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In the Making

A journey in creativity

Month

May 2014

52 postcards – week 20, Vélo

52 postcards - week 20, Vélo

Berets, baguettes, Brie and bikes; clichés of France. For week 20, I’ve given into a photographic cliché and for bike. Last week, I was in the northern Dordogne region of France, in the La Dronne valley. This is an area of France I’m not familiar with and in many ways it was very like parts of southern England; a gentle rolling landscape with wooded valleys and slow flowing rivers. I made some landscape images, but none captured the memories of the week for me. Bikes or vélos, though did.

I was staying in a beautifully converted chateau stables. The owners run training camps for triathletes and cyclists and my husband was there to continue his return to fitness after his cycling accident last year. Needless to say I wasn’t there to train, but to sit by the river, walk in the meadow and make images!

Along the walls of the courtyard some old bicycles are propped against the soft limestone render of the stables. In the harsh light of day they looked flat and uninteresting, but the warm glow of evening light highlighted the rusty frame, the dried out Brooke’s leather saddle; soft shadows of the frame were cast onto the wall.

For some reason, that I still can’t fathom, the printed version of this card has a green cast. Although my workflow, from camera to monitor to printer, is supposed to be calibrated, this print hasn’t worked and doesn’t look as it does on the screen. I twiddled sliders, changed paper, wasted paper and spent several pounds in ink, but to no avail. Jeff, I’m so sorry that the card you have looks nothing like the image I’d envisioned, but I hope you enjoy this little French cliché none the less. You can see more of Jeff Soderquist’s excellent film photography here.

It’s black and white – finding contrasts on the Kent coast

Yesterday, I went to Margate in Kent, with photography chums, Vicky Lamburn, Sonia Hunt, André Jolley and Barry Falk. In England it was the end of May Spring Bank Holiday Sunday; the middle day of a long weekend. Coming from the south coast near Brighton, which is always a popular day trip venue for Londeners, we were expecting queues of traffic and difficulty parking. We got neither; an easy drive in and an almost empty car park. It was mid-day, the sky was cloudless and the sandy beach was almost empty.

Margate is typical of many English seaside towns. Past their heyday and no longer able to compete with warmer, cheaper foreign destinations, they have become run down and often deprived. In an attempt to reverse the decline, some of these once popular tourist destinations have been targeted with various regeneration projects. Margate is one of these. In April 2011, the Turner Contemporary was opened. A striking, stark building housing contemporary art it bookends the seafront with the contrasting, derelict Dreamland site. Dreamland was once a vibrant amusement park, a magnet for the many tourists visiting the town.

As a group of photographers we all saw the town in contrasting ways, bringing our own visual interpretations of the day. As I was processing my images today, I was taken by colour,; blue sky, yellow sand, colourful clothing. However, they left me uninspired. I decided, counter-intuitively, to convert some to black and white. Immediately the simple lines and graphic elements came to life for me. I hope this helps to tell a better story of my visit.

After five hours walking the seafront and streets of Margate we moved on. A short drive round the coast of Broadstairs. Evening light, beach huts, bijou shops and restaurants, the contrast to Margate couldn’t have been greater.

NB the video quality of this slideshow is quite low, however, I will publish the images individually in a gallery on this website.

Dreamland from Liz Outhwaite on Vimeo.

52 postcards – week 17, Spring in the city

52 postcards - week 17, Spring in the city

Think of spring and what image comes to mind? Bluebell carpeted woods, the light gently filtering through to the forest floor through freshly opened leaves. A Blackbird’s song rising above the rustle of the leaves in the breeze. On a walk along the south bank of the Thames near the Mayor of London’s office, I found this forest in the city. The fresh, bright green leaves contrasted wonderfully against dark, artificially light office interior. What would have been a very stark, concrete environment has been soften by this grove of trees.

The relationship between the built environment and nature has always interested me. Looking through my image library, I see that it is a reoccurring theme in my collection. Despite human-kind’s best efforts, nature will always survive in some form. Look around any urban environment and you will see all kinds of wildlife finding a home in the seemingly most inhospitable places.

Many urban building projects incorporate landscaping and planting schemes. Having a connection with some green space and nature is good for us, even if we don’t really always know it.

As yet, I haven’t heard from the recipients of this postcard. If and when I do, I’ll post a link to their work.

52 postcards – week 19, Light and shade

52 postcards - week 19, Light and shade

I’m writing this post while sitting under the shade of an Alder tree by the languid La Dronne, in the Dordogne, France. Dragonflies are skimming over the water as the leaves rustle in the gentle breeze and Jackdaws chatter in the sky above. This place couldn’t be any further removed from where I made week 19’s image, if I tried.

Last week, I spent another day of aimless wandering in London. I had no particular plans and it wasn’t until I’d left Victoria Station that I decided to explore some of the many parks Central London has to offer. Like here in the Dordogne, spring growth was everywhere. As I wandered through Hyde Park and on to Kensington Palace Gardens, I made a few images trying to capture the fresh green of spring. To try something different, I experimented with double exposures (something I’ve only recently learnt my digital cameras can do).

Aimless wandering was put on hold as it started to rain and I took shelter in the Victoria and Albert Museum. The V&A is a treasure trove of beautiful art and objects from around the world. It’s easy to get lost in its rabbit warren of corridors and display rooms. Each room reveals yet more wonderful things. This time I discovered the photography gallery and have been introduced to a whole new selection of photographers to explore.

After an hour of aimless museum wandering, the sun had returned and I walked out into the Museum’s inner courtyard. Like where I am today, water features, but at the V&A it’s a human-made construct. However, the effect is as calming and captivating, even in the heart of the city. Like today, I sought shade under the formally planted trees and this is where I found week 19’s image, Light and shade. The two metal chairs provided simple graphic shapes and their shadows added depth. As I was making the image, I was envisioning it in black and white as I wanted to emphasise the simple shapes and contrast between light and shade, human-made and natural.

Week 19’s recipient is Sonia Hunt. I first met her at a meeting of the Brighton and Hove Camera Club, where we both newbies. You can see Sonia’s work on here website.

52 postcards – week 18, White horse standing

52 postcards - week 18, White horse standing

Aimless wandering around central London is one of my favourite pastimes. No plans, just a knowledge of bus routes, an Oyster card and some comfortable shoes are all I need for a day out; oh and a camera of course! I don’t shy away from the regular tourist routes as I enjoy seeing London through the eyes of the thousands of visitors who flock to the city everyday. Seeing what they see and trying to make something different from the usual image.

Last Thursday, I found myself at the British Council office near The Mall and Admiralty Arch. The space outside the office is used to promote British art and culture. The current sculpture is White Horse by Mark Wallinger. Making images using or incorporating another artist’s work is problematic for me, as I’m using another person’s work to create my own. However, this was an occasion I couldn’t pass by to make an image. The sculpture stands on a marble plinth which, on the day of my visit, was covered with water. Walking round the sculpture, beautiful reflections of the horse emerged; the conditions were ideal as the light was even and no wind to disturb the water. In post production, I decided against a black and white conversion, but I did rotate the image through 180° so that the reflection appears to be standing.

Week 18’s recipient is former work colleague, Robert Coleman. Robert is an accomplished photographer and you can find his images on Flickr.

What are your thoughts on using other artists’s work in your images? I’d love to hear your comments and experiences.

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