Woods, weather and a fox..

I woke up early today – and stood looking out of the window at the field that was cut only yesterday – the farmer must have thought the rain wouldn’t come, but it has, and it’s that fine drizzle the soaks you through without you even noticing it’s happening.  The trees are starting to drop their leaves, and though it doesn’t seem five minutes since I was sweltering in the heat, today, I’m wearing a thicker jumper.   

There is a whiff of autumn in the air, and I can’t wait really for the leaves to start to turn a golden hue so I can catch the new season as it happens.

The dog walk today took longer than usual, as there are so many fresh smells left over from the night before – a dog fox trotted across the field in front of us, and nose dived into the cut grass after a vole.  We had to watch.  The dogs fascinated, but unable (fortunately) to get in the field.  The fox, red and confident, possibly knowing it was safe from us, seemed to linger, munching on whatever it had caught.

I think I was spotted…..

Earlier this week, I went for a walk in the woods with a friend of mine – we admired the tipi tents of wooden branches that were scattered about, and wondered if these had been used at all, or if they were just practice ‘things’ – who knows…… actually, let me know if you do …..

I continue to play with ICM (Intentional camera movement) because although lots of folks are playing with this – I never have. What I really enjoy here is the fact that even if I continued to stand in exactly the same place taking pictures, using exactly the same technique, they would all come out completely different.

There’s been talk recently on a forum I lurk on about photographers intent. I’m sure that all photographers have an intent each time they press the shutter, or create something in photoshop later; and I know that some leave it to the viewer to determine their own impressions.

I hope that with some of my more abstract work I’ve managed to convey some motivation by use of visual elements, and hopefully careful composition.

I’ll continue to play, to study, contemplate and enjoy many genres and styles of photography. As far as I’m concerned, the more the better. I shall seek inspiration in the works of others, and hopefully I can inspire others with my own work.

This is the way, and how it should always be……..

Photography is NOT an art……

Photography is not an art. Neither is painting, nor sculpture, literature or music. They are only different media for the individual to express his aesthetic feelings…. You do not have to be a painter or a sculptor to be an artist. You may be a shoemaker. You may be creative as such. And, if so, you are a greater artist than the majority of the painters whose work is shown in the galleries of today.

-Alfred Stieglitz-

Stieglitz was an American photographer and modern art promoter who was instrumental over his 50-year career in making photography an accepted art form – but I suspect we fail sometimes in our thinking of what art really is.

There have been a number of discussions on various forums over time, which usually seem to devolve into factions – some who believe one thing, and those another. The consensus on one forum though was that photography cannot, and never will be art…. I ask why not?

Which brings me nicely to the Brotherhood of the Linked Ring….. If you have been to my talk on the beginnings of creative photography, you will know that I talk about Henry Peach Robinson (Founder of the Birmingham Photographic Society). The Brotherhood was founded in 1892 and the idea behind it was “a means of bringing together those who are interested in the development of the highest form of Art of which Photography is capable.” Alfred Stieglitz was also a member.

In November 1893, Robinson created the Photographic Salon,  an annual exhibit event in England whose aim was to “exhibit images in which there is distinct evidence of personal feeling and execution.” As a result, interest grew in processes such as gum bi-chromate, oil pigment and transfer, and supported the trend in producing images not for reproduction, but works of high value, as well as creating interest in surface texture, papers, and colour of print. (Thanks Wikipedia)

There is much at stake these days, as photographers critique one another by saying that images have been ‘photoshopped’. All art involves manipulation of material in one way or another, to the pleasure and discretion of the ‘artist’. It is impossible to put together all aspects of photography, and not call any of them art.

Some images are a straightforward representation of the ‘thing’ the photographer was stood in front of – but the vast majority, have something of the creator in them.

At the dawn of the photographic age, photographs were seen as a projection, with no input from the operator, but as usual, the more adventurous amongst them started to experiment, and create things that were impossible in the ‘real’ world.

