The Tate St Ives

I came to St Ives to be solitary, to think about blogging and my work.

Also to work out the WordPress apps. I have been solitary and tried to think of things to blog about. Of course my mind has been blocked. Until this morning I went to the Tate St Ives. A fabulous building. So I decided to produce a snippet from this trip as a taster.

All the shots were taken with the Lumix G90 which I absolutely adore. Matched with an Olympus 17mm f1. 2 lens. A great combination for the seaside as they are both dust and splashproof. I used the program mode for all the shots and varied the exposure using the exposure compensation feature using my thumb on the rear control wheel. One way for darker t’other for lighter.

I had spotted the woman in cloche hat earlier, I used focus lock again with my thumb to focus on the back of her head as soon as she turned..snapped the shutter.

The guy in silhouette was in the restaurant sitting behind me. Using wifi I pointed the camera rearwards. I was able to compose and take the shot with my phone without ever looking in his direction.

The pictures were then sent to my Huawei P20 pro phone by wifi and processed there in Lightroom.

“Your own photography is never enough” About Influence.

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.

Chloe climbing the stairs at Vortex
Chloe climbing the stairs at Vortex

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.

Dog in the snow at Meltham photographed by Robert Norbury
Dog in the snow at Meltham photographed by Robert Norbury
Winksley Banks North Yorkshire
Winksley Banks North Yorkshire by Robert Norbury

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.

Lady Agnew of Lochnaw a Muse.

500px-Edinburgh_NGS_Singer_Sargent_Lady_Agnew
I have been fascinated by this painting since I first wandered into the Scottish National Gallery.  It’s of Lady Agnew of Lochnaw by John Singer Sargeant who was born in Florence of American parentage. It was my favourite work of art for a long time but other favourites are creeping in which I shall write about some other time.  You really have to go and see her in the gallery.  There are nuances that aren’t apparent in reproductions.  I have stared at her for hours and now I can see an enigmatic  smile I think.  The raised eyebrow, what’s all that about?  Click the picture above for more information about the painting.
Of course I am in love with her.
One of the best bits for me is the bracelet.  When you see the original close it’s just a few simple brush strokes of gold coloured paint which are rendered metallic by his skill.
I went to see her once and to my horror she had been loaned to the Australians!  I was distraught.  A while later I happened across an Edinburgh prospect on a dating website.  Tongue in cheek I asked her to go look to see if Lady Agnew had returned.  She did and she had. I suggested we go see her together.  We did.  I am still single.  Interesting conversation though Irvine Welsh had been her neighbour for a while.

Lady Agnew of Lochnaw and Me
Lady Agnew of Lochnaw and Me a selfy.

Has this painting had an influence on my work?  I believe it has for example in nudes.  When I first used a model for nude work I wondered what would happen.  I had photographed people I was close to. My favourite nudes up to then were probably by Ralph Gibson.  What happened with my pictures?  Portraits of the model is what happened I have done a few more and the same thing happened.  I will write a blog with examples soon.  If you are reading this and would like to be photographed please get in touch.  I will provide images and pay reasonable expenses.
Here are a few snaps I have taken of the painting at the National Gallery of Scotland who welcome photographers. They were all taken with Lumix cameras and an Olympus 17mm f1.4 lens. The national galleries of Scotland are much better looked after than the English ones,  generally the cafés are clean.  The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is a delight, there are two of them on opposite sides of the road with a choice of caffs.  Their portrait gallery is in a magnificent red building.  I will have a root around to see if I have enough snaps for blogs. If not I will have to go back 🙂