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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring and early summer

After an unusually long and varied winter in the UK this year, which produced a range of weathers from prolonged wet days to heavy snow in mid-March, spring was most welcome by many of us. Although I love being in icy and snowy conditions, I do appreciate and enjoy the emerging signs of spring which then quickly merge into early summer. During this period I am often away from my the UK, but this year I stayed home and as promised in one of my previous blogs, I decided to shoot closer to home. Spring provides the landscape photographer with the chance to capture shades of green from the emerging ferns, early tree growth and in later spring, bluebells.

Mist in Reedham woods
Mist in Reedham woods

 

Along with the signs of spring, there are often accompanying mists which cloak woodland and inland scenes creating a sense of mystique. This year in Norfolk there have been many mornings of quite thick fog and heavy mist hanging over the countryside as you will see from the photos.

May fog on the pathway- Loddon
May fog on the pathway- Loddon

Spring light gives us a colour palette of yellows and pale greens which, accompanied by early morning dew, reflects the light in a very special way. Using a polariser sometimes helps intensify colours but can also take the sparkle out of the moisture. It all depends what you are looking for.

Into the woods
Into the woods

As with all photography we aim to capture an emotional response within our shots. For me, at this time of year, I aim to create a sense of hope and renewal. As spring turns to summer, the landscape photographer also has the opportunity to get up in the middle of the night to greet the dawn at around 3.50 am. We all hope the conditions make it worth it!

Sunlit West woods

The “Beast from the East”

Yes, I know we have heard this term from the media over and over in the last few days and yes, we all thought the weather had been exaggerated. However in the end loads, if not piles of it did arrive all over the country and even here in Norfolk . In fact villages in Norfolk were cut off by drifts metres high. It was an unexpected and unprecedented event! Norfolk and Suffolk rarely experience such amounts of snow and freezing temperatures, and this is unlikely to be repeated for another 30 years. Norfolk does not have huge mountains or rivers cascading through deep valleys showcasing winter conditions with full dramatic effect. It does, though, have large expanses of often bleak and bare landscape that can make for some marvelous minimalist photos.

Chedgrave drifts
Chedgrave drifts

I was pleased to find close to home the above scene featuring three telegraph poles and an abandoned piece of farm machinery. The snow blowing around the poles conveyed the atmosphere of the Norfolk farmland. Similarly with the black and white photo below.

Bare
Bare

Later on in the week I managed to make it down to Reedham Ferry. Very few cars were able to and I have to say anyone of thinking of buying a huge four by four, think again and buy a Panda 4 by 4; they make it through all it seems. Perhaps that’s why the Italians  drive them in the mountains? Anyway enough of the car ad and back to the Reedham area.  This area is only 3 feet above sea level in places so has some of the flattest landscapes in Norfolk. The river Yare runs through it and often spills its water over the banks. I found the place quite magical as by Saturday the wind had dropped and all was still. The reeds found their feet in snow and ice and in the distance signs of river life were just visible. The pale and muted colour palette of this photo I think typifies the Norfolk countryside in winter.

River reeds 8450

A slightly more quirky photo of still more reeds is featured below. I particularly like the reeds at the front of the frame of this photo. It reminds me of a pencil sketch.

snow and reeds 8464

All the above were shot hand-held with the Fuji xt2 using either the 16-55mm or 55-200mm lens. Its very unusual for me not to use my tripod but you have to adapt to the environment you are working in so a higher iso and shutter speed made life a lot easier. The heavy Nikon 810 that i love so much was also swapped for a lighter camera.

So for me, the ‘Beast from the East’ provided many opportunities close to home to capture some real winter photography away from the jaw dropping mountainous sense so often posted on social media sites. Looking for small detail and matching tones and colours can create a photo that conveys a sense of emotion about the landscape and I hope I managed to capture this within these photos.

All in a row 8446

The end of another year

It has been a busy year photographically for me with a lot of trips away from my home in Norfolk.  Scotland has been visited a lot and as always, never fails to please and inspire.  However the media coverage and promotion of the North coast route 500 has bought many  visitors and their cars to race around the route in a weekend.  Places  that were once real wildernesses are no longer. Lets hope in 2018 that all visitors will spend time within the landscape appreciating its beauty and its power.

Assynt is one of those places that always puts on a show! Either rain, more rain and then more rain or glorious weather fronts bringing  in changing and dramatic light. The Fuji xt2 is now my second body with three lenses and I have found it excellent to grab and shoot just when one of these weather fronts appears.

Golden rain
Golden rain

I have spent more time in Cumbria’s Lake District and found myself exploring places that are slightly off the beaten track but yet accessible.  The aftermath of the floods is still evident and the people continue to rebuild their homes, hotels and the road network. It takes some tenacity!

Density
Density

Itchen woods in Hampshire was a first for me too. Beautiful beech wood full of flowering bluebells in May.  Many many shots were taken and a few made the grade.

Strong and tall
Strong and tall

I was also lucky to visit a friend and her husband who are now living in the beautiful and understated area of France known as Correz.  Few cars and few people make this area a joy to explore. Perfect French markets towns are surrounded by large areas of countryside and farmland.  It was a change to shoot photos in shorts and a t- shirt, but one that was a welcome change!

Mists in loubressac
Mists in loubressac

It was also my first trip to Donegal, Ireland and I was lucky to explore parts of the wild atlantic way including the Dunfanaghy area and Malin.  I loved it and will be back again and again. Beaches were wild and empty and again weather fronts rolled in and out making for exciting weather conditions. I still have many images to process which I really look forward to. Looking back on a trip some months afterwards often inspires me to ‘look again’ at shots and consider how to process.

