Writings / category / out and about

About a year ago, as a form of therapy really, that I launched my Facebook page as a complement to my website. I've long been a photographer but I'd never really pushed it at people so I decided to be a bit more "in people's faces" with it. As they say in the movies... it's been emotional!

I really have to thank the band of faithful followers and friends who have encouraged me to push my work out there. Without that encouragement I wouldn't be writing this today.
I also need to thank the people who have allowed me to take their picture, either of them or their families! That said I'm reasonably sure they're all happy with the pictures they got in return!

It's hard to believe that in such a relatively short period of time the page has over 70 "likes". That means at least 40 odd people I don't know have looked at and liked my images! The truly amazing thing is that I've not really pushed myself so the growth is all "organic". I am trying to change that this year

I'm still slightly surprised when I think that people have paid me money for my work and paid me to take their picture! I find it truly humbling to be honest but yes, it's also very cool.

I hope that people continue to enjoy my work and that new people find and enjoy it. There's quite a big moment looming on the horizon and I make no apologies for mentioning (yet again) that I will be showing work over the second May bank holiday at the Mentmore Art Show. Looking at photographic images on the web is all very well but if you really want to enjoy an image then you need to see a print. If that print is mounted and framed all the better.  

There's a tendency for some people to be slightly dismissive of photography these days , people don't always appreciate the artistry that goes into conceiving and executing a photographic project. Photographers don't produce these pictures by accident, we see what we want, we figure out how to achieve it and we shoot it and we often put as much thought into how we present it as we do shooting it. 

I'm going to finish this blog with a big "Thank you" to the people who had enough faith to entrust me with their likeness... First up is "Simon's Gang" you could consider this my first ever "commercial shoot"

Old Skool!Of course the smiles do spoil the mean and moody look

Next up we've got the simply gorgeous "Pippa" who along with her mum became the first shoot for someone I didn't actually know beforehand!

Dolly 1Dolly is her favourite toy but I'm afraid to say she really didn't get a look in!

I can't say thank you to anyone without saying thank you to "Leigh". Approached by a complete stranger, totally out of the blue who handed her his card and said "Let me take your picture", she was apparently unfazed because she emailed me a few days later and we arranged her first shoot! I've "shot" her a number of times now in various guises and styles. I'm not sure if she realises just what a big help she's been to me in allowing me to practice technique, try out ideas and generally just get out and about with my camera. It's an image from her very first shoot (not just with me either!) that adorns my "hire me" page. 

Oh really?!?She's in her element now, relaxed and confident.

These people should all take a bow.
Next stop for me (and Danbo!) will be New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia! It's a hard life eh?

Thanks for reading (and supporting me)

Mark
17th April 2017
 

Actually, that's not true of all cameras. Some are rugged and waterproofed. Some have an underwater casing available and then you can swim with them using them as though you were above the water. My mobile phone is waterproof but my Canon isn't although it certainly has some weatherproofing.

I guess by now you're thinking what is this buffoon talking about? I'll tell you and those of you with a delicate constitution should probably stop reading now.

Last week, my work took me to Bradford, some 3.5 hours up the M1 along and tedious drive. I finished around 2.00pm and rather than drive home straight away. I had decided to visit the Bingley 5 lock lift on the Liverpool and Leeds canal. It's a quite impressive 18 meter lift about a mile downstream is another smaller 3 lock rise. 

I had a great time, shooting in and around the 3 lock rise and the 5 lock rise. I took a bunch of long exposures. It was such a lovely afternoon, sunshine, warm but not too bright, quiet too, not many people around at all. 

At one point in the shoot, I found myself laying on a slope... my camera close to edge of the empty lock, I was shooting towards the bottom of the upper gate, a nice plume of water cascading over the exposed lock gate cill.

