Saturday 28 November 2009

Winter Trekker II

The old railway line - near Fryton, North Yorkshire, UK

Here is the first image from the first test roll of film shot for the winter landscape project mentioned in the winter trekker post a week or so ago. I'm rather pleased with the results. The whole look of the photograph is what i'm after, to see the countryside outside of the usual images of a green and pleasant landscape.

Currently, i'm looking for more shoot locations. The area where i live features a lot of old railway tracks and public walkways that make accessing the fields and hedgerows so much easier.  Another photo display idea i'm thinking about uses an interactive map display with the photographs located in the area where they were shot, like the panoramio system used on Google Earth.

More winter landscape photographs coming soon.

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Red Piano Man

Street entertainer plays ABBA near Bettys Café Tea Rooms in York, UK

Street photography has always been a passion of mine. As i mentioned earlier this year, i've started using my mobile phone camera more and more to capture scenes on the street. The size of the phone camera offers certain advantages to using a proper digital or film camera. You don't attract attention for a start, and you attain the look of just another tourist photographing the colourful life of York. People just walk on by.

This photograph has given me another idea for a photography project in 2010. It's going to focus on the varied street entertainers of the city who work throughout the year. York, with it's old walls and history, never really stops being a tourist destination, so the buskers, musicians and performers just carry on working whatever the weather. I'll be posting more 'street' photographs of York, the performers, markets and streets during the run up to Christmas.

Saturday 21 November 2009

Inspiration and Influence

The end of another week and it's been a frustrating one. I put in an order for my iPhone which you would have thought would be a simple process these days. Nope. It's ended with me having to wait a potential ten days for the money to be refunded. Ten workings days!!!! I am NOT a happy camper. Still, never mind eh!

I've been reading a rather fascinating series of posts which ask the reader to think about where they got their early influences from and how they developed. The answers can be very revealing. The photoblog author, Gordon McGregor, gets a lot of his early influences from paintings, a common area of influence for many photographers including greats like Henri Cartier-Bresson. Painting has never really influenced my work that much though. Photography and the cinema are where the vast majority of my visual influences stem from. My landscape work is influenced heavily by the stylish 1940's black and white films, a good example of which would be David Lean's classic Oliver Twist made in 1948.

This great series of posts really does make you think about your influences and inspirations. Is it paintings or something else that inspire and influence your photography?

The blog posts can be found here 1, 2, 3, 4

Wednesday 18 November 2009

Winter Trekker

Out in the late Autumn sunshine

Yesterday, i went out to shoot the first initial test rolls of b&w film for the winter landscape project. Technically it isn't quite winter yet in Britain, but nevertheless i decided to start on the project that will continue through until late February/early March 2010.

The afternoon light was just about perfect by the time i'd arrived at my first location. It didn't last long though, barely thirty minutes, before the fragile warm sunlight slipped quickly away and the night came rushing in. The land is saturated with water after huge amounts of autumn rain. The massive deep puddles on the paths and tracks look fabulous adding a bit of foreground detail. They do make moving around potentially a very muddy experience though.

I'm keeping the gear simple; just a BenboTrekker tripod, a Bronica ETRS camera and a lightmeter. Now it's just a matter of waiting for cold December to arrive so that i can move onto the next stage of shooting.

Sunday 15 November 2009

The Dark Lens

 The Dark Lens- Photograph by Cedric Delsaux

The Dark Lens is a photographic project that really caught my attention this week. Photographer Cedric Delsaux has taken the characters and the cool spaceships from Star Wars, and placed them into a modern urban environment. What is really fascinating is how easily the two blend together to create a new Star Wars world.

The idea is quite clever. After all, as children we were all able to create exciting places from our everyday surroundings. A tree house could become a secret base and a simple stick could be a laser gun. All that Cedric Delsaux has done is to take that creative imagination a step futher, and create that world through the use of a camera. What a fabulous looking Star Wars world it is too.

The collection of images does not have a direct weblink address, but you can find the gallery by going to the photographer's website at and clicking on the work menu link where The Dark Lens is listed. It's well worth a look.

Wednesday 11 November 2009

Recruit, Soldier, Son and Friend

June 23, 2007: Ian checks his stance and the position of his hand as the platoon learns how to salute properly. Photograph by Craig F Walker

Craig F Walker's photographs of American soldier Ian Fisher reminded me of the old LIFE magazine photo stories of years ago. The images certainly have that feel about them. The time, effort and detail that has been invested into the multimedia story by the Denver Post is outstanding, and something that the rather slow British media should take on board. I would certainly count this detailed photo essay by Craig F Walker as one of the best done so far in this current conflict.

Craig F Walker follows every detail of Fisher's new army life, making an intimate portrait of the young man undergoing the process of becoming a soldier. We get to see Ian Fisher leaving high school, joining up, going through basic training, deployment to Iraq and continuing right through to his return from his first tour. The journey is not an easy one. Opening up your life to a photographer like that, while undergoing stressful life changing events, makes this young soldier even more remarkable. How many people would allow themselves to be put through that?

The superb collection of photographs, video, stories and other extras about this photo story can be found HERE.

Saturday 7 November 2009

Black Film

Vanishing Point II, 2009

At first glance, this photograph would seem to date from around the 1940's period but it was, in fact, taken this year as part of a excellent project called Noir.

Noir was the idea of Brittany Jones and Mitchell Rouse who have taken the stylish and atmospheric cinematic style Film Noir and shot a series of images along a similar theme. The resulting photographs are fantastic. A website gallery of the photos can be found HERE.

Selected images from the Noir Series work are on exhibition at the 400 South Main Gallery in Los Angeles and will be open for the Downtown Art Walk on November 12th.

Noir was found via a post on the excellent photoblog Lenscratch. If you like keeping up to date with exciting new photography, then i'd recommend taking a look at the blog.

Wednesday 4 November 2009

High Standard

The 50mm standard lens - loved and loathed in equal measure

The poor old 50mm standard lens. It's never really got the sort of praise that it deserves. For many photographers, it's just the lens that comes with the camera, although these days it's more likely that a camera will ship with a zoom. That's a shame because i think the 50mm lens is one of the best lenses that a photographer can own. I'd even go as far as saying that it's an essential piece of kit. The first lens i purchased ,when changing from the Pentax to Nikon camera system ten years ago, was the Nikon 50mm. The superb Pentax 50mm lenses i used throughout my college/university years were invaluable on a number of occasions when the light was low.

Last week, as you may know, i was in Whitby shooting some promo photos for a film. As the film is a vampire movie, it couldn't be shot in daylight for obvious reasons. Daylight and vampires are a bit of a no-no. Street lighting and some rather well placed statue illumination lights were all we could work with, but the shutter speeds naturally came crashing down. Early on i realised that my zooms weren't going to be fast enough aperture wise to let enough light in. Even at f2.8, the shutter speeds still remained too low. In the end, i delved deep into the bag and came out with my trusty 50mm. It was the perfect choice for getting the shots; fast, light and sharp.

Ah Richard, you may be saying, surely with significant improvements to modern digital sensor technology, a fast 50mm is no longer needed. Well, true, but I'd still want to use the fastest lens i had to get the shot. If you can go from 1/25th to 1/50th just by using a one f/stop faster lens, you'd use it ...wouldn't you? Plus, the standard lens, regardless of make, is one of the cheapest to buy. The Nikon f1.4D can be found for an affordable price and that's what I'm after next to go alongside the f1.8D. Zooms are great, i love em, but sometimes you need that extra bit of help when the light starts to get low... a small, compact and fast 50mm type of help.