Tuesday, 6 December 2011

large format landscape photography; what is it all about?

Chamonix 4x5 large format camera
A week or so ago I returned from the Lake District, after spending a week with  a group of large format enthusiasts ( all of the less fair sex). My goal had been to understand how a large format camera works and to see if it is another must-have piece of kit.

The little baby shown above was very kindly lent to me by the lovely guys at Landscape Photography Workshops  Dav Thomas and Tim Parkin. Suffice it to say that they don't rate digital photographs, finding the colours unreal and inferior to images produced with film. I was presented with a camera kit bag containing everything I would need for the week, together with a tripod that makes mine look like something for a 5 year old child. In my goody bag there were 3 lenses, a black hood, cable release, film carriers, a spot meter and the camera itself which folds up neatly into a little rectangular box shape.

The Lake District is stunningly beautiful in late October, and most of the tourists had gone home for the winter, so it was a perfect escape from life back at home.

On day one I was shown how to use the camera, and I spent the afternoon practising focussing and taking meter readings, without ever taking a photograph, as I failed to find a subject worthy of the equipment. The highlight of the afternoon was a cream and jam scone in the teashop at Aira force waterfall. I have never been a big fan of photographing waterfalls, there being a cliche in there somewhere about photographers and their subject matter. I did sneak into the undergrowth for a quick shot on my Lumix of a tree with a tape around it when no-one was looking; I somehow felt that this wasn't the sort of subject that anyone was expecting me to choose for the Chamonix.

Having got to grips with the camera, I was taken to a bog on day two, and really had to find a subject; not something that ever comes easily under pressure.

I found a tree and some grass; happy to be back in my comfort zone, despite sinking into the bog I produced my first ever large  format photograph.

Oak tree in autumn

As you can see, the colour is very different to that of the digital image above it. Looking through the ground glass screen makes it difficult to see the detail in the grass or to pick out patterns or shapes to give foreground interest, and the camera slipped on the tripod in the bog, so that there is less of the tree than I intended.............. but at least the exposure is correct!

I moved on round the corner and took another shot, this time all by myself, without any help........

my second ever large format photograph © Caroline Fraser 2011
I was a bit happier with this one, since I did it all by myself, with no-one looking on.

Five days later, I had precisely 7 negatives to develop. it seems that large format photographers do it real, real slow................

So I made a list of the pros and cons


  • enormous negatives make enormous prints; 10x8 negatives can happily be enlarged to the size of the side of a house................ 
  • super sharp landscapes are what landscape photographers really like, and using tilt and shift, you can get a sharp plane of focus anywhere you like, as long as you understand the Scheimpflug principle ........ are you ready for some physics? I thought not..................
  • you can have "looming foregrounds" ( the Joe Cornish boulder) ...   not something I have ever particularly aspired to, but it can add impact to a landscape.
  • film has different colour qualities that landscape photographers enjoy, from super rich Velvia, to the more restrained Provia.
  • you can pretty much guarantee that by the time you set up your shot and get everything in focus, the light that looked so wonderful will have changed and a grey cloud will have appeared that doesn't clear even after you have eaten 3 apples, a sandwich and had time to make notes in your notebook
  • your woolly hat will stick to the velcro on the black cloth that your head is under every time the wind blows, making it impossible to see the glass screen or focus the image.
  • the kit is very, very  heavy , so you will wish to take photos either from the car, beside the car, or a few feet away from the car
  • suitable subjects might therefore be a flat path in a  flat valley, a tree beside the road, a woodland beside a car park, or a river beside a road.
  • the ideal subject will be something indoors in a  studio
  • you need a lot of expensive new equipment, and there is a recession on
  • there are endless difficult decisions about which film to use

I have thought long and hard about my week, which I really enjoyed. I have decided that I would do it again, only if I had a subject matter that didn't require me to carry the kit up and down hills. It really is a sport for fit young individuals. As a form of photography it is considered and planned, and requires a different way of working. As one who enjoys walking and taking pictures as I go, I am not sure it is the answer. But I am really convinced that the quality of the images is something special, and am currently exploring medium format as a compromise............. I can happily carry a Rolleiflex twin lens reflex through the woods on walks with my dog, and still feel that I am moving freely through the landscape, which is how I like to work.

