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2017 – Year of Photography

I hope everyone has had wonderful holidays and is enjoying the winter weather when it's not too cold. Our holidays were quiet, as they are every year and like every year, I start wondering about my life and all the various things I could do to enrich it. So. This year is photography year. There. I said it, now there is no backing out. Last year, due to a few house moves and consequently all of our stuff being in storage, I did not get round too much wet-plating, much to my chagrin. This year will be different; I dusted off my Model Mayhem account and created a casting call, to start photographing some plates in upcoming springtime. Yeah, I know, I don't do cold weather shooting so I'll have to be patient. I look forward to shooting a few fresh faces in an exciting new project. The theme was so simple, I can't believe I didn't think of it before! And - it will take me some time to finish it. Which could be a good or bad thing, we'll see.   No, I'm not telling you what it is just yet! If you are truly curious, go find the casting call on Model Mayhem 😀   I did manage to do a couple of plates last year, but somehow they did not manage to enthuse me. They are just not exciting enough! For lack of a model, I used a small porcelain figurine that was left to me by my late great-grandmother as well as a small piece of a wasp nest that I found in the shed (and some wasps that were dead on the ground in summer). There was also a pepper, and a mortar and pestle providing the subject of the images.  

I was mildly enthusiastic about this plate, where the top of the pepper emerging from the shadows almost looks like some monstrous stag beetle...This could be a fun image, after a bit of work.

I did get to do some medium format shooting last year though, with all that travel. I hope I'll see more of that coming my way this year, that would be sweet! It's a shame I don't actually enjoy the scanning and retouching of my images all that much, it would make things a little easier. Hah! This time round, just like my belated holiday images in my last post, I have scanned them all small and did only the bare bone retouching on them. That way, I'll finally not waste time on image that I'll never use or will misplace at some point anyway. Again, time will tell if this is a good of bad way to go about it. In my second round of scanning, I found a few beauties that I do not want to keep to myself. These are taken in the Chinese Garden in Frankfurt, Germany. It's not a big garden, and it's usually busier than this, but it certainly provided with ample opportunity for a few nice shots.          

Moving abroad

Hello everyone! I hope you've kept busy in the last few months, because we've sure been at it! Over the winter months, we've been selling off / packing up the house in Cambridge, UK to go into storage as we prepared to go live in Frankfurt am Main, Germany for a little while, in anticipation for another house move to Toronto, Canada to take place early July. Why Germany for a few months? It's a long story......feel free to ask me when you see me. And why Canada!? It's work related, as ever! We took a few trips within Europe, to soak up as much history as we could - these are only my mobile phone photos as my scanner is still underway. I have shots numerous rolls of 120 film and cannot wait to see them up on my screen. I would recommend going to all of these places by the way - especially Berlin and Carcasonne were amazing, Pompeii is not to be missed before it crumbles back to dust! Wroclaw is a beautiful historic city, but not amazingly big so a weekend will be enough to see its highlights. So now we are settling into Toronto. We landed, as planned, on the 1st of July. The weather has been good and the people are super friendly. We seem to have already bagged ourselves a house (A house! OMG! With a garage and garden! Can you feel my joy!?!?) There is still plenty to do before we are fully up and running again, but I'm looking forward to it!  

France; Carcasonne and the Cathar Trail

 

Germany; Visit with our friend Martijn in Berlin

 

Italy: Ruins of Pompeii, Herculaneum

 

Poland; Historical city of Wroclaw

 

