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Throwback to Ireland 2018

In this time of weirdness and lack of travel, I have taken the opportunity to start going through my photos from previous years. You know the ones that get taken then sidelined when real life gets in the way for a while… we all have them!

I had to start somewhere, so I started in 2018. The first batch I went through were the ones from my day trip to Bristol, I have already told you about those

Now I have started on the ones I took while I was out in our little red camper van in Ireland on the first leg of the Wild Atlantic Way. I did attempt some landscapes while I was there, the scenery was so spectacular I had to… but as we know they are not my strongest suit so there are a fair few alternative photos mixed in.

The ones I am going to show you here are from the first few days of the trip. There will, undoubtedly, be more to come.

These were all taken with my Nikon D90.

Lensballs, and beach huts and sunsets oh my…

Despite the ever variable British autumn weather, I have been continuing my investigation of the beach huts of the south coast. After all there is no point in waiting for ideal conditions in the UK, who knows when they will be…

My first stop this weekend was Shoreham. Somewhere I had been earlier in the summer with my Polaroid and iPhone but I wanted to see if I could get some better shots and give my lensball a trip out. TO be completely honest, I would have had better light if I had made the trip earlier in the day, however not to be deterred, I gave it a go and managed to get one or two interesting shots. Including one lensball shot I am particularly pleased with.

This one I love, I am so pleased with how it came out.

The Shoreham trip was a little late in the day, badly lit and rainy, but it was absolutely worth it for that one reflection shot!

The second expedition of the weekend was a trip to Rustington. It was another late evening trip, but this one involved a pretty spectacular sunset, and Rustington has an extremely colourful and extensive range of beach huts. Absolutely worth a trip!

All of the beach huts in all of the colours!!

And that was before I had got the lensball out…

All in all I am pretty pleased with these shots. I absolutely want to try some more lansball plus reflection shots. This is beginning to get interesting!

A day trip to Bristol

Way back in 2018, there was a photography exhibition in Bristol that I really wanted to see. It was an exhibition at the Martin Parr foundation of some of the Magnum Swaps photos by David Hurn. David Hurn is a British photographer born in Wales and who became an member of Magnum in the 1960s and is considered one of the UK’s most influential reportage photographers. Over his career as a photographer he set up a unique arrangement where he swaps one of his favorite prints with that of another photographer. It started as a cheeky request as a young photographer and has grown into an extensive collection of extremely interesting photos from some of the worlds best photographers. If you want to know more there is a brilliant article here: Magnum Swaps

It is one of those things that you just have to go to see. Even if you have to drive 4 hours each way in a day. The opportunity to see these photos and hear they story behind the swap is not going to coma along that often, and 4 hours driving is not *that* much…

So up I got and off I went, finding my way across the country to the Paintworks area of Bristol where the Martin Parr Foundation gallery is situated. The gallery is a little off the beaten track, well, it appeared to be from a non-locals perspective, but once I found it, the exhibition was well worth it! The photos were (as expected) extremely interesting and varied, and (unexpectedly) there was a copy of one of the most influential photos from when I was growing up.

That photo taken in Tienanmen square. The one entitled Tank Man. That on its own was worth the journey. I didn’t take very many pictures in the gallery its self, it is not really on taking detailed photographs of other people’s work, just one or two from a distance, to remind me I was there 🙂

I did, of course take my camera with me that day, and the area around the gallery provided me with a couple of interesting shots…

Sunsets and shelters

This past summer has been a strange one! The countrywide lockdown and continuing global pandemic, has meant that straying too far from home has been at best frowned upon and at worst, illegal.

The advantage to this is that I have taken the opportunity to photograph some places that are less than 1hr from home. You have seen some of the results of this already in my lensball efforts and my obsessive photographing of beach huts, but believe it or not, there is more on the south coast than beach huts…

For example, there is a fair bit of sea, and these amazing shelters and some fairly spectacular sunsets!

I love the art deco style of these! There are others which are more ornate, but these are by far my favourite!

Lastly, along with beach huts and shelters, the south coast this past year has been host to some fairly impressive sunsets, which may or may not feature beach huts…

The beauty of beach huts

Living, as I do, a stones throw away from the south coast (well, it would have to be a pretty spectacular throw, but still…) I am pretty well placed to investigate the quintessential British tradition that is the beach hut.

You have seen this one before…

Those ones up there are in Littlehampton, West Sussex, they are the beach huts I have photographed most, I keep going back, and I keep finding new ways to photograph them:

Those ones were taken on a dull rainy day, with my iPhone, but even in terrible conditions there is still something about them that makes me want to photograph them. I did, at least try to take one or two different looking photos…

It has to be said, however, that there are more beach huts on the south coast than these. There are hundreds (possibly thousands) of them scattered around in clumps (well, lines) all along the southern edge of the country. During the parts of this summer that we have been allowed out, I have made it my mission to visit them, and photograph them.