And besides, why spend your day with your head under a black cloth when you are somewhere as beautiful as the Lake District?

I am really grateful to Tim and Dav for giving me this opportunity and for teaching me the whole process right from the setting up of the camera to scanning and processing the final results.

See more about them and landscape photography in general at Peak Landscapes for Dav Thomas , Tim Parkin and Great British Landscapes

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Afterburn, Torridon by Richard Childs

Afterburn, Torridon by Richard Childs
Afterburn, Torridon, a photo by Richard Childs on Flickr.
This image is everything I strive for; beautiful, structured, dynamic, simple. Another image that convinces me that I need to go up a format despite the challenges that lie ahead.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Gerhard Richter in 'Panorama" at the Tate Modern

Betty 1997 
Having read about Gerhard Richter for my photographic studies, I was very keen to see his work in the flesh.

Currently showing at the Tate Modern, this exhibition spans over 50 years of his work.

 It doesn't disappoint. The retrospective of the artist now in his eighties, is as varied as it is expansive. This is an artist who questions, tests and experiments with the role of art in the presence of other media. He breaks down 'the painting' to a series of brushstrokes in a single tone of grey, only to move onto multicoloured, mathematically derived abstracts containing over a thousand different colours. He paints in the manner of a photograph, or a newspaper advertisement, and then moves on to the most beautiful portraits inspired by works of the great masters. The variety and scale of works is astonishing. 

As photography is not allowed in the exhibition I don't have much to show for my visit; I don't really know why it isn't, as a photograph never compares with the real thing. Nothing prepared me for the beauty of his portrait "Betty" shown above. In the flesh it is richer, smaller, and more beautiful than any photograph.

I saw several people taking photos on their mobile phones, particularly in the large mirror that is one of the exhibits. Watching the public interacting with art is always entertaining, and no-one does it better that Thomas Struth. I had to make do with some postcards as a reminder of my visit.

Taking photos in galleries is something that adds to the visit. I was pleased to be given permission to take some photos at the Hamilton Gallery of Tom McCullin's work in  his exhibition 'Platinum' that ends today. Their view was that all the images are readily available in books already.

Don McCullin platinum print

I found this small show incredibly moving; the quality of the 16x20 inch platinum prints was quite breathtaking; they have a glow and depth, together with clarity and detail that only a medium or large format image can have. They had been printed especially for him by a third party, and were available in editions of 10 for around £10,000 each.

the presentation of this print in a dark alcove adds to the subtlety
They convinced me that I should be striving for quality in my prints; something that I have been seriously considering with my recent exploits in large format photography; I'll tell you how I got on in my next missive; suffice it to say, it is a challenge!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

RHS photographic competition

Treetops © Caroline Fraser 2011

Am delighted to receive a highly commended certificate in the RHS 2011 photographic competition for my image 'Treetops'. The image was taken at Hawkwood, my local haven in suburbia, but could have been taken anywhere, being an abstracted version of treetop silhouettes.

 It is interesting to consider what the value of entering a competition is. Many cynics say that all competitions are of more value for the promotors than the entrants. Given the entrance fee for many competitions, and the publicity that surrounds the event, you might think that it would be a worthwhile exercise, but if you take a look at the RHS website home page, you will be hard pushed to find any information relating to the competition, and in order to find the results I had to do a search using their search engine. It may be that Medici cards are the big winners here; they get to use their choice of winning images for their cards. I received a certificate, but can safely say that being a winner has not directed a single person to my website...........!

One winning photographer is the incredibly talented Polina Plotnikova , a friend of mine, who has a whole page to herself on the RHS website for her stunning plant portraits. She sells prints via the RHS, so it may be that  winning a competition has allowed her to work with the RHS in a way that really benefits her.

one of Polina's plant portraits

It seems that both entrants and the organisers have potential to benefit; you just need to win big, not be a runner up!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Camber sands ; using the Hipstamatic to capture a timeless resort

As a good friend has been known to say "It doesn't get any better than this". Walking on Camber Sands this weekend under clear blue skies at low tide has been a joy.

I have been experimenting with the  Hipstamatic app , and considering which combinations of film and lens work best.

