It’s Wednesday….

It’s Wednesday again already and it’s hot and humid and close. Yesterday we had a huge downpour and I had to run about in bare feet trying to get the washing in. Of course I’d done all the bedding, so it was all big stuff, but the raindrops were bigger.

A neighbour has a digger in his garden today, and just watching it somehow makes me feel even hotter, it’s really been one of those mornings…..

Everything sounded awful, everyone is niggly, the news makes it sound like the world is coming to an end and none of the staff in the local supermarket are wearing masks, even though all the shoppers are.

It’s only shopping, I remind myself, it’s all going to be OK….

Later, I’m at the computer, with a breeze finally coming in through the window and I’m looking at pictures I took with the drone over the last weekend.

We had a friend over to stay, and it was weird having someone who is not a household member in the house – but it did allow us (if we need to be allowed) to have impromptu drinks in the afternoon – sat around a table in the garden for hours and hours chatting about everything, and nothing…

The ridiculously early start on Sunday morning (getting up at 3am) was invigorating. Cool air, gorgeous coloured skies, sand underfoot, and a gentle sea. An amazing number of people about in fact. Kids who hadn’t been home all night – still dressed in skimpy clothing for evening, (asking why I had a helicopter with me!), and other folk who had been for an early morning swim, jog, walk, saunter, bike ride or workout.


Two ladies with a little girl sat on the steps looking out to sea, told me that they had driven for over an hour to get there to watch the sun come up. The youngster having a great time paddling and digging in the soft sand. She didn’t care what time it was (there was a breakfast treat to look forward to). A teenager too, sitting in the car refusing to move. Hair tugging, absorbed in her phone, missing the dawn of a new day.

There they all are in the photo below, right at the bottom, near the middle….. you’ll have to look closely….


Which reminds me of things that I love.

Friends who come to visit, sunrise, early mornings, colours in the sky, drone flying, watching the tide go out, small dogs in coloured jackets, out of the blue text messages, people saying ‘thank you’, and overhearing bits of conversation, like these two walking past me on my way back to the car…. “if it wasn’t for the books” he said, “she’d never be working in that library”… and there the matter rested as they strolled away……

‘Freedom Day’, Maybe….

Today is the same as yesterday and the day before – we’ve not quite unlocked fully, but apparently we will do next week.  Maybe I’ll be able to bin the hazmat suit finally, (it was too big for me anyway) and open another bottle of wine, but keep the mask… which actually makes it a bit harder to drink – never mind.

I wonder what my daughter will tell her kids about the last year or so.  Maybe she’ll make it sound like it was fun…..   It’s been a bit like being stuck in an ever repeating sitcom….. without the laughs, or maybe there were a few laughs….….. moving on……. 

I’m pretty sure I’ve spent a lot of time overeating during the pandemic, maybe a bit of over… well over everything really.

I have also apparently lost the concept of time. Can’t remember when I last wore a watch. It’s like we’ve been trapped in an online life, and infinite loop of despair, with no memory of a time before – and suddenly it looks like it’s going to end, and it’s actually a bit scary !

So, after all these months of booking speakers for the camera club, we find we are slowly struggling though the sludge to the end.  I’ve got another three I think before the end of July, and then we’re having a whole month off…. Wonder if I’ll miss it, and wonder what will happen next.  

At the moment though, I don’t fancy sitting in a small club room with folks breathing over each other..  I’m distrustful, I know……

At least the inspiration that has come from other photographers and artists has kept me going, especially in the last few weeks, and the last two speakers to come are both experimental, and artistic at the same time.  So that’s all good then.

Plus for the first time I really felt that I’ve had my fill and monies worth of the RPS – from being a far flung organisation somewhere on the edge of the galaxy, they came full circle and put on loads of events (albeit online) that were brilliant… fingers crossed all that will continue…. 

Of course there’s been the online zoom social meetings, (and a party, that was interesting) as well as the photo meetings….  and I’ve learned a lot of useful stuff…… like how to plait wheat, and make basic corn dollies….. yes really, and I’ve got two hung in the downstairs toilet to prove it.