RPS day to Wicken Fen

At the start of 2015, I gave myself a membership to the RPS. I wanted to find out if joining such a big and venerable organisation would give me a much-needed push to further my photography skills. In short, the answer was no. Over the whole of last year, I ashamedly admit that I only managed to join them for one (1!) event and then made a write-up which I didn't post. It was a field trip to Wicken Fen, a nature reserve maintained by the National Trust. Well, as last year has been quite terrible for me photography-wise (I was too busy with other stuff, honest!) I might as well post this blog anyway to get rid of that horrendous back-log and start 2016 semi-afresh. **** The day was grey and only full of the promise of rain. At the Wicken Fen reserve, we were greeted by Ann and it was very soon thereafter that everyone had gone their own way, spread out over a vast area. So far for meeting new people... For the day, I had brought my Canon 50D with a telezoom and wideangle lens, my Praktica Super TL-2 35 mm camera with a 82-200mm zoom lens, a 28mm wide angle and a 135mm, which was completely unnecessary and a Toy camera. The roll in the Toy Camera will not be developed till the roll is full, so I'm sorry there won't be any images of that (yet). The day was grey and dreary and even though there were a few rays of sunshine peeping through the clouds - it remained overcast and dull throughout. I followed the boardwalk for a while, ending up in one of the hides where a rat was busy pilfering the content of a peanut stuffed bird feeder. Every 2-3 minutes or so he would scuttle up, jump over, maneuvered a nut out of the feeder and jumped away with it's mouth full. What a clever little thing! I believe most of the RPS photographers present on that day will have a few photos of this little bugger - he / she was the talk of the event! _MG_8719 _MG_8707                   As the day was so grey, the wildlife failed to make an appearance - or so I was told afterwards. I do not possess the correct equipment, nor the wish to stake out a spot for hours to photograph a species of bird I would not be able to identify. Instead, I stuck to landscape images / sceneries.  
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I'm such a sucker for God-rays....

  The one 'trouble' I had was the lack of normal daylight film in my fridge. Hopelessly devoid of stock, I made do with 400 ISO Black and white film (Ilford Hp5) and I have to say, I might actually like the results! Next time I might be able to actually USE the tripod I brought and not have the horrendous unintentional shake in the image..... until then, here's my best efforts. 12-1-2 14-3 13-2  

Wet Plate Collodion Weekend 2015 – Llanthony Priory, Wales

Last weekend of the 7th, 8th and 9th of August myself and a bunch of other wet plate photographers gathered ourselves in a field just besides the gorgeous ruins of the Llanthony Priory in Wales, UK. We met up on the Friday afternoon, or rather in the evening for those of us that needed to come from far flung corners of the UK and Scotland (and Geralt from the USA) and we would start our wet plating on the Saturday morning. Getting there almost proved too much of a challenge as my satnav decided to give up 30 miles before reaching the final destination. Lucky for me, I found someone with a map! IMG_9907 Brilliantly arranged once again by Tony Richards (you can find his blog here), there was an easily accessible field for our dark tents, running water and a pub on site. I brought along my newly purchased and blacked out Eskimo 3 quickfish tent, a gift for my birthday this year, but still opted to shoot with my small half-plate camera as I know the camera are silverbath are in good working order and the plate holder is light tight. The amount of space in the Eskimo tent now means I can go up in plate sizes as I'll finally have space for that silver bath I still mean to build!IMG_9944 We started our Friday in the pub, catching up with old and new friends. The camp site was fine, the grass wet and dewwy and the night just a bit cold. Ahhhh Camping in the UK, always a joy!
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the stars were out in force!

 

SATURDAY

On the Saturday morning, we get started. The first few plates seem to be ok. Not without their faults, but acceptable. The first few go into the bin or on the recycling pile. I get a couple of good plates, but I also see some issues that I've not had to this extent. On the plus side, I've had a lot less problems with crepe lines. Some plates work fine, and I'll be proud to add them to my permanent collection.

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Like this 'staining'

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I love this one!

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Digital snap of the same spot

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Technically OK, just a shame that the framing isn't very good....

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As the afternoon heated up, we had a LOT of fogging issues

 

SUNDAY

I had gone to bed a bit earlier this time and set my alarm at stupid-o-clock in the morning, to start shooting around 6.45. Since most of us will be packing up and driving back home today, we won't have the entire day. Starting with a view on the priory that was popular with my fellow wetplaters the day before, I tried to catch the early morning sun as it passes onto the ruins. After a test plate on glass (which was an utter failure) I tried another, which I messed up in my plate holder, hence the damage in the center. This was 40 seconds on f22. I have no idea why I got that watery crap on the edge of my plate though. My best guess at this moment is that I may not have developed as well as I could have, or rinsed as well as I should have.

