27 February 2011

Small World

I have ideas to create a small world of my own. It came from an image I saw whilst watching an Arts programme.

The images I had taken of toy cars against the backdrop of a sunset had started an idea in my head.

I had been directed towards the work of Alberto Giacometti and this week I went in search of inspiration.

You can probably tell this is part of a model railway. I used my Fuji point and shoot on the macro setting as it could get into areas I couldn't reach. I love the gentleness of these images. I have already been asked if I have used a tilt and shift lens.

I also tried some images out in the real world to give me inspiration and this is one of my favourites.

I have been given many, many cars; some plasticine; ideas about how to create buildings and viewing Michael Paul Smith's Elgin Park Flickr pages. It wont be long now before I make a start on creating my own world.

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26 February 2011


The ability to manipulate glass into lenses gave Copernicus the opportunity to view the heavens and the movement of the planets and challenge the Churches belief that the earth was the centre of the universe.

It allowed artists the opportunity to move from paintings based on fiction/myths to more realistic and perspectively accurate paintings by using a camera obscura.
David Hockney in his documentary 'Secret Knowledge' examined how he believed artists in 1600s were using a camera obscura to make their paintings more realistic.
This image by Gerrit van Honthorst has a realistic foreshortening and strong contrast between light and dark - which is a characteristic of a projected image. Around this time many artists produced canvasses of a very similar size supporting the idea that the obscura helped the painter complete his commission.

The invention and popularity of the camera and photography in 1839 pushed painters from creating realistic paintings into impressionism in the late 1800s.

All of this transformation comes from our ability to manipulate glass.

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Camera Obscura

Building a Camera Obscura at Rosliston Forestry Centre.

This is not what I expected to be doing on a Saturday - but what fun. Rosliston have plans to build a stunning camera obscura and have enlisted the help of artist Michael Fairfax to help them design and build it. Whilst the fund raising is taking place there are a number of workshops running through the year to show people how it will work, its various uses and how to make one.

I was most impressed with the idea that the final camera obscura would also be used at night by the Roliston Astronomy Group to view the night sky. What a brilliant way to learn about the stars.

This was the piece of wood I chose to make my obscura:

I liked the shapes at the bottom where the bark had come off - looked like a city skyline. 

After a lot of drilling....
Cutting ....
Plus a couple of swear words, a bit of whittling, a great deal of time spent getting the lens at the correct focal length - I ended up with a this:
and this is where the lots of imagination needs to come in - to the left is a star and the light coming from it; the lens is the moon and below are two church spires, or tower blocks.

And to prove it actually works here is the image that can be seen on the screen of my camera obscura.

Michael was very laid back and incredibly encouraging. It was a very pleasant 4 hours spent doing something I would never do, surrounded by people who were equally enthusiastic and creative.

If you don't know what an obscura is - visit this: the magic mirror of life.

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23 February 2011

Office refurbishment

I have finally got my office up and running - there are many teething problems as there always will be with these things - but I am as happy as Larry. And I know that my work rate will increase now I have my space. Cats are NOT allowed in.

The new computer on the network is called CAPA after Robert Capa. The system downstairs is called Gilbert and George so I wanted to keep it in the art vein - but have it focused on photography. Little things please little minds.

Quick snap of the office:

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Had a great time Saturday night taking photographs for Lambone Splinter at their Glastonbudget Showcase gig at the Swan in the Rushes, Loughborough.

This was a great chance for me to spread the word about my photography and the promoters are going to use my images to support an article they are writing for the Loughborough Echo. When the piece is published I shall put a link to it. In the meantime here are a few images from a rocking Saturday night:

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10 February 2011


Did not have the spare time to take a trip to Nottingham to get my film developed. I need approximately 3 hours for this 60 mile round trip - with an hour whilst I wait for the film to be developed. I didn't want you thinking I drive really slowly.

With petrol prices rocketing the trip would not only take 3 hours of my time but cost me around £10 in petrol and at least £3 for parking - then I need a coffee whilst I'm there so another £3 and that is on top of the cost for developing the film. 

Need a new plan - especially if I am going to do more medium format film work.

I rang and negotiated with Mick at PHOTO about posting the film to him and enclosing payment and a postage paid padded envelope. He was up for that so after raiding my stationery cupboard and a quick trip to the post office I was only £2.05 lighter in my purse. I have decided this is the way forward. Only downside is that I will miss seeing Mick.

