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.
OK, so how to explain… this may be a first although I stand to be corrected. I did not take this photograph. It was taken today though. It’s actually a picture of the inside of my eyeball, which is either interesting or pretty gross depending on your point of view.
I am a glasses wearer, which means I have all sorts of problems when it comes to my photography. I need to take my glasses off to take pictures as a) its uncomfortable and b) most modern digital SLRs have this funky little focussing wheel that you can turn so that everything is in sharp focus. And, before you ask, I cannot wear contact lenses. I have a bit of a problem with eyes or more specifically touching my eyes or putting anything in my eyes. Even eye drops are pretty impossible to get in as I usually blink. Not sure where this comes from but it’s probably the eye trauma from films like Dead and Buried, Zombie Flesh Eaters and Opera that I lapped up in my youth.
Anyway, today I reluctantly went for an eye examination (the first in 5 years – very naughty of me since you’re supposed to go every two years) and it seems that technology has moved on. Not only have they made that thing that fires air into your eyeballs slightly less painful, they now also photograph the inside of your eyeball – to check for signs of diabetes, glaucoma, etc – and then e-mail it to you! My, how technology has changed the way we do things. Now, providing I keep to regular eye examination appointments, they will be able to compare images from test to test and hopefully catch anything nasty earlier.
So there you go; a photograph of the inside of the photographer’s eyeball. Don’t say I don’t spoil you. Or go that extra mile to bring you something different. Apparently, everything is fine, my prescription has not changed in the 5-year period since my eyes were last examined, and that is actually a picture of a healthy eye. Bought some new glasses too so that I can put them down and forget them, stand on them or leave them up a volcano, all of which I have done in the past.
After my last post on the 1st August I said that this blog was not going to die so here is another post just to prove my point. I will admit that not blogging has been a blessed relief for the last couple of weeks, although during those two weeks it seems that England (yes, England NOT the UK as news outlets would have you believe) has gone to hell in a handcart. This blog is not going to try and understand why the recent riots happened but I do I find it very sad. A lot of lives and livelihoods have been ruined and even lost but I think last week’s events have been coming for a long time. Our culture is now obsessed with the accumulation of goods and the cult of celebrity then it should come as no surprise when those that have nothing decide to take what they don’t have. The violence cannot be condoned and those involved must be punished but at the same time those at the other end of society – bankers, MPs who were economical with the truth expenses wise, huge corporations avoiding tax – must also be seen to be punished. But that will not happen. Indeed, our current Prime Minister, and the Mayor of London, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer were members of an exclusive club at university (the Bullingdon) that used to regularly behave badly, smashing windows and trashing restaurants. Of course in their case they could pay for the damage and it was only ‘youthful high jinks’. Similarly, the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has admitted to setting fire to a greenhouse full of rare cacti in his youth.
It’s very sad that a student – with no previous convictions – walking home from his girlfriend’s house who stole a 3.50 bottle of water gets 6 month in prison and does not deserve a second chance; conversely, Andy Coulson, the Prime Minister’s disgraced communications chief did deserve a second chance despite allegedly overseeing widespread criminality at the News of the World. Of course the majority of the rioters deserve to go to prison for a very, very long time but for a government obsessed with fairness this seems to be in short supply. Knee jerk reactions are almost always wrong and there seems to be no proportionality.
But enough hand-wringing. I never meant to write all that but got carried away a little. Despite the news coverage coming out of England this week, its still a beautiful country and today we are heading up north to my favourite place, Northumberland. From a photographer’s point of view I find the landscapes of Northumberland, where it seems you are never that far away from a castle, a rugged coastline or mile upon mile of empty sandy beaches, to be inspiring. I am hoping to get lots of good pictures that I can share as the blog progresses at a more sedate pace.
This picture was taken in Northumberland, on Holy Island, last year at the same time as I was photographing a wedding. Of late I have been experimenting a bit with different effects and tints and this was an image that I liked but which in its colour form was bleached out by the sun rising over the headland. This seemed to work and prints are available from my society6 shop.
In other news, the last set of wedding photographs that I did, which I agonised over for so long were delivered to much praise (phew) and as a result I have had an enquiry about shooting another wedding next year. Sales are picking up slowly on the society6 site and a friend in PR has decided to take me by the scruff of the neck and put a plan in place for promoting my photography more widely. We’ll see how that goes. But first a holiday… Back soon
I had it all planned… today’s photo was going to be current and I was going to attempt a review of sorts, which I still may do. This afternoon we had tickets to see the family play ‘Merlin and the Woods of Time’ at the open air theatre in Chester’s Grosvenor park and I intended to take some pictures for this evening’s blog. However, on arrival we were told that camera’s were not permitted. I have no problem with this, but it sort of scuppered the plans somewhat. Therefore to illustrate the blog I have had to go back to a picture taken at Warkworth castle in Northumberland and one that doesn’t really fit with the performance we saw this afternoon.
