Sunday, 30 November 2008

Leaf & bottle

Leaf and bottle on a Church wall

Another shot taken in the All Saint's graveyard in Newcastle Upon Tyne. This still-life was just feet away from a set of gravestones. It seemed an odd place to have a drink, surrounded by the old, worn and decaying gravestones. I suppose that someone just wanted a quiet place to have a drink.

Friday, 28 November 2008

London lights II

Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap - over 23,000 performances and still going strong

As we searched for Chinatown, we walked past a number of theatres including this one - St Martin's Theatre. The Mousetrap has been performed over 23,000 times since it opened at the theatre in 1952.

The St Martin's Theatre, located in West Street, was designed by the architect W G R Spraque in 1913 as a companion to The New Ambassadors Theatre which is next door to the theatre. Although The New Ambassadors Theatre was completed and opened in 1913, the out break of the First World War put the building of The St Martin's Theatre 'on-hold' and it was not completed until three years later in 1916.

When The St Martin's did finally open on Thursday 23 November 1916 did was described as "a very cosy and distreet little place, all soft-coloured wood panelling and peacock-blue hangings, with no touch of gilding except on the lamp brackets." The warm polished wood interior remains down to today and is unique within London's West End theatres.


Text from http://www.stmartins-theatre.co.uk/index.htm

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

London lights

The impressive V&A Cafe area

Oh dear. A bad dose of flu has finally caught up with me and zapped my energy. Time for a London photo to cheer me up. This is one of my favourites images, taken on the Sunday just before we both set off on the long trip back home.

The food was superb in the Victoria and Albert (V&A) museum cafe but little did we know that another treat was just around the corner. It hit you as you walked in - the most beautiful ornate Victorian decor and architecture.

Take the people in this photo out of their 21st century clothes, dress them in some fine Victorian clothing and suddenly you are back over 100 years ago. Wonderful!

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Digitally yours

Looking at a digital camera or a phone? Maybe it's both!

Communication is THE big sell now. From buying a iPhone to getting a mobile broadband connection, 'staying connected' seems to be the mantra of the early 21st century. I aim to be connected more during 2009.

During 2009 i'd like to start posting from out in the world, out in the field as they say. The technology is in place for me to do this quickly and reliably; it would also be a new challenge. I'm even thinking of doing some podcasts, an idea that i had some time ago but still toying with.

To be honest, i think it would be fun to do some podcasts if they could be produced to a high enough standard. The trick is to get the right format of podcast programme - developing that will be the immensely difficult part. A photo technical podcast does not appeal to me - i think i'd go for a photostory type of thing, the people, places and stories behind them.

I'll only start this it if i think the podcasting idea will work though. More brainwaves about that idea and others will be posted as and if/when i have them. Any ideas and/or recommendations are always welcome :o)

Thursday, 20 November 2008

New LIFE

Air Raid Over Moscow ; The Kremlin silhouetted by German Luftwaffe flare - July 26, 1941
Photographer:Margaret Bourke-White

It's great to see the vast collection of LIFE images have been added to the web for viewing. LIFE magazine was one of the most important magazines for photojournalism during the 20th century. Many of the photographers who worked for the magazine have become iconic figures, representing the golden age of photojournalism (late 1920's to mid 1950's) when the public demand for human interest stories was high.

Looking through the collections of photographs you can soon come up with some real gems. One striking image i like is above and shows an air raid taking place over Moscow. It certainly captures the intense 'lightshow' of an air raid. Margaret Bourke-White claimed in her autobiography to have been the only western photographer allowed into the Soviet Union during the war, however, she was only tolerated for a short period time before being asked to leave by the authorities. The images she took during her stay provide a fascinating look at the Soviet Union in the grip of the first weeks of Operation Barbarossa - the German invasion of the USSR.

I especially love the portraits of soldiers and Soviet citizens which, ironically, have a similar look and style to the images by Bourke-White's Soviet propaganda photographer counterparts. The heroic style of framing, the photographer looking up towards the subject from a low viewpoint, was used heavily by Soviet photographers keen to convey a heroic, almost superhuman quality to the soviet people. Maybe that similarity is just co-incidental or, more likely, Margaret Bourke-White had to work within certain visual rules of photography set down by the Soviets.