Soon be time to go outside again, maskless, in the garden, and then the dogs will need a walk.  I tried to take my camera once on a dog walk – didn’t do very well – I spent more time watching them leap around like the demented animals that they are, than taking photographs, oh and avoiding other people who also seem to think they should walk their dogs too, who might just want to TALK to me.

This weekend though, we have guests… it’ll be a bit strange having other people in the house, overnight, who doesn’t normally live with us.  They take photos though, so it’ll be OK.

What’s the point of this?  Well I just thought I’d put it out there that I’m still experimenting, and playing – we adults, we don’t play enough do we?  In my talks, I advocate playtime, but for some grown ups it’s a hard thing to do.  I’ve a couple of friends who are avid gamers, but not photographers… I like playing with software and cameras, and pushing boundaries where I can.

Trouble is, we can get too fixated on the so called rules …. I keep saying, ‘there are no rules’, this isn’t a sport, it’s supposed to be fun (unless of course you’re doing it for a living).  I used to do it for a living…… and what I did, well, no editing was allowed…. 

I got fired once, from a company I didn’t work for – I was out there taking photographs of a building for a business (who will remain nameless).. security (who hadn’t been told I’d be there), thought I was a member of staff sneaking out early…. I got hauled into the office and was actually officially reprimanded, till someone from HR came along and realised I wasn’t actually an employee.  This was a good rule…. ‘Keep your staff in line’.  The other rule they had was that all staff had to wear shoes, not boots, not even in winter – I digress.

I’ve actually forgotten the purpose of this post now… so I reckon I’ll stop…… Here’s a photo for good measure that I took on our first club outing in 18 months…… I might have slipped – waved the camera round a bit, or maybe it was the gin….. who knows……..

Cleethorpes Country Park

Keep shooting, and taking the pills as necessary – normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Here’s an idea !

I’ve been reading about photography ideas – here’s one I like the sounds of, and intend to have a go with – I’ll publish the results in due course, and if I don’t, I’m pretty sure someone will remind me.

Why don’t you have a go at this too……

  1. Go for a walk WITHOUT your camera. Go back and make one photo of something you saw on the walk.
  2. Use negative space with ‘wild and reckless abandonment’ – make the main subject a very small part of the composition.
  3. Walk an area you normally drive through. Bring your camera, and make one photo of something you’ve not noticed before.
  4. Make a scenic photograph. Eliminate one element and retake. Repeat till there’s nothing left to take – see how many steps you can spread it out for.

So that’s one shot each for the first three, and a number of shots for the last……

Remember they don’t have to be masterpieces of artwork – just thoughtful things.

Now – there’s a bit of woodland I drive past all the time………..

Have fun with your photography…..

Woods in the winter

It’s Pixellated !!!

In my college days – in Stockport, working at photography, early on, a question was asked by our tutor – “why are you obsessed with taking pictures?”

We all had to think…… ‘Obsessed’ seemed a bit strong.

If I don’t take pictures for any length of time, I start to feel out of sorts, a bit ‘antsy’, and restless – My other half has no thoughts whatsoever about taking photographs. He has a camera, yes, but hardly ever uses it.  He’s quite normal, but doesn’t have the same drive that I do to make an image – in fact he has none at all…..

Yet, all of us who are photographers, who are driven and motivated, and have sacrificed money and time, and effort, and space in our homes for equipment and computers – maybe we are the ones who are just a bit crazy….. a bit ‘obsessed’.

But why do we spend so much time, and expend so much energy in making photographs?

Well, for me anyway, I feel almost compelled to share with other people the way that I see the world.  I operate under the illusion (or maybe delusion) that other people might be just a bit interested in the way I see things, or imagine things.

It’s egotistical isn’t it, that photographers think that others will be interested in seeing how we see – and thinking that the way we see, is different to everyone else.  

I look at work produced by other photographers, so that I can produce something that is different, so that they can look at my work and maybe produce something that is different – ad infinitum.

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Which brings me nicely on to what other people hang on their walls.  

In the good old days, when we were able to visit other people’s homes – remember those halcyon days – must be – well, over 12 weeks ago (ish) now……  I was always interested in what was hanging there.  