At this time of year you can’t move for medieval knights. It seems that ever castle – be in National Trust or English Heritage – is awash with volunteers dressed in armour. Indeed, Beeston castle, which is about 8 miles from where I live was having a 2-day medieval festival this weekend titled ‘Clash of the Knights’. And it’s not just knights… as a family we have seen Romans, Cavaliers, Roundheads, Highwaymen, Vikings, Gladiators, etc, etc. It has to be said as well that the various groups that dress up for the public and re-enact these golden periods of history (such as this knight pictured at Warkworth) take it very, very seriously.
This was not the case with ‘Merlin and the Woods of Time’. It’s probably the most spectacularly non-sensical and silly play I have seen in a long time. And its all the better for it. In fact, I loved it and so did the rest of the family. I’m not sure I can explain the plot – it did involve all the usual Arthurian characters but with a few more thrown in for good measure. And kazoos. Lots of kazoos. And time travel. And jousting commentators. Think Monty Python and Holy Grail – right down to Black Knight (and star of the show) Mordred losing his head at one point – and you are close. The cast are perfect and their are lots of laughs for both kids and adults. It is subtly smutty and yet exciting enough to hold the attention of the smallest of attentions. One running joke has a character speaking Welsh all the way through whilst the rest of the cast dismiss it as gibberish. The Welsh family sitting near us though roared with laughter and the fact that the Welsh speaker emerges as the heroine of the play (and the only sensible character) is commendable. A good time (and picnic) was had by all.
‘Merlin and the Woods of Time’ is running in conjunction with Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’ with the same cast doing both plays on alternate days until the 21st August. Pictures from the actual productions can be found here. Highly recommended if you can avoid the rain…
I MUST go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way, where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.
John Masefield (1878-1967)
Today, my daughter achieved something that I always wanted to but never managed – a Blue Peter Badge. For those not aware of Blue Peter, it is the UK’s longest running children’s programme; a magazine show for kids fronted by an ever-changing line-up of presenters. Blue Peter do not give out their badges to just anyone. You have to write in and show that you have earned the accolade. My daughter got hers for writing a poem about the seasons. She sent it in months ago and to be honest we had all forgotten that she had send it in at all. But this morning the badge arrived together with a nice letter explaining how much the Editor of the show – and the presenters Andy, Helen and Barney – enjoyed reading the poem. My daughter is of course glowing with pride whilst my son is glowering with jealousy. As a kid I always wanted a Blue Peter badge but was too lazy to actually do anything to earn it. I too am insanely jealous. What’s more is that Blue Peter badge holders get free entry to museums, galleries and stately homes the length and breadth of the country. So that is one less entry fee to pay. I have told her to look after it and keep the letter as it will be something to look back on and cherish; not to mention the fact that the Blue Peter badge never goes out of fashion or loses its caché. I am currently in negotiations to get her to write another poem. Is that so wrong?
Ladybird, ladybird fly away home,
Your house is on fire and your children are gone,
All except one,
And her name is Ann,
And she hid under the baking pan
Go on, admit it. I bet you didn’t know the full rhyme. I didn’t until I looked it up on t’internet 5 minutes ago. I certainly didn’t know about Anne hiding under the baking pan. I also didn’t know that ladybirds are commonly viewed as lucky. I could do with a bit of luck at the moment as routine bites hard and ambitions are low… Again, I have no idea what this plant is, which I suppose makes me a pretty rubbish flower photographer; maybe I should stick to buttercups and daisies? In the meantime, luck be a ladybird tonight. I going now before I run out of clichés to spout and Joy Division lyrics to purloin
Do flowers work in black and white? Probably not most of the time but in this case I think it does. The colour version is pretty much all one colour anyhow – green – and the monochrome helps add texture to the globe thistle, for that is what it is, apparently (although I stand to be corrected). I can’t work out whether this is in flower or pre/post flower but I think this is before the thistle has flowered, which is even more reason to go black and white. This is a last minute replacement for the picture that I was going to blog but which I am told is ‘too nice to waste on the blog’, which means my better half wants it on her wall. I may well post that particular picture a bit later… but I am considering entering it in a competition and rules mean I can’t post it just yet. I’m such a tease; however, in the meantime I don’t think this is a lesser image. Yet again it highlights the advantages of the 50mm prime lens – every photographer should have one, especially given the cheap price (approx £80) when compared to other lenses. Ultra fast and great depth of field
I promised flower pictures this week and here is the first. Not taken in my friend’s garden but in my own. I have no idea what it is but I am sure that someone will tell me – I’d ask the gardener in the family but she is out gallivanting. Here I was trying to focus on the small buds of pollen (?) on the ends of the stamens using the 50mm lens and the extension ring, which is why the flower itself is blurred in the background. Not sure if it works but I like it; could maybe benefit from being cropped but at least here you can tell its a flower…