Bristol Open Doors Day

    Last weekend I had the privileged of working with the Architecture Centre in Bristol on their event Bristol Open Doors Day event, an event that has been running since 1993 and one I remember attending when I was younger with my mum. This is in part why I had sent them an email, I had loved the festival when I was younger and always remembered it as being a great way to explore the city and I am eager to take more photographs in the centre of the city so I was delighted when the Architecture Centre asked me to a meeting to talk about coming on board! 

   I was very happy to find that the  architecture centre are a wonderful group of people and have superb taste in coffee houses, who could want more! So we sat down and went through what we wanted from the event and how the images were going to be used. This is always helpful for me, although I may be given a brief in previous jobs, to know what the images are actually going to be used for I can shoot with the space around the image in mind. 

    The brief for the weekend was to go to a few select locations across the city over the four days and document people interacting with the locations and the activities organised at them. Alongside this I was required  to document the buildings and their relationship to their surroundings putting the whole festival in to context.

   I am really happy with the results of the weekend, managing to visit 25 locations and getting to see behind the scenes of the Colston Hall, stand on top of the St Stephen’s Church Tower, see behind the scenes at the BBC, learn about puppetry and tour around a dance studio that was once a hot bathing area! It truly was a wonderful weekend  and I got so many wonderful images. Below are a short selection of the images I captured over the weekend.

 

 

Bristol Balloon Fiesta

I had always loved the Bristol Balloon Fiesta, as a child I was taken there by my mum and I remember being woken up at sunrise to go and watch a mass ascent of 100’s of Hot Air Balloons take off from Ashton court, to me it was like magic!

        So I was delighted when I was asked by Andy, one of the balloon pilots, to come in to the arena and take a few shots of them setting up and taking off in the middle of the fiesta. I had previously that weekend already done a very early morning wake up (5 am) to catch the balloons taking off at sunrise and watch them float across the city. I arrived at the site late on Sunday as the first few balloons had begun inflating, met Andy at the security gate and went through some health and safety pointers with him, don’t get in front of cars or big gas burners which all seemed like a good idea, from then on I was free to roam in the jungle of fabric that was being inflated around me. Shapes slowly appeared and expanded as they filled with air and then all of a sudden they were upright, I was dashing from balloon crew to balloon trying to capture as much as I could without getting in to peoples way, at the end of the day we all had our own jobs to do there. Luckily for my Andy’s balloon the Penny balloon was one of the last to inflate and take off giving me a wonderful view of the rest of the pack floating away in the distance as they set up. 

     Below are a selection of images from the weekend and a shot from the magazine Aerostat that I was very happy to be featured in. 

Sidcot School

            I was contacted by Sidcot School to take photos at several events at the school over one weekend, I was excited and eager to get to work and get stuck in. The three events were a sports day, a leavers day and a garden party all slightly different events but with the idea of capturing candid shots of groups and people enjoying their time. My briefs were quite open, something I was happy with as it gives me freedom to explore and search for many different types of images. I was prepared with some shots in my head I thought I could get, something that is often debated whether you should go to a location with an image in your head but I feel whatever makes you comfortable works. The day was hot, when I say hot I mean the hottest day in June since 1976 hot! So running around an open field in the middle of the day was rather warm, still I made my way around the various events constantly struggling with wanting to be in two places at the same time however I believe the end result proved successful and shows the vibrancy and colour of the multiple sports teams and events of the day.

The two following events were a leaving day and a garden party, both were shorter and luckily significantly cooler weather. The brief for these both were more directed towards candid shots and not so much ‘people in action’, the use of the images would be for the newsletter and prospectus of the school. I had a lot of fun taking these images, using a slightly longer lens so I wasn’t in anybody’s face and disturbing them but still wandering around and getting a chance to talk to everyone involved. It was a wonderful experience and a great series of days to be a part of and to capture for the school.

Bath Spa University – TUCO

Bath Spa University asked me to photograph their catering department as it was being featured in a nationwide magazine called TUCO. It required a series of photos to demonstrate and publicise what goes on both behind the scenes and to show the catering department on an average working day. The article was to outline and highlight the working and approach of the catering department in the University, I was given a very open brief to show the Department and University in the best light possible, although this brief did not outline and specifics I already had a clear view of what I wanted to communicate through the images, a sense of cleanliness, of light, of an open and fresh space and working environment.

