Wednesday, 21 November 2012

what if money didn't matter...........moments with a marmot

I came across this video today.

It made me stop and think.

I shared it with my youngest. It made him stop and think. 

I asked him what he would do if money didn't matter.

He came up with a lovely concoction of activities involving sporting activities, the sea, mountains, photography and being creative . All of which are eminently achievable, but maybe not as one job, unless he becomes a guide for photographers who want to surf, climb mountains and make beautifully illustrated books.

He asked me what I would do.

That really made me stop and think.

I came up with "wilderness photographer"..................... partly triggered by my revisiting John Muir's quote that says  

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”

Having hiked the John Muir trail into Yosemite some years ago I remember the joy of waking up in the middle of nowhere in my tent with frost on my flip flops outside the tent and a marmot sitting on the rock outside in the sun.

Such moments are never forgotten. 

Wilderness to me means a place of quiet, far from civilisation and where nature really does give strength to body and soul. I can think of many places still to be explored. To do so with my camera would give more pleasure than anything else I can think of right now.

All I have to do now is to make it happen.............

And in case you are wondering, dog has made a miraculous recovery. And the new vitamin pills, despite being a conventional shape and not bone shaped, have gone down a treat, without me even asking.

Monday, 19 November 2012

give a dog a bone

Dog and I didn't get out for a walk today................... dog is not well and can barely walk. She has been lying down all day, and even forgot to ask for her morning treat of a chew, which she never forgets. She couldn't make it across the room to her bed in my study, and collapsed in a heap on the floor, so I left her there as I cannot lift her up.

That has meant that I have had to occupy myself in different ways and have been incredibly useful around the house.

I have......

  • painted a rotting window frame
  • planted some flowers to replace the dead geraniums in the garden
  • sold a camera to a delightful young man in London by email and phone
  • done the ironing ..........something I rarely do
  • taken dirty dog towels to the launderette for a good wash
  • bought some milk so that I could have another two cups of tea
  • ordered a dog ladder for dog to get into the boot of the car as her ageing legs can't manage the jump any more ( and wondered why a satisfied lady customer on the website praised it so very highly or even bought one at all when " her dog doesn't need it yet"?)
  • ordered some vitamins for the dog in the hope of a miracle recovery
  • given the dog slightly overdue worming tablets and flea treatment ( feeling guilty after other half sent me an email this morning saying "look up Lyme disease in dogs"...........)

Which leaves me wondering what I will do and how I will pass the time when the dog is no longer here? I really missed my walk, and got a little frustrated with Colin behind the till at Marks and Spencer, who tried to chat and insisted that it wasn't a very nice day outside. I begged to differ. I had almost hung my washing on the line it had been such a lovely day. However apparently it will rain tomorrow, according to Colin, which pleases me greatly as I shall be at work.

Getting dog to take her tablets was as amusing as ever. The worming tablets are now "bone shaped". Being about 1cm long, they bear very little resemblance to a proper bone. They also come with a major design fault; they are not bone flavoured, something which might have been a little more useful than making them look like bones suitable for a small mouse to enjoy. 

I tried feeding them to her straight; she spat them out in disdain

I tried hiding them in her evening meal; she left them at the bottom of the bowl

I wrapped them in butter ( this usually works) but she knew what I was up to

I wrapped the butter blob in a piece of bread; she spat that out

I covered the bread and butter with some gravy left in the fridge ....................  SHE ATE IT ALL UP!

She is improving now, and has managed to get to the kitchen twice this evening to check that I haven't dropped any food on the floor whilst cooking. 

Hopefully by Wednesday we will be able to get out for our fix of leaves and good smells, otherwise I may have to go without her.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Greeting cards of Camber Sands on my new website

Greeting cards of Camber Sands © Caroline Fraser 2012
I am delighted to announce my new look website courtesy of isendyouthis who have been great in helping me to transfer my existing domain name to a new site, saving me the trouble of updating my business cards and other web links.

It is much easier to manage than my old one, and will allow me to promote my photographic prints and greeting cards more easily.

See the new site here.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Michael Kenna versus Taylor-Wessing ............ no contest on the emotional front

Lake Bridge, Hongkun, Anhui, China by Michael Kenna 2008

Dog got a raw deal today. I trundled up to London to talk money with some finance people, and then took in two galleries with a good friend by means of compensation. Dog stayed at home in her bed, having had a brief sojourn in the woods to see the autumn colours and clear blue sky this morning.

Financial meeting was long and frustrating; I wanted to fill my stomach with the tasty sandwiches and fruits on the table, but have you tried talking, listening and trying to look vaguely intelligent whilst wrestling with a prawn sandwich? It just doesn't work, hence the chocolate brownie later.

I have been determined to see Michael Kenna at Chris Beetles gallery for a while. My friend wanted to see the 2012 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery. So we did both, with tea in the middle, and chocolate brownie; all very nice for a Wednesday afternoon.

Two exhibitions, one day. One left me completely cold, and the other filled me with awe and respect.

