Category Archives: Architecture

Home town tilt shift

Home town tilt shift

OK. I know. It’s been a long time. Far too long in fact. But after posting every day for 7 months the freedom of giving up overtook me and I went in the opposite direction. I swore that that this blog was not going to die and the fact that I am writing this at is means that this may well be true, although I am still not convinced.

I know at least one person who has missed this blog (she knows who she is) and who keeps asking when I am going to post again so here I go. One post for the whole of September is pretty shameful but I have not been idling. Honest. I have been adding more and more photos to my Society6 page and it is beginning to bear fruit in terms of recognition, feedback and, yes, sales; which sort of explains why the blog has been quiet of late… It’s a case of priority and being able to fund the photography. So whilst I have been attempting to live up to the tag ‘artist’ I have also done some commercial portraits that have been well received and left me thinking that maybe I would like to do more. I have now had enquiries about four (!) weddings – all next year – as well. There are good reasons why the blog has been through this dormant period.

It’s now pretty clear to me that word of mouth is a very powerful thing, especially from friends. And it also seems that after 2 or 3 years of plugging away I am starting to see a little reward. Since this blog was about logging progress maybe it has run its course but not quite yet. Are you still an amateur if people have bought your photos? Does amateur solely refer to professional status or is it ability to use a camera? These are questions I need to find an answer to.

However, this blog has always been less about photography and more about me pouring my thoughts out onto the page (you may have noticed). The writing has been just as therapeutic as the photography if truth be told and its something that I enjoy. So, moving forward, it may just become a depository for random news, the occasional rant, the odd blatant plug before being integrated into a wider on-line presence. Grand designs, etc…

And why today? Well for a long time now I have been attempting to create some tilt shift photography. A technique by which you make cars, people, etc look like toys. When done well it can look stunning. I have been attempting and failing for a long time and this picture is the first time I have got remotely close. It’s not great by any stretch of the imagination but it’s a start and signals that I may at last have got the hang of it.


Softly, softly, catchee monkey

monkey

Back off holiday and another blog post for August. It seems odd having only blogged once before this month after blogging every day for 7 months but I do feel that a weight of expectation has been lifted. As usual Northumberland did not disappoint and I am somewhat daunted by the sheer number of photographs that I took. Of course some of them are family shots and will therefore never see the light of day on this blog but there are still several hundred others to prioritise and get through. Processing all the wedding photographs recently has finally opened up my eyes to the blindingly obvious fact that my old PC is not really up to task in terms of speed or capability. It has become a chore and I spend a lot of time just sitting, with the fan whirring, waiting for it to do something.

For many years I have harboured a dream of upgrading to an Apple Mac, primarily because I don’t know a single pro photographer that is not Mac-based. So I have now made the decision that any income made from photography – meagre as it is – is going to go into a savings fund to trade in the PC for a Mac at some point in the future. This may well take more than a year given my current incomings.

I am more than pleased with Society6 in terms of generating income as it is the first outlet for my photography that has actually worked, and lord knows there have been many failed attempts. I’ve never had a photography sale via this blog or the website I set up for example. The sums involved from selling via Society6 are small but growing and I can see a steady increase in interest. In addition, it’s nice to be seen as an artist by a community of other artists who have no idea who I am.

Also, I have had three more enquiries about photographing weddings; this I am noticeably less excited about, primarily because I find them very stressful and as word of mouth takes them away from friends and friends of friends to complete strangers then my stress levels can only increase further. Nonetheless, it is heartening to be getting word-of-mouth recommendations even if it is only as a cheap and cheerful option. Whether I will do them or not is an entirely different matter.

And what other news? I will continue to add images to my Society6 store and this may well become my primary focus over the blog (to be honest it already has) as operation Mac continues into 2012. I know have three images for sale via the Urban Outfitters print shop (again via a deal they have with Society6) and it is obvious from my stats that it is these images that are selling the most, though the commission is lower. So I suppose my strategy should be to try and get more picked up by Urban Outfitters. The three images they have picked up so far are not my best – in my opinion anyhow, which may be worthless – and are undoubtedly all images where I have consciously attempted to do something quirky or ‘arty’. Again, maybe there is a lesson to be learned here? And this opens up a wider question. Why is it that the photographs of mine that are rated the highest by other artists hardly sell at all? It’s an interesting conundrum and I only wish I knew the answer.

