John Summers


The Raging Summer

Article from the Mandrake column in the Sunday Telegraph, 20 August 1972, about the cover photograph

Mandrake, who survived a decade of working with photographers and going along meekly with their jealously-guarded mystiques, has always believed that some of the most memorable photographs are, in fact, taken by accident – or sheer mistake.

The apocalyptic colour photograph on the dust jacket of John Summers’ new novel, The Raging Summer, out tomorrow (Michael Joseph, £2.00), confirms this heretical belief.

To take the cover picture Summers, who has taken many photographs for Mandrake, spend six full weeks clambering over mountain crags overlooking the Rumni Valley in South Wales, which is the setting for his semi-autobiographical novel about growing up there in ‘the hungry Thirties’. He shot more than 300 carefully-composed and ‘artistic’ colour pictures of the Welsh mining valley.

When he had finished he went back to his car and tried to unload his Rollei – only to find that he couldn’t because there was still one last shot left in it. From his car window he fired off that last shot, with the camera upside down, and not even noticing where the lens was pointing.

Then, as he unloaded, he realised that he had accidentally left a protective yellow filter over the lens, which would have distorted all the colour in the last few shots anyway.

No prizes for guessing which colour photograph the publishers chose for the dust-jacket. ‘The accidental yellow filter had turned the South Wales skies in that last shot to a suitably “Raging Summer” blaze,’ Summers explained to Mandrake.

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