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The Beards of Manchester

9 years, 1 month ago exhibitions, photography 0
Beards of Manchester Calendar

Beards of Manchester Calendar © Gill Moore

Just a quick note about a great project called the Beards of Manchester. In aid of the charity Lifeshare, which is a voluntary organisation established to help meet the needs of the homeless and disadvantaged in Manchester and Salford, photographer Gill Moore has been busily photographing the hairy, hirsute and follically unchallenged in and around the streets of the city. A calendar has been produced at lightening speed with the top 12 stubbly faces, chosen from over 200 possibles.

This was launched last night at Common Bar, Northern Quarter, Manchester , where the 12 final images will be exhibited. At the moment the calendar will only be available in Manchester, but will be available online soon – so one for the Christmas stocking in aid this worthwhile charity. Gill is apparently having a well earned rest after her marathon shoot – and is dreaming about electric razors!

UPDATE: Since the original posting, the calendar has been made available to purchase online.

Buzzed by a Spitfire

9 years, 1 month ago cars, magazine feature, photography 0

Last night I watched the actor Martin Shaw retracing the route of the dambusters and taking a flight in one of the last two flying Lancaster Bombers. In doing so he achieved a childhood ambition. As flying has never been been my favourite pastime, he’s welcome to it!  But I’ve always been interested in that period of history, and love to see these aircraft in the air.

The programme reminded me of a shoot I did for Top Gear, where a Honda Integra Type R was buzzed by a Spitfire. The car was photographed with several record breaking modes of transport – the Mallard train, the Stena HSS ferry, and a racing truck – and the Spitfire happened to be one of these.

This is probably one of the scariest shoots I’ve done – not least because I was expected to get the shot in one run as the Spitfire was very expensive to hire. I think it was around £700 for one fly-past. This was a discounted price too, as it was returning from an airshow in Weymouth.

Spitfire flying over Honda Integra Type R

Spitfire flying over Honda Integra Type R at RAF Duxford

It took place at RAF Duxford in Cambridgeshire, where the car was parked in the middle of the runway. Using a long lens, I followed the plane pretty much as a gunner would have done in trying to shoot it down. It must have taken place in seconds, though the plane seemed to take an age to cover the last few hundred metres.  The noise of the engine was fantastic, and I admit I ducked as it flew overhead! But I was fairly confident I had at least a couple of useable frames.

At that point the pilot radioed down and said, “That was great fun – do you want to do it again?”  Silly question really!

After the plane landed we asked the pilot how high it was as it flew over the car. He said around 15 feet. As I was looking down, I can’t vouch for this – all I know is that it was pretty bloody close! Apparently as the plane was only travelling at around 120mph, he couldn’t get any lower. I didn’t challenge his reasoning.

Chrysanthemums…….or Chrymanthesums?

9 years, 1 month ago Garden Photography, Gardens 0
red Chrysanthemum

red Chrysanthemum

Every time I hear the word Chrysanthemum I think of the Monty Python sketch, Flower arranging, with DP Gumby.  When I went to my friend Lila das Gupta’s allotment yesterday, to photograph a few varieties of  Chrysanthemum, the picture of Michael Palin standing in front of a table with a knotted handkerchief on his head was never far away. Chrysanth’s have had bad press over the years, which has not been helped by the cliched petrol station flower. I don’t hate them. I might even be persuaded there are some nice ones. Some.

Lila’s plants were willing subjects for portraits. They didn’t make it difficult for me. Most were fairly bright, which helped as it was an overcast day, and they were not so delicate that they danced around every time a  breeze hit them. Perhaps that was it – they were just a bit bit stiff and couldn’t decide if they were artificial or not. So, should I have them in my garden…..?

red Chrysanthemum

red Chrysanthemum

Eadweard Muybridge, the Muybridgizer and frightening chickens with a torpedo.

9 years, 1 month ago exhibitions, People, photography 2

Last week I visited the new Eadweard Muybridge exhibition at Tate Britain. On leaving the gallery, I saw a note on the foyer wall saying visit the cafe and download the Muybridgizer app for your iPhone. I wanted it. But it wouldn’t download. I went home – no joy. I wanted it more. Several Google searches failed to find it. Did it really exist? Were the staff at the Tate pulling a fast one? Then I tried to convince myself that it probably wouldn’t be any good. This didn’t work. I still wanted it!