I had a very good meeting with a PR-oriented friend of mine who insisted that I do something or anything to promote the photography and I now have a list of actions, some of which I might actually do something about if things didn’t keep getting in the way such as holidays, first Northumberland and Edinburgh to come. That said, in Edinburgh I am taking some photographs of friends for their company’s website so will be combining business and pleasure (and ticking something off the action plan).

I never really envisaged selling ANY of my photographs when I started this whole adventure and I certainly never envisaged being seen as an artist, as previous blog posts will attest. I am not the most proactive of people – you may have noticed – but it seems to me that if you keep making small steps towards an achievable goal then that is better than making no steps at all. It has been a very slow build since my first blog post in May 2009 but I have come pretty far and learned loads – certainly I have achieved more than I thought I would. I catch myself getting impatient sometimes about the slow pace I am setting but then I think of the day job and the family commitments and overall I’m pretty pleased with my progress. I have also had a lot of support along the way from family and friends, social networkers and other photographers/artists too. So thanks all!

Sometimes I feel a bit like the Wizard of Oz and that any minute the curtain may be whipped away to reveal an old man pulling levers. I am still not completely convinced that I have ‘an eye for it’ and my ability with the camera fluctuates wildly; however, I am improving in terms of my digital darkroom skills and this appears to be half the battle. Sorry that this post is a bit disjointed; I’m not really sure what I am trying to say other than to reassure myself that the blog is still valid and worth updating. I still consider myself an amateur, albeit one that has managed to achieve a modicum of recognition as a tiny fish in a very very big pool of photographers that is growing all the time.

Digg This

(Not) A broad church

Broad church

Whilst traipsing the streets of Bala, North Wales last weekend we passed this church. It seemed remarkable only in that is was so tall and thin compared to the surrounding buildings and was slotted in to such a small space in terms of width. Anyway, it seemed worthy of a photograph and here it is. Once can only wonder how many parishioners can fit inside at one time; mind you it was a Church of England building in the midst of Wales, so perhaps there aren’t that many to cause a problem.

Digg This

Testing… testing…

St Pauls

If you are reading this on Friday 10th June and not before then the experiment has worked. I am away for a few days so this seemed a good time to test if I can set up the blog to post automatically if I prepare the posts in advance. This will be invaluable come Glastonbury in 2 weeks times. This is an arty farty shot that I have entered in the Society6 ‘Whiteout’ collaboration. I actually think its turned out quite well and I have high hopes for it making the cut. although I have probably jinxed that now… Oh, and the picture – St Pauls Cathedral in That London from the Millennium Bridge but I’m sure you knew that.

Digg This

Edward

Edward

From one old man’s name to another… Gerald to Edward. In this case Edward VII, Queen Victoria’s oldest son and a statue that sits on the Pier Head in Liverpool, as evidenced by the Liver Building in the background. Short blog post today as a) its Friday b) I’m going out and c) the baby sitter is already here. Have a great weekend and enjoy the sunshine while it lasts (assuming you have it wherever you are)

Digg This

Triptych

New York Triptych

Our camping exhibition to North Wales has been cancelled due to a) inclement weather and b) lack of enthusiasm for all concerned. As a result the womenfolk have gone out on the razzle leaving us men with only the comfort of the Champions League final cling to. Its a hard life! In truth, the only downside is that we have the kids to look after also but given that its Doctor Who night and we have a voucher for Dominos pizza there is no mountain that cannot be climbed. At the moment they have gone to play with the kids over the road so I am taking the opportunity to do some photo work.

This image is one I put together last month from the old photographs of New York that I found in the loft. It is my first attempt at a triptych and as such I’m pretty pleased with. As usual YouTube  proved invaluable and this is one thing that I have learned that should be passed on. When stuck on how best to process an image have a look on YouTube. Nine times out of ten, someone will have uploaded a handy video taking you through the process step by step. As I am self-teaching with regards to photo processing this has proved a real lifesaver.

