Just a little bit spooky

12:53pm Tuesday 22nd April 2014

As Goths descend on the seaside town for their spring gathering, Yorkshire-born photographer Barry Tweed- Rycroft talks to Ruth Addicott about the technique he used to capture the gothic qualities of Whitby

YORKSHIRE-BORN photographer Barry Tweed-Rycroft has been taking photos for more than 40 years, but it is a recent collection, a haunting set of photos featuring Whitby of which he is most proud.

Although he was born and bred in Yorkshire, it was the first time he had been to the seaside town. It was the weekend of the Bram Stoker International Film Festival in October – the spring one is this weekend –and he had to get up at half past six in the morning to beat the crowds.

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Braving strong wind and torrential rain, he had a job to keep the tripod still, but managed to capture the mood, using a special technique known as HDR (High Dynamic Range) to give the images a “Gothic” feel.

One of the pictures is actually made up of three photos. “There is one over-exposed, one ideally exposed and one under-exposed,” he explains.

“What you tend to get with this sort of picture is a lot more detail and more of what the eye sees. If you look at one of the lighthouse shots, you can see the cloud is very strong, but the detail in the lighthouse itself is good and in the shadows the detail is good as well. It’s a technique which, if you use it subtly, can strengthen a picture and almost give it a 3D effect.”

Barry also used the technique to shoot the interiors of abbeys and cathedrals. “The detail it gives is quite astounding in some cases, especially in the interiors of churches,” he says.

Although he now lives in Ledbury, in Herefordshire, Barry has a special affection for Yorkshire and the North-East and regularly comes back to visit friends and family and take advantage of the many photo opportunities. “I like Whitby because it’s got this gothic situation and the technique I’ve been using lends itself to that, especially the abbey on the top,” he says.

Having moved into photography straight from school, Barry started his career working for a commercial photographers in Bradford, before launching his own business three years later in Otley. He did weddings, portraiture, commercial and local press, before moving to Paris where he stayed for two years. After returning to the UK, he built a successful career in sales management in the building industry.

The Northern Echo:
Whitby lighthouse

Although he always had an interest in photography, he decided to take it up again full time last year, focusing on the commercial side, specialising in interiors and his passion for abstract and creative photography.

The most difficult shoot he’s done to date was when he attempted to climb Kilimanjaro.

He did the trek in Tanzania with his wife to raise money for charity and get some good shots along the way, but had to turn back before the finish due to altitude sickness. “I got to 5,200m and couldn’t breathe,” he says. “We’d set off at midnight to get there for sunrise, it was pitch black and my lungs were crying out for air. The guide shone a torch in my face and said the whites of my eyes were going blue and advised me not to go any further.”

The Northern Echo:
Another view of Whitby lighthouse

“You don’t know what’s going to happen until you actually do it. It was a different world. I’d like to have carried on, but there was a group of four of us and I didn’t want to hold them up.

“We’d walked six days to get there and it was the last six hours I couldn’t do. I was gutted. I was really looking forward to taking photos – there was a glacier up there I really wanted to get. My wife made it – she obviously has better lungs than me.”

Another shoot that sticks in his memory was a Boxing Day hunt where he was poised on the side of the High Street and seconds from being trampled – but got the shot. “I knew the sort of photograph I wanted and got myself nice and low for it,”

The Northern Echo:
Whitby harbour

he says. “I wanted to take two or three as they went past, but got knocked back as the dogs were bumping into me and the horses were behind them, so I had to get out the way.”

Like most photographers, Barry has a list of places he’d like to capture and Yorkshire holds many of them.

“I like the bleakness of the Moors: it can give you some nice shots and you get some good skies,” he says. Along with Bolton Abbey, Scarborough and Redcar, two places he would like to visit are Ilkley Moor and Brimham Rocks – to capture the unique rock formations and picturesque views over Nidderdale.

The Northern Echo:
A boat tied up at Whitby harbour
 

Despite a lifelong passion for photography, however, it is the Whitby images that he is most proud of and plans to turn them into limited edition prints which will be available to buy. “The pictures of Whitby are probably the ones I’ve been most happy with, and the ones I’ve enjoyed doing the most,” he says.

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