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In the Making

A journey in creativity

Month

June 2014

52 postcards – week 25, Play

52 postcards - week 24, Play

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to go to the Aegon International tennis tournament in Eastbourne. I really enjoy watching tennis (Wimbledon is on the TV as I’m writing this) but I’d never been to a ‘live’ tennis match before. Seeing any sporting event live, in person, is so very different from watching it on the small screen. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, but nothing really beats being there. The atmosphere of the crowd, the side-dramas and comings and goings are never fully captured by television coverage.

For much of the day, the light was not right for photography (and frankly the games were too absorbing to worry about making images). However, by the early evening, long shadows were being cast over the court and the possibilities were more interesting. At other sporting events I’ve attended, I’ve only taken a small point and shoot camera or iPhone. I’ve recorded the fact that I’ve been there, but nothing much more than that. At Eastbourne though I wanted to try to capture action so, I had my Olympus OMD E-M5 with a Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8 lens with me. The combination of camera and lens made making action shots so much easier.

I sent week 25’s card to my friend, Sue Hills, who was with me at Eastbourne. After Sue received the card she e-mailed me, saying, “It takes me back to when I used to buy postcards at Wimbledon of my favourites in action. At about the same time as you took this postcard I had become fascinated by a few fleeting glimpses of shadows of racquets showing up the grid work of the stringing on the grass. It must just have been the angle of the sun as I only saw it a few times.” I hadn’t realised the card would bring back memories of Wimbledon or that Sue had also been captivated the shadows cast on the court.

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Looking back to the past and finding inspiration

I’ve recently bought a scanner so that I can scan some of the hundreds of 35mm colour transparencies that are languishing in cases. Some of them are mine, others my husband’s and some, in yet unopened yellow Kodak boxes, my late father-in-law’s. We no longer have all the paraphernalia to properly view them; the projector and screen went to the charity shop several years ago.

As I slowly go through them and put the transparencies on the light box, not only am I reliving the moments captured, remembering the wonderful places I’ve been able to visit, but I’m also being inspired. Some of the images of mine that I’m unearthing were taken back in the early to mid-1980s on what I’m guessing was my hand-me-down Praktica with 50mm lens. By today’s digital standards, the quality isn’t that good. Looking at the slide holders, I think many of them were taken on low-grade 35mm colour film, as it was all I could afford. The lens I was using was not the sharpest tack in the box. Putting all that aside, what’s inspired me is that back then I wasn’t just interested in taking ‘holiday snaps’ (although there are quite a few of those), I was thinking about subject and composition. I suspect that I didn’t really understand what I was doing and I certainly hadn’t read any books on composition and subject choice. Despite that I seem to have made some pretty pleasing images. I’m also realising that my love for certain subjects developed early; the coast, boats and detail.

So what have I learnt as a scan back through my past? Photography has clearly been a passion of mine from an early age, (I wish I still had some of the very first images I look in the 1970s with my Instamatic!). I was developing my eye for seeing the potential in a scene or situation, even though I didn’t know much about the rules of composition. With a simple camera and not much cash I really had to think about what I took rather than snapping away.

I’m proud of some of the images that I’m finding. However, to find these gems I’m going through a lot of work that I wouldn’t even consider making now. I wonder how I’ll feel about the images I’m making today, if I carry out the same exercise in 30 years time?

I’d love to hear about your photography history and if looking back through your old images brings you inspiration. Why not leave a comment below and start the conversation?

 

52 postcards – week 24, High noon shadows

52 postcards - week 24, High noon shadows

High noon and early afternoon, with strong sunlight, aren’t always the best times to make images. However, ‘difficult’ light is all part of the creative challenge. Walking along the River Adur into Shoreham-by-Sea, I came across the shadows of flowers and grasses projected onto the pavement. I made a few images with the flowers included, but I found that they distracted from the main interest, the shadows. Even though the pavement was a pale grey, I decided converting the image to black and white made the shadows more defined.

Making an image a week for this project has, at times, proved challenging, but using the excuse of difficult light shouldn’t been one of the reasons for not trying.

This week’s recipient is once again, Juliette Wiles. One of Juliette’s current projects is on the River Thames, you can see some of the images from it here.

52 postcards – week 22, Fallen

52 postcards - week 22, Fallen

In recent weeks, I’ve been able to take a few trips to London. As I’ve mentioned before, I love to engage in some aimless wandering. On my last visit I found myself in Green Park, which is sandwiched between Constitution Hill and Piccadilly. Of all the Royal Parks, for me, it is the least interesting; just avenues of trees and grass. I’ve walked through this park numerous times but never found anything that took my eye photographically. In one corner of the park, near Canada Gate, is the Canada Memorial. This is one of the newer memorials and commemorates those Canadians who served during the two world wars. I like its simple, but striking design.

Walking around the memorial I noticed two small, fallen branches. The leaves of the plane tree are similar in shape to the maple leaves depicted in the memorial, a serendipitous coincidence. Recently I’ve been trying to simplify my images and think more about composition before pressing the shutter. I’ve started to explore the concept of contemplative photography and have found some helpful tutorials from the Miksang Institute. Keeping it simple and thinking before randomly clicking away are my new mantras.

Unfortunately I haven’t heard if week 22s postcard successfully arrived, so I can’t share with you the recipient’s work. If I do hear, I’ll update this post with a link to their website.

52 postcards – week 23, Bridge blur

52 postcards - week 23, Bridge blur

Week 23 saw me back experimenting with blur. I’ve made images of the railway bridge over the River Adur in Shoreham-by-Sea before, but it’s a solid grey metal structure and doesn’t really make for a particularly elegant or interesting image.

Rather than my usual technique of a vertical movement of the camera, for this image I panned from left to right. It took some fiddling with aperture and speed to produce an image that I’m reasonably happy with. I say reasonably as there are things about this image I don’t like. For me the sky doesn’t work, the clouds don’t haven’t blurred as much as the water. It may have been better to have removed them, so that the eyes goes to the bridge and then the detail in the water. Throughout this project I’ll continue to experiment with showing movement and I may return to the railway bridge, so watch this space.

Bridge blur was sent to Jesús Joglar in Spain. Jesús specialises in pinhole, long-exposure film photography and solargraphs. You can see his work on his website, here.

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