In the Making

A journey in creativity


April 2014

It’s never too late to play

Play vb. 1. to occupy oneself in (a sport or diversion); amuse oneself in (a game). The Collins Dictionary of the English Language, second edition, 1986.

Play and experimentation can be the most creatively rewarding things we can do. As children, playing and finding out how things worked was fun as well as a learning process. As we grow up, play is no longer ‘cool’ and learning becomes formalised. As part of my 52 postcards project I want to experiment with different photographic techniques and equipment; ie have a bit of a play. Creating images in film rather than digital is on my ‘to do list’ for this project. I had plans to do this for week 15, but timings didn’t work out. However, at the end of last year I did have a play with a disposable black and white camera from Ilford. I eventually got round to getting the film processed and got the results last week.

This camera is as about as far removed from my digital cameras as it could be. Fixed focus, speed, aperture and ISO. I bought the camera on a whim while visiting the Photographers’ Gallery in London. The December light was not ideal for black and white, however, I spent some time wandering round making a few images. Most of them are unpublishable, but I like a couple of them. Yes, they’re grainy, softly focussed and dark, but I enjoyed the results of playing and getting back to a very basic form of photography. Simple, uncomplicated fun.

Trafalgar Square, London
Trafalgar Square, London, Christmas 2013
A dark afternoon in St James's Park
A dark afternoon in St James’s Park, London

52 postcards – week 16, Groyne impression

52 postcards - week 16, Groyne impression

Shoreham-by-Sea beach is one of my regular destinations for a lunchtime walk. I love the space, constantly changing light and sense of freedom any beach and coastline gives. More often than not I will take my camera with me. Even though Shoreham’s pebbly beach isn’t the most photogenic of places, I have innumerable images of it on my hard drive. Looking through them many are of the same view or detail and there are many, many images of the wooden groynes. On my visit to the beach the make week 16’s postcard I was determined to move away from straight images I’ve made in the past.

Up to now, I’ve just used the vertical blur technique on the Shoreham Tollbridge. Time to try some new subject and see how it might work. I wasn’t sure that the strongish light (the beach faces south) and the high tide would be suitable, but I spent some time at one of the exposed groynes trying it out. Vertical blurring is a bit of a trial and error technique and you need to make several images with a variety of settings to come out with something satisfactory. I’m relatively pleased with the result, but it needs some work. Earlier this week I tried the same method while passing through London. I may blog about those later.

I sent this postcard to Ellen Procee in the Netherlands. Ellen is one of the group of photographers I’ve been exchanging postcards with and many of her beautiful images adorn the noticeboard in my office. You can see Ellen’s work on Flickr.


Patience? It seems I’ve run out of it

My 52 postcards project has been on a mini hiatus as I’ve waited for a film to be returned from the developers. I wanted to see if there was anything useable for week 15’s postcard. While I’ve been almost exclusively digital in my photography for almost 10 years, I’m open to experimenting with different techniques or returning to film for this project. I had a few frames left on a black and white film that’s been sitting in my old Minolta for far too long and the week before last I dusted it down and made a few still life images in my garden. As a backup, I also made a few images using my digital equipment, as I wasn’t confident that my film results would be up to the mark.

For the last few days I’ve been expecting the developed film to be delivered. But nothing. Finally, today, I cracked. I blame the weather! Here in the UK, Easter Sunday has turned out to be wet and cold. With no incentive to go out, this was a perfect time to do some printing. As well as week 15, I also printed week 16’s postcard, so next week, two postcards will be sent on their way.

I am determined to use film for at least one of my postcards in this project. I’ve been inspired to do so by many of the film photographers who form part of the international postcard exchange I’m part of. In a few week’s time I’ll be spending some time in the Dordogne, France and hope that the strong light will provide ideal conditions for some high contrast black and white film photography. In the meantime, it’s back to digital and an outtake from week 16.


Sign of the times

52 postcards – week 14, Big sky

52 postcards - week 14, Big sky

Last week, I made a final work visit to the wild and beautiful north-west Norfolk coast at Snettisham. I was born and brought up in Norfolk and feel a strong connection to the big skies and salt marshes of the coast. As I was making this image, hundreds of Brent Geese flew overhead, making their evocative call, while on the exposed mud of The Wash, Avocets and Black-tailed Godwits probed the mudflats.

Week 14’s postcard was sent to Jesús Joglar, an analogue photographer from Barcelona. Jesús creates exquisite pinhole and long exposure images. This pinhole image of a red scooter, is a personal favourite of mine. Do please visit his website to see more of his work.

52 postcards – week 13, Alcúdia

52 postcards - week 13, Alcudia

After weeks 11 and 12 postcards going missing or not being acknoweledged, I was hoping that week 13 would be the lucky one; and so it proved. My image of a street in Alcúdia arrived in Australia this week. The recipient, Ann Cameron, is a contact from my more active days on Flickr. She has regularly commented on my images. You can see her images on Flickr here.

I made this image of a street in Alcúdia on the Spanish island of Mallorca, while on holiday a couple of weeks ago. The old walled town is a fascinating, typical southern European town. It was market day when I visited and I could have been tempted to make images of the bustling market, with stalls full of colourful fruit and vegetables, leather goods and beads, but this didn’t appeal. I like to explore the quieter areas of towns and villages, off the beaten tourist track. Aimless wandering brought me to the bottom of this small street. It’s typical of many of the residential streets in the old town and I was drawn by the lines. As the scene seems, to me, quite timeless, I’ve given it an old postcard treatment in post processing.

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