Pretty Pictures And Elephants

Perhaps the landscape is just a fictional notion, always viewed in the past tense, through rose tinted glasses that remind us of a collective history. It has to be clean and neat, it has to be non-threatening and calm, as anything else is dangerous and harmful, outside of our control. My weather pictures used to get “it’s lovely to see, but I wouldn’t want to have been there”, or “ooh it looks so cold….brrrr”. One only has to look at how anything “wild” is quickly removed from our towns and cities to see how important controlling and regulating nature and landscape has become. Our lives are all about limits and controls, often state sanctioned, so maybe the rose tinted ideal is required to remind us that something better did once exist, albeit fleeting. Maybe I just have a problem with the way that colour dominates certain pictures, and how often pictures are considered of value just because of a certain colour. Take away the dominant colour in many images and little remains of any interest. Saying that, black and white images are often seen as passé or nostalgic, but at least that may remove the “pretty picture” tag that I struggle with. After all what makes a strong image should be the content, even though at times colour may be part of that. [...]

Teesdale Sheep Show

For many years Teesdale has been one of my favourite parts of England, and at the end of September I was lucky enough to visit what I consider to be a “proper” country show, one without all the commercial baggage that accompanies so many nowadays.

The Langdon Beck Sheep Show, which at one point [...]

William Klein

“Be yourself. I much prefer seeing something, even it is clumsy, that doesn’t look like somebody else’s work.” William Klein “I used the wide-angle lens as a normal lens. I had no philosophy about it. When I looked in the viewfinder and realized I could see all the contradictions and confusion that was there with the wide-angle — that was what was great… I’d had a Rolleiflex with different lenses, I wouldn’t have cropped that much. I had no compunction about cropping, because I did my own layouts…[And] I’d use anything in printing. Throw cyanide, white out over things. I approached photography a little bit like a painter would play with a lithograph, fooling around, pouring milk, tea, anything on it. It was the sort of thing that anybody with any sort of strict, classic photographic training would have qualms about. But I had no qualms at all about doing things with photography. First of all, I had no knowledge of it, and I couldn’t care less, because I thought the whole photographic world was alien.” William Klein (via Lens Culture) [...]

Back To the Wall

I have worked intermittently with Practical Photography Magazine since 2001, and recently completed a job with them as part of their “24 Hours With..” feature. The brief was that they follow me during a landscape shoot on Hadrian’s Wall, an area I have visited frequently over the years. But with Ben Hawkins, the Deputy [...]

Playing the Averages

I have found nothing in the world of digital photography that can match that moment when you hold up a sheet of negatives or transparencies to the light. With the sun behind it a correctly exposed large or medium format colour transparency gleams like some sort of polished stained glass window. At that moment you instinctively know how good they are, and which ones are worth printing or scanning. The very best pictures stand in a way that has never been repeated when I chimp at a LCD screen on the back of a digital camera. A histogram just does not do it for me! [...]

Rules Are There To Be Broken

I have found that the so called “rules” of photography can often be challenged, and then with a little thought, can be ignored. Experience has taught me that there really are no cast iron rules in photography, and I am convinced that half the time they are merely invented by writers to fill up [...]

Serendipity

Recently I have found myself in a period during which I am evaluating everything I have made over the three years; being very self critical, endlessly going back over my notebooks, researching, and searching again for the things that really inspire me.

Balancing commercial and personal projects is essential for most photographers, but the [...]

Photobooks

As with any quality book, the very best photobooks are beautiful, tactile, and precious things, which seem to make their readers treat them with respect when they pick them up. To a photographer they can be inspiring and frustrating in equal doses; sources for ideas and for understanding, but they are often (expensive) objects of desire. [...]

Travelling Light

After years of carrying around a huge backpack loaded with lots of things I “might need,” I have spent more time recently travelling around on foot with the minimum of equipment.

A year ago I made a conscious effort to carry only one (film) camera on any trip, nothing else, and generally would select [...]

A Cat and a Man in a Hat

In the interest of sharing with, and also in scaring everyone who owns a Leica MP, this is what happens when the shutter breaks.

I was shocked when a processed film showed random lines throughout and light bleeding all over, and then oddly the next film was fine. I was more shocked when I [...]

HDR & “Photoshopping”

I was very pleased to be asked to contribute a guest editorial piece for February’s edition of Practical Photography Magazine. http://www.photoanswers.co.uk/ This allowed me to cover a topic that is important to me, namely “Photoshopped” pictures and the abuse of HDR.

The text of my piece runs……………..

We live in a world filled with [...]