28 August 2016


You think this blog and the photographs here are all over the shop? You're right. No themes, a big ol' mess of pottage. Portraits, actors, gardens, family, weddings, kids, seascapes, cats, dogs, bishbashbosh. All over the shop. Well, wait 'til you see my notebooks. Only, of course, they are objects, so you won't. But let me tell you, if you think these pages and pages of non-linear posts, these styleless ramblings are random, honest, the notebooks are "worse". Or better. Whatevs. I'm tending towards the better nowadays, in part because to hell with it, so I don't have a "style", I haven't found my "voice" and I no longer care. No one gives a monkey's dinkum so why should I? Look for example, here's something from my latest notebook:

The underlying pictures are by Stephen Shore - I have no idea what they are about, what they mean, other than perhaps they are somehow meant to represent pure seeing - that is to say, recreating the act of seeing a scene without consciousness of the camera as a device for translation. Anyway. It was meant to be an homage, paean, to Peter Beard, until I found out what a dipstick he was by listening to an interview with him. So now the above is left drifting with nowhere to go, with only the viewer able to impute some meaning to it, to graft something on post hoc. Good luck with that.  I guess I can't wholly remove the PB references though, but just remember - once done with admiration, there's none of that now.
One other thing: before you judge, remember, you need to see the original to truly make your mind up - in context and in the flesh it makes some sort of sense.

Last Rays and a Cup of Tea - Powys Castle (or, if you prefer, Powis Castle)

Why this one? The light. Mostly the light. But also the colours. The cup, on its own, on the grass. For the memory of it. For the speed with which the shadow encroached.

27 August 2016

Selfie 82

Why this one? The 1960s. The darkness, the light, the reflection, the glass/not glass, the contrast, the simplicity, the hidden.

Partridge: Unwell

Powis Castle Garden

Why this? Well, the colours and the dark shape of the fountain base; the coins under the water becoming obscure, unclear. The pink clouds like a constellation. Overall, the beauty.

At a wedding some time ago

Why this? Their beauty, the cohesion of the whole, and for memory.

At a Wedding some time ago

Why this? Because the bride is relaxed, prepared to be herself, doesn't feel she has to be the bride others expect. And because of the light, the dirt on the bottom of the dress (beautiful dirt in this case), the boots, the slight movement of her right leg.

National Garden of Wales

Why this? Because of the dirt on the wall and it's accidental beauty. Because of the geometry, because of the branch that represents nature and the reason the gardens exist, the clash of this with the wall. And the light, the sun catching the branch and not the wall. And because: death.

9 August 2016

Happy Birthday

I don't know if you can see it, but for me there is already melancholy and death in the above picture - it is a natural by-product of certain photographs. I'm not dissing it, in fact I'm positively seeking it out, even at 21st birthday parties: it's life baby, part of the Rich Tapestry one hears so much about. Why is it present in the above? I think because the ephemeral nature of the balloons combined with their obviousness and their lurid, look-at-me presence, plays so well against a celebration of a milestone: maybe this is my old head playing tricks on me, but a photo like the one above already has melancholy at its heart because we remember what life promised and then how it turned out.

On the other hand, maybe it is simply yearning for times past.

7 August 2016

Procrastinating - best done with a camera to hand

A couple from yesterday taken with the X-Pro2 as jpegs, I've still not got round to sorting out a raw workflow for this camera in part because the jpegs are so good SOOC, but also because the point of the camera as I see it, in this instance, is to get out of the way and if I can reduce workflow as part of that process then this is all to the good. 

Gina and Graham, members of the Victorian Society, outside our kitchen window in Wales (no, honestly). The camera he has with him is a replica of something from the latter half of the 19th Century, though he told me he stuffs a modern digital camera into some of the other bodies he has. 

Welshpool, Saturday morning. Could this be better? Let me count the ways. But never mind, it isn't bad for ten minutes in town prior to cutting the grass. It's metaphorical, see? End of life, exit stage left, the abstraction of the choices of direction we have in life. Also interesting to compare this man's life - the lurid dog bag, the stick, the bad trousers - with the lives of Gina and Graham: I'd guess in both photos the ages of the subjects is about the same but what a difference a passion makes... David Hockney is good on this: 

"You can smoke, you can drink, you do all kinds of things, but you need a sense of purpose: you need  a big job to do. I get so much energy from this. The medical profession thinks everything is physical, that's my complaint to them. It isn't really." 
(from "A Bigger Message" by Martin Gayford - there's plenty more good stuff where this comes from and the book is well worth buying or getting from your library).

What else? Well, I look at people who have a newly acquired passion for photography, or rather I look at the pictures they post, and I envy them. I think I've lost something along the way - the ability, or the desire, to simply take pictures of scenes I like, or that are of interest to me, in a manner that doesn't involve messing with them in some way. I wonder, at the moment, if I have ever had an eye for a photograph at all. Sometimes I think I have, but then days like today come along and I long to lose my striving and instead just take pictures of what is in front of me, unfiltered, no ducking and diving for composition or light or whatever but turn the camera on, press the shutter button and move on.

But anyway, onwards. Those wedding photographs won't edit themselves.

At a Recent Wedding

Saul Leiter: 
"Some photographers think that by taking pictures of human misery, they are addressing a serious problem. I do not think that misery is more profound than happiness."

4 August 2016


Mary Ellen Mark: 

"The difficulty with color is to go beyond the fact that it is color - to have it be not just a colorful picture but really be a picture about something. It's difficult. So often color gets caught up in color, and it becoems merely decorative. Some photographers use [it] brilliantly to make visual statements combining color and content; otherwise it is empty."

Here's an example of the latter:


Things like this, or like the M6 on a rainy Friday rush hour in November seen through the windscreen of a knackered Renault, are what I'd like to see a modern master of oils paint.

2 August 2016


My new favourite photograph of the year so far. Why? Well, I don't have enough distance to say why yet but I'll try anyway. The light and tones help, as does the fact that none of the kids can be recognised (which also helps me publish this on the web - this was taken on a paid job but one of the clauses of the contract I have when supplying the pictures is that I won't use any pictures of the children involved without permission). I have a like/dislike relationship with the teacher's face being partially obscured - partly I like it because I think it helps express the idea of her being subsumed into the identities of her charges and partly because it adds to the sense of her being pestered, in the nicest way possible, but still pestered. I dislike it because it suggests that with a bit more attention I could have got something better, showing both of her eyes. But you know what, maybe that wouldn't have been better, maybe the aleatory is playing a part here. 
What else? The hands, the hand positions both relative to one another and in the sense of the curve of the wrists, the curling of the fingers, the sheer number of them, some of them sharp, some of them blurred, none of them on the left of the picture actually touching her hair, but one on the right showing their intent. Her downward looking eye - I like her downward looking eye. 

Mr and Mrs Macbeth