Something to Ponder

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Of late I have been thinking about the cost of my making Photographs. It is true, film is expensive. But from a certain perspective you realise this is not a bad thing, nor is it a good thing, it is simply a characteristic of film and it is up to each photographer to define that characteristic.

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So each time I press my shutter button it adds to the cost. But that cost means something to me. It means that I have to give each image more value to balance that cost, to make that cost worth it. You could easily replace the word cost with personal investment. But because my photos have cost, they have value to me. Because they have value I labour over them more, I am more careful, I am more thoughtful, I love them more. But monetary cost is not the only cost, pinhole taught me this. There is cost in time as well. If I am working with my pinholes each image might cost me several minutes of my life, maybe even hours. I could have roamed a lot in that time, found many other snap shots, but instead I invested all that time in each and every image. And as I only photograph what I think is going to be personal to me, rather than what others will think is a good photo I take greater care in selection. Imagine you lived in a world where social media didn’t exist, and you only made photos that you would see. You would start thinking about the value of each image, and you start applying a greater value to each image. What I have found tends to happen is the results improve, or your enjoyment of the process improves, or both. To visit digital for a moment (and this is not a dig at digital) if each shot is theoretically free and you can make hundreds of images in one go, how much value do you tend to attach to each of those images? Not much, right? 9 out of 10 of them will get deleted or filed away to obscurity on your hard drive, maybe more than that. We shoot freely and hence the tendency is perhaps to shoot without value. Yes, film costs. It costs money. It costs time. It costs sweat and sometimes blood. I welcome those costs, I don’t see them as a negative, I see them as a reason to value what I am creating, to strive harder for a more meaningful process or result, to inspire greater patience and vision and practice on my part. I don’t want my film photos to be free because I would be afraid I would not value them as much then.

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http://www.ambientimages.co.uk/

In the Picture

One of the first rules I learned when starting photography is that you should never have your own reflection or shadow in a photograph. Well since I did not make that rule I see no need to adhere to it.

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This is my little Lee Friedlander moment. And if you know his self-portraits, particularly his fondness of photographing his shadow, you’ll see his influence in these images.

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So don’t be afraid to be influenced, inspired even. It is too big a world and life is too short to be able to see it all on your own

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And if you are not familiar with the self-portraiture of Lee Friedlander, why not start there. He’ll definitely change how you think of the self-portrait.

 

In The Picture 2

 

I am not out to impress the world,

I try to live my life in a way

that will make me happy.

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In The Picture 1

http://www.ambientimages.co.uk/

In The Company Of Trees

Trees

I have found it helpful at any given moment to know who I am, not to speak of where I am.

T1The Bends

Trees to me are the past, present and future all woven together in one place.

T2Self Defense Against The Present Tense

What is past is past.

T12You Can't Go Back if There Is Nothing To Go Back To

We can look over our shoulders and catch glimpses of it.

T4Lost In This WorldWe can carry memories ahead with us.

T8Long Way To The Light

We take certain forks and branches based on decisions from back there… but it is still all behind us.

T13My Gift Of Silence

The future is up ahead, around that bend, out of sight… which ironically is what makes it both so exciting and at times terrifying.

T16Not One Of Us

Not knowing what is out there, waiting, what chance occurrences or tragedies awaits, occupies my mind and imagination way more than it should.

T10Sit Down Next To Me

And then there is the present, where I find myself standing, the only time that really matters, in a sense, because it is the only time I really have.

T14Twisted

The Language of Photography is very much about celebrating the present.

T9For A Thousand Years

1000 year old Olive Tree

You cannot photograph the past (can you) or the future (not yet anyway). And my favourite images come from being in that present moment. The future will wait for me, it is right up there, the past I keep preserved in memory and photo, but I would gladly trade either to stand here a while longer in the company of trees.

T6They Dance Alone

They Danced Alone

T7 Horses

Horses

T17Perfect Life

My Gift Of Silence

Photography is a language, it is a form of communication, you – the photographer – have a message to impart to an audience (and the surest way to fail at this is to disagree with this idea). And as with any form of communication, the best ways to learn it are to use it and to experience it. I am a big believer in learning photography by seeing photography. I look at Photography books on a daily basis, I even spend a bit of time looking at photos on the internet though I do this very selectively and it is far from my favourite method of enjoyment.

