I am trying to put together a presentation for a talk to a school next week on the theme of Light and Dark using a retrospective collection of images. One of the difficulties is not getting sidetracked when trying to look at old work without getting embroiled in editing it. The tools available in the software I use for post production, Adobe Lightroom Classic have changed and I can now realise some fantastic pictures from the information available in old digital files effectively the modern negative. The picture here is a prime example I love what I have been able to do now using the new tools. The picture is also a selfie the beady eye at the bottom of the frame
I am available for one on one or small groups for tuition if you would like to know what I do. Drop me an email there is a link on here.
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.
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.
The view from my camper, the day I descended Gaping Gill.
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.
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.
I am at Beadnell for the umpteenth time. I love it here. Took these pictures this afternoon with my new Lumix G90 and Olympus 17mm f1. 8 lens then wifi whizzed ’em to my phone. Decided one just had to be colour for a change.
I do like to support local businesess when I can. However at Barter Books in Alnwick this morning I spotted a second hand book about the photographer Brassai priced at £32. I saw the same book at 81p on Abe books with £2.60 postage, this seller cannot be making any money.
Any road here is a selection of photographs inspired by the experience.
Crowthers Mill and a Book
Portrait of a woman with her head in hands.
Book and Lamp
Out of focus photograph of a woman in front of a book shelf by Robert Norbury.
There have been many influences on my work and inspiration comes from many sources. I can be inspired by the human form, music, the landscape, the enthusiasm and actions of others, music, to name but a few. The photographer Robert Adams has been both for me. An English language academic in the U. S., turned photographer he has for me all the right qualifications as a guru. I have tried to read Sontag and Barthes but for me they don’t speak the right language. (Notice that they don’t get a link here you’ll have to Google ’em yourself) Adams’s book ‘Why people photograph’ is a seminal work. It is a collection of articles and critiques. Adams once said “Your own photography is never enough. Every photographer who has lasted has depended on other peoples pictures too – photographs that may be public or private, serious or funny but that carry with them a reminder of community.”
Over the years I have developed a visual signature, a creative personality. How did I do it. Influence. I took lots of pictures. I looked at millions of pictures to discover the photographers and artists that I wanted to emulate. I studied their work. I bought books. I have never tried to copy other’s work. I know some teachers think that’s a good way to learn. For sure one of the biggest influences has been Ralph Gibson and for me it is obvious in many of my pictures including the one of the woman in the header above.
However although I don’t copy, often a picture is or almost is a pastiche of something else, for example the picture here of Chloe climbing stairs. When I took it Marcel Duchamps Nu Descendant un Escalier‘, was definitely in my mind.
On another occasion I was overtaken by a black dog in snow I quickly snapped a shot which reminded me so much of this one by Joseph Koudelka. Koudelka has been an influence for sure. I am fascinated by white lines at road junctions because of this shot.
A few words about books. Art and photography books can be expensive and the chances of finding a bargain in a charity shop these days are slim. You can of course view work on the internet. However the Photofile and Photopoche books are really good value for money. New they are 8 or nine pounds new and can be bought second hand on Abe or Alibris. The new ones can be bought on Amazon. The Photopoche ones are written in French. I have around 40 of them and they do fit in your pocket. They are from the same stable and are identical in size.
I bought a Kindle Paperwhite because I thought that the bright screen of my iPad might be hindering falling asleep. In practice there is little difference in screen brightness when reading in the dark. The page refresh thing that Kindle does is really irritating and the page size annoyingly small. The refresh means that as you change page the screen goes black before you get the next page….every fucking time, I find this very distracting.
The Kindle is also limited in its connectivity, no browser, just Wikipedia and one dictionary. Using an iPad or Android phone (Huawei p20 pro) the world is your lobster. I like being able to look up references on Google instantly. Just hold your finger on what you want to research and you are away. Murakami for example has loads of references to classical music and jazz which I can listen to in a beat.
I still read paper of course I have received 2 books this week.
Here are some pictures that I have taken over the years involving the written word. I find that too much explanation spoils what I am looking for in my work. I like people to enjoy interpreting what I do, most of it is capricious. Yet I feel there always an echo there of something else.
Please let me know what you think of this blog, the art or the ramblings about Kindle. Click the pics to big ’em or slide ’em.
Last year at Shrewsbury Festival, music teacher and musician Diana Buckle asked me if I would take a few shots of her mandolin workshop. The weather was absolutely foul, my duties as steward weren’t particularly onerous, so I agreed.
Having the consent of the facilitator means that no one complains about being photographed in my experience. I grabbed a few introductory shots of the weather and the empty tent before people arrived but most it of happens by instinct. Much of the storytelling happens in the editing. How do you decide which is the right shot? Not easy. Years ago I bought a book called ‘The Right Picture’ by a photographer Ken Heyman and John Durniak a picture editor. Its probably time I read it again but it has made editing easier over the years. Its still available new and used. I edited this down to 9 shots from around 50.
It was an interesting exercise. I was using a Panasonic Lumix G9 micro four thirds camera and an Olympus 17mm f1.2 lens. Both are weatherproof. I have used this outfit in heavy rain and snow for several hours without any problems.
The G9 is not my favourite camera I find it heavy and cumbersome. The shutter release is a real hair trigger job and not recessed to prevent accidental operation. If you leave it switched on whilst carrying it accidental operation is inevitable. I can’t fault the image quality, the extra pixels of the 20mp sensor are evident. I miss my old Lumix GH4R’s they were light and a delight to use but their 16 mp sensors were outdated.
The Olympus 17mm f1.2 is again a heavy piece of kit but indispensable in wet weather its f1.2 maximum aperture gathers lots of light in very dark conditions.
My preferred lens is an Olympus f1.8 which is minute in comparison but doesn’t have a built in raincoat. Combined with my GX9 body(also 20mp) they will fit into a large pocket. I shall be publishing a blog about the 17mm lenses I use soon.
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