Finally, today it was there in the iTunes store. I rushed out with my iPhone to test it. Was it worth the wait? Probably not, but it’s quite addictive and fun to play with. So, my first results:

shadow 1

shadow 1

Shadow 2

Shadow 2

Polishing jewelry

Polishing jewellery

The exhibition was fascinating. There was a wide range of work on display and a lot was new to me. Before his experiments with time sequences, Muybridge made a lot of money in the United States from some of his landscape photography, particularly with stereographs. These were small cards with two photographs of the same subject, each from a slightly different perspective. Seen through a handheld viewer, the photographs were transformed into a 3D image. He also frequently worked with an 18×24 inch plate camera, and it was noted at the time that he cut trees down by the score in the quest for the perfect view! This has crossed my mind on more than one occasion in Richmond Park. It’s not specifically mentioned in the permit terms and conditions, so I assume it’s open to debate with the Parks Police.  Worth a go next time.

My favourite image, by far, was one of the sequences. Not one of the horses or athletes, which had the appearance  of  scientific experiments. Or the lady in a hat, jumping over a stool. Or even model 95, described as a 60 year old ex-athlete, who turned out to be Muybridge himself . ‘Frightening chickens with a torpedo’ must have been one of those tests carried out on a Friday afternoon for the sheer hell of it! It wins hands down for its pointlessness  –  and humour.  Good job Leland Stanford, Muybridge’s patron, had a lot of money. Unfortunately , at the moment, I can’t actually find a link to the image.

The exhibition is at Tate Britain and runs from 8th September 2010 to 16th January 2011

The Palace Art Fair and the New York Affordable Art Fair

9 years, 1 month ago exhibitions, news 0

Just a quick note to say that I will be exhibiting recent work at the Palace Art Fair, London, from 7th to 10th October 2010. Housed in the  splendid surroundings of Fulham Palace, and  arranged by the organizers of the Brighton Art Fair, it promises to be a great event.

I’m also excited that some of my work, the Pinhole Impressions series, along with 43 Gardeners’ Hands, will be at the New York City Affordable Art Fair this weekend, represented by Will’s Art Warehouse.

Tulip petals and Miscanthus sinensis. New work at the Palace Art Fair

Tulip petals and Miscanthus sinensis. New work at the Palace Art Fair

Images from the Manton de Manila series

Images from the Manton de Manila series. New work at the Palace Art Fair.

Clouds - new work at the Palace Art Fair

Clouds - New work at the Palace Art Fair

Car Photo – a classic magazine from 1985

9 years, 1 month ago cars, People 7
Car Photo Magazine

Car Photo Magazine, with Ferrari Dino 246GT ©Richard Davies

A couple of weeks ago I was handed a copy of Car Photo by my friend and colleague Ian Dawson. A supplement to Car Magazine in 1985,  it was the benchmark of automotive photography at that  time, and certainly influenced the way I worked. As a rooky photographer on What Car? Magazine, with barely three months under my belt, I remember flicking through a copy in my local WH Smith and thinking bloody hell!

Ian was one of the contributing photographers and he kindly searched out his last spare copy, as mine had disappeared after several house moves. What is great about this magazine is that the photographs could easily be published today in any car title – the only thing that gives them away is the style of the car. Unfortunately for Ian, as I unkindly reminded him,  the new cars of 1985 are now classics and could probably slip into the pages of Classic and Sportscar in 2010.

The contributing photographers were: Colin Curwood, Richard Davies, Ian Dawson, Dougie Firth, Mervyn Franklyn,  Martyn Goddard, Graham Harrison and John Mason. The Art Director was Adam Stinson. Some still work with cars and some have moved on. For any car enthusiast seeing a copy for sale on Ebay or wherever, do buy it – it’s well worth a read.

Lotus Esprit Turbo, shot on Kodachrome 64 ©Ian Dawson

Lotus Esprit Turbo, shot on Kodachrome 64 film ©Ian Dawson

The Lotus Esprit shot above was one of the most important for me, despite it being one of the simplest in the magazine. It made me  realize I had to persuade the editor of my magazine that driving 20 minutes down the M3 to a location at a test track near Chobham,  Surrey, would no longer do. Another favourite is the Citroën Visa pictured below – not a particularly exciting car, just a great photo! Both were taken on Kodachrome 64 (see the posting on the demise of Kodachrome).