Ballyhillin blast
Ballyhillin blast

I made another trip to Harris in the outer Hebrides. This time I was staying for 2 weeks and this proved to be a good choice.  I could revisit places in different lights, look again at locations and experiment with different techniques.  It also meant I could rest and enjoy the island without a camera in my hand. I could literally  spend months on Harris and I feel that the short days in the winter months have a lot to offer.  Perhaps my third trip will be in December or February?!  The colours of Harris are spectacular and it is this that for me makes the island so addictive.  I could return again and again and always find something  new to photograph.

Looking forward to a new year of photography, I have decided to concentrate on my home turf of Norfolk and Suffolk more .   We miss landscapes that are literally on our door steps.  We sometimes fail to look at what surrounds us on a day to day basis, often looking for the new and the inaccessible.  I also intend to concentrate on taking photos that are good landscape photos not always fashionable or with an obscure bent, but good landscape photographs.   So on that note, Happy Christmas and lets hope 2018 is a year of creativity for all and a year that builds bridges within the divisions that exist.

 

Scotland – The North East Coast

Scotland is a photographer’s playground. Very few of us that love photography have not visited this wonderful country. Many of us head for Western parts e.g Glencoe, Torridon, Skye etc and there is no denying all is very beautiful. However the dreaded midge does plague the West from May right the way through to mid September and it can also be very wet! The North East Coast is often ignored or considered second best. However it has a lot to offer and to photograph and even in the summer, roads are far from busy and often beaches empty or with few folk on. The areas I particularly like are Nairn, Fortrose, Cromarty, Findhorn and the Moray coast. Each have an individual beauty and much to keep the photographer happy even on a damp dull day.  The photo below is of driftwood on the West beach of Nairn taken in August before sunset.  I had the beach to myself !!

Nairn driftwood
Nairn driftwood

Clashach Cove better known as Cove bay, near Hopeman features wonderful sandstone and limestone rock formations.  Intimate landscapes as well as coastal vistas are abundant both with the tide in and out.

Drift gorse at Cove bay
Drift gorse at Cove bay

If you are tired of the coast then head for Cawdor forest near the fairy tale like Cawdor castle. Cawdor Big wood is an ancient woodland site  which combines extensive ancient semi-natural oak woodland habitat with areas of fine mature beech, larch and smaller areas of shade conifers.

Cawdor woods
Cawdor woods

So, ‘west is best’ is not always the case. The east can be equally fascinating.

What the camera sees and what you see.

The majority of photographers take shots in either raw or raw and jpeg and those of us that process and print initially look to the image on the back of the camera to confirm our shot.  Now I am not saying we should not do this, but we have to accept that camera companies have gone to great lengths to make our photos look great on the camera LCD. We all look at an image on the camera screen and fall in love with it or not, as the case may be.  However neither Lightroom nor Camera raw use the camera makers’ software  development kit for rendering the image. The image that we see in both processing programmes is a normalised one that requires processing.   So off we go and process but how do we process?? What do we want to achieve ???  What do we want to portray  about the area we have photographed?  In other words what have we visualised and  what do we want to achieve on screen and in the final output which is or should be the print?

I have increasingly realised that our obsession with processing images quickly without giving any real thought as to what sort of picture {not photo} we want to achieve produces millions of images that are not really owned by the photographer.  Facebook posts and other social  media sites are used by many photographers to show and often advertise their work. However these sites do in many cases influence what we post, as it is clear that some type of photos gain many ‘likes’ because of how they appear to viewers within 2 seconds or less. We all like ‘likes’ but it does not mean that the photo is a good one or a great one. It means  it is liked when viewed for the briefest period of time. Similarly a great photograph can be posted which is not liked.  Again I am not saying we should not use these sites ,but we should think about what we are posting and why.

In relation to black and white photos, visualisation  is key. We more often than not shoot in colour and then process the image.  Many believe that black and white photos need to have a range of  tones in blacks and whites and all tones in between.  This is like saying that a good color photo needs a primary red, a primary blue and a primary yellow and all colours in between!  Again I am not saying that a good black and white photograph should not should not have the above mandate, as long as it matches  the mood of the picture. The photo needs to convey a message to the viewer about what the landscape felt like. It needs to convey some emotion.  If you follow a set mandate when processing, then all your photographs will have a ‘sameness’ about them. Uniformity does not excite viewers if they keep seeing the same thing. In addition it does not challenge the viewer.  Its a bit like food, people eat what they like but we would never say “Don’t try anything new because you only like certain foods” – we would encourage them to be adventurous.

The two photos below show the raw image and the processed one. The raw being the colour one.

They were taken on a soft misty summer’s morning on the Norfolk Broads round about 4am.  There was no wind and the reeds were full of dew-laden spider webs.  The atmosphere was one of calm and tranquility. There are no dramatic mountains in this landscape, no  deep gorges, no sudden weather changes  in fact there is not  even an incline in the terrain ! So to produce images with deep blacks and whites or harsh primary colours would  not  pertain to the East Anglian landscape.  A landscape that is often over looked by photographers because of the lack of drama, both in terrain and weather changes!  The atmosphere was in-fact radiant and free from disturbance of any sort and that included other photographers.  That’s what I felt and that’s what I tried to portray in the mono  photo. when processing.   Hopefully I did – what do you think ?