Twelve days into the new year, and I’m in trouble already….

Do you find that sometimes people take photography far too seriously?  I’m not talking about professionals, who just have to be more serious than us – but about people who don’t seem to ‘get’ the idea that you can relax and play with your cameras and images.

For example…. I took this image just before Christmas

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A friend and myself went to the local woods to shoot some macro – and he had with him a portable smoke machine – well, we had a rare old time, messing about, crawling in the undergrowth – letting the smoke off, and watching the way the breeze seemed to change direction between every shot we took.

We must have taken a lot of images – and were caught by the woodland warden / conservationist, who thought it was funny to see two aged photographers grovelling about in the undergrowth.  He asked what we were doing, and was interested in the effects we were trying to get.  He liked the images too.

Anyway – I posted this image on a social media site, and was heavily criticised by another photographer for putting artificial smoke (read fog) into the image.  At first I was accused of putting the ‘fog’ in during post production.  When I said that we used a smoke machine – I was told that it wasn’t natural, and we shouldn’t have done it.  I tried to explain that it wasn’t toxic – that there was no harm being done, and we were just having fun……  The same poster said and I quote “there’s no fun crawling around getting dirty, and you shouldn’t be using a smoke machine in a public place…..”

So that told me off then…..

I don’t think I approach photography as something trite, but I do enjoy trying new things.  I think the challenge for the commenter here is to find the balance between being stuffy and dour, and letting go to enjoy the hobby.

 

 

Webinars !!!

At least three months ago (probably longer), I did a talk for the RPS East Midlands Group on my completion of the Associateship Distinction.  I did this in conjunction with a few other folks, who talked about Licentiate, and Fellowship.  We did it in Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre, and it went very well..  I do hope the RPS can run more events locally like this one…

Fast forward a little, and two of us (members of the Facebook, She Clicks group) were asked to repeat the talk as a Webinar.

Must confess to having got a bit excited about this, as did my co-presenter Lynn, who said she had to be bullied a bit to join in (not sure I had to bully much though!) ….. anyway………

Time passes – we start to put a talk together, and decide jointly that for most of it we would hide behind a slide show – not realising THEN, that even with the slide show running, we would still be in frame – albeit a small on in the corner of the screen.

This was revealed to us, during the rehearsal that we had with organiser Angela Nicholson, where we also had to figure out the software that was needed.

The Webinar was scheduled for December 4th, and I was away on holiday the week before – not getting back into the UK till late on the 2nd.  Spent the 3rd updating what we were going to say, and then met early on the 4th to rehearse again and run through the talk – trying to remember not to talk over each other, and more importantly not to wave our arms around whilst speaking (must confess to being a bit of an arm waver…..)

What was disconcerting I found, was that although we could see Angela – we knew that no-one else could, so we sat looking into a camera, and apparently talked to ourselves for just about an hour…..  it was a really odd feeling – In the back of my mind, I knew there were people there watching – but I’m used to seeing my ‘audience’, and hearing their mumbles…….

To cut a long story short – it seemed to go well – the feedback was positive, and although there are a few things I’d have changed (like probably smile a bit more – I think I might have looked a bit glum sometimes),  and try not to be so hesitant over words – ie, practice more….   There were lots of questions at the end, and more on the Facebook page afterwards – which was great.

We were even told that we looked professional……

Having done it once, I think I’d be happy to do it again, especially with the knowledge that I have now.  We all have to do things for a first time, and it can be nerve wracking…. I remember the first time I had to stand up and talk to an audience.  It was a good few years ago, but I had had the benefit of a public speaking course.  What I remembered was one thing……….

“Always remember that the folks down there looking at you, are probably thinking that they are glad it’s you, and not them…. so just look confident – get on with it, and they’ll appreciate everything you say”

Plus, the benefit is they can’t answer you back on a Webinar – well not till you’ve finished anyway….

So yes, I’d do it again, and having chatted to Lynn afterwards, I think she would too……

Here’s my ARPS Fine Art Panel that got me through, first time, and with flying colours….

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What do you need to see in a photo?

I printed some images off last week, of birds – with textured backgrounds – and when the prints came (my printer has died and I still have no idea what new one to get, but I digress) – I was somewhat dissatisfied with them.

There was some lack of detail in the shadow areas, that I was sure was there in the digital image – but then I got to wondering how much detail did I really need?

A friend of mine looked at the image in question – this one below.. and said he didn’t think there was enough detail in the feathers on the right hand side of the bird.

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He went on “it’s got a good feel to it, I like the colours and the setting with the background rocks, but it’s the bird”

I asked how much detail he wanted.. “you can see it’s a Jackdaw can’t you?”

“Yes” he said…

“Well how much more detail do you want then?”

How much detail do we ‘really’ want in a photo?  Sometimes I think we look for too much.  When I’ve judged National Competitions, we generally get no more than about 5 seconds to make a judgement.  Does the image have impact?  It’s not till the end, when we have all the top scorers, that there is a bit more time to look at detail, but even then, time is short.

I’m pretty sure we worry too much about our image making.  Are we crafting for ourselves, or for some judge.