I don't have an answer yet; it seems to depend very much on the subject matter. can i get back to you on this one; I strongly suspect that someone else has already done the work on this and  made a U-tube video too.

Donuts © Caroline Fraser 2011

I have not yet got over my recent need to include overhead cables in my photos; it seems that landscape photographers take great pains to remove them. My other half doesn't even see them. I am therefore determined to raise awareness of them. I was surprised to learn on "Have I got News for You" this week that there is a society called the telegraph appreciation society. They even have a "telegraph pole of the month" competition ..................... hopefully I will resist the temptation to enter this, as it is unlikely to progress my photography, and goodness knows what sort of individuals I would be mixing with.

Starlings and cables © Caroline Fraser 2011

What I like about Camber is its timeless quality; the attractions of the beach and Pontins don't seem to change from year to year, and I can feel a series coming on that shows the village in a picture postcard style that I feel the Hipstamattic effect may well suit.

Flags abound in the shops and on the beach. Even the front gardens sport them.

Camber village © Caroline Fraser 2011

Enough of this nonsense...................a glass of wine beckons, and  I have to start preparing for Open Studios at The School Creative Centre, Rye................I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

White van man becomes a photographer for the day

view from a transit van, rainy day, Manchester © caroline fraser

 I have been a little lapse in my posts; I can only blame the following............

  1. a holiday
  2. the washing
  3. the dog
  4. work
  5. Manchester
Anything else would be untruthful. Manchester being the most interesting from the list, if only because I drove a transit van all the way there and back, without a radio.......... for the love of my youngest who is now ensconced in a city that is desperately trying to promote itself from every window, high rise block and restaurant. 

With a van full of old stuff unsuitable for a trendy new flat, but free and therefore desirable, my other half and I drove van, delivered furniture, had lunch with youngest and then explored the city that was waiting for us.

I had my camera;  felt obliged to take photos; it was raining hard; so I was a little limited in my options. 

I saw

  •  the street through the van window in the rain; see above

  • the view from my hotel window; something rather surreal and impersonal about this
view from a hotel window © caroline fraser 

  • a voodoo doll in the "penny falls" at the Odeon cinema - had to do something while my other half queued 20 mins for tickets, and I have fond memories of the "penny falls" in amusement arcades on childhood days out in Bognor, in the days when you actually won something.

Voodoo doll © caroline fraser

I cannot comment on the attraction of a voodoo doll as a prize; clearly I am not the intended audience for this game.

  • fire extinguishers in my hotel; as you can see all the photos taken indoors due to problems with the climate "Up-North"

fire extinguishers © caroline fraser

It fascinates me that I sometimes feel compelled to take a picture, even if I have to risk looking completely mad; luckily no-one caught me .............

We eventually made it to the Manchester Art Gallery, where I was excited to find that Grayson Perry had a small exhibition. Having never seen his works, I dragged other half up the steps and into the gallery............ but they were closing in 5 mins and were very politely sent on our way. My opportunity to add a little culture to a very uncultured day was lost.

White van man x2 went to the cinema instead.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Print Space Food Competition - my fishy picture is a winner

Sometimes a little bit of luck comes along, just at the point when it feels like nothing is going to plan. I am delighted to have won The Print Space Food Competition with my monochrome image of fish in Cochin harbour, Kerala. I guess I'll just have to put up with the fact that they think I am a man; perhaps they are just a bit busy. The good news is that means I get to participate in their  show next year So ShowMe of images shared through social networking sites such as Flickr and Facebook

Monday, 12 September 2011

whatever the weather

Katia 2 © Caroline Fraser

The great thing about being a keen photographer is that nothing can stop one from making images. Hurricane Katia is beating around my house at the moment, and instead of feeling sad about the loss of the sunshine and warm weather I am eager to get down to the woods to see if I can get some more "wind" shots ( preferably without the aid of falling trees).

I found myself walking along the river Medway at the weekend, ostensibly to capture my man in his boat, but mainly because I fancied a walk along the river shore to see what I could see. Having been inspired by Struth's paradise series I was delighted to see grasses and trees blowing vigorously in the wind, creating a mini version of paradise; all in green. using a long lens, small aperture and hand holding for between 0.5 to 2 secs I experimented with capturing the movement.