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08 February 2011


"Wickedness is a myth invented by 
good people to account for the curious 
attractiveness of others." 
Oscar Wilde

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Using the Bronica was lovely - I do like using film - being careful before pressing the shutter release, making sure you remember all the little things that need doing to safely get the film into and out of the camera, taking the film to be developed (or doing it yourself) and then having a look at the negatives/transparencies when they are done. It is much slower, you have to give yourself time to think. Planning is everything. 

I realised whilst using the Bronica last week that I was making silly mistakes - my fingers were getting in the way of the shutter release and I was capturing images before I was ready; I forgot to take the dark slide out - a perennial problem; incorrectly winding the film on at the end and exposing the last two frames to light - grrr. 

I know that these mistakes were made because I only ever use it once a year and that is always under very strict and tight time schedules. I always feel under pressure and not at all relaxed when I have it.

As a solution - I have decided to ask for contributions towards a medium format camera for my birthday. That way I can play and practice when the inspiration takes me rather than squeezing it into an afternoon.

Having used the Mamiya and the Bronica over the last 6 months I think I prefer the 6x6 format of the Bronica than the 7x5 of the Mamiya.

Right ... where's ebay

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Ali Lomas

Ali visited to discuss how she manages to find work as a photographer based in Burton, life after graduating and what happened after she won a category in the Taylor Wessing Portrait Competition in 2009 with this image:

 'To Feel Beautiful' by Ali Lomas.
This won the Godfrey Argent Award for the best portrait
in the Taylor Wessing Portrait Photography Competition.
It now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery.

My notes:

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Have been looking at some very cool things connected with the iPad recently.

Making Future Magic - is really exciting. A mix of animation, light drawings and graphic design.

I downloaded an iPad app created by Joshua Kessler - more than a portfolio but less than website. This really started making my fingers tingle and is something I would like to investigate.

Also looked at Wired app - a magazine in an app. which has interactive advertisements where you can add the product to your shopping basket, areas where you can click for more information, links to websites etc etc. 

The technology to create something like this that will then become an app is very new. But there is a way using InDesign which I began experimenting with. 

I need to purchase to Adobe Suite of Design software for the new computer and then my plan is to create mini apps for specific areas.

Ideas are:

  • Portfolio
  • Project based
  • Portraits

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It's all about raising your profile ...

On Friday 4th February I had the opportunity to talk about me and my passion for photography to about 20 local businessmen and women. The desired outcome of this is for people to get to know me and eventually when they have a requirement for photography to pay for my services.

The speech went down very well, I tried to be light hearted but still get across my passion. I created the speech on the iPad and used it to read from. Very useful. Only improvement would be to have a slightly bigger font for when reading it back - perhaps the ability to do that is there I just haven't found it yet.

Later that morning I was over in Birmingham to talk to the Governors of Burton College about the iPad. They want to know how it is going to impact in areas of learning at the college. This was great fun - because once again I was talking about my new toy and how it will help my learning and my business.

During the afternoon I had a call from someone that had heard me speak in the morning asking if we could meet up next week to discuss some work.


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I was reading one of my earlier posts about getting distracted and thought I would reflect on this. I am committed to making a success out of this career change and of making my business a success. But I am finding it increasingly difficult to get the time and space to focus on making it a success. 

The distractions have been occurring since September when half of the house fell down. Since then it has been a series of builders, decorators and carpet fitters - all of which have to be worked around. The house was taking control of my life. It was not helping me get on with work.

Emotionally it has been a tough time. Although on the outside I do not appear at all bothered, but deep down I know I am behaving differently. This is understandable - it is after all a bereavement.

Now all the house work is complete and I am getting over the loss I am finding ways of making my working environment more conducive to hard work and less distractions. The search for an office is finally at the finishing post. The front bedroom is slowly transforming into my office as I begin to put all the furniture back into the house. This week I will be purchasing a new PC and monitor, a desk and chair and hopefully by the weekend I will have the office ready to go. 

This will be a haven of tranquility where my thought processes are not being continually interrupted by the noise from the TV or my work being trodden on by cats. 

My productivity will increase. I cannot wait.

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Surface - Touch

Ventured out in the brief reprise in the gale force winds and captured images concentrating on surfaces, ones that invite you to touch. I looked at shiny, fluffy, furry, gritty and just plain odd.

Have decided to post the film as I worked out it costs over £8 in petrol to get to Nottingham and back - plus car park and the coffee whilst I wait. This will take longer but it will be more cost effective.

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