Sunday, March 24, 2013

New Age of Exploration

I’ve been inspired recently seeing new images initiated by the Curiosity rover and beamed back from Mars.
It’s so interesting that the cutting edge of exploration is a camera 36 million miles away, programmed to automatically take photographs, in much the same way as I shoot the interior of a cave on the coast of North Devon, England, Earth. Below is a self portrait done in the same way, a 55-frame sequence that captured everything the technicians back on earth needed to make the image; a combination of those frames, again much like I do with my own photographs.
see a large version here:
I had considered the concept of exploration and documentation a somewhat Victorian occupation with little in common with the contemporary issue based arts practice of today. But these images give me solace as some of the places I find to photograph can certainly feel very remote, unseen by human eyes and unexplored.
see large image here:
It ought to be noted that these amazing photographs where originally sent back to earth in monotone and a technician has patiently sat at a computer and added the colour, in interpretation of what we might see on Mars. I'm certain, once Curiosity eventually returns to Earth, it will hold samples of the rock and sand photographed and an accurate colour picture will be made. The rover will also possibly bring back high resolution colour images; now wouldn't that be something!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Artists Newsletter Review

Sea, Caves, Shipwrecks and the Rocky Shore

Landmark Theatre, Ilfracombe
25 February - 7 April 2013

Reviewed by: Peter Berry »
Currently showing at the Landmark Theatre is an exhibition by the photographic artist Dave Green who has been exploring, photographing and researching the history of the North Devon Coastal landscape where he has lived and worked for the past seven years.
Both the earlier, smaller and framed pieces (first shown at the North Carolina Aquarium USA last year) and the later, larger and frameless works show a consistent fascination with the subject matter of the rocky shoreline and its caves. The progression and refinement of the ongoing process in the direction of a 'greater realism' is impressive.
Combe Martin Lead Mine
Green works on location with a camera, often photographing a single place for as long as an hour and making a large number of images of his subject. In the studio the images are meticulously and patiently worked into a completed final image using Photoshop software. As the artist says "I am trying to make a record of a place over a passage of time in a single image".
In discussing his work Green says that we see details with the eye and brain which the camera can't see in a single frame or exposure and that means that the single frame cannot contain the richness and complexity of the original experience. This has to be created in the studio. Decisions about composition, colour, scale and the framing edge are continuously examined and adjusted as the image 'comes into line' with the artist's memory of the experience.
The later series of prints are very finely drawn with the quality of etching. The frameless edges of these larger pieces allows the onlooker to experience a more direct involvement with the subject. This experience is both intimate and dramatic. It is as if we are inside, in the place of the artist, looking out towards the light, the sky and shoreline, surrounded by the detailed surface and texture of these mysterious and timeless caves.
In addition to the formal and aesthetic concerns of picture making,the artist aims to arrive at images which are a true record of the objective and subjective nature of our experiences of the coastal landscape and it's associations. In this regard the artist references other disciplines such as geology, local history and environmental studies and in order to deepen our understanding includes maps and texts relating to the images.
Dave Green also offers group workshops and personal tuition. Further information about the artist and his work can be found at

Writer detail:
Peter Berry Artist/Writer/Lecturer b. 1936 Cheltenham, Gloucestershire Art College: 1957 - 63 Cheltenham and Slade School - Sculpture/Printmaking. Teaching: ILEA, Cheltenham, Birmingham (Senior Lecturer in Foundation Studies). Qualifications: NDD, PGDip Fine Art, MA (Art Ed.), M. Soc. Sci. (Cultural Studies). Exhibitions: includes Solo and Group Shows in London (MBA Gallery),  Birmingham (Ikon Gallery), Glasgow (Goethe Institute), Cambridge (Arts Council) and Leicester (LCBD). Lives and practices art in Hinckley, Leicestershire. Website:
Venue detail:
Landmark Theatre
The Landmark Theatre Ilfracombe North Devon

Monday, March 4, 2013

Samson's Cave

The spring tides in February were spent exploring Samson’s Bay, just east of Hele Bay, North Devon. Philip Henry Gosse in A Naturalists Rambles on the Devonshire Coast 1853 described it like this, and I expect it hasn’t changed too much since then as it is rarely visited:

"A little way beyond this point the traveller looks down upon a cove called Sampson's Bay; it is girt in with rocky cliffs of great massiveness and wild grandeur, too abrupt and perpendicular to be scaled, even by the most expert climber. An ample cavern yawns on the western side of the bay, into whose depths, as the tide was high, the surf was dashing, with a roar that rivalled the discharge of artillery. I thought of the fine simile of Thomas Moore:
'Beneath, terrific caverns gave
Dark welcome to each stormy wave
That dash'd, like midnight revellers, in'

A new friend, Alan, showed me the old mining track down, very overgrown but not needing a rope to safely access the beach. 2013 is the 100th anniversary of a shipwreck in the bay of a British Sharpshooter-class torpedo gunboat launched in 1889/90 but no-one knows for sure which one it is, and whether it was actually wrecked or just left to die! There was also a passenger steamer that ran aground here:

"Much excitement was caused in Ilfracombe and neighbourhood on Thursday evening  when it became known that the saloon steamer Alexandra, with about 300 passengers on boards, was ashore near Watermouth castle, the exact spot being Sampson's Beach." (Ilfracombe Observer August 22 1893 p 7 c 2)

