Thursday, 31 December 2009

End of year review 2009


The wooden/metal textures of a boat's hull undergoing renovation - Morston Quay, Norfolk, UK

And so we come to the end of another year. How the time has flown. This year has been an unusual one in many ways. Creatively it has been a year of 'treading water', neither a good year or a bad year. I will admit that it has been a frustrating one at times. Sadly i came across my first non paying client this year. It was bound to happen eventually, especially in the current economic climate, but for eight years i'd managed to avoid it. What's even sadder is it's not a small firm but a large one that is holding out on payment. No reply to e-mails or letters and no mention of any problems with the work - quite the opposite. The business of photography is certainly not made an easy one. Am i mad to continue? Most probably. :o)

At the start of the year, i posted a blog entry called 'shooting for 2009?'. In it,  i mentioned how i'd like my photography to develop over the coming year and i included more creative studio work. Yet again i haven't started any personal studio projects. I have no good excuses. I will really will have to get on top of this and sort it out. I did try a few new things this year, one of which included the Solo Photo Book Month. The online project involved shooting, editing and creating a photobook in around a month. It was a challenge to say the least, especially designing and outputting the PDF electronic book. The resulting book was well worth it and i learned a LOT about the book making process. I will take part again in mid 2010, this time shooting the project on film. The timing will have to be spot on for this film based 2010 SoFoBoMo project. I also want to create another photobook in late March containing a selection of images from my Winter Landscape project. New ways of displaying photographic projects is a small research job for me in the New Year.

2009 will go down as the year that the camera phone started to yield good results. Up until this year, i'd regarded the cameras on mobile phones as just gimmicks - great to photograph friends on a night out but not up to making quality images. That's all changed, and with websites like Twitter, i can update the websites on a regular basis from wherever i am. I intend to carry on with this process in 2010, continuing to intergrate elements into the blog and website like Twitter and Audioboo. I've also tested out a great new video upload site called TweetReel which enables users to upload video footage shot on their iPhone. I'll use that more in 2010 too, along with Twitter and AudioBoo. Finally i couldn't finish this section without mentioning the 'second blog' Darker Skies which went live online in August. Like this blog, the more unorthodox Darker Skies will be improved over the coming year with more images and  ideas implimented. The internet has played a massive role in finding new ways of distributing work and finding new photographers/photography. It is the future and a tool that will radically alter the nature of media in the coming years. 2009 saw the start of the shift from paper to screen with multimedia being one of the more creative ways of photographers showing their work. I'm going to try creating my own multimedia presentaion in the coming months incorporating video, photography and audio.

So it's finally come to choosing six images that represent my favourite/best photographs taken in 2009. It's an odd mix with two photographs taken using my phone. The quality was that good that i even made my first official calendar out of camera phone images. For street photography i've found it invaluble. The camera is small, light and provides good image quality. In Norfolk i used it a lot, mostly as an experiment, but also as a smaller photo project using twitter as a display area. I like the immediacy of shooting and uploading to the web, and the feedback from fellow twitterers was super. The best phone photographs were of the sea fog on Cromer pier and the still-life of a boat undergoing renovation. Both images show the range and diversity of how you can use a modern phone camera.

Using more conventional cameras, two photographs are memorable; both due to their location and the enjoyment had taking the photographs. The first is an image of a Barley Field in Norfolk. To me it represents summer in Great Britain, the golden summers of the past. I was waiting for a Tiger Moth biplane to return but it never appeared. The barley photograph was the consolation photo. I love it regardless. The second photograph was taken in Whitby as a publicity still for a film due to start production in the town in 2010. Not only was it a great photography session, it was GREAT fun, challenging with it's night light and a new area of photography for me - vampire photography :o) I'll be working on the film (director of photography) in the new year so expect to see some more photography from the set. I'm looking forward to doing some more character study portrait work with the cast including the lovely Heather featured in the above photograph.Wow...It's an all digital selection this year, hopefully a few images shot on film will get into the end of review next year.

All that is left for me to say is thank you for following the blog. The numbers of readers has grown nicely over the year which makes me very happy. Thanks to those people who have e-mailed me or commented on the work, including a number of photographers whose work i respect immensely. I really enjoy working on the blog and hope you enjoy viewing my little snapshot on the world of photography. As always there are some upcoming items for the blog in 2010. The start of the New Year will see the start of the photographer profile series again, but if you'd like to see some great photography now then my vote for this year would go to the Noir series mentioned back in November. Brittany and Mitch will be shooting some more Noir images in 2010, so keep a lookout for that. Until next time my friends, i'll just say, Have a very Happy and prosperous New Year.  ;o)  Rich..

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Quadcam



A self portrait taken today with my iPhone. I used an iPhone app called Quadcamera to get the four image format. It is a sequence of images like that you would take on a conventional camera rather than a series of copies. Another slightly tweaked version of this photograph can be found at http://www.darker-skies.com/ .

I'll be doing some more self portraits over the next few weeks. Now it's back to writing the final '2009 review' post for the blog...

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Snowscape


Tracks in the snow

Down came the snow. Nearly three inches of the stuff during the night, so i awoke to a bright white carpet covering the ground. Who knows, we may even get a white Christmas here in the UK. The bookies seem to think so but it's anyones guess at the moment.