Now what I'm about to write will take longer to read than it took to happen.  The camera is on its neck strap around my neck held securely in both hands... and then my foot slipped on the wet muddy slope... I let go with one hand, the elbow of the other hand got knocked and the camera flew from my grasp... it hit the very edge of the lock and activated the quick release mechanism of the shoulder strap... the weight of the camera dragged the strap away from me... I grabbed at it and I caught it! Yes! Is tarted to breathe.. sadly, the camera swung down and smashed against the side of the lock and the strap anchor point on the other side of the camera parted company with the rest of the body and the camera was launched into the air... and landed with a thud on the cill some 4 meters below, bounced and with a final splash and gurgle disappeared into the murky 4 or 5 foot of water at the bottom of the lock... to be followed moments later by the bigger splash of my tripod. I did what any grown man would do at this point. I had a full on stampy sweary fit and then sat on the edge of  the lock, head in my hands and cried.  

The only saving grace was that no one was there to see it.

I lost my camera, my favourite lense, my gps tagger, my remote trigger, my best and fastest SD card and of course my tripod. Approximate value? In round numbers, 1500 quids worth. 

As I write my replacements are ordered and on their way, the camera is a bit of an upgrade, its a Canon 80D so I guess that's a bonus. I lost the days pictures and that's a bummer because I'm not sure I'll be able to face going back.I've been in touch with the canal trust to see of there was anyway they could help me retrieve it but they said "Nope!" which if I'm honest surprised me somewhat. 

So normal service will be resumed shortly and in the meantime I've continued with the prep for the arts festival and getting excited about my trip to the states.

Thanks for reading
Mark 
15th March 2017

Sally's bandI hate to say this but they were playing tunes more normally associated with christmas.

I can't kid myself any longer... Summer is officially over but that means the autumn is here! I know people from all around the world will probably same the same thing but there is no more beautiful country than England in the autumn. The land turns from greens to golds and browns. Forest landscapes that had been mostly uniform in colour suddenly vie with each other for which can display the brightest reds, yellows, browns and golds. The forest floor becomes a sea of colour. Early mornings will see the mushrooms and fungi pushing their heads up towards the sky. I do like to get out and about with my camera this time of year and rather than my usual desaturated colours I'm looking for the most vivid, the brightest. It's a great time of year for photography!

Of course what does frustrate me is that during the week on my drive to work I drive through a landscape lit by the diffuse sunlight shining through mists and fogs, softening the edges unable to stop and take it in, just let it wash over me, refresh me if you will. Not to worry it'll be the weekend soon and the morning will be dull grey and drizzly, still it keeps the crowds at bay I suppose.

Those of you who follow my blog will know that I published two or three very different sets this month, there was urban decay of "St Dunstan's in the East" a ruined church in the middle of the City Of London

The damage doesn't look bad from here...As you "climb" St Dunstan's Hill from Lower Thames street, this is the sight that greets you.

These images are part of what I call my "urban decay" project. A growing collection of images that show the abandoned or run down world that lives side by side with fast modern world we inhabit.

I also published something very different, "Division" these are Leigh and her partner Gideon in their "Airsoft" gear. We had such a lot of fun doing this set. I think they just enjoy any chance to have their gear on and to get their pictures taken, for me it was a chance to work with multiple models. I'm pretty pleased with the results. 

In my last blog I mentioned my intention to get out and about with my film camera and I have been. I'm about halfway through the roll. It's been strange but also very interesting.  I've been thinking about the shots a lot more (and I'm not exactly a "hold the shutter release down" and see what I get kinda guy as it is!) and not getting the instant feedback of a digital camera is both frustrating and exciting. I had a couple of rolls of film developed but sadly there were no usable images on either roll.

Thanks for reading.

Mark
15th October 2016

Recently, I was at the Tate Britain. I'd gone to visit an exhibition called "Painting with Light - Art and Photography from the pre-Raphaelites to the modern age". quite a mouthful!

