Dragons and Tides

March 7, 2012

An interesting day…  Presenting to the Graphic Designers was just a tad nerve-inducing.  It’s just not the same as talking to a class full of Year 8s: no-one was fidgeting nor throwing things (so actually, it was a bit easier!) The main problem with my presentation was that I failed to talk about the possibility of including old maps and early 19th century drawings/illustrations in the final book…  Hopefully my designer won’t freak out when I mention this to them…

This is actually the weird bit: wondering if anyone at all ticked the ‘Yes’ (I would like to work with Denise on her book) column.  Next to all of the other projects, mine is just so quiet and straight forward.  As long as one person ticked, ‘maybe’ I will have a designer…

The day ended with a trip out to Portskewett to photograph Black Rocks at high tide.  This would have been the sort of tide that would have brought Manby to the Welsh shores.  I discovered a few things whilst trying to make the images.  Firstly, that placing the tripod VERY NEAR to the edge of the wall made me horribly anxious.  Secondly, that it was almost impossible to focus as the light faded – I really need to get a torch or a laser pen.  Thirdly, that worrying about losing my balance and/or my camera into the water meant that I really couldn’t concentrate on making a picture.  More than once I forgot to remove the dark slide…

The highlight of the day though, had to be drinking hot chocolate and watching the full moon across the water.  Thank you, Lucy Fell for keeping me company and for hanging on to the Wista a couple of times when I needed an extra pair of hands.

Image by Lucy Fell.

Trying hard not to over balance. Image by Lucy Fell.


It’s been a while…

March 6, 2012

I haven’t updated this for ages: sorry!  But as I have to present my idea to the graphic design students tomorrow, I thought I would have a little airing of the new project on here too.

I may have mentioned before that the end product of this semester will be an ‘artist book’ – namely something constructed to present my photographs in the best way possible.  Luckily, I will be working alongside a GD student and together we will create something rather special.  Well, that is the intention/hope anyway…

Inspired by the 1802 text, ‘An Historic and Picturesque Guide from Clifton, Through the Counties of Monmouth, Glamorgan, and Brecknock, with Representations of Ruins, Interesting Antiquities, &C. &C’ , I have decided to follow the route of Captain George William Manby and make contemporary landscape pictures that will say something about Wales in the 21st Century.  Whilst visiting sites described in the book, it is not simply my intention to work out where he stood and make a new picture on the spot: I will also be keeping my eyes open for anything along the way which speaks to me.

Whilst using my beloved Wista (oh, the expense), I am also aware that in making this work I am following in the metaphorical footsteps of other photographers who have chosen to focus on a journey.  All the ones I know (and admire) seem to be blokes: Alec Soth, Simon Roberts, Mark Power and Rob Hornstra and I would be VERY GRATEFUL indeed if anyone could point me in the direction of any women landscape photographers who have also got in a car, bus or campervan and headed out into the great unknown…  Answers on a postcard please to…  Actually, you could always leave me a comment!

Here are some scans (with strange colours, dust and bits of hairy stuff)…  Work in Progress:

Tredegar 6 x 6: not to be included.

To be re-shot - in order to reduce the foreground. Advice from Clive... Get a cherry-picker!

And the tree is the punctum.

Bring it in at the sides - just a little. Lose a bit of the foreground...

'Everyone back to me'.


I just had to make this picture.



‘From Christchurch-yard all travellers will unite in admiring the delightful and exquisite scene its commanding situation exhibits: from thence the eye roves with unceasing satisfaction, and receives enjoyment from the beautiful assemblage of every species of variety, in the combination of which, a glorious landscape of nature’s production is conspicuously portrayed, and with elegance united.’  (Manby, 1802.  p. 44)

More wanderings

February 8, 2012

It was a real DRAG to get out of bed this morning: with no working heating in my room the temp must have been in minus figures…  But I had promised myself a day out with the cameras in the search for locations for my Manby project…  A pair of thermal long-johns and two pairs of socks later, I was ready to see what my 1802 guide had to show me (don’t worry, I was wearing other stuff too!)

I had intended to use the Wista today, but I only ended up making one picture.  I feel I need to see what is there, make digital images, bring them back and really THINK about what I can show and what the viewer might get from the final product.  I can’t remember if I have said elsewhere in the blog, but this semester’s job is to make work that is ‘conceptual’ and produce a set of exhibition prints and a book.  At between £3.50 and £4.00 per sheet of 5 x 4 film, I do not want to risk wasting any – hence the digital ‘research’ shots.  This approach worked pretty well last time, so, fingers crossed…

Apart from the half an hour spent eating cod and chips in USK (it just had to be done), I was out and about for 5-ish hours: long enough for the cold to seep through the base layer and into my weary bones.  To follow are the pics that might lead me back…

Celtic Manor Land

CML ii

This won't be re-shot, I just like it.

River Usk i

River Usk ii

River Usk iii

River Usk iv

There Once Stood A House i

There Once Stood a House ii

There Once Stood a House iii

Yet again, I have come across another grand house that was demolished in the 1950s…  It’s just so sad.

Well, I have started driving around in the hunt for locations to photograph for my next project…

Tredegar i

Tredegar ii

Tredegar iii

New work…

January 24, 2012

It’s going to be another week and a bit before I get to sit down with Paul Reas, Conceptual Documentary Photography guru (and the next module’s leader for anyone not at Newport) and so it is all about the ideas at the moment; the ideas and the research.  Anyone who has been reading my blog for a while will know how much I like research, so that bit’s easy.  I have an idea too – but it is whether or not it will get the ‘thumbs up’ from Caesar Paul, or not…

I ran it past Clive and Ken at my recent assessment interview.  Clive recommended that I don’t get too bogged down in theory (I think I said a bit much about women and photography and the landscape whilst discussing my pics) and Ken suggested that it would offer a good opportunity to further develop my skills with the 5 x 4.  They didn’t exactly jump up and down and exclaim that, “Bloomin’ heck Denise: you’ve hit on an exciting and original idea there!”  But they did seem to quite like it…

So, a little tease here:  if you want to play the game.  There is a link between my ‘A Gentle Eminence’ project and my book/pics idea; it will involve landscape photography; I will use my beautiful Wista (oh, the expense…  I did suggest I work digitally this time, but both men became rather animated and I respectfully backed down); it’s going to involve an old map or two…

The way I visualise things at the moment, I will produce a body of work that will speak about the landscape, but also some of the people who inhabit it…  Hurrah, possibly an opportunity for Soth style portraiture…  It could end up being interesting and maybe even a bit pretty.  We shall see.

Today I went to find the place which may actually be the start of the journey.  I ‘made’ a couple of descriptive shots of what is there and then, the battery in my little G-11 went.  Bugger.  This is the only one I have.  So, an extra clue to the idea I have:

Research trip I

Another pic I took is but a pale imitation of one shot in the past by the wonderful photographer and all round good person, Alice Carfrae:

Research trip II

Maybe she will let me have a j-peg of the image in question and I can post it here and you can see just how gorgeous the original version actually is…

Snap! Well, almost.

January 23, 2012

What does this remind you of?

Image by Raymond Meeks

From the new book, Idyll

Nice pic, but actually – I prefer mine:

V, from, 'A Gentle Eminence'

Is that an arrogant thing to say?  Well, no apologies if it is.  I really like the colours, textures and the light in the pic…