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oops

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Attempt 2. The sun hits the priory. I digitally cleaned up the sky a little, but there's still a lot going on there

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my Eskimo tent on the right - proud part of an eskimo tent line-up 🙂

 

Giving up on that view as the sun had now gone behind a large stack of clouds, I moved my camera a little closer to my darkroom. The rest of this day would be overcast but also less hot, providing us with less contrast and less fogging issues.

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One of several attempts

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also a personal favourite

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The last shot of the weekend

  The whole weekend has been an absolute joy - the location, the company, the activities, the food and drink at the bar.... even the weather. Good luck to Tony for trying to top this one next year, I know I'll be looking forward to it!

Wetplating with Wil

Here I am sat, on my birthday, packed and ready for a fun weekend of wet plating frolicking in Wales, poised to go our for dinner with my husband, that I remember my wet plating session with Wil. So I'll just leave these here.....   112-2   111-1 114-3

California Honeymoon

Monday, May 4th

We take our own car to Heathrow, as parking there for 2 weeks turns out to be about the same price as taking the train. No hauling suitcases for us and we arrive well on time. The moment we try to check in, it turns out that I made a stupid little mistake on Sean's Esta, putting in an o instead of an 0, and he cannot be cleared to fly until we book another one on my mobile. This is super stressful but I am very glad that for the first time in a long while my phone just does what it's asked to do. About 12 hours later we are in the USA, collect our upgraded rental car and drive to the hotel. I am happy we brought out own satnav as I wouldn't have wanted to navigate the streets of LA by map at night. Or by map at all! We arrive around 22:00 at the hotel.

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Tuesday, May 5th

After a rough and restless night we wake up silly early and cannot seem to go back to sleep. We get up at 6.30, have breakfast at the hotel around 7.30 and off for Hollywood. We see the walk of fame and sunset boulevard (which is a bit of a...dump) but we're too early for most thing to even be open! After a much-needed coffee and a view of the Hollywood sign through a tourist binocular, we are off to see the sign closer-up.

We drive to the observatory through an amazing neighbourhood to a fantastic view over the city and hills. In the afternoon we go to the Citadel outlet shopping centre where we spend money on things we don't really need; apart from my wetsuit ofcourse!

We have out dinner at a diner, which was a poor choice and more for convenience sake than anything else. Sean is hoping to join a local Kyukushin Dojo for their Tuesday training session tonight. He can, and does, and I for one am very impressed as I sit on the side trying really hard not to fall asleep....

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Wednesday, May 6th

We're going to Disneyland!!! The ride over is smooth and after putting down $17 for parking we take the little tram to the entrance. The day start off great; The bobsled ride (Matterhorn) that Sean wants to go into, is closed for maintenance. We head into Toontown and get stuck in a ride that's breaking down! Then we find out that pretty much all the big rides are closed - in all fairness, there was a list at the entrance, but we were way too excited to get in to look at it properly. We still have fun in several silly rides, have a blast with the great purchase of a pair of  Malificent horns (small children are easily convinced you are a villain on a day off) and going on Splash Mountain was a baaaad choice. The Indiana Jones ride, as well as the Finding Nemo submarines were an unexpected success. Then, as a final stroke of genius, the park shuts early!!!! At 19:00 things start shutting down, restaurants closing and everyone gets kicked out at 19:30.....Boooo!

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Thursday, May 7th

After a broken night due to an alarm going off, we get up, pack our bags and have breakfast. We fail to find the address to 'It's a wrap' vintage shop on the satnav, so we point it toward Jack's Surf outlet instead. We find it (disappointing), we find a secondhand bookshop nearby (also disappointing) and finally and most wonderful antique shop, filled with goodies. Ellie, the owner of Gramma's Attic is lovely (and also went to the early-closing Disneyland yesterday) and we end up taking away a gorgeous black dress and a 1920's-1930's ice cream scoop. We then continue to Huntington beach where we have a great lunch at a 'good food' place and shop somewhat for bikini's and surfboards. The weather is cloudy and a little chilly and there is no waves.

Later in the afternoon we take the I-5 south to San Diego. Along the way we managed to slow puncture the front tire, which we keep filling up and after checking into the hotel we exchange the car at Dollar rental. Since we're already in that area we go into Old Town for some Mexican food.