I think it's fair to say the line between traditional art and photography has never been more blurred than it is today. Everyone plus their uncle has some kind of digital camera with them pretty much all the time and the sheer number of pictures taken on a daily basis is mind boggling. It wasn't always the case and this exhibition really hammered it home. From the earliest images that were taken in moments of the same views that a painter had taken months or years to complete, the resentment of the "Artist" must have been palpable. Slowly over years though it changed... photographers and artists began to collaborate and influence each other.  They began to explore the same subjects, classical images drawn from  literature were considered suitable subjects for both painters and photographers. Painters started to use photographs as the basis of a piece of work for the first, fundamentally changing the ethos of the Pre-Raphaetlites who no longer considered it of paramount importance to "be in the moment" or "be at the source" of their artwork. Photography changed the way they painted their subjects... they moved from sharp foregrounds and "fuzzy, misty backgrounds" to having more depth (yes that's right, depth of field). They began to use the photographs to capture the way the light changed over a matter of minutes rather than a matter of hours.

In our digital age people snap the most mundane of images and then apply software to it, often change entirely the look and feel of the snap. Think Instagram (no filter). Of course, I don't think that everyone who takes a snap and applies a filter to it has produced a piece of art; any more than I think every shot I take is "artworthy" by dint of it having been taken on a "proper" DSLR. 

By the way, for those of you that believe the digital age invented photo manipulation, think again. Photographers have been applying dark room effects, combining multiple images and generally messing with the viewer's eye since the very early days of photography. Amusingly, it was as divisive then as it is today.  

The exhibition got me thinking about my roots in photography. I actually started shooting pictures in my very early teens, I generally used a cheap box camera but at school I did learn to develop my own black and white pictures in the school "darkroom" ( A grand name for a converted cupboard!) I didn't get my first SLR until I was about 19... say 1983 and here it is!

Chinon CG-5My very first SLR

My Chinon CG-5 , I dug it out of the cupboard it's been tucked away in all these years. Incredibly, it sprung to life when I turned it on.... those are the original batteries! I have absolutely no images from way back then (probably not a bad thing!) BUT I did find a couple of exposed but undeveloped rolls of film in the bag.... I'm going to see about getting them developed. That may or may not work out so I'll have to wait and see.  I've bought a roll of black and white film and will be out and about with my Chinon over the next week or so!

I have another analogue camera, my father gave it to me when I visited New Zealand last year and the batteries it needs to spring into life are on order. 

Canon EOS 500

The cool thing is that it's a Canon EOS camera and that means that most of my current lenses will fit this body so I'll be out and about with it as well.

I had been considering getting myself what's called a "toy camera", these are generally cheaply made, light leaky cameras with plastic lenses often made in the old soviet union. (such as these lomo cameras although these are modern knock offs)They sometimes shoot 35 mm film, more often 110 cartridges but I'm interested in what's called "Medium Format" so I'm probably going to invest in a "Lubitel 166b" cheap and cheerful but I expect to have lots of fun with it.

Yep! I'm going "Old Skool", I feel competent enough that having a very limited number of shots available to me won't inhibit me! I've never belonged to the "shotgun" school of photography anyway but this will only hone my skills and I'm excited to see the results but I won't be hanging up my 70D just yet.

Thanks for reading.

Mark
21 September 2016

Here we are and the year is nearly two thirds over. It's been an eventful year so far and I'm not sure the adventures are over yet. Since I last blogged I've been out and about with my camera mainly because the weather has improved thus making a random day out much more like a good idea. I found myself on the east coast in a aprt of the world I had never visited, living and growing up in west london we always headed south westwards... Sussex, Dorset or Devon. So visiting that part of the world was quite an eye opener for me. Of course simply being by the sea is often enough for me. I was a bit self indulgent with my choice of subjects but I'm pleased to say that "Huts" was very well received. Although my rather more abstract work was also appreciated.

StepsVery nice of the locals to provide a comfortable spot to watch the sea from.

The weekend just gone was the annual "Linslade Canal Festival" (It's really Leighton Buzzard AND Linslade Canal Festival but Linslade has always wanted to be treated as a separate entity!) For the third year running I took my camera but this year I actually took some pictures!

