Huawei P20 pro 320 feet Down Gaping Gill

On the 12th of August 2019 I did something I said I would never do, potholing. Well, kind of potholing I was winched 320 feet down into the massive Gaping Gill in the Yorkshire dales by members of the Craven Potholing Club. I felt safe throughout the whole process. I arrived in Clapham the night before and kipped in my camper in Clapham village in the street. The village itself is more than a little interesting for various reasons not the least of which is the fact that playwright Alan Bennett has a house there.

I was up at the crack of dawn to meet Lee Bosworth and Barb Hinchcliffe at 7 for the hour’s walk to the entrance of the cave. Barb runs a Facebook group Hiking Is a Lifestyle. I would recommend waterproof boots and full waterproof clothing.

We walked to Gaping Gill which is part way up one of the Yorkshire 3 Peaks via the Ingleborough Estate Nature Trail which I think costs a quid each.

The queue to enter the cave was about an hour an hour. The winch ride is quick, wet and exciting rather than scary. The cave was formed by water and you go in the same hole the water does. You can spend as long down there as you like.

I decided not to take a camera. I considered using my Lumix G90 and Olympus f1.2 lens which are both weatherproof and in hindsight I think they would have survived. All the pictures here were taken with my Huawei P20 pro. No waterproof case just as it comes. I shot in the normal photo mode at 40m pixels. I did try using the pro and aperture modes without much success. The pictures were imported into Lightroom on my phone and they then miraculously appear on my Macbook Pro in Lightroom.

Click one of the pictures to start a slideshow and to see the whole image.

When using a P20 pro phone camera if you hold your finger on the the screen 2 circles appear one locks the focus and the other with the lightbulb locks exposure. On the two screen grabs you can see the effect moving the exposure circle has on the picture. It simply moves the area where the light is measured varying the exposure. I used this feature underground quite a bit.

Artists Explaining Themselves

I have visited countless exhibitions over the years. I have always been of the opinion that explanations are unnecessary. I often relate this Robert Frost story.  When he was asked to explain a poem he replied, “So you want me to say it worse.” I once had an exhibition where the audience only knew who had taken the pictures – no titles – no explanations. I loved the look of it. Maybe just the fact that I was the maker was too much information. Maybe that would raise expectations in the mind and eye of the viewer – prejudice.

I usually look at works and if I feel satisfied I leave without reading explanations.

However I went to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. There is a work there by Roger Hiorns which is simply 2 scrap jet engines from a U.S. military plane sited on a terrace.

Sculpture by Roger Hiorns
Two redundant jet engines, form a sculpture by Roger Hiorns photograph Robert Norbury

I remembered seeing his exhibition at the Hepworth Wakefield which had a profound visual and emotional effect on me, I never wondered what Hiorns intended us to feel. The exhibition was a number of old engines and steel work benches like the ones I imagine you would find in a laboratory. Plus other objects. At the time I was working at the Hepworth as a kind of resident artist running workshops. I wandered round the work but initially it left me cold. Then someone came in and placed small piles of white powder on the benches and set fire to it.

At some point I became aware of two young men (I think two) in white shirts and black trousers. I watched one of them remove all his clothes and then seat himself on one of the benches. Few people in the room seemed to notice what was going on. I photographed this process. I can’t remember whether I read any kind of explanation but it didn’t seem to matter at the time.

Click the pictures to start a slideshow.

However when I saw his current display at the Y.S.P. I was at a loss as to what it was all about. I don’t think dereliction is an interesting subject any more. I read the explanation and was impressed to say the least. I will still always look at work first then read the explanation but I will read them. The engines are from a decommissioned American reconnaissance plane. Machines designed to reduce anxiety of a threat from another nation. Within the engines are crushed tablets commonly used to treat depression and the symptoms of trauma. I would never have known this without the explanation. I was impressed by Hiorns’s train of thought.

When I take a photograph I rarely have any kind of philosophical intent. The elements of the composition or the main subject impress me to capture them. As I press the button my mind is blank. Maybe that’s why I have had difficulty working on themes or series. I don’t know why I take the pictures but my mind eye and heart are in register when I do.

Heartbroken Potwasher

Today’s office is Starbucks at Hartshead Moor, Service Station. Drinking out out of paper because the pot-washer is broken.

Having visions of a human pot washer sitting in a shitty room behind the scenes having a nervous breakdown or a heart breakage.

Image taken with Huawei P20 pro on Aperture setting at f0.95.  Processed in Lightroom Mobile using my own black and white high contrast pre-set and a little burning in.  I find getting a satisfactory image straight out of the phone impossible.  Same with a camera really.  If you want to learn how to do it get in touch.