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Friday, May 8th

Tonight, and this morning in San Diego it doesn't just rain - it pours! Bad news for us is that this means that we cannot go surfing, unless we'd like to risk infections and/ or becoming very ill. Apparently, when it rains after a dry spell, all the crap from the city washes into the sea. Not only that, they get the rubbish from Mexico on top of that! Needless to say, we stay on dry land today. We talk a while with a surf dude at 'the Surf Bunker' named Travis, who recommends going to the Wavehouse further down the road. With our luck though, its closed! Closed!!

Thank goodness there is an arcade next door that is open and we throw some quarters at our misery. Afterwards, we drive to San Diego antique district where we have beautiful burritos for lunch / early dinner and shop around a little. Sean even manages to find some retro games to take home. We then ask the satnav to take us to a cinema, to have a look if there is anything we want to see perhaps, it guides us to Sea World... which is closed....and after resetting the directions to another cinema it doesn't have anything we'd like to see.

Back at the hotel, we walk to a pizza place for cake and margaritas and quickly jump into the hotel pool before it shuts for the night.

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Saturday, May 9th

We check out of our hotel in the morning, drive to the same Japanese-run fruit-and-crepe place we had breakfast yesterday and then go on to a secondhand board shop we passed yesterday (you may have guessed by now that it was closed at that time). Sean finds himself a great board, just what he was looking for. Across the road there is a kite festival going on and we decide to join in by getting ourselves a dragon kite. We have ice creams, enjoy the show and the great weather for today the sun is out in force!

At around 13:00 we set our satnav back to LA, first to the Anaheim center of photography. We arrive around 16:30 - it looks abandoned and it's... CLOSED! When the machine wants to charge us $14 for the privilege of undergoing this nonsense, I throw a little fit and get back in the car without paying the ticket. Lucky for me, a kind lady actually lets us out of the complex. We try the Getty instead. The satnav guides us to the rear of the building and after some cursing, swearing and honking by my fellow road users, we arrive at the Getty. Which is open!

We view their photography collection on display and after being thoroughly disappointed with the (second half of the) day, we pay for parking and head towards our hotel.

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Sunday, May 10th

Today, we're off to the Rosebowl, a giant monthly fleamarket held in Pasadena, LA. We get up at 6:30, enjoy our complimentary breakfast, pack up and we're on our way. We get there nice and early around 7:30 and dang! They did not lie when they said it was big! We decide to skip all the new stuff as we won't have time for that and focus on the antiques and vintage clothing sections as those will be hard enough to cover as-is. There is some amazing stuff for sale on this market - some cheap, some bizar, some wonderful and everything suited for every budget. We manage to find some amazing things: I get a short dress with apple print, a small musical box with a dancing man, a flight suit and a full leather sports / weekend bag. Sean finds a retro skateboard deck, fully made of wood and a bunch of retro games.

With pain in my heart, we leave around 13:00 to head for Vegas.

Driving through the Mojave desert is not as I imagined it. It's not actually very desolate with petrol stations around every other corner - and what's up with those little fences next to the Motorway? Are they afraid people will wander off into nowhere? We stop a few times and reach Vegas around 18:00. We booked a room at the Luxor (the pyramid) and after refreshing ourselves, I change into my old new black Cinderella dress for dinner and we take a walk on the strip.

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Monday, May 11th

We agree that Vegas is a little like Disneyland meets Times Square; the buildings are mad and everything is expensive around here. Even though we are - I am - happy to have seen it, we're also happy to have been here at night time. It looks so .... dead... during the day! We drive towards the North side of the strip to try and find the 'World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop' from the TV show. It's a lot smaller than we thought it would be and after checking out the other shops as well, just across the street we set off for Death Valley.

Today's drive will be out longest, according to our planning so wanting a fairly early start we leave Vegas at 11:00. Within the hour, there are plains with Joshua trees, mountain ranges and vast open spaces of hostile rocky terrain. We see sand dunes, salt flats, gravel pits, dust plain, dust devils and snowy hilltops. This is amazing and I am a little sad that I 'only' brought my medium format camera with me, instead of a proper proper old big one.