Katia 1 © Caroline Fraser

As I strolled, dog moseyed around on the shore, wandering over to say hello to random passers by.

random passers-by © caroline fraser

As you can see I was having a fuzzy kind of day, preferring to keep the lens out of focus; thereby avoiding the need for a tripod on a windy day with a long lens.

The main key to success with the windy foliage shots seems to be to avoid having any chinks of sky that burn out on a long exposure; the deeper you get into the undergrowth, the better.

Katia 3 © Caroline Fraser

I did get some shots of my man in his boat, but to be honest, they are not very good; my lens not long enough, and too many blocks of flats in the background.

So as my man values his privacy, here is a photo of someone else's dinghy coming down stream against the tide

spinnaker © caroline fraser 2011
As you can see, I was attracted by the lovely red and white spinnaker ( sail).

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

In Paradise with Thomas Struth

Paradise is a place far removed from the mundanities of suburban life. What can I say about the urban fox that kindly chopped our garden hose up into five separate pieces last night; did he think it was a useful thing to do? Was he seeking revenge under cover of darkness for the fact that dog loves to chase around the garden by day keeping unwelcome intruders out?

I will never know, but what I can say is that I was bowled over by the Paradise series of photographs as seen at the Whitechapel Gallery and created by Thomas Struth.When I walked into the room containing enormous views of forests around the world, I was mesmerised. They are so large that the viewer can immerse themselves within the forest. There is no focal point. It felt like a form of meditation to be gazing at them. They are calming and beautiful.

Paradise 09 by Struth

 I was expecting large photographs; I knew of his work capturing the public enraptured by classical art in museums and galleries, and  was intrigued by his recent series of images from laboratories  displaying chaos amongst the order that is scientific research; they reminded me of my own desire to capture chaos in the natural world.

a fume cupboard by Thomas Struth

All of his works are on a  grand scale. The video in which he discusses his work is helpful; having watched it I would have gone round again to revisit the images with my new found knowledge had I had time. What looked like urban street views were heavy with metaphors that I had missed on first viewing. But for the Paradise series there is no need to read or understand; they are just there................. surely if you have to have work explained in great detail before getting the point, then the images are not speaking for themselves.

Paradise 15 by struth

What  I really liked about his description of the Paradise series was that he says

 " you don't have to interpret; its a way of being quiet. it's not about the vegetation, it's about the lack of focus and meaning.

 There is no "punctum" or point; they are about being in the moment, just seeing and looking, which is  what most of my photography is about. They have no point or deeper meaning, just a desire to convey a mood that nature creates.

leaves © Caroline Fraser

I leave you with some leaves floating in the water from Foots Cray meadow; they don't mean a thing...........................or do they?

Monday, 29 August 2011

Summer in suburbia...........the sky should be blue

Roses © Caroline Fraser
The image above was showing until yesterday at the 4th Greenwich Annuale at Viewfinder Gallery, Greenwich.

I returned to the same site today to find a very different view; the roses have turned to hips, and there were light clouds in the sky. One of the criteria that I have self imposed for my contribution to the London Villages Project London Villages Project with my series "Seasons in Suburbia" is that the sky is blue. This was not a problem in May, as we had blue skies almost every day; summertime is proving more of a challenge, but I shall try to stick with this , as I feel it adds to the slightly surreal view of suburbia that I am trying to create. The same view a few weeks later has less impact with a cloudy sky.
Rose hips © Caroline Fraser

As I strolled with my dog this morning I carried my newly refurbished Rolleiflex. Looking through the viewfinder with everything reversed slows me down, and with only 12 frames on a film focusses the mind on composition, lighting and finding the best viewpoint for a particular subject. I find myself standing in the middle of the road to get a perfect shot of a house or tree, as each image costs a significant amount unlike  digital images that can be discarded by the hundred. Taking my life in my hands I tie dog to a fence post and leave her while I wander around in the road, dodging cars as they pass by. I took a perfect shot of two trees, only to realise further down the road that I had forgotten to focus the camera in my excitement over metering with a hand held meter using the road as my grey card.

Sunflowers © Caroline Fraser

These sunflowers caught my eye on a grey day last week, but they look so much better on a blue sky day.

