Gallery of Fred Johnstone Pictures
Fred's adventures in photography began 72 years ago with a visit to woolworths when he was fourteen. In 1938 everything in Woolworths cost 6d so he had to buy it in three parts, then lens, the body and the back which were not available separately! So the entire Bakelite camera cost 1s:6d (less than 8p).
ALL photographs in the Gallery cost just £50.00 including the frame !
Chemists did most of the developing at that time but pioneers could develop their own work on paper which they coated themselves and exposed in bright sunlight. Young Fred had a go at printing on a handkerchief. He brought up the image but didn't fix it so it went black and ruined the hanky, to his aunt's wrath.
A year later he bought a 620 Portrait Brownie. WW2 had just started and films were in short supply so folk had to take an exposed film in to the chemist before they could buy a new one.
After the war, colour photography became available so of course Fred just had to try it, using an American camera, the Argus C3. This was known as 'The Brick' because of its regular cuboid shape. Dufay was his preferred film at first then he tried Ilford before settling on Kodachrome. The majority of the 50,000 slides have been shot with Kodachrome, all stored away in his handmade boxes.
Around this time Fred really began his love affair with the technicalities of the camera, often having up to 30 cameras in his collection. It began with a second hand Leica 1 and has never ended. He has owned, and used, nearly 100 cameras including collectables such as the Linhof Technika and the Ensign Autorange. His favourite camera ever is the Contaflex Rapid which produced superior slides to any previous camera.
He began home processing monochrome prints in the fifties after an unsuccessful attempt to make his own enlarger. He used the lens to make an episcope and bought a Johnson enlarger.
In 1956, he became a founder member of Prestwich Camera Society, moving to Lancaster Photographic Society in 1964.
The fifties saw him specialising in medium format monochrome photography becoming Black and White Photographer of the Year eleven times since the inception of the competition in 1998, as well as Photographer of the Year seven times.
The coming of the digital camera did not disturb him for a while. "Kodak will have to go on making paper just for me," he grumbled. But as usual he couldn't resist a challenge so at the turn of the century he installed a computer and soon had a 'state of the art' digital set up. The enlargers were moved out in favour of inkjet printers. Experiments on the effects of sepia and selenium toning on different papers gave way to Photoshop. It was the end of smelly chemicals and endless trips up and down stairs to wash prints in the bathroom.
The exhibition is a celebration of his journey with the camera over a century of exponential photographic development featuring a selection of his 50,000 slides and 30,000 digital images.