Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Dungeness...............a place for experimentation..........and a little therapy

Low tide , Dungeness, April 2013
Photographers are drawn in their hundreds to Dungeness. Camera club images of faded boats and rusty metal exist in their thousands. Fashion shoots are a regular sight. It has become a cliche to many.

So how to be original, if such a thing is ever possible in photography?

I spent a couple of afternoons there recently; one under glorious blue skies, and the other under oppressive black clouds that caused wonderful changing light on the sea, and that later had me soaked to the skin.

 It is never possible to tire of the place, and that is probably why people go there; it has an 'other worldly' feel to it. The incongruity of the small cottages under the shadow of the power station seem like nowhere else. It is special. It can, however, be very bleak.

Washing dries well.

laundry day, Dungeness

Architecture ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous.

red chimneys brighten the landscape in front of the power station

a holiday home resembles the power station or possibly a prison camp

So what to do, to be different?

I have been trying to find a way to use multiple exposure as a means to add something to my images. I like the unpredictability of the results; always preferring 'free flow' photography to the precision that a tripod brings.

On the sunny day I looked at the metal containers that are strewn across the shingle acting as storage vessels for fishermen.

red container

shapes and colours

overlapping numbers

outrageous colours as a consequence of multiple exposure
All good fun.

The results on a sunny day are quite different from those on the dull grey day on my next visit. I had recently talked to Fred Cuming RA about Dungeness, and love his paintings of the navigation sign shown below. He overlays his paintings with unexpected colours; something that I have not achieved.

Fred Cuming's website

5 overlapping exposures give the navigation sign a rather delicate appearance. 

a simple landscape gains drama from the mulitple exposure effect at low tide

Endless possibilities. And definitely more work to be done here.

I had the privilege to meet Paddy Hamilton of Dungeness Open Studios. We had a natter, and I found out a bit about what it is like to live under the shadow of the power station. His home appears welcoming, unlike the austere modern dwelling next door occupied by weekenders. The studio sheds  are full of interesting artworks and photographs taken at Dungeness. His generosity in relation to publicising my current show Transitions at Battle was unexpected and humbling.

a warm welcome at the open studio
If you want to know where to find him, he is "under the old black lighthouse".

the old black lighthouse, the railway station and the power station

If you would like to see some more examples of multiple exposure photography then I can highly recommend the following links to get your creative juices flowing;

Chris Friel  is currently working on a fascinating set of nudes

Rob Hudson creates poetic landscapes in monochrome

Valda Bailey creates beautiful landscapes from the South coast

I can but dream.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

excuses , excuses, excuses

Laura Letinksky..........gallery view

It has been a while since I have posted. A symptom of all that has been going on. Since I last wrote I have been to two wonderful exhibitions, yet couldn't find the words to write about them.

Laura Letinsky at The Photographers Gallery was delicious, in more ways than one. Her sumptuous  large scale still life photographs were bigger and far more beautiful in the flesh than I could have imagined. Her use of negative space and light quite extraordinary; sufficiently impressive to make me feel quite despondent about my own attempts at creating something new.

She plays with perspective and reality, blending two and three dimensional objects in ways that defy easy understanding. Her use of swathes of white paper/cloth create perspectives that cannot be easily understood. Shades of white.................all lit by natural light to become shades of grey.

playing with perspective and reality

detail; showing how she confuses and teases; it is hard to work out what is 2 dimensional and what is 3 dimensional

I am not going to try and say anything about her work; it speaks for itself. I am trying to tell you why I have been lax in posting on this blog.

Two reasons...........I had the worst virus I have had for many a long year.........

and more importantly ..........  dog is dead.

my faithful photographic companion

She had been unwell for a while, so we were prepared, and to be honest, it has not been quite as traumatic as I had expected. It was a relief to see her no longer looking sad, as she was the happiest dog I know.

My biggest worry was 'how am I going to take photos without her?" .....for it was she who got me into the woods and down to the river day after day, week after week, year after year. All of my projects have been based on my walks with the dog. This is cause for concern, as I no longer have an excuse to go nosing around my neighbourhood, camera in hand, dog in tow.

No longer am I a dog walker; I am just a slightly dodgy person with a camera, not to be trusted or befriended, for there is nothing like a dog to get people talking and to reduce suspicion.

On my day off this week I decided to do my usual walk in the woods without her to see how it feels. It was good to be back on the path and to see the early signs of spring; the wild garlic leaves emerging from under the trees.

The pond is covered in toad spawn, and the ducks were far more friendly than ever they were with dog sploshing around in the water.


But the hardest thing about walking alone in the woods is what goes on in one's head. There are stories of flashers and muggers. I have always felt safe with a big black dog beside me. Now is a different matter; I will have to fight the irrational thoughts that fill my head every time that I see a single person walking behind me or towards me. The long walk along the path by the railway is hardest of all; nowhere to escape to if the need was felt.

happiness is a child on a bicycle
Easter holidays bring out parents and bicycles, creating a sense of safety in numbers. More often though this path feels menacing and I walk really fast, or run, to get back to open ground where for some reason I feel safer.

Since she died I have been composing a list of pros and cons of no longer having a dog.


  • the kitchen floor no longer feels like a beach underfoot
  • I don't have to walk around the block before breakfast, come back home , get changed again for work and then leave the house
  • I can go to London, or anywhere else for that matter, for as long as I wish 
  • socks and hankies no longer vanish, never to be seen again......
  • no more poop a scoop
  • I save loads of money on food, insurance and dog minding
  • the kitchen floor no longer has balls of black hair rolling across it
  • I had my car valet cleaned and it has stayed clean
  • We can go on any part of the beach at Camber Sands, all of the year around, and I shall be able to lie on a rug on the sand and read a book without wet sandy dog lying on top of me.


  • no one comes wagging their tail to the door when I get home from work
  • I will have to work hard to get as much exercise as I was when she was alive
  • the foxes will start coming back into the garden
  • when I drop food on the floor, I have to pick it up
  • photography isn't as much fun without her by my side
  • no head on my lap to stroke in the evenings

The good news is that it hasn't been as terrible as I thought it might be. And it seems that a clean house is worth quite a lot. 

Time will tell which list becomes more important. For now I am happy to appraise the alternative options.