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Art of the lens: black and white photography

At first glance, the location of George Hill’s photos cannot be easily identified.Summer 2008At first glance, the location of George Hill’s photos cannot be easily identified. For example, one photo shows intricate, chaotic patterns of white and orange on a concrete wall. It was taken in the underpass on College St. near the Steelworkers’ Hall.

Another photo shows a peeling bright blue door against a red brick background, with weeds growing on the ground. Beauty among the ruins at the Northern Breweries building on Lorne St.

Most people don’t notice the art around them.  But seeing beauty in everyday life comes naturally to Hill.

“People have told me I have a good eye. I see things that other people don’t see,” said the 75-year-old Lively photographer.

Hill also takes numerous pictures of nature—some on his 130-acre farm near the Whitefish Lake First Nation, and others in various locations in the Sudbury area.

One of the retired elementary school teacher’s favourite nature photographs shows weeds in a pond waving in the wind. It is called Zen.

“My wife and I do Japanese gardening at home,” he said. “This pond is the most Japanese of any I’ve seen. It’s on the Old Cartier Rd.”

Another favourite photo is entitled The Coracle. A leaf floats delicately in the water. It was taken near Cartier.

“A coracle is a boat used in medieval times. I think they still use it in Wales. It looks like a sugar bowl and is perfectly round, and you can paddle it in any direction. I saw the leaf, and I thought (immediately) of a coracle. I also liked the light pattern on the water.”

Hil has been taking digital photos for three years, but he has worked prevously in both black-and-white large format film and 35-millimetre film.

Although he doesn’t usually use software programs to manipulate his images, Hill  appreciates the fact that certain effects that used to take hours to achieve with film cameras can now be done instantly with software programs.

“At the same time, there are actually programs coming out now that make digital photos look like film prints. They’re going back to that. There are also still people who shoot large format film, but small format has pretty much died,” he said.

The man’s love of photography began at the age of 16.

“I grew up on Van Horne St. Bob Labarge, one of the sons of the owners of Labarge Lumber, had a Lika 3F. I got into photography because of him,” said Hill.

“I bought my first camera for $35 at (Robert) Brown’s Photography.”

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