We get to our destination, a hotel at a half-way point at around 20:30, half an hour before reception closes for the night. We settle in with some store-bought cheesecake and a B horror movie. And I can tell you that watching a B-horror movie, set in a small town in the middle of nowhere is NOT a good thing to watch when staying overnight in a small town in the middle of nowhere!

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Tuesday, May 12th

After a restless night we pack up and go find breakfast in the nearest town. We have a look around some small shops, get a drink in the saloon (it has horse ties and swinging doors and everything!) and set course for the General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park. Our hotel keeper advised us a different route than satnav wanted us to take, so we drove for many a mile through orange growing country before going off into the hills again. Along the way we stop at a lovely antiques shop where I manage to find a few stereo cards to add to my ever growing collection.

Going through Sequoia National Park is tough - an hours of slowly winding upwards, fortunately with stunning views to easy my pain. We reach the old man around 17:00, have a good look around - but not too good as it's freezing cold up here - and then go find food and out hotel for the night.

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Sherman! Buddy!

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Wednesday, May 13th

We leave the hotel early in the morning, after some amazing complimentary self-cooked waffles. Today we'll be setting course for Yosemite National Park. We drive a while and stop along the way at some random antique shops and I manage to find myself a beast of an X-ray lens. I don't yet know how I should be using it - let's just say it won't be for original purposes. We reach Yosemite proper at around 13:00, drive a little further in but do not really have time to do a walk as we had planned as we'll need to reach San Fran by the end of today. We also managed to miss inspiration point, but I suppose the Tunnel view vantage point more than made up for that. We also have our lunch there, on a log next to a stream....ahhh. Relaxation! It's out first 'normal' sandwiches we have had here and the desert we got - a cake/custard vanilla/ banana whatever sort of pudding mix - is utterly delicious!

Then, we drive another 3+ hours to San Francisco, arriving at around 19:30. We check online for tickets to Alcatraz, but as it turns out, May is not a slow season around here and everything is sold out! The night tours are even sold out for the next 2 months! Oh well, we head out for a slice of pizza and dive into a book shop that's open late.

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Thursday, May 14th

Today we'll be spending the day in San Fransisco. Going up Polk street, we have breakfast at a 'French' Boulangerie place, having coffee from a cereal bowl (honestly, these Americans! ;-)) Visiting the Fisherman's Wharf, we quickly determine this is NOT for us as the area is overly touristy and walking onwards to the Alcatraz landing dock we see that normal tours are booked up till Tuesday. Sean does receive some kind compliments on his wooden skateboard deck from the local bums, which is nice. We take a street tram towards Mission street - we are hoping to find a skate shop that can fit Sean's deck with some trucks and wheels. We find one and he gets the work done.

We carry on a few blocks to a bunch of Antique and thrift stores before going towards Chinatown. Chinatown, like Fisherman's wharf is unfortunately yet another tourist trap. We do sit in at a great teashop, having a full-on taster session with the salesgirl. We opted for dinner at the 'Great Eastern Restaurant', a place where apparently Barack Obama once had a Dim Sum take-away, or so the proudly displayed newspaper clipping tells us. We walk back to the Hotel UP the giant sloping hills, wandering what it would be like to live here (and having to carry shopping bags up this hill....and what if you forgot the butter....?)

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Friday, May 15th

We walk over to Lombard street 'the crookedest street in the world' - which was yet again, disappointing. We walk back to our hotel to check out and head over to Santa Cruz instead. Sadly for us, there's not much surf going on. The winds are fierce (and a bit chilly). We park at the hotel, take a walk on the pier where we spot a group of sea lions chilling out, go over the boardwalk and have some hotdogs for lunch. The place we decided to sit down at, the picnic basket also does these amazing wild flavours of ice cream, most of them from local farms.

We take the car for a drive round some other beaches in the area and to a local surfshop to get Sean a boardbag. We visit the museum of surfing at the lighthouse and then lo and behold! There's waves!! Sean heads out on his new board, we meet a new surfer in the area and help him out a bit. Afterwards, we head into the Santa Cruz main street for dinner and some late night shopping. I could get used to shops being open till 22:00!

