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.

_DSF2639

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.

_DSF2606

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.

_DSF2752

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…

_DSF2770

A pillbox from WW2 still marks part of the estuary

_DSF2758

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…

 

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.

 

 

Where East Meets West – Part 5

_dsf1531

Continuing on my journey – following the Meridian (or as near as – as the mood takes me) – we wandered over towards Tetford.  We parked up, after noticing a disused chalk quarry with lots of signs warning us of the dangers therein, so of course we had to take a quick look.  I hasten to add at this point, that we didn’t actually trespass, or climb over the wire – but there were photographs that we could take from the roadside.  I didn’t much fancy falling over the cliff edge.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The site must have been a very busy one in the past, and we could still see the weigh station scales by only scrambling up the grassy bank.

I did a bit of a seach about this site, but could only discover that it was still in operation in 1970, but  not when it closed.  It was worked by Singleton Birch Ltd for the cretaceous Chalk to be used for industrial chalk and lime.

So, with the weather looking like it might get better – we pressed on towards Sumersby – the birthplace of Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

The whole area round Somersby is quintessentially English.  The sort of place the J R R Tolkien would have felt at home in – and with village names like Bag Enderby – even more so.  I think that Bilbo Baggins should have set up home here.

Somersby

There has been a church at Somersby since the 1200’s, and this one is built of local Splilsby Sandstone. Alfred Lord Tennyson was born – and spent the first 28 years of his life here in Somersby.  His father George Clayton Tennyson was rector of St. Margaret’s, Somersby and of its namesake in the neighbouring village of Bag Enderby for 23 years until his death.  Pictures of that later.

Inside the church belfry was discovered  graffiti which simply says ‘AT 1837’. Was this Alfred signing off? The family left that year and he never returned.

Somersby

The statue of Tennyson is to the West end of the Church, and I was able to capture this silhouette as the light came through the window.

St Margaret’s sister church and namesake in nearby Bag Enderby, is also of greenstone and has several interesting features such as segmental window arches of note and a perpendicular octagonal font.  Alfred Tennyson’s father was rector of both churches and would walk between the two, and deliver long and impenetrable sermons at both.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Tennyson himself spent many years wandering through this idyllic landscape composing his poetry as he went.

On the way home we decided to visit Ashby Puerorum – the name caught my eye on the map, and it’s not far off the Meridian Line, so although the light was fading, and it looked like rain – we went for a look……

Ashby Puerorum owes its unusual name to a 13th-century Bishop of Lincoln, Oliver Sutton, who renamed the village when he decreed that all profits from the living here should go to support the choirboys of Lincoln Cathedral. The name ‘Ashby Puerorum’ translates loosely as ‘the little boys’ Ashby’. The connection is remembered over 7 centuries later, for the choir still sings at St Andrews church occasionally.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The village dates to at least the late Saxon period and was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 when it was owned by Bishop Odo of Bayeux, William the Conqueror’s half-brother. At that time it was called Ascheby, meaning a farmstead where ash trees grow. It supported a population of 9 villagers, 2 smallholders, and 14 freemen.

In the church tower are a pair of early medieval bells. The oldest bell is said to date from around 1150, which would make it the oldest surviving bell in the county. The church is set beside a farmyard and from the churchyard there are excellent views out over the Lincolnshire Wolds.

We ended our day, as the rain started at Brinkhill –

The church  is dedicated to St Phillip  and is a Grade II listed building dating from 1857.  In the churchyard stands an ancient listed churchyard cross, the base of which dates from the 14th century, with a 19th-century alteration.

The Greenwich Prime Meridian line passes through the village.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I hope you are enjoying the Meridian journey.  I’m hoping for better weather as time goes on, and hopefully at the end of it all, I can put together a talk for camera clubs, and anyone else who might like to see it all.

Don’t forget to subscribe if you want to receive regular updates….. Thank you.

I’m waiting to be discovered….

I’m getting older.  I’m 61 – and fortunately in reasonably good health.  I think I’m a reasonable photographer, maybe a tad better than average, but I’ve certainly not been discovered.

I have spent my photographic life producing work in complete obscurity – well near complete anyway.  The people who have seen my work are mostly clients, then camera club folks, then the people that I can bore on a semi-regular basis.

Though this might not be ideal, I am at least, on a par with probably 99% of the photographers that I know, and that is a comfort.  There must be billions of people who own cameras, and even more billions of photographs are uploaded to the internet every day.  Goodness knows how many get uploaded just to Facebook, without thinking of Flickr, or 500px, or any of the other social media channels.  So I suppose I’m in good company.

I don’t suppose for one minute that I’m ever going to be famous.  I suspect that the photographers that I know now, who are well known, in my circles are not going to be internationally famous either.  So why do we continue? – well, I think it’s because we like to have an audience of sorts, even if it’s of our own compatriots.

Photography is expensive, it can be demanding, we push ourselves to make the best images we can, and sometimes we are rewarded with applause from our friends, or maybe a competition win or two, and this is where there is potential for it all to go wrong.  We win something – we achieve a qualification, therefore we are good, and so we should, maybe, be fighting off the adulation from our doors….  NOPE – that didn’t happen either.

Success in competition or accreditation is satisfying.  Success in the outside world is rare, and is for the few, but I’m not suicidal yet…..

Fame in the real world is not just about skill, craftsmanship and the ability to produce brilliant images (I see that every time I look at images on 500px), it’s also about chance, luck, and being in the right place at the right time.