I am very pleased with the outcome of the images and after seeing them in print I feel as though it is one of the best series I have produced. Personally I would have liked to have had an input on curation and layout in the magazine however sometimes you have to just let go of your images and leave those jobs up to other people. I suppose that’s the control part of my brain taking over a little.

Below are a selection of the images and a screen copy of the pages in TUCO.

Here is the online version of the magazine where you can see my images in situ

http://flickread.com/edition/html/58ff59d15bda4#18

And the Winning Image is…..

And the Winning Image is…..

Wow! !  I am so pleased and happy to announce that I have been chosen as one of the artists to have their photo featured as a front cover with Lonely Planet Magazine. This is a wonderful privilege as this is a magazine I often read and look for, it is full of great images and articles about travel and to have my image join those is a great feeling. I have received my own cover in the post, which might be occupying a place up on the wall after a quick show off to a few family members and friends, it is always good to show off when you have the chance

The images are a part of the 100th cover anniversary editions where 100 artists have been chosen to be featured on a cover, the covers are not available for general purchase however there is an internal double page spread where you can see all the images and they will be featured on Lonely Planet Traveller Magazine’s social media accounts. As I write my image is currently on Lonely Planet’s Instagram and has racked up 3,115 likes, not too bad for a day’s work as they say.

But what is this image I hear you ask!? It has been featured here on the website for a while now and comes from a shoot in Norway, whilst travelling there over New Year’s 2015/16 I had taken a Bronica ETRS with a few remaining rolls of 120mm E6 film that I had knocking about at home in the fridge. Whilst exploring the snowy scenes around Holmenkollen (a Ski jump that overlooks Oslo) we spotted a small frozen lake with a red cabin on the opposite side: I took my time and shot two frames, it seemed like such a still moment with no one around and the snow having just settled the night before, I believe I managed to capture that in the image, peace and calm and a red cabin.

The Lake District

 

What an amazing place! ! !

 

I was lucky enough to be invited on a trip to Langdale in The Lake District, having never been to the Lake District before I was rather excited for some fell walking and mountains to climb and tarns to fall in (hopefully not) also the wonderful scope of landscape photography that is on offer there. My personal opinion on landscape photography was always that it was a great section of photography but just a little …. ummm…. well…. Boring; but what a rubbish view that was! I was just not looking at the right landscape, I had previously seen Ansel Adams’ work however I just skipped through it, I had never really looked.

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Exhibitions and the Summer

So throughout this summer I have been exhibiting more and more of my work, which is a rather scary thing to do sometimes, however it has been wonderfully successful with an exhibition in the New Inn, Blagdon, and a collaborative exhibition at Sidcott School. If anyone was thinking about exhibiting their work but a little unsure on the response or didn’t really know much about it I would whole heartily recommend doing it! !

I was very nervous I must admit displaying my images, my work, in front of people who will all be looking and judging it, however with my girlfriend Pippa by my side and helping me every step of the way every challenge was over come and every task was conquered. We hung images, broke nails on the back of frames, bought out Ikea’s stock of frames and filled living rooms full of images in preparation, in essence if you want to do it you can, there is always a solution to a problem and a creative one at that.

 

A New Project

I have been waiting a while before starting this project and I think this will be an on going project for some time. This project will centre around the area of The Mendips, an area I have lived near and worked in for a long time. I initially have thoughts of this being a landscape project taking all the scenery that the Mendips have to offer, however I will see how the project develops and take it as it comes.

 

This is the first shoot I did, I spent an early morning out walking the hills, getting a scope for the area (or at least part of it) also getting a feel of the images. Here are the first test images…

Old VS New

So I have decided to revise an old concept of putting old images against new images which I had photographed myself, I have been in talks of doing a new photography exhibition in the New Inn, Blagdon and a photography series of old and new would work very well here. I had worked in Blagdon for a number of years and got to know a lot of local people and they pointed me in the direction of the Addicott archive   who kindly donated some images to me to use. This is a non for profit charity so the images couldn’t be sold for profit after completion but this doesn’t pose any problems for me as that is not the primary reason for me doing photography.