This photo was taken on my iPhone, but i was out and about taking some more images for my winter landscape project. You can view a short video that i took while i was out working HERE. The sense of being alone in the snowscape was overwhelming. It was wonderfully peaceful. I just love those moments of traquility when out shooting.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Taking Liberties


Photography by Nick Turpin

I've gone from being slightly irritated to being angry. It's taken most of this year for the anger to grow but  i'm finally getting to the point where i think ' What the hell is going on'?!?! What am i talking about? Photography in the UK and the ability for a person to be able to take photographs in a public place. Part of what many social observers, journalists and politicians call a free society. Something that may be under threat.

In the last few weeks, a number of photographers, film makers and journalists have run into police officers who have used terrorism legislation in a very sloppy fashion to stop, search and even arrest people. What makes things worse is the situation seems to be getting worse rather than better. Even after police officers are told by their top brass that photography in a public place is not a crime, photographers are being stopped on the grounds of national security. Whatever happened to the friendly copper just inquiring nicely:-

"Excuse me sir, can you tell me what you are doing'?
"Yes officer,  i'm taking some photographs for a project/portfolio/work/myself. "
"Oh very good sir. Thank you for your time."

Ask nicely and  you'll usually get a nice reply. Maybe that reads a bit too much like a script from Dixon of Dock Green, but it is based on my own dealings with police officers as a photographer. A post by Phil Coomes on the BBC Viewfinder website works along this very point too using a 1938 news article. There is no need to use anti terrorism stop and search powers to find out what's going on! I passionately believe that good policing is all about maintaining a good relationship with the public. Their help is often vital for helping solve crime. During the 7/7 bomb attacks in London, the police actually asked the public for any possible images/video of the bombers that may have been taken on mobile phones or video cameras. Now certain individuals in the police seem to believe that photography is only a tool for terrorism. The police should be working with photographers, using them constructively as an extra pair of eyes. Photographers are observers on life and if anyone can spot unusual behavior, or something that doesn't quite look right,  it's the humble photographer. Times that by about a factor of three if you are talking about a veteran street photographer.Those types of snappers miss nothing!

The Magnum photographer Martin Parr recently commented that he thought street photography could be banned in the U.K within the next five years. I personally think that a ban would be unworkable, especially in an age where virtually every mobile phone has a camera built into it. The British public would not tolerate a ban either. Nevertheless, the right to take photographs in public places needs to be fought for vigourously especially when the authorities start taking liberties with our liberty.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Ones to Watch



Over the past year, i've come to admire more and more, the multimedia photography and video work that resides on many U.S news websites. I just wish that the British news organisations would take more of an interest in the format because i truly believe that this will be the way many news stories will be told in future.

Two videos have really caught my eye recently. Both are both superb examples of documentary film making 21st century style. Short, but powerful, these video presentations use the short runtimes to the max and tell their stories quickly but with style. The video above is called 'From Himalayas to Helmand,' a video by Anup Kaphle that looks at the Gurkha soldiers fighting for the British in Afghanistan. It's a brilliant piece of work, telling a fascinating story that are often largely ignored by mainstream media organisations.

The second multimedia website was developed by the Los Angeles Times for a story about  former L.A gang members trying to help young people trapped in a life of drugs, violence, poverty and crime in Alabama. The 13 minute video is superb, as is the photography section. It's the future of modern photojournalism folks.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

First Frost


Ice on a car window

Mother nature is such a great artist. As i was walking past the car yesterday, i noticed the wonderful ice patterns left on the windscreen (windshield to any U.S readers) by the first heavy frost. Frozen water left on a window doesn't sound that great does it, but i think you'll agree that the textures, patterns and lines contained in this photograph are just so beautiful, intricate and amazing.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

AudioBoo Number One

As if posting photographs and a bit of text wasn't enough, I've just started AudioBooing. Yes the iPhone finally arrived and i did my first AudioBoo recording today. Apart from the fact i need to get used to hearing my own voice, it went OK... i think.

The are lots of ways of subscribing or hearing my podcasts. A series of links to subscribe to the podcasts, download the mp3 or listen to a streamed version can be found on the AudioBoo section of the website located HERE.

Friday, 4 December 2009

A Quiet Moment


Making a phonecall - Fakenham Market, Norfolk, UK

The bad weather did produce a good outcome this week. I finally got around to processing part of the backlog of film. By coincidence, a post on a photoblog i read this week commented about how some photographers use the gap between shooting the images and processing the film, to lose all emotional attachment to the photographs they've taken. It's an interesting theory, but it doesn't really ring true for me. Photography is emotion, surely?

Photographers invest their time and money into producing what they hope will be great photographs. It's an investment that you hope will prove beneficial visually. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't. Regardless of the time delay between shooting and processing, i find the moment of a newly developed film emerging from the developing tank an exciting one. I vividly remember developing my first roll of film twenty years ago. Pure magic.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Back Home



Of all the photographs i've seen connected to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, this one REALLY hits a nerve. Heartbreaking is all you can really say. The photograph shows Victoria Chant crying as the coffin of her father, soldier Darren Chant, is carried from a chapel after his funeral in London. Mr. Chant was killed in Afghanistan on November 3rd.

I don't think i could have taken this, it would seem too intrusive for me, but these types of photos should be taken. The photograph is by Toby Melville of Reuters and reinforces my believe that the most powerful photographs from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are not taken on the dusty battlefields, but back where the impact of the loss is felt most. Home.
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