Take a look at the work of Peach Robinson – some of his images were the result of many different photographs, stacked together, much in the same way that we would use photoshop layers today. The skill of these masters I feel are remarkable given the level of technology that was at their disposal compared to what we have today.

At one talk I gave on ‘composites with negatives’ – a person said at the end, they didn’t know that composites could be done pre photoshop. I find this a sad state of affairs, that someone with a hobby, in which they profess great interest has never looked at the work produced by past masters of the subject, and the skills that they have in turn, passed down to us.

In short, we need to create our own work. Deal with images as we see fit, and use our artistic skills in any way we want. Images can be artistic, aesthetic and creative – they can even represent what was just in front of the camera if that’s what the photographer wants to do.

Let’s not choose to produce what everyone else does – lets get away from the ‘tripod holes’ at the usual places and create our own images, in our own way.

Begone to the nay-sayers………

I’m on my August break from social media – though I have had a quick look once or twice, and I think I’ve made a couple of comments, but not put anything on my own page apart from a link to this blog.

It’s funny though, the less I look at it, the less I’m inclined to – I think the addiction is starting to fade.

The image below is of windows at St Boltophs Church, Saltfleet – in camera multiple exposure, but edited in Photoshop !


It’s funny isn’t it, the things you overhear?  

I was sitting close to someone who was pontificating about cameras, photography generally, and comparing the DSLR to mobile phone imagery.  He blustered on for quite some time about how the mobile phone will eventually take the place of the DSLR – simply because they were so cheap to buy……. I have to wonder if he’s taken a look at the prices of some of the new smart phones these days, and how much thought went into this rather ‘definite’ remark.

The speaker (who is probably the greatest photographer on the planet), went on to explain that images that could be classified as ‘art’ probably weren’t.  They didn’t meet his criteria for photography – in that all images should be sharp, front to back, and always reflect the ‘human condition’ – whatever he thought that to mean – he wasn’t too clear on that point…

I have been criticised in the past for abstract images I have made with the drone, and in fact a couple of places I did talks for in the last year actually said that drone pictures should be banned (I’ve mentioned this in a previous blog post).  The question ‘did it really look like that?’ Is asked of me frequently, and of course the answer is usually a resounding ‘No’.    I’m more than happy to crop, double expose, change colours and so on, to suit my mood on the day, drone picture or otherwise.

My own work is really more akin to fiction writing than absolute fact, I’d like to think there’s some input from me, but admit to taking a lot of inspiration from anywhere I can get it.  What I don’t do (I hope) is push my opinions on people who are just starting their own photographic journeys…. 

Sadly, there are those photographers who are so insular in their ideas that they fail to look outside their own metaphorical window,  fail to see the beauty in something that isn’t sharp – and in fact make images that are so precise, that they fail to have any soul.

It’s such a shame that some people can’t see ‘the wood for the trees’ as my mum used to say.

Most photographers that I know can understand and ‘see’ images made from passion, creativity and thought, images that go beyond ‘record’ (and I use that term in its loosest form).  

To quote from Guy Tal “Postulating about what amounts to ‘objective reality’ is the business of scientists, journalists, judges and priests”

I know one person who has a wonderful texture and sewing background – she makes beautiful images of waving reeds, and sees textures in grasses and leaves.  She takes great pleasure in making these images – so who are we to say that what she is doing is not creative, or ‘real’ photography…..

Moving on from that rather sultry remark to more general things…..

I’m taking a month off during August from social media (and spend time catching up with blog posts), after helping to organise our local camera club activities for the last 16 months of the pandemic.  Three of us have worked tirelessly over that time, to provide a superb programme of events for the club members, and it’s time for a break.

Yesterday was day 1, and I took my bike up to the Humber Bridge and cycled across it – it may not sound that exciting, but it’s been something that I have wanted to do for the last three years.  I’m hoping that during this month of August I can do more things that I’ve put off – and maybe try to put the Covid fears I have experienced to rest.

Trusty Iron Horse at the Humber Bridge