The fusions and confusions of a curious mind

Learning from the heart outwards, by kempspace

With thanks…

There have been people over the last few months who have gone out of their way to help me with photography: connecting me with others who can help, encouraging me to find my own style and story, sharing experience of putting an exhibition together and hanging it, learning more Photoshop retouching skills, and thinking about the market out there! I would like to say thank you to them. As any beginner knows, things can seem like a tangled rush of information unless others with experience can shelter you for a moment, and point out the woods from the trees.

I realise there is only so much I can learn alone, and after 3 years of exploring and making connections, I’m now enrolling in courses at West Herts College to get some formal teaching and I couldn’t be more excited. For me, this beckons a potential life change and I know that I can check in with those I’ve met along the way, I wanted to thank them today.

I’m not sure what the future holds (it can’t be known), but I know I’m not ready to stop, the image ideas are coming thick and fast and invading my dreams, and I need to know how to realise them. This is somewhere I didn’t imagine I would be when I picked up my first Canon IXUS 60, or my Canon G12 bridge, my interest really caught grip when I held my first DSLR (Canon 60D) in my hands. Training my eye through the viewfinder on anything from the landscape glory of the Gower coastline to the cropped, close focus grit of Hoxton. I learned slowly from many mistakes and still managed to enjoy the frustration!

For all those wishing to take things further, I cannot recommend enough seeking out others who share your interest, who have two good ears to listen to your questions, a mind that is generous in sharing experience and a heart which reaches out and gives encouragement along the way.

Thank you…

Jason Arber

John Vaughan

Richard Kalina

Chris Shelley: Hertfordshire photographer and exhibitor

Suzanne Grala

Louise Paige

Syd Nadim

Lukasz Warzecha

Related links:

Bureau of Freelance Photographers

Alamy Stock Photography has a strong philanthropic agenda.

Canon

West Herts College

Photoshop

The Gower Coast

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Dystopian Dungeness

Dystopian Dungeness

Dungeness was made for photographers. When they set down those boat wrecks just where they did, lay down a few of those disused, rusty, skeletal rail lines and festooned decrepit fisherman’s huts with holey fishing nets, clearly it was all for us. I’d seen some great shots and I’m a sucker for a wreck, so off I went with Jack the Russell in tow. Given that he has a pebble fetish, I looked forward to seeing a shingle beach give him some kind of mind boggling rush on a Sunday afternoon.

A stunning day, and people along the line of the coast were happy to point me ‘in the direction of the boat wrecks please’. My orienteering remains legendary.

I couldn’t decide whether to keep the beautiful colours or go mono, as both would have done justice to that dystopia by the sea (so close on hand to a lovely nuclear power station). SO i went for both, manhandling different colour channels in a way of not tried before.

I’m pleased with my experiment, but this was only one way of skinning that cat,I may return to the images for a different edit at some point. I hope you enjoy the shots, they’re here in my kempspace gallery. As for Jack, sheer overwhelm kicked him into narcolepsy on the drive home. I still admire his persistence in trying to find the one pebble I’d throw in a sea of others. There’s a life lesson there somewhere.

Related links:

Dungeness National Nature Reserve

The old lighthouse at Dungeness

Dungeness nuclear power station

Derek Jarman’s famous Dungeness garden

Edward Hopper and the High Keys

I look at the final edits of some of the photos I took at Southend, and I spy Edward Hopper jumping out from memories of loved posters on my uni room wall, and stamping himself on my images.

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It was one of those days where the in – camera settings, the light, and a newly discovered photoshop tool, allowed me to produce something in a style I love but had never cracked before.

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I looked back and found these black and white ones in a similar style from a shoot at the pier in Weymouth.

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There is something about the mannequin men and women.

This, and getting a favourite high key effect working on another image (the siblings on the beach) – has simply left me with a big grin.

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Here’s to sticking with the learning curves and bearing with the many shots you have to delete, because without this, you’d never recognise the keepers.

Macro Meditation

My camera is a tool for meditation, focusing my mind behind the views my eyes find. Taking time out from the multi-tasked, multi-voiced cacophony of the daily demand, I return to my lens guide. I scan for small things taken much for granted which shouldn’t be, things often unseen, seemingly inconsequential, but are masterpieces simply lost amidst the inane. Holding a quiet, steady frame behind the widest aperture, I trace macro sight around a small bloom’s newly disclosed detail, in awe of it’s intricacy and tiny structures. My close focus rests en pointe. My fingers move around degrees of sharpness until the protagonist petalled part is illuminated against a blur of background. I take the shot, then seek again. The absorption in this cycle is mindfulness in action; breathing slows, mind coalesces around it, and contentment seeps through the bones of me.

Macro Meditation

Macro Meditation

Jack and I Hunt Frames in the Woods

Through the park to the woods on the other side, I’m hunting dappled shade in the bright midday sun, the only solace for my camera’s sensor from the whitewash of overexposure. My eyes find possible frames and the world falling outside of them falls easily out of attention. Lets see if there are any shots to be had in this wooded half light. I’ve not been here before.

Two ‘it’ll do’ lenses in my bag (kit zoom and 50mm prime) and I find myself hungering after that elusive wide angle. Expensively evasive. Well, another day another dollar (…or several), until then these two are trusty. The Jack Russell is joining today, he never fails to find all sorts to entertain his curious mind on the trail, happy to do the walk-and-pause that frustrates most non-photographers. Perfect company. I’ll be hard pressed to get a shot without something of him in it, as he loves to hoard my focus.

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We choose our wooded path and further in it opens to a stream in a clearing… mirrored reflections? Longer exposures for smooth waters?… I see a nook where knarled trees, irises and water seem to form their own tight composition. I smile then click at the haven.

The wood trail continues, we saunter for a while and my eyes just can’t find a fit. More and more I’m thinking before shooting. Quite suddenly, we pop out from under the cool umbrella of trees onto a small country lane and into the sun’s heat. Across the way is clearly the road to the Wizard of Oz. I secure Jack to one side in case of traffic and play with focus on the fence and field beyond. He eyeballs a vintage car as it passes at lazy summer speed and I curse for not being quick enough to shoot it before it turns a bend.IMG_9421 wm

Despite the lure of the yellowed dirt road to an emerald forest beyond, I decide I’ve done enough hunting for courage, wisdom and heart recently and besides, Jack has scented something more interesting, probably a fox. We turn back.

Skirting the trail round just inside the woods, Jack and I get a run for a while until I spy a profusion of bright irises beaming from the murk under a tree. Stop! The contrast is perfect. Jack skids to a halt and I move around capturing green vertical stripes interrupted by bursts of sunshine bloom.

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The lane we had been on a while back must bend around the woods not too far from where we are, as the tinny melody of an ice cream van interrupts my absorption.  I stretch my legs from kneeling at iris height and pause. The world’s re-entered the frame, I’m thinking about cool vanilla in a crispily chewy cone with a chocolate flake and I know I’m done with shooting for a while. I’m hungry, though not as hungry as for that wide angle lens. Jack? He doesn’t care about breaks for ice cream, he knows I’ve got treats in my pocket.

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These photos and others from the walk can be found at:

kempspace in Hertfordshire

 

 

Lens-captivatated in South Wales means chasing climbing bolts is far from mind

Climbing at Rhossili Bay

Climbing at Rhossili Bay

The Gower coastline raises wonder at its beauty, the spectre of skeletal old wrecks, and the eyes of climbers assessing their prowess against the routes that trace the sea cliffs. For those who like climbing with as much of a salty sea breeze through their hair as chalk through their fingers, many routes at Rhossili Bay are launched from one foot on the sand whilst the other aims for purchase on the first hold.

Ramon Marin on One Ton Depot, 7b at Shipwreck Cove.

Ramon Marin on One Ton Depot, 7b at Shipwreck Cove, Rhossili Bay.

There are both bolted sport routes and trad lines on these sea cliffs in the Bay, and in between, the Vennerne shipwreck makes for a wonderful subject as the tide drifts out and leaves its bones exposed.

The Vennerne Shipwreck, Rhossili Bay

On trips over the last couple of years, I have been increasingly caught up in photographing the beauty of the places we visit to climb, rather than the climbing itself. With my feet planted on the expansive flat mirrored sands at Rhossili, I watched the sea recede to meet the horizon line and gently highlight it with silver. My breathing slowed and I stood lens-captivated, chasing bolts on the sea cliffs far from my mind.

The receding sea at Rhossili Bay

The receding sea at Rhossili Bay

If this wasn’t gift enough, a day spent further inland at Dinas Rock saw climbing routes surrounded by a seemingly magical gloaming, fit as a setting for any fairy tale. Within it’s verdant wooded enclaves, a river and it’s waterfalls ran through the rocks, the babble enhancing the mindful focus of the climbers breathing their way through each vertiginous move. Again, my attention was caught by the unusual mossy-green midday twilight whilst my companions followed the chalk-lit path to top out their routes. I think I know where my route lies.

Climbing at Dinas Rock

Simon Rawlinson and his gorgeous dog Tufa. Simon, Head Performance Coach at Make the Next Move, points out the climbing routes at Dinas Rock in South Wales.

More of my South Wales photos can be found at: http://www.kempspace.smugmug.com/Places/UK/Wales/i-dgGF7pG

More information about climbing in South Wales can be found at the South Wales Mountaineering Club website: http://www.swmc.org.uk/

A link to Simon Rawlinson’s blog article on the opening of Shipwreck Cove to climbers can be found here: http://www.simonrawlinsonphotography.com/shipwreck-is-open-for-business/

Photographing an Eco-refugi and surrounds in the foothills of the Pyrénées

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Abella de la Conca

I had the joy of visiting Abella de la Conca in Northern Spain and photographing the community of climbers, walkers, photographers, yogis and nature lovers who visit Nic and Ella’s Eco-refugi and it’s beautiful surroundings. I know them originally through a close knit, warm and friendly climbing community.

My photos of Abella de la Conca

Abella Climb is a not-for profit organisation run by Ella and Nic, which aims to establish holistic, sustainable access to outdoor activities in the local area, including rock climbing, mountain biking, walking, canyoning and yoga. They want to raise the profile of the beauty of the local area and are dedicated to preserving its natural and historical patrimony. They will develop a sustainable, permaculture-based approach to local land management including tending their own olive groves and fruit orchards and raising an organic kitchen garden.

Ella and Nic have renovated the Eco-Refugi with their own hands and those of a community of volunteers, to be in keeping with local character and it’s history. They and their two lovely boys live there, at an altitude of 1000m, in the heart of Catalunya’s most spectacular village, Abella de la Conca. Their welcome is warm and their knowledge of the area unparalleled.

The Eco-Refugi is part of the Abella Climb association and staying in it offers a contribution to developing their project aims. I will be going back with my camera and climbing gear for sure.

Find out more information at: Abella Climb

Sneak Peak at Behind the Scenes Shots of Honey Ryder @ The Rock and Bowl Festival

Honey Ryder setting up at The Rock and Bowl Festival

I was invited for a day trip up to The Rock and Bowl Festival by Honey Ryder last weekend, to get some backstage-eye-view shots of them setting up and performing. I have a penchant for black and white reportage and this is one of them –  a sneak peak of my editing so far. I thought I’d save black and white for set up, then colour punch for the performance to equal the power packed by the band’s set that day.

I travelled up on the road trip with Lindsey O’Mahony who fronts Honey Ryder, watching Hertfordshire turn into the dulcet toned rolling countryside of Shropshire. We met Jason Huxley, Matt Bishop, Chris Cliff and Tom Bishop on location and the band was complete.

The Rock and Bowl Festival was set in the midst of a very green and pleasant land indeed, and hosted a warm and engaged crowd ready to shake it out hard to bands playing it out loud. For me, this celebrated the start of festival season, a hope for a great summer to come, and a wicked chance to get my eye in on a new subject for my photography.

Thanks Honey Ryder, you rocked my world, and just about everyone else’s.

http://www.honeyryder.com

http://www.rockandbowlfestival.com

Photography Project: Developments afoot

With street photography, I usually go out thinking “I’m definitely going black and white!”, sometimes I think “high contrast shots inspired by clean lines”, and sometimes “grainy greyscale, more detailed but complicated to compose” . Either way, I like to get some shutter play in to represent the movement in the moment out there.

Southbank presented me on one such “I’m definitely going black and white” day… with a riot of colour. Plans scuppered. These two photos turned out to be my favourites…

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Wonder

The Southbank Festival of Love 2015 is back from June to August this year and I’ll be down to shoot it.

This “definitely black and white” thing made me think. Do I let scenes speak for themselves in how they should be best represented? Or do I continue with the idea I set out with, despite what I see in situ? The latter would mean giving a particular treatment to a set of photographs based on an existing theme of interest I had, a technical setting perhaps or continuously bringing some particular aspect of a scene to light…hmmm

I’ve spent the last couple of years teaching myself how to use my camera and edit photos by just doing it. It’s been very organic but pretty piecemeal. I feel it’s probably time to throw a particular concept around some shots; something to stitch them together which isn’t dictated just by the location of the shot or type of subject.

I think of my experience in psychology research, which would see this as moving away from an ethnographic stance to actively applying an a priori frame and concept to the task. I’m definitely less comfortable here because in the arts, it takes confidence to stamp a style and show it.

Well f*** it, I’m 40 next year, and worry about the judgments of others seems to vibrate with decreasing intensity on the neurosis richter scale. Aging does do wonders!

Exploration of the shadow in photography, psychoanalysis and astronomy

I was completely blown away at a recent Photography Gallery talk inspired by ‪Viviane Sassen‬’s work and her exploration of her internal shadow world. Links were made about the ‘shadow’ between an astronomer (Marek Kukula, Public Astronomer, Royal Observatory Greenwich), a psychoanalyst (David Morgan, Psychotherapist and Psychoanalyst) and a master curator of photography (Simon Baker, Curator of Photography, Tate Modern). It was a fusion of three fields that fascinate me.

Photography as the art of ‘fixing the shadow’, the basic coordinates and building blocks of photography. Photographic art as a way to symbolise the deep and dark fears in an attempt to understand them and to recover from the mental ill health that can occur from the inability to speak of them (Moriyma’s return to the basic blocks of black and white photography during recovery from deep grief) NSFW: http://www.moriyamadaido.com/english/.

The shadow (Jung) as the deep inner psychic space to which all unthinkable things in our experience, illiciting deep conflicting emotions, are split off and assigned to. The shadow as projected onto others, who carry these shadow distressing emotions for us until we can take them back and recover our real selves. http://changingminds.org/explanations/behaviors/coping/projection.htm

The shadow as the other side to the detection of light in the universe. The dark side of the moon, the dark energy and dark matter of outer space, that constitutes 75% of the universe and is unknown, or only ‘known’ because of its relationship to light – the absence of it. The disturbance that comes from staring deep into the hubble photo showing a chronotope tunnel of 9 billion years of the development of our universe – and only ‘seeing’ a fraction of what we are a part of. Not being able to know who or how we are without also knowing the shadows that we are a part of.

In all, our need to explore the shadows in our internal and external world, will only contribute to a deeper knowledge of ourselves and our place in the universe. This kind of cross fertilisation of ideas between disciplines is the bedrock of creating original thought, it’s exciting to see mirrors between fields. http://thephotographersgallery.org.uk/home.

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