I must confess to making images for myself, and if someone else happens to like them, then that’s a bonus.

A talk I went to earlier this year – was by a lady – whose photography is of the highest quality – and she was saying that she was editing her images to make them fit the requirements of a judge.  In her eyes she was changing them from something ‘she’ wanted – to something that fitted a rule.

I’m not saying this is wrong, but at least there was a recognition of changes that have to be made to suit an occasion.

I think it’s a shame that we do this, but I suppose it’s (as they say) ‘horses for courses’.

What I did appreciate was the fact that she was keeping the original images – -which she had crafted for herself, and appreciated that she would have to alter them if she wanted them to win a competition, or help her achieve an award.

I think that as photographers we love not just the image taking – but the process that happens afterwards, and we also have a certain love of art generally. I’m sure that this is important in the creation of our photographs.

I’m also certain also that a love of art – outside photography is a useful and beneficial thing, especially when we turn our photographic eyes out into the world.

 

I said I’d never mention Brexit in a post!

I’ve been in a bit of a mood lately.  I’ve also been in a bit of a creative hiatus.

The only reasons I could think of was that I was just going through a phase, and also that there’s so much bad news about lately.  We are plugged into 24 hour news bulletins – it’s there all the time – TV, Radio, Internet, magazines, newspapers etc.  I’m bombarded with news everywhere I look – it’s practically inescapable – and this issue of Brexit in the UK is driving many of us to the brink of despair.

I’m pretty sure then that all this bad news can deflate our sensibilities unless we do something positive to combat it.

My ‘recovery’ began a week or two ago, when I started to look at more of the work that is appearing on a Facebook Group called ‘She Clicks’,  (www.sheclicks.net) – a group for female photographers.  Then I attended a Royal Photographic Society Event in Nottingham, where the speaker was Magnum Photographer Ian Berry.

I conclude that a further aid to my ‘recovery’ is to surround myself with excellence.

I must look at excellent photography, listen to good music, and watch artistic and creative films (for which Netflix has an abundance if you look carefully) – for example, the other day I watched an old black and white film called ‘Laura’.  I knew the music, but not the story – and it reminded me of family times in my younger days where we would listen to music together.

Moods change, and with it, creativity changes too.  I’m currently looking through some of my photography books, reading about editing, and discovering again things I want to try. the mojo (I’m pleased to say) is slowly coming back.

I actually want to get out now, and take some images, make some art….. it’s been a long time coming, but at least I now have an idea for the cure……

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Autumn is here – let’s go catch some colour……

The Guilt Complex

I’ve noticed – since I stopped working full time – (and so am not taking photographs because I have to) – that I work through peaks and troughs of creativity.  I seem to be really creative for a while, and then for whatever reason, it just drops off, and i have no idea what to do next.

I also found, that the more I worried about it, the worse it went (a bit like insomnia!).  Sometimes it’s just because life has got in the way, and I don’t have the time to photograph.  Other demands, and other things have to be done before I can have time to pick up a camera.  It doesn’t matter why I can’t do it, I still get feelings of guilt that  I’m not – even if the other thing I’m doing gives me pleasure.

I mentioned this to a friend a little while ago, and to my relief discovered that she had the same thing happen to her – and then when you open up the discussion – you realise that nearly everyone who makes or creates art of any kind has the same fallow times.

One photographer I know, gave up the camera for a good period of time, and concentrated instead on painting – she created some incredible artwork, and invited me to her house to have a go.  We paint poured (I’ll post an image when it’s dry, and she’s back off holiday) – and it was so incredibly relaxing. We sat in her summer house, listening to the birds, and crafted abstract images by pouring paint onto a canvas.

So totally different from photography, and much less instant, as the canvas will take days to dry completely, and will then need to be treated again to bring the shine back.

In between times, I realise that my camera sensor is filthy, and I need to deal with that before I do anything else.

So, till the inspiration comes back, I’ll relax, go with the flow, and try to do something totally different, and try to finish the words for my Meridian talk….

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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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Where East Meets West – Part 13 – Holbeach

Holbeach is a fenland market town in the South Holland district of south Lincolnshire.  It is 8 miles from Spalding, 17 from Boston, and 43 from Lincoln.

The town’s market charter was awarded in 1252 to Thomas de Moulton, a local baron.  All  Saints Church, was built in the 14th century and the porch, which was built around 1700, possibly incorporated parts of Moulton Castle.  The associated All Saints’ Hospital, for a warden and fifteen poor persons, was founded by Sir John of Kirton, in 1351. 

The image below is the meridian marker here.

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Until the beginning of the 17th century, the sea came to within 2 miles of the town and there were severe floods recorded in the 13th and 16th centuries. The land drainage programmes that followed moved the coastline of the Wash to 9 miles away, leaving Holbeach surrounded by more than 23,000 acres (93 km2) of reclaimed land. In 1615,

Further enclosure of marshes were recorded in 1660, in Gedney, Whaplode, Holbeach and Moulton.  The work included the building of an embankment, and resulted in 9,798 acres being added to Holbeach parish.  You can see part of this embankment below.