 

 

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So two images one was taken in 2016 and the other was taken in the early 1900’s I had used a 50mm lens to keep the lens warping to a minimum, I tried to line up the images through the chimneys and roofing structures as they were the least likely to have been changed or moved over the years. It still however required warping within Photoshop to line the brickwork and beams up as the sensor size (film size) and structure of the cameras were very different to today’s.

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Blagdon Village Club, Then and Now Series

Blagdon Village Club, Then and Now Series

I am very happy with the final product and with a bit of final touches and tidying up it could indeed be a very special series of photos, showing both the history of a place whilst showing the change over time all within a still single image. This is a series I hope will continue through future locations, keep an eye out!

Make Sure You Have Enough Developer!

             So I went on a lovely holiday to Norway, taking in the snow and cold all around New Years, it was beautiful and wonderful and a perfect time for me to capture some medium format images up in the Norwegian mountains, I mean who could ask for more! Now a bit thing to remember when you get home and you are all excited about developing your roll of film that has been so well looked after and cared for, a very very important thing to remember is put enough developer in the tank to cover the whole film! Oh and agitate always agitate! Anyway, so it seems that my development tank has been slowly leaking a small bit of developer and everything else each time I have developed a roll of film, it was just bad luck that this roll had to be the victim! So a couple of decisions need to be made here, do I crop the images or try my hand at Photoshopping the gradient back to the original exposure, we shall just have to experiment and see. For future reference, I know a lot of people say it but, take your time over your prep when developing rolls of film because you will be devastated when a whole roll of well shot images are ruined because of the smallest mistake. Lesson learnt!

First Scans

So the first scans to be processed are some of the 120mm E6 film, after working out some teething issues of colour spaces and scanning resolution the images have come out well. Still having to edit and colour correct a little more, but a good start to begin with, I am interested in the colour range and tonal depth that film has and the images seem to come out so rich. I am excited and interested in what the other films provide.

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Scan Scan Scan!

So I have progressed along the image making production line from developing rolls of film, which is now finally done, to scanning, the long nights truly begin here.

I’m using a Epson V550 scanner to do all the scanning and if I find certain frames that need a clearer scan I can then send them away, however I find this is a good starting point.

So white gloves to the ready and away we go!

 

 

 

Scanningsetup

Developing at home

 

After a while of looking around and trying to find an affordable way of having my rolls of 120mm E6 film developed, without taking out a mortgage on my parents house, I thought why not venture in to the dark and do it myself? How hard could it be?!  I managed to dig up a few old bits of equipment from uni days and with a quick search around I managed to source bits and pieces from First Call and Silver Print including a dev tank and chemicals. The kit i decided to use was the E6 Tetenal Colorteck, It’s a simple kits with only four baths (although it does say three) There is also a great step by step tutorial here by Lomography. The only trick really throughout the process is finding a system where you can keep water temperature and chemical temperature around 38 degrees C. I seemed to find a good solution with a bucket of fresh water on the draining board (which was used as wash water) and the jobo bottles in the sink, I could then run hot and cold water in to the sink to change the temperature and keep the dev tank around 38. A quick note to anyone who is trying this, there is a great debate about whether to pre-wash your negatives before you stick your developer chemical in, I have decided to jump on the yes camp reasons being;

  •  It heats the tank and film up to the right temp before chemicals are added.
  • it can help with uneven development (streaking)
  • It can also help to reduce the grain on certain film by brining it up to temperature (however this is contested)
  • It washes off the anti-halation dye which gives some great crazy colours, as seen in the photos.

It is also noted to say that illford and some other manufacturers do say that you don’t need to pre-wash your film, so in essence entirely up to personal preference.

Box Brownie Results

 

So only a few of the shots came out of my Box Brownie and not the best of condition, I was however not expecting masses from it. The roll of film, ashamedly I have to say, was left in the camera for a couple of years and has been kept in a cold damp room, all of which has contributed to a wonderful effect of fuzzy-ness. This however I believe is insignificant to the quality of lens, alas the box brownie was not exactly created to be a game changer in regards to quality. Instead it was produced more as a  low cost photography multi consumer good, It even had an initial price of $1 (however this was around the 1900’s).   As it is using a simple fixed Meniscus lens it’s quality is not exactly tack sharp, that aside the images are still very interesting. Something I have noticed is the flatness of the images, they really do not display depth in the image, The only exception to this is the double exposure seen in number 2. Here we see two  layers of images creating depth through the changing of focus and exposure. This interests me a lot more than the straight forward images that have come from this reel and perhaps this could be a better way of using the camera, as the idea of replicating the world through the artists eye is already warped through the cameras then, to quote Gary Winogrand  “I photograph to see what something will look like photographed.”