Why for example is Ansel Adams (my hero by the way) so famous..?  Well I looked it up on Google – and here’s the theory.. He was born in 1902 in San Francisco, California. He rose to prominence as a photographer of the American West, particularly Yosemite National Park, using his work to promote conservation of wilderness areas – and there we might have it – Conservation of Wilderness areas.   He was there, producing images of the wilderness at the time conservation became a big issue in the 1970’s which is when he rose to prominence. His work fitted the situation exactly, and his hard work over previous decades was given credence because he lived and worked there, and because he had a huge catalogue of work already complete.

I’ve been to Yosemite, wondered at the majesty of Half Dome – decided to stand on the bridge that Ansel Adams stood on and get ‘that’ picture of the sunset.  Me with the 40 odd other people jostling for position, on what amounted to a small bridge.  No – you need to live your own creative life, and not try to live it through the eyes of a hero…

Screenshot 2018-11-15 14.49.27

We have no control over who likes our work and who doesn’t – we have more control over who sees our work, but we can’t make them buy it.  (It’s great when someone does though) – we cannot have any idea what will happen to our work in the future, and we have no idea if anything we have produced will influence future generations.

All we can say for certain is that our work will still be visible after we have gone, the internet will see to that, and I personally have no idea if my work will  influence anyone in years to come.  Enjoy it whilst you can…… you do not know what tomorrow may bring.

 

 

My Journey to ARPS – and with a Fuji X-T2 Camera….

For those of you who have been fortunate enough to NOT be around when I submitted images to the Royal Photographic Society, in an attempt to achieve my Associateship – Congratulations…. but it all ends here…..

After months of work, agony, and me constantly wittering on to all my ‘friends’, I want to say thank you to all of them.  For lingering and looking, for the critique, for the support, and to certain individuals who not only came to Nottingham and London for RPS advisory days, but who also came to Bath with me TWICE…. once to drop the portfolio off (thanks Vicky), and once for the final Assessment (thank you Mike and George)…

Many thanks also to the Lincolnshire Image Makers Group, who were so supportive, and nagged me constantly to get the job done.

All the images can be found on my website (links below), and were based on multiple exposure photography – with some having as many as 40 pictures to make up one shot.

When I started to think about what I’d done, and looked back on work I had produced over the last five years or so, I realised that I had been making multi exposure images for all of that time.  It was just that I had been going about it in a different way.  The images were made by me moving forward, or backwards in between shots, and I had also been combining them in camera – as the Canon DX allowed up to 9 shots at a time.  Sometimes I’d combined them in photoshop, but not in the way I do now.

So what I feel, is that I’ve developed something over a long period of time – but it was after I saw some images online by another photographer that my interest was piqued even more.

Between November of last year, and April of 2018, I developed, refined and changed my technique, and before I knew it, I was producing images that I was really happy with.

I chatted to the RPS at the start of the summer, and they advised that I would be presenting images in their ‘fine art’ category – and that they liked the work and wanted to see more.

You need 15 images for Associateship, together with a statement of intent – and for an advisory day, they recommend that you bring your basic 15 with 5 others as ‘spares’.   So in early July, I set off for London with 20 printed, mounted images – the RPS recommended I present the panel at an assessment day with no changes – they liked the small image, the style, and the choice of subjects.

My friend Vicky and I went to Bath towards the end of August, and dropped the panel off for Assessment in October.

Then in mid-October myself and two friends headed for Bath – where the panel was passed, and retained by the RPS as an example of what is required in an Associateship panel.  Drunk on success, and champagne we returned to Lincolnshire and I was overwhelmed.

So, the images themselves.  They are mostly of Lincolnshire, and the coast, and the structures – there are trees, and fountains, and landscape.  All together in the same multi-exposure style.

This isn’t one of my final panel, but a series of images I took on the way home from Bath after the assessment day.  We stopped at Westonbirt Arboretum, and this comprises 15 images shot of the fantastic Autumn colour there.

You can find my full panel, and statement of intent by CLICKING THIS LINK

The Slideshow is available by CLICKING HERE

All the images were taken with a Fuji X-T2 camera, and their excellent 16-55 2.8 lens.  The large format RAW files were perfect for this kind of work, and allowed me to crop in, to make the images exactly how I wanted them to be.  The lightweight camera meant that I had it with me most of the time, and so was able to get the shots I wanted.  I can also recommend their 23mm f2 lens, for its discrete size and superb image quality.  I don’t think I would have achieved this distinction without this camera….  Thanks Fuji…..

Musings……..

A few weeks back, I was having a conversation with another photographer about images. A conversation which eventually turned into one about photographic art.

One of the things that we talked about was how can we be honest with ourselves about the images we make. It’s hard to be self critical without being over-critical, and it is somewhat easier to talk about other peoples work when it isn’t our own.

We do look sometimes though at other peoples work and cringe, and they think we don’t understand, and become self-congratulating artists. On the other hand there are photographers whose opening lines are always “I know I can’t do this”, or “You’re a much better photographer than I am”, and “I’ll never be any good”…. what I want to say to those that start off like this is “If you really believe that, then go get another hobby”….. I know you can’t always say that, but I’d really like to.

We have all had conversations with photographers who see no room for improvement in their work. They have the ‘best’ gear, and of course then take the ‘best’ pictures. They will defend their work to the death at the slightest hint of a contrary opinion. Or they will immediately start to explain exactly why the image is not as the viewer would see it. The excuses fly, and our comments become futile.

So, next time you look at someone’s images, why not ask them first if they really want your honest opinion. If they say no, then walk away. If they say yes, then it might be worth asking if they just want you to tell them what you LIKE about the shot, or would they be interested in knowing what you would have done differently.

I am happy to offer my opinions, but that’s all they are. People can accept or reject advice as much as they please, and I want them to know that I won’t be bothered or offended if they take no notice – it is always the author who has the final say, and not the judge.

Failure is just a way of learning what doesn’t work, and I’ve found hundreds, maybe thousands of ways…..