A whole assortment of images, dating from 1860 through to the 1970's, can be viewed at the LIFE photo archive which can be found at http://images.google.com/hosted/life.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Good advice

Abandoned sun hat - Hunstanton, Norfolk

We all want to know how to become better photographers and a recent post by the Magnum blog has come up with some good suggestions. The advice seems to be aimed at young photographers wanting to enter the terrifying world of professional photography, but it's equally useful to those who are just looking to improve their photography.

Most of the advice is common sense, and one key theme seems popular. Study photography, paintings and movies that you admire to help improve your own image making. Simple really. Other suggestions are more quirky. This fascinating blog article can be found HERE.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Ninety years ago

One of the most famous British Army recruiting posters ever - Lord Kitchener needs YOU!

Ninety years ago today, the First world war finally came to an end. At the time of writing, Britain has four elderly veterans of WWI remaining, not many... but it goes to show that 'the war to end all wars' wasn't that long ago. It is still in living memory... just.

Posters were an important recruiting tool during that period. The Lord Kitchener poster is one of the best known recruiting posters of the era. A good selection of WWI posters can be viewed HERE. It's rather interesting to see how propaganda has changed since the early 1900's. To the modern eye, these posters look rather unsophisticated, and yet even after 90 years, a number of them remain striking pieces of art.


World War One was not a broadly photographed war, compared to later 20th century conflicts. The technology of the time wasn't up to the fast movement of a modern conflict. Photojournalism and the 35mm camera had yet to appear so photographers were restricted, by the closed in nature of trench warfare, about what they could take. Photographers focused on VIP's visiting the front, the treatment of the wounded and captured soldiers, as well as other static/controllable scenes. Large cameras were still the main tool of the photographer at that time and they required time to set up and more time still to take an image. Hardly ideal when trying to photograph an advance across no man's land.

The best images from this period tend to focus in on the men and the aftermath of war. The images of the troops, in the various trenches and dugouts at the front, provide a valuable insight into the men and their living conditions. Likewise, the photographs of the dead show the true cost of the conflict on a generation; the ravaged battlefield landscape, littered with the debris of battle, bodies and swathes of mud, are popular subjects for the WWI photographers. The vast majority of photographs were taken using black and white film, but a number were taken for the French army using the relatively new colour autochrome process, developed back in 1907 by the Lumière brothers.

A number of websites have a good selection of World War One photography :-

http://www.worldwaronecolorphotos.com/

http://www.gwpda.org/photos/greatwar.htm

http://www.firstworldwar.com/

http://www.worldwar1.co.uk/

Finally i'd like to dedicate this post to

PRIVATE JOHN W MARRINER, 12037, Durham Light Infantry, 2nd Bn.

Died 9th August 1915 at Ypres

and

PRIVATE GEORGE MARRINER, 25/1406, Northumberland Fusiliers, 19th Bn.

Died 16th April 1917 at The Somme


Both were under 20 years of age. Both have no known grave. Both were great, great, uncles of mine. Gone but not forgotten.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

A new dawn

Barack Obama by Richard Avedon

Did Richard Avedon (1923 -2004) see the potential for a future 44th president of the United States when he took this photograph in 2004? Probably not, but no doubt he did recognise that Barack Obama would be a central figure in 21st century politics.

This image is part of an exhibition called Richard Avedon: Portraits of Power. The exhibition has approximately 250 images of important figures who have worked in politics during the last 50 years. Portraits of Power will run through until January 25th at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington D.C.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

The next president?

The next president of the United States? Photo credit: Charles Rex Arbogast/AP.

I don't often comment on politics but this is probably one of those moments that will affect us all. It's looking good but who knows what will happen. The one thing i do know is that Barack Obama certainly seems more composed and president like for the cameras than his opponent John McCain, from the images I've seen over the past few months.

That makes life slightly easier for the photographers following Obama, during the travelling circus that is the Presidential campaign. Will it help win an election though? Somehow i think it will and America may be about to enter a new era. A positive, more forward looking era. Sadly I can't vote but i know who would be getting my vote today if i could... the photo might give you a hint :-)

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Objectivity in focus

Magnum Photo's Christopher Anderson on QTV has a lot of things to say about photography in the 21st century. Most of which i agree wholeheartly with. I especially like his comments about the term 'photojournalist' and the future of documentary photographers in the digital age.

Found via the MAGNUM blog

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