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Holbeach also had a workhouse (as did most places) – and only read the following if you have a strong stomach… !!!

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In April 1882 the master of Holbeach Workhouse, Walter Brydges Waterer, was accused of the manslaughter of a workhouse inmate, 22-year-old Thomas Bingham.

Poor Thomas suffered from a skin disease, and therefore to treat him, Waterer had left the man in a sulphur-burning cabinet, which was used as a treatment for what was known as “the itch”, or scabies.

The patient stood naked inside the cabinet with his head poking out of the top. The sulphur was then placed on an iron tray at the bottom of the cabinet, beneath a grating, and ignited by a piece of hot iron.

On this fateful day, though, Waterer had left Bingham encased in the cabinet and disappeared to attend to a matter elsewhere, but then completely forgot about his patient.

Others were eventually alerted by Bingham’s cries for help, and he was released…but on stepping out of the cabinet, he had been so hideously burned that skin and flesh appeared to just slide away from his body. Thomas Bingham died a few hours later. Waterer was found not guilty of manslaughter.

And sadly also, here ends my trip around Lincolnshire – I’ll be doing one more post – following on a trip to Greenwich, which seems to be to be a logical final step.

I’m busy now putting the talk together which will accompany the photographs taken on my journey.  In the meantime.  Onwards to Greenwich…….

 

There’s Too Much Noise

I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s too much going on around me, and it’s distracting me from my photography.

Not the camera – but the rest of it – the internet (in particular Facebook), the computer generally, the radio, the television – it’s all getting to be too much.

I know I’m not taking enough time over my photographs – I feel rushed…. complete this, edit that, mount up this one… and I know I’ve talked about this before – and still done nothing about it.  Well from this minute forward I will – I promise.

I’m trying to be on a Facebook hiatus.  I do check in to look at what’s going on from time to time, but nowhere near as often as I did.  I’ve turned off the TV (other than Wimbledon) and I’m listening to podcasts only in the evenings.

I think that the more I can turn off technology, the more I should be able to concentrate on my photography – and do you know, it’s starting to work for me.

I’ve found more time for my edits, and am now looking at some photographs I took about 2 weeks ago and appreciating what I can do with them.

The plan is to go back to images I took ages ago, and re-edit them. I think that because of the rush to produce I’ve not always done my best, so I want to start again, and get some prints done, and keep up with the blog too.

Last weekend, was Armed Forces Day in Cleethorpes – I was away (on family business) for part of it, but did manage to join a couple of other photographers on the Sunday afternoon.  We shot some aircraft displays, and I purposely took far fewer images than I would normally do – and the results were much better.  The other plus side was that I actually watched most of the displays – something I would normally miss, as I’d be hidden behind the camera frantically trying to track a Eurofighter as it shot across the sky.

Here’s a couple from last weekend then, a fast one, and a slow one…….  the rest of the edits will just have to wait!

Cast Your Bread Upon the Waters……….

“And after many days, it will come back buttered” – This is a quote from Louisa May Alcott – author of Little Women….

My father used to quote this to me all the time, and to be honest I didn’t always get what he was saying.  As I’ve got older though, I’ve come to appreciate that it’s true…

For the last two months, and for one more (at least) – I said that I would give away 5 prints of anything on my website, to which the public have access, to the first five people that ask for them.

The motivation behind this was from a book I’d read, called ‘The Gift’,  and it talked about the art of giving.  I’d hesitated for quite a long time before I went ahead and made this offer – partly because I wasn’t sure that anyone would actually WANT anything (or that it could be seen as arrogance), and partly because I was afraid that they wouldn’t…. I wasn’t sure which was the worst….

So, for better, or for worse – I made the offer.  What really astounded me was the number of requests – and not just the requests, but the responses afterwards.

The images have been sent entirely to people I have had some contact with – people from camera clubs as far afield as the North West, and others (including individuals), more locally in Derbyshire, Leeds and Lincolnshire.  There has been no contact at all from complete strangers which is interesting in itself.

It was fascinating to see what people picked to have, and more fascinating still that three people said they wanted a particular sort of image, but left me to choose which one of that set to send them.  One person said that if I picked my favourite, then he would know that when he hung it on the wall….

Another talked of being a little ‘down’, and how much receiving something nice in the post cheered them up – and yet another sent me a photo of the image already in a frame, hanging on the wall, within a couple of hours of delivery.

All this has left me feeling cheered too – there are good things happening all around us, which maybe we don’t take enough notice of.   It’s not just about the giving (though I have to say I have enjoyed it very much), it’s about the response to an unconditional gift.

I realise that this is not something for everyone, but honestly I can recommend that everyone should try this – at least once.

I will do the ‘give-away’ again at the start of June, and then see how it goes from there.

In conclusion I also want to say a massive THANK YOU to all the people who have requested images – to those who have sent such lovely messages back afterwards – and to those who have sent me pictures of the pictures…..

To those who asked for images who were not in the first 5 – you have one more chance…. at the start of June….

Get your fingers ready…..

Thank you………

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