Lockdown Photography

The last year for all of us has been more than difficult as our lives have been restricted due to the Covid pandemic and travel both locally, nationally and internationally has been stopped. For those of us that enjoy our photography and enjoy being in the landscape regardless of the weather conditions, life has been particularly limited. Nonetheless, all of us have made the best of our local surroundings and many photographers have learnt new skills including still life photography, macro plus a range of other photography too.

I have made no secret that the restrictions imposed have affected me greatly in terms of loss of freedom and experiencing the wildness and beauty of the landscape locally and further afield.  However something I learnt a few years ago has stood me in good stead and that is not to delete any photos in the field unless clearly out of focus etc. It’s all too easy to look at the back of the camera and decide we know within a second whether it is worth keeping or not, and then press delete. For me this is a great mistake firstly because it’s not the best way of treating your flashcards and secondly, because sometimes when you get home and look at those photos on the large screen they look very different. Over the years I have built up a huge collection of photos and like all have marked the ones that I consider my favourites and the best. But during these long weeks where we have been mainly confined to our homes it has been a refreshing experience to look back at places that have been visited and enjoyed and also an illuminating experience to think about photos that you initially dismissed and chose not to process. I have done a lot of re-processing and looked at photos again with a different eye. For example, the very large Nikon 850 negatives can take on a completely new life if you investigate and experiment with cropping parts of the image. From this you can get pictures within pictures. Some photos that I have left in a colour state have been evaluated to see if they contain the right characteristics to turn into a good black-and-white photo e.g. not too busy a photo and with some clear contrast within the photo. I have also developed my processing skills further. Now, that does not mean dropping skies that don’t match in terms of light or colour into landscapes that they should not be in. Rather, it has meant honing my skills which has led to parts of my processing being more efficient and parts of my processing being more creative.  I have also found that many others are looking at their processing skills more seriously which in my book is a good thing. Both taking and making the photograph are very important as so many are keen to spend time photographing but don’t give enough time to process it accordingly. I have also been lucky enough to find that a few people have asked me to do some online tuition with them in terms of general photography and getting started with processing. This has really made me think about what I know and how I can best explain it to someone else.

Many of you that know will know that I am a firm believer that the end goal for any landscape photographer (or for that matter any photographer) is to be able to produce a fine print. I do print and I have found that by assessing my processing skills and knowledge and building upon those, I have been able to refine by printing skills as well.

So in conclusion let’s hope the spring and the summer yields better times for us all but in the meantime maybe re-evaluating our knowledge of processing will benefit us when we have the opportunity to use our cameras creatively wherever we choose to go.

2020- The year that changed all

A year like no other descended upon us in March of this year with the Covid 19 pandemic throwing the whole world into chaos and misery.  The shock for us all was great. Nine months later, we are far from clear of this virus but there is some hope re the new vaccine  which we all hope is successful and plentiful. Many people in many occupations have fought to survive, and some have not managed to keep their businesses going or to keep their jobs.  Photographers that travelled widely, ran workshops etc have been hit especially hard as travel has been near-on impossible and in addition, people feel unsafe travelling, going to airports, being on trains and so on. So, many photographers have taken to online teaching, online camera club presentations, writing, updating their websites and of course, have been forced to photograph mainly within their locality. To begin with, many of us felt a lack of inspiration in going out with the camera and it was only as ‘the new normal’ became established that photographers went back to doing what they love best which is taking photos.

March 2019 for me did have an upside as I was awarded the title ‘Scottish Nature Photographer of the Year’ with my seascape photo at the Butt of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. In addition this year I was awarded a bronze in the Paris Photo PX3 Awards plus honourable mentions in the Neutral Density Awards.

Three rocks Butt of Lewis
Three rocks Butt of Lewis Overall winner of Scottish Nature Photography awards 2019 and winner of the seascapes section

 

I too went back to photographing my local area and within a few minutes of my home at a place known as Pyes Mill Norfolk, I captured these shots throughout the year.

Pale Pyes
Pale Pyes

 

Lockdown 2 Dawn, Pyes mill
Lockdown 2 Dawn, Pyes mill

I love this simple location as it summarises a typical Norfolk broadland scene and it means I can walk to it as often as I like, and be home for breakfast! A few miles away in a place called Hardley, Norfolk which is in places below sea level, I also managed to capture a few scenes.

