Garden Photographer of the Year competition 2011

This year I have been lucky enough to have a single image selected in the final of the IGPOTY competition and have a portfolio commended. The exhibition will be on show at Kew Gardens from May 14th.

The single image is a portrait of a gardening team in the WW1 cemetery at Le Trou Aide Poste, near Lille, Northern France. This photograph is based on an image, taken around 1920, of a team of War Graves Commission gardeners. It is part of a story on the Fromelles Cemetery near Lille, opened in 2010 for the reburial of British and Australian WW1 soldiers, whose bodies were discovered in a mass grave in 2008. The gardeners still work in teams, and move around various cemeteries in a particular region. Many are second or third generation, and are related to the original gardeners, many of whom fought in WW1. Kneeling on the right is Jean-Pierre (Jimmy) Macdonald whose British grandfather fought in the war and who settled in France in the employ of the War Graves Commission. For more information and images see and look at the Fromelles gallery.

Team of War Graves Commission Gardeners at Le Trou Aide Poste Cemetery, near Lille, Northern France

Team of War Graves Commission Gardeners at Le Trou Aide Poste Cemetery, near Lille, Northern France

The Polaroid SX-70 portfolio was based on a photograph I took at Kew Gardens in 1982 as a photography student. Using the same camera, along with newly-released film I returned with the aim of capturing the atmosphere of this building, creating a ‘retro’ feel, with soft, almost monochromatic images. Polaroid SX-70 film was discontinued many years ago, but new film has been released, made by a company who bought what was left of the original Polaroid factory. This film has its own peculiar characteristics, but like the original Polaroid, produces very soft images – optically and tonally. The Palm House has lots of shade and I had to think in terms of black & white as the film could not render colour very well in these conditions. The photographs are not intended as literal portraits in the conventional sense.

The Palm House, Kew

The Palm House, Kew taken with Polaroid SX-70 film

The full size images can be seen in the previous posting ‘Shake it like a Polaroid picture‘.

How easy was it to ‘Photoshop in’ the trees?

It’s strange. In picture terms, people’s perception of reality is often hampered by a literal interpretation. A camera never lies. I suppose this is debatable – the choices a photographer makes when creating an image  can distort  perspective in a particular scene. But this is usually intended to create interest rather than to misinform. Most of the time.

In 2009 I had a print exhibited in the Association of Photographers Open exhibition. A moody shot of St Paul’s Cathedral – unusual, but not controversial. Or so I thought.

View towards St Paul's Cathedral from Tate Modern

View towards St Paul's Cathedral from Tate Modern - Canon 5D MKII

“It must have taken ages to ‘Photoshop in’ the trees,” is the usual comment. It happened again yesterday.

“No, it’s one shot”.

“But there aren’t any trees next to St Paul’s Cathedral”.

“Look from The Tate Modern,” I reply. It sometimes takes a bit of explaining, and it isn’t always believed. Computer trickery is always assumed.

So this is how I did it.

St Paul's Cathedral taken from Tate Modern

view towards St Paul's Cathedral taken from Tate Modern, a few metres to the right of the original camera position. Camera - iPhone.

Technique – 50mm lens, Canon 5D MKII. I stood with my back to the coffee cart at the Millennium Bridge entrance of the Tate. Click. Simple!

Kodachrome retrospective exhibition

As noted in the post on 30th August, Kodachrome processing finally ceases on 30th December 2010. To celebrate the end of an era, the Association of Photographers are staging an exhibition of work by AOP members taken on this classic film. I heard this week that two of my images have been selected.

BMW 5 Series, shot on Kodachrome 64 for Car Magazine in 1990

BMW 5 Series, shot on Kodachrome 64 for Car Magazine in 1990

Austin Healey rear badge

One of my last Kodachrome images from 1990 - Austin Healey badge taken for the book, The Original Austin Healey, by Bay View Books.

The exhibition runs from 18th January to 10th February 2011. More information, along with travel details, will be available on the AOP website, though as I write, the announcement has not been published.

Two new exhibitions: Shades of Winter at Fulham Palace, and Red Dot at the Association of Photographers Gallery

There are two new exhibitions where I have photographs on display, both in London. The first, Shades of Winter, is a joint exhibition at Fulham Palace, with photographer Caroline Ames. I have 10 of the Pinhole Impressions series on display (see previous postings) and Caroline has 10 photographs of Fulham Palace, taken last winter. A large version of 43 Gardeners’ Hands is also on display. This runs from 24th November 2010 to 27th February 2011. For more information and travel details, see the Fulham Palace website.

Pinhole Impressions 6 - Fagus Sylvatica Pendula

Pinhole Impressions 6 - Fagus Sylvatica Pendula

The second exhibition is the Red Dot charity auction at the Association of Photographers Gallery, where I have two images on display.  This is an annual event  where silent bidding starts at £40 for all prints. All profits from print sales will be donated to the charity Photovoice,  a multi-award winning charity based in London. Its mission is to bring about positive social change for marginalised communities, providing them with photographic training with which they can advocate, express themselves and generate income. You can view all images online, or see the images on display at the AOP gallery from 1st December 2010 to 13th January 2011 – Opening hours: Monday – Friday, 10am – 6pm. Visit the website for travel details.

reflections, Grand Union Canal

Reflections, Grand Union Canal, on display at the Red Dot exhibition.

Cape Trafalgar, Spain, on display at the Red Dot exhibition.

Cape Trafalgar, Spain, on display at the Red Dot exhibition.

The Beards of Manchester

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.