ELMBRIDGE: MOVING ART

I am privileged to have been asked to curate ELMBRIDGE: MOVING ART, an arts exhibition, which includes paintings, drawings, sculptures, photography and other art works made by artists, who live or work in the Borough of Elmbridge. The exhibition will show at the Riverhouse Barn Arts Centre in Walton-on-Thames before travelling to other locations in the borough. ELMBRIDGE: MOVING ART is being supported by Elmbridge Borough Council and the RC Sherriff Trust.

URBAN SCENES - A NEW PASSION?

I spent a few days in Bruges, Belgium and something happened I thought was impossible: I came back with some urban photographs. Bruges is a fascinating city and well worth exploring with the camera.

DRAWN BY LIGHT - EXHIBITION AT RIVERHOUSE BARN ARTS CENTRE

DRAWN BY LIGHT was a wonderful exhibition at the Riverhouse Barn Arts Centre. Huw Alban, David Neve, Jenifer Bunnett, Rachael Talibart and myself showed a great variety of landscape work. Below is a short video of the event.

ISLE OF SKYE

I have just returned from a trip to the Isle of Skye with photographer friends Beata Moore, Sue Bishop and Linda Wevill. It was a rather wet week, but I enjoyed every minute of it. Highlight was the beach at Talisker Bay with its white and black sand. The outgoing tide created the most beautiful patterns in the sand and we spent hours photographing there. See the gallery for more images.

PHOTOGRAPHY & SCULPTURE - EXHIBITION AT ST ANDREW'S CHURCH

"Photography and Sculpture" took place during the last weekend in February. I was invited to show my work at the new Gateway of St Andrew's United Reformed Church in Walton-on-Thames. At the same time the Gateway hosted a display of unique sculptures made by members of Zimbabwean art cooperative "Artpeace". You can find a short video about the event by clicking here.

PHOTOGRAPHY CLUB FOR BEGINNERS AT RIVERHOUSE BARN ARTS CENTRE

The spring term Photography Club for Beginners is already underway at the Riverhouse Barn in Walton-on-Thames. Between January and March students on the fully booked course learn how to move away from the Auto Mode on their cameras. We talk about aperture and shutter speed, about composition and light, and many other things that will improve the photographs the students take. If you are interested in booking onto the next course, please get in touch with me via the contact page or contact the Riverhouse Barn directly. 

MISTRESSES OF LIGHT

Contributors of 'Landscapes by Women' put on a great photographic show at the OXO Gallery in London last week. Hereyou can see a short video I produced, which gives a glimpse of what the exhibition was about.

THE ELMBRIDGE HUNDRED at DITTONS LIBRARY

At the same time as the Mall Galleries show, I was invited to exhibit a selection of photographs from my book "The Elmbridge Hundred - A Visual Journey" in the atrium of the Dittons Library in Thames Ditton for two weeks. Very pleased that several visitors recognised the photographs, of which several sold.

LIGHT & LAND ON THE MALL

I was fortunate to be able to show work at the Mall Galleries, London as part of the 'Light and Land on the Mall' exhibition in August 2015. Around 70 exhibitors participated, displaying several hundred landscape photographs. I am pleased that my framed print "Seven Sisters" sold twice.

PHOTOGRAPHY CLUB STUDENTS SHOWED THEIR WORK

Students of the summer term Photography Club for Beginners at the Riverhouse Barn in Walton-on-Thames had the opportunity to show a selection of photographs they produced during the course at the Robert-Phillips-Gallery in the Barn. A lot of thought went into selecting the images to be shown, which I then prepared for the gallery. This was part of an exhibition organised by the Riverhouse Barn to show the variety of activities on offer at the Barn.

MY VERSION OF WAITING FOR THE LIGHT

After weeks of being tied to the office chair, preparing lessons for the Beginners Photography Club I am currently teaching at the Riverhouse Barn in Walton-on-Thames, and some commissioned work, I finally managed to get out with the camera again last Friday!

The day started well - some poppies alongside the A303 at Stonehenge were still in a reasonable condition to be photographed. The skies duly obliged and the thick clouds moved on to make way for the blues and whites of a nice summer’s day. The trickiest part was getting a shot without cars in it – the A303 around Stonehenge is a very busy road.

Along the way to my final destination I spotted a little lay-by with a ‘Public Footpath’ sign, inviting a short exploratory ramble. I only had to step through the hedge by the side of the road and there it was – a barley field with a few poppies dotted in its midst!