I know I am not the only person who does this. But I have fallen in love with these funny little huts and the vast variation that can be found in them. Not only that, they have a lot of pretty compelling details and repeating patterns, two things I am not really able to resist!

I have been out there with both my Nikon D7500 and my polaroid 600, which is almost but not quite from one extreme to another. I took my phone along too…of course 🙂

Needless to say, those photos up there have been taken with my polaroid 🙂

These slightly more modern looking beach huts were found on Worthing sea front. I love them, they are so geometric and interesting. I have tried to photograph them on more than one occasion, this time, I finally got a few photos I am happy with. (taken with my Nikon)

These slightly more traditional and less uniform beach huts are just along from Worthing in Goring, they presented me with some absolutely brilliant rusty details and in one case, a boat… (taken with my Nikon)

This project is likely to go on for a little while, I might give it a proper name and do something interesting with the photos in due course, but for now I am going to just carry on photographing what catches my eye. Then, quite probably going back and photographing it again with a different camera…

Lensball antics…

Many moons ago, at christmas I was given a Lensball. For the uninitiated, this is the description of a lensball, taken from their website:

A lensball is a hardened, ultra clear polished K9 crystal ball which acts like a wide angle lens giving you a 180 degree view and creates a refraction effect, whereby the image in the ball is flipped over – in the right setting it creates some stunning visuals.

https://lensball.co.uk/pages/faqs
lensball…

For one reason or another (lockdown…) I didn’t get a chance to take this new toy out to play until August.

I have to say I am loving it. It is fun and you can get some interesting effects… I am really only just getting the hang of using it, but I can see the possibilities for some interesting shots.

These are the first shots I ever took with it, using my Nikon D7500. I took a couple with my phone, but the quality with the Nikon is so much better that I am sticking to that!

I have read multiple reviews of lensballs, mainly when I was searching around for ideas, and there are definitely mixed feelings out there about the validity of it as a photography tool. There are people who think it is a gimmick, there are people who think that it is not worth their time because everyone is doing it, there are people who think it is not for serious photographers…

I have decided I don’t care what those people think, there is absolutely room for some lensball photos in my photographic shenanigans! Just because lots of people are doing it doesn’t make it a bad thing. Everyone looks at things differently, even through a lensball! And as for those who think it has no place in serious photography, who wants to be serious all of the time! There is a lot to be said for having fun, and you might just end up producing some pictures that people like to look at. Which is the point after all…

These pictures come from the only three times I have taken the ball out for a play. I have already learned a lot about using it and am looking forward to trying even more new things!

Polaroid Fun

We live in a world of digital photography and instant gratification when it comes to seeing the results of your photographic endeavors, not to mention a plethora of very easy ways to alter just about everything about the photo. I love this technology and the freedom it gives to take far more pictures than is really sensible, but I am and always have been a lover of film photography.

not my actual camera…

I got my first camera when I was 4 and progressed to a film SLR when I was 15. I still have it and it still works 🙂 it looks a lot like that one. My love of photography grew from this little entirely manual camera and I loved it. The only thing I didn’t love was waiting for the film to come back from the chemists…

In the 80s and 90s there was only one solution to all this waiting for photos.

The Polaroid camera.

My actual camera (and my matching mug)

I always wanted one. I loved the idea of getting my photo developed instantly (well sort of instantly, it takes about 15 mins) but my parents made the point that the photos were not as good as the ones from my SLR and that Polaroids and polaroid film was expensive. They were right of course, so I didn’t get one.

Until last year!

I decided I was going to rush headlong into the world of instant(ish) photography, and fulfil my teenaged self’s dreams (well, passing fancy anyway if not actually dreams). So, some ebay searching and £15 later I ended up with that lovely 1980s red Polaroid 645 CL up there which not only matches my 1980s campervan but also my camping mug! In a fit of Ebay browsing and purchasing, I now own 6 Polaroid cameras. Not all of which I intend to keep…probably…

I am impressed with the way the cameras work, once I learned that you have to clean the rollers on an extremely regular basis…
I have also learned that the original polaroid film, now all expired, does not work very well at all. Luckily for me there is a company called Polaroid Originals, who have bought out the polaroid company and are making new film that works with the original cameras!

I have been playing with these extensively, both colour and black and white and I love the results. Well most of the results, it is still important to have the right conditions 😀 it s doing this sort of thing that makes you realise just how forgiving digital cameras are. Especially if you shoot in RAW!