I was in an office a while ago, and there was a picture on the wall of Scotland – Skye in fact, and what caught my eye, was that it was taken from a place I had been, and stood, and taken my own photo. 

I mentioned later that I’d admired the picture, and was told that it had been taken by a friend of his, when they were on holiday together.  He told me all about the trip, how much he’d enjoyed it, how he intended to go back as soon as it was possible to do so.  

The way he described it – I could tell that the photograph meant an awful lot to him, and how much he enjoyed having it hanging there.

Being a bit of a picture person, I took another, better, closer, look – as a photographer would. 

It was pixellated – and obviously an enlargement of a much smaller image, and the colours were a bit ‘off’.  It had looked OK from 10 or 12 feet away, but once I got closer, I saw the flaws.  I started to see it, not as a memory of a place visited, but as a flawed piece of work, yet for him, it was a beautiful picture that evoked a wonderful memory, thus showing the difference between how just two people can view an image.  Double that, triple it, and then think of how many people look at your work, and think about how they view it.

It’s not all going to be the same way…. and sometimes we are lucky if ‘anyone’ likes what we are doing…  good to experiment though isn’t it?

Have fun, stay alert! as the saying now goes…..

 

We’ve a lot to worry about…

Us photographers have a lot to worry about.  Life is so full of risks, that I’m grateful for any and all warnings that come from camera manufacturers….

As some of you know, I recently sold all my Canon gear, and switched over to the Fuji system.  I bought, over a year ago now, a Fuji X-T3, and I’ve only just got around to reading the manual – I should have read this first and been prepared…..

It says – and I quote here from the book….

“Do not use this product near water.  For example a bath tub, wash bowl, kitchen sink, or laundry tub, in a wet basement, or swimming pool and the like.”

Good job I read this bit then – as I was about to dunk it in the washing machine for a good soak…..

Separately it tells me not to use it in the shower…. (drat)

Continued use of the camera when it is emitting smoke, or any unusual odour, can be hazardous…..    SMOKE?????

Do not take pictures whilst you are in motion…….you may fall down (yes it really does say this..)

Do not touch the camera during a thunderstorm.. (no lightning pictures for me then)..

It tells me not to use the camera if I happen to find myself wandering around an area where there are flammable objects, or explosive gasses – I guess this isn’t somewhere I would normally find myself.

Funnily it also tells me to keep hot shoes out of the reach of small children…… though I wonder why kids would be wanting their shoes to be hot in the first place…. hey ho!

Lastly there is the imminent danger of being injured by the memory card…..

When a memory card is being removed, the card could come out of the slot quickly.  Use your finger to hold it.  Injury could result to those struck by the ejected card.

I’ve a vision of a card being forcibly ejected, shooting across the room, and decapitating a colleague……

Still, it’s good to know……..

 

 

Who Cares?

I do quite a bit of judging these days, and so I see both good and bad work presented to me for some critique, and opinion.

I also do personal critique sessions, and try to help photographers with individual images they are trying to make, or panels they are trying to put together – and sometimes a photographer might be insistent that one image or another is the one they want to use or put into a group of other images – and the reason is that they have an emotional tie to that image – whether it’s a good one or not.

It’s not always what the photographer wants to hear…. that an image won’t fit – or isn’t that good….. Reasons for inclusion are numerous, but usually on the grounds that it was a difficult image to produce, or acquire, or expensive to get.  My response these days is pretty much on the grounds of ‘who cares?’ – though maybe not quite so blunt.

My story is that many years ago, I photographed red squirrels in Liverpool.  Not only had I not seen one before but it was around the time that squirrel pox had decimated the population somewhat – so the photos I did get were few and far between.  I did get some, and the one I was most proud of, was a fat squirrel sat in in front of, and partly obscured by, the woodland undergrowth.

Proudly I put it into a local club competition, and it did very badly.  Not knowing protocol – I complained to the judge at the end – and I said to him ” Do you know how hard it was to get that picture?”  and his response was “Not my problem – it’s up to you to get a clear image with a diffused background” – I was taken aback, and said that it was nearly impossible to get that sort of background…. to which he replied “so go try harder then”………

Now – I understand what he meant – it wasn’t the judges problem, it was mine…. No one who views a piece of artwork or photography cares how long it took, how difficult it was to get, or  how much it cost.  No-one cares that you stood in an icy river for three weeks, or that you paid a fortune to a photographic  holiday company.