Citroen Visa

Citroen Visa, shot on Kodachrome 64 ©Ian Dawson

The last shot is by Richard Davies – a Ferrari 250 GTO. The caption made me laugh when I saw it again –  ‘Two useable frames out of 108 exposures shot.’ I remember thinking at the time that shooting 108 frames to fill one page in a magazine was the height of extravagance. But with hindsight, three rolls of Kodachrome seems modest. Once  I was regularly involved in cover shoots  or big group tests requiring lots of action, I would think nothing of shooting four or five times this amount!

Ferrari 250 GTO on Kodachrome 25 - ©Richard Davies

Ferrari 250 GTO on Kodachrome 25 - ©Richard Davies

As an aside, I thought I’d mention a personal project that Richard  has been involved in for several years. He has been photographing  Russian wooden churches in the bleak north of the country,  documenting the efforts to save and restore these important buildings. A world away from Ferrari’s but well worth a look!

Helen Yemm and Thorny problems

9 years, 1 month ago Garden Photography, Gardens, People 0
Helen Yemm

Helen Yemm - and her thorny problems

Last week I had the pleasure of photographing the Telegraph gardening columnist,  Helen Yemm for a project I had just started. After we had finished, we chatted over several cups of coffee in her kitchen, where  I noticed a large wooden sign behind a door. It turned out to be a souvenir from a Q&A session she did for the Telegraph, and  I believe it will take pride of place on a wall somewhere, once a space has been found. In the meantime, I thought I had to get a snap of her with her prize!

Adventures with an iPhone

9 years, 1 month ago cars, Garden Photography, photography 0

My colleague Jason Ingram recently posted a few photographs on his blog, illustrating the use of his iPhone with an App called the Hipstamatic. This made me curious. Although I have owned several mobile phones with  built in cameras, I had never used them to take photographs. As I nearly always carry a bag full of professional kit, the photographic capabilities of a mobile phone have always been excess to requirements. That is until recently, after I finally succumbed to fashion and bought an iPhone!

On a  family outing to A Garden Party To Make A Difference, staged at three of the grand Royal residences along the Mall in London a few weeks ago, the use of a humble point and shoot camera became essential. The terms and conditions of entry to the event clearly stated that professional equipment, defined as SLR’s with interchangeable lenses, were prohibited – along with weapons, illegal substances and err……..tables and chairs! Enter the iPhone!

A Garden Party To Make A Difference

The Royal laundry still fluttering overhead at Marlborough House. But, true to the theme of the event, it was a good drying day.

A Garden Party To Make A Difference

A very British "keep off the grass" sign - and a typical response.

A Garden Party To Make A Difference exhibit

A wool coffin - kind of bizarre at first glance, but after a moment or two, it might start to make sense. Or not.

Mini Cooper with flowers on the windscreen

And a Mini Cooper in an adjacent street. One of the residents was obviously inspired by the alternative plant containers.

The offering from Apple  is actually quite a capable device – obviously a long way off the normal equipment I use, but nevertheless fun to use for snaps. So, here is another selection taken in Brighton:

food outlet on Brighton sea front

Food offerings on the beach, Brighton

Food outlet in Brighton

Food offerings on Brighton sea front

food outlet on Brighton sea front

Food offerings on the beach, Brighton.

Shop on Brighton Pier

Shop on Brighton Pier

Two people on Brighton pier

Two people I met on Brighton Pier - both without the power of coherent speech.

accidental exposures

Trying out all the buttons - and possibly pressing the wrong one.

The final two shots were taken in Walthamstow,  London, whilst taking a stroll around the  E17 Art Trail.

massag &

massag &.........what? For a fiver, it could be worth a try.

Ford Anglia Deluxe

Ford Anglia Deluxe. I had one of these whist at Sixth Form - they weren't cool then. Maybe this is the reason I haven't got a single photo of my old car - so I couldn't resist this one.

Conclusion –  I’ll definitely use it again. The only problem I had was with the size. I’m used to using large cameras – and everything on the iPhone seems miniscule in comparison. Be prepared for lots of fingers in front of the lens! And could it be used on a normal job? No!