One of the joys of the London Villages Project is the extraordinary variety of ways in which individual members interpret the brief. At the monthly meet up last week I heard about the Transition Network and the projects in London that are working to

 " support community-led responses to climate change and shrinking supplies of cheap energy, building resilience and happiness"

I love the idea of building happiness; something that we all have within our power to do.

Jonathan Goldberg, an active LVP member has been exploring Transition Towns across London as his contribution to the project, with some beautiful portraits of individuals who are actively involved in their local communities. Growing vegetables on a railway station platform in Kilburn, or campaigning against another runway at Heathrow, these groups are passionate about their local environment and communities.

As regards my project, waiting for blue skies has been the main problem through August; roll on September, when the Indian summer traditionally graces us with its presence, and I shall be out looking for autumn colour in the gardens of suburbia. 

Saturday, 30 July 2011

travelling light ..............an experiment with my Panasonic Lumix

bunchberry © caroline fraser 2011
I have just returned from Western Canada on a trip from Vancouver Island across the coastal ranges that include the Rockies, to Calgary. We were 11 in a far too small minibus, and had been advised to keep our luggage to less that 14kg, as it was to be carried on the roof of the van. I duly obeyed the instructions ( and was glad that I had, as we had to lift our luggage up high on an almost daily basis as we moved from one location to the next). Normally I travel with my Canon 40D plus several lenses, and my Panasonic Lumix for back up/hiking up mountains. On this trip I was challenged to cut back on weight, and in the style of Charlie Waite's dvd 'Travelling Light' http://www.charliewaite.com/store decided to travel light with my trusty Panasonic Lumix only; with no extra lenses, tripods, extra hard drives or external flash.

I have fallen in love with my Panasonic, and my only concern was the lack of zoom; as we were on a tour there would be no time to get a tripod out, or fiddle about with lots of lenses.

So how did it go..........?

Firstly, I have no regrets about my decision; every time we stopped the bus to get out and see something I was relieved not to have to decide what kit I needed, and in the tight space of the bus there was nowhere to put all my usual equipment without using up space for someone else's arm/leg or bottom. I kept my camera around my neck, and therefore was always ready to grab a shot.

The Lumix is brilliant for landscapes providing the light is reasonable and you don't need a tripod. I am not that interested in capturing sunsets and sunrises, so that was not a problem. When hiking, it sits around my neck, and I was able to take shots while others were worried about getting their cameras out in the rain or from their back packs when climbing up mountains. My first love is capturing the intimate landscapes below my feet, and for this it is perfect, coping best when the weather is dull or just after rain when the foliage is fresh. The one thing a landscape photographer doesn't really need is harsh sunshine, and we  had little of that. Shadows are a problem in intimate and larger landscapes;  a lesson I learnt from the talented landscape photographer Joe Cornish whilst at Inversnaid in Scotland a few years ago.

The down side of the Lumix came to light when capturing wildlife; it really isn't suitable for wildlife photography, as the following images show.

wild life photography with a Lumix
This is a wildlife image of a Pica; a small Canadian animal a bit like a guinea pig. You may be wondering where it is.........


You may also be wondering what is looks like..........

as you can see, it is kinda cute
Final verdict is that it is totally not suitable for wildlife photography, and because of that ( and the prospect of 3 hours feeling sick) I skipped the whale watching tour, and went for a wonderful walk in the rainforest instead, where I had a  chance to capture a very large slug at close range ( not very well, as it's head is out of focus and it's tail is missing). My excuse for this transgression is that I was all alone and worried I might meet a bear!

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Summertime in Suburbia .....................the dog gets a wash

With my new found freedom from sticking and glueing that was the PG Cert in Photography, I am finding tradtional ways to fill my day. Today dog and I ventured out to do a little photography; summer is here, and the London Villages Project waits for no man.

We ventured into some different streets and found all sorts of delights; red roses, dead conifers in concrete tubs on lawns, and some wonderfully green summer trees. Suburbia is so "suburban". The more I look  the more I see the different styles of gardens and window dressings that make up the whole. Double glazed windows with net curtains, window boxes and garden gates all seek to define the occupants and make their dwellings unique. Stopping to take photos I am always wary of figures behind the curtains wondering what I am up to; I don't know that they would believe me if I tried to explain that I am taking pictures of their bushes and trees.