Covid sunset

Empty at Thurne

 

My exhibition at Aldeburgh gallery, Suffolk scheduled for April 2020 was sadly cancelled and I now have many of my framed and mounted exhibition prints adorning my walls. They are of course all for sale so feel free to contact me!

By July, we were ending our first lockdown and luckily the weather in England was good which meant relaxation for some by the coast, while others were still trying to save their businesses and keep their jobs.

Winterton Brooding

The year progressed and the reality of lockdowns, local and national, longer and shorter continued and we now find ourselves living with the impenetrable tier system. Luckily I managed two trips to my beloved Scotland, one to the Moray coast in the summer and one to Perthshire in the autumn, as well as some time in Northumberland in August.

Nairn Sunset

 

Ardclach Woodland scene

Summer photography is never easy but it was such a delight to be out with the camera so carried it with me throughout my time in Moray and Northumberland. I was pleasantly surprised by some of the shots.

Autumn in Perthshire was glorious, a mix of weather including wonderful Scottish mists which we all long for hanging over the lochs.

Perfection at Loch Faskally

Christmas 2020 will not be like any other Christmas has been for the majority of people. I feel that what most of us want is a 2021 that is healthier and happier. We will have to wait and see. We will also have to face the enforced difficulties of being an isolated country away from the European Union. I and millions of others feel a sense of loss and great regret, but it is what it is and in time maybe the freedoms to travel again and live wherever will be restored.

Mists in Loubressac
Mists in Loubressac

 

Wishing you all a happy and safe Christmas and 2021.

Spotlight Gallery

2020 has been a year that the world will remember forever and will be talked about by future generations. I am of course talking about the Covid 19 pandemic which has affected all our lives, some tragically, others less so. What we all realise is that life has changed forever, or if not forever a very long time. What we took for granted is now a distant memory as we begin what is called the new normal. I would rather it wasn’t the new normal but unfortunately I have to accept the reality. During the months of lockdown, many of us who are photographers or artists took the time to re-evaluate our work when forced to cancel trips planned for the forthcoming year. One piece of good news for me during this period was to be awarded overall winner of the 2019 Scottish Nature Photography awards and winner of the seascapes section.

Three rocks Butt of Lewis
Three rocks Butt of Lewis Overall winner of Scottish Nature Photography awards 2019 and winner of the seascapes section

Another task some of us took the time to do was to revamp our websites. I have added a new page called Spotlight Gallery. You will find the link in the menu at the top of the page. This gallery will feature different themes and aspects of photography each month together with some tips for photographing, which I hope you will take the time to browse through and enjoy. The first feature in this new gallery showcases waterfalls from the UK. I welcome comments on the guestbook page so please feel free to post.

Hardraw force
Hardraw force- Yorkshire

So take a moment to head along to the Spotllight gallery each month and meanwhile wherever you may be in the world take care of yourself and your loved ones and enjoy life as much as you possibly can including with your photography.

Overall Winner of the Scottish Nature Photography Awards – Ruth Grindrod 2019

Overall Winner of the Scottish Nature Photography Awards – Ruth Grindrod 2019

I am delighted to have been awarded overall winner of the Scottish Nature Photography Awards as well as winner of the Sea and Coast category with my photograph Three Rocks. Three Rocks was taken on an extremely windy day at the Butt of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. Rather than shoot the lighthouse, I chose the formation of these three rocks from a slightly elevated position to capture their shape and form as well as the churning seas. The conditions were tough but persistence paid off with this final capture. To mark the 10th anniversary of the Awards, the winner of the inaugural 2010 title, wildlife photographer Ron McCombe, joined photographer and writer Jamie Grant and photographer and organiser Niall Irvine on the judging panel.

Niall said: “Ruth’s image has beautifully captured the drama and power of the sea. The light, composition and depth of detail in the image is remarkable, particularly the movement caught in the water. I’m delighted that Three Rocks is our overall winner.”

Click on the image below to see the photo in full in my Isle of Lewis gallery.

December 2019- The end of another year

Another year has ended for me both photographically and personally and it’s been an interesting one. Lofoten in Norway was my first trip of the year in February and did not disappoint, despite much rain which is not the norm in mid February.  However the climate has changed so all of us as photographers have to work with what we are given rather than huff and puff  about what we want!  One of the shots I really like was taken in heavy rain and turned out to be a subtle take in such a majestic landscape. There were also opportunities for intimate landscapes on the many stunning beaches. My gallery highlights my work during these 6 days.

