Last month I published a collection of ‘wave monsters’. I have been down to the South Coast almost every week all through the winter, working mainly on fast-shutter captures of high seas. That’s a round trip of 140 miles at least once every week, usually getting down there in time for dawn. Often, my efforts have been rewarded with poor light or even driving rain. But it has still been one of my most exhilarating projects so far. Finally, my patience paid off, when Storm Imogen hit the coast earlier this month. Epic surf met great light, and I was one very happy, wave-obsessed photographer. So, I hope you will forgive me for one more surf-orientated post. If, like me, you are addicted to seascapes, there are more on my website.
This winter, I have managed to make it down to the coast at least once almost every week. We’ve had some big seas and interesting light, but not at the same time. Until this Tuesday, that is…
High tide and winds whipped up the surf, creating wave monsters backlit by rays bursting through low clouds.
What a thrill! One of the best photoshoots I’ve had for a while.
Like most Brits, I am half-obsessed with the sea; if I could only photograph one thing for the rest of my life, it would be the sea.
I live in a landlocked county but, happily, the coast is an easy day trip away. Back again next Tuesday!
For the curious, these images were all taken in Newhaven, East Sussex with a shutter speed of 1/800 to freeze the waves.
I hope you enjoy meeting my wave creatures.
“My soul is full of longing
for the secret of the sea,
and the heart of the great ocean
sends a thrilling pulse through me.”
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
When I first started this blog, back in April 2012, I had a particular reason. An injury meant that I was not able to get out with my camera to make new images. Blogging gave me an outlet for my frustrated creativity and a new lease of life for images I had already taken. Nearly 4 years later and the injury is still troublesome, but I have learned to live with it. The brain is amazingly good at learning to live with things, even pain. The problem no longer stops me doing what I want and what I want hasn’t changed – I still love (am obsessed with) photography.
As I slowly returned to making new images, this blog became more and more sporadic. In the end, I will always choose to go out with my camera rather than spend time at the computer. That is not going to change, but I would like to see if I can combine the two more effectively. So I have signed up for Blogging 101 with good intentions.
Perhaps paradoxically, since starting a photography blog, I have obtained a Masters Degree in Victorian Literature and Art from the University of London. Yes, I like to read and write! Accordingly, I never intended Focused Moments to be a picture-of-the-day kind of blog. (Nothing wrong with those, by the way, just not what I intended.) Looking back at the early days, I see the posts that were most enthusiastically received usually had plenty of words as well as images. A good example is my article about the relationship between photography and mindfulness. So I plan to make time for more posts like that. I am also interested in exploring how the literature I enjoy and have studied may influence the images I make.
Standard blogging advice is to write about oneself, to ‘make it personal’. I am not so sure about that. I am quite a private person and this is a public blog. The images will always be the heart of Focused Moments; I hope they are more interesting than me! Nonetheless, there are aspects of my photographic life that might merit more exploration. I enjoy exhibiting and have already written about some of my experiences in that area. Some readers want to know more about other things, my role as a camera club judge, for example, or what it is like to lead photography workshops. More on those, and other ‘stories’, will follow.
2015 was an epic year for me photographically. I hope that 2016 will be equally exciting and, if any of you share at least part of the adventure with me here at Focused Moments, this blog will have succeeded. It is up to me, now, to make it worth your time.
One of the clients on my most recent workshop pointed out to me that it has been a long time since the last post on this blog! Shame on me! So here’s a little summary of what I have been up to in the last few weeks, and some of my latest images.
In my last post, I shared some pictures from Birling Gap, and I have been back there, as well as other locations nearby, a few times since. My eye seems to be particularly drawn to chalk cliffs at the moment. Having been brought up on the south coast, they are very much the landscape of my youth and I now enjoy rediscovering them with my camera.
While beguilingly beautiful, the South coast can also be dangerous, as I was reminded on one of my recent trips to Birling Gap. I was, fortunately, standing out on the sand at low tide, when a huge chunk of the cliff came crashing down. No-one was hurt although there was a group of very shocked foreign students on the beach at the time. It was a sobering sight and, from now on, I will be more careful about heeding warnings not to stray too close to the cliffs.
Last week, I spent a few days in another chalky place, the Isle of Wight. Although the weather was trying, to say the least, there were some moments of good light and, let’s face it, it’s hard not to get a picture when at the coast. It will take me a while to get through all the images I took, but here are a few ‘tasters’.
In other news, I was delighted to find out that one of my pictures has been selected for inclusion in the Outdoor Photographer of the Year book. It is a year since I first submitted work to Outdoor Photography Magazine, easily my favourite photography publication. Since then, the magazine has published several of my images and commissioned a short article. I have been bowled over by the enthusiasm and support I have received from them.