Brighton Sea front

Brighton Sea front, complete with finger.

Garden Photography Course at the Royal Photographic Society

For the best part of 18 months I’ve been stomping all over Lila Das Gupta’s garden, leaving size nine footprints all over her carefully prepared borders and raised beds – all in the name of art! Or at least tasteful photography!

In her Gardeners’ World blog posting from 23rd July, Lila kindly says she has been inspired whilst watching me work – obviously forgetting the horticultural casualties along the way! It’s interesting when you work with someone in a professional capacity how quickly you pick up tricks and ideas from their field of expertise. Although not green fingered, I now have a lot more gardening confidence  and will be looking at my patch in a new way next year, when it is completely redesigned and replanted……. but Lila, as yet, I still don’t sieve my compost!

So, a quick reminder that Jason Ingram and I will be running our second course on garden photography on 26th September 2010, at the Royal Photographic Society in Bath. It’s aimed at people who have a basic photographic knowledge and preferably have an SLR camera.   (See the posting on the previous course.) This will be followed next year by four seasonal courses, at the beautiful garden at Mill Dene in the Cotswolds. These are also with the Royal Photographic Society and details will be posted on their site in the very near future.

Kodachrome – no more!

9 years, 2 months ago cars, film, news, photographic material, photography 0
Austin Healey rear badge

One of my last Kodachrome images - taken in 1990

I’ve recently been reading postings on forums regarding the demise of Kodachrome, a film which has been used by generations of photographers, amateurs and pros alike.  Introduced in 1935, it was available in various forms until 2009, when Kodak announced it would cease production due to a fall in demand. If you are one of the few who have any rolls left, remember you have until 30th December 2010 to get it to Dwayne’s Photos in Parsons, Kansas, the last place still processing this film, when even they will stop.

I shot my first rolls of Kodachrome in 1979 and was amazed at the saturated colour which could be achieved compared to contemporary offerings, such as Ektachrome 64, also from the Kodak stable. At that time, most of my professional work was in black and white and I don’t remember using it for commercial photography until 1988, when I started to contribute to Car Magazine.

Car was the leading automotive magazine of the period, and under the art direction of Adam Stinson, it produced some of the most innovative car photography in Europe and the USA, influencing many magazines worldwide. Adam favoured Kodachrome, so when I was invited to start shooting for Car, I spent many an hour negotiating the Fulham Palace Road during the London rush hour, trying to get to the Kodachrome collection/delivery point in time to meet the evening deadline. At that time, barmy as it may seem, film shot in the UK could only be processed in Paris. I think it was a 24 hour turnaround, and it was always an event opening each of the returned boxes and spreading the frames, in their classic card mounts, over the lightbox.

Ultimately, for me and I suspect for many others, this impractical method of processing was the beginning of Kodachrome’s downfall. As a new generation of films emerged around 1990 which provided equally great colour rendition and saturation, practical alternatives were established. For many Fuji Velvia, still in production today, became the alternative of choice. It was possible get this, and other E6 slide films, processed quickly and easily and in front of an art director in under two hours. Commercially it made sense to move away from Kodachrome – sadly, it no longer fitted into a lot of photographers’ workflows. Then digital came of age!

The last time I used Kodachrome was around 1990, when  I was asked to shoot a series of car books. After the first book, I made several calls to the publisher asking to switch from Kodachrome. He saw the quality of the Velvia test rolls I had sent, and (reluctantly at first) agreed to let me shoot the remaining books on Fuji stock. To this day, I still think this was the right decision!

Despite it being something that I currently wouldn’t have much use for, I’d love to see Kodachrome survive in some form, as it adds to the flavour and mix of the photographic world. Unfortunately the process is so complicated, I doubt it will be viable for anyone to try to take it over.

As a footnote, Polaroid pretty much finished instant film production a couple of years ago – but with the Impossible Project taking over what remained of the production plant, the concept of Polaroid instant film is still with us. (Fuji instant film has been in constant production for many years, but doesn’t have the same following). Polaroid themselves have taken an about-turn and have produced a new camera and instant film, the Polaroid 300 – and have appointed Lady Gaga as their Creative Director, so there may well be hope for analogue devotees!

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