Lofoten- rainy scene

 

Ice art

Time in Torridon, Scotland and surrounding areas is always a wonderful experience whatever the conditions.  I was lucky and had a really good mix of weather in late March and early April. This allowed me to explore a range of styles including seascapes, lochs and mountains and long exposures. The textures and colours not only change from day to day but also hour by hour. More shots in the rain were obtained using the Nikon 810 plus Gitzo tripod and a lot of hand held shots with the Fuji xt3. This camera never disappoints in so many conditions and for me the processing is not the problem others seem to moan about. The prints I have made and sold in my August exhibition in Woodbridge, Suffolk are testament to how good this little camera really is.

 

Torridon Scots pines

May In Norfolk was cold and wet but the coast is really close to me so a few days shooting some long exposures and other seascapes produced some good work. The Thornham boats and jetties shot was taken at dusk and with a high tide and nearly saw me cut off from my car.  So beware of high tides and don’t become so immersed you put yourself at risk.

Thornham Tidal Flooding

I have been asked by many camera clubs this year to present my work. It has been a pleasure to meet with a range of people and experience the similarities and differences in how clubs work and are managed. Thank you to Colchester, North Norfolk and Framlingham to name but a few.  Next year sees me venturing further afield to Leicester and Derbyshire.

A holiday in France with the Fuji brought the hottest temperatures ever it seemed, 44 degrees.  Needless to say there was not a lot of photography done. However the Correz area of France is stunning and beautifully understated and on an evening which was 38  degrees at 10 pm,  I managed  to capture a heat mist over the Dordogne near Beaulieu. The greens and pinks were stunning as the mist hovered over the slow moving river.

August was the month for my joint exhibition with a good friend of mine Caroline Evans, an abstract painter.  We were delighted to show our work at Artspace in Woodbridge, Suffolk.  The exhibition was received very positively and our sales were good despite there being another heatwave in the UK this time.  I am pleased to say we will be exhibiting together again in the Aldeburgh gallery in April 2020. More to follow…  I am also excited to be invited to exhibit for a month at the Moray art centre in Findhorn, Scotland so hope to see all my Scottish friends here. Again, more to follow.

Ruths flyer

Success in national competitions has also been very pleasing this year- the Black and White spider awards, ND awards and Scottish Landscape Photographer of the Year. I was also delighted to make the front cover for The Portfolio Yearbook 2018 of the Scottish Nature Photography awards with my photo Autumn Birch taken in Perthshire in 2018.

Autumn birch

A two week trip to the Isle of Harris and Lewis was as always spectacular, exciting and well worth the hundreds of miles to reach. The week on Lewis produced some stormy and changeable light weather whilst the week on Harris was like mid summer with full blue sky days and gentle waves. As said before, you have to work with what you are given. I have yet to publish my new gallery from this two week tour but have included a sample of my work in this blog.

Hanging in there

Personally this year there have been some challenges which we all face. The world of social media is often a mask for hiding behind such issues or for some, it’s a way of sharing them.  Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.   For me, I had not been feeling great and like so many, I thought age is catching up. Months passed and I was told by my GP it was anxiety.  Well, I was not convinced. I now find I have a gastric complaint which is not sinister but debilitating . Why post this here ?  Well firstly, because not all in our lives is perfect and even when we love what we do, things creep up and affect you in a range of ways.  I have had to work hard to get to the root  of the problem and persist when I felt like giving up.  This is the same with photography! Hopefully 2020 will be the end of these issues and the start of a good new year with new places to visit with no health issues.  So my message is this: fight for what you believe in, take second opinions and with regards to your photography, make sure you enjoy what you do and shoot what you like not what others like.  Happy Christmas to all my friends and fellow photographers.

Winter frost

August News- Website and exhibitions

Over the last few weeks I have been busily updating and culling my website. For those of you that don’t manage w website, the work involved is considerable and really is a never ending labour of love. There are lots of views on website creation and maintenance, and it depends on your point of view how you approach this. It seems very fashionable at the moment to have a website that portrays a single style in terms of content, colour and processing. It is thought by many that this is preferable as it demonstrates your individual style. I have a slightly different view to this as finding your style amidst the millions of people taking photos and publish online is extremely complex and some would say almost impossible. If we look at one photographer’s particular style, it’s very easy to see that that style is also replicated by many others world wide. So for me, I prefer to adapt my style to the circumstances that I find myself in eg the particular landscape and the conditions, how I might be feeling in that moment in terms of emotion and creativity, and the impact I want the image to have on the viewer. This is not to say that when creating a gallery and website I do not consider the collectivity of the images in terms of hue, texture etc because I do and this is what has taken many hours of work over the last month. However I do not omit a good photo because it ‘won’t fit’ with a particular set of others. I just try to include and find some buddies for it in the gallery. Sometimes I do this better than others! As you will see on my revamped website, there are a lot of moody blues and long exposures reflecting quite a trying personal time for me. However the photos on the recent gallery do gel well together and create a nice set.