But I was really here to explore the caves, of which there are many, including the largest of these Samson’s Cave. This cave is legendary, it might have got it’s name from an infamous smuggler said to have used it as a store house. It is probably the cave used for hiding contraband in the allegedly true story ‘The Call of Chambercome’ written in the 1850’s and set in the seventeenth century. A lot will have changed over 400 years, especially as the cave was mined for limestone and possibly silver up to 150 years ago. But it is still a fascinating place, awesome, sublime and majestic.
You’ll have to wait another few months for some finished images from here but the thumbnail images, or sketches are looking very promising. The top image is a sketch from my second visit and gives an impression of what might be achievable once I have spent some days editing, combining, stitching and merging the 128 RAW frames shot of this subject; over a time period of 65 minutes in a cramped position. I accesses Samson’s Cave just as the huge tide had left it’s entrance, sliding down an almost sheer, smooth rock wall to get in. A cave always looks its best when it is wet, ideally with water dripping from the ceiling. 
This image is the first, stitched snapshot image from further back in the cave which I made on my first outing. Although I included more of the cave interior in the image it reaaly lacked colour because the rock was so dry and the composition is a lot weaker that the image above, seen as I retraced my steps to leave the cave on my first visit. Below is an iPhone snapshot of the outside of Samson’s Cave which looks far from impressive or inviting.

"Another name which conjures up visions of smuggling days is Sampson's Bay - one of the most convenient spots along the coast for men who gained their livelihood by luring vessels to destruction. Sampson was a smuggler of repute." (Ilfracombe Chronicle Sept. 1st 1933 p 6)
I’m indebted to John Moore who’s website devoted to Hele Bay is a wealth of knowledge.
Also I include below a quick iPhone snapshot using the AutoStitch app

Photographic Workshops in Devon, Spring 2013

Introduction to digital photography - £50
A practical days workshop learning to gain control over your camera, shutter speeds, aperture, ISO, flash etc, setting it up for optimum quality under any given lighting, and making better pictures through composition. Numbers limited to a hand-full. I also offer it on a 1:1 basis for ½ a day for £75
Tuesday 19th March in Exeter (11am - 6pm) Click to reserve a place
Saturday 23rd March in Ilfracombe (10am - 5pm) Click to reserve a place
Wednesday 8th May in Bideford (10am - 5pm) Click to reserve a place
Sunday 19th May in Barnstaple (10am - 5pm) Click to reserve a place
Saturday 31st May in Appledore (10am - 5pm) Click to reserve a place

Half Day Intro to digital photography - £25
A 'sit around the table' workshop to get to know your camera better. You'll learn about shutter speeds, aperture, ISO, flash and setting your camera up for optimum quality.
Monday 8th April in Appledore 10.30am - 1pm Click to reserve a place
Sea Caves, Shipwrecks and the Rocky Shore 10am - 5pm - £50
An introduction to Dave Green's own photography. Spend a day with Dave experiencing the secret coast, hidden at the far ends of a sandy beach, full of caves and shipwrecks. Learn how to make the best of your own camera under demanding landscape and lighting.
Saturday 30th March 2013 starting at Ilfracombe 10am-5pm Click to reserve a place
Course Description Combe Martin pdf
Thursday 11th April starting at Sandymouth, nr Bude 10am-5pm Click to reserve a place
Course Description Sandymouth pdf available soon

Photographing your own Artwork 10am - 5pm - £50
I have a wealth of knowledge and experience of photographing 2D artwork, jewellery and ceramics and I'm willing to pass this on to artists eager to improve their own image making camera skills. Although this workshop is for a small group (max 5) I also offer it on a 1:1 basis for ½ a day for £75, or I can deliver the workshop in your own home or studio anywhere in Devon for £100
Course Description pdf
Wednesday 10th April in Bideford Click to reserve a place
Saturday 4th May in Bideford Click to reserve a place

Introduction to Photoshop 10am – 5pm - £50
Opening an image file and adjusting levels, contrast, brightness and colour balance. Rotating, resizing and cropping an image. Placing an image or images into a new file. Using layers and history. Participants will need to be computer literate i.e. use a computer on regular basis and understand the basic controls. Small group (max 4). I also offer it on a 1:1 basis for £150, or I can deliver the workshop in your own home or studio anywhere in Devon for £175
Sunday 17th March (10am-5pm) in Bideford Click to reserve a place
Thursday 9th May (10am-5pm) in Bideford Click to reserve a place

Intermediate Photoshop 10am – 5pm - £50
Using tools, masks and filters to manipulate your image. Tools used in this session are: marquee, move, lasso, magic wand, eraser, paint bucket, eyedropper, hand and zoom. Making a contact sheet and using batch production. Adding type to your image. Participants will need to be computer literate i.e. use a computer on regular basis and understand the basic controls. Small group (max 4). I also offer it on a 1:1 basis for £150, or I can deliver the workshop in your own home or studio anywhere in Devon for £175
TBA May 2013 in Bideford - enquiries welcome click here

Friday, March 1, 2013

Sea Caves, Shipwrecks and the Rocky Shore

My new exhibition Sea Caves, Shipwrecks and the Rocky Shore is now up and open for viewing at the Landmark Theatre in Ilfracombe, North Devon. I'm very please with it and it is receiving a lot of interest.
"....your exhibition looks fantastic! Absolutely love it! A massive well done to you. The work is excellent, the framing is great and you have presented it in a really wonderfully creative way..."
Sandy Campbell exhibitions organiser for North Devon Theatres Trust.

Opening times 10am - 3pm everyday. Exhibition closes on Sunday 7th April.