So with that, I shall continue with the Box Brownie descovering what and how it sees the world around it.

 

Clearing the House

So whilst going through my house I have been finding old rolls of film, this series was shot on an old roll of HP5 400ISO, this film is a work horse and really still just performs on all accounts. As quoted by Illford “HP5 PLUS is a high speed, medium contrast film making it especially suitable for action and press photography and also an excellent choice for general purpose photography.” So come dusk and a house moving it seemed the best moment to try it out. I love the contrast and tonal range in the film and on the shots that have been taken in broader daylight the grain is minimal and smooth. The shots that have had to be pushed due to low light, for example image number 1. There is very visible grain in the smoke and general mid-tones, however this adds to the chaotic and frantic movement of the flames. Something that is wonderfully juxtaposed by the stillness of the image below it, the cat gazing out to the field, the finer grain and clearer image suits it’s content much more here and creates an overall sense of calmness, all in all grab a roll of HP5 and go and have a play just take pictures of everything!

Festivals During the Summer

In the summer last year I was volunteering at music festivals for Oxfam stewards, at each festival I took either a 35mm analog camera usually a Nikon or a 120mm Bronica ETRS, still waiting to develop the 120mm shots, however here are a few of the 35mm for the time being. For the life of me unfortunately I can’t remember which type of 35mm film I was using, which is terribly frustrating, This selection of images were taken at NASS festival a small festival in the South West of England devoted to music and board sports … also bikes ect now. I hope to post some more in the near future and to have a whole collection that possibly I can exhibit, so keep a close eye on this space.

Light meters

 

Whilst clearing out my nans old house we found this old light meter, surprisingly it is a great condition and as far as I can tell still in good working order, I haven’t yet experimented with accuracy and whether it holds up to it’s digital counterparts. The change from this to smart phones and digital light meters is amazing, for some reason I am more impressed with this light meter most probably due to the fact that I don’t know how it works. To me this is like magic however I don’t think I’ll be using this out in the field any time soon. I do think though I will do some further research in to it, where it came from and how these mysterious, wonderful items work.

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Box Brownie

I have managed to prise open my Box Brownie that I was given a few years ago, I had unfortunately has a roll of 120mm in there which had been sat around for a couple of years, I have sent it off to be developed so fingers crossed and we’ll see what comes back.

The box brownie was such a revolutionary camera, originally produced in 1900 it came to be the camera for the people bringing photography to the masses and making the art truly affordable.

There is a really nice website devoted to Box Brownies here http://www.brownie-camera.com/ a passion project by Chuck Baker.

A Couple of test shots.

I found an old Kodak colour as mentioned in the previous post, I also managed to find a roll of old HP5 100 ISO, which is a wonderful roll of film however rather limiting during dark winter days, might have been a little more advantageous using 400 – 800 ISO, that’s for next time.

I instantly found it hard dealing with the focus ring, you could not see it through the viewfinder and having to just judge it/ guess how far things are, so people / things are out of focus, however I think the camera did well given that it looks like it hadn’t been used for 20 years, a with a little bit of practice I’ll get used to snapping with it.

A Charity Shop Bargin

I love dropping in to charity shops every now and again, just to see what has been handed in, trust me it’s worth it! The other day I happened upon this little beauty, it’s a 35mm Kodak Coloursnap, made around 1959 and a nice little camera for £4.00. The lens and workings are not challenging Cannon Mrk III or Nikon D4 and your exposure settings are a bit … well it’s guess work really. Having to match the exposure to a corresponding pictogram of a dark cloud, sunny day or something in between and given I live in England it’s more than likely it’ll be set to a series of half cloud pictures. Although the simplicity of the camera sounds like a bad point, it does take a bit of the control out of your hands and leaves more of the process up to luck and guess work, which is never really a bad thing I think. So I am going to find a roll of 35mm around here and run some test shots off and we’ll see whether it’s in working order.