The pain and suffering that a photographer or artist goes through is irrelevant from a viewer’s point of view.  We always think it’s important, when we are the ones who  have suffered so much, or paid for a shoot.  It’s the painful truth though – If it’s a bad image, then no amount of pain and suffering or expense will make it into a better one.

If you want accolades and praise all the time, then photography or art isn’t for you.  Take the rough with the smooth, and accept that not everyone is going to like what you produce, and sometimes the reason they don’t like it, is just because it really isn’t good enough!

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Never Go Back !

I was on my way to a job a couple of years ago – fairly locally.  I had a deadline to be with the client to photograph a presentation, and didn’t really have time to stop on the way.

Driving past, I saw this boat – moored up, and I thought, that’s great – I’ll go back an shoot it on the way home, or maybe another day.

The voices in my head, that I’ve talked about before, and said you should listen to – shouted at me “do it now”.  I did, I stopped the car, got out, and took this one image.

When I was finished – I drove home the same way, back to see the boat again.  There was no boat any more.  It had gone.  No longer any photo for me to take.

So, I reiterate….. “Never Go Back”… shoot it now.  When and if you do go back it won’t be the same.  It can never be exactly the same.  The weather will change, the light will change.  The thing you want to shoot may not be there any  more.  It might be better, or worse, but never the same.

I always tell people to keep going back to the same location – over and over – to see it in different lights, moods, and seasons.  You will have a different attitude, and a different mood.  You will try different viewpoints.

Always though, shoot first, and ask questions later……

Enjoy your photography…..

 

Water Fools – Salford Quays – Manchester

The French outdoor theatre company ILOTOPE put on a spectacular event this weekend at Salford Quays.  I was down there to shoot the dress rehearsal which, although brilliantly done, did not have the fireworks going.

Water Fools, Salford Quays-11It did feature though, a floating car, with a caravan, a huge floating bed, and lots of other magic.  At 9.30 prompt a car arrived, dropping a man off on a platform in the middle of the water.

Water Fools, Salford Quays-14The story is rooted in the fanatical, as a surreal world explodes out of a man’s head, transporting him from the rigmarole of his everyday existence to a landscape populated with mythical creatures and inexplicable magic, while all spectacularly taking place on the water’s surface. Caravans, prams and penny-farthings will feature, defying all logic, bringing an impossibly innovative piece of entertainment to Salford Quays.

Water Fools, Salford Quays-48Choreographed by French artist Bruno Schnebelin the routine had chain breath-taking visuals, punctuated by pyrotechnics, with engrossing theatre while fellow countryman Phil Spectrum composed an original score to make the show spectacular in all aspects.

Water Fools, Salford Quays-40The rest of the images from this shoot can be seen HERE

A Wet Week in Wales

We’ve returned from what was probably the wettest break we’ve ever been on.  I’ve never known rain quite like it, but I suppose that this is what keeps England forever green.  Weather notwithstanding, we headed out every day for wildlife, and birds in particular.

Up towards the North for Kites, Mid Wales for Falcons, and out to the Island of Skomer for the Puffins. Skomer is a 2.92 km² island off the coast of southwest Wales, one of a chain lying within a kilometre off the Pembrokeshire coast and separated from the mainland by the treacherous waters of Jack Sound. Skomer Island measures approximately 2.4 km (1.5 mi) north-south and 3.2 km (2 mi) east-west. We visited on a wet (predicably) and very windy day, with lots of cloud, which ironically is ideal for puffin photography, and with the winds being high, it was ideal for getting them in flight.

The high winds also made landing difficult, and so some birds were forced to land where they could, and then make a frantic scurry to their holes – sometimes, as in the image above, making quite a long run before arriving home safely with their catch of fish.

If you’ve never been to Skomer, it comes highly recommended.  Get the earliest boat out that you can, so you can maximise your stay.  Ours was cut short somewhat due to the high winds, and the boat back was early afternoon to get everyone off the island before the really bad weather set in.

More on this trip in another blog post.