Sunday, January 30, 2011

From Source to Sea

There is much demand for photographic workshops in 2011. This week has seen me at Budehaven School in Bude, Cornwall introducing digital photography to some 15/16 year olds, including being interviewed by them. They were a tremendous bunch of students spending 2 hours on the bitterly cold beach making some very good pictures of the natural and man-made landscape.

Clockwise, 1st & 3rd by Colin Rowland, 2nd Frank Whitehead.

Then at the weekend I had similar weather for a workshop ‘Making the Most of your Digital Camera’ at the Burton Art Gallery and Museum in Bideford. This was based or inspired by an exhibition of the watercolourist Shelia Hutchinson whose exhibition ‘From Source to Sea’, first shown in 1951, was in the gallery. The wonderful image above of Bideford and its historic longbridge is from the exhibition. Unlike Hutchinson who took the train, cycled and hiked the length and breadth of the Torridge Valley in the late 1940’s with painting gear in her backpack; we were restricted to just over 1 hour’s time photographing Bideford’s quay, river, bridge and quaint streets. The morning was dedicated to understanding the digital camera, shutter speeds, aperture, ISO, file size, exposure etc then after lunch the photographs were made. It was an exhilarating day, it was amazing how much was learned the proof of which was in the prints, 2 each, the participants made and exhibited in the Burton’s Gallery, by the end of the afternoon. The images will be on show until 4th February.
Workshop photographers: Janet Millen, Ian Penrose, Colin Rowland, Norman Tuck and Frank Whitehead

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Turning Night into Day

On January's full moon, Mike Bentley and I went down to Clovelly and onto Black Church Rock at Mill Mouth. The night was unbelievably clear with a huge, bright, full moon. We'd brought torches with us but hardly needed to use them. Walking down the track at 9pm was an eerie experience as, without warning, roosting pheasants would fly, startled, out of trees and old misshaped oaks would spread contorted shadows over the path ahead. At one stage we had to traverse a fallen tree, it's trunks width being equal to our height.

The forest had managed to keep the frost at bay but as we got onto the beach the pebbles were suddenly very slippy. Moving down the beach, ice soon turned to water and still further to dry stone thanks to the breeze. Travelling over a rocky shore is always dangerous and I wouldn't recommend trying it at night to anyone, the harsh moon light confuses any spacial awareness, the shadows blacker than black.

Black Church Rock was magnificent in this dream world, our photographs describe the colour far better than the rods in our eyes. The landscape format picture above is of me taking the portrait format, by Mike Bentley. I believed I could see well in this light but to give you an idea of the amount of light the photograph above was 400iso, f2.8 and 1 minute exposure; the limits of my camera without my (broken) cable release. It's noticeable from the image that the horizon isn't straight - seeing to compose is so difficult and focusing complete guesswork. Even focusing with torchlight or with the camera flash is impossible with this dark rock.The colour in these pictures is amazing though. The reflected daylight and harsh shadow is evocative of a hot, bright, summers day. However the addition of a coloured light in the above photograph and the stars in the sky do much to question this assumption.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Royal West of England Academy

I have had two photographs selected for
The Open Photography Exhibition at The Royal West of England Academy in Bristol. They have been selected from 1700 entries from across the South West. The Exhibition opens on the 20th February and runs until 5th April.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Year's Resolution

Every year I always make an image of some sort for a Christmas card. Sometimes it’s a physical card, sometimes an ecard, sometimes an animated gif; but these have never appeared on my blog.

Therefore my New Year’s resolution is to make a post of my Christmas image for the record and so that anyone viewing this blog who hasn’t received a Seasonal Greeting from me may get one. This image, taken during the switching on of the Christmas lights in Bideford was an experiment with Photoshop CS5’s HDR capability. Rather than combining images with a range of exposure, I combined a variety of the same exposure but with different parts of a laser show, people in different places and all of this at a slow exposure which blurs a lot of the movement. It isn’t a straight HDR either because that combined image was then merged with a couple of others taken from the same place, and some of these were made through intentionally adding some movement to the camera mid-way through an exposure. I’m really pleased with the result because it makes a very disappointing display, from a spectator's point of view standing in torrential rain, into a real light spectacular.