Our 20 minute morning stroll extended into an hour long exploration; checking where the sun lies, and when to go back to catch the light in the best position is part of the initial research. Summer sun is harsher, and requires a certain devotion to duty on my part to get up while the light is still kind enough to the flowers on a sunny day.

Dog had a wash today; her first for many months; I have time at last to do a little spring cleaning. Tied by her lead to a garden chair she endured first a cold hose and then some "strong" shampoo from my bathroom. she hates this, much preferring her own, doggy smell. She has been known to run up the garden after a wash to roll in some fox poo  to restore the balance that her senses prefer.

I was getting my own back on her for the worming tablet escapade that she led me on last week. Every few months I have to get three large brown tablets into her; a feat which gets harder every time and the one time when she well and truly lets me know that she is not as stupid as she pretends to be most of the time. I have learnt through experience that there is no point trying to hide these tablets in her food; she simply goes on hunger strike until normal service is resumed. So I wrapped the tablets in a delicious piece of  pork loin.

 Foolishly I let her see this process, and she happily took the whole parcel into her mouth, only to refuse to swallow it. I tried holding her muzzle closed to encourage her to swallow. She salivated wildly all over the floor and refused to play ball. I put her outside, where upon she swallowed the meat, and out popped  the tablets onto the lawn. We repeated the proess, this time concealing the tablets in a slice of bread; she ate two, and the third was again discarded with disdain. At this point I gave up, and left the tablet in her food bowl, hoping she would forget and eat it with her tea ( which , of course, she expected as usual despite the extra snacks).

Tea came and went; the tablet remained in the bowl. Dog wins................

 Later that evening I put some boiled cabbage water into the bowl ......................water and tablet happily consumed..................I win........................

3am the next morning.......................dog needs to go out to the loo becuse of the extra drinks she had; I have to get up and take her............................DOG WINS!!!

So today we have clean, healthy dog...................................WIN WIN

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Collography, collodion and dechirage.................at the East Sussex Contemporary Art fair

The last few days have been immensely busy; a graduate show at Central St Martins , followed 24 hours later by the East Sussex Contemporary Art show; two very different experiences, in which the biggest lesson learnt has to be that people like free stuff, and that very few people outside the photographic community understand what a "C-type" print or an "archival digital print" are.

Much of my work is abstract, and not instantly recognisable as a photograph, so I tried to give details that would make this clear; but maybe not clear enough. My work "Daydreams 2" (below) has attracted the most attention on my stand at the art show, and although derived from a photo of reflections in a stream, is sufficiently far removed from the original subject after manipulation to confuse the viewer into believing that what they see is not a photograph. much of my recent photographic work has involved layering and collage, and this is an example of the use of symmetry in the layering process.

Daydreams 2    (copyright Caroline Fraser 2011)

 Understanding other artists techniques is always a challenge; I have been learning about collographs and dechirage, after admiring the work of Ali Stump, printmaker and Fizz Fieldgrass respectively,at the art fair.

collographic print by Ali Stump
Collography is, according to Wikipedia;

 "a printmaking process in which materials are applied to a rigid substrate (such as cardboard or wood). The word is derived from the Greek word koll or kolla, meaning glue and graph, meaning the activity of drawing, which could explain the common misspelling collagraph. (Adding to the confusion, a photo-collagraph is a term to refer to any type of collotype photographic print.)

The plate can be intaglio-inked, inked with a roller or paintbrush, or some combination thereof. Ink or pigment is applied to the resulting collage, and the board is used to print onto paper or another material using either a printing press or various hand tools. The resulting print is termed a collagraph. Substances such as carborundum, acrylic texture mediums, sandpapers, string, cut card, leaves and grasses can all be used in creating the collograph plate. In some instances, leaves can be used as a source of pigment by rubbing them onto the surface of the plate."

This is not to be confused with the wet plate collodion process used in photography, used to stunning effect by one of my fellow students at Central St Martins Jonny Weeks in his portraits of blind people.

Ali Stump creates her prints using cardboard, and they have a beautiful simplicity to them with unusual, almost child-like perspectives of everyday objects.

