It’s been a busy few weeks since my last offering here but I was working at Tavistock Square this week, on the 5th floor of the BMA building and whilst waiting for my subjects, I watched the world pass by below me. I like the way the leaves seem to have a distinct preference as to what side of the road they fall on to!
I was out at dusk yesterday shooting the final scene of a little movie sequence (which didn’t go as planned so I’ll have to do it again on the next cold clear night!) but whilst I was packing the gear away, I looked up, saw the moon and took this before collapsing the tripod and putting the last camera away.
So not an entirely fruitless session.
I’d been planning to do a review of 2013 but I’ve been sidetracked by the interesting weather we’ve had of late.
in the early eighties when I was a student of photography (I say “was” – I still regard myself as a student of photography!) I did a series of landscapes which were dominated by sky. Indeed they were the most popular images at both my student exhibitions and they sold quite well too as far as I recall. The last two images below are from that series. By the way, these was scanned from original prints made on DW Agfa Portriga-Rapid 118 paper – a wonderful chloro-bromide paper with added cadmium giving uniquely warm, rich tones – now (sadly) long, long discontinued.
Without wishing to invoke any hackneyed phrases, South Africa is a land of contrasts and the same is true of the skies, they can be fabulous festivals of light and colour but still the skies over England have something on those over Africa.
In a curious way I have always found the infinite tonal variations in the clouds and skies here both confining and liberating and the endless range of changing shapes, sizes and particularly the subtlety of tones never cease to amaze me. It can make even the most oppressive cold winters day into something of wonder.
Here then, are some English clouds with a couple of 32 year old Eastern Cape, South African ones thrown in at the end for good measure.
I’ve done a lot of driving over the past couple of days, shooting in Southampton yesterday and all over Hertfordshire today.
On my way back today I drove past a wonderful long fence made of poles between a hop garden and the road. The fence goes on for the whole length of the field, about 100m I guess, and is a magnificently haphazard structure. I’ve driven past it frequently before now but it just so happened that today I was thinking about my years of assisting Michael Millar in London in the mid 80’s…
One of our regular jobs was a kind of photogrammetry, recording the elevations of buildings in Central London on on some occasions whole streets. We worked on a 1/2 plate Sinar (we used 1/2 plate because 5×4 was too small relative to the lens angle of the 90mm 5.6 lens, ie we could shoot much wider on 1/2 plate). After I finished processing the film, I printed each image big (about 1500mmx1000mm) on the ancient 1/1 plate DeVere enlarger and then if we were doing a whole street, Michael carefully cut them out and stuck them together to form a huge and very long panorama featuring every building perspective correct and square-on. I remember we shot a few of the streets in Chinatown like that, Wardour Street and Gerrard Lane are two that I remember. Anyway, I digress…
Whilst I was driving past this pole fence today, it suddenly occurred to me that it might be fun to shoot this in the same way. The sun was shining and it wasn’t going to be out for much longer so I seized the moment, did a U-turn, parked up and photographed it.
I am not convinced that it works but it was fun to do so what the hell – and it is a lovely fence anyway!
I revisited the lake featured yesterday a day later, after a long period of gentle but non-stop snow and discovered an altogether more subtle environment. The crisp, contrasty and well defined round holes were now a much more interesting series of greys and swirling shapes – with foot prints.
I also stopped to look at the parts that were not yet frozen which were fascinating too, in an entirely different way.
On Saturday whilst out for a walk along the Stour River we came across some remarkable snow patterns on the lakes. I can only guess that they were caused by a timely combination of ice, light snow and wind but however they happened they were wonderful to see and in 10 years of walking I had never come across anything similar before.
So well worth a photographic visit (with ladder) – and being late for lunch for!
The first image is a rough cut composite showing pretty much the whole lake and images following are more considered views.
And this last pic was taken by my brother of me in action up the ladder, sporting a fetching pair of orange pants!
Had an excellent lunch out yesterday with a good friend and afterwards visited the fine Ansel Adams exhibition at the Maritime Museum, walking past Greenwich University’s new £76 million development on Stockwell Street to get there. (Designed by Heneghan Peng Architects) (goo.gl/O64lb) The building is only just starting to come out the ground but I rather liked the supporting structure of the houses adjacent to the site.
And the exhibition was rather good too. The last time I saw a substantial collection of Ansel Adams’ work was in South Africa in the late 70’s and whilst not being a wild AA enthusiast his work is as brilliant and inspiring now as it was then.
Then, later on my way into the big smoke I saw this which is quite fun…