Pete Turner & KhalistanMonday, September 18, 2017
|Pete Turner - 1964
This particular blog will interest photographers of a certain age (you know what I mean). So the warning is in effect for those who might want to read on.
In the 60s, to the middle 90s I loved and purchased photography magazines which included Modern Photography, Popular Photography, Peterson’s Photography and the best of them all American Photographer. These magazines deteriorated to what (the few that are left) are really service pieces on equipment and there are few if any photographs in them that inspire me. I particularly cite the ones of spectacular sky and mountain scenes reflected to perfection on a calm and pristine lake.
In the years that I cite there would have been few issues that did not feature at least one photograph by Pete Turner who died on September 18 at age 83.
He pioneered two features of photography that are now rampantly exploited by people who might ignore of his existence in life or acknowledge his death. The saturated look in photography is in and pastels do not exist.
He was the first to really promote the idea of intense (saturated was his term) colours. He did this by purposely underexposing Kodachrome from one half to one full stop. He added to the intensity of colour by using polarizers. Because he had the gamut of the best magazines at his disposal they were able to reproduce his photograph even before the advent of good scanners.
His most famous image was one he took in 1964 in Africa of a giraffe which he drastically overexposed (something he was prone to never do!). He salvaged it by re photographing it and using filters to transform his image into something that was not reality. In effect Photoshop-before-Photoshop. He shot countless music albums and magazine covers. He was a super-saturated gem.
The above brings me to why I especially remembered Turner today and why I called my friend and former magazine art director (of super saturated talent) whom I met in the early 80s when he came from Maclean’s Magazine to art direct Vancouver Magazine.
Before his arrival I had badly overexposed many slides (slides have a very poor tolerance for exposure fluctuation) I took at a racing weekend at Westwood. In those days you simply threw them away as there was no fixing them.
So afraid I was of overexposure that I underexposed all my slides by half a stop. Soon both Malcolm Parry (the editor) and Chris Dahl gave me the nickname of Half-Stop. They did not like my darkish slides.
It all came to a boil when I was assigned to photograph a Sikh who was involved in promoting Khalistan as a separate country from India. I took two types of photographs, one with a weapon and one without. One of them, the one without the weapon leant itself more for a cover. The photographs were badly underexposed. I got ready for a reprimand and to hear what no photographer ever wants to hear, “You are going to have to re-shoot this.”
That was not the case. Dahl with his weekly magazine expertise knew how to put out fires. Perhaps he knew about Pete Turner. He said to me, "I am going to send this to Commercial Illustrators and have them copy the two slides with a 4x5 camera to correct the exposure and then convert that to a colour negative which we will print."
And so it was.
What we could not have predicted is that Vancouver Magazine was banned for a while from the best hotels in town for what they thought was an offensive cover. I cannot find my cover in my stuff here so you will have to imagine it.