west coast of Scotland and Ireland. It is a changing landscape, each day having a different mood and character. At the other extreme, he still actively photographs his own ‘patch’. Past work includes the ‘Trees in the Mist’ studies, an introspective collection of delicate sepia images which feature the unusual shapes of trees as seen in the winter. An ongoing study is the fields and farms of the ‘Royston Downs’, first started in monochrome in the mid 1980s and now continuing as colour images.
In common with many landscape photographers, he enjoys the feeling of space and solitude that the landscape offers. There is an empathy and understanding of the changing moods, the subtlety and contrast of the light and a deep appreciation of the subtlety of colours that abound in the landscape. These are the qualities, which come over in his collections of images.