Tag Archives: photography

With two shoots, I had a busy day yesterday but found myself with a two hour gap, sitting in my car, without a trendy coffee shop in sight, in the rain, in one of London’s less pictorially celebrated areas and not far from that wonder of sixties civil engineering(?), the A4 Brentford flyover.

A4 Great West Road, West London

Sorry, it look rather pathetic this size, it really does need to be be big to be effective!!!

I’ve got a day in today, costings, emails, accounts, waiting for FedEx, packing up DVD’s and sorting stuff out in general.  I am also looking at the possibility of another small exhibition. Interest has been expressed in the Coast Structure series so I’ve been revisiting them to see if there is anything there I might want to show.  Whilst on my hard-drive travels I came across this shot that I had rejected originally because it didn’t fulfil the criteria I was after at the time but looking at it 3 or 4 years later, it is quite a nice pic in a pictorial sort of way.

Sea and rocks off the south coast of Kent

Sea and rocks off the south coast of Kent

Another one from the SeaPeople project:

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Alan Stanley has been building wooden boats all his life and is something of an institution at Chambers Wharf, where his workshop is located on the banks of Oare Creek.  His workshop is a wonderful hands-on environment where people really get to grips with their material.  Not a iPhone, computer, gigabyte, pixel or router in sight, just lots of tools and wood dust and some fantastic looking boats. (And that marvellous smell of freshly cut timber!)

Jan Greshoff – Images of rural South Africa, Cape Province in 1960’s & 70’s

Following on from my last post of Jan’s pictures a couple of weeks ago (http://wp.me/p32AWy-3V), here are some of his rural views.

He was interested in structure and it is rare to find figures or life of any kind in his images.  Whilst this may be a shame from some points of view, it does somehow set his images apart and makes them all the more enticing.

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(These files were scanned from his original prints all of which were dry-mounted on to board and many of which are now rather bowed making the scanning process at times rather challenging)

18C Cape Dutch Architecture & Photographic Beginnings

On my 13th birthday my parents gave me a fantastic book by GE Pearce on Eighteenth Century Architecture in South Africa, in recognition of my burgeoning interest in buildings.

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Pearce was A.R.I.B.A. and Professor Emeritus in Architecture at the University of the Witwatersrand. Originally published in 1933 (Mine is the third and last edition of 1968), the scholarship and the detailed plans and elevations drawn to scale distinguish this book as the definitive text on the subject. Each building illustrated with photographs and measured drawings and the book has to be one of my favourites.

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I got it out last night to have a quick flick through, as one does at 11 o’clock at night, and tucked inside the dust-jacket I discovered a full set of my very first architectural photography efforts!  These pictures were one of the main reasons why I started being obsessive about both photography and architecture.  They are printed on glazed single weight paper and are pretty much as they were when I received them back from the chemist in 1976, a testament to the thorough washing they must have received! (Chemical residues are the main cause of silver image deterioration.)

The pictures featured a study of Stellenberg the nearest Cape Dutch house to our home and I remember my visit very well.  The house belonged to the Ovenstone family at the time who were, and I presume still are, a pretty influential local family and my father kindly arranged for me to visit it one week-end.  So armed with my Kodak Instamatic 33, which produced square images 24×24, we arrived at the grand gates.  My heart was racing, partly because of the anticipation of being let into the grand building and partly with the anxiety of meeting the very wealthy inhabitants.

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But I needn’t have worried, they were great, warm and welcoming and soon I was roaming around with my camera whilst my father sat inside talking the man of the house no doubt. I had spoken to my uncle (see http://wp.me/p32AWy-3V) prior to the day and he had advised me not to try to do anything inside as the camera I was using couldn’t do long exposures so they would look rubbish.  So I took nearly all my pictures outside but had a good look round inside too just because I was interested.  Then they asked if I would like to go up into the loft which really was the icing on the cake.  Funnily enough I have no recollection of what the space looked like but I did take a picture of the window which was an early lesson in the limitation of film over the eye!

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These buildings have a definite appeal and an assured place in the history of the South African vernacluar.  But this acknowledged and having just spent two years working on the Canterbury Cathedral book photographing some exquisite workmanship I was interested to note just how rough and primitive the work is on many of these buildings.

This is no doubt the main source of their charm and beauty: these were buildings built out of rough landscape with limited skilled craftsmen and limited materials and it is really only the wealth and ambitions of their owners that saw the structures come into fruition.

Stellenberg was the perfect introduction to Cape Dutch Buildings and historic architecture in general, and almost without doubt, were it not for the welcoming Ovenstones and my Instamtic 33, I would not be photographing (and loving) architecture today.

Jansje Wissema and her South African Cow Parsley Photogram

Years ago, before I had nurtured my own interest in photography, we had a family friend who was a photographer. She was Jansje Wissema and regrettably she died in the 1972 (I think) before I could really get to know her.  She produced some fine images of my family in between doing her District Six work for the South African Institute of Architects (more about that later maybe) and the medical work that paid the rent.

Her image of my brother Adi sitting in a chair in front of the huge 8 sheet Steinlen Lithograph poster (Steinlen is more famous for his cat posters) that used to hang in our dark sitting room, remains one of my favourite pictures.  I have tried persuade the curator of photographs at the SA National Gallery to sell me a print but they remain steadfastly reluctant to consider the idea. The SANG now own all of her negs so I can’t argue the case and so I have to make do with the little print she gave us at the time. Her work has a respect for humanity that I think in these days of image proliferation is sometimes hard to find.

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I also have a vivid memory of being fascinated my one of her Christmas Cards that was made from a photogram of a head of Agapanthus.  It is particularly interesting now, in that photograms are really a product of the analogue era and are not easy to produce nowadays.

Many years later, though still in the days that I had a functioning darkroom (rather than a loft full of it’s contents!), I used some Cow Parsley, Agapanthus not being easily available in the UK, to produce my own version of her card that had something of the feel of her original.

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She remains a source of inspiration for me both in terms of photographing architecture and portraiture.