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.

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…

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…

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 😀

Beauty in the Mundane: The book!

Slightly later than anticipated, I have put together a book of the photos which featured my recent photography exhibition.

book

Click on it and you will get a preview of it and you can even become the proud owner of a lovely shiny copy of your very own!