By lunchtime the blue skies had gone and, for the next 7 hours or so, drizzle and non-descript featureless skies took turns to dampen my spirits. I had followed another footpath and discovered a view, which, so I believed, would make a great photograph, if the light was right. For the next few hours I waited, waited and waited. I Twice I started the journey home, only to turn back after a few miles because the weather looked as if it could still improve. Eventually, an hour before sunset, the clouds parted and the rolling hills before me were bathed in the most beautiful golden light. I can hardly describe the elation I felt, but some words came to my mind shortly afterwards that seemed to describe those few minutes perfectly: “I often think of that rare fulfilling joy when I am in the presence of some wonderful alignment of events, where the light, the colour, the shapes and the balance all interlock so beautifully that I feel truly overwhelmed by the wonder of it.” (Charlie Waite)

GLAMORGAN AND BRECON BEACONS

I have just returned from a week's photography in Wales. Although it rained frequently, photographic opportunities presented themselves each day, ranging from coastal views (including a solar halo) and great panoramic views of the Brecon Beacons to bluebells and waterfalls. 

PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE!

Last week was filled with excitement about the solar eclipse on Friday. I had bought eclipse glasses and made a filter for my camera from cardboard and a polymer sheet. I had never followed the weather forecast so intently as in the build-up to this event, but even on Friday morning I was still unsure where I should be going as the forecasts about the cloud cover varied wildly. In the end, I decided to head north-west, towards the areas with better weather prospects, and ended up on Coombe Hill in Buckinghamshire.

I was not the only one with that idea; around 50 people had congregated around the monument, including some photographers with very long telephoto lenses. The first hour of the eclipse came and went and all we saw was low cloud and mist down in the valley. At around 9.35, the supposed maximum coverage time, expectations turned to disappointment for most and the crowd began to depart. I tried to convince some students, who had set up a camera next to me, that there was still about an hour left of the whole phenomenon - but to no avail. They left a few minutes later. But the sky got brighter and brighter, until, finally, we got the first glimpse!

Not too impressive, I admit, but the breaks in the clouds became more frequent as time went on. And only an elderly lady and I were left on the hilltop to enjoy it! The breaks in the clouds still left the sun lightly covered so we were watching proceedings without eye cover - filter and glasses for my camera and me, ipad and pinhole cardboard for her.

I did make an attempt to use both the glasses and the filter later, when the sun seemed to be rather bright for a while, but I might as well have looked the other way - total blackout for my eyes and almost total blackout for the camera, even at ISO 6400. So off they came and I simply carried on turning the dials for aperture and shutter speed wildly back and forth, depending on cloud thickness. At the end, there were 2 happy people on the hill!

The lesson? Patience, patience and patience again. It's not over until it's over!

BOOK SIGNING AT WEYBRIDGE BOOKS

I will be visiting WEYBRIDGE BOOKS on Saturday, 18 April 2015, 2-4pm, to sign my book "The Elmbridge Hundred - A Visual Journey". Join us for a glass of wine and a chat! £2 from each sold book will be donated to Princess Alice Hospice, Esher.

WELL-KNOWN VIEWPOINTS AND ORIGINALITY - MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE?

Lately, I have been grappling with the question of what exactly is meant by producing “original” work, specifically in the context of making photographs of well-known/famous viewpoints, those that have been visited and photographed by many photographers in years gone by. I almost felt bad visiting the Seven Sisters Country Park last week. The view towards the Seven Sisters, with the coastguard cottages in the foreground, has been widely documented in all kinds of photographs, but I have never been there before, which is why I felt I needed to see it for myself. 

I set out with the aim to seek an alternative viewpoint and trudged all the way to the beach on the eastern side of the river Cuckmere, close to the “Sisters”, with the cottages just across the river on the other side. But as soon as I had arrived at the beach, the heavens opened. The image below was all I could muster in the few seconds before it poured down.

Initially undeterred, I tried to shelter from the rain behind some concrete slab and held out for a while, but eventually my hopes of this just being a short sharp shower were washed away together with my resolve to sit it out. Needless to say that when I reached the car park after another half-hour walk in the rain, the sun came out!

To cut a long story short, I ended up exactly where everyone else’s tripods left their marks – just above the coastguard cottages. Weather-wise, the afternoon turned out quite lively, with sunshine and showers in quick succession. This produced some interesting skies, and I ended up really happy when I managed to make some images with clouds mirroring the shapes of the cliffs below.

I believe that making an image that is true to ourselves does not mean we have to avoid locations simply because others have been to them before. If we seek out what we feel is special about a particular place, if we try to convey what we feel while being there, we may well be successful in producing an image that can be called original

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