An Unknown Photographer

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If you don’t know, or haven’t seen this photograph before, you should have done – it was taken May 6th 1937, and depicts the crash of the Hindenburg, killing 30 people.  It was also the cover of a Led Zeppelin album.

Who caught this photograph?  It was a photographer I’m sure you will all have heard of……. Sam Shere.

Sam Shere was a photojournalist, born in 1901, best known for his 1937 photograph of the explosion of the Hindenburg dirigible balloon as it returned from a transatlantic crossing. He said of the photo: “I had two shots in my big Speed Graphic [his camera] but I didn’t even have time to get it up to my eye. I literally ‘shot’ from the hip–it was over so fast there was nothing else to do.”

Shere worked for International News Photo, part of the William Randolph Hearst publishing empire, and covered stories as diverse as the Duke of Windsor, who had abdicated as king of England, to the invasion of Sicily in World War II. His photographs also appeared in LIFE magazine and The New York Times. He was awarded the Editor and Publisher Award for best news picture for 1937 for his famous photo of the Hindenburg disaster.  He died in 1985.

His work has been offered at auction multiple times, with realised prices ranging from $5,371 USD to $8,972 USD, depending on the size and medium of the artwork. Since 2010 the record price for this artist at auction is $8,972 USD for Explosion of the Hindenburg, sold at Grisebach in 2010.

And this folks, is all I can find out about him.  He was famous for one picture – the picture being way more famous than the photographer who took it.

I looked up other references to Sam Shere – there are of course other images taken by him that you can find online (including some underwater cycling shots!), but every page referenced back to this one image – and the reprints of it (which by the way are incredibly expensive).

I’m sure there are other photographers around, that we have never heard of, but who have produced remarkable images.  I’m also pretty sure that I’d rather have one image that everyone knows, but forget who I am, rather than lots of images that drift around in the ether with no-one caring about either the image, or the author.

In the meantime, do look up Sam – and have a look at the underwater table tennis fashion shoot, by clicking this link…….

Enjoy,….

 

 

It’s a Giveaway – Part three

When I started this idea three months ago, I had no idea of how successful it would be.  Images were requested within hours of each post going up.  I genuinely thought I’d not carry on for the three months I promised back in April.

However, here we are, it’s month three, and for the final time, I’m saying that I have 5 free prints to give away (max size A4), to the first 5 that ask for them.

Just go to my website by clicking HERE  and you can choose any image from the galleries available.

I’ve added a couple of new galleries, and there are some new images in the garden bird project.

If you already have one of my images – please don’t ask for another free one – they are reasonably priced, and if there is no price list, then please contact me for more information.

Images can be supplied as prints, or mounted, or mounted and framed.  Sizes, frames and prices on application.

Thank you for supporting this project – I might do it again in the future – but for the moment -this is it……..

Once again, thank you everyone for your support…..

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Where East meets West – Part 12 – Spalding

I’m nearing the edge of Lincolnshire now – and was thinking that Spalding would be the furthest point on my journey South down the Meridian Line.

I still have to re-shoot some of the places I’ve visited already, as I’d like to get some more sunshine into the pictures.  Also, I want to visit Greenwich, as this seems to be the place where it should end……

However….. yesterday we visited Spalding…. for the first time ever… so what is Spalding – what does the place name mean?

It’s both English and Scottish: a habitational name from a place in Lincolnshire, so called from the Old English tribal name Spaldingas ‘people of the district called Spald’. The district name probably means ‘ditches’, referring to the drainage channels in the fenland.

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The river Welland runs through the middle of the town, and it was at one time, the town was well known for the annual Spalding Flower Parade, held from 1959 to 2013. The parade celebrated the region’s vast tulip production and the cultural links between the Fens and the landscape and people of South Holland (the clue is in the name)…

Archeological excavations at Wygate Park in Spalding have shown that there has been occupation in this area from at least the Roman period, when this part of Lincolnshire was used for the production of salt. It was a coastal siltland.   At Wygate Park salt making seems to have come to an end by the mid-3rd century AD; climatic change and flooding may have made such activities difficult, causing the practice to die out.

The river was well used, and boats carrying all kinds of produce was moved up and down and out to the sea.  You can see the merchants houses still, though some have had major conversions on them.

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We didn’t have a lot of time to spend, so we moved a little further north to visit a memorial we had seen signed on a previous visit.  This was to the Pilgrim Fathers, just outside Boston.

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During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Protestant non-conformist religious beliefs flourished in England. One such belief was that of the Separatists, a group of Puritans with strong Lincolnshire links – Gainsborough was at the heart of the Lincolnshire Separatist movement, and another group was based just over the border at Scrooby in Nottinghamshire.