I am still working out what the right conditions for Polaroids are, and when to slide the little lighter/darker lever around, but I am happy to say I am getting more hits than misses these days…

The exhibition that never was…

Also known as North by Westy, it was going to be brilliant, but instead the poor photos got locked up in the gallery for 4 months with no one looking at them!

Poor photos, I felt so sad for them!

A bit sad for me too, and Trevor, my fellow photographer and joint exhibitor. There is something brilliant about seeing your work framed and hanging in a gallery for the world to see. After all, part of the point of taking photos is showing them to people.

The theme for this exhibition was a little different to the first one, but me being me, it did have a degree of crossover. This exhibition was based on pictures taken during trip we took in two little red VW camper vans around the north coast of Scotland. As it happens some of the Beauty in the Mundane photos were taken on this trip and were already framed and ready to go so I used those, plus some more that ranged from abstract and esoteric, to my take on landscapes.

We split the exhibition 50/50 with 15 photos from me and 15 photos from Trevor. We picked photos which were vastly different in nature, but also complimentary. I added in some smaller photos and some lino cuts / cyanotype prints which had been inspired by the trip and all in all we had a pretty coherent and well laid out exhibition…

At least it was well laid out and coherent after we had drunk coffee and moved little pictures around on pretend walls!

It was hard work but it was done, it was set up and ready to go. Ready to be shown to our adoring public and launch us in to the spotlight. Or possibly just to be seen by the good people of Horsham on the way to the theater and the cinema. Our gallery was inside the Capitol Theater in Horsham, and the date of our set up was 16th March 2020.

The date and location are particularly important to this story…

2020 is the year of the global Coronavirus pandemic.

On the 17th March 2020 the Cinemas and Theaters across the UK closed their doors for an (as of then) undefined amount of time. On the 23rd March 2020 the country went into complete lockdown.

So, despite the all of our best intentions, the venue for our exhibition closed its doors the day after we put the exhibition up and 5 days later noone was allowed out of the house (much).

Our pictures hung there lonely and abandoned for approximately 4 months. Making it one of the longest running and least viewed exhibitions in the history of the venue! Luckily for the venue and the country, the Theater has now reopened, but our pictures were taken down before anyone got to see them other than a small number of the Capitol staff.

We have been given an revised date, so you never know the pictures may get another chance…

Watch this space

Prints, photographs and pottery… — Creative Endeavours

I have been posting for a little while now about my experiments in printmaking. I have been practicing Lino cutting, cyanotyping and gelli plate printing. I decided it was high time I did something with all the prints that I was collating. Ok…not all of them, some of the experiments weren’t so great but some […]

via Prints, photographs and pottery… — Creative Endeavours

Cyanotype Printing

Cyanotype is a photographic printing process that produces a cyan-blue print. Engineers used the process well into the 20th century as a simple and low-cost process to produce copies of drawings, referred to as blueprints. The process uses two chemicals: ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide.

(Wikipedia)

Cyanotyping is a process I have wanted to try for a long time; I am always trying to make interesting images out of my photographs using alternative processes. I have tried acrylic image transfer and I have made lino cuts and prints based on my photos, . This is a much more direct way of making photos and photo prints, using photosensitive paper and items (either photo negatives or any random items) directly on to the paper to mask its exposure to light. I have wanted try this for so long that I have had the chemicals, dry, un-mixed, in my kitchen cupboard for so long that i am wondering if they have gone off…

I decided it was time to get my act together and actually go somewhere where there was someone who knew how to do this thing and was willing to teach me! So, on Saturday I went on a Cyanotype Printing Masterclass at the Surrey Art School. It was run by the lovely Ellie, a photography and print specialist and founder of the school.

It was a fantastic course in an absolutely stunning location, the studio is absolutely lovely and Ellie was extremely knowledgeable and friendly. She took us through the whole process from coating the paper to placing your items, exposing them in the sun and rinsing the prints off. She had also pre-coated some paper for us to use, coating your paper in bright sunshine doesn’t work that well…it is photosensitive after all :-D. We also got some spare coated paper and unmixed chemicals to take home so we can keep practicing!

img_7893

This was my first attempt, I learned pretty soon that the shaft bit on the feather was too thick and was lifting the rest of the feather away from the surface of the paper.

If things are sitting up above the paper like this, the light can get underneath and the edges will be fuzzy…as you can see 🙂

This is a good lesson to learn 🙂 and that is the whole point of going on this sort of course, you learn what to do but also make mistakes and therefore learn what not to do.

I am obsessed with feathers at the moment and discovered that peacock feathers work really well for this process. I also took some of my own photos what I printed on to acetate. I completely forget to make negatives of them first so the resulting prints are negative themselves, but I like them, they look like blueprints 😀