Tear island - Shingle street
Tear island – Shingle street
Shingle street curve
Shingle street curve

It’s also been a busy year as I am jointly holding another exhibition with a landscape painter, Caroline Evans. The title of the exhibition is ‘Landscape Visions’ and it is a combination of abstract landscape painting and my landscape photography. It has taken a long time to collate the photos before the printing and framing process but as always it is a great delight to see my pictures printed and framed. I cannot over-emphasise that if you don’t print you really are missing seeing your work at it’s print. Learning to print well is a real skill but something worth persevering with.

The exhibition is in Woodbridge at the Artspace Gallery and runs from 22nd August-28th August 2019. Hope to see you there.

I also have an exhibition next year at the Moray Art Centre, Findhorn, Scotland which runs for a month in August. More details will follow nearer the time.

To finish, here is one of the pictures which will be on sale at the gallery next wood of Coomb Woods, Cumbria in full autumn glory.

Coomb woods Cumbria
Coomb woods Cumbria

Revisiting Images

Those of us that spend a lot of time out in the landscape, be it close to home or further afield, shoot a lot of images. Digital technology has been a blessing and no, it has not been a curse, but it has meant we tend to shoot an awful lot of stuff.  I for one do this particularly when I am in a location I won’t be back to for months or years as the case maybe. Once all is shot many photographers get home and then download all immediately and delete all they consider poor or don’t like. I am not talking about the images that are clearly out of focus or have camera shake, we all delete these. I am talking about the ones that we have looked at for 2 -3 seconds and made an instant decision Yes or No, Keep or Save!   Increasingly, I find this approach to have problems. Often, we are not looking properly and sometimes our mood effects what we judge to be good or weak, like or dislike. I now find myself keeping more and more which means having a lot of storage but I find it has been worth it. I have looked back years and been appalled by some of the stuff I thought good, which is a  learning process it itself, spent time looking at images that I initially disregarded, and spent a lot of time revisiting the processing of photos and been surprised and pleased by results.  Colour to black and white has featured a lot in this process. Deleting, re processing and modifying photos on my website is much more usual these days too. More and more I am now processing for print which in my mind has to be the ultimate goal so if it “aint” going to be a good print it’s a gonner for me.

 

The addiction to Facebook and its constant bombardment of images and posts which I contribute to a lot, has really stunted our ability to look and to see, using our eyes and our brain.  The constant popping up of images and posts that demands we look NOW at whatever and always for a very short space of time, has had consequences for us all.  More and more I look at what people like on FB and it tends to fall into certain categories.

 

1 Our “friends” like what we post sometimes regardless of the content

2 Images that are very dramatic

3 Images that are either very colourful or very black and white

4 Images that capture a funny or shocking moment

 

I am not saying that there are not great photographers posting superb images but there is a trend for the above to be looked at and liked more, it would seem.

 

It’s easy  for the eye and brain to respond  to any of the above, it does not  involve  much thinking or having some sort of dialogue with these tiny images. Given this, I would suggest  our ability  to look  and see  is being degraded.  So for me, I think more time must be spent looking at images on photographers’ websites, work in print and in books.  Am I going to still post to FB?  yes of course but maybe not so much !  I am going to look back more and more at folders of work and reflect on what was shot, how it was shot and how it may have been processed. I think this may be more productive and enjoyable. So why not take a trip down memory lane and look back and reflect on the past? Hopefully it will help you define the future.

The end of another year

Its that time of year when you apparently slow down a bit and reflect on whats happened in your life and in the wider world.   I have had a really busy year with trips away and an exhibition to plan for, print my work and finally exhibit.  January began for a mad hunt for snow in Scotland and whilst some was found, the month proved to be quite warm and mild.  However one of my favourite photos from that period was taken in Strathdon near the ski slopes of Lecht.  A touch of snow on all the trees and a smattering over the bare earth so creating some lovely textures and patterns.