Separatists wanted the freedom to worship God away from the constraints of the Church of England. When Elizabeth was succeeded by King James I, there was a clampdown on such groups, it became illegal not to attend church and the Separatist Movement was banned in 1604.

Wanting to escape persecution, The Separatists decided to flee to The Netherlands, a far more tolerant Protestant country. In 1607, both the Gainsborough Separatists and the Scrooby Separatists travelled to Boston where boats were waiting to take them to Holland.

The Gainsborough Separatists successfully completed their journey and joined other English Separatists known as the Ancient Brethren in Leiden.

Unfortunately, The Scrooby Separatists were betrayed by their boat’s captain. Shortly after setting sail, they were intercepted at Scotia Creek (where this memorial stands),  a few miles down river from Boston.  They were arrested and all their goods seized.

The Scrooby Separatists were brought to Boston Guildhall where they remained in the cells whilst awaiting trial at Lincoln. After several months in prison, they were released and returned home to Scrooby penniless. Sympathisers eventually raised enough money to fund a second escape attempt, which this time was successful.

After living peacefully in Leiden for several years, the Ancient Brethren decided to sail for America in search of a better life in 1620. They hired two ships, the Speedwell, which was to transport passengers, and the larger Mayflower, which was to carry supplies, for this very hazardous journey across the Atlantic.

Unfortunately, the Speedwell started to take in water off the coast of Devon and it became obvious that the ship would be incapable of crossing the Atlantic. The passengers transferred to the Mayflower, which set sail from Plymouth on 6th September 1620 and landed in Massachusetts after an arduous two month voyage.

This small group of people became known as The Pilgrim Fathers, the founding fathers of America.

In the 1630s, another group of Lincolnshire Puritans left Boston for America. They founded a new settlement in Massachusetts and named it after their home town – Boston.

One of the most important of these settlers was The Reverend John Cotton, who was the very controversial Vicar of St. Botolphs’ Church in Boston. The Reverend Cotton made many enemies by preaching his non-conformist views and regularly found himself prosecuted at Lincoln’s Law Courts. In 1633, he sailed across the Atlantic to Boston, Massachusetts, and soon became spiritual leader of this church-dominated state.  His influence increased further when he helped to draft the fundamental laws for the colony that are still applicable today.

You are able to walk further along – past the memorial, and views of the Boston Stump can be seen on the horizon…

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A pillbox from WW2 still marks part of the estuary

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For the time being, this is where my Lincolnshire journey will end, but I think there will be a further post about Spalding.  We visited the parish church which is beautiful, and also the Alms houses there.

I shall revisit some of the places, and research some more, before finally completing the talk that will go with this exploration.

In the meantime… enjoy…

 

The Golden Ratio

What is the Golden Ratio?  Putting it as simply as we can, the Golden Ratio (also known as the Golden Section, Golden Mean, Divine Proportion or Greek letter Phi) exists when a line is divided into two parts and the longer part (a) divided by the smaller part (b) is equal to the sum of (a) + (b) divided by (a), which both equal 1.618.  Whew !!!

The Greeks discovered that there was a ratio of length to height that they considered to be aesthetically pleasing. This is the 1.618 : 1, and this makes a print that is roughly 13 x 8.   What’s magical about this?  Well, it has unusual mathematical properties, which the Greeks claimed were divinely inspired, and therefore the best…. and this particular rectangle is the basic shape of all Greek architecture – including the Parthenon.

If you take the Golden Rectangle, and cut off a square, the shape that is left, is also a Golden Rectangle.  Cut off another square, and you are again left with the Golden Rectangle… ad infinitum.  If you do this repeatedly, you will end up with a spiral of rectangles, and if you then draw a line through these, you will end up with a perfect logarithmic spiral.

The Golden mean was studied at length by the mathematician Fibonacci, who discovered the set of numbers called the Fibonacci sequence. The series of numbers: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, … The next number is found by adding up the two before it.

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As a photographer we need to understand the simplicity of this, and how it can affect our images.  What makes something look ‘good’ without you always being aware of the why…..

In my last post, I showed a portrait, and I’ll show this again with the Golden Triangle superimposed on top.

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There is some magic in the Golden Mean – it’s worthy of study, if you are so inclined, and fascinated by such things (as I am)…

You can find these crop overlays by the way, in Lightroom.  Click on the crop tool, and then repeatedly press the ‘O’ key and different crop layouts will cycle round.  From the 1/3 grid, to the Golden Spiral, and through to the Golden Rectangle…..

Enjoy…..