Towpath Shopping mallIt was quite bewildering the range of goods for sale.

As the name implies, there were a myriad of barges along the banks selling all manner of weird and wonderful things... ice cream, cheese, "spanish delicacies" and lest we forget a clothes stall selling very "Rosie and Jim" type clothes.

There was of course lots of stuff going on away from the towpath, a food "court", lots of crafts were represented ( more on craft fairs later!) and an arena where various groups performed. Of course, no day like this would be complete without Morris dancers... here they are having lunch.

LunchEven Goths have to have a lunch break!

You can find more images of "Hemlock Morris" on my facebook page. I really enjoyed them. I think keeping these kinds of traditions alive is very important.

Finally, I think it would be remiss of me not to mention the beer tent!

There may have been beer!Beer anyone?

I promised more on "Craft Fairs"; I have booked display space at a local Craft Fair that takes place next spring although I find the prospect quite scary I'm also very excited at the prospect. I'll make more noise about it closer to the time but it's a big step for me and I wanted to share it .

Thanks for reading!

Mark
3rd August 2016

I can't believe it's May already. May! Where has the first third of this year gone? More importantly, exactly one year ago today was my first full day in New Zealand. A month long trip to the other side of the world, I travelled top to bottom and then called in on Hong Kong on the way back.

Queens StreetYou wouldn't believe you could step into the middle of the main street of a modern city mid morning on a week day and take a composed shot along it would you? Yet, I did!

An incredible trip, I took some fantastic pictures, some of them I've shared here on my site others I've only shared with the people I spent the time with. It seems a long time ago and I suppose it was in a way; well a year anyway. So this is my first blog for 2016. Yes, I've been a bit slack with regards to my blog but like the proverbial swan I've been paddling away like crazy behind the scenes organising myself. I've had a couple of trips out and about taking pictures and I have a couple more trips planned. I spent the day in Sussex revisiting holiday destinations from my youth, I've shared the pictures that resulted from that. By far and away the best shot of the day was this one... the sunset over Littlehampton beach, framed by a breakwater.

Underwater...I couldn't resist using the breakwater to frame the evening sun.

 Which brings me nicely to this, as a photographer I like to share my work. I take the shots for me but if others like them, well, that's a bonus. Until recently I was content with sharing them but more and more often the subject of doing something more with them came up and so I bit the bullet and created an online shop called "Fascinating Light". In the short time I've been selling I've sold two images! Its hard to express just what this has meant to me and I would like to think that the purchasers know just how much I appreciate their support. In some ways I'll still be happy if I never sell another picture but that hasn't stopped me making plans to sell framed prints wherever I can display them for sale. One of the prints I sold was the picture above and you kow what? Why shouldn't it sell? Its a bloody lovely photograph! The other is on my facebook page, which is newly minted and also using the tag "Fascinating Light" 

Misty WoodsA rare autumn sunny morning and an early morning walk, the sun shinging through the trees and the mist.

To be fair, the image wasn't like this when I sold it, it has had a purple wash applied, I have to be honest I wasn't sure at first but when I saw it in the canvas (so to speak) I found I did like it quite a lot. I'll be offering various images with a colour wash. Only a limited number at first to see how they go. I've managed to attract a few likes and I hope that the number will grow and in time the exposure to my work will also grow and who knows? Truth is, I'd like for my work to be seen by people, do I want to be taking pictures of people's weddings etc? No, not really. I want to take the photos I want to take and hopefully create something special while I do it. And that leads me to my next agenda item... for a while now I've been thinking I lack a direction, I take some nice pictures and occasionally I take a fantastic picture but I want to develop a style, a pictorial signature if you will. So I'm thinking about it now, I've got a couple of ideas and eventually one of them (Or both!) will form the basis of my "Fine Art" work. Stay tuned! So here's the plans in a nutshell, sell my work, exhibit my work. I'm intending to offer, prints, fine art prints, framed prints, canvasses and perhaps the odd book or two. 

Mark 
May 2016