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Saturday, May 16th

We have some complimentary waffles and head out to the beach. Again, no waves! Instead, we check out some of the sample sales advertised along the roads and make several unplanned stops for yard sales in between. At a local surfshop, Sean finds some tiny fins to go with his board and I find some vintage clothing to put on Etsy. Win!

We then drive South along the Coastal Highway, stopping countless times to take photos. When we arrive at our hotel for tonight, the historic Santa Maria Inn, it turns out that it played host to the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Eva Gardner, Judy Garland, etc etc. No=one famous stayed in our room, however. We take it easy for the night as there is nothing to do or see in this area.

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Sunday, May 17th

We get up quite late and re-pack all of our stuff. My hand luggage now has a killer weight due to that massive 'radioactive' lens I just 'had' to buy. We enjoy a continental breakfast and set off to Venice beach, where we booked the last hotel of this trip. We are hoping to meet up with James Cooper, one of Sean's former colleagues who lives somewhere in the area. We arrive fairly early and after a bit of faff parking the car, we walk up to Santa Monica Boulevard, play a few games in the arcade and end up at 'Hama Sushi' in Venice for food. They are not the cheapest place, I'm sure, but their dishes seem quite original and sure were tasty!

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Monday, May 18th

It is our final morning and again, there are no waves! We have been unlucky on this trip with quite a few things, but thank goodness there was also plenty fun stuff and more than enough to make us want to come back!

We have out breakfast at a nearby cafe, complete with building site ambience. We grab the car, check out a few shops on the South side of Venice and then drive towards Santa Monica. There, we get bored real quick with the dime-a-dozen up-scale shops, but we do manage to find a massive charity shop. We have crepes for lunch and head back to the car. The car!! Where did that car go!!!!

PANIC STATIONS EVERYONE!!! WHERE DID THAT CAR GO!?!?!

Turns out we were looking in the wrong building.....sigh....

The rest of the day runs smoothly, dropping off the car, getting to the airport and faking my hand luggage really isn't that heavy at all. Bye bye California! We hope to visit again soon!

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Photography Presentation: Greg Funnell

Almost every single time I'm writing a blog post I'm wandering where time went. In this specific post I wanted to write about a photography presentation by Greg Funnell that I went to on the 12th of February, and that was already well over a week ago! Thanks goodness 'late is better than never', and his work has not gone out of fashion in this short time span. This talk was organised by the Phocus group. From his website www.gregfunnell.com:   "Greg studied History and War Studies at Kings College London before moving into photography. He's since  spent the last 8 years working for clients that include Vanity Fair, The Sunday Times Magazine, The Guardian, the Financial Times, the Washington Post. Shooting everything from commissioned celebrity portraits, to travel assignments, in-depth documentary features and development work in the field for NGOs. He also works in the commercial and advertising sector producing campaigns and content for clients on international campaigns, especially in the travel, lifestyle and adventure industries. His work for charities and NGO’s in the UK and abroad, involves being relied upon to deliver the goods in often unstable environments. Having worked across Africa, South East Asia and Latin America for clients such as Save the Children, ActionAid and WWF."   As the talk began, I felt a little bit like an intruder as I was the only non (phd) student present. The talk was interesting: Greg told us about his life so far (he's only in his early 30's), how he got into photo journalism by starting at the college newspaper, taking silly risks like going abroad without a solid plan and getting caught up in crossfires and learning on the job. He presented us with tips to get into the trade, amusing anecdotes about people he photographed and a short list of recommended books to read. He's taken a ton of amazing images so far, my favourite ones being the surfing images (I'm prejudiced!) and his portrait work. I will also admit to finding slight amusement in Greg's apparent diversion from his original planned story at times - it's so recognisable. I've only presented my wet-plating work twice, but both times I happily went on several side-roads to the subject we were discussing. Meeting Greg afterwards, I was a little surprised to hear that he has an interest in learning about wet plate photography. We agreed that come spring, he and his assistant could make the journey up from London to experience the process first-hand and perhaps even start using it in their London studio. I do hope he decides to do just that!   Featured image by Greg Funnell, you can see more of his work on his website.            