Regular readers will already be familiar with the work of my friend Jenifer Bunnett, who continues to be a great pal and enthusiastic companion on our photographic expeditions. If you haven’t seen her work before, you can access her website by clicking on her name above. I have also recently enjoyed outings with two other photographers, Sarah Medway and Lorraine Heaysmon, both committed landscape shooters with impressive portfolios. Photography can be a solitary activity and, while I really enjoy that solitude, it is also nice sometimes to share the adventure.
My spare time (what spare time?) continues to be filled with judging at Surrey camera clubs and giving talks. I recently presented a new talk, ‘From Canal to Coast’ to Guildford Photographic Society which was well-received. As a judge I am obliged also to compete in camera club competitions, which is fair enough when you think about it. So, last month, I was pleased to win the Best Image trophy at Surrey Photographic Association’s 2015 Open Print competition. I have shared the picture here before but I think a second airing is justified.
Of course, this is also the main season for f11 Workshops and we have had some great days out with our clients. Our last workshop of the year was in West Sussex and, although the weather seemed determined to be gloomy, our persistence was eventually rewarded with some really special light. My business partner, Tony Antoniou, and I will not make our own images when leading workshops, so I have no picture to share, but I have seen a few of our clients’ shots and am glad to say they did it justice.
Finally, Jen and I have had a couple of productive meetings about our pro bono project with the Basingstoke Canal and there will hopefully be some big developments on that front in the near future.
Phew! What a busy few weeks it has been! What has been your best photographic adventure so far this winter? Feel free to share in the comments below. 🙂
I have spent the last two Tuesdays at Birling Gap in the South Downs National Park.
Although I love discovering new locations, there is also a joy in revisiting known places.The light is always different, the seasons and weather change and, at the coast there is always the added variable of tides. The first Tuesday, a low tide revealed sand that reflected the cliffs and interesting sky:On my return this week, the tide was shallow, never uncovering the sand. This created a very different mood:
I grew up in this part of the country so photography trips to the South Downs National Park always feel like a coming home.
The chalk-based landscape is really quite special and, at Birling Gap, I love the way grey rocks sit on the chalky base below the white cliffs…
…and the chalk makes the sea bright against a stormy sky. I am heading down to Sussex again tomorrow. As always, I hope for interesting light. But I know that I will enjoy this beautiful place no matter what the weather brings.
It is a year and 5 exhibitions since I decided to shift the focus of my photography towards the fine art side of things. This time last year I was exhibiting a series of Surrey landscapes in a joint exhibition with my shooting buddy, Jenifer Bunnett, at The Lightbox in Woking. Then, in March, we showed some of the images from that exhibition alongside new local landscapes in ‘A Certain Slant of Light’ at the Guildford Institute. In August, I hung a panel in ‘Light on the Land’ at the Mall Galleries, and in September, five black and white pictures in ‘Mistresses of Light’ at the Oxo Tower. It was a lot of work, and the learning curve was steep, but it was also great fun. However, the climax of all this has to be my first solo exhibition, ‘Focused Moments’, currently showing at Arté Gallery in Weybridge.
I needed a lot of images for this exhibition and I wanted to make sure I could offer something for all budgets and also remain true to my own style. I must have spent a small fortune (I daren’t add it up!) trying different papers and framing options. In the end, I went with three fine art papers in simple black frames and a few prints on aluminium. I also decided to have two special books made for visitors to browse. On the advice of the gallery owners, I have made these available as limited editions, and they seem to be going down well.
There is something really rewarding about filling a gallery. I have hung 60 images of which most are new pictures, taken in the last year, but there are some going back as far as 2009. When planning the hanging in this intriguing space with several different surfaces, it helped to create groups of images that worked together and then it was relatively easy to decide the order of the groups so that the exhibition flowed. I say easy – it still took us two full days to finish hanging the show!
Of course, there had to be a party. Many thanks to local lettings agents, Martin & Wheatley for sponsoring the opening. In a bout of last-minute nerves, I worried that no-one would come, but I needn’t have fretted. In the end, the event was buzzing, and we sold seven prints and two of my limited edition books during the course of the evening. Phew!
I think it’s important to be present at an exhibition as much as possible; people like to be able to talk to the exhibitor. I have had many interesting conversations at the gallery this week, some with old friends and some with new. And today I got to show my Dad around, which was really special.
If you have ever thought of trying something like this, I heartily recommend it. The experience has been amazing – exhausting, but amazing. It’s nice to sell, but even if I had sold nothing, it would still have been worth it. Many thanks to Mike and Sally at Arté Gallery for allowing me to bring my work into their lovely space, to my friend, Sam, for all the fetching, carrying and coffee and to my daughter, Maggie, for her excellent work as server and photographer at the private view. I couldn’t have done it without you!