Although I have blogged a couple of these images before I think they work well as a threesome, particularly with the twin towers in the middle. Again this is another small step forward towards doing things with more artistic merit than just landscapes. By trying to think this through as a piece of wall art I think the three images together work much better than they do individually.

Digg This

Competition fail

Albion Inn

I have recently entered some photographs for a competition (fingers crossed) and was with most photo competitions there were various categories under which you could enter. All of my entries were accepted bar this one. The category was ‘Local Britain’. What better way to illustrate this I thought that with a traditional British ‘local’ (for overseas readers, vernacular for a public house). Even better that said local is called The Albion Inn. But no. The image was rejected. Not because it’s a bad picture (for the record I think its pretty good) and not for the fact that it did not meet the stringent image criteria – it is the right orientation, size and format. It was rejected because it was deemed to be ‘advertising’. Now with all the will in the world I’m not sure how this can be the case. There are no logos, no brewery signs, nothing promoting anything at all. It’s just a typical British corner pub. So in other words my picture is deemed to advertise a pub rather than being a picture of a pub. I find this quite amusing and I would be intrigued to know how many other images are falling foul of this rule. I obviously have to consider these things more carefully Winking smile

Digg This

The Scottish Play

Bamburgh castle

This evening I am off to the theatre to see Macbeth at the Liverpool Everyman. It is the last production to be staged at the Everyman before the theatre is pulled down and a new one raised in its place; it also marks the return to the stage after many years of the popular television actor, Twitterer and all-round nice guy David Morrissey. Morrissey started his career at the Everyman and it is is fitting that this final production should see once of its own returning, hopefully triumphantly. The Everyman is a great little theatre and I used to go there all the time as a student, given its proximity to the university; unfortunately most of the time I was there to drink in its famous cellar bar than to watch a performance, although I did go to many.

Macbeth is probably my favourite of all Shakespeare’s  plays, probably because I never had to study it. I know Lear, Othello and Hamlet inside out through constant appraisal at school but the first time I saw Macbeth it was not on the stage. My first Macbeth was John Finch in Roman Polankski’s 1971 film version and I think I saw it as part of Alex Cox’s much-missed Moviedrome on BBC2 some time in the mid 1980s. It was filmed in Northumberland – as was Polanski’s Cul de Sac – which is my favourite place in the UK and used the imposing Bamburgh castle as its backdrop (pictured). Whilst Cul de Sac used Holy Island as its striking location Macbeth used Bamburgh. Here was Macbeth as gothic horror film, which is probably why I like it so much and still do to this day. It is well worth seeking out, if only for the novelty of seeing a very young Martin Shaw as Banquo and an even younger Keith Chegwin – yes THAT Keith Chegwin – as Fleance.

I think I like Macbeth because despite its horrors it is also a very intimate portrait of a marriage and the very definition of the old adage that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Plus it fair rattles along, hardly pausing for breath amidst the carnage. The Everyman production has been getting good reviews so fingers crossed we are in for a good night.

Digg This

On the town

Chester Town hall

Going out tonight (ooh hark at me) but just time to get a short blog post in and fulfil my obligations :-). So as I am out on the town here is the town hall of my home city. Another masterpiece of Victorian civic pride, like a smaller version of the town hall in Manchester. I had to get up very early in the morning to take this; hence the lack of people. The statue in the foreground is a source of great local debate; it is meant to symbolise the community of this walled city but the more unhinged of Chester’s citizens have labelled it disgusting and ‘lewd’. They obviously have far more warped – but not fertile, DEFINITELY not fertile – imaginations than I do.

Digg This

Apex

Apex

A photograph from a recent trip to Liverpool, this being one of the new buildings on the river front adjacent to the ‘Three Graces’. The mixture of old and new here now is quite jarring but hopefully the new buildings, such as this one – luxury flats I believe – will settle down once all the scaffolding and building company’s have moved out. Not sure if I like this building; its implacable blackness reminds me of the monolith from Kubrick’s 2001 or something from J.G. Ballard’s High Rise. It’s all about exclusion and not inclusion  but I suppose that’s what you pay for. To me it is reminiscent of the prow of a ship or maybe a pyramid but with the sun behind it on a bright Spring day I still find it ominous.

Digg This