London exhibitions

Last weekend Sean was attending a grueling Karate weekend in Scotland, which gave me ample time to visit London, and a couple of exhibitions that I knew he could not be bothered about. I started the day off early to make my way over to Portobello Market before it would get too crowded to see the antique shops and stalls - and see for myself what the jig was all about. Sean and I had been at Portobello before, mysteriously every single time on a Sunday - whilst all the antique and secondhand dealers are out on a Saturday! Dang! I did manage to find a few nice things within budget, a LOT of thing were very overpriced if you would plan to sell them on and I was happy that a lot of the dealer were willing to haggle. I ended up coming away with 2 antique human glass eyes, a blue and a brown one, both which I chose because of the nice realistic coloration and veining - and a bone turned pull. I initially thought it to be a thread holder, but the seller thought it might have been a chord puller for an early electrical appliance or servant caller. Either way, it's a good shape and I adore the heavy stained lines of the material on the smooth sides. IMG_5991 IMG_5993 I continued to the Science Museum at Exhibition Road to see the RPS exhibition: 'Drawn by Light' which celebrates photography in many different forms. There are many famous old images on display, as well as Talbot's 'mousetrap' cameras and more recent work by well-known RPS members. Each room has been given a theme, room 1 is continuity and change, room 2 optimism and progress, room 3 personal vision. It was beautiful to see some of the images of the old maters that are so rarely on display and the marvel at the quality of a print that has been preserved for well over a 100 years. I have been inspired to seek out information on other printing processes where the Vivex, autochromes and colour carbon printing take the forefront. I know that the curators tried to tie some images / themes together, but I have to admit that it was altogether too easy to forget that and admire the work directly in front of one's face. Some of the images are rather small though and when it gets busy, you may struggle to move around at your own pace. Should you be interested to go and see it for yourself, Drawn by Light runs to March 1st, 2015 at the Science Museum (2nd Floor) IMAG0305 Right next to it, there was an exhibition of Nick Hedges' photography for Shelter. His images, taken in the last 60's - early 70's of slums in the UK were quite impressive. There is just no way to imagine people actually living like that, with children, whilst government officials know of their situation. It is therefore quite sad that you know that there are plenty of people today is similar - or even worse!- situations, making the work of Shelter and other voluntary organisations like them, all the more valuable. Nick Hedges' images can be seen to March 2015.   IMAG0308   The Victoria and Albert museum, better known as the V&A, is located across the street from the Science Museum and my trek after lunch was a short one. I went in to queue up for a ticket for the wedding dress exhibition. Sean and I have been engaged for a few months now, and the pull of some gorgeous dresses to gawk at was just too strong!  The oldest dresses on show were stunning - with a mesmerizing amount of detailed handwork, my favourite one being a dress from around the 1900's, with bows of pearls sewn all over the skirts. Upstairs my favourite dresses were actually Kate Moss' dress by John Galliano (I was as shocked as you are, I don't like her media persona!), Gareth Pugh for Katie Shillingford, Flower Bomb by Ian Stuart, 'Jean' by Temperley and a creation by Ian Cooper and Marcel Aucoin. They were quite strict in the 'no photography' regulation enforcement, so I kept my nose clean for once. Thank goodness these dresses have all been photographed extensively elsewhere! IMAG0309dress designed by Charles Frederick Worth, circa 1880 - V&A john galliano for Kate Moss gareth pugh for katie shillingford Flower bomb by Ian Stuart - V&A Jean Dress by Julian Marshall - V&AIan & Marcel - pleating and rubber on tule The Wedding Dress exhibition runs to the 15th of March, 2015. As a last port of call I went to Liberty, as I had never seen this iconic British department store. One of my friends has worked there a while ago and the stories were always most wonderful - but it was not until I would see a TV show about Liberty that I was reminded to go and see it for myself. And I have to say, the building is great, the location is great, most of their merchandise is great... if I could afford any of it hahaha! I spent a little time browsing the vintage department and even though the selection was quite good, again, the prices were not of a nature to tempt me in the slightest. That's what you get from going to too many carboot sales! 😀        