4th prize
This image won 4th prize in the Taylor Wessing. I cannot see anything particularly special or moving about it. The subject looks sad, but that is all that I can say.

 This one of Mo Farah lacks any relation to the joy and triumph of this summer's olympic games.

I have never been a portrait photographer, but enjoy capturing images when travelling, and it seems to me that unless you know the subject, it is difficult to convey any true feeling to the viewer unless there is something particularly poignant, tender or disturbing about the image.

Child, Myanmar  © Caroline Fraser 2012
My favourite portrait from a recent trip to Myanmar is of this child in a small hillside village. It means a lot to me, but probably leaves other viewers cold. Portraits are a lot about memories and emotions experienced at the time. They are very personal things.

Time to move on then ............ to the Chris Beetles Gallery; a nice space in a nice part of town.

And what treats we found there.......... 50 black and white photos by Michael Kenna, landscape photographer. he works exclusively with a medium format Hasselblad, printing the works himself in the darkroom from film. A craftsman at work.

The prints are all small...........7 3/4 inches by 7 3/4 inches, and hand printed in limited editions of 45 by Kenna. The price of prints goes up as the editions sells; those on view in the gallery varying form £1350 to £5150. A lot of money for such small prints..........but of such beauty that I would willingly part with large sums to have one hanging on my wall. They convey tranquillity, stillness, beauty and a sense of calm. That to me is worth so much more than a portrait. I have never experienced all of those emotions from one portrait.

He even gets away with blurred foregrounds in his image of the pyramids, a fact that fills me with joy.

Michael Kenna said of his own work in 2009.....

'I prefer suggestion over description. The world is pretty chaotic , seemingly always speeding up and getting louder and more visually dense. I am interested in finding and/or creating calm shelters from the storm, places where quiet solitude is encouraged and inner contemplation possible. i think we could all use a break from time to time........'

I am with him all the way.

Landscape wins, hands down, every time.

Monday, 5 November 2012

passion and photography.............a lesson from John Blakemore

from his tulip series ©John Blakemore 2005
I am back from my travels, and contemplating what to do with the thousand or so images made from two recent trips. I read in the paper yesterday a comment that gave food for thought....... that we should not try to emulate photographers who have gone before us; it is not possible to be Diane Arbus, for her time is past, and the subject matter that she felt so passionately about no longer exists. Her images were successful because of her passion for the subject matter and her ability to express her feelings through her work.

I was surprised to have one of my recent  images of grass likened to a work by John Blakemore. Surprised, because of all the photographers that I admire, he is one of my favourites, and it would never have occurred to me that another photographer would consider my work in any way to be of a similar style. His tulip series exemplify the effect of true passion and/or obsession. He describes his tulip journey in an audio interview at Lensculture , the most significant paragraph in my view being shown below.

"The tulip journey, then was ultimately a visual journey, an investigation and discovery of visual possibilities. The tulip became an object of attention and fascination. It became both text and pretext for an activity of picture-making. The photographs are not finally, or not primarily, about tulips: they contain tulips. To say this is not to diminish the role of the tulip. Had the vase of flowers on the table when I made the first tentative exposures exploring the space of my kitchen been, let’s say daffodils, then the journey, if it had ever begun, would in all probability have been shorter."

What we should do, suggested the newspaper article, rather than try to recreate work similar to that of our heroes, is to keep making images of those subjects that we feel passionate about, until our personal style develops and becomes clear. 

All of which got me thinking about where my passion lies........

Certainly I am crazy about grasses, sand and water, but what about those episodes when I cannot resist taking a photograph of stranger subjects such as the hazard warning tape that I came across whilst walking dog this morning in the autumn sunshine? 

 I find a fascination with the fact that this flimsy tape is used to prevent people walking in certain areas of the wood, and a delight in going on the wrong side of it in an act of defiance.

The tape here was stopping people from walking too near to a bonfire; somewhat ironic given that today is bonfire night. This fire was long dead and soaked with rain into a damp pile of ash. Not much of a hazard in the grand scheme of things. The worst that could happen was that I trip climbing over it.

So I stepped inside the circle, and had a few happy minutes with my phone taking pictures, despite the fact that I had promised myself that I would not take any photos today, there being hundreds back at home waiting to be dealt with. 

My passion lies in nature, but a little bit of me needs to express my view of how man interacts with nature, so my landscapes are not always fit for the purist, and may have a telegraph pole, fence or other evidence of man in the picture........... something that the true 'landscape photographer' frowns upon. 

Which could lead me onto the subject "what is landscape photography?".................

But that would be far too deep a subject for bonfire night, and I need to go and look after the dog, who is cowering under the table hiding from fireworks, and my other half, who is hoping to be fed..........

Thursday, 1 November 2012

something fishy at theprintspace

SoShowMeIII exhibition
Many months ago I won the 'food' competition run by theprintspace on Facebook.

Next week sees the opening of  SoShowMe III exhibition, featuring selected works from theprintspace's social media interactions.

How delighted I am to see that they have chosen my fishy picture for the flyer.