Saturday, 19 May 2012

Farewell ...

... or perhaps au revoir!

I am in the process of tidying up my P&P coursework and assignments for the July assessment event. This (hopefully) brings to a close my photographic journey through the Level One courses and given that this blog was designed for those courses it seems appropriate to bring the curtain down at this stage.

I am remaining an OCA student however as I am undertaking two Level Two courses; PWDP and Landscape.  To make life easier for assessors and tutors alike I have created stand-alone blogs for each course. There will inevitably be some cross-over in terms of content but as I intend submitting an electronic learning log for each course when assessment time comes it makes sense to keep them apart.  I have kept a paper-based log for each of TAOP, DPP and P&P so this is a departure from what I'm used to and also a huge challenge - or at least it is for me.

Thank you very much for all the support and encouragement you have provided over the last year or so and for those that wish to continue following my journey you can find me at:



Landscape Blog

All the best,


Monday, 7 May 2012

Day Book Update

I started keeping a Day Book early on in the L2 Landscape course that I am working on alongside this course. Initially I was going to use the book just for that course but very quickly it became a place to jot notes and thoughts for all of my studies. Whilst some of the content does eventually find its way onto the internet either as part of my assignment notes or as discrete blog posts, a lot doesn't find its way on here. I shan't be submitting either of the L2 courses for formal assessment until the middle of 2013 but as I've just received my DPP assessment and I'm currently preparing P&P for the July event such matters are at front of mind at the moment.

I would not want to submit the book as part of an assessment submission, far too much in the way of scribbles, random jottings and even a shopping list my daughter scrawled on one page. I can imagine the raised eyebrows from the assessors! Even more so as it now encompasses three courses. One answer is to blog more of the items and I have started doing that in the last few days but even then a pristine electronic blog will not give a flavour of the book so I have pulled together a quick video mixing video, text and still images which shows some of the pages and I will do the same again later in the course.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Bad & Beautiful Weather

Continuing with the documentation of this weeks reading is a short article from the April 2012 issue of Photography Monthly magazine. The image used to illustrate the article was taken by Roger Coulam who is described as an "extreme weather specialist". I had not knowingly come across his work before but the  image of a storm lashed promenade strikes a chord; it is the type of photograph I would like to capture but despite my best intentions when it comes to the crunch I rarely stay out in such vile weather. I know I should and each time I see something like this I resolve to do better next time the opportunity arises ...

The introduction to the feature is really a plea to get out and embrace the weather rather than a technique sharing piece but it serves to remind us that apathy can be very bad for photography. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that the photograph of the article (above) that I quickly snapped was the first time I'd touched the camera in a week.

I particularly like the main image (above) as it is full of drama and despite the conditions has been carefully composed with the railings leading the eye along the edge of the waves and on to the lighthouse.

A quick browse via Google and I found his website which has some fabulous images of bad weather photography and whilst many were taken in Tornado Alley in the USA others were taken in Sunderland, not too many miles from where I live. These therefore are not exclusively esoteric photographs available only to those with deep pockets but are also within reach of ordinary photographers like myself.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Inspiration - Thomas Gaffney ARPS

I have pondered before in my own bumbling way about my preference for a pictorialist approach to photography and I guess that this translates into a desire to celebrate the beauty and grandeur of the landscape, ideally a landscape devoid of people. If I look back through my recent personal work this comes across forcibly. I have made excursions into other styles for OCA course work as shown with this assignment  with which I signed-off from DPP but my natural instinct is towards celebratory rather than documentary I think.

I also love seascapes but rarely get to indulge myself. When I do, as with a recent visit to Southwold, I thoroughly enjoy myself. So, I was very pleased to come across an article in the RPS journal for May 2012 entitled Different Shores featuring the ARPS submissions of Thomas Gaffney which was exclusively seascapes and without exception each of the images shown were ones that I would have been more than pleased to have taken.

The article discusses Gaffney's journey towards the ARPS distinction and highlighted the important, but ultimately subtle, difference between his first, unsuccessful, submission and his second successful Associateship submission. As someone interested in an RPS distinction myself is was an interesting and informative piece but as examples of excellent seascapes I found it made me want to shake of my current lethargy and get across to the coast with my camera and tripod. For me as a photographer this is one criteria by which I know if a photograph has moved me - if I feel the desire to get out and pursue my art.

Gaffney's images are without exception well-composed with careful placement of leading lines and other key elements in the frame. The hanging plan for the fifteen successful images is also very carefully arranged with the shapes in the collected images complementing each other across the panel and there is a real harmony in terms of colour. It "feels" like a cohesive set of photographs rather than a collection of good individual pieces. I've spent quite a while looking at the panel this morning and there is nothing gimmicky about the submission.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Inspiration - images

Both of these photographs were cut from the May 2012 issue of Outdoor Photography.  I cut them out not because I know the photographers work but because the images caught my eye albeit for different reasons.

The mountain image (left) struck a chord with project work I've been doing recently on clouds and I was also taken by the way the FG shadow and the cloud are integral parts of the composition.  I sketched out a very rough schematic as the scan from my Day Book shows and like the way that there are three very rough triangles with the middle of the three contrasting so well with the dark clouds and shadowy foreground.

The bluebell image below caught my eye partly because I am hoping to photograph some bluebells this weekend but mainly because I have tried a couple of times to capture such a scene but ever been totally happy with what I have achieved. I like the simplicity of this composition, the path on a third leading the eye in, the diagonal line running left to right which very nicely splits the frame. This is an image that repays a second look however as the slight blurring to the tree branches adds another dimension to the image completely. This may be a simple image but it has given me food for thought.

Outdoor Photography magazine May 2012

Inspiration - David Noton

I guess it is fair to say that much of my reading around photography relates to current photographers, I have not yet really delved into the rich vein of historical landscape photographers for example although I am aware of many of the names. I prefer at the moment to look at the work of current practitioners particularly those using methods and equipment that I can aspire to.

Extract from my Day Book
One photographer I find very inspirational is David Noton. He uses colour and light to enhance compositions and does so in a straightforward, unaffected way which gives his photographs a deceptively simple appearance. However, start to look carefully and you see that his are well crafted, carefully considered images. The example left, accompanying an article in the May 2012 issue of Outdoor Photography, is a good example. I also appreciate the fact that on the whole Noton uses equipment and techniques that I can both relate to and also aspire to in some instances. His work does not feel "out of reach" through the use of complex techniques or esoteric equipment; whilst I may never attain his standards I can at least feel I have some chance of doing so, however slim.

I see Noton's work regularly in photographic magazines and have also read some of his books. The latest being Waiting for the Light which has been on my shelf a while now and I've re-read it a couple of times.
Waiting for the Light, David Noton, ISBN 0 7153 2741 0

Inspiration - Impressionist Poppies

I read a lot - but blog about my reading very seldom and cut out and keep items even more rarely. This needs to change as one of my tutors has pointed out a couple of times recently.

So this is the first of a couple of posts I shall make after having read the May issue of Outdoor Photography magazine.

This image really caught my eye and unfortunately the scan doesn't do it justice here. Rather than portray these poppies in a field in the more usual static composition the photographer has used intentional camera movement to add an impressionistic feel.

It is this kind of thinking differently about photography that I find inspirational. In landscape photography it is easy to fall into the trap of creating cliched versions of the same scene that hundreds of other photographers have also photographed. Articles such as this, and imagery such as this, help to show ways out of this rut and I always look forward to seeing what Pete Bridgwood has to say in the magazine each month.