Cambridge Darkroom – Photography Social – Big January Debate

At the end of January, we had the Big January Debate at the Cambridge Darkroom Meetup themed 'Is cropping cheating? where I was supposed to be one of the members on the discussion panel, sitting straight across one of the organisers Dom Reed, better known as Mr. Flibble on Flickr who makes heavy use of image editing in his photographic work. I was supposed to take the side of the purist, as a user of antique photographic processes - but I found it really hard to do so. Unfortunately for this event, we were not able to make use of our normal room at the Cambridge Brewhouse and we were forced to shift to the restaurant opposite. They kindly made space for us and pushed several tables together, pulled out some extra chairs and we made do. It was hard to try and hold a discussion in a noise restaurant, in the middle of a long table, and trying to get everyone to hear you, but as the evening progressed more people started joining in and it was great to see some new faces and hear some (new) opinions. The main questions of the discussion were: Is cropping cheating, any any techniques allowed, when does an image shift from photography into digital art. Dom point of view consisted mainly in: everything is allowed, the technology is there and why not use it? Sometimes there is just no other way to take a certain shot as practical, financial or timing issues get in the way. Sometime you think you got it right, but it turns out you are just a little off, what wrong with correcting this afterwards, especially if it helps the image? I do agree, but for the sake of the discussion I did not - and my main arguments were: It's lazy not to get in right in camera, there is zoom and sneaker zoom (walk to or from your subject) and there is such a thing as using the right tools for the job, researching your subject / location and timing, knowing your camera settings and making sure those are right for what you are trying to achieve.  Having a great technical advantage is one thing, but can you really call yourself a photographer if you shoot on 'luck' or just on post-editing and say 'it's part of your process'. Blurry images have time and time again been excused as 'artistic intent', but when is it actually acceptable? We finished the discussion on an overall consensus that no-one actually thought that post-editing an image was wrong - in the understanding that certain jobs might require more, less or no editing. Like wedding photography (it's normal for images to be Photoshopped) or reportage photography (it's frowned upon to edit these images) Cambridge Darkroom - Photography Social can be found in Meetup.com - and we gather every last Thursday of the month.      

New Year, New Resolutions

First up: Happy New Year everyone! I know it's not common to still be saying that halfway through the first month, but what the heck. I hope everyone has had a good Christmas and an even better New Years Eve. We did... nothing! Sitting at home with food and video games, because that's how we roll! For the new year, my resolutions revolve around one thing: more photography. So far I've been dusting off my photography books and checking my chemical and darkroom inventory. Since we moved into this new house, I was kind of hoping to be able to build a darkroom in one of the cupboards, or to transform the bathroom - but it's proving trickier than I thought. The cupboards are both quite small and narrow and will not allow for any ventilation to be put in place. One cupboard, which holds the boiler, has a window, but frustratingly it does not open. The bathroom has quite a good window but the access to the wet space is a little awkward and the shower head itself will not come so far down as to provide an easy rinsing solution. Oh well, I'm sure I'll figure it out. I'll be sure to keep my wet-plating activities outside, but it would be nice to get properly into salt printing and traditional darkroom techniques. When digging through my photography books (I do plan on reading some of them this year), I did run into some beauties I fully forgot about. Dutch speakers amongst you might appreciate this book for kids.   IMG_5530 IMG_5532 IMG_5533 I also found a photo Technology; Learning activities softcover workbook, for which I may have to try and find the actual instruction manual and a manually typed out collectors checklist of Voigtlander Camera's 1840-1970. The latter one is pointless for me to keep and it will make it's way to my Etsy Shop within the next few weeks. Should you be bored within the next few weeks and finding yourself in the Cambridge area: I'll be speaking about my wet-plating for the Milton Photographic Club on Wednesday the 21st of January at the All Saints Church Hall, Church Lane, Milton CB24 6AB, the talk starts around 19:45. The week after, I'll possibly be part of the discussion panel for the Cambridge Darkroom group, our discussion will revolve around image editing and the ethics in doing so. The meetup is being held on Thursday the 29th Of January at the Cambridge Brewhouse, 1 King Street, Cambridge, CB1 1LH, Cambridge and starts around 19:30. Well, that's it from me for today - I found a roll of exposed film in my Rolleiflex today ( I fear might have a light leak) and I should set to developing that / testing the camera. Let's get to work!