Lecht curves

A trip to Loch Clair in Torridon never disappoints and on this occasion a soft pink dawn lit the loch and the mountains turning all into a magical glow.  There is a reason these places are iconic locations !

Blushing loch Clair

Returning to Norfolk from the far north of Scotland is always a long long trip and just as I did, “The beast from the East” hit. Norfolk had never seen so much snow – it had been transformed into a landscape never seen before.

All in a row

During March and April I spent a lot of time out and about locally. I return again and again to some spots on The Broads and in North Norfolk as the conditions vary widely which allows me to really get to know the  area and work within it accordingly.

April mists - Pyes Mill

As well as being out and about with my camera, I also enjoyed speaking with many camera clubs and photographic societies. Each club has its own way of doing things and a range of members to talk with and share experiences.  Thank you to Aldeburgh, Phoenix and Norwich to name but a few for making me most welcome. The summer months mean some very early starts if you want to catch dawn and if you have to travel even earlier wake up calls. Nonetheless we still manage these hours if we want to catch some stunning light. However back in June the light in Norfolk was mostly influenced by mist and fog which meant  for some wonderful warm misty conditions to work in rather than early dawn sunlight etc.

I was lucky this year to spend some time in central France. There are  so many photo opportunities you are spoilt for choice . On a quiet day in Beaulieu I spotted a scene that had to be shot . No not a landscape, but a shot that had to be taken. He is the local Postie ! 

One of my favourite places in the summer is Nairn in Scotland. Few tourists, loads of space to breathe and glorious beaches.  Few people photograph this part of the world as it is not as dramatic as the West of Scotland.  For me the beaches provide a range of opportunities  both at dawn and sunset.

The final preparation for my exhibition took place in September and the hard work paid off. Many visitors and many sales.  During September there were also some glorious morning mists at dawn over the River Chet in Norfolk.

Revealing

Donegal, Ireland is fast becoming one of my favourite places.  Few people, a varied landscape and some glorious pieces of coastline.  Malin Head is known for its rough seas at all times of the year. But back in September people were picnicking  along the footpaths. Not what I had expected so time for some long exposures! 

November meant a trip to the quintessential English lakes and beautiful Perthshire. Again the two areas that never disappoint.

When I look back I can see that yet again I have packed  a lot in but given the turmoil and unrest here in the UK and further afield, I am grateful I can find some peace and escape  in the landscape. Next year looks like another difficult one for the world and we can only hope things do improve for all in the future. Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas and peaceful new year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s exhibition time!

For the past six months or so I have been busy preparing for an Exhibition at The Aldeburgh Gallery, Suffolk.  The gallery is situated on the high street in this beautiful seaside town  and has two exhibition rooms; a good space to show in.  The work began by deciding upon the theme which would focus my work, capture people’s attention and allow for some interpretation.  Elemental was chosen.  The theme allowed me to show how my work relates to the Elements within the landscape  and the interplay within them.   Next was deciding on the sizes of the photos to fit the gallery space . Mostly A3 plus, some A2 and some 8 by 8 inch square – all to be framed.  Choosing the photos  to complement the  theme took many many hours, and lots of rethinks working with a parper plan juggling photos, rearranging them and then selecting again. But it was the time to get a cohesive theme running through the exhibition. I have a total of 24 prints which will be on display. I am very pleased that magazines such as Outdoor photographer , Norfolk and Suffolk Life,  Suffolk Magazine and Landscape magazine have all listed the exhibition with some carrying articles.

 

Atmosphere at Elgol

However, the purpose of this blog is not just to advertise the exhibition but also to talk about the importance of printing. Printing photos for exhibitions but also for buyers really does hone your processing skills and refine your interpretation through the processing. We see billions of photos online every day and many of them no more than a few inches wide which we make judgements on. However the immense satisfaction that you experience when you see a perfect photographic print cannot be under-estimated. So I would urge all of you who are serious about photography to learn about processing for printing and all the related skills including screen calibration, paper choices, how to interpret the processing to reflect the emotion of the scene etc and then to get printing. I would also urge those of you that are limited on your print size because of your printer to get to know a really good photographer/printer who will work with you when printing your photo to get it as you want it. Seeing the photograph expertly framed and for me this includes using a Truvue glass which reduces reflections but keeps the clarity, is a great joy. I really do hope to see as many of you as possible at the exhibition if you are in the area. Meanwhile, enjoy your photography and your printing!