Dechirage is almost a reversal of collage, being a process of removal rather than addition. Fizz Fieldgrass creates delicate sculptures using source images such as photographs as source material, which are then printed onto fabric, built up in layers, and then torn away to create delicate three dimensional images.

example of dechirage by Fizz Fieldgrass

Fieldgrass has a background in sculpture, and his use of textiles and Japanese papers was a source of admiration for many seeing his work this weekend. The main concern by visitors was how long the work will survive, given the delicate nature of the work; a currently  unanswered question.
dechirage by Fizz Fieldgrass

Friday, 17 June 2011

A photography show at Central St Martins

So, the show is on the road.

Last night we had the private view, agonised over how much to sell catalogues for, dressed in our finery, hoping to become famous. Many of the punters were there for the free booze, and certainly not looking to spend money either on catalogues or works of art. The big buyers had visited earlier in the day when I was still trying to sort out postcards and having a calming walk with the dog.

For some reason the bodyguards controlling the front entrance felt that the best way to create a frisson of excitement on the street was to let visitors in, one at a time, very slowly. So mummies and daddies from far and wide got soaked in the rain waiting to meet up with their respective offspring who were locked inside waiting for the party to start.

I forgot to take my camera in the excitement , so photos of the artwork will have to wait; for now here's a couple from my portfolio. The first is one for the London Villages project  london villages project, being my next-door-neighbour's tree. Some would argue that I should remove the airplane trail; I would argue that it is what the sky always looks like around my home, and I will therefore leave it as it is.

Crab apple from the series 'Springtime in Suburbia' 

Tonight we are out as a family for the first time in a while; celebrating new jobs for both my children. Somehow that feels more important than photography right now. The restaurant we have chosen sent me an e-mail this afternoon offering me a last minute ticket to their fashion show tonight due to 'last minute cancellations'. I had visions of dining amongst the Chislehurst wags, surrounded by ladies in high heels and men with fast/big/black 4x4 cars. Not quite what I had  planned ; so I gave them a call and was pleased to hear that the fashion show is in a marquee; which should be fun as it is currently full-on June monsoon weather and very cold. We will be fine, tucked indoors in the warm.......................... lets hope the chef is indoors too.

from the series 'n'aller pas trop vite'

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Insomnia ....................... a poem for my classmates


It's over

I can relax

I should be fast asleep

But lying here

at 3am

my mind spins on, relentlessly,

wondering how it will fill

the whole uncharted day that is


Not wanting to be immersed in the domestic bliss

that is a clean and tidy desk,

a spotless fridge.

Last night a programme on botanical classification

"bringing order to the chaos that is nature"

Those words,
my words,
others' words.

They won't go away.

I want to be a photographer

thinking, creating, curating.

Fractals and chaos

Order and classification

My mind won't stop

I'm clinging on



fearful of stagnating.

What will tomorrow bring?

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Hawkwood ; a sanctuary in suburbia

There is a real feeling of an end in sight for all the members of my course; today most of us have been busy printing off our final assessment of our projects, getting work ready to hand in tomorrow, and wondering how we will fill all the time that is suddenly going to become available. Already some of us have found time to read a novel, go to the shops and have a lie in. For myself, I find this weekend that I can suddenly sleep again; a welcome relief after weeks of waking up at 6am thinking about what else needs to be done. I was able to enjoy a walk on the beach at Camber without worrying about the time passing and feeling that I should be somewhere else. Most importantly of all, I actually wanted to take some photographs, something that I have been avoiding for the last 3-4 weeks, as I didn't feel I would have time to process them. I feel quite excited at the prospect of having some time to think.

So it is with great pleasure that I release details of my book "Hawkwood"; a very personal project for my family containg a poem I have written for them,with photos taken there in the last few months. Hawkwood is a haven in suburbia, owned by the National Trust. I have walked there countless times, and as I describe in my poem, it has kept me alive through good times and bad. My hand made book with the same title is still not right; I need to work on getting the paper and format perfect. In the meantime this softcover book will have to do. It forms another strand of my work for the London Villages Project in which memebers of London Independent Photography record their chosen localities within the London suburbs.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

a book is born

We are getting near the end of the road; a few days until all the work has to be handed in. My book is published today, and a copy will be sent to the British Library as a requirement of publishing with an ISBN number.