Paper

Until fairly recently I didn’t print a lot.  Most of my work was created digitally, and rendered digitally.  Then I realised that I needed prints for competitions I was entering, talks I was giving, and more recently for qualifications I was working towards.

I rediscovered my love of paper…  I remember when I was at school, my fascination with reams of paper – the different textures and colours – and different shades of white.  Later, when studying photography at college, we were encouraged to print on different paper types – since then though, I’d almost forgotten about the exercise we did – and it was whilst looking for something else in a cupboard, that I came across the project – with all the different papers.

The images I made for my ARPS, were all printed on Hahnemühle Photo Rag, and they were lovely (if I may say so myself…….).

Since then, I’ve used a variety of papers, and find myself using high gloss less and less.  I really like the lustres, and satin mat for certain images.

Paper is sensual.  The texture, the colour, the weave.  In fact it’s a bit confusing to decide which to choose, and which will work best with each image.

My printer, which has been on its last legs for some time, finally ran out of one of the ink colours, and the way it is designed means that I can’t even print a text document in black (even though there’s plenty of that)… so I think that it will have to go to the great printer heaven at the tip.

I’ve been unable to make photographic prints at home for a long while because the fault in the printer heads meant that everything came out with a green cast – which looks pretty unpleasant – so everything has been outsourced to One Vision Imaging since last October, and it was whilst using them that I tried a number of different papers.

I kept using my old printer for documents, and drafts of things, but now it sits on my desk like an out of work dinosaur.

It’s going to take me a while to sort this out, but hopefully, when I do, it’ll be a smaller printer (everything used to be A3+).  The last set of prints I made were 12 x 8 (a ratio I like a lot), and I’m convinced that for the most part this is big enough.

When I’m judging at clubs – I try to find time to say that sometimes bigger means more margin for error.  With smaller prints, it’s harder to find some of  the mistakes.

For the moment though, it is outsourced printing, till I can get a new printer.

 

 

The Prime Meridian – Where East Meets West – Part 1

For some time, I’ve been thinking about a project for myself for 2019. I’d dithered with the Meridian Line, and tracing it across Lincolnshire, and a few weeks ago decided that I’d give it a go.

I’m allowing 12 months to complete the project – and the intention is to take as many interesting photographs as I can, as near to zero degrees as it is possible to get between Cleethorpes and roughly as far south as Boston.

I’ve already got OS maps for most of the county, but finally decided that I’d go further North to where the Meridian Line first makes landfall in the East Riding of Yorkshire.

So last week, a friend and I headed north, to Withernsea, and Patrington. Once the line leaves Yorkshire of course there is a small matter of the Humber Estuary getting in the way, so the next time I go out, the set of images will be from Cleethorpes.

It was a beautiful day, and after we had found the zero degrees signs we wandered along the coast road looking at the cliff collapse near the Caravan Park just outside Withernsea. The houses there are now perilously close to the edge, and the caravan park too. There was a road once, that must have traversed the cliff top, with views out to sea. It’s all gone.  The house in the background of the photo below is about 50 yards from the cliff edge, but its back garden fence is practically on the edge…..

After that, we headed South back to Withernsea itself for some lunch, and then further south again to Sunk Island (because we liked the name) – here we found Stone Creek, and by this time the sun was starting to go down.

This was just our first outing, and I’ll write more about the Meridian itself in future blog posts.

What I’m hoping long term, is that having something to work towards will help in an exploration of the County – I find it’s always good to have an excuse to go out with the camera.. this might turn out to be one of the best if this day was anything to go by.  It’s also good to have a project.

In the meantime, have a lovely Christmas – and a happy and peaceful New Year.

Thanks for taking time to read, and follow this blog – it’s been a good photographic year……

Best Wishes……

Trending Now

One of the greatest traps in photography I find is defined by current trends.  In some cases, this can be very useful, for example in team building, or sports, but when it follows the herd it can be very difficult.

For example – a few years ago, when I was a member of a camera club in the Manchester area – there was a swathe of photographs hit the circuit – they were basically what I called ‘big head’ shots.  It was usually a photo of a person, in say a victorian costume, maybe wearing a top hat – he would dominate the image, in the foreground, and in the background would cleverly be put, say a steam engine, or a scene from the Black Country Museum.  This was original, and creative, but then everyone started doing it – and after a while it became – oh just another ‘big head’ shot – lets move on…….

Since my attitute to photography has changed (and really that is in the last 18 months), so has my work.  Art making is not quite the same as photography as a hobby.  A hobby is, by definition a diversion, a pass-time.  Art making is more of a struggle and a passion.  Rewards do come, but usually at a price.  I am finding my photography now even more of an addiction than I did before, as I search to change and improve my photographic style without the restrictions imposed on me by photographic clubs and competitions.

Not that I’d never enter competitions again – I will – I enjoy the challenge, and the ability to see other people’s work.  In fact, this is one of the reasons that I love to judge at camera clubs around the county.  I see what others are doing – I see the trends, and the ideas flow – well they do sometimes………

Even my relationship with my camera has changed.  From the Canon 1DX, and a full range of red band, beige, lens – I have moved almost entirely to the Fuji System.  I no longer think about ‘gear’ as the be all and end all of photography (although I admit better gear does help – but it’s not the camera that takes the picture, it’s the photographer)….  The camera is a tool – the oven doesn’t make good cakes, as the camera doesn’t take great pictures.

I’m watching the rush – the rush to take the next picture, then get it online for the ‘thumbs up’, ‘thumbs down’ vote from the Facebook clans, who are constantly chasing after the latest ‘trend’.

When was the last time you spent time on your own, with a camera?  I’ve concluded that I don’t do quite as well when I’m out with friends. I am interested then in what they are doing, the conversation and the pleasure of being with them.  I’m more interested in this, than in making a meaningful photograph.  So, I need to slow down even more and aim for a more creative frame of mind, and maybe spend a bit more time on my own.

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Practice Makes Perfect?

I’ve been reading a lot this week about photography, and how we improve.  Practice is obviously the answer, but it is always?

When you go to a concert, you hear the singer, the pianist – you see paintings in a gallery, the prints on a wall.  To get this good, the artist must practice every day – to get out of form before a concert is unheard of (well maybe not always! but you get the idea)…  So when you look at images, you are seeing the end result of weeks, and maybe years of work, and practice.

I know it’s nearly impossible to get out and shoot every day, but what other ways are there to keep your finger on the button?  I think that talking about image making, talking about photography generally is practice – as is looking at other people’s work – visiting galleries – sharing images.  Even looking at images on Instagram, Facebook or even Google, is practice.  Every time you look at someone elses work, you are honing your own skills, mostly indirectly.

So, how do you practice with your camera ?  Well, there are a number of ways – you COULD just walk out the house and shoot anything and everything you see.  Is that practice, or just shooting for the sake of it?  Or, you could go on a workshop, and immerse yourself in the photographic life for a week, absorb, and create… that seems good to me… or you could set yourself a project!

A strategy is needed, and I think that the best way of learning, of moving on, is by ‘finishing’ things; and by finish, I mean print, or otherwise share your work with the wider world.  I prefer the former.  A book, a print to hang in your home, a set of images to a theme.  This makes it harder to do, but also offers a challenge to the photographer.

On the other hand, by sharing your images online, you leave yourself open to critique by others.  I’m intrigued by photographers (and I use the term loosely), who post images on Social Media, but who won’t accept that sometimes, not everyone will like them.  I like to ask people why they took an image, or why they processed it in the way they did.  The answers vary, but on ocassion, they take great offence that I had even the temerity to ask.  Why is this?

Back to projects.

As I said in a previous blog post, I used to be a one image producer.  I didn’t do projects, or even panels of three.  It was one shot, or nothing.  Since I became a member of the Linconshire Image Makers though, my whole ideal and attitude changed.  It’s taken months of talk, and work, (and nagging), but finally I’m seeing not only the results of the discipline, but I think my whole attitude to photography and art has seen a dynamic shift, and because I’m questioning my own work, I’m starting to question other people’s work too.

Within the group, it’s simple.  This is what we meet up for – we look at each others work, and work of the major photographers, and ask why this, why that, why this image, and not that one.  Outside the group, well, as I said, it’s not so easy.

I’m considering a Social Media blackout for a month or so – I need to get my head around where I want to go with my imagery, and I need to plan a strategy to get me through the winter, and maybe well into next year.  My website needs an overhaul (it’s long overdue), and I want to allow myself time to experiment more.  I’ve run through the multiple exposure sets, and I won’t stop doing these – they give me immense pleasure,  but I want to also run a set of images on a ‘what if’ basis….  What if I shot everything out of focus?  What if I did everything with a dutch tilt? (a type of camera shot where the camera is set at an angle), What if I photographed…………… (fill in the blank as you desire).  Maybe just 6 images – maybe a project of just one image, maybe 15 or 20.  What if I set myself a project to complete 100 prints in a twelve month period? (that might not happen)……. but what if it did….?

As someone said to me only today – “it’s only a photo”….. and when I questioned why denegrate it to “only a photo”…… I was met with silence….. and there the matter rested.