T18Mother Of Violence

Nothing comes from nothing.

Inspiration is gleaned in bits and pieces every day from the things we read and hear and experience and see. And it stands to good reason that the more you read and hear and experience and see, the more you can create, the more you can think of to say and communicate.

T15Hypersleep To End The Day

http://www.ambientimages.co.uk/

The Guide Inside

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I have driven past the turn off for Anglesey many times, but never set foot onto Ynys Môn until now. When I visit a new place I tend to travel with my pinhole camera and one or two film cameras. Several rolls of films with different speeds and a 10 stop ND filter, to cover every eventuality.

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I tend to arrive very early and on my first stop I usually remove my shoes and just stand and listen to the location and feel the earth beneath my feet. If I am lucky my inner guide presents images to me, and I the photographer will do my utmost to recreate these vague snippets of beauty onto film. I call this inspiration. It is then that I decide which camera and film combination I will shot with.

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South Stack

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In the past I used to travel really heavy. Had everything arranged and planned the day before. Rucksack, camera bag and several lenses. These days I tend to travel light, it makes it a lot easier to concentrate on the art of photography then spending time on hardware selection.

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Surfs End

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I will stop wherever it feels right to do so. These moments are very precious as they can not be repeated on subsequent visits. I do re-visit locations, but by then I know what I will find. But that is a different topic and one I wrote earlier about.

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Two Suns

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Abandoned Beach Hut

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Abandoned Home

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Overgrown

Anglesey was everything I hoped for and more. It was a very spiritual place and I felt very much at ease there. As for me it is less about where a specific place is than what a place is about. I am so glad I made the trip……

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Self Portrait

For this adventure I used my Reality So Subtle 6×6 pinhole and my Hasselblad with 100mm lens and a 10 stop ND filter. Some expired Kodak T-max 100 and Fuji Across 100 all stand developed in Rodinal.

http://www.ambientimages.co.uk/

Perils from the Sea

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Iron Men Crosby

For as long as I can remember I have tried to figure out happiness in my photography and life. While I still don’t know what happiness is, I now know what makes me unhappy. Often we don’t know what makes us happy, but we know what makes us unhappy. Therefore happiness must mean simply avoiding the things which make us unhappy.

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Lily of the Shore

 

The place I feel most at ease, happy and free to experiment is on the shore. I love the Sea, I feel her power and her forever changing moods. On first glance nothing much happens, but look deeper and try to throw all your emotional baggage over board and just follow instinct.

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Ocean in Motion North Yorkshire

Oh how you will be rewarded with images that defy explanations. I love making images on the shore,  especially Pinhole images. And because in a certain sense in order to get to unexpected places you have to do things wrong, whether this is intentional or not matters little.

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Barmouth

As I become more and more experienced in Life and at Photography the harder I find it to just let things happen. One of the risks of growing up as a photographer is thinking you know how you are supposed to do things. The more you learn, the more you learn the right way of things, the more you can be stuck in an invisible prison. Knowing how things are supposed to be done can be anathema to creativity.

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Barmouth

All of our imaginations, our visions, our experience and knowledge have limits. There are amazing things waiting over the horizons of our minds.

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Talacre Lighthouse Point of Ayr

We will never be able to see or experience them all. We cannot find everything. Or think of everything.

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Seascale

But what we can try is to be aware of our own patterns, our own deeply worn paths, our own habits that lead us down the same trails again and again. We can try to remember that the right way of doing things can just as easily be the wrong way, and vice versa.

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Hoylake

The more you know the less you know. Be wise to remember that.

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 Infrared

…..and don’t fear failure.

http://www.ambientimages.co.uk/

Value and Values

What is the value of fear – What is the value of a photograph?

Joe

Joe

Some of my favourite photographs were also the scariest to shoot. That to me is what makes photographing people so exciting— the joy I get from it, and also from the fact that it is hard. Extremely hard. I think 90% of photographing strangers is just having the courage to click the shutter.

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Ben

I am not talking about long distance candid shots with a long lens, but being there and engaging with your subject, becoming part of his or her day, however brief. I either use my 35mm on my Nikon and Leica or my Rolleiflex with its standard 80mm lens. I am always close, visible and not hidden.

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Simon

 So what is the value of such a photograph? Is it in the selling price? Is it in how many people crowd into a museum to see it? Is it found in the many times you look at in a quiet, private moment and smile?  I guess everyone will have their own answer. I have mine and I also believe that placing a value is a slippery thing.

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Candy

It is not something that has to be defined to exist and it is one of those things that the more you try to pin it down the more elusive it becomes. Answering this question is the will-o-the-wisp that just leads you deeper and deeper into the swamp. The more certain you are of your answer the deeper in the quagmire you really are. Just tread carefully but fearless.

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Mr.Smith

It does not matter how experienced we are becoming in photographing strangers, we will always feel a bit of fear. Rather than seeing fear as the enemy, we should see fear as our friend. Fear is our guide. When we do what we are afraid of; it is one of the best ways to grow.

Jesp

Jesper and Ken

And should we be fortunate enough to make a half decent photograph and/or to be able to give a resulting print as a gift and it is received with joy and surprise we have achieved something special and valuable.

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Tom

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Janet

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Carla.

It may not have any great monetary value, but it can bring joy and could be the only evidence that that person exists.

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And yes, it teaches you a bit about a value that photography can have.It always strikes me to see how much a simple portrait can matter to someone whilst just around the bend people are drowning in photos of themselves

http://www.ambientimages.co.uk/

 

Going Back Pt.2 or Majorcean Memories

In a previous post I talked about how I like to go back to familiar places and try to see and discover new things. Well this falls into that category albeit it could cover travel and getting older and maybe a little wiser as well.

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20 years old and care free. Pit stop at a deserted farmhouse mainland Spain on the way to Majorca.

During my childhood I spent many sun-soaked and long summer holidays on the beautiful Island of Majorca. In the early 80s I managed to work and live there.

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Holiday Club Pontinental Cala Mesquida Pirate Club 1982

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21st birthday in Porto Cristo

I always promised myself to go back. But that it would take almost 30 years I did not envisage.

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My hotel for the trip. Highly recommended.

So as my 50th birthday approached I decided to take a trip down memory lane and try to visit as many places as I could remember and hopefully see one or two new ones.

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Watching the sun rise in the mountains on my 50th birthday.

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Cala Mesquida now.

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Only the Beach Hut remains at Cala Mesquida of what once was a large Holiday Club. Happy Memories.

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Palma

Many things have changed and the Island is not as unspoiled and rural as it once was. It has however retained its magical charm if one cares to look and seek.

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Palma

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Palma

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Playa Romantica and the famous Gran Meson. Sadly no more. Haunt of many crazy times.

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Celler Sa Premsa. Superb beyond words.

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Birthday Dinner at the Hotel

 

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The Start of the 4 Coves Walk

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The most beautiful of the 4 Coves

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At the end of the walk. Blisters popped. Ouch.

I thoroughly enjoyed my memory trip and still would like to retire there one day, as to me it is the most beautiful place I know.

But if you want to give God a laugh tell her your plans…………

http://www.ambientimages.co.uk/

Deadwing

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I have been thinking about adding a second pinhole camera to my arsenal, but could not decide which way to go when the new Reality So Subtle 6×6 was introduced. The shipping date was going to be June 24th six whole days before my Birthday and as this camera was a gift to myself I hoped it would arrive in time. And it did. Film loaded and destination agreed on – we were on our way. Some years back we ate in a fine Italian Restaurant and we decided to make this our destination and sample the fine cuisine.  Well – bummer the casa is no more.

So here are the images of what once was………

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Empty Spaces

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A Rose in the breeze.

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Dessert anyone?

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Let’s go home.

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The last image is my Pixie felt hat wearing, brilliant crafter and fellow tilted traveller Susan. This was the first frame on the first film through the new pinhole camera, but as we are a  little tilted…….

Reality So Subtle 6×6, Fuji Across 100 developed in Rodinal 1+100 at 20C

Stand developed for an hour with 10 sec agitations at the beginning and